Look out below, there, Antonio Ballard, because there’s a Kansas Jayhawk-themed Mack Truck by the name of Marcus Morris — he of the Morris twins — heading directly for your head. Oops, too late. Ballard, like the rest of the Miami of Ohio Redhawks, got absolutely destroyed by Morris and his band of merry Kansas Jayhawks. The beating was so severe, the Miami players believe Kansas is a better team than the Duke Blue Devils.
Granted, with Duke’s freshman sensation Kyrie Irving on the shelf with a foot injury, coupled with how well the Jayhawks have been playing, it’s easy to see why people are taking a shine to Bill Self’s latest edition of Kansas basketball; and as long as the Jayhawks avoid three-point bombs from Ali Farokhmanesh, they should be fine.
No, it wasn’t the prettiest win in Kentucky’s storied history, but it still goes down in the books as a “W,” thanks, in large part to John Wall hitting his first game-winner of his collegiate career. Simply put, Wall has the goods, or he is the real deal, or he lives up the hype, or Wall-elujah — whatever description you’d like to use because they’re all apt. The freshman sensation finished his first game for the Wildcats with 19 points and five assists. Showing that he is indeed a freshman, Wall also finished with five turnovers.
What, if anything, should Kentucky take from their unexpected close game with RedHawks (correct spelling, thank you)? First of all, they are going to need to work on their zone offense. Every coach in America has watched Morehead State and now Miami of Ohio stymie the Wildcats’ athleticism with a pack-it-in zone defense that works to negate Kentucky’s size advantage, as well as their ability to drive the ball. These zones also forces Kentucky to depend on their outside shooting, one of the question marks surrounding the team. In their first two games, the Wildcats have put up 35 three-pointers, making 10.
Granted, against the RedHawks, Kentucky shot 6-11 from behind the arc, but Miami shot 15-26 (8-10 for Nick Winbush, a record for opposing players playing in Rupp Arena). Not only does Kentucky need consistent outside shooting, they also need to improve their three-point defense.
Of course, thanks to John Wall’s impressive debut, all of those troubles will be temporarily forgotten.