BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2012-13 Season Analytical Writings
For Kentucky basketball, there are contested games and margin games. Margin games are those for which the winner is rarely in doubt, and the relevant measurement of the game performance is the final margin, measured against the estimated margin based on the teams' efficiencies. Contested games are about having the toughness and determination to prevail at the end.
Last season, there were eight (8) contested games during the regular season, and the Cats won 7, losing only at IU on a last second 3 pointer. The Cats got the W's from Kansas on a neutral court, at Rupp over UNC, Louisville,and Alabama, and on the road at Tennessee, at Florida, and at Vanderbilt. Last year's team held serve in all 23 of its margin games. This season, there are nine contested games and 22 margin games. So far in this young season, the Cats have played two contested games, and split them. This Thursday, the Cats get their third contested game, this time in the opponent's gym, at Notre Dame in the SEC-Big East Challenge. The remaining contested games are Baylor at Rupp, at Louisville, at Alabama, at Mississippi, at Florida, and against Florida at Rupp.
How the Cats fare over the course of these remaining seven (7) contested games defines the 2012-13 regular season. Winning four or more will result in at least a 27-4 final record, and probably be sufficient to post another SEC regular season championship and secure a number 1 NCAA Tournament Seed. Winning two or fewer will result in a 25-6 record at best, and have the effect of shifting two to four of the SEC road games from the margin game category into the contested game category. This would probably drop the Cats down the SEC pecking order, and take this team out of contention for a coveted 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
These games matter for a team that wants its program on the national stage each season. These are the marquee games. These games are about the names on the front. These games define the program. The 1-1 start two weeks ago was just fine, especially for a team that is so inexperienced. Thursday trip to South Bend provides a great measuring stick to gage the progress of this young team.
In the course of answering those questions, the team must answer the more fundamental question of ITS TOUGHNESS. Will this group compete with the Irish on the boards? Will this team turn up the defensive intensity? How much has Ryan Harrow's early season hiatus delayed this team's development?
Notre Dame has opened the season with six wins in seven starts. The Fighting Irish's loss came at the hands of #24 Saint Joseph's by 9 points in overtime at a neutral location. Notre Dame's most impressive win in this young season has been by 10 over #64 BYU also on a neutral court. The Irish are 5-0 at home, winning all of its margin games by between 9 and 27 points. Notre Dame's early season schedule strength has been 0.3762 (287 th ). The Irish have turned the ball over on 18.4% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on only 16.1% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Irish have secured an offensive rebounding rate of 34.6%, slightly better than the NCAA average, and a defensive rebounding rate of 71.5%, which is higher than the national average.
Notre Dame has averaged about 65 possessions per game, producing 73.7 ppg (1.142 ppp) and allowing only 59.7 ppg (0.909 ppp) In contrast, the Cats have started the season averaging 70 to 71 possessions per game, producing 85.2 ppg (1.202 ppp) and allowing 67.6 ppg (0.964 ppp) against a schedule strength of 0.5254 (175 th ). The Cats have committed turnovers on 16.4% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 18.0% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 31.0% and 65% on the offensive and defensive ends.
Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of the Irish by 3 points, 73-70, in a game played at a pace of 68 possessions for the Cats and 67 possessions for the Irish. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 1 point, 67-66 at a pace of 62 possessions. In my opinion, in order for Kentucky to win this game, it must face and overcome adversity within a hostile environment. Such a win would be noteworthy for this young team, a given the team's paucity of toughness in the first five games. Continued play marked by low rebounding rates, a Notre Dame advantage in second chance points, and single digit turnovers by the Irish will spell defeat in this game.
As we all know, Ryan Harrow has returned to the team following an unscheduled trip home to Atlanta to address a family matter. Coach Calipari has been clear that Ryan's illness has set his progress behind the rest of the team. Therefore, the team's development over the next month, leading to the trip to Louisville, and the beginning of the SEC season, may be slower than it could have been had Ryan been on track with his teammates' development. Welcome home Ryan.
Ryan Harrow has returned to the team, and has been practicing, but Coach Calipari in a statement on Wednesday was clear that Archie Goodwin is the team's point guard and Ryan Harrow will be working back into the playing rotation based on his ability to earn playing time. Twany Beckham did not make this trip due to a stomach ailment. 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 Harrow will be available for minutes to begin his comeback.
Notre Dame controls the opening tip and score to draw first blood, but a pair of free throws by Mays ties the score. After the Cats go up 4-2, and Notre Dame draws even at 4-4, the Cats finish the opening segment with a 5-2 run to take a 9-6 lead at the under 16 media timeout. Poythress will be on the line for a pair of free throws when play resumes. In a prolonged second segment, the Cats moved on top by 6 points, 12-6, on a 3 pointer by Mays, but Notre Dame quickly drew back within 2 points at 12-10 before each team finished the segment with a bucket for a 14-12 Kentucky lead at the under 12 media timeout with 10:52 to play in the first half. During the segment, Ryan Harrow entered the game, and committed a turnover, and allowed his man to drive to the basket for a score on his first 2 possessions.
In the third segment, the Cats only managed 2 points, on a baseline jumper by Jon Hood, but Notre Dame posted 7 points to move on top by 3 points, 19-16, at the under 8 media timeout. The Cats are in possession when play resumes. In the fourth segment, Notre Dame continued building their lead, to a game high 9 points, 27-18 before Kyle Wiltjer trimmed the lead to 6 points on a 3 point play just before the under 4 media timeout. Notre Dame will be shooting free throws after the timeout.
Out of the timeout, Notre Dame converted their free throws, and following a Kentucky miss of the front end and a missed layup, a Notre Dame 3 pointer takes the lead to 11 points, 34-23, forcing a Kentucky timeout with 1:46 to play in the first half. The teams play the final 1:46 exchanging baskets and the Cats go to the locker room down 11 points, 36-25 at the half.
UK scored its 25 points in a total of 30 possessions for the half, and NOTRE DAME scored its 36 points on a total of 30 possessions. Notre Dame WON the boards, with a rebounding edge 18-11, and NOTRE DAME controlled the offensive glass, 4-3, resulting in a 4-4 deadlock in second chance points. NOTRE DAME had an offensive efficiency of 1.067 ppp on its 30 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp for its 4 second chance possessions. UK had 0.700 ppp on its 30 first chance possessions and 1.333 ppp on its 3 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a very weak 17.6% of its misses as offensive rebounds while NOTRE DAME was able to convert 33.3% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this half, after making 6-9 (66.7%) overall. NOTRE DAME finished 3-3 [100.0%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 9-24 overall [37.5%] and 1-8 from long range [12.5%]. For NOTRE DAME, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 12-20 [60.0%] and from long range, NOTRE DAME hit 3-7 [42.9%].
The Cats committed 5 turnovers, one for every 6.0 possessions. The Cats forced 6 NOTRE DAME turnovers, one for every 5.0 possessions.
In the first half, the Cats burst out to an early 12-6 lead, but foul trouble sent Poythress, Goodwin, and Hood to the bench with 2 fouls each, and from a 12-6 deficit, Notre Dame finished the half outscoring the Cats 29-13 to build their halftime 11 point lead. The Cats will get the first possession of the second half. The Cats continue in the second half as they finished the first half, hitting 1 of 5 shots, and making 2 more turnovers which allow Notre Dame to move on top by 13 points, 42-29 at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, Notre Dame puts the rout on hitting 3 for 3 from the Arc, and outscoring the Cats 11-7 in the segment to extend their lead to 18 points, 53-35 at the under 12 media timeout, with 11:22 to play in the game.
In the third segment, Notre Dame established the largest lead of the game, 20 points, 55-35 before the Cats trimmed 4 points from the lead prior to the under 8 media timeout, 56-40. The Cats manage to cut the lead to 10 points, 60-50, but the Irish get the last 4 points for the final margin, 64-50.
UK scored its 50 points in 57 possessions [0.88 ppp] for the game, and NOTRE DAME scored its 64 points on 57 possessions [1.12 ppp].
Notre Dame won the boards, with a rebounding edge 33-27, and NOTRE DAME won the offensive glass with a 10-8 offensive rebounding advantage. NOTRE DAME converted its 10 second chance possessions into 8 second chance points while Kentucky converted their 8 second chance possessions to score 7 second chance points. NOTRE DAME had an offensive efficiency of 0.982 ppp on its 57 first chance possessions and 0.800 ppp for its 10 second chance possessions. UK had 0.754 ppp on its 57 first chance possessions and 0.875 ppp on its 8 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a a weak 25.8% of its misses as offensive rebounds while NOTRE DAME was able to convert a respectable 34.5% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 8-14[57.1%]. NOTRE DAME made 8-12 [66.7%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 19-47 overall [40.4%] and 4-14 from long range [28.6%]. For NOTRE DAME, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 16-35 [45.7%] and from long range, NOTRE DAME hit 8-15 [53.3%].
The Cats who committed 12 turnovers, one for every 4.7 possessions. The Cats forced 11 NOTRE DAME turnovers, one for every 5.2 possessions.
Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 1 point UK loss, 71-72 at a pace of 68 possessions for UK and 68 possessions for Notre Dame. The final score was 50 (71) to 64 (72) at a pace of 57 possessions for the Cats and 57 possessions for NOTRE DAME. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 0.877 ppp (1.044 ppp) and the UK defensive efficiency was 1.123 ppp (1.059 ppp).
Next Game On Schedule: Saturday afternoon against Baylor at Rupp Arena
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks