Kentucky Expects to Return to Winning Ways

After winning 18 games and falling to defeat 13 times, Kentucky expects to have a better season this year. One of the reasons Kentucky struggled as they did is because of injuries. This season, however, the team is healthy and has high expectations.

Last season, every player who played meaningful minutes, except Perry Stevenson missed at least one game. No one player missed more time that junior, Jodie Meeks. "I'm excited about getting back," said Meeks. "I've never been injured before. I'm glad to be back on the court pain free," said Meeks.

Even freshman sensation Patrick Patterson couldn't avoid the injury bug. Patterson suffered a season ending injury, a stress fracture in his left ankle. "Rehab was tough," said Patterson. "I did a lot of work running in the pool. That takes a lot of pressure off your ankles and helps you to run pain free," said Patterson.

Patterson averaged 16 points and almost eight rebounds per outing last year prior to the injury. Meeks averaged almost 9 points per game with a pelvic stress fracture and a sports hernia hindering his play all season.

"I'm 100 percent," said Meeks. "I finished my rehab strong. My mind is stronger and I believe I've become a better teammate."

Meeks was very frustrated after missing 20 games last season and it was made harder by the struggles that Kentucky endured. "It was very frustrating. If I was healthy, I could help the team," said Meeks. "I'm glad to be healthy. I can come back and help the team," Meeks finished.

"Jodie is in phenomenal condition compared to where he was a year ago, and he is very fast and athletic," said Gillispie. "He is another guy who is starting to accept leadership responsibility. Jodie is going to be a very special player for us," said Gillispie.

The Wildcats will need the help of its two returning stars. After losing seniors Ramel Bradley and Joe Crawford, who both had outstanding seasons, Kentucky needs to replace points and leadership. Kentucky will look to Meeks and Patterson to provide that.

"Since his injury, he has gone to a new level," said coach Gillispie. "That doesn't happen very often. He faces a big challenge of improving on a phenomenal freshman year," Gillispie continued. "I'm trying to work on my ball handling. I am working on facing the basket and being able to play the three," said Patterson. "I'm just trying to expand my game," Patterson finished.

"We're going to feed the ball through Patrick. We have to help him by making open shots," said Meeks.

Gillispie agreed with Meeks' assessment. "When Patrick catches the ball in the post, defenses are going to help. Patrick has the ability to make two guys have to guard him. That's what the NBA is looking for," said Gillispie.

With its two stars in excellent condition, Kentucky expects to have a very good season and get back to the business of winning.

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