Photo by Carolyn Drover

Veterans Shine in Blue-White Game

October 18, 2019
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A week after the drama and anticipation of Big Blue Madness, the Cats returned to the floor at Rupp Arena for the annual Blue-White scrimmage. Coach Cal came on the court early to take the mic, explaining that because of a current lack of depth (Ben Jordan having joined the team this week and Dontaie Allen and Zan Payne not yet ready to go), they would be going through about 20 minutes of warm-up exercises and then scrimmaging after. Coach Cal also announced, in his usual dramatic fashion, that they would be playing some zone defense during thr scrimmage.

 

Once the scrimmage got underway, it was easy to see the difference in the returning players from last year. Richards, in particular, has showed huge improvement again, looking more confident and aggressive than last season. He was all over the court, making threes, blocking shots, bringing down rebound after rebound, and of course scoring in the paint. Richards finished with a double-double, coming away with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Coach Cal praised his improvement later, but noted that when he got tired late he reverted to his old style. He knows what he needs to work on, according to Calipari. 

 

We got to really see Nate Sestina in action for the first time tonight, and he impressed on a stage bigger than he was used to. He leadership abilties were apparent immediately, as he talked throughout the game, something Calipari has emphasized for years with his younger players. Sestina doesn’t share that problem. Instead, Calipari said after the scrimmage that he never stops talking. Sestina’s play was also a huge positive as he made play after play on both ends of the floor, showing great athleticism on defense especially. The new trend of a graduate transfer is looking to be a good one for Kentucky, as Sestina looks ready to fill that experienced leader role like Reid Travis did last year.

 

Immanuel Quickley’s game has also made leaps forward, as promised by Calipari. The now-sophomore led the team with 25 points, adding 7 rebounds and 6 assists to go with just one turnover. Quickley came out ready to go and intense from the opening tip-off, erasing last year’s consistency concerns. 

 

The freshmen also had good nights, giving the fans a taste of what is to come this season. Kahlil Whitney’s athleticism was showcased early on a lob and dunk from Tyrese Maxey. Whitney continued to play with high intensity, finishing with 12 points and 8 rebounds. His energy is likely to make him a crowd favorite this season. Tyrese Maxey was not to be outdone, showing off his speed all night. Maxey and Juzang, however, combined to go 1 of 8 from the three-point line. Calipari mentioned postgame the need for improvement there.

 

The Wildcats next take the floor in an exhibition game hosting the Georgetown Tigers on Sunday, October 27. Check back here tomorrow for postgame thoughts from Coach Calipari and players tonight. 

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Veterans Shine in Blue-White Game

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