Commentary

Underrated Kentucky could surprise some folks

Updated: November 12, 2008, 9:00 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

The SEC should be a very competitive league this season, and I am not talking about the pigskin, baby! I hear a lot of people talking about Tennessee and Florida, and the Gators will be improved.

I don't hear a lot of people mentioning Kentucky. My friends, the Wildcats are going to be better than people believe. The team has finally become acclimated with coach Billy Gillispie and his system.

I really feel the 'Cats will play hard on the defensive end. This year's club will play at a faster pace. Kentucky does lose the scoring ability of Joe Crawford and Ramel Bradley's experience on the perimeter. Derrick Jasper decided to transfer to UNLV.

Sometimes you have addition by subtraction. I'm telling you, the chemistry is going to be a lot better. Look for Patrick Patterson to be a dominating force inside. A healthy Patterson in the low box will be one of the premier players in the SEC.

Then look at the diaper dandy DeAndre Liggins, who provides size on the perimeter at 6-6. Darius Miller can add some scoring punch. Jodie Meeks appears to be healthy and ready to contribute. Gillispie also has a JUCO transfer in Kevin Galloway ready to help out.

This club is going to be better than people anticipate. Rupp Arena is going to be rockin' and rolling. The Big Blue fans are among the most passionate in the sport. It will be an exciting place to be.

Kentucky really improved last season as it rolled on. I believe you will see a lot more consistency out of this year's squad. Gillispie's club should be ready to perform right out of the blocks.

There is a real test early in the season against North Carolina. I can't wait to call that contest, baby!

Look for the Wildcats to make some noise in the SEC.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.