BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2011-12 Season Analytical Writings
On the one hand, the 2011-12 season has hardly started, but on the other hand, the regular season is not 20% complete. The Thanksgiving weekend meals have hardly digested, yet the 2011-12 college basketball landscape is already beginning to emerge with some clarity. The Kentucky Wildcats have lived up to pre-season billings with an impressive 6-0 start. Likewise for Syracuse and Ohio State and their 6-0 starts. Other pre-season favorites have already tasted defeat including North Carolina, Connecticut, Florida, Michigan State, and so many others. Some early season surprises include Wisconsin [6-0], Duke [7-0], Missouri [5-0], Louisville [5-0], and Alabama [6-0].
Over the next 10 days, this hoops landscape will become even clearer with some key games approaching. North Carolina will either finish the next week as a pretender or contender with games against Wisconsin and Kentucky over the next 6 days, as will Wisconsin with a match up against undefeated Marquette on the heels of the Badgers' trip to Chapel Hill midweek. Ohio State will entertain Duke, and then Travel to Lawrence, Kansas, so either Duke, Ohio State, or both will fall from the unbeaten ranks by December 10. Syracuse will put its undefeated record on the line when Florida brings its game to the Carrier Dome. Missouri, Louisville, and Alabama all figure to continue their winning ways during this period, and continue a slow float toward the top as some of those currently above them fall aside during this stretch.
For Kentucky, this sequence begins with Kentucky's 2011 contribution to the SEC-Big East Challenge when St. John's makes an appearance in Rupp Arena on Thursday night. Less than 40 hours later, the Cats will lace them up against pre-season #1 North Carolina, and one week later, after the players complete their fall semester final exams, the Cats will travel to Bloomington, Indiana for their only road game on their 2011 non-conference schedule. Three consecutive BCS conference opponents, each presenting a new and more challenging test than the previous. When the Cats finish this sequence, not only will the Big Blue Nation see the 2011-12 basketball landscape with crystal clarity, but the BBN will be able to envision the entire path that the Cats will travel over the course of the remaining 22 games leading to March Madness.
Last year, ST JOHNS finished with a 21-12 overall record, and 12-6 in the Big East Conference. ST JOHNS brings a 4-3 record and a Pomeroy #124 rating into their encounter with #1 Kentucky. This season, ST JOHNS has beaten #258 William & Mary by 15, #102 Lehigh by 5, #321 MD Baltimore County by 23, and #226 St. Francis by 15. The Red Storm's losses have been by 9 to #54 Arizona, by 1 to #51 Texas A&M, and by 14 to #116 Northeastern. ST JOHNS has played their early season games at a pace of 67 possessions, scoring 70.0 ppg and allowing 65.1 ppg for efficiencies of 1.025 ppp on offense and 0.977 ppp on defense. The ST JOHNS schedule strength stands at 0.383 heading into this game.
As a basis of comparison, UK's performance through their first 5 games have been played at an average pace of about 71to 72 possessions, with average scoring of 84.2 ppg by the Cats and 54.2 ppg by the five opponents. That corresponds to efficiencies of 1.160 ppp and 0.768 ppp at the offensive and defensive ends respectively. The Cats currently have a schedule strength of 0.453.
The NGE analysis indicates a game played at a pace of about 69 to 70 possessions with the Cats winning by 33 points, 85-52. The analysis projects an offensive efficiency of 1.214 ppp and a defensive efficiency of 0.754 ppp.
For the sixth straight game, Coach Calipari is starting two sophomores [Jones and Lamb] and three freshmen [Marquis Teague, Kidd-Gilchrist, and Anthony Davis], with Darius Miller coming off the bench with Eloy Vargas and Kyle Wiltjer.
The Cats open the game with very cold shooting and many turnovers, and after about 6 minutes of play to the under 16 TV timeout, the Cats only manage to carve out a 1 point lead, 6-5. In that first 5 ½ minutes, the Cats turned the ball over 5 times while making 3 of 13 shots, and 0-4 from long range. St. Johns had 4 turnovers, and 2-7 shooting. After the timeout, the Cats missed their first shot, but then made their next 3, including their first 3 pointer of the game to move out to a 13-5 lead at the under 12 TV timeout with 11:02 to play in the first half. The early pace of this game is in the mid 70s range.
In the third segment, St John's trimmed a point from the Kentucky lead, to 7 points, 16-9 at the under 8 TV timeout. In the 4 th segment, the Cats used 3-5 shooting from the field, and 3-4 shooting from the line to ease out to an 11 point lead, 25-14, at the under 4 TV timeout and 3:42 to play in the first half. The teams play the final segment on even terms, and the Cats take an 11 point lead, 31-20, to the locker room at the half.
UK scored its 31 points in a total of 33 possessions [0.939 points per possession] for the half, and ST JOHNS scored its 20 points on a total of 32 possessions [0.625 ppp]. Kentucky won the battle of the boards 22-18 and Kentucky won on the offensive glass, 10-8. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a strong 50% of its misses as offensive rebounds while ST JOHNS was able to convert a strong 40.0% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit 3 of 7 free throws in the first half, [42.9%]. ST JOHNS hit 4-6 [66.7%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 13-31 overall [41.9%] and 2-9 from long range [22.2%]. For ST JOHNS, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 8-20[40.0%] and from long range, ST JOHNS hit 0-7 [0%].
Turnovers were in abundant supply in this first half. The Cats committed 8 turnovers, one for every 4.1 possessions. The Cats forced 11 ST JOHNS turnovers, one for every 2.9 possessions.
In the opening segment of the second half, after St John's scores on the opening possession, the Cats then go on a 11-5 run to move out to a 15 point lead, 42-27 at the under 16 TV timeout with 15:35 to play. In the second segment, the Cats extend their lead to 17 points, 49-32 at the under 12 TV timeout. In the 3 rd segment, the Cats outscored St John's 10-4 to move ahead by 23 points, 60-37.The Cats extended their lead to a game high 27 points, 76-49 with about 3 minutes to play in the game, and then coasted to a 22 point win, 81-59
UK scored its 81 points on 74 possessions [1.095 ppp] for the game, and ST JOHNS scored its 59 points on a total of 75 possessions [0.787 ppp].
Kentucky won the boards, with a rebounding edge 48-43, and UK won the battle of the offensive glass 20-17. Kentucky converted its 20 second chance possessions into 18 points, and ST JOHNS used their 17 second chances to score 18 points. ST JOHNS had an offensive efficiency of 0.547 ppp on its 75 first chance possessions and 1.059 ppp for its 17 second chance possessions. UK had 0.851 ppp on its 74 first chance possessions and 0.900 ppp on its 20 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a solid 43.5% of its misses as offensive rebounds while ST JOHNS was able to convert a strong 37.8% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit below average from the free throw line in this game, making 20-30 [66.7%]. ST JOHNS made 19-27 [70.4%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 28-69 overall [40.6%] and 5-16 from long range [31.3%]. For ST JOHNS, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a good 17-47 [36.2%] and from long range, ST JOHNS hit 2-13 [15.4%].
Turnovers were in rare supply in this game. The Cats committed 12 turnovers, one for every 6.2 possessions. The Cats forced 19 ST JOHNS turnovers, one for every 4.0 possessions.
Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 33 point UK win, 85-52 at a pace of 70 possessions. The final score was 81 (85) to 59 (52) at a pace of 74 possessions. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 1.095 ppp (D+) and the UK defensive efficiency was 0.787 ppp (D+).
Next Game On Schedule: Saturday afternoon when the Cats will play pre-season #1 North Carolina at Rupp Arena.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks