I've heard from more than one source that people expect John Pelphrey to be Kentucky's next coach. One of my best friends is a long-time South Alabama booster and I enjoy going to games with him when I can. Here are some observations after watching last night's USA game against Western Kentucky.
I think Pelphrey played every kid on his bench who was eligible. He needs to play them all and he runs them on and off the court constantly adjusting to the flow of the game. They play defense the full length of the court, everyone runs back after rebounds and turnovers, and they never walk the ball up court on offense.
USA's talent is geared toward a perimeter game, but all they did the first 8 or 9 minutes was force the ball inside underneath the basket. I wondered why they did this because they had little height and no big bodies who could create enough space to get off an open shot. My buddy said they do that every game. Once they had established an inside game, due largely to the frequent penetrating created by their 5-10 guard (why can't we do that?), they started taking their open threes. They hit the threes early, went dry in the middle of the game, and hit a few toward the end to clinch the win.
I was very impressed with the energy and enthusiasm with which this team played. They communicated well on offense and defense and almost pounded WKU into submission. They had a 12 point lead with about 5 minutes to go when WKU turned up the defensive pressure and USA's veterans started making poor decisions on offense and defense. WKU went ahead but USA hit a three to tie the game in regulation and eventually won in overtime.
It was an exciting, well played, well coached game. I sure wish we could see something like that with our players. I also hope USA doesn't have to play Florida again in the first round of the NCAA tournament this year. I'd like to see what they can do against a more evenly matched team. They play Florida style (I thinkPelphrey played for Pitino when he was at Kentucky) but don't have the horses to run it the way Florida does.
Keep an ear out for the name John Pelphrey. He may be coming to a University of Kentucky program near you some day soon.