2015-16 Season Analytical Writings

Has The Collective Light Come On For The Cats?

Following the steady decline in play that culminated in the loss at Pauley Pavilion against UCLA in the 8 th game of the season, I sounded the alarm. I wrote at that time that this team was in trouble, big trouble. And it was. I do not retreat one bit from that warning, and the team's play over the next 9 games, the team's quality of play did not improve. Actually, the team experienced further deterioration in the quality of its play, sustaining losses against a weak Ohio State team, an embarrassing loss to a mediocre LSU team, and an inexplicable loss at Auburn, blowing a huge second half lead to allow Auburn to get its first win over any UK team in the last 19 tries.

Then something changed. There was change on the part of the coaches. There was change on the part of the players. Since that time, this team has played basketball at a level of efficiency worthy of their early season #2 and #1 rankings. A win at Arkansas was followed by a domination of Vanderbilt at Rupp. The Cats completely dominated a weak Missouri team at Rupp. On Saturday, this UK team ventured into one of the most difficult home venues in the game at Lawrence, Kansas and extended a very good Kansas team into OT before falling.

Notice the steady, season long decline in the average adjusted net efficiency (Red Line) through game 17 (At Auburn). Now that red line is trending upward and over the last 4 games, it has increased about 10% from about 0.18 ppp to about 0.20 ppp. The trends can be more easily visualized with the 5-game running average ANE (green line). That metric shows the increasing trend beginning after the LSU game and continuing now for 7 games despite the Auburn loss and a lack luster showing at Rupp against Mississippi State. The 5-game running average hit lows after the Ohio State and LSU losses at about 0.09 to 0.10 ppp, and has climbed steadily since the LSU loss. The 5-game running average now stands between 0.27 and 0.28 ppp, just shy of 0.3 ppp, the threshold for NCAA Championship competition, and on par with the top rated teams in D1 basketball this season.

The game-to-game ANE is computed from the following three factors:

  1. •  The raw game Net Efficiency (Margin divided by Number of Possessions in game)
  2. •  The opponent's Pythagorean value (the measure of the strength of the opponent), and
  3. •  The venue of the game (home, neutral, away).

The difference between the current season average ANE and the current 5-game running average ANE is about 0.07 ppp, or about 5 ppg average margin. This is sufficient to put the Cats into the National Championship discussion once again.

I think this team has finally gotten it!

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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