BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2011-12 Season Analytical Writings
What a difference a year makes. One year ago, the Big Blue Nation was stunned by the NCAA's decision that Enes Kanter would not be allowed to play basketball for UK. This season, UK has a roster with every expected participant eligible and ready to go to war, except possibly Stacey Poole who is pondering a potential transfer. Now the long off season is over, the Big Blue Nation has convened for another evening of October Madness, the Cats have flexed their collective muscles against the likes of Transylvania and Morehouse. Now the games begin to count, and the journey toward April 2012 begins with this first step, against Marist at Rupp Arena.
Last week, the Cats played their two annual exhibition games in preparation for the regular season, and the team performed off the scale as compared to any year in memory for these practice runs. The team disposed of a gritty Transylvania team by 44 points [97-53] about 10 days ago and had their own way, in every conceivable respect, on Monday night against Morehouse, winning by an unbelievable 85 points, 125-40. Now it is time to lace them up for real.
First up for the Cats will be MARIST at Rupp on Friday night. The Cats have never played a Marist team in Men's basketball. Last season, MARIST finished their season with a 6-27 record, finishing tied for last place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference with Manhattan with a year ending Pomeroy rating of #316. Marist opens this season with a Pomeroy rating of #307.
Kentucky begins the 2011-12 season with a substantially new team, with only 3 of its top 7 players going into the season returners from last year's Final Four team. Returning are Senior Darius Miller, and Sophomores, Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb. Added to this top 7 players for the game rotation mix are four true freshmen; Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Anthony Davis, Kyle Wiltjer, and Marquis Teague. Senior Eloy Vargas and Sophomore walk-on Jarrod Polson will provide some game playing time assistance as the #8 and #9 players in what will probably be the extent of game rotations.
The most reliable indication of how this new group might play this season can only be gleaned from the two exhibition games last week. The Cats finished these two games with an average offensive efficiency of 1.47 points per possession. This offensive efficiency is the best average offensive efficiency in the 2 exhibitions that I have ever recorded for any UK team since 1999. Last year was the previous best, and 2010 broke the mark established in 2004. On the defensive end, the Cats' performance was nearly as impressive with an average defensive efficiency of 0.628 points per possession. This is the 3 rd best defensive performance in the exhibition games over the last 12 years. The combined effort, measured by Net Game Efficiency, was 0.832 points per possession for the two games. That is the best pre-season NGE posted by any UK team over the last 12 seasons. To achieve these impressive results, the Cats limited turnovers in these games to about 10.5 per game, and hit the boards as well as last year's team did on both ends of the floor.
In these early season match ups, it is impossible to make direct comparisons of performance data for the current teams against D1 competition. The only direct comparisons that are possible are based on the 2010-11 season ending statistics. Based on these comparisons, it is my opinion that UK should defeat MARIST at Rupp Arena in the season opener 37 points.
The NGE analysis indicates a game played at a pace of about 67 possessions with the Cats winning by 37 points, 86-49. The analysis projects an offensive efficiency of 1.284 ppp and a defensive efficiency of 0.731 ppp.
Coach Calipari found it necessary to juggle his starting lineup for tonight's season opener after Sophomore Terrence Jones was involved in an automobile accident at 2:30 am early this morning. While Coach Calipari had not placed a curfew into place this season, he fully expected his star sophomore to use better judgment than this, and Terrence Jones will not start tonight as a result. The starters will be Miller, Lamb, Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist, and Marquis Teague.
The Cats start with good full court defensive pressure and strong early shooting to sprint out to a 10-5 lead, prompting a quick Marist timeout with 17:08 to play in the first half. Out of the timeout, Marist used a pair of Kentucky turnovers to score a pair of baskets and tie the score at 10-10, and the teams traded baskets for the balance of a protracted opening segment to a 1 point Marist lead, 18-17, at the under 16 TV timeout with 13:30 to play in the first half. Kentucky will have possession when play resumes.
