I’ll go ahead and admit, last night’s loss to Notre Dame wasn’t fun to watch, but it was refreshing. It was a wake up call from the players to the fans that this team is young and has its’ flaws, and I like that. I like the fact that this was a loss that truly hurt the team, and will only make them work harder as the season progresses. It is a loss reminiscent of that when the Cats dropped one to UConn in November 2010 in the EA Sports Maui Invitational.
During that season, the young Cats relied on Terrence Jones in the post, while point guard Brandon Knight struggled. As the season progressed, Knight embraced his role and helped lead the Cats to a Final Four berth. Whether its Archie Goodwin, Ryan Harrow, or Jarrod Polson, they will learn to embrace their role in due time.
But as Saturday’s game against Baylor approaches, the Cats aren’t alone in guard issues. Yes, the Bears do have Pierre Jackson, who scored 21 on UK in last season’s Elite Eight matchup. But, shooting guard Brady Heslip is a game time decision, according to Coach Scott Drew. He had an emergency appendectomy 10 days ago and is still recovering.
Heslip’s play is crucial, as he is their best three-point shooter, and one of the best in the country, having shot 45 percent last season, even though he only scored four points against UK last season. He is also a great defender. But with Heslip gone, the Bears lack experience on the perimeter, as do the Cats. Will the Cats let their inexperience get the best of them tomorrow? Or does the nation’s longest home winning streak live another day?