Mark Story

Ten Cat facts to start the season

Ten things I learned at Kentucky men's basketball media day:

1. In a case of the best players bonding, Patrick Patterson and Jodie Meeks are rooming together.

My experience with college roommates is that there is usually a messy roomie and one who is the neatnik.

"Me and Jodie are pretty much the same," Patterson reports. "We have our days where we are lazy, just throw our clothes on the floor. But most of the time our room is kept neat."

However, Patterson says that just last Friday, Meeks set him up to appear to be the room's slob.

Patterson says, when he left Wildcat Lodge, both sides of the room were messy.

He got back later and noticed that Meeks had picked up all the clothes on his own side of the room. The guard's bed was made as neatly as an Army private's.

"That had never been this entire year," Patterson says of Meeks' made bed.

Meanwhile, "my side was still a complete mess, clothes everywhere," Patterson said.

Before Patterson had time to address the change, Meeks' parents arrived.

"Not 10 minutes later they come in. I didn't even get a warning," says Patterson, shaking his head in mock disgust. "He wanted it to look like he is the clean roommate and I'm the dirty roommate."

2. Jared Carter is listed as the lone senior on the Kentucky roster. Because the 7-foot-2 backup missed all but three games of the 2006-07 season due to injury, he almost certainly could get a medical redshirt and return for next year, though.

Whether UK and Carter want that outcome is uncertain.

"It's hard to say right now," Carter said. "I'm going to take this year as if it would be my last and work as hard as I can.

"We'll talk about (coming back next year), probably, later on. Right now, I think it would be better for me not to worry about that a lot and just focus on this year."

3. From the time the Lafayette, La., product came to Lexington three years ago, Perry Stevenson has had the same nagging issue: The Cajun food here isn't up to his standards.

So it's nice to report that good Cajun cooking has at last come to him. The junior forward's mom, Renee, has moved to Lexington.

"It's nice when she has time to cook," Stevenson said. "Her red beans are really good. One of my favorites."

The spindly forward — who packed 192 pounds on his 6-9 frame when he came to UK — says he weighs in at 205 now.

"I may get to 206 right after a good meal," Stevenson notes.

4. Across a stellar high school career that culminated with leading Mason County to the 2008 Kentucky state championship and his earning Mr. Basketball honors, Darius Miller always wore No. 21.

Since Perry Stevenson already had No. 21 at UK, Miller is wearing No. 1.

"There isn't a specific reason," the freshman forward said. "That's the number that came to me. I didn't pick it."

He says he did not offer Stevenson anything — maybe a year's worth of gumbo — for a number exchange.

"It wasn't a big deal or anything, which number I wore," Miller says.

5. After Josh Harrellson, the transfer from Southwestern Illinois junior college, blocked Patrick Patterson's first shot in the Big Blue Madness scrimmage, I wondered whether the sophomore big man said anything to the All-America candidate.

"I kind of ran down the court, gave him a little grin and told him to get that mess out of here," Harrellson said.

6. Kevin Galloway, the juco-transfer point guard, averaged more assists (8.6) than points (8.4) last year at College of Southern Idaho.

There aren't many pure "pass-first" point guards left in modern basketball.

"I didn't have much choice," Galloway says. "In high school, I was a freshman point guard on a team with 14 seniors. They wouldn't let me do anything but pass."

7. Even for players at Kentucky, there has to be more to life than basketball. Patrick Patterson says that Jared Carter is the best in Wildcat Lodge at Madden NFL 09 and walk-on guard Matt Scherbenske is tops at NCAA Football 09.

Patterson also modestly notes that the best bowler among Wildcats hoopsters is one Patrick Patterson.

8. My guess is that, because of his experience, junior Michael Porter will begin the season as Kentucky's starting point guard (or "lead guard" in Gillispie-ese), which carries a touch of irony because Porter says he spent the off-season honing his shooting-guard skills.

"I spent a lot of time this summer on my shot, coming off screens shooting," the 6-3 junior says. "I feel more comfortable playing two-guard. But I definitely want to play point guard if that's where I'm needed."

9. I asked Perry Stevenson for a scouting report on some of the new UK players. The answer that got my attention was about Josh Harrellson, the 6-10, 265-pound center.

"Josh is big, and he's very skilled, very skilled," Stevenson said. "You don't see too many skilled players at that size in terms of shooting, ballhandling, passing."

10. Last year, it became a symbol of how rugged Billy Gillispie's pre-season prac tices are that Patrick Patterson's feet literally bled after one such session.

"No feet bleeding this year," Patterson declares. "Luckily, no one's feet bled this year."

Already, the Cats are ahead of last season.

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