2010-11 Season Analytical Writings


Last year, I began to experiment with an analysis of individual efficiencies for the season. Along those lines, I presented to you a preliminary analysis of those individual efficiencies following UK's opening game this season against ETSU. Admittedly, such an analysis has little meaning with a database of only one basketball game, and I indicated that I would continue to track individual efficiencies and report back on this issue after the non-conference schedule, which is also roughly the mid-point of the 2010-11 season.

As hard as it is to accept, the 2010-11 season is roughly ½ completed, and the Cats have performed remarkably well through their first 14 games, posting a 12-2 record with losses only to UConn in Hawaii and at North Carolina. The 12 victories include impressive wins over Washington in Hawaii, Notre Dame in the SEC-Big East Invitational, and at Louisville. The following table provides the current individual efficiencies with my suggestions on how this team can improve its overall team effectiveness moving forward.

When one examines the details of these results, one will identify some instances that will surprise only because of the magnitude of the contribution, not that the contribution to the team has been very powerful [Harrellson], several instances in which a fan will knowingly nod that the play has been strong for the team just as the numbers illustrate [Miller and Lamb], and at least one instance that surprises the fan in each of us because the results are completely inconsistent with the generally accepted wisdom about the player [Vargas]. Otherwise, the results are what they are for Liggins, Jones, Knight, Hood, Polson and Poole.

The story thus far this season for this team has to be Josh Harrellson. He is getting it done on both ends of the floor with his rebounding and his very efficient use of the limited number of possessions he ends. Notice the disparity between “Scoring Opportunities” which is the lowest among the top 6 players, and “Possessions Used” which is the lowest of the top 7 players [Vargas Used More Possessions than Harrellson]. This team would benefit from increasing both the number of scoring opportunities for Josh as well as the number of possessions he ends because of his extremely high individual efficiency in the use of each.

Vargas is an enigma. All season long, his individual efficiency has been higher than the eye ball test would suggest for his play. All season long, I have discounted this disparity as a consequence of limited playing time that distorts the statistical analysis in this manner. However, Vargas has played in all 14 games, and has logged 159 minutes. At this stage, I am prepared to acknowledge that Vargas' game may not be quite as deficient as the eye ball test has been saying to me, as well as the majority of observers. Continued monitoring, and wait and see is the appropriate response to this with respect to Vargas, in my opinion.

Last year, Miller's individual efficiency was among the leaders of the team, just as it is again this season. Yet, Miller continues to accept a secondary role on this team, just as he was willing to do last year. I am again left with the same conclusion. This team would benefit from increased assertiveness from Miller. I believe this is precisely the message that Coach Calipari is sending to Miller, and the fan base about Miller's contributions to this team.

You will note that among the top 6 players, Knight's individual efficiency is lowest. However, I can add that it has been rising over the last 7 games, and I fully expect that trend to continue as he takes control of this team as its on the floor general. Jones' low individual efficiency is a result of his insistence upon “getting his” even when “his” are not really there to take, and the team would benefit by his sharing the basketball with others out of the double and triple team defenses that have become commonplace with respect to their need to stop Jones. However, the Louisville game demonstrates that Jones is beginning to get this message, and not only will the team benefit from this new team first maturity, ironically, so will Jones as the season moves forward.

Hood's play has not been a NET liability, but his contributions to the team continue to lag well behind where he needs to be before coach Calipari can justify increasing his role on this team, despite the fact that the team could benefit greatly from his increased playing time and contributions. Polson and Poole are what they are.

Based on the foregoing, if I could make the decisions I would:

•  Give Miller, Lamb, and Harrellson more possessions.

•  Direct Knight to end fewer possessions [not many] and distribute the ball more to Miller, Lamb, and Harrellson.

•  Insist that Jones and Liggins improve their free throw shooting.

•  Continue to work with Hood, primarily on his defensive skills with the goal of increasing his value to the team when he is on the floor

•  Continue to work with Vargas, primarily on his strength, endurance, and focus.

I will revisit this issue at the end of the regular season and prior to the SEC Tournament.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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