Walker likes playing UNC early

Kenny Walker feels that the UNC game will tell Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie a lot about his team. Among the things Walker expects Gillispie to determine is who is willing to lay it on the line and who is not. On the game, Walker says, "I think (plaing North Carolina) will open eyes and show Kentucky does have talent and has some guys that can play despite what happened against VMI."

I think it is good for Kentucky to be playing North Carolina this early. You can call me crazy — and people have certainly called me worse — but I think early in the year they are still trying to develop a style of play and chemistry just like Kentucky is. They are more prone to make mistakes as opposed to having more time to play. They can make mistakes just like we can — and did against VMI — and we proved last year that a guy like Patrick Patterson can play that tough, physical style and not back down.

So a game early in the year, especially when you want to put that VMI game behind you, with two teams battling can be good.

This game should tell me even more about certain players. You are not going to get a better environment to play college basketball than Kentucky-North Carolina. They have a tremendous home court advantage and it is a hostile place to play. If you have your guys ready to play and they can go in there, and even if they don't win the game, and play respectable and play hard and play aggressive, I think it will open eyes and show Kentucky does have talent and has some guys that can play despite what happened against VMI. You can find out in this game who is willing to lay it on the line and who is not.

I think that is great for Billy Gillispie to find out some of these things in the second game of the year. If he was playing a normal schedule, this game might not be until the eighth or ninth game. But he will know after two games who will bounce back from the VMI game and how they will respond.

Players can learn things about each other, too. I will never forget a game at Vanderbilt my freshman year when I was playing behind Derrick Hord and Charles Hurt that coach (Joe) Hall went with because of their experience. I got playing time, but I remember Melvin Turpin got in foul trouble and Sam Bowie wasn't playing. Dirk Minniefield came up to me and said, ‘Freshman, we need you to play. If you want a lob pass, ask for it. But get out here and be aggressive.' That helped me out a whole lot of have a teammate to confide in me and show that confidence in me. Guys on this Kentucky team who have been through the wars will learn about the new guys in this game just like the coaches will. They will know who can do what and that will be very helpful to them."v

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