2012-13 Season Analytical Writings

Cats End Three-Game Home Stand Against Long Island

Sean Woods' plan last night was clear, be physical, very physical with this young Kentucky team and see if they can withstand the assault. Make no mistake, that game plan had long enough legs to allow Sean's Eagles to lead the Cats at the first media break of the second half by 4 points, 44-40, and to remain within 3 points at the under 12 timeout. The Cats finally used a mid-second half run to separate themselves from the Eagles by double digits, and then fought off a late game surge to secure the win at Rupp Arena by 11 points. After the game, Coach Calipari could have simply emailed Tom Leach an MP3 file of last year's post game interview following the Old Dominion game.

“Our guys are not tough enough” said it all then, and says it all now.

The manner in which last year's team responded to the toughness call after Old Dominion is well known. What we do not know yet is how this team will respond to the call. I have no concerns for Noel, Poythress or Goodwin's response; I believe we saw their response as they stepped up last night to make the plays their team needed to get that tough win. However, the jury is still out in my opinion about the toughness that Wiltjer, Mays, and Cauley-Stein will develop. Well, if these guys thought last night was tough, wait until they travel to the Yum Center to take on Pitino's Cards. After all, Pitino is Sean Woods' mentor, and I have no doubt that the thuggish game plan Sean used last night was Slick Rick's idea.

The generally accepted view is that without Harrow, this team is struggling more in the early season than anticipated. Certainly, that point of view has support in the recent importance of a quality point guard for Coach Calipari's teams. I will not argue against that premise, but this team is not lagging last year's team on the offensive end of the court, which is where I would expect a missing point guard to affect team performance most. No, this team is lagging on the boards, and on the defensive end, which require effort, desire, and TOUGHNESS.

Last year through 4 games (Old Dominion), the Cats were getting nearly 40% of their own misses and over 71% of the opponents' misses. This year, the rebounding rates are 30% on the offensive glass and 62% on the defensive end, a drop of 9% at each end of the floor. Morehead came to Rupp Arena averaging 18 turnovers per game, and the Cats only “forced” the Eagles into 9 turnover for the game. This is becoming a trend. Maryland has averaged over 13 turnovers per game this season, and the Cats forced 11. Duke averages nearly 15, and the Cats only got 8. The Cats are not forcing turnovers and are not working the boards!

These are just two factors that speak to overall defensive performance, and it is equally true that UK's early opponents are shooting below 39% from the floor, and under 28% from the arc. However, through four games, the adjusted defensive efficiency is only 0.945 points per possession. Last year at this stage, it was 0.872 ppp. This team's defensive start has been less impressive than Coach Calipari's first three UK teams. This team's defense must get better, and this team's toughness (forcing turnovers and rebounding) must improve if it wants to be a factor in late March, much less early April.

As I noted prior to the Morehead game, Coach Calipari knows how to coach. He understands better the rest of us that his team needs to get tougher, in fact he said so again last night.

The Cats have one more game to prepare for its first road trip of the season, to Notre Dame in one week. That game is Friday against Long Island. Last year, Long Island finished the season 25-9, rated #163 and a NCAA Tournament participant after winning the Northeast Conference Tournament before losing to Michigan State by 22 in the first round. After starting 0-3, and 5-6, Long Island finished winning 20 of their final 23 games against the 283 rd toughest schedule in D1 basketball. Just like last season, Long Island has started 0-3 this season, with losses to Morehead by 3 in Brooklyn, Lafayette by 4 in overtime, and Maryland by 17, both on the road.

In their first three games, Long Island has played at an average pace of about 77 possession, scoring 80.7 ppg (1.052 ppp) while allowing 88.7 ppg (1.152 ppp) against an early schedule rated as the 186 th toughest (0.5100). Long Island's turnover rate has been 14.8% while forcing opponents to turn the ball over on 19.5% of the possessions. Long Island's rebounding rates have been 66.3% on the defensive glass and 32.6% on the offensive glass.

Kentucky, by comparison, the Cats have played the 150 th toughest early schedule (0..5505), and the Cats have played at an average pace of about 70 possessions per game, producing 80.5 ppg (1.150 ppp) and allowing 65.8 ppg (0.953 ppp). The Cats' turnover rate has been 17.1% while they have forced opponent turnovers only 20.3% of possessions. On the boards, the Cats have gotten 61.5% of the rebounds on the defensive end and 30.3% of the rebounds at the offensive end.

Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of the Cats by 29 points, 92-63 in a game played with about 73 possessions. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 25 points, 94-69 at a pace of 74 possessions.. In my view, a Kentucky win by 30 points or more will bode well, and a win by less than 15 points will again signal a setback in the development of this team.

Bill Bailey (Ryan Harrow), Won't You Please Come Home!

Game Summary:

Ryan Harrow will not play again tonight, and the word from the Kentucky camp is that Ryan has returned home with his mother due to family issues. Coach Calipari will use the same starting 5 as he did against Duke and Lafayette when the three freshmen, Noel, Goodwin, and Poythress, start with Kyle Wiltjer and Julius Mays. Goodwin will start the game at the point. Coach Calipari will use Cauley-Stein and Polson first off the bench, but has said that Jon Hood will get an opportunity to earn some playing time, and Beckham will be available for minutes to test his healing back.

