BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2010-11 Season Analytical Writings
It has been about 7 long months since the 2009-10 Kentucky Wildcats lost to West Virginia in their Elite Eight match up in Syracuse, New York. Since that time, the Big Blue Nation has been waiting with great anticipation for the beginning of the 2010-11 season. That wait ends tonight when these new Cats take to the floor in their first pre-season exhibition game against Pikeville College. Over the course of these 7 long months, Coach Calipari has transformed his roster for the second off season in a row. I suspect that Cat fans must get accustomed to this annual retooling process because Coach Calipari continues to enlist the services of the best of the best available high school talent each year.
The 7 month dead period was not completely void of basketball activity this year as Coach Calipari took advantage of NCAA rules that allow a program to take a team on an international tour once every 4 seasons. Coach took his young an lean team for a 3 game “tour” of Windson, Ontario, Canada in August. This tour gave him an opportunity to work with his new team, allow them to begin their team building process earlier than most years, and gave the Big Blue Nation a taste of things to come.
That taste was mouth watering for sure even though the glimpse did not include a view of 2 freshmen and the JUCO transfer. Freshman Terrence Jones only played a scant few minutes in the first game and could not participate further due to a rib and shoulder injury. Freshman Enes Kanter could not play due to NCAA eligibility issues. JUCO transfer Eloy Vargas could not play due to his transfer to UK having not been effective in time for the trip. Despite these further roster limitations, the Cats breezed through those three games in grand style, further wetting the appetites of all Big Blue fans.
Due to NCAA eligibility issues, Freshman Enes Kanter still cannot practice or play for the Cats. Those close to the program are not able to say whether or when Kanter might become available to this team. So for the time being, the roster remains Kanter-less. However, Vargas and Jones have entered the action.
It is difficult to predict how exhibition games such as this one against Pikeville College will be played. However, if prior years can provide any indication, then we should expect a high scoring, up tempo event. For example, in the last 6 seasons, the average pace of the two exhibition games has been about 10% faster than the regular season pace for the same 6 seasons. Similarly, scoring and scoring defense have been more efficient in the exhibitions than the seasons. Both are expected, and should be the case again this year for the exhibitions relative to the regular season performance levels.
Calipari starts Freshmen Bledsoe, Cousins, and newcomer Sophomore Dodson with returning Sophomore Miller, and returning Junior Patterson. Two Freshmen, Two Sophomores, and one Junior. It will be interesting to see which of these players yield their starting spot for Wall in Exhibition 2 later this week.
For these reason, I expect that the two exhibition games will average about 80 to 85 possessions, and scoring will be correspondingly higher than what we will see against D1 opposition over the course of the season. I predict that UK will defeat Pikeville College 97-62 at a pace of about 83 possessions for the game.
Calipari starts Freshmen Knight, Jones and Lamb with Juniors Miller and Liggins. Prior to the game, Coach Calipari said he would probably limit the first half rotation to 7 players, with Vargas and Hood being the first off the bench. This is a first step on a long journey for Coach Calipari's second UK team. It has been a long 7 months, but it is again basketball time in the Bluegrass.
The Cats open by hitting 2 of their first 4 shots, but a UK turnover coupled with a Pikeville offensive rebound put back allowed Pikeville to stay even, 4-4, on 2-7 shooting, prompting a quick UK timeout. After the timeout, Pikeville outscored the Cats 3-2 to take a 1 point lead, 7-6. The first UK substitution was Vargas for Jones with 16:30 to play in the first half. However, Vargas commits a turnover on the first trip into offensive court, the Cats 4 th turnover in the opening segment of the game. At the under 16 TV timeout the Cats trail 7-6. The early pace is very fast, 90 to 100 possessions, and the efficiency for both teams is very low, 0.667 ppp for the Cats and 0.700 ppp for Pikeville.
In the second segment, the Cats finally started scoring, converting a brief 3 point deficit [10-13] to a 7 point lead, 22-15 at the under 12 TV timeout and 11:29 to play in the half. During the segment, Lamb and Jones both picked up their second fouls, sending both to the bench, and forcing Calipari to go a little deeper into his bench in the first half than he hoped, as Hood and Harrellson both entered the game during the segment. Thus far, the Cats have scored their 22 points on 19 possession [1.158 ppp] while Pikeville has only 15 on 19, 0.789 ppp. In the third segment, the Cats extend their lead to 11 points, 30-19 at the under 8 TV timeout with 7:08 to play in the half.
Through the first 13 minutes, the Cats has shot 75% from the field, but only 5-11 from the free throw line. Pikeville's shooting has been 33%, but they have managed to control the boards with 7 offensive rebounds producing 9 second chance points. The Cats have only 1 offensive rebound and no second chance points. Out of the timeout, Lamb returns to the game, carrying those 2 fouls. In the 4 th segment, the pace of the game slows considerably, as does the scoring as the Cats stretch their lead to 14 points, 38-24 at the under 4 TV timeout with 3:50 to play. When play resumes, Miller will be shooting 2 free throws, with a chance to give the Cats their first second chance points of the game.
Out of the timeout, Miller missed the first of two, and a three by Pikeville cut the lead back to 12 points, 39-27, prompting the second UK timeout of the half. The teams close the first half with Kentucky up by 16 points, 43-27.
UK scored its 43 points in a total of 42 possessions for the half, and PC scored its 27 points on a total of 42 possessions. Kentucky dominated the boards, with a rebounding edge 24-17, but lost the battle of the offensive glass 7-3. The Cats used their second chance possessions to only score 1 second chance point while PC used its 7 second chances to score 9 second chance points. PC had an offensive efficiency of 0.429 ppp on its 42 first chance possessions and 1.286 ppp for its 7 second chance possessions. UK had 1.000 ppp on its 42 first chance possessions and 0.333 ppp on its 3 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed an anemic 23.1% of its misses as offensive rebounds while PC was able to convert 25.0% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this half, making 12-19 [63.2%]. PC made 1-3 [33.3%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 15-26 overall [57.7%] and only 1-5 from long range [20.0%]. For PC, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a poor 10-29 [34.5%] and from long range, CU hit 2-10 [20.0%].
Turnovers were in great supply in this first half. The Cats committed a whopping 11 turnovers, one for every 3.8 possessions. The Cats forced only 9 PC turnovers, one for every 4.7 possessions.
After a slow start in the second half that allowed PC to cut the 16 point lead to only 12 points, the Cats reasserted their dominance and extende their lead to 20 points, 60-40 with about 13 minutes to play in the game. However, PC trims the lead back to 17 points, 61-44 at the under 12 TV timeout. In the third segment, the teams traded baskets until the Cats reestablished their biggest lead at 20 points, 72-52, but PC then scores the next 5 points prompting a UK timeout. The Cats took a 17 point lead, 74-57, to the under 8 TV timeout with 7:36 to play in the game.
In the fourth segment, the Cats extend their lead to 22 points, 85-63 at the under 4 TV timeout with 3:35 to play in the game. Miller will be shooting a pair of free throws when play resumes for the final segment. The Cats won the game 97-66.
UK scored its 97 points in a total of 84 possessions for the game, and PC scored its 66 points on a total of 85 possessions.
Kentucky dominated the boards, with a rebounding edge 52-35, and with a strong second half, the Cats won the battle of the offensive glass 15-14. However PC used their second chance possessions with greater efficiency, winning the second chance points battle 15-13. PC had an offensive efficiency of 0.600 ppp on its 85 first chance possessions and 1.071 ppp for its 14 second chance possessions. UK had 1.000 ppp on its 84 first chance possessions and 0.867 ppp on its 15 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a strong 41.7% of its misses as offensive rebounds while PC was able to convert only 27.5% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 44-56 [78.6%]. PC made 14-19 [73.7%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 26-58 overall [44.8%] and only 1-11 from long range [9.1%]. For PC, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a fair 20-53 [37.7%] and from long range, PC hit 4-21 [19.0%].
Turnovers were in great supply in this game. The Cats committed 15 turnovers, one for every 5.6 possessions. The Cats forced 17 PC turnovers, one for every 5.0 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Friday night, again at Rupp Arena, the Cats will take on Dillard in the second, and last exhibition game of the 2010-11 season
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks