Stevenson on the court
Perry Stevenson's statistics through UK's first nine games:
Opponent Min. FG FT Reb. Ast. Pts.
VMI 40 8-12 4-7 14 2 20
North Carolina 25 0-1 3-4 7 0 3
Delaware St. 12 0-2 4-4 4 1 4
Longwood 27 0-2 4-4 4 4 4
Kansas St. 28 0-2 1-2 3 1 1
West Virginia 24 1-2 2-2 0 2 4
Lamar 16 3-3 0-0 4 1 6
Miami 33 3-10 3-4 8 2 9
Miss. Valley St. 18 2-2 2-3 12 2 6
Totals 17-36 23-30 56 15 57
Kentucky Coach Billy Gillispie calls Perry Stevenson a self-motivated player. Which is another way of saying Gillispie doesn't know what motivates Stevenson.
It's not for lack of trying. Gillispie has tried good cop, bad cop and admitted he'd run out of cops.
"I don't know of anyone, including his mother, who knows what really makes him tick," the UK coach said last week.
The question stumps Stevenson, who kept it at arm's length by referring to himself in the third person.
"Honestly, I don't even know how to get Perry going," he said before UK split last weekend's games. "I guess it just sort of happens."
Teammate Patrick Patterson doesn't know what ignites Stevenson's inner fire.
"I wish I knew," Patterson said. "He'd be scoring as many points as he'd want every night."
When asked what motivated him, Patterson offered a smorgasbord of possibilities.
"Just my family," he said. "Wearing a Kentucky jersey. Just not wanting to fail. Doing the right thing for coach and teammates."
While Stevenson and others struggle to identify his trigger mechanism, this might be considered a sign of indifference. Not true, he said,"I feel I'm pretty passionate."
When asked what basketball meant to him, Stevenson said, "It means a whole lot. Eventually, I want to make this my profession."
But Stevenson has a firm grasp on reality. He knows he's no shoo-in for getting paid to play basketball.
"I keep the fact in consideration (that) it's possible it won't happen," he said. But in his perfect world, he would continue playing basketball beyond his UK years.
"(Working) 9 to 5 is not what I want to do out of college," Stevenson said before adding, "But it's a pretty good possibility if I don't get a whole lot better ..."
Stevenson acknowledged that this season, his junior year, could be "a whole lot better" from an individual point of view.
"Pretty much everything" in his game needs improvement, he said. "I'm not perfect in any aspect of my game."
Through nine games, Stevenson is averaging 6.3 points and 6.2 rebounds. Those numbers put him on pace for career highs in those statistical categories.
Still, it seems he's capable of more, an impression Gillispie re-enforced earlier this season when he called averages of 10-plus points and six-to-eight rebounds a reasonable expectation.
At a news conference earlier this year, Gillispie suggested Stevenson might be too cerebral. The player might be weighing too many factors during each play or game rather than just winging it.
"Perry may be over analytical," the UK coach said.
If so, there's a record of one factor that brings out the best in Stevenson: Need. When he sees that Kentucky needs more, he can deliver more.
For instance, when an ankle injury sidelined Patterson for the final five games of last season, all seemed lost. Stevenson had two double-doubles while averaging 9.4 points and 9.0 rebounds in that span.
Kentucky has a need this season. The Cats could use a third consistent force to join Jodie Meeks and Patterson.
When asked whether Patterson's injury and UK's desperation spurred him, Stevenson was, alas, unsure.
"I guess that was what it was," he said. "I don't really know. The first thing I said was, 'Oh, God, Patrick is out.'
"I knew I could do it. I know I can do it now. It's just a matter of making it happen."