2013-14 Season Analytical Writings


Season after season, as a lead into the annual pair of exhibition games, the hue and cry rises that the games are meaningless. I have often tried to argue the contrary position, while collecting data about UK's performance in these exhibition for the last 14 seasons spanning three coaches. Today, I am prepared to declare that these exhibitions do provide insight into how the UK team is likely to prepare and respond to real competition, regardless of the quality of that competition. Let's look at the basis for this conclusion:

One would think that Coaches would use these games to test drive their teams, identify the soft spots, and shore them up quickly. Therefore, one should see improvement between game one and game two, assuming the level of competition for the first and second exhibition games are comparable.

However, let's look at the results spanning 14 seasons (Calipari-4; Gillispie-2; Smith-8) and we see the difference between a real coach and the pretenders. The tables below show the average offensive, defensive, and net efficiencies for all of these games. The left table is only Game Ones, and the right table is only Game Twos.

First Exhibition Games   Compared To Second Exhibition Games

In the first exhibition games, Calipari's teams have not performed as well on average as Gillispie's two teams did, but both of these coaches saw their teams perform light years better than the Tubby teams did in their first exhibition games over the 8 years of data I have available for Tubby's teams. Calipari's teams posted the best defense in these games, slightly better than Gillispie's, and even better than that as compared to Tubby's teams. However, on offense, the Gillispie teams set the standard, with Calipari's team's lagging behind, and Tubby's teams bring up the rear.

In the second exhibition games, we begin to see how the value of coaching can be measured and identified. Calipari's teams have improved dramatically between games 1 and 2 each year, while Gillispie's and Smith's teams show significant declines in performance between games 1 and 2 of their exhibition seasons.



When we look only at the four Calipari teams, we see the improvement, game 1 to game 2 occurred in each season with each of his teams. However, we also see some glimpse of what was to come from each of those teams. In this comparison, the national championship team of 2011-12 clearly outperformed the other three Calipari editions in both exhibition games, and his weakest team, 2012-13, underperformed the other three editions.

Therefore, this season I will watch the exhibition games for the following clues:

•  Will the team improve dramatically between games 1 and 2 as has become the Calipari trademark.

•  Will the performance in game 1 and game 2 more closely mirror the 2011-12 team's performance, or one of the others?

I hope that this information will influence how you view the significance of the exhibition games, and influence the manner in which you watch and evaluate the results.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Submitted by Richard Cheeks


To Exhibition #2 Should See Cats Shore Up Exposed Weaknesses

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