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Experience Factor: What can we expect from Kyle Wiltjer?

Here we see a wild Kyle Wiltjer outside of his natural habitat.

It says a lot about the turnover from last year, and the difference between that team and this one, that the only player with experience against Louisville on this year’s team, Kyle Wiltjer, played a grand total of 22 minutes against the Cards in two games last season.  Russ Smith, Peyton Siva, Gorgui Dieng: these guys have all spent a lot of time on the court against Cal-coached teams, and have a pretty decent idea of what to expect in the matchup.  On our end, though, Kyle’s going to have to do a lot of the work telling guys what the game will be like, how they’re going to pressure, etc.  But how is Wiltjer going to help on the court?

Half-Court Offense:

In his combined gametime in those high-pressure matchups last year, Wiltjer went 4-7 and scored nine total points.  That’s actually not bad at all for fifteen minutes.  He was 1-3 from outside, good for 33%, which was well below his average.  In a game that looks like it’s going to be decided by who can win the battle when Kentucky sets up the offense in the half court, Wiltjer’s shot-making ability could be the key difference in busting Louisville’s tenacious defense.

We’ve known for a while that Kyle struggles to create his own shot, especially on the perimeter, and his transition moves are limited to trailing on a break and knocking down a three (which looks beautiful every time).  But if he’s going to show that he deserves a major role against Louisville, it’s going to be in knocking down threes and scoring down low (which the Cards have historically shown a susceptibility to).

Free Throws

In a game that has every likelihood of getting chippy, free throw shooting is also going to come up clutch.  Both Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin shoot 68% from the line; Nerlens Noel is at 53%.  If we rely on the charity stripe, which is a possibility, and those guys spend the most time at the line, we could be in for a long evening.  If Kyle and his 85% shooting try to get to the line, however, he could really make a huge difference by keeping the Cards from getting any “free” fouls.  Look for Wiltjer to try to draw contact on post moves inside; it’s not his forte, but you know Cal has been preaching it to him all week.


Never pegged as Kyle’s strong suit, it seems like his motto on D has always been “don’t be a liability.”  Well, against Chane Behanan, that might prove difficult.  To stay on the court at all, Wiltjer’s going to have to step up his defensive intensity and rebounding ability against one of the Cards’ more athletic players.  No small task.  This might be the most important thing Kyle does all day; while he’s better on the scoring end, let up here and he won’t see any more time than he did in last year’s games.


Wiltjer has the ability to absolutely break this game wide open.  If he gets hot from outside, he’s going to either draw double-teams on the perimeter, freeing up other scorers on the inside, or abuse shorter defenders and rack up treys.  He absolutely needs to coach the team on the court, since he’s the only guy that’s seen what Louisville likes to do, but more than that, he needs to play defense like his life depends on it, and make the shots we know he can make.  In a game typically dominated by (Kentucky) freshmen, it might be the old fella, er… sophomore, who makes the biggest statement.

Article written by Corey Nichols

20 Comments for Experience Factor: What can we expect from Kyle Wiltjer?

  1. Jughead
    9:02 am December 28, 2012 Permalink

    Cards by 15. Hope I am wrong.

  2. Catlanta
    9:03 am December 28, 2012 Permalink

    Unless uofl starts a chair, there is no one on the floor Kyle can guard.

  3. Skeller03
    9:14 am December 28, 2012 Permalink

    Which fan outfitters is the show at today?

  4. Catlogic15
    9:17 am December 28, 2012 Permalink

    Tall task for Kyle. 15 sounds about right.

  5. RICK
    9:18 am December 28, 2012 Permalink

    He does’nt belong on the floor tomm. To slow. I hope he proves me wrong .

  6. UL2UK8
    9:19 am December 28, 2012 Permalink

    Kyle should watch tape of Jorts to pattern his play after.

  7. SadCat
    9:24 am December 28, 2012 Permalink

    Wiltjer?! What about Mays?
    Neither has hit three’s this season!!!
    All the cards have to do is sit back
    in a zone and we will pass the ball
    around the perimeter a few times and
    throw up a brick. We will look like a
    Tubby team.

  8. HicksPickSix
    9:25 am December 28, 2012 Permalink

    This game has only been dominated by freshman since Cal’s been around, Corey. Then again, isn’t that how long you’ve been a Cats fan?

  9. Will S
    9:26 am December 28, 2012 Permalink

    lol at the “wild kyle wiltjer outside of his natural habitat”

  10. ummmm
    9:47 am December 28, 2012 Permalink

    Drew had the 5 things that scare him the most about Louisville……….. He forgot the RICKY’S PRESS! I just hope that we dont have 20 turnovers in the first half, if they press i am taking the over on 5 turnovers for Archie!

  11. Got CAL?
    9:51 am December 28, 2012 Permalink

    Harrow played good in practice against UK starters last year, which was much better then this UL team.

  12. Stigall
    9:57 am December 28, 2012 Permalink

    Guys, lets be reasonable. IF Cal hadn’t missed on Oriaki, Bennett and Shabazz and say gotten two of those three, we would probably still be underdogs.

    I hope this season shows Cal that maybe pushing everyone out the door isn’t the best thing. How much better would this team be with Teague? Lamb?

  13. ksr
    10:00 am December 28, 2012 Permalink

    Louisville will make Wiltjer wet his pants. Dude is soft as soggy corn flakes.

  14. bung
    10:02 am December 28, 2012 Permalink

    uhh…I predict Noel 2 b star of game…team will have 18 assists…34 def rebounds which leads to 22 fastbreak points…Jon and Ryan look good…Wildcats by 8+…

  15. ummmm
    10:06 am December 28, 2012 Permalink

    12 I think Cal and everyone at the program expected Teague to be here at least 2 years…….

  16. Pu
    10:08 am December 28, 2012 Permalink

    14) if Jon gets in the game, we’re in big trouble. Not sure why people think he’s so good.

  17. ledouxdujour
    11:04 am December 28, 2012 Permalink

    uh, “Jon” has mono. hes riding pine.

  18. msnthrop
    12:19 pm December 28, 2012 Permalink

    “What can we expect from Kyle Wiltger?” – I expect him to transfer next year when he finds himself playing mop up minutes after the freshman have done their thing.

  19. addmuscle
    12:31 pm December 28, 2012 Permalink

    I would like to see Kyle bulk up and kinda get a Plumlee body. He really needs to put on some size and work on his body. I may be wrong but if he could add 20 lbs of lean muscle I think it could help him be more athletic. I would love to see if the kid coul do a pullup, bench his body weight, backsquat, or even deadlift. I think eating some of that red meat Cal eats would be a benefit as well.

  20. bluefan
    7:03 pm December 28, 2012 Permalink

    Go Kyle! Go Cats! UK by 3!