SEC Morning Five: 11.03.11 EditionPosted by Brian Joyce on November 3rd, 2011
- The non-conference schedule is ready to begin and according to CBSSports.com, the SEC has scheduled an incredibly tough out of conference slate. On average, the 12 SEC schools scheduled teams with 17.6 wins last year — the most of any power conference. As a whole, SEC teams scheduled 31 true road games, and will play a total of 37 NCAA Tournament teams from last season. Finally, SEC teams will play a total of 43 power conference opponents. Need more numbers? How about charts? CBS has you covered there too with enough analysis to keep you busy all day at work today. But don’t blame RTC if you don’t get anything else done!
- Who’s ready for less previews and more basketball? The Tennessee Volunteers are anxious to play. It has been nearly eight months since the Vols have played a game in Thompson-Boling Arena, and the Vols look like a completely different team after Bruce Pearl’s dismissal led to mass defections and a new coaching staff. But the Tennessee basketball team won’t be the only thing in Knoxville with a facelift. Thompson-Boling Arena has received an upgrade to the LED ribbon board around the bottom of the arena’s upper deck. Jordan McRae says, “we had a great arena anyway, but now there’s no question that it makes it feel more like an NBA arena.” Tennessee fans are even more anxious to see the Cuonzo Martin’s new-look team than they are upgrades to the facility.
- The preseason #2 Kentucky Wildcats took to the floor Wednesday night for their first exhibition game. The Cats opened up slowly against Division III Transylvania University, actually trailing 11-4, but one person there was excited about the slow start and it might not be who you think. Kentucky coach John Calipari said, “I think we thought we were going to win by a hundred. I was so happy the game was close. I was so happy the start was what it was. Then when we started separating, they came back and tied it up again. I was loving it. It’s a teaching tool. It’s a chance for me to talk to them about, you know, look, they’re a good team, but they’re Division III.” We can almost guarantee that Calipari won’t be satisfied with too many more slow starts like this one.
- Another positive emerged from the Cats’ eventual 97-53 win over Transylvania — Calipari has found a new starter in freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Cal said, “I would say, looking at today, he’s a starter because you have to have him start the game. Can’t start the game like we did today.” Kidd-Gilchrist did a little of everything in the exhibition as he contributed 19 points, seven rebounds, five assists and one block. Calipari praised him even more, saying, “he was the difference in what happened. He did what I knew he would do.” Now that Calipari apparently has one spot in his lineup solidified, he has a little more than a week to determine the other four starters — UK tips off the season on Veteran’s Day against Marist.
- Not all SEC coaches are as pleased with their team’s performances. New Arkansas coach Mike Anderson didn’t see the type of defense he is looking for in Arkansas’ enhanced 40 Minutes of Hell style. In the Red-White game scrimmage, the two squads combined for 191 points. As Anderson spoke about the Hawgs’ upcoming scrimmage against Texas A&M-Commerce, he said, “I’m really anxious to see defensively because that’s some of the things that we’ve been really picking up here lately. Trying to get our defensive intensity, our pressure defense. It’ll be a work in progress. You’ll see some things that we’re not doing well early right now that hopefully we’ll be doing better later on in the season.” With only 10 scholarship players, many of whom are freshmen, the progression will need to be seen sooner rather than later for Anderson to remain in the honeymoon phase with Razorback fans.