Another game down, and the sample size for statistics continues to grow. The strengths are beginning to separate themselves while the concerns are beginning to illuminate themselves as well. What’s going right? What’s going wrong? Don’t worry because Ben’s here to let you know.
(h/t UK Athletics)
Good: The rebounding. More specifically, the offensive rebounding. Through four games this season, the Cats have now grabbed 70 offensive rebounds while allowing their opponents to grab only 71 defensive rebounds. I thought the Michigan State game was going to define just how elite this team was at rebounding and my question was answered. They are elite. Currently, their offensive rebounding percentage is 49.3%, which is fifth in the country. This may not mean much to you but consider this: the record since KenPom started tracking offensive rebound percentage is in 2011 when Old Dominion grabbed 45.3% of their potential offensive rebounds. The three biggest reasons (literally) for this are Julius Randle, WCS, and Alex Poythress. Combined, the three are averaging 32.6 rebounds per game, all the while averaging less than 30 minutes per game. Alex Poythress keep on
Katy Perry roaring.
Bad: Shooting. The free-throw shooting has obviously been alarming, but the overall shooting has been weak. The team is still shooting under 30% on the season from downtown which has to improve if the Cats are going to win six straight games in March. Last night was a step in the right direction (7-19 3pt., 24-34 FT), but still not where they need to be. If you’re looking at where the improvement needs to start, look no further than James Young. Cal keeps calling him the best shooter in the country (which he’s not, but confidence is key in shooting) but he has yet to show it. He is shooting just 25% on his three’s and 46.2% from the free-throw line. Now it’s not hard to see that these numbers are going to improve when you look at his stroke, but let’s hope he returns to form sooner rather than later. Also, let’s just take a moment to thank the lord that Kentucky’s free throw shooting isn’t as bad as North Carolina’s. In case you missed it, the Tar Heels lost to Belmont by three yesterday, and shot a whopping 22-48 from the charity stripe. HAAA
Good: Willie’s Shot-Blocking. No, he’s not Anthony Davis. No, he’s not Nerlens Noel. But nevertheless, UK does possess another shot-blocking stud in WCS. So far Willie is averaging 2.5 blocks per game in just 22.5 minutes per game. When you translate that, it’s 4.44 blocks for 40 minutes. So, when he is compared to Noel (5.51 blocks per 40) and Davis (5.87 blocks per 40), he is not far behind. Keep it up, big fella!
Bad: Turnovers. The Cats are turning it over on 18.1% of their possessions thus far, good for 172nd in the nation. That would be the lowest finish of a Calipari coached team in the KenPom era. Now that it appears UK has improved on their lobs they still need to cut out the silly mistakes that lead to turnovers. Last night was the second time this season that the Cats got called on stepping over the line on throw ins. It’s little turnovers like that that come with youth so this should eventually improve.
Good: Derek Willis’s per minute stats. You guys, we may have the next LeBron on our hands. If you translate Derek Willis’s stats for an entire game, he’s averaging 40 points and 8.5 rebounds. 4.7 minutes, 4.7 points. It’s like clockwork, folks. But seriously, Willis has been making the most out of his playing time and if he doesn’t figure to contribute much this year, I feel comfortable with him playing more and more as his career goes on.