Today we at KSR are excited to announce that we are entering into a new →
It’s halftime of the Florida/Kansas game and the Gators are whipping the Jayhawks, which was the perfect segue to ESPN’s halftime discussion about whether or not the 2013 class is overrated, specifically Kentucky’s group. Seth Greenberg and Jay Williams debated the topic, with Williams arguing that UK’s freshmen group wasn’t overrated, just overhyped, and haven’t gelled yet. Greenberg argued the Cats need more veterans, ala Darius Miller in 2012. They’re both right, but the most telling thing to me was the graphic they showed, which I’ve shared with you above.
Thankfully, we’ll know more in a few hours. Live blog starts in 30 minutes.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©7:55 pm
According to UK, both Marcus Lee and Jon Hood will sit out tonight’s game. Lee has a “stomach illness” and Hood is still recovering from a head injury he suffered in practice back on November 23rd. UK says Hood is still “day-to-day.”
Knowing Lee, he probably ate too much candy or something, but I’m starting to get concerned about Hoody Hood.
Tune in to 630 WLAP in Lexington at 6:30 pm for the KSR pregame show with Matt Jones, Ryan Lemond, and Drew Franklin. The guys will be live from the food court at Rupp Arena to get you ready for tonight’s game between the Cats and the Boise State Broncos. 98.1 The Bull will carry the second half-hour of the show, beginning at 7:00 p.m, or listen online at WLAP.com.
Stick around for the Texas Roadhouse Countdown to Tip-Off Pregame Show on the IMG Network with Oscar Combs and Matt Jones. A list of affiliates around the state can be found here or you can listen online here.
By Drew Franklin on ©6:00 pm
Worried about Boise State shooting the lights out in Rupp Arena tonight? If this shot by head coach Leon Rice is any indication of how things will go, Kentucky better be ready to play good defense.
Three hours until tip-off.
[Throughout this football season my job has been covering the rebuilding Wildcat football program. My passion has been following my little brother's success at Quarterback this season for my alma, the DeSales Colts. I've done my best all year to bite my tongue on the site, but following a State Championship victory, Matt has given me the green light for a post honoring their success. For the fans and students, I hope to do you justice. For those who don't care, feel free to scroll down.]
Nestled between Iroquois Park and Kenwood hill in South Louisville, lies the heart of a small Catholic community in the all-male DeSales High School. For over 50 years parents, faculty, alumni and students have striven for success in the classroom, community and on the athletic fields. Super Bowl Champions and All-Americans have given the athletic program credibility, yet none had ever achieved transcendence through a State Championship, until this year. Rather than squandering through adversity, the Colts flourished, uniting all those to have ever come in contact with the school. The 34-26 victory Saturday over Newport Central Catholic symbolizes a win for the South End, with hopes for more success in the future.
By Jonathan Schuette on ©4:45 pm
As it currently stands, John Calipari’s Kentucky squad has fallen to 11th in the latest AP Poll after two early season losses. It’s been a relatively bumpy ride thus far and things don’t look to be getting any easier for the Cats as they currently find themselves in the middle of the season’s most difficult portion of the schedule. During this grueling stretch, Kentucky will not only be facing perennial basketball powers like North Carolina and Louisville, but they’ll also play host to two very talented mid-majors in Belmont and Boise State. The Broncos of Boise State enter Tuesday’s contest with an undefeated record and an offensive attack that connects from deep at a 37% clip. While that’s impressive, the most impressive element of their offense is the ability to care for the ball, ranking 3rd nationally in turnover percentage. This feature of their offense is a favorable match-up for the Broncos as Kentucky is ranked 271st nationally in defensive turnover percentage. It seems strange that Kentucky – a team with freakish height, length, and depth – would be ranked so low in this defensive category. However, as I’ve found through research, this has been an odd trend in John Calipari’s coaching.
Every time I’ve previously brought up the topic of Calipari teams not forcing many turnovers, I was quickly met with statements like, “He wants his players to be in better defensive position rather than force more turnovers.” The rebuttal statements were, in large part, true. Another very likely reason that Calipari teams didn’t force turnovers was lack of depth on the roster, something which was very understandable. After all, you don’t want your players playing a hyper-aggressive, foul prone defense when the roster is only seven deep. However, this style of defense isn’t the way that Calipari coached his teams throughout recent history, far from it actually. The below table tells the story of how Calipari has coached defense throughout recent history using advanced “Four Factor” statistics.
