BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2014-15 Season Analytical Writings
The two exhibition games against NAIA and NCAA Division II opponents are in the books, and the performances turned in by this new group of Wildcats was impressive to say the least. The Cats scored over 100 points in each of the games, something that only one previous UK team had done, and that occurred last year with a UK team full of talented returners that were supplemented by a group of very talented newcomers, all of whom had the added advantage in November of having played together in the Bahamas against tough competition in August. This team certainly put a stamp of approval on the idea that it could be every bit as strong as last year's team, and perhaps even better with a slightly higher ceiling for them to reach by the end of February.
It is way too early for those discussions. The Cats will face its first D1 opponent on Friday night when the Albany Great Danes come into Rupp Arena to open their season. Over their last 4 seasons, the Great Danes have posted winning records, winning 19, 24, 19, and 24 last year. Last year's 24-5 record was good enough for Albany to win the American East Conference with a 15-1 record with that leagues most efficient offense and third best defense. Albany won the American East post season tournament before ending their season in the NCAA first round in a loss to Oklahoma by 6. Albany's most impressive win was at #70 Yale by 4 in December. Albany's most embarrassing losses were to #240 Holy Cross by 17 points at home and at #285 Niagara by 18 points.
Albany has a consistent track record of solid, better than average D1 basketball accomplishments, and will be a worthy opponent for the Cats' first encounter with a D1 basketball team. Albany closed the season in 2015 at #128.
The Adjusted Net Efficiency (ANE) analysis for this match up indicates a game played at a pace of 64 to 65 possessions, with the Cats winning by 17 points, 74-57.
Coach Calipari opens the season with Tyler Ulis, Charles Matthews, Jamal Murray, Marcus Lee, and Skal Labissiere in the starting lineup. Isaiah Briscoe is unable to go in the season opener due to bruised knee. Dominique Hawkins is available for the first time this season, and Derek Willis will be working to impress the coaches that he deserves time in the regular game rotation this season.
Skal Labissiere controls the opening tip, and the Cats turn it over on its first possession of the game and season. However, following an Albany turnover, the Cats break the scoring ice. Before the first media timeout, the Cats advance their lead to 9-4 on 4-7 shooting compared to 2-6 shooting by Albany. The only negative of the opening segment would be the 3 UK turnovers. Alex Poythress and Derek Willis entered the game for the Cats during the media timeout. Dominique Hawkins also entered the game early in the second segment. The Cats extend their early lead to 6 points, 14-8 at the under 12 media timeout, but Albany will have a pair of free throws after the timeout. In the 3 rd segment, Derek Willis begins to assert himself at the offensive end with an offensive rebound that yielded a basket and a 3 pointer to lift the Cats to an 11 point lead, 25-14, prompting Albany to take a timeout with 8:05 remaining in the first half.
In the 4 th segment, Derek Willis hits his second 3 pointer of the game, and records his 12 th point of the first half to lead the Cats to a 32-21 lead at the under 4 media timeout. In the first 16 minutes, the Cats have scored their 32 points on 27 possession (1.176 ppp) while Albany has needed 26 possessions to score its 21 points (0.808 ppp). The Cats have committed 10 turnovers to Albany's 6. The Cats finish the half with the 11 point lead that Derek Willis established at the mid point of the first half, 38-27.
The Cats scored 38 points on 35 possessions, 1.086 points per possession, and Albany managed their 27 points on 34 possessions, 0.794 ppp. The Cats made only 46.4% of their first half shots, including 4-10 from outside the arc. Albany only managed to make 37.5% of their first half shots, and did not make any of their 8 attempts from outside the arc.
The Cats made 8-11 free throws (73%) and Albany managed to make 9-15 free throws(60.0%).
On the Boards, the Cats controlled the glass 21-14 overall, including a 9-5 advantage on the offensive glass. Each team scored 6 second chance points. The Cats secured 50.0% of their misses and limited Albany to 29.4% of their misses as second chance opportunities.
Albany opened play in the second half with back to back baskets to trim the 11 point half time lead to 7, and Albany possessed the ball a third time with a chance to cut the lead to a mere 5 points before the Cats finished the first segment of the second half with a 9-0 run to move on top 47-31, prompting an Albany timeout with 15:23 remaining.
In the second segment, the Cats extended their lead to 20 points, 58-38 as Skal Labissiere finally gets into the scoring column. The Cats have needed 50 possessions to score their 58 points (1.160 ppp) and have limited Albany to 38 points on 50 possessions. In the third segment of the second half, Albany finally makes a 3 pointer and they become very active on the boards to trim the Kentucky lead to 17 points, 64-47 at the under 8 media timeout.
In the 4 th segment, Albany continues to scratch back into the game, cutting the lead to only 12 points, 71-59, at the under 4 media timeout, and the Great Danes will have the ball when play resumes. The Cats open their 2015-16 season with a 13 point win, 78-65.
UK scored its 78 points in a total of 69 possessions for the game, and Albany scored its 65 points on a total of 70 possessions.
Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 34-26, but the Cats lost the battle of the offensive glass 12-13. Kentucky used its 12 second chance possessions to score 11 second chance points, but Albany used its 13 second chance possessions to score 16 second chance points. Albany had an offensive efficiency of 0.700 ppp on its 70 first chance possessions and 1.231 ppp for its 13 second chance possessions. UK had 0.971 ppp on its 69 first chance possessions and 0.917 ppp on its 12 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a strong 48.0%of its misses as offensive rebounds while Albany was able to convert a strong 37.1% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 16-24 [66.7%]. Albany made 14-24 [58.3%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 28-50 overall [56.0%] and 6-17 from long range [35.3%]. For Albany, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 24-44 [54.5%] and from long range, Albany hit 1-14 [7.1%].
The Cats committed 20 turnovers, one for every 3.5 possessions. The Cats forced 15 Albany turnovers, one for every 4.7 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Saturday night, again at Rupp Arena, the Cats will take on NJIT in the second regular season game of the 2015-16 season.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks