UK opens season with loaded roster depth Print
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Thursday, 13 November 2008 13:33
NCAAB Headline News

 LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -Billy Gillispie's sequel season at Kentucky opens Friday with a cast of thousands - or, at least it may seem that way by glancing at the Wildcats' bench.
A whopping 20 players are listed on Kentucky's roster for the opener against Virginia Military Institute, although the second-year coach points out probably only about 17 - still a lot - will be active for the game.
``I always want one more,'' Gillispie said. ``If you've got 10, you want 11. If you've got six, you want seven.''
Kentucky may need the bodies, or at least several of them, to keep up with a Keydets team that wants to take 100 shots and half of those from three-point range. They've led the country in scoring two years running, the first team to accomplish that back-to-back since Arizona did it in 2003 and 2004.
Still, in sheer size and talent, this is a mismatch, right?
, and there should be more than enough depth to buffer the loss of the team's two departed senior guards, Ramel Bradley and Joe Crawford.
VMI, on the other hand, is a program with extremely limited success. It returns four starters from last year's 14-win team, but the one who got away, Reggie Williams, scored more points than any Division I player ever from a program in Virginia.
Yet, if the smaller opposition and a looming date with No. 1 North Carolina is a recipe for complacency among the Wildcats' players, a glance back at last year's shocking early season loss to Gardner-Webb should cure them of that.
The Wildcats were expected to coast to New York for the semifinals of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic, but instead Gardner-Webb took their plane tickets with an 84-68 shocker in game 2 of the Gillispie era.
Kentucky redeemed itself by putting together a 12-4 Southeastern Conference record - good enough to return to the NCAA tournament for a 17th straight season, so that pitfall is now a distant memory. Gillispie didn't seem concerned that Gardner-Webb could dominate his players' thoughts heading into this year's opener.
``I think they're a little bit tougher than that,'' he said.
ing a season.
``Coach is never satisfied and that's what we like about him,'' Meeks said. ``If you get 45 points, he's still going to tell you what you need to correct, and that's how you get better.''
One newcomer, 6-10 Josh Harrelson, figures to help support Patterson in the post this year. He says he's in great shape, having lost 17 pounds, and it showed in Kentucky's two exhibition tuneups, in which he averaged 11.5 points.
``The weight loss has helped me jump higher, run faster and given me a quicker step,'' Harrelson said. ``That all helps me guard on the perimeter better. I think I can be really good and become an impact player here. To do that, I need to push myself to the limit every day.''
Such is Gillispie's mantra for the entire team. His focus in the opener is cutting down on turnovers and second-chance shots. That could be particularly important against VMI, which wants to run.
``You play really hard on defense for 22 seconds and then they get an offensive rebound, it destroys you,'' Gillispie said. ``There's been no team put together that can play really hard on defense time after time, then give up offensive rebounds and still be tough enough to continue to do that.''
 

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