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Slow Starts to Games Must Stop Now


We have now hit a stretch of back to back games where Kentucky has spent the first five or so minutes of the game “in the locker room” and instead decided to spot the other team a double digit lead. Yes, I know that it ended up working out in the long run, but this is a trend that needs to stop now.

On Tuesday, the Cats make the trip to Athens and meet up with their old friend Tom Crean. While Georgia is not a great basketball team, the last thing Kentucky needs to do is to let an already hostile environment jump up another level in the opening minutes. Basketball is a game of runs and a game of momentum. The key is which team can limit the other team in that specific category. Whichever does typically comes out with the win.

After Georgia, it sure doesn’t get any easier with games against Auburn, Mississippi State and Kansas, all ranked teams, coming to finish out the month. If you spot any of those teams a ten plus point lead, you might just want to kiss away your chances at winning.

During the postgame press conference, head coach John Calipari said, “We have got to figure out how we start games. It’s getting ridiculous. It’s five halves in a row where we just start the game and we’re getting smashed.”

When Mike Pratt was talking with Immanuel Quickley about the slow starts, Quickley said that he didn’t really know what the reason was behind it.

Now for the all important question, how do you fix it? For me, I think the most obvious choice is to switch up the starting lineup. Is it the right choice? Maybe not, but it might put a spark into the team.

Last night, Kentucky started Ashton Hagans, Tyler Herro, Keldon Johnson, PJ Washington and Reid Travis for the eighth time this season. UK is now 5-3 with that lineup.

While I do think that is the best five, why not switch in Quickley for Herro? Montgomery for Washington? Hell if Jemarl Baker will give you a spark; I am perfectly fine with putting him in the starting five. Find something to see if a player can’t bring a spark to the team early on.

If nothing changes, slow starts could be the doom of the team. Sure, there are good teams that get into holes and climb out of them against good teams, but obviously the percentage chance takes a huge hit. With just about two months until March Madness, something needs to happen and something needs to happen now.

Article written by Sam Gormley

Follow me on Twitter @GormleyKSR; "The Whitest Man in the World"-JRock

59 responses to “Slow Starts to Games Must Stop Now”

  1. Smyrna_Cat

    This has been a problem for several Cal teams, not just this year. Cal may way to reaccess how he is preparing the team of multiple teams have done this.

    1. BigolBlue

      Smyrna always has an excuse ready for Cal

    2. catsarerunnin

      And Slater you always seem to have a totally asinine comment ready.

  2. KYfaninTN

    I do not recall us winning the tip to start the game. We are giving away the first possession. Start Richards and win the tip.

    1. CatfaninCinci

      We have a 6’8” guy tipping the ball. We lose the tip. They go down and score. Let Nick Richards take the tip and then run in PJ or Reid at the first play stoppage. We need to score first. Get back on D and set up.

    2. jahanc2uky

      The starting lineup needs to be changed. Hero & Reid need to stop being in at the same time. Both are defensive liabilities and Hero is awful/lacking confidence in feeding the post. The 2 players are not complimenting each other very well. I like Hagans, Quickley, Johnson, PJ, Reid to start. Also would like to see smaller lineups with Johnson at 4 along side Montgomery at the 5. I like this team and I like my coach, but hope to see some different lineups as it doesnt feel like this team has a sense of self at this point. Go Cats!!

  3. RondoTheDonThough

    But baby it’s cold outside. Takes time to warm the leggings up and get the motors going. We are fine.

    1. Trueblue44

      Lmao your kidding me right?

    2. bigbluebanana

      What about his kidding?

    3. BigolBlue

      Banana is only here to take up for Cal and his mediocre teams. Doesnt matter if the point is valid. Cals daughter

    4. bigbluebanana

      No, I take up for my team. If people like you talk bad about a player, I’m right there taking up for them too. I can’t stand negativity, especially when it’s poorly thought out and is just a result of anger. You don’t see me jumping in and calling out mashburnfan or jiminy crickets all the time do you? They seem to think mostly like you and your horde of mouth breathers, but they make valid points with thought out wording, they admit to the good things they see (and there’s plenty), and they don’t result to gay jokes and middle school humor when someone disagrees with them. Thanks for trying, and failing, again to be relevant.

    5. BigolBlue

      Yep just fine. Losing to bama, seton hall. Close games to bad teams like Vandy and Texas AM. We are fine

  4. Big johnson

    What it’s not cold for the other teams?

  5. KYjellyRoll

    And I believe this is what cal means when he says, “we have to figure out how we’re going to start games”. I personally think Baker over Herro in the starting five. Even if Herro subs in after a minute or two. Even Quickley into the lineup to start would be great. Hagans and quickley are playing the best together right now.

  6. VirginiaCat

    Love the Cal quote: “We have got to figure out how we start games. It’s getting ridiculous. It’s five halves in a row where we just start the game and we’re getting smashed.” Makes it sound like Cal is merely an observer with no accountability for the team’s performance. Here is the thing Cal, slow starts are not unique to this year. It has become a trademark of your teams. You are the head coach and you are paid $8 million to have your teams ready to play. Anybody can lament, but It takes a good coach to solve the problem.

  7. dave1964

    Stop starting PJ Washington he is the main problem he play’s when he wants to, Cal has to change something up maybe start Baker over Hero and Richardson over Washington.

  8. dave1964

    Passing has to improve we just pass it any old way, the shooter has to be able to catch and shoot.

    1. trumpetguy

      dave 1964, we’ve all heard Cal say it many, many times. He wants his team to be defensive minded and rebounding teams. He has used the term “willing passers” over and over this year, as if he has FIVE selfish players on the court at all times. Well the players have listened and clearly over-passing right from the opening tip. Passing up on open shots and driving into trouble with way too many clear, obvious offensive fouls and turnovers. I said this early in the year and everybody thought I was a hater. Couldn’t be farther from the truth! I do know this: Keep getting up only about 40+ or so shots is not going to bring success. We (UK) are letting everybody dictate pace and all we are doing is let teams with lesser talent stay in the game. Uptempo pace and pressure on both ends, talent will prevail. Unless Cal doesn’t trust players 3-9 to be better than their opponent. IMO FG attempts should go up dramatically.

  9. IrishCat

    Having Reid and PJ in the game at the same time brings some limitations. Especially when PJ is in one of his absentee mindsets.

  10. UKPROF

    All the buzz about the slow start. Has ANYONE looked into the fact that UK only scored a TOTAL of 14 points in the last 10+ minutes of the game!!? Watching that last 10 minutes made me glad I hadn’t purchase a couple of those available lower arena seats at $120 each. And a side note… maybe PJ needs to come out of the starting rotation? Insert PJ and Baker together to see if that resulted in a good igniter when you need a spark. Some players perform better for sure when they come off the bench.

  11. Dowser

    PJ has got to be held accountable. His play is inexcusable.

  12. Jiminy Crickets

    Here comes the complainer again…
    Slow starts have occurred with every team Cal has had here. So has the trend of opposing teams shooting higher percentages, a single player going nuts, and lack of passing. Remember last year when Cals psych trick was to award an assist to a player in practice every time they passed the ball. This year it’s what is your word. When Calipari realizes the team isn’t as good as he thought they would be he doesn’t change his coaching at all, he reverts to Phil Jackson Zen psychotherapy.
    SEC coaches have been playing against this exact UK offense for years, and game plan against it. The zone slowing down Cal teams has been going on for 2 decades. Now, since being here, he’s had the talent to overcome these teams, but SEC is getting better, and Cals talent is decreasing. You can always tell when Cal doesn’t know the answer, he starts talking crazy and many times the thoughts are so jumbled and scattered people aren’t sure what he said, or he starts his imaginary conversations with players “I told him to screen, but What he pushed me, I’m like he pushed you? They just don’t get it right now”

    1. Dowser

      I hear you and mostly agree. The one thing that’s different from the way we think is, Cal is having to actually do the things he says (teaching them to play hard, feeding the post). It’s hard for us to imagine thay don’t know these things.

    2. catsarerunnin

      You nailed it Jenny. You are a complainer.

    3. BigolBlue

      Juat like banana if someone makes a valid post with actual truth runnin will get touchy and inmediately take up for cal

    4. bigbluebanana

      I always back up different opinions, don’t believe? Ask jiminy if I don’t often defend him. It’s your ignorant drivel that I chime in on because you do it just to be a dick

    5. BluejayK

      The imaginary Cal conversation definitely made me lol. I’m no Cal hater, but his corny little sayings and imaginary conversations are starting to wear thin on me. It’s a process, player driven team, empowered , we are young… just to name a few , are getting old..

  13. michaelb

    Yesterday’s game feels like a loss . We played bad & it took the other team playing just horrible for us to come out of it . Yikes.

  14. OhioCat84

    My new starting 5 is Hagans, Herro, Quickly, Johnson and either PJ or Reid (not both). This adds another shooter and also may take some pressure off Herro.

    1. runningunnin.454

      That’s what I said last week; except I would start Nick; he’s playing with more energy now, and maybe we would get the opening tip. I agree on the other four.

    2. jaws2

      We may as well let the other team inbound the ball at the start of the game. As long as PJ or Travis are our tip off guys we’re at a disadvantage from the ‘tip’.
      At least we’d be set on defense.

  15. KYjellyRoll

    Baker is the energy guy. Start Baker or get him into the game Sooner. He’s not a liability and is a great shooter.

    1. Wade

      He had one good game. Energy guy no, he has great energy but don’t even think he has a steal or a handful of rebounds. He’s not the answer. I think you just like to hear yourself type!

  16. runningunnin.454

    Why do teams start so hot against us? Maybe because our hands are down on defense. Nothing easier than going up and shooting over a guy with his hands at his side.

    1. No more excuses cal

      Yep

  17. Righteous1

    Double digit losses again this year for 6 out of the last 10 yrs. 8 million a year for those results? We could get that for half the price and give the balance to the football coach and his staff to continue building an SEC and national championship contender on a yearly basis. We are overrated every year in basketball. The mystique of the “gold standard” has evaporated among the other teams in the SEC and nationally. Kentucky is going down the same path as UCLA unfortunately!

    1. CatfaninCinci

      Ha… Haha… Hahahahahahahahahahaha

      UK is not going down the same path as UCLA. That’s asinine. If we don’t win the championship every hear, some of you people just can’t be happy. We’ve got a good team. Problem is, with the AAU circuit, A LOT of teams have good teams now. The years where we are just dominant top to bottom are probably over, sure. Has Cal lost a step recruiting? Not so much as I think other teams have adjusted to his style. The, “If you want to be the man, don’t come here…” approach is not what kids these days want to hear. So Cal will adjust.

      But we are UCLA??? Hahahaha. UCLA hasn’t made a FF since the mid 90s. Cal has made 4 in the last 10 years. But he hits a 4 year drought and we are UCLA. That’s some of the funniest chicken little sky is falling crap I’ve ever read. Thank you for making my day!

    2. BigolBlue

      Hey catfan. Every year? Only been 3 in 23 years 1 in the last 21. Your comment is a lie. We dont expect one every year. They have 0 shot this year or next. The point is to have a contender to win in or actually win one every once in a while.

    3. catsarerunnin

      “Only” 3? So in your infinite wisdom how many should there been?

    4. BigolBlue

      Agree righteous. Valid

    5. catsarerunnin

      Disagree Slater. So you’re invalid. And insane.

    6. The Big Lebowski

      “If we don’t win the championship every hear, some of you people just can’t be happy.”

      That is asinine. It’s a talking point…a trope…a lie.

      People want to see winning basketball. They want to see dominance. They don’t want to see losses to obviously inferior teams like Bama and Seton Hall. They don’t want to see Kentucky get absolutely crushed by Duke in the first game of the season. That loss to Duke was worse than any loss that they drunk coach had during his tenure.

      Stop the talking points. No one is angry that Cal is not winning a Championship every year. NOT ONE PERSON says this or makes this point or even comes close to this great sports media lie.

      People want Kentucky be dominant. D O M I N A N T !

      If Kentucky puts in great effort every game and Cal looks like he has a plan, Cat fans are happy.

      They’re not happy paying a Coach 8 Million Dollars a year to make the Sweet Sixteen and being defeated by rando Uni but, hey, geez guys, we did great…we put 4 guys in the NBA.

  18. VirginiaCat

    Are we going down the wrong path? By any objective standard, the answer is “yes” if we focus on the post 2014-15 era. Since then we have typically finished lower in the polls than our initial ranking. This year is a good example. We started the year ranked #2 and a favorite to win the national championship. We now ranked in the high teens and no one really talks about us as a post season threat. There is good news. Our program has historically been bigger than the coaching staff. UCLA won all their titles under one coach. Duke has won its title under one coach. We have won titles under five separate coaches. That tells me that the program is resilient. We will be fine down the road. Sure, there will be bumps and detours along the way, but we always find a way to right the ship. Cal and his OAD program are on the decline. He will leave at some point and another coach will take over the reins. We will be fine.

    1. bigblue2284

      Agree the model that brought UK back from the Billy G days is coming to an end. It was a great, fun and entertaining run but it’s played out. Cal has lost his mojo its excuses rather than results anymore and he is getting embarrassed in the recruiting department by K. Remember when it was we don’t rebuild we reload? Well can’t reload without the bullets, bbs don’t count.

    2. BigolBlue

      Very true bigblue2284

  19. KYjellyRoll

    Pj is letting his ego get in the way of his play. I think the effort is there but something isn’t right. You can see it in his body language. If something doesn’t change for him then he will e a second round pick instead of a lottery pick.

    1. No more excuses cal

      Cal opened this door or frustration for the fan base when he let jared Vanderbilt use the program for his own agenda last year and Lost to a mediocre k state team and cost the program wins and a final four so don’t poke the bear and and expect it not to sometimes growl

  20. KYjellyRoll

    So many people have already given up on Cal and this season. We have 3 losses and I hear people predicting double digit loss season. This is ridiculous. This team has so much more left in the tank. I see that wen this team clicks they will be a title contender. But, until they figure it out it’ll be a rough ride. When they do, look out! So much talent on this team!

    1. The Big Lebowski

      Yeap, these guys will click.

      Next year…in the NBA and Developmental League or Europe.

      LOL

  21. Aar

    I have faith that the coaching staff will teach this team how to start the game against zone and to defend switches better.

  22. BBNBRIAN

    Start Nick over PJ. PJ DOESN’T EVEN JUMP TO TIP THE BALL!!! Am I the only person that has noticed this? Zero effort from Mr. Mean Mug and Flex… Sit his butt until he understands what 40 minutes of effort is.

    1. No more excuses cal

      That’s what you get when it’s players first are you listening

  23. Righteous1

    We will see about the double digit losses at the end of the year. We have a real good shot at 4 in a row starting Tuesday at Georgia.

    1. catsarerunnin

      That’s it. Think positive.

    2. BigolBlue

      Runnin thinks we are a title contender. Hahahahahahahahahahahaha i pissed myself

    3. catsarerunnin

      Buy yourself some Depends since I’m sure that happens a lot.

  24. VirginiaCat

    I will backtrack a bit to Jiminy’s comments because I think that he may have put his finger on something. I, too, have noticed that sometimes Cal’s speaks in a jumbled and scattered manner. It’s like there are too many thoughts in his head and he struggles to find a cogent thread. That’s just Cal, but I do think that disjointed thinking can lead to disjointed coaching. Sometimes he is all over the place and this has to be a bit confusing to the players.

  25. Cmart0907

    How about Cal install new offense sets to score easy buckets. Instead off dribble, drive, kick to three , throw it into the post. Wash , rinse and repeat. Cals Xs and Os is horrible.