LIU controls the opening tip, but fail to score on the opening possession. The Cats do draw first blood, but four straight free throws lifted LIU into a lead 4-2, and after back to back Kentucky scores, a LIU 3 pointer gave them a 1 point lead. The Cats have little trouble scoring, but they are not able to stop the scoring on the defensive end, and after a 7 th lead change, putting LIU on top 15-13, Coach Calipari calls a timeout with 15:13 to play in the first half. However, the timeout does nothing to stiffen the UK defense, and LIU hits another 3 pointer to take a 5 point lead, 25-20. The Cats score to trim the lead to 3 points, and following a LIU missed 3 point attempt, Goodwin is fouled, sending the game to the under 12 media timeout with 10:59 to play in the first half and LIU maintaining the 3 point lead, 25-22.

In the first 9 minutes, the Cats have made 10 of 14 shots and find themselves down. And, the Cats remain down throughout the third segment of the game by as many as 6 points, 32-26, but the Cats finally catch up at 34-34, and again at 36-36 prompting a LIU timeout with 6:43 to play. Out of the timeout, LIU wastes no time moving back in front, 38-36, but a lob to Cauley-Stein, followed by a steal and length of the court drive by Jarrod Polson, moves the Cats into the lead, 40-38. Polson will try to convert the 3 point play, but he misses.

The Kentucky lead did not last long, as LIU drained another 3 pointer on their next possession, and moved on out to a 3 point lead, 43-40, at the under 4 media timeout with 3:44 to play in the first half. In the final segment, the Cats score 11 straight points to move on top 51-43 prompting a LIU timeout with 1:26 to play in the first half. The Cats score the final 4 points to finish the first half on a 15 point run to send them to the locker room with a 12 point lead, 55-43.

UK scored its 55 points in a total of 38 possessions for the half, and LONG ISLAND scored its 43 points on a total of 39 possessions. Kentucky WON the boards, with a rebounding edge 16-15, but Long Island controlled the offensive glass, 6-3, resulting in a 6-0 advantage in second chance points. LONG ISLAND had an offensive efficiency of 0.949 ppp on its 39 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp for its 6 second chance possessions. UK had 1.447 ppp on its 38 first chance possessions and 0.000 ppp on its 3 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a very weak 25.0% of its misses as offensive rebounds while LONG ISLAND was able to convert 31.6% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this half, after making only 2 of their first 5 attempts, the Cats finished the half 5-6 and 7-11 (63.8%) overall. After making their first 6 attempts, LONG ISLAND finished 6-9 [66.7%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 23-33 overall [69.7%] and 2-3 from long range [66.7%]. For LONG ISLAND, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 14-28 [50.0%] and from long range, LONG ISLAND hit 3-7 [42.9%].

The Cats committed 3 turnovers, one for every 12.7 possessions. The Cats forced 6 LONG ISLAND turnovers, one for every 6.5 possessions.

Second Half:

In the opening segment of the second half, the Cats use 5-7 shooting, including 2-2 from the arc to increase its lead to 18 points, 68-50, at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, Wiltjer starts the Cats' scoring with a 3 pointer, and the Cats go on a 9-2 run to a 25 point lead, prompting another LIU timeout with 13:32 to play and the score 77-52. In the first 16 minutes, LIU scored 43 points on 31 possessions. Since that time, LIU has managed only 9 points on 19 possessions.

The teams finish the second segment with the Cats up by 24, 78-54 at the under 12 media timeout. The Cats continue their high octane offense, but LIU picks up their scoring pace and the Cats are not able to add points to their 25 point lead, and lead 89-64 at the under 8 media timeout with 6:41 to play in the game. Goodwin left the game with an ankle sprain at about the 8 minute mark.

In the 4 th segment, the Cats did extend their lead to 30 points for the first time in the game, and they end the segment with that 30 point lead, 98-68 with 3:56 to play in the game. The teams play out the final segment and the Cats win by 29 points, 104-75.


UK scored its 104 points in 73 possessions [1.42 ppp] for the game, and LONG ISLAND scored its 75 points on 74 possessions [1.01 ppp].

Kentucky won the boards, with a rebounding edge 41-24, but Long Island won the offensive glass with a 9-8 offensive rebounding advantage. LONG ISLAND converted its 9 second chance possessions into 11 second chance points while Kentucky converted their 8 second chance possessions to score 5 second chance points. LONG ISLAND had an offensive efficiency of 0.865 ppp on its 74 first chance possessions and 1.222 ppp for its 9 second chance possessions. UK had 1.358 ppp on its 73 first chance possessions and 0.625 ppp on its 8 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a better 34.8% of its misses as offensive rebounds while LONG ISLAND was able to convert a weak 21.4% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 13-21[61.9%]. LONG ISLAND made 17-23 [73.9%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 42-62 overall [67.7%] and 7-13 from long range [53.8%]. For LONG ISLAND, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 23-54 [42.6%] and from long range, LONG ISLAND hit 4-11 [36.4%].

The Cats who committed 10 turnovers, one for every 7.3 possessions. The Cats forced 7 LONG ISLAND turnovers, one for every 10.6 possessions.

Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 29 point UK win, 92-63 at a pace of 73 possessions for UK and 72 possessions for LIU. The final score was 104 (92) to 75 (63) at a pace of 73 possessions for the Cats and 74 possessions for LONG ISLAND. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 1.425 ppp (1.160 ppp) and the UK defensive efficiency was 1.014 ppp (0.875 ppp).

Next Game On Schedule: Thursday night at Notre Dame.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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