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Don’t Worry About Kyle Wiltjer


“He’s most comfortable as a trailer, he wants to guard the worst player on the other team, his range is unlimited, and he has a quick release.”

This, as you probably know, was the scouting report on me in my college intramural leagues from 2001-2005. I’m slow and can’t jump. But I sure can shoot it. That’s why I love watching Kyle Wiltjer so much. I feel like the scouting report on him is much the same, only he is not trying to win a tee shirt and student center bragging rights. He is trying to repeat as a national champion and get another ring.  Despite my distaste for defense and rebounding, I went on from college intramural leagues to church leagues, where I once made a three in Ronnie McMahan’s face. Kyle will move on to the NBA where he will make threes in the faces of the best players in the world.

Kyle plays a style of game that many of us can relate to. He is not an above the rim player, but he is very skilled offensively and specializes in one area of the game; shooting the basketball.

After the Blue-White game there seemed to be some concern from UK fans and even Coach Calipari about Kyle’s ability to defend.  It’s justified, I guess. He did look a step slow as Jon Hood had his way with him at times, but may I ask you what you expected? He wasn’t a good defender last year and a player can only improve the quickness they don’t have a little bit at a time. It may be the case that we as UK fans are going to have to live with Kyle’s lack of defensive prowess.  Kyle brings so much to the table offensively that I wish we would just go ahead right now, before the season, and make a pact to look at his defense, say “it is what it is” and move on. We don’t need to worry about it.

Let me give you 3 reasons not to worry.

1. Nerlens Noel & Willie Cauley-Stein- On the floor with Kyle and near the rim at all times will be 7 footers Nerlens Noel and/or Willie Cauley-Stein. You’ve heard of them, right? If a player beats Kyle off the dribble, he will be greeted by a player who has the potential to be a better shot blocker than Anthony Davis, or a man who has a hyphenated last time.  As we learned last year with Kidd-Gilchrist, adding a hyphen into your last name makes you better defensively.

After whoever Kyle is guarding has taken him off the dribble and had their shot tossed into the Heavy Hitter’s lap a couple of times, said player will either stop driving the ball and try to shoot over the 6’10” arms of Kyle Wiltjer, or ask to be taken out of the game to cry.  One of the biggest strengths of this team will be team defense. Goodwin, Poythress, Noel, Cauley-Stein, and Mays are all strong and quick. What Harrow lacks in strength can be made up for in quickness and athleticism. I know Cal always says he can’t hide players here, but it will be rare that we play a team that matches up talent wise. Stick Kyle on the least effective offensive player that’s a 3, 4, or 5 and he’ll be fine. 

2. 43 % (35-81) 3 pt. FG-  It is a well known fact that whichever team scores more points wins the game. I didn’t decide it, that’s just the way most sports determine their winner. While playing 11 minutes per game last season, Kyle Wiltjer made nearly every other three pointer he shot. This season I expect those minutes, makes, and attempts to at least double.  With UK’s youth, we will need Wiltjer’s scoring. Especially early in the year while Poythress, Goodwin, and Harrow are adjusting to the college game. UK needs his scoring on the floor even if he is struggling defensively. Some don’t believe this, but I believe you can make up for bad defense with good offense. Kyle’s specialty is offense.

3. Offense/Defense substitutions- If a game is close late, Cal can always substitute Cauley-Stein for Wiltjer on defense. Though Cal is often talked about as being a great recruiter, he is a very good game coach. He will figure out how to use Wiltjer most effectively in late game situations. At times this season we’ll see some zone when Wiltjer is in the game. His length can be very effective in the middle and you want him to be around to be the rebounder that is getting fouled after a defensive stop.


Is Kyle Wiltjer a good defensive player? No. But you shouldn’t worry about it. Because he’s a great scorer and he makes great videos like this one.

Article written by Aaron Flener

John, I was first team All-State. I can put the ball anywhere I want to. I'll make it rain out here.

21 Comments for Don’t Worry About Kyle Wiltjer

  1. ummmnoo
    3:43 pm October 29, 2012 Permalink

    I don’t think anyone is worried about Wiltjer

  2. kentuckyjoe
    3:43 pm October 29, 2012 Permalink

    Aaron, I read few posts that I agree with more than this one. Kyle plays adequate defense and he needs to be in the game regardless of what kind of defense he plays. He has too many other weapons. He passes the ball great. And he shoots the ball great. And he rebounds. He has a great IQ. I don’t think there are many ballers that can hang with him; he will hurt you in a lot of different ways. He needs to be on the court in any configuration we have. Of course all of us bow down to Coach Cal and we will go with, and be happy with, any decisions he makes but I hope he ‘sees it my way’. And your way.

  3. tyrone biggins
    3:53 pm October 29, 2012 Permalink

    That video is really wierd.

  4. So true
    3:57 pm October 29, 2012 Permalink

    No one cares about you or your history

  5. GottaGet9
    3:59 pm October 29, 2012 Permalink

    I love it! Hahaha – I LOVE guarding the worst player on the other team. Not only does make defense easier, but it lets me pull the trigger so much more as soon as I cross half court

  6. Jus Sayin
    4:11 pm October 29, 2012 Permalink

    Wiltjer is a really bad defender. But that isn’t unique to 3 point specialist.
    Lee Humphrey, Taquan Dean, Patrick Sparks, AJ Abrams, those guys rarely defend well.

  7. Colten
    4:19 pm October 29, 2012 Permalink

    I attended college with Mr. Flener and can attest to his shooting prowess. His brother’s too. Go Bisons!

    As for Wiltjer’s role on the team, I think Wiltjer/Noel could be similar to the Ryan Anderson/Dwight Howard combination that Orlando had last year. Anderson played a stretch 4 while Dwight protected the rim.

  8. njCat
    4:23 pm October 29, 2012 Permalink

    With WCS stepping up, KWmay only see limited minutes again this year unless, that is, Cal decides to play a 1-3-1. He really is a lot slower than everyone else on the team. I actually see Hood getting more PT if he can start making some shots.

  9. bobthebuiler
    5:07 pm October 29, 2012 Permalink

    His defense does have to get better though. He can kinda hide his lack of D though because he has WCS and Noel down low to block shots and prevent layups. His scoring will make up for it

  10. Intramural all star
    5:12 pm October 29, 2012 Permalink

    I once saw Ronnie McMahan go up for a jumper, grab the defender’s hand, foul himself with it, and drain a 17 footer.

  11. Sorry
    5:13 pm October 29, 2012 Permalink

    2. We all love Kyle but anybody can tell he doesnt play “adequate” defense. If he did we wouldnt be hearing so much talk about this TWIN TOWERS lineup.He is probably better now, but last year he was abused by everyone who chose to take advantage.

  12. Steve Fitts
    5:28 pm October 29, 2012 Permalink

    As the Germans would say, “Heil Kyle!”

  13. Beatle Bum
    5:33 pm October 29, 2012 Permalink

    Okay, now I know the Hefty Settler is paying for ad placement in these posts. Getting old.

  14. Mack
    5:49 pm October 29, 2012 Permalink

    I wasn’t worried about Kyle Wiltjer until I watched the video, wonder if they can perform the entire soundtrack from “Love Actually”.

  15. Duuuuuude
    5:54 pm October 29, 2012 Permalink

    That was hard to watch.

  16. Durrrr
    6:22 pm October 29, 2012 Permalink

    Nice job with this article. Best I’ve read on here in a while. You wrote the piss out of it. Thanks.

  17. Sam Champion
    7:47 pm October 29, 2012 Permalink

    Hey guys, maybe I married my bf too quick.You dudes r so cute and can tell you love to hug. I’m gay w/joy

  18. blueknight
    8:03 pm October 29, 2012 Permalink

    2) you right, Kyle guarded Geng against U of L last year in final 4. I would think the goal again this year would be to have Kyle guard guys that cant beat him on the dribble. And hopefuly Noel or WCS can guard, Siva, or Kuric, or Behanan by March. Thats obviously tough to do but I think its its crazy but they did it last year. Im just not seeing Weltjer playing the 3. the article is correct about Weltjer playing least effective scorer, but Cal isnt going to have him guarding a 3 who can beat him off the dribble. this article is good but uk fans are content with his defense they know, he makeup for it on offense. I wish Kyle would get credit for driving past Hood, he had a decent step on him. and the only reason Kyle was guarding a 3 was because it was john hood.

  19. wccpro
    9:17 pm October 29, 2012 Permalink

    once again flener u have outdone youself… this is a wonderful post with the icing on top, the video…absolutely a great read…and a watch too…haha

  20. Joe Big Blue
    1:01 am October 30, 2012 Permalink

    Nerlens isn’t The Heavy Hitter. He’s The Nerlens Wall.

  21. mike
    4:34 pm October 30, 2012 Permalink

    It would be one thing if Kyle really tried hard but just couldn’t get it done on D because of his lack of pure athletic ability, but the kid doesn’t even attempt to guard anybody. I almost never see him in a defensive stance, he never bends his knees and tries to get down low and guard somebody, he just stands straight up, sometimes leaning over forward with his back, which is the worst thing you can do as a defender. I realize the kid isn’t athletic enough to guard a wing anyway, but I certainly think he could be a decent enough post defender if he would give it a little more effort, and I think articles like this one just make too many excuses for him. When I played basketball, I took a lot of pride in my defense, and worked on it a lot. From what I can tell, Kyle has not ever really cared that much about defense, and that needs to change ASAP. We shouldn’t expect any less than his best, and we’re not getting that right now. If the kid works his butt off on D and still isn’t worth a damn, I’ll pat him on the back and tell him to keep it up. We are certainly gonna need his offense this year, but I think the difference between him being a bad defender (like he currently is now) and just an average/adequate defender is the difference between him playing 20 min a game or 35 min a game, and like Cal has already said, on the occasional night that Kyle has a poor shooting night or just isn’t scoring, he will spend most of that game on the bench because Cal can’t justify playing him if he’s not scoring at a pretty high rate if scoring is gonna be the only way Kyle contributes to this team.