It’s a steamy August day and typically slow for sports, but halleluja we have Kentucky basketball to watch tonight, and no it’s not an SEC Network replay. The Wildcats kick off the first of four games in five days in the Bahamas – they are exhibition games but who really cares because it’s UK basketball?
The last time I wrote a basketball preview story the Kentucky basketball team was ready for the first round of the NCAA tournament and favored to beat St. Peter’s by 17.5 points. Well, sadly and unbeknownst to everyone, it was the last preview of the 2021-22 season as the Cats were upset.
Well, Big Blue Nation is still licking its wounds but is excited about the 2022-23 season and we get a taste of things to come tonight at 7 p.m. EST from the Baha Mar Resort in Nassau, Bahamas.
Coach John Calipari and his team landed Monday and soaked up some sun, caught some waves, and got some bonding time in preparing for Game 1 against the Dominican Republic National Select Team.
The Wildcats will also take the court against Mexico’s Tec De Monterrey on Thursday, Carleton University of Canada on Saturday, and wrap things up against The Bahamas National Select Team on Sunday.
It’s the third time and second in four years that the Cats have played in the Bahamas and they have led to an eventual elite eight and final four finish at the end of the season. Let’s hope this time it’s a National Championship.
Calipari announced that he will not be doing any on-court coaching leaving those duties to associate coaches Bruiser Flint, Orlando Antigua, and assistants Chin Coleman and K.T. Turner.
Antigua was mic’d up during practice today.
While UK won’t be playing against young college kids these are more adults, but the Wildcats aren’t so young themselves which is a vast change from the Calipari team we have seen over the years.
Seniors: Oscar Tshiebwe, Jacob Toppin, Sahvir Wheeler, CJ Fredrick, Antonio Reeves, and Brennan Canada
Juniors: Lance Ware, Kareem Watkins
Sophomore: Daimion Collins
Freshman: Adou Thiero, Cason Wallace, Chris Livingston, Walker Horn, and Grant Darbyshire.
What do we want to see this week?
Besides the new uniforms that Kentucky unveiled they would be wearing this week and the sheer fact, that we get to see hoops in August what are we really looking for?
- How much leadership and maturity will this team exude having eight upperclassmen? The true leader that makes them go both physically, mentally, and spiritually is Oscar. The National Player of the Year came back to finish what last year’s team couldn’t and that was hanging another banner in Rupp Arena.
- Wheeler will run the offense again at the point and a year under Calipari should make him even better, and with Tshiebwe in the post, the Cats are solid in those spots. It’s filling in the other three places and the number of minutes that will be split among a roster that could see 10 players see solid minutes on the floor.
- CJ Fredrick is the player Kentucky sorely missed last season with his outside shooting after he was injured and missed the season. He will probably be on a short leash of minutes per game one would assume maybe 10-15 as he adjusts to game conditions after a long layoff. If he connects from long range like we know he is capable of that will bode very well.
- Daimion Collins is the X-Factor for this team. He has been consuming massive amounts of calories daily to bulk up his body and muscle. He can jump out of the gym, and with the added mass will prove to be a load to handle.
- Calipari has the luxury of instant energy and game smarts with Toppin and Ware both very experienced players under their coach. What we need to see now are the other key components in Livingston, Wallace, Thiero, and Reeves who played three seasons at Illinois State averaging 20.1 points last year, bring to the floor.
What Channel is the Kentucky Basketball Game On
Today’s game will be on the SEC Network with tipoff set for 7 p.m. EST.
Play-by-Play – Tom Hart
Color – Dane Bradshaw
Kentucky versus Dominican Republic National Live Stream
Today’s Kentucky game can be streamed live on ESPN.com/Watch.
Kentucky over the airwaves:
For the radio enthusiasts, our stellar team of Tom Leach (play-by-play), Jack Givens, and Dick Gabriel (sideline) will have the call on the UK Sports Network. They can be heard at 840 AM around Louisville and in the Lexington area at both 630 AM and 98.1 FM. If you are outside these areas check your local statins or you can always listen online at www.UKAthletics.com
Kentucky’s Next Island Game
Mexico’s Tec De Monterrey – August 11, 7 p.m. SEC Network
Carleton University of Canada August 13, 6 p.m. SEC Network
Bahamas National Select Team August 14, Noon SEC Network