BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2012-13 Season Analytical Writings
It has been about seven long months since the 2010-11 Kentucky Wildcats won their eighth NCAA Tournament Championship defeating Kansas again on the first Monday of April. The Cats also defeated Louisville in the National Semi-finals in their second contest of the year. The Cats also sent Indiana home in the Sweet Sixteen to avenge their loss at Bloomington the previous December. I find some irony in the pre-season rankings heading the list with Indiana and Louisville, on the strength of their finish last season coupled with a deep list of returning players on both teams. Kansas suffered losses, but Dick Vitale places them in his top 4 teams for 2013, and Kentucky at number 3, despite losing nearly everything.
The more things change, the more things stay the same. The top 4 in 2012-13: Indiana, Louisville, Kentucky, and Kansas. No UCLA! No Michigan State! No Connecticutt! No North Carolina! No Duke! No Ohio State!
The center of gravity of college basketball has returned to the Midwest, where it reigned supreme for many years when Adolph Rupp and Joe B. Hall sat on that hallowed big blue seat. ,
So, here we are in late October again. Coach Calipari is again sending mixed signals about his expectations for this team, just as he has in each of three previous pre-season lead-ins to the real play. One the one hand, he whispers to those he trusts that he really likes his team, and boasts about their commitment, attitude, and skills. Then out of the other side of his mouth, in a louder tone of voice, he shouts about how young his team is. The fans respond to these mixed signals by recalling how all of Calipari teams develop slowly but by 2013, they will be a major force for the post season.
We have seen this act before, and we are about to see it all unfold before our eyes, and in our minds and hearts yet again. How wonderful is life when you are a Big Blue Fan in 2012? Yes, it does seem like an eternity since we last saw our Cats play real competition, but that wait ends Thursday night when these new [and old] Cats take to the floor in their first pre-season exhibition game against Northwood University. Over the course of these seven long months, Coach Calipari has again transformed his roster for the fourth off-season in a row by blending into his roster his fourth consecutive #1 recruiting class. (Yes, some say it is the #2 class, but UCLA still does not have Shabbazz Mohamed eligible, and without him, UCLA's claim to the #1 spot is more tenuous than it is with Shabbazz.)
Last year, I thought Cat fans might never become accustomed to this annual retooling process, but I do not know any Big Blue fans that have been disappointed by Coach Calipari's results. Now I believe that a growing number of the fans not only embrace Calipari's methods, but revel in how it is so irritating to the competition. Coach Calipari methods are keeping the UK program front and center on the national stage.
It is difficult to predict how exhibition games such as this one against Northwood 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 10 seasons, the average pace of the two exhibition games has been about 14% faster than the regular season pace for the same 10 seasons. Similarly, scoring and scoring defense have been more efficient in the exhibitions than the seasons. These are the results one should expect, and this year's exhibition matchups should produce a similar relationship of exhibition performance levels relative to the upcoming performance levels for the full season.
For these reason, I expect that the two exhibition games will average about 75 to 82 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 Northwood University 103-64 at a pace of about 81 to 82 possessions for the game.
Calipari starts Freshmen Goodwin, Poythress, and Noel with red shirt Sophomore Harrow, and true Sophomore Wiltjer. That leaves Willie Cauley Stein, Julius Mays, and Jon Hood as the primary reserves on the bench for Calipari's 8 player rotation. This is a first step on a long journey for Coach Calipari's fourth UK team and the first step in the program's defense of title #8 for its “Drive For Nine.” It has been a long 7 months, but it is again basketball time in the Bluegrass.
The Cats get off to a sluggish start, losing the opening tip, and playing from behind the first 3 trips down the floor before a basket by Harrow and a pair of free throws by Harrow allowed the Cats to ease out by 4, 8-4, at the under 16 media timeout. Out of the timeout, Northwood got 2 shots before committing their 4 th turnover, and UK extended their lead to 6 points, but Northwood hit a 3 pointer, and a basket off a steal to trim the Kentucky lead to a single point, 10-9, prompting a Kentucky timeout. Out of the timeout, another Kentucky turnover allowed Northwood to regain the lead, 11-10, but the Cats then made a 13-2 run to extend their lead to 10 points, 23-13 just prior to the under 8 media timeout with 6:20 to play in the first half and the Cats up 9, 25-16.
In the abbreviated 4 th segment, the Cats extended their 9 point lead to 12 points, 32-20 at the under 4 media timeout with 3:54 to play in the first half. The teams play out the final segment of the first half, and the Cats take a 15 point lead to the locker room, 40-25.
UK scored its 40 points in a total of 36 possessions for the half, and Northwood scored its 25 points on a total of 36 possessions. Kentucky dominated the boards, with a rebounding edge 25-13, but battled on nearly even terms, 8-6 on the offensive glass. The Cats used their second chance possessions to only score 8 second chance points while Northwood used its 6 second chances to score 0 second chance points. Northwood had an offensive efficiency of 0.694 ppp on its 36 first chance possessions and 0.000 ppp for its 6 second chance possessions. UK had 0.889 ppp on its 36 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp on its 8 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a solid 53.3% of its misses as offensive rebounds while Northwood was able to convert 26.1% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this half, making 5-9 [55.5%]. Northwood missed its only free throw attempt, 0-1 [0.0%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 16-29 overall [55.2%] and 3-5 from long range [60.0%]. For Northwood, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong, 8-16 [50.0%] and from long range, Northwood hit 3-18 [16.7%].
Turnovers were in great supply in this first half. The Cats committed a whopping 11 turnovers, 8 in the first 8 minutes, one for every 3.3 possessions. The Cats forced only 8 Northwood turnovers, one for every 4.5 possessions.
The Cats open the second half with 4-7 shooting to stretch their 15 point halftime lead to 20 points, 50-30, at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, the teams played on even terms, as the Cats maintain the 20 point lead, 60-40, at the under 12 media timeout. In the third segment, the Cats had a small run near the end of the segment to move back on top by 23 points, 71-48, at the under 8 media timeout, and Kentucky will be shooting the bonus from the line after the timeout.
In the 4 th segment, the Cats extend their lead to a game high 31 points, 84-53, at the under 4 media timeout. The final score is 93-61, a 32 point win in the exhibition opener.
UK scored its 93 points in a total of 72 possessions for the game, and Northwood scored its 61 points on a total of 73 possessions.
Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 42-30, but the Cats lost the battle of the offensive glass 13-17. Kentucky used its 13 second chance possessions to score 16 second chance points, winning the second chance points battle 16-8. Northwood had an offensive efficiency of 0.726 ppp on its 73 first chance possessions and 0.471 ppp for its 17 second chance possessions. UK had 1.069 ppp on its 72 first chance possessions and 1.231 ppp on its 13 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a strong 50.0% of its misses as offensive rebounds while Northwood was able to convert a strong 37.0% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 17-25 [68.0%]. Northwood made 3-7 [42.9%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 35-57 overall [61.4%] and 6-9 from long range [66.7%]. For Northwood, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a low 17-40 [42.5%] and from long range, Northwood hit 8-29 [27.6%].
The Cats committed 17 turnovers, one for every 4.2 possessions. The Cats forced 18 Northwood turnovers, one for every 4.1 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Monday night, again at Rupp Arena, the Cats will take on Transy in the second, and last exhibition game of the 2012-13 season
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks