2008 NCAA Tournament Capsule: Kentucky
Southeastern Conference (18-12, 12-4)
Big Wins: 1/12 Vanderbilt (79-73), 1/22 Tennessee (72-66), 2/23 Arkansas (63-58)
Bad Losses: 11/7 Gardner-Webb (68-84), 12/18 at Houston (69-83), 12/29 San Diego (72-81)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2007, Second Round loss to Kansas
Coach: Billy Gillispie (3-3 in 3 NCAA appearances)
Ramel Bradley, Senior, Guard, 15.8 ppg, 3.3 apg, 4.2 rpg
Derrick Jasper, Sophomore, Guard, 4.4 ppg, 2.3 apg, 5.4 rpg
Joe Crawford, Senior, Guard, 17.3 ppg, 2.1 apg, 3.6 rpg
Ramon Harris, Sophomore, Forward, 4.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg
Mark Coury, Sophomore, Forward, 2.0 ppg, 1.8 rpg
Michael Porter, Sophomore, Guard, 2.0 ppg, 1.1 apg
Perry Stevenson, Sophomore, Forward, 5.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg
Why They Can Surprise:
Joe Crawford and Ramel Bradley are the two healthy leading scorers for Kentucky and the explosive backcourt can keep the Wildcats in most games. Crawford has come on strong as an upperclassman and finally shown his immense potential. The Detroit, Michigan native is a superb athlete and will finish strong above the rim. His outside shooting is not very consistent, but Crawford will step outside and hit a three-pointer or two each game.
The senior leadership of Bradley keeps the team under control…usually. Bradley does commit over three turnovers per game, and that is a big problem for the Wildcats, but this team would be in trouble without Bradley. He is not a great outside shooter by any means, but Bradley is the best shooter on the team and if the outside shot is not falling for either Bradley or Crawford, Kentucky will have trouble scoring.
Why They Can Disappoint:
When Jodie Meeks went down with an injury, it was not good, but at least Kentucky had a few relatively experienced players ready to fill the void. But when forward Patrick Patterson injured his left ankle late in the season, it was a big hit. Patterson was averaging 16.4 points and a team high 7.7 rebounds and he will certainly be missed during the tournament. What is left is an inexperienced frontcourt with very little depth.
Who To Watch:
Replacing Patterson becomes the most important issue during the postseason. Ramon Harris and Mark Coury were starting most of the games anyway, but they provide nowhere near the scoring that Patterson did while he was healthy. Harris and Coury are more equipped do the dirty work. Harris, at 6-6, did the work on the wing and Coury, at 6-8, complimented Patterson under the basket. Without any scoring threat in the paint, UK might have trouble freeing up the guards to score. Perry Stevenson, who rarely starts but averages more minutes than Harris and Coury, might be the best scoring option in the paint. He averages 5.8 points per game, but it remains to be seen if he can be a consistent threat.
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 69.0 (169th in nation, 10th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 65.5 (99, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.3 (36, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.4 (19, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.9 (236, 12)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.4 (72, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 73.8 (39, 2)
Rebound Margin: 1.9 (116, 7)
Assists Per Game: 12.9 (192, 10)
Turnovers Per Game: 16.0 (266, 12)
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