For a quick explanation of the stats listed above, click the following link.
As you can see from the numbers above, the rate in which Calipari’s teams have forced opponents to turn the ball over has drastically decreased over the years. In 2006, his team forced a turnover on 23.3% of opponent possessions, that number has dwindled to 16.5% currently. While Turnover Rate and Steal Percentage are obviously correlated, Steal Percentage has dropped significantly over the years, ranking as high as 11th nationally in 2009, but now near the bottom of D-1, ranking 331st. The Always Be In Position Defensive style that Calipari has preached at Kentucky has also allowed opponents to connect from the perimeter at a higher rate as well. In his last four seasons at Memphis, opponent 3-point shooting percentages were always low, ranking the Tigers within the national top-25 of perimeter defense every season. Only one of Cal’s teams at Kentucky have been ranked within the national top-50 of opponent 3-point shooting percentage.
While forcing turnovers is a great way to limit opponent effectiveness, you do tend to foul more as you’re playing a more aggressive brand of basketball. The stats back this up as opponent free throw rate was much higher during the times Cal preached turnovers, ranking above 150th nationally on three of four occasions at Memphis. They may have sent opponents to the line more frequently, but their defenses were still some of the most efficient in basketball despite the fact. Even when the Tigers fouled and opponents had more free throw attempts, their defenses were still more consistent on a year-to-year basis than the ones at Kentucky who didn’t force turnovers. Not only was the defense more consistent on a year-to-year basis, but the pressure helped the offense as the table below shows.
The statistic you see above is Extra Scoring Chances per game, and it’s simply an estimation of how many extra scoring opportunities a team has over their opponents. The formula is as follows: [Offensive Rebounds + Opponent Turnovers - Opponent Offensive Rebounds - Turnovers]. While formula does take offensive data and defensive rebounds into consideration, it does tell a valuable story for Calipari’s teams as every stat in the formula besides opponent turnovers has remained relatively similar over the years. Once we look at the data, we can see that Calipari’s current team’s isn’t getting many more extra scoring chances. Cal’s last four teams at Memphis were all ranked within the national top-15 in this category, while none of his Kentucky teams have been ranked within the top-50. Every team, with the exception of last season’s team, is getting more opportunities than their opponents, but according to the data many more extra chances could be ours with a slight change in philosophy.
Kentucky’s defense is currently struggling for a number of reasons. Defensive rebounding is one of the major issues as the game against Baylor proved. Transition defense and defending the pick-and-roll have also been issues this year. While correcting these issues is undoubtedly important, an emphasis on forcing turnovers is key for defensive improvement this season. We have the depth, height, and length to be a team who can force turnovers – something which previous Kentucky teams couldn’t say. I’m not calling for the implementation of a full-court press or some other variation, but rather a more aggressive half-court set that was the norm at Memphis. As the past has proven, John Calipari knows how to adjust his coaching philosophy to fit his players’ defensive skills. In years where depth wasn’t present, he laid off the pressure and relied heavily on proper positioning in the half-court which fit his teams well. This year’s team seems to be playing passive on defense, and a more aggressive scheme that increases pressure while still emphasizing good position may be what this team needs.
By Drew Franklin on ©4:00 pm
The good people at the University of North Carolina are planning a “White Out” in the Dean Dome (“Sounds like a doorbell” ~ Tomlin) this Saturday for the Tar Heels’ game against Kentucky. Fans attending the game will receive a free white UNC t-shirt just for showing up.
Knowing several of you are going to the game, it’ll be exciting to see the Kentucky blue stand out even more against the white shirts. Wear your bluest UK blue and ruin the party if you’re one of the many that’ll be there.
By Drew Franklin on ©3:00 pm
By Ally Tucker on ©2:00 pm
The Boise State Broncos’ venture to Rupp Arena for a December non-conference game has already gotten off to a rocky start with a canceled flight, long bus ride and 1:30 a.m. arrival this morning. The Broncos know that the task ahead of them in one of the most intimidating college basketball arenas is a daunting one, but the coach and players seem excited for the challenge.
The Idaho Statesman, a local Boise State newspaper, talked with some of the players in the lead up to tonight’s game.
“We’re catching them at probably a bad time,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said, likely referring to the tough loss over the weekend.
Although the Broncos are 8-0, while the young Wildcats sit at 7-2… Boise State has never topped a top-10 ranked opponent in the school’s history.
“Everyone knows about Kentucky, about Rupp Arena. We’re excited. We know this is going to be a hell of a challenge, and we pretty much will need to play a perfect game to beat them,” Boise State senior Jeff Elorriaga said.
Kentucky came into the season with all kinds of hype surrounding the top rated recruiting class, with many dubbing the class as the best of all time. With the target on Kentucky’s back, many of the Cats’ opponents this season have seemed to come in with a chip on their shoulder– wanting to prove the hype wrong. Even some of the lesser talented teams have looked confident and unafraid of Kentucky, clearly not intimidated by the hoopla.
Former Baylor player Pierre Jackson, who was part of the effort last season for the Bears that ended Kentucky’s home winning streak in the Calipari era, had some advice for the Broncos and feels confident they have a chance.
“We had a lot of guys who were underdogs coming up, and you’ll be underdogs there– you need a chip on your shoulder,” Jackson said. “I’ve seen Boise play a few times, they’ve got some good players. I think they’ve got a chance to do the same thing we did.”
The Broncos will certainly come in to Rupp Arena tonight as the underdogs, and they are aware (Elorriaga likened the long Wildcats to the Monstars from Space Jam)… but don’t expect the Broncos to back down to the challenge.
By Drew Franklin on ©1:04 pm
By Drew Franklin on ©12:50 pm
In case you missed last night’s interview on Fox Sports 1, here it is in its entirety. Watch as John Vincent Calipari sits down with Bill Raftery to discuss his coaching career, NBA rumors, and how things are going at the University of Kentucky this season.
“This year’s team is the best post up team I’ve ever had, including my years with the Nets.”
By Drew Franklin on ©12:00 pm
The Boise State men’s basketball team arrived in Lexington a little later than planned, thanks to the weather in Chicago yesterday. As we mentioned several times on the site yesterday, the team had to take a bus from the Windy City, approximately a seven hour ride, after its flight to Bluegrass Airport was canceled. The Broncos left Chicago around 5:00 p.m. and finally made it to Lexington a little after 1:00 a.m.
Well we're here. Get some shots up at 1:30? pic.twitter.com/tv0klyCiqC
— Boise State Men's BB (@BroncoSportsMBB) December 10, 2013
The New York Times has a story on six Kentucky mothers, their support for their sons’ high school basketball careers, and how the enthusiasm may lead to a reality television show. A TV deal has already been signed and the producer thinks it has a real shot at television success:
Overaggressive parents hollering from the stands have become a cliché of American childhood, but these moms have turned parental cheering into an art form — and, they hope, a business. Six Kentucky families have signed a deal with NorthSouth Productions, a television company, to make a reality show about their hoops-mad families.
It is unclear if the project will appear on the screen any time soon, but the producer Blaine Hopkins called the mothers perfectly suited to reality TV, describing them as “hysterical, passionate, real and competitive.”
Henry Clay High School’s Jordan Green is one of the featured basketball sons. His mother, Michelle Green, put her house of ten years on the market, then filed bankruptcy when the deal went south, just to get her son in the Henry Clay school district. She said basketball is a business for the family.
The other families have similar stories of sacrifice for basketball, although Green is the only legit Division 1 prospect from the group. It’ll make for an interesting show, I suppose, but it better get going soon if it’s going to happen, considering the boys are all seniors.
I’d watch it.
By Drew Franklin on ©10:30 am
The University of Kentucky student body failed to claim all of its allotted student tickets for the next round of men’s basketball games at last night’s lottery. According to the UK ticket office, tickets are still available for several home basketball games, including the biggest game on the season against the defending champion Louisville Cardinals.
The remaining tickets went on sale at the ticket office this morning at 9:00 a.m. for $5.00. If they aren’t all sold today, they’ll go on sale to the general public tomorrow night on Ticketmaster.
Tickets are also available for tonight’s game against Boise State.
Come on, students. What’s the problem?