Walker: Tempo key for Cats

Former Kentucky All American Kenny Walker discusses what will need to happen for the Wildcats to be victorious in their first round NCAA tourney game against Marquette.

In order for Kentucky to be able to beat Marquette, they must do a good job of controlling the tempo of the game. If the Cats shorten the game, it helps Kentucky. They are taking shots in the last five seconds or less on the shot clock, which helps them. The good thing is that they are making those shots and when they do that, they can play with almost anybody. They have to control the tempo and keep the score in the low 60's.

Another key, even without Patrick Patterson, is that they have to hold their own on the boards. If you don't win the board battle, you can't get beat bad, especially by a team like Marquette.

Then they have to continue to take good shots. So far, they have not had one guy try to go out and do too much. Collectively, they have all played within the scheme of the offense since Patterson went down. I am not saying they are a better team without Patterson, but they are not as predictable.

When Patterson was playing, you knew where the ball was going to go. It was easier to defend in a way. You knew they were going to go to him. Now that they are being even more patient on offense and taking a lot of time off the shot clock, nobody knows where those shots are coming from. They are coming from Bradley and Crawford still, but Jasper, Harris and Stevenson are all doing more.

I think the element of surprise and not knowing where the offense is coming from has really helped Kentucky.

But even if Kentucky was to lose this game, this season is still a success. They got off to such a shaky start and some people said that makes this a season not to be proud of. It took time for Billy Gillispie to put in his system and that's why they lost some of those games early. It took guys time to pick it up.

Considering where they came from in November and December and the way they are playing now, I would absolutely consider this a successful season because you have laid the foundation to build a successful program.

Billy, in his mind, had to tear it all down and build it back up. He had to change culture of the way these guys conditioned, thought and played. He sacrificed some wins by doing that early, but I think in the long run it will pay off.

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