Commentary

Wildcats look good, can improve

Updated: November 11, 2012, 5:18 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

If you want to beat Kentucky, you'd better do it early in the season.

The young Wildcats will get better and better as the season rolls on. Maryland took a shot, coming back from a 15-point deficit at the new Barclays Center on Friday night, but John Calipari's team found a way to get to the winner's circle.

It was a great way to start the new season, baby!

Once again, Kentucky has a lot of talent. It is Calipari's job to get this group to play as a unit. For the first half against the Terps, Big Blue was very impressive, especially in the way they executed their halfcourt offense.

This Wildcat team has to make shots on the perimeter, especially on trifectas. Struggling from long distance was one reason Maryland got back into the game. The other was the Terp dominance on the offensive glass, grabbing a staggering 28 offensive rebounds.

[+] EnlargeJarrod Polson and Kyle Wiltjer
Jason Szenes/Getty ImagesJarrod Polson, left, and Kyle Wiltjer scored a combined 29 points on 10-for-14 shooting.

You can be sure that Calipari will remind his team of that glaring area of concern.

Archie Goodwin looked like a freshman at times, attempting several wild, off-balance shots. He has to realize that he doesn't get style points for his shot selection. He reminds me of a young Russell Westbrook; he is very talented and will improve.

I was also very impressed with big man Willie Cauley-Stein. He is very agile for a big man. Cauley-Stein will earn his share of playing time for Kentucky.

Next up is a showdown against Duke down in Atlanta. I cannot wait to call that one. Will veterans like Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly give the 'Cats trouble inside?

I was thinking about some of the great games in this rivalry. Of course there was the 1992 battle in Philadelphia in the NCAA tournament. Christian Laettner's winning shot is one of the great moments in college basketball history.

In the 1978 national title game at Saint Louis, Goose Givens put on a show with 41 big points as Kentucky cut down the nets. Gene Banks, Jim Spanarkel and Mike Gminski fell short of the championship.

I called the 2002 Jimmy V Classic showdown at East Rutherford, New Jersey. Mike Krzyzewski pulled his starters at one point, upset with their play. Jay Williams, now my compatriot at ESPN, scored 38 points as the Dukies prevailed 95-92 in overtime.

I remember seeing the 1998 NCAA South regional final which was another classic in this series. Kentucky won 86-84, as Jeff Sheppard got the 'Cats to the winner's circle.

Hopefully we will have more memories created on Tuesday night.

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.