BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2011-12 Season Analytical Writings
It has been about seven long months since the 2010-11 Kentucky Wildcats lost to Connecticut in their Final Four match up last April. Since that time, the Big Blue Nation has been waiting with great anticipation for the beginning of the 2011-12 season. That wait ends tonight when these new [and old] Cats take to the floor in their first pre-season exhibition game against Transylvania University. Over the course of these seven long months, Coach Calipari has again transformed his roster for the third off-season in a row by blending into his roster his third consecutive #1 recruiting class.
Cat fans may never become accustomed to this annual retooling process, but I do not know any Big Blue fans that are disappointed that Coach Calipari continues to enlist the services of the best of the best available high school talent each year and continues to place the UK basketball team as a player on the national stage as he has done the first three years of his UK tenure.
The 7-month dead period was not completely void of basketball activity this year as Coach Calipari took advantage an opportunity to coach on the international level and he took advantage of the NBA lockout to bring August basketball to the Bluegrass and to Rupp Arena. In addition, as the NBA lockout continued into the fall, Coach Calipari made the UK practice facilities available to NBA players who wanted to spend time in Lexington to keep their game skills honed. The presence of these NBA stars provided the current UK players major opportunities to play pickup games against these “stars.” Finally, Coach Calipari invited a bevy of former UK and current NBA players to attend the annual Big Blue Madness along with numerous recruiting prospects from the 2012 and 2013 recruiting classes.
It is difficult to predict how exhibition games such as this one against Transylvania University 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 18% 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.
For these reason, I expect that the two exhibition games will average about 85 to 90 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 Transylvania University 89-60 at a pace of about 85 possessions for the game.
Calipari starts Senior Miller, Sophomores Jones and Lamb with Freshmen Davis and Teague. Wiltjer and Kidd-Gilchrist will be the first off the bench. This is a first step on a long journey for Coach Calipari's third UK team. It has been a long 7 months, but it is again basketball time in the Bluegrass.
The Cats open sluggishly, not able to take the ball inside for shots, and settling for 3 point attempts on the first three trips, without scoring. Transy makes a 3 pointer and a back door basket for an early 5 point lead, prompting a quick UK timeout. Out of the timeout, the Cats go inside to Jones for their first basket. However, Kentucky continues to play poorly through the balance of the opening segment and finds itself down 7 point, 11-4, at the under 16 TV timeout. In that opening segment, each team had 7 possessions and 1 turnover. However, the small Transy team used 3 offensive rebounds to get 9 shots, making 4, compared to UK's 7 shots, making 2.
Out of the timeout, Kidd-Gilchrist entered the game, and Wiltjer came in at the first stoppage. The Cats quickly hit the boards, got a put back, a run out, and a three pointer by Teague to tie the score. Lamb then drove the baseline for a basket for the Cats first lead, 13-11. The Cats' run continues to 17-11 before Transy stops the run with back to back 3 pointers to pull even, 17-17, at the under 12 TV timeout. In the third segment, Transy eased back out into a brief lead, but the Cats reasserted themselves, and finished the segment hitting 2 of 4 shots, and both free throws to ease out to a 3 point lead, 24-21 at the under 8 TV timeout with 7:01 to play in the first half
In the abbreviated 4 th segment, the Cats outscored Transy 6-0 on 5 possessions each to move out by 9 points, 30-21 at the under 4 TV timeout. The pace of this game is very slow for a UK exhibition, at a pace of 70 possessions. The Cats has score their 30 points on 28 possessions [1.071 ppp] and Transy has an efficiency of 0.750 ppp through the first 16 minutes. The Cats closed out the first half with a 7 to 2 run to lead by 14, 37-23 at the half.
UK scored its 37 points in a total of 36 possessions for the half, and Transy scored its 23 points on a total of 35 possessions. Kentucky dominated the boards, with a rebounding edge 24-14, but battled even, 5-5 on the offensive glass. The Cats used their second chance possessions to only score 2 second chance points while Transy used its 5 second chances to score 6 second chance points. Transy had an offensive efficiency of 0.486 ppp on its 35 first chance possessions and 1.200 ppp for its 5 second chance possessions. UK had 0.972 ppp on its 36 first chance possessions and 0.400 ppp on its 5 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a solid 35.7% of its misses as offensive rebounds while Transy was able to convert 20.8% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this half, making 5-7 [71.4%]. Transy made 2-2 [100.0%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 15-31 overall [48.4%] and only 2-12 from long range [16.7%]. For Transy, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a poor 3-10 [30.0%] and from long range, Transy hit 5-22 [22.7%].
Turnovers were in great supply in this first half. The Cats committed a whopping 7 turnovers, one for every 5.1 possessions. The Cats forced only 7 Transy turnovers, one for every 5.0 possessions.
Both teams open the second half with hot shooting. The Cats hit all 5 of their shots and a pair of free throws, and Transy makes all four of their shots, but missed their only free throw attempt as the Cats extend their half time lead to 20 points, 48-28 before Transy trims it back to 17 points with a 3 pointer right before the under 16 TV timeout. In the second segment, the Cats outscored Transy 11-8 on 8 possessions to move back on top by 20, 61-41 at the under 12 TV timeout. Wiltjer will be at the line for a pair when play resumes.
The teams play out the final 12 minutes with the Cats winning easily, as expected, 97-53.
UK scored its 97 points in a total of 71 possessions for the game, and TRANSY scored its 53 points on a total of 70 possessions.
Kentucky dominated the boards, with a rebounding edge 45-27, and with a strong second half, the Cats won the battle of the offensive glass 13-11. Kentucky used its 13 second chance possessions to score 13 second chance points, winning the second chance points battle 13-11. TRANSY had an offensive efficiency of 0.600 ppp on its 70 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp for its 11 second chance possessions. UK had 1.183 ppp on its 71 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp on its 13 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a strong 44.8% of its misses as offensive rebounds while TRANSY was able to convert only 25.6% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 12-20 [60.0%]. TRANSY made 3-5 [60.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 39-66 overall [59.1%] and 7-20 from long range [35.0%]. For TRANSY, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a low 7-23 [30.4%] and from long range, TRANSY hit 12-38 [31.6%].
The Cats committed 8 turnovers, one for every 8.9 possessions. The Cats forced 18 TRANSY turnovers, one for every 3.9 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Monday night, again at Rupp Arena, the Cats will take on Morehouse in the second, and last exhibition game of the 2011-12 season
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks