BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2012-13 Season Analytical Writings
With every new season, there is an uncomfortable mix of anticipation and apprehension as the first game approaches. Will the team be as good as the Big Blue Nation anticipates? We are excited by the promise of a new season that is unspoiled by any losses. That allows us to hang onto the dream of a special undefeated season, and we will hang on to that dream until the stark reality of an actual loss forces us to put that dream back on the shelf, at least for another year. We are excited because of all the information we have sorted through and packed into our hearts about the players, our coaches, indeed this new team, points us to believe greatness is at least possible, if not probable.
Yet, I think we all have to admit that we are apprehensive about the upcoming season at the same time, creating an uneasy tension between our hearts and our minds. That apprehension occurs because we realize that we really have not seen this group of players compete against the type of opponent that they must beat to transform those heartfelt hopes into a reality that our minds acknowledge as real. We are apprehensive because we know these hopes and dreams are built on a fragile foundation in early November. The exhibition shows do little to relieve the apprehension because we realize that a 46 point win over Transylvania in an exhibition game is simply anecdotal evidence that does not necessarily translate into high level performance against D1 opponents.
Usually, our Cats get to test drive their game at least one time against a D1 opponent that is not a member of one of the BCS conferences, in the friendly confines of Rupp Arena before facing one of those “real” opponents. Last year, it was Marist at Rupp before Kansas in New York. The year before it was East Tennessee and Portland before facing the harsh reality of a young team facing three consecutive tests in the Maui Classic. In 2009, the Cats played seven games before the Cats had to man up and face North Carolina and Connecticut.
However, this year, the schedule makers have moved to intensity that anticipation-apprehension tug-of-war. This year, Kentucky's young team must lace up their sneakers in game one and put it on the line against a worthy BCS conference opponent, Maryland. No chance to ease into the D1 competition for this team. It is going directly into the frying pan, and if that is not enough, this team must then jump from that frying pan directly into the fire when they face Duke in game 2.
A tough opening for Calipari's youngest, most inexperienced team of his tenure.
Last year, Maryland closed its season with a 17-15 record, losing to North Carolina by 16 in the ACC Tournament. The Terrapins had an offensive efficiency of 1.044 ppp and a defensive efficiency of 1.012 ppp, which is why Coach Turgeon's first Maryland team finished as the 134 th best team in D1 basketball. The team lost two seniors, but Turgeon has added four freshmen to reinforce the return of 4 of its top 5 players from a year ago.
The 2011-12 Terrapins played at an average pace of 68 possessions per game (UK 67 possessions last year), and averaged 68.7 ppg to 70.7 ppg for their opponents against the 63 rd toughest schedule in the country. This year, Maryland has played one exhibition game against Indiana of Pennsylvania, securing a 12 point win, 73-61.
By way of comparison, last year's UK team played at a pace of about 67 possession per game to produce 77.4 ppg and allowing only 60.6 ppg against the 26 th toughest schedule in the county. This year, the Cats have beaten their two exhibition opponents by 32 and 46 points.
I know that the apprehension is there. However, all the statistical evidence points to a UK victory in game one over Maryland. Pomeroy has it pegged as a 16 point advantage for Kentucky, and the NGE analysis based on last year's respective performance levels, and the results of these three exhibition games, as a 21 point Kentucky advantage. I will be very pleased with a win in the 16 to 21 point range. For that to happen, the analyses indicate a game played at a pace of about 68 possession, and the Cats producing at an efficiency of 1.18 ppp on offense while limiting Maryland to about 0.87 ppp at the defensive end of the floor.
Just as I prepared to submit this analysis, Maryland announced that the NCAA had approved the waiver appeal for Dez Wells, officially making the transfer swingman eligible for the 2012-13 season. The University's press release ended saying, “Suddenly, the top 25 and an NCAA tournament appearance for Maryland seem not so far off.” It is not possible to know what impact Dez Wells will have on the pre-game analysis any more than it will be possible to know what affect the addition of Julius Mays will have on the analysis. Given the macro nature of the analysis, it does not respond to input about individual players, or their anticipated or historical contributions. This analysis is based on the collective results of the teams in the past, projecting those results into the future games. If Dez Wells' addition to the Maryland roster is truly as significant as some seem to believe it will be, then over time, Maryland should rise in the Pomeroy ratings from its historic 120 to 150 ratings range over the next 4 to 6 weeks.
Coach Calipari will start the season with the same five that he sent to center court for the two exhibition games. Freshmen Noel, Poythress, and Goodwin with join Sophomores Harrow and Wiltjer. Mays, Cauley-Stein, and Hood will be the front line of reserves. The defense of a national championship begins tonight. Maryland will start a Senior, a Junior, and three Sophomores.
Cats control the tip, and scoring the first 4 points of the game. However, Maryland used 5-7 free throw shooting and 4 Kentucky turnovers to forge a 9-7 lead at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, the Cats scored 7 straight to regain the lead by 5 points, 14-9, and finished the second segment strong to establish a 7 point lead, 19-12 at the under 12 media timeout with 11:06 to play in the first half.
Fouls are mounting for both teams in the first 9 minutes, with 8 fouls on each team. Kentucky's Wiltjer, Harrow, and Poythress are all on the bench with 2 fouls each. Out of the timeout, Maryland converts a pair of free thows to trim the lead to 5 points, but baskets by Cauley-Stein, Polson, and a 3 pointer by Wiltjer pushes the Cats up by 12, 26-14 prompting a Maryland timeout with 9:17 to play. Out of their timeout, Maryland score back to back baskets to trim the lead to 8 points, and Coach Calipari calls a timeout to give his Cats some additional direction with the score 26-18 with 8:11 to play in the first half. The teams finished the third segment with the Cats on top by 11, 31-20 at the under 8 media timeout with 7:02 to play in the half.
In the 4 th segment, the teams traded baskets as the Cats maintained their 11 point lead, 39-28 at the under 4 media timeout with 3:27 to play in the first half. In the final segment, the Cats outscore Maryland by 2 points to take a 13 point lead to the locker room, 49-36.
UK scored its 49 points in a total of 35 possessions for the half, and MARYLAND scored its 36 points on a total of 36 possessions. Maryland dominated the boards, with a rebounding edge 28-19, and won the battle of the offensive glass 19-6. The Cats used their second chance possessions to score 6 second chance point while MARYLAND used its 19 second chances to score 9 second chance points. MARYLAND had an offensive efficiency of 0.750 ppp on its 36 first chance possessions and 0.474 ppp for its 19 second chance possessions. UK had 1.229 ppp on its 35 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp on its 6 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a respectable 40.0% of its misses as offensive rebounds while MARYLAND was able to convert a dominating 59.4% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this half, making 8-10 [80.0%]. MARYLAND made 10-13 [76.9%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 18-31 overall [58.1%] and 5-7 from long range [71.4%]. For MARYLAND, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 13-33 [39.4%] and from long range, MARYLAND hit 0-11 [0.0%].
Turnovers were in short supply in this first half. The Cats committed 5 turnovers, one for every 7.0 possessions. The Cats forced only 5 MARYLAND turnovers, one for every 7.2 possessions.
Coach Calipari sends his starting 5 out to start the second half. In the opening segment, both teams start rather slow, and Maryland manages to trim 2 points from the UK lead, and will be shooting a pair of free throws after the under 16 media time, with 15:31 to play and the Cats holding on to an 11 point lead, 53-42. In the second segment, Maryland controlled the game by owning the boards, and cut the Cats' lead to 5 points, 53-48. Then Maryland hit its first 3 pointer of the game to trim the lead to 2 points, 53-51, prompting a Kentucky timeout.