In the abbreviated second segment, the Cats scored the only 4 points to ease back on top by 3 points, 21-18, at the under 12 TV timeout. On the final play, Doron Lamb caught an elbow in the eye. Polson enters the game for Lamb after the timeout. In the 3 rd segment, the Cats eased out to a 7 point lead, 30-23, but Marist's 5 th 3 pointer of the game trimmed the lead back to only 4 points, 30-26, at the under 8 TV timeout with 7:03 to play in the half.
In the 4 th segment, the teams trade baskets as the Kentucky lead swings between 4 and 6 points, and stands at 6 points, 40-34, at the under 4 TV timeout with 2:56 to play in the first half. The Cats will have the ball when play resumes. In the final segment, the Cats eased out to their largest lead, 11 points, 45-34, but Marist scored the final basket of the first half to trim the lead back to 9 points, 45-36 at the half.
UK scored its 45 points in a total of 34 possessions for the half, and MARIST scored its 36 points on a total of 34 possessions. Kentucky dominated the boards, with a rebounding edge 20-11, and won the battle of the offensive glass 7-3. The Cats used their second chance possessions to score 10 second chance point while MARIST used its 3 second chances to score 4 second chance points. MARIST had an offensive efficiency of 0.941 ppp on its 34 first chance possessions and 1.333 ppp for its 3 second chance possessions. UK had 1.029 ppp on its 34 first chance possessions and 1.429 ppp on its 7 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a powerful 46.7% of its misses as offensive rebounds while MARIST was able to convert only 18.8% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this half, making 5-5 [100.0%]. MARIST made 3-6 [50.0%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 19-34 overall [55.9%] and 2-6 from long range [33.3%]. For MARIST, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 9-20 [45.0%] and from long range, CU hit 5-8[62.5%].
Turnovers were in short supply in this first half. The Cats committed 5 turnovers, one for every 6.8 possessions. The Cats forced only 6 MARIST turnovers, one for every 5.7 possessions.
The Cats hit their first three shots while Marist shoots all blanks on its first 3, prompting another quick timeout by Marist, down 15 points, 51-36 with 18:35 to play in the game. Marist's timeout stopped the Kentucky run, but only momentarily, as the Cats begin to pour it on, running out to a 25 point lead, 67-42, prompting yet another Marist timeout with 13:20 to play in the game. The teams play the next 2 minutes with Kentucky extending their lead to 31 points, 75-44, at the under 12 TV timeout with 11:15 to play.
In the third segment, the Cats extend their lead to 36 points, 86-50 at the under 8 TV timeout with 7:24 to play. The teams play out the game as the Cats finish with a 50 point win, 108-58.
UK scored its 108 points in a total of 75 possessions [1.44 ppp] for the game, and MARIST scored its 58 points on a total of 75 possessions [0.773 ppp].
Kentucky dominated the boards, with a rebounding edge 51-29, and the Cats won the battle of the offensive glass 15-13. Kentucky won the second chance points battle 19-11. MARIST had an offensive efficiency of 0.627 ppp on its 75 first chance possessions and 0.846 ppp for its 13 second chance possessions. UK had 1.187 ppp on its 75 first chance possessions and 1.267 ppp on its 15 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a strong 48.2% of its misses as offensive rebounds while MARIST was able to convert only 26.5% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well above average from the free throw line in this game, making 12-15 [80.0%]. MARIST made 12-23 [52.2%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 46-75 overall [61.3%] and 4-10 from long range [40.0%]. For MARIST, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a fair 14-45 [31.1%] and from long range, MARIST hit 6-18 [33.3%].
Turnovers were in rare supply in this game. The Cats committed 9 turnovers, one for every 8.3 possessions. The Cats forced 14 MARIST turnovers, one for every 5.4 possessions.
Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 37 point UK win, 86-49 at a pace of 67 possessions for each team. The final score was 108 (86) to 58 (49) at a pace of 75 possessions for the Cats and 75 possessions for MARIST. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 1.440 ppp (1.284 ppp) and the UK defensive efficiency was 0.773 ppp (0.731 ppp).
ext Game On Schedule: Tuesday night, in New York City, when the Cats will play Traditional basketball powerhouse Kansas.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks