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2014-15 Season Analytical Writings
As the Cats prepare for their 2015-16 basketball season, many observers rank them as either #1 or #2 in the season. Ken Pomeroy's efficiency based preseason rankings have the Cats #2, just behind #1 Duke. Other future UK opponents in the Pomeroy preseason top 50 are Kansas #4, Vanderbilt #20, Louisville #25, UCLA #38, Texas A&M #39, Ohio State #42, Florida #44, South Carolina #48, LSU #50. That will be 13 (5 nonconference and 8 SEC) basketball games against teams in Pomeroy's preseason top 50. Last season, the Cats played 14 (6 nonconference and 8 SEC) regular season games against teams that ended the season in Pomeroy's top 50.
Coach Calipari has said that while he likes this team, he will need time to learn how this team should play before they have any chance to be worthy of such a high preseason ranking. That learning process has begun, but on Monday night, Coach Calipari will see his players perform against a live opponent for the first time. These exhibition games will provide significant input to Coach Calipari about how his team should play together.
NAIA Ottawa University, based in Ottawa, Kansas, will appear in Rupp Arena on Monday, November 2, 2015 as that first live opponent that the 2015-16 edition of Cal's Cats will face. This game was set up by UK AD Barnhart to serve as a platform from which UK will recognize Mr. Barnhart's 2014-15 recognition as AD of the year. The reason for Ottawa is that is where Mr. Barnhart attended college.
Other than this role that Ottawa will play, these exhibition games are about the Kentucky team, and identifying the areas that Coach Calipari must emphasize over the next 10 days as the Cats prepare to open their quest for their third consecutive trip to the Final Four, and the Cats' 5 th trip over the last six seasons. The Cats can't compete for their 9 th NCAA Championship unless the Cats play in the Final Four.
Let the journey begin with the exhibitions, just as it has every year within my memory.
Over the past 6 seasons, the Cats have averaged a 37 point victory over its first exhibition opponent (92-55) and for those same previous six (6) seasons, the Cats have improved between their first and second exhibition games to a 59 point average margin (109-50). This and the second exhibition game five days later is about effort and improvement. The measuring sticks are the margins of victory and the degree of improvement between the first and second starts.
For the past six “First Exhibitions” the opponents have been Campbell (74-38), Pikeville (97-66), Transy (97-53), Northern Kentucky (93-61), Transy (76-42), and Pikeville (116-68). This year's Based on how such exhibition games have played out in the past and the relative strength of Ottawa, this game shapes up to be a 42 point game, 94-52, if the Cats are on par with the previous six Calipari led teams at the beginning of November.
Coach Calipari raises the curtain on the 2015-16 season with a 3 guard starting lineup consisting of Tyler Ulis, Isaah Briscoe, Jamal Murray, with Marcus Lee and Skal LaBesiere on the front line.
Skal LaBissiere controls the opening tip and the Cats waste no time getting their first basket of the year, and after Skal LaBissiere blocked the Ottawa shot, Jamal Murray scored quickly on the break to put the Cats up 4-0. The Cats ran out to a 13-0 lead before Ottawa hit their first basket, a 3 pointer, to break the scoring ice. At the under 16 media timeout, the Cats extended their lead to 16 points, 21-5.
The first off the bench was Alex Poythress, and Charles Matthews entered the game during the media timeout. In the second segment, the Cats outscored Ottawa 15-0, to lead 36-7. In one segment, Derek Willis blocked a shot, and got the fast break lay in at the other end, and then blocked the next Ottawa shot, showing why he deserves a place in the rotation this season.
In the third segment, Ottawa outscored the Cats 8-6, and trimmed the lead to 27 points, 42-15 at the under 8 media timeout. After the timeout, the Cats will be shooting a pair of free throws. At the half the Cats lead 67-35.
The Cats scored 67 points on 44 possessions, 1.523 points per possession, and Ottawa managed their 35 points on 43 possessions, 0.814 ppp. The Cats made a whopping 72% of their first half shots, and 7 of 10 from outside the arc. Ottawa was limited to only 32% shooting in the first half, but managed to make 6 of 19 shots from long range (31.6%) and only 5-15 from inside the arc where the Cats' interior defense was nearly air tight.
The Cats made 8-12 free throws (67%) and Ottawa managed to make 7-8 free throws.
On the Boards, the Cats controlled the glass on both ends, 24-11 overall, and while Ottawa managed 3 offensive rebounds to the Cats' 3, the Cats secured 27% of their misses and limited Ottawa to only 12.5% of their misses as second chance opportunities.
The Cats open the second half much the way they opened the game, on a 18-2 run fueled by 3 offensive rebounds and 4 second chance points, 2-2 from outside the arc, and 6-7 shooting on shots for which they did not get the offensive rebound. The Cats lead 85-37 at the under 16 media timeout. At the under 8 media timeout, the Cats lead 97-43. The Cats win 117-58.
UK scored its 117 points in a total of 81 possessions for the game, and Ottawa scored its 58 points on a total of 81 possessions.
Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 58-28, and the Cats won the battle of the offensive glass 20-11. Kentucky used its 20 second chance possessions to score 15 second chance points, winning the second chance points battle 15-6 Ottawa had an offensive efficiency of 0.642 ppp on its 81 first chance possessions and 0.546 ppp for its 11 second chance possessions. UK had 1.259 ppp on its 81 first chance possessions and 0.750 ppp on its 20 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a strong 54.1%of its misses as offensive rebounds while Ottawa was able to convert only 22.4% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 9-18 [50.0%]. Ottawa made 18-20 [90.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 48-80 overall [60.0%] and 12-22 from long range [54.5%]. For Ottawa, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a low 11-38 [28.9%] and from long range, Ottawa hit 6-27 [22.2%].
The Cats committed 12 turnovers, one for every 6.8 possessions. The Cats forced 17 Ottawa turnovers, one for every 4.8 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Friday night, again at Rupp Arena, the Cats will take on Kentucky State in the second, and last exhibition game of the 2015-16 season
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks