Coach wants to build team around Patterson

Following UK's 80-56 win over Liberty many people may have expected Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie to rave about the performance of freshman phenome Patrick Patterson. Afterall, Patterson had just racked up his second career double-double, in just his third game as a Wildcat, with 23 points and 10 boards. Gillispie made it clear that he expects even more out of his star freshman.

Three games into the season, it's no secret Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie wants to build his team around Patrick Patterson.

Patterson can score and grab rebounds - two double-doubles in two games - but Gillispie said his freshman sensation needs to get tougher in the post.

"He is going to be a great player," Gillispie said. "He can play facing the basket, he can play with his back to the basket, but he's got to be meaner."

Patterson will get that opportunity when the Wildcats play host to Texas Southern at 8 p.m. tonight at Rupp Arena.

Patterson acknowledged Gillispie's plea following Kentucky's 80-54 win over Liberty on Wednesday night in Lexington, minutes after he scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds against the Flames.

"I need to get tougher and meaner on the court," he said. "I don't think I'm tough enough yet, but coach Gillispie will get me there. I need to get strong with the ball and stop using so many finesse shots."

Patterson said the extra practice time over the team's two-week layoff following a disappointing loss to Gardner-Webb was beneficial.

"I believe it helped us a lot," he said. "Practicing and going in every day going over plays helped a lot. We worked on our defense and I think all that practice will help us a lot in the long run."

Despite his lofty numbers in the first three games, Patterson knows Gillispie and his staff aren't satisfied with his early production.

"Coach Gillispie is never satisfied and there is a lot of stuff we can do better," he said.

Patterson said he needs to capitalize on the opportunities to score, especially underneath the basket.

"I can't keep missing easy shots close to the basket and in the paint," he said. "I don't want to be an average freshman. I want to excel and exceed. I try to be a dominant force. I work hard in practice to be the best I can be."

Following the contest against Texas Southern, Kentucky will take on Stony Brook on Tuesday, followed by a showdown against North Carolina a week from today at Rupp Arena. The Cats then visit Indiana a week later on Dec. 8.

"We're anxious for those games, but we still need to work on getting better," Kentucky senior Ramel Bradley said. "By the time those games roll around, we'll be ready."


Notes

  • Through the first three games, Kentucky is shooting 82 percent (46-56) from the free-throw line.
  • The Tigers are 1-3, and are coming off a 73-66 loss to Houston.
  • Kentucky will play three more games at home, followed by three straight road contests, including the traditional "home" game against UAB at Freedom Hall in Louisville on Dec. 15.
  • Joe Crawford leads the team in scoring (15.3 points per game), followed by Ramel Bradley (14.7 ppg).

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