UK Men's Basketball

Gillispie looks for progress in premiere

Kentucky continues what it hopes is a step-by-step march to championship form when it plays Missouri-St. Louis in the first of two pre-season exhibition games.

The Cats dipped a toe into the competitive pool during Saturday night's Blue-White scrimmage. Afterward, Coach Billy Gillispie singled out defense — on the perimeter, in the post and in transition — as an area in need of improvement.

But, Gillipsie noted how all teams are works-in-progress, to borrow a sporting cliche, in early November.

Junior guard Jodie Meeks, who showed his return to good health with 32 points Saturday, echoed his coach by saying, "You can't expect to be good at everything on Nov. 1."

While noting the objective Monday night would be to "try to get better," Gillispie suggested the possibility of a competitive game against Missouri-St. Louis.

He called the Tritons "a bunch of small guys who are probably quicker than us."

Maybe so. Missouri-St. Louis Coach Chris Pilz ceded the size advantage to UK. He pointed out a back injury that could remove 6-foot-10 Adam Kaatman from his lineup. Another player iffy for the game is 6-4 forward Aaron Jackson.

"Those guys can score for us," said Pilz, who scored 1,677 points in his playing career for Missouri-St. Louis. "We won't have a lot of size."

The Tritons return seven lettermen from a team that had a 10-17 record last season.

Pilz has spoken openly about his goals for the exhibition: A boost in exposure for the Division II program, a flashy game to wave in front of recruits and, of course, a financial guarantee.

As for winning or losing, Pilz sounded like Gillispie — more concerned with how his team plays.

"Our goal is to come in and make it competitive," he said.