Cats ready to face first opponent

After numerous practices against each other, the UK men’s basketball team will finally get to face a different team.

It’s only an exhibition match, but the Cats said they are tired of facing each other in practices and games and are ready to get on the court and don the real UK jerseys against another team.

“We’re very hungry,” freshman forward Daniel Orton said. “We’ve been ready for this, we’re all tired of seeing each other and playing against each other every day.”

At 6-foot-10, Orton said he didn’t face many players in high school that could truly match up to him. He said he would often go up against a guy in practice that was about 6-foot-5. This year, Orton said he, along with probably everybody on the team, has had a shot or two rejected by teammates. Against Campbellsville on Monday, Orton will face a roster more reminiscent of his high school days. Campbellsville’s tallest player is 6-foot-9, and only  three players listed as being taller than 6-foot-5.

Orton said while he hasn’t assessed the team, he does know that both he and the team has its share of weaknesses, including inexperience. One thing Orton said wouldn’t stand in the team’s way is an ego as to who is starting and who isn’t.

“There are no egos on this team and everyone understands their role, ” Orton said. “Guys don’t have too much pride over starting positions, but we still battle for starting positions. The competitiveness on this team is incredible because everyone loves to compete and everyone loves to have fun.”

Freshman point guard John Wall will be one player that will not start Monday night at Rupp Arena. The guard will have to sit out two games as ruled by the NCAA on Friday. The ruling stems from Wall’s AAU coach Brian Clifton being a former certified agent with FIBA, basketball’s international governing body, for a year. Wall will have to sit out the Campbellsville game and the season opener against Morehead State on Nov. 13.

Wall will also have to repay $787.58 worth of expenses occurred while playing under Clifton by Friday. The majority of those expenses come from recruiting trips taken during his junior year in high school at Word of God Christian Academy.

Calipari said he’s happy to have the entire ordeal behind them so Wall and the team can move on with their season.

“The kid is a great kid, the mother is a great lady, and they have always tried to do the right thing,” Calipari said. “I’m glad it’s behind us. I don’t know how much time they have to pay (the money) back, you have to talk to them. I didn’t get into any of that and like I said, I’m not worried about it.”

At practice on Sunday it appeared the starting lineup for Monday night’s exhibitioner will consist of freshman Eric Bledsoe, sophomores Darius Miller and Darnell Dodson, junior forward Patrick Patterson  and freshman DeMarcus Cousins down low.

Calipari said he liked playing Miller at point guard and that Miller was taking it up well, even comparing him to former Memphis guard Tyreke Evans.

“If you put the ball in (Miller’s) hands, he is much better,” Calipari said. “One day we broke things down and I put John [Wall] and Eric [Bledsoe] on the same team, and we put Darius as the third point guard. I didn’t realize how good he was. He is better with the ball in his hands.”

Campbellsville is an NAIA member, and was picked to finish fifth in the preseason Mid-South Conference coaches’ poll. Still, the Cats say they’re just ready for the season to be here, no matter who the opponent is.

“It’s definitely fun to be able to start a new season especially with the new guys that we have that haven’t played a college game yet,” senior guard Ramon Harris said. “It is going to be exciting for them and you can see them getting excited. Practice has gotten a little more intense with guys trying to get ready and prepared and trying to do as much as they can so that we can have a good season this year.”