Column: A long way to go, but Cats’ potential is there

jpenningtonmugsmallerUntil Monday, how did anyone know UK looked better than last year?

Preseason pollsters put UK as high as No. 4, which — remember this? — is still fresh off a National Invitation Tournament appearance last March.

But those voters based their tallies not on the merits of an experienced team but on John Calipari’s reputation, Patrick Patterson’s experience and John Wall’s YouTube presence.

Until now, this team was all talk.

Campbellsville didn’t give the Cats much of a challenge, but this much we now know: There’s a reason for all the hype.

These players can play.

Midterms just passed, and they still haven’t gotten all the way through semester one of Dribble Drive 101. The offense turned it over 23 times —13 of which were unforced. Thankfully, the Cats have more than enough athleticism to weather the storm.

Politely, one could call Eric Bledsoe gifted. Properly, one would call him a freak of nature.

He generated perhaps the most exciting play of the night, a thundering block above the rim. It wasn’t anything new for Bledsoe, UK’s shortest player by three inches.

“He does it in practice a lot,” Patterson said. “He’s blocked me in practice many times, I’m not afraid to say it. It hurt my self-esteem. He’s pinned it against the glass on me on an open lay-up.”

With John Wall serving the first of his two-game suspension, Bledsoe looked like the point guard of the future.

What’s this team going to look like when it adds what many believe is the actual point guard of the future?

If DeMarcus Cousins scores, rebounds and downright terrifies opponents the way he did against Campbellsville, things might get scary. Cousins had 11 points and six rebounds. He scared the small Tiger team inside, even more so than his impressive four blocks may suggest.

If Darnell Dodson hits shots, both from outside (expectedly) and inside (more surprisingly), things might get scary. Dodson led all scorers with 19 points on 50 percent shooting.

If these players reduce the turnovers and make the jump they should on defense, things might get scary.

At the very least, things will look a lot different than last year.

James Pennington is a journalism senior. E-mail

Keep it up, the Herald leader will be looking for my replacement soon. Happy Graduation Present….LOL