by KEVIN W. FARIS
A few hours after I posted five reasons why either team could win, UL Coach Rick Pitino announced that forward Rakeem Buckles would miss the game due to injury. Unfortunately for me, this affected 3 of my 5 reasons. The Buckles injury, combined with other players out, means UL’s depth, which I felt was so important I listed it twice, is not nearly as important as before. And, since Buckles was their leading rebounder, that lessens the strength v. strength battle that was supposed to take place underneath the boards. Anyway, here are three new reasons to replace the others:
1. Rick Pitino- He is a Hall of Fame coach. I don’t like him, at all. Period. But, he is one of the best coaches at preparing his team for a game. UL will be well prepared and ready.
2. Strength v. Strength- Turnovers. UL is 12th in the nation at forcing turnovers and UK is 6th in the nation in not turning it over. This strength v. strength battle is one that UL, who should be weaker on the boards without Buckles, could still win.
3. Blocked Shots- UK will be driving to the basket and feeding Terrance Jones down low, but UL will be ready with a team that ranks 7th in Block Percentage, led by Terrance Jennings. UCONN really frustrated UK with blocked shots in Maui and this is another area where UL could shut down the Dribble Drive for the Cats.
Once again, I still think UK will win, but if UL does pull it out, these three, combined with the YUM! Center and good three point shooting, will probably play a big role.
Read Part 1 of the story