In the second half, the Cats have only scored 4 points, and Maryland has scorred15 points. Maryland catches the Cats at 53-53, and then Wiltjer ends the Kentucky scoring drought with a 3 pointer. Goodwin hit 1 of 2 free throws, and Maryland's second 3 pointer trims the lead to 1 point, 57-56. The Cats miss again, and Maryland moves up by 2 points on their 3 rd 3 pointer, and second consecutive 3 pointer. Maryland's lead, 59-57, is their largest lead of the night, and their first lead since they led 9-7 early in the game.
The third segment of the half ends with the 59-57 score, and the Cats going to the line for the bonus and a chance to tie the score when play resumes after the under 8 media timeout with 7:39 to play in the game. In the 4 th segment, the teams traded baskets and move in and out of the lead in the process. Kentucky eased back on top by 2 points, 65-63 at the under 4 media timeout, and Noel will be shooting a pair of free throws when play resumes. In the 16 minutes of the second half, the Cats have only managed 16 total points on 26 possessions. The Cats have allowed Maryland to score 27 points on their possessions in the second half.
This is crunch time, and we will learn about this teams' ability to respond to game pressure. Noel missed both free throws, but Polson stole the ball, and scored to lift the Cats up by 4. The Cats then forced another Maryland turnover, and called timeout to protect the possession with 3:31 to play in the game. The Cats are now up 4, 67-63, and have the ball. After each team committed turnovers, Cauley-Stein make 1 of 2 free throws to ease the lead to 5 points, but Maryland answered with a put back basket to trim the lead to 3 points, 68-65 with 1:46 to play, and Coach Calipari calls a timeout. The Cats commit another turnover with 1:32 to play. The teams continue to struggle to score. Maryland's Wells hits his first free throw to trim the lead to 2 points, but missed the second. Maryland then fouled Wiltjer with 25 seconds to play.
Wiltjer converted both, but the Cats foul Maryland with 11 seconds to play. After making the first, the shooter missed the second, got his own rebound and scored to trim the lead from 4 points to a single point with 9 seconds to play, and Kentucky in possession of the ball. The Arrow points the Cats' way. Maryland fouls Jarrod Polson on the inbounds pass, and Polson with shoot a pair. Polson makes both to extend the lead to 3 points, 72-69 with 7.7 seconds to play in the game. Maryland used its last timeout. Kentucky has one timeout remaining, should they need it. Maryland misses on its 3 point attempt to tie the game. The Cats win their opener, 72-69.
UK scored its 72 points in 69 possessions [1.04 ppp] for the game, and MARYLAND scored its 69 points on 69 possessions [1.00 ppp].
Maryland dominated the boards, with a rebounding edge 54-38, and the Terps won the battle of the offensive glass 29-13. Maryland won the second chance points battle 21-11. MARYLAND had an offensive efficiency of 0.696 ppp on its 69 first chance possessions and 0.750 ppp for its 28 second chance possessions. UK had 0.884 ppp on its 69 first chance possessions and 0.846 ppp on its 13 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a weak 33.3% of its misses as offensive rebounds while MARYLAND was able to convert a dominate 52.8% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 18-28 [64.3%]. MARYLAND made 16-21 [76.2%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 24-56 overall [42.9%] and 6-13 from long range [46/2%]. For MARYLAND, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a fair 22-56 [39.3%] and from long range, MARYLAND hit 3-19 [15.8%].
Turnovers were in rare supply in this game. The Cats committed 12 turnovers, one for every 5.8 possessions. The Cats forced 12 MARYLAND turnovers, one for every 5.8 possessions.
Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 21 point UK win, 80-59 at a pace of 68 possessions for each team. The final score was 72 (80) to 69 (59) at a pace of 69 possessions for the Cats and 69 possessions for MARYLAND. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 1.043 ppp (1.176 ppp) and the UK defensive efficiency was 1.000 ppp (0.868 ppp).
Next Game On Schedule: Tuesday night, in Atlanta when the Cats will play Duke
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks