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Mike DeCourcy on what he calls a “Kentucky Crisis”

After a nearly flawless national championship season last year, Kentucky fans find themselves in unfamiliar territory with two losses in a row. The 4-3 record to start the season looks a little scary on paper. Mike DeCourcy of AOL Sporting News finds this particular Kentucky team to be one of the most troubling in recent memory. DeCourcy understands the youth and inexperience that plagues this team, but he sees a laundry list of issues to sort through before this Kentucky team can resemble being “good.”

DeCourcy’s list includes the following IMMEDIATE issues, with still potentially more looming in the future: The point guard situation, pace of play and offensive emphasis. He believes the Kentucky turnaround can begin to take shape if those 3 issues are dealt with, though he’s not quite sure what the time table or expectation should be for that to happen.

DeCourcy on the point guard situation:

Calipari had convinced himself that Ryan Harrow’s protracted absence early in the season and Goodwin’s dynamic talent made a permanent switch toward Goodwin the prudent course. Calipari had rescued the 2008-09 Memphis squad by making a similar conversion, taking Tyreke Evans from the wing and making him a point guard as the Tigers were headed to a 6-3 start. They went on to win 27 in a row.

The switch to Ryan Harrow late in the game yesterday seemed to work initially, but Kentucky was unable to consistently score in the final few minutes with the ball in Harrow’s hands. Kentucky might be facing a situation soon where Calipari has to decide to flourish or falter this season on the back of one or the other– Archie Goodwin or Ryan Harrow.

 

DeCourcy on the pace of play:

To hear that Kentucky scored 105 points wouldn’t surprise any basketball fan. To hear that it took two games this week to get there probably would. With the athletes the Wildcats have, playing low-possession half-court games is not in their best interest, but that’s what happened against Notre Dame and Baylor.

Notre Dame did it with a patient, 35-second offense. Baylor did it with zone defense.

Given its talent advantage, Kentucky ought to be the team deciding how the game is played. Until it can do that, it will have days such as Saturday.

 

DeCourcy on the offensive emphasis:

The Kentucky coaches must decide how they want to play and whom they can depend upon.

Calipari has been expert at changing systems during the season to make better use of his players’ strengths. UK abandoned the dribble-drive motion offense in 2009-10 when it became obvious how overpowering DeMarcus Cousins would be in the post. The Wildcats used ball screens to get shots for Brandon Knight the following season.

DeCourcy nails it with this observation. Kentucky hasn’t quite figured out who will be their go-to guy on the offensive end. At times early in the season, Wiltjer seemed to be the go-to guy. With his streaky shooting as of late, and his inability to guard anyone on the defensive end, that option is losing steam. Alex Poythress was the go-to guy against Duke, and he rose to the occasion. In Kentucky’s last 2 games, both losses, Poythress has almost been a non-factor for large stretches. Archie Goodwin appears to be perhaps the most comfortable to be the go-to guy, but he hasn’t gotten himself under control enough yet to be relied upon steadily. Julius Mays was the most effective offensive player against Notre Dame, but he is a bit limited in his ability to create his own shots.

Calipari is still maneuvering the puzzle pieces at this point. Just like it took a while with some of his teams in the past to figure out what tweaks needed to be made to the offense to be the most effective, this team is no different. The talent of the past 3 Calipari teams has been so overwhelming that they were able to win some games before they really hit their stride and found their niche (remember the near loss in the Miami of Ohio game?). With this team and the early issues they are having, it might just take a little longer.

 

Article written by Ally Tucker

I once successfully requested "The Wobble" to be played 6 times at one wedding.

48 Comments for Mike DeCourcy on what he calls a “Kentucky Crisis”



  1. Jason
    12:02 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    God just won’t let us have Mark Stoops and another season like last year at the same time.



  2. lawnorder
    12:07 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    It’s Tubby’s fault, that damn Tubby



  3. STOOPSTROOPS
    12:10 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    This is Mark Stoops day.
    UK Football day.
    Basketball can wait until Monday.



  4. asdfjkl;
    12:14 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    #3 I agree, let the 14 UK football fans have a few minutes



  5. Ted Nugent
    12:15 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    Oh he forgot to mention uk needs to out score their opponent TED FOR PREZ !!!!!



  6. JUS SAYIN
    12:23 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    The difference between the Tyreke Evans situation and this one is that unlike Goodwin, Evans was always considered a Combo gaurd and was a much better ball handler. PLUS, we dont play in Conference USA where we can overwhelm people with talent.



  7. sonny lesbos
    12:23 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    charlie met with UT AD yesterday
    http://www.footballscoop.com/the-scoop



  8. rainman
    12:25 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    I think I’ll defer to Coach Cal over DeCourcy!
    No offense!!!! OH did I just say that?



  9. Roy Williams
    12:25 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    Chill out. All three losses were close games. In all three, UK had their chances in the last five minutes. A combined 32 points? Our two losses were by a combined 35.



  10. markp
    12:30 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    Chill BBN! Give Cal a chance to figure it out this year. Even the greatest coaches had their difficult years. This may be Cal’s year to have to go back to the drawing board several times and get it right by March, or not. Even if they don’t pan out this year Calipari is awesome!



  11. ItIsNotMarch
    12:31 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    Unlimited practice time coming, a stretch of games that will help them find their identiy mixed in and this team will be fine. Hard to win two in a row!



  12. Big J
    12:31 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    No worries. Cal will figure it out.



  13. Horsepower
    12:51 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    These losses will just make the team that much meaner when they figure it out.



  14. normal year
    1:07 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    Of Calipari’s first 3 years with the “one and done” philosophy, this is actually the one that is the norm. Previous 2 teams had holdover upperclass leadership. This one really does not. If that is the case from here on, then this is what we’ll see. Granted, I’m a demanding UK fan. If UK has to relinquish its all time winning record to UNC or Kansas by losing games early in the year just so we can gel by March, then I don’t like it. Yes, NCAA Championships are what matter, but I do not want to lose reg season games vs. Duke/UofL/UNC/Notre Dame/Baylor etc. in the meantime. We got caught without a PG and unless Wiltjer can get himself open and start hitting shots, UK also lacks a shooter. Many holes exposed yesterday. Just have to see if Cal can fix it. He may give himself a cardiac arrest before his time is up at UK doing this every year.



  15. brb
    1:14 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    come on guys….let coach cal be coach cal and we’ll be ok……..and welcome coach stoops….football day to be excited today….



  16. Geez
    1:15 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    Cal won a national title in 3 years at UK. If he continues to do that some UK fans will still be bitczing. Get over it. We are national champs again.



  17. tennessee wildcat
    1:15 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    That was an excellent analysis by Decourcy. We have the talent and we should be dictating the tempo. It has just seemed like during the last two games when we were up something like 12-6 or 18-8, that we let our guard down and the momentum left. Congratulations again to Stoops. Now, lets get back to UK Basketball. Too much football talk this time of the year is bad luck.



  18. Michael
    1:19 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    The BBN need not worry. Coach Cal will figure it out like he always does. It’s not how you begin the race, it’s how you end the race. I think we will be right there at the end of the season.



  19. BurnerTurner5
    1:26 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    I wonder how many of these ice cream pooping freshman will feel like they’re ready to enter the NBA draft next spring despite the fact the team they play for might be on the bubble come selection Sunday. Agree with #14. You can’t have a completely different starting five and expect to beat teams with experience early in the season. Take on too many early season losses and kiss a good seed in the tournament good bye.



  20. barn
    1:28 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    i know cal will solve it, but these last 2 losses means we will be unranked and make it unlikely we get a high seed in march, even if we go undefeated from here on out. living near dayton, i was looking forward to watching the Cats play in UD Arena that 1st weekend.



  21. barn
    1:31 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    19/14–disagree. you can will all your games if the freshmen are good enough. it turns out these freshmen aren’t that good.



  22. SadCat
    1:32 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    Our bball team is in serious trouble.
    We only have 4 great players.
    Mays is average unfortunately.
    Wiltjer and Harrow have already
    been coached by Cal for a year
    and they are disasters…
    WCS does not have the stamina to play very long.
    If Cal turns this around, he is a genius.



  23. L1C4
    1:44 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    Stoops Troops? More like Stools Fools.



  24. LuckyEddie74
    2:06 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    Everyone is talking about UK’s offense and rightfully so. At the Post Game court side show yesterday, he confessed that they hadn’t spent a whole lot of time practicing against a 3-2. He accepted the blame for that but not for two players shooting a combined “2-20” as he put it. I’m guessing he’s talking about Wiltjer and Harrow. Said they hadn’t been putting in any extra time in the gym according to his assistants.
    What stands out more to me is the inability to get a stop when you absolutely MUST have one. Reflect back on the number of times that Baylor came out of a timeout (or to start the 2nd half) and scored on that possession. I believe it was at least 4, although it seemed like 10. Last years team could come up with a stop when it needed to. This team can’t do that yet. To quote WCS, “We are not that team”.
    They will figure it out.



  25. johnny franco
    2:19 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    20–if we go undefeated the rest of the way we are a #1 seed–I know why you are concerned but there is plenty of time to right the ship….

    L1C4–how did Strong’s interview go with Tennessee?



  26. Charlie Strong
    2:22 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    I ain’t going to no school who lost to KY once in 26 years….



  27. johnny franco
    2:24 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    26–I know he loves UL…..have to respect what he has done there–but it will hard to turn down some of the $ coming his way in the next few weeks



  28. normal year
    2:28 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    #21 Our freshmen aren’t that good? Disagree. They are good, just have no experience in the NCAA, no experience in big games, no exp in front of hostile crowds, and no experience playing together. Noel didn’t even arrive on campus until late summer. What is the difference in this year’s team vs. last two? No upperclass leadership. No upperclassmen with meaningful minutes. Add to that both Anthony Davis and MKG were rare freshmen. This group is really talented, just not exceptional like those guys.



  29. bung
    2:29 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    27 defensive rebounds and 3 fast break baskets? on the possessions when you can fast break you dont have to face a zone halfcourt defense…



  30. barn
    2:40 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    28–i meant they aren’t that good at this point in time compared to cal’s previous classes



  31. LuckyEddie74
    2:54 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    After watching the game live yesterday and seeing most of the guys taking plays off, it makes me appreciate MKG’s “motor” even more…



  32. fletch
    2:58 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    #22, who are these great players you are talking about? I see no one on this team who could get any playing time if last years team was still here.



  33. MN CAT
    3:37 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    We may not be very good this year. I think our best chance is with Harrow at the point. We looked best when he was playing point at the end of the second half.



  34. SKat
    3:41 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    @32- that is a clear way to compare these two teams and I agree with your assessment. Even Archie’s scoring ability wouldn’t have brought a lot of playing time last year. His ball-hogging would not have fit the champion’s winning (sharing, sacrificing)persona. Poythress versus Terrence Jones? I’ll take Jones’ aggression (even though he too was missing in action against Indiana). So, if we accept that none of this year’s players would have gotten significant minutes on last year’s team- well, then this year’s team is just not that good. No, I do not enjoy losing the high-profile games to Puke, ND and Baylor, but take a Tubby-talented team who would stay for multiple years- they might similarly struggle a couple of years and then maybe provide one really good year. Let’s see what Cal can make out of this more-talented bunch by the end of the season. Then let’s see what we’ve got next season. It was 14 years between the last two NC’s. I intend to take a deep breath and enjoy the ride, even if it’s a bumpy one this season.



  35. CAUKFAN
    3:56 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    No worries. Cal will figure it out.



  36. Uncle Si
    4:13 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    During preseason, “The Sporting News” had Kentucky ranked #4 in their Basketball preview publiction. My dad, brother and I all laughed. I do think Mike DeCourcy of “The Sporting News” is a very good writer and this article is well written. Most UK fans I know, knew UK was ranked to high to start the season. It just cracks me up when I read and hear stuff like this when the so called “experts” assume UK fans expected to much from this years team.



  37. Enjoying #8
    4:55 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    Last time I checked it is still 2012 and UK is the 2012 NCAA champs for a full year so until April 2013 rolls around I am going to enjoying the 8th title. It took 14 years since the last one so I am going to savor this instead of spending my time complaining about this years team



  38. UK Freshmen
    5:02 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    Devours eh should have covered the head coach problem.



  39. 10-1 in 1977
    5:03 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    This is TEAM “NO TOUCH” as in “no shooting touch”. I don’t like nicknames for UK teams but this one is appropriate.



  40. Katdaddy
    5:36 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    This exactly what i said about the offense lastnight. Why don’t cal say this instead of trying to put all the blame on the players? I do understand they need to play harder but i believe that will come. And they are god awful on defense, that really needs to improve. But cal needs to figure out how they going to play on offense starting at the point. Archie is just not working.



  41. Katdaddy
    5:42 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    #20 IF cal leaves archie at point, we’ll do good to make the tournament.



  42. just saying
    6:08 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    The REAL story about this season is much more clear. Calipari put all his eggs into Shabazz Mohammad (sp?) and Anthony Bennett. With those two, rebounding and scorign woundnt be an issue, depth would be an issue, and Godwin coulda learned the PG role. But what happen was they strung us out and then went elsewhere, and by that time there was NO back-up. We looked at guys like Montrezel Harrel, Okifor, and several others, and were AGAIN turned down.

    Cal caught himself up into the “megaclass of 2104” and thought this team would be good enough to compete in a “weak NCAA” this season. Tehn the wheels really fell off when Neol couldnt get on campus, and then Harrow had a nervous breakdown and considered transferring.

    This team will compete, but “talent” is still 3rd or 4th in SEC, and experience is dead-last. If ANYONE was expecting a FF or NC run this season, you simply do not know basketball. We didnt add ANYONE to this team that was better than last year, yet we expected the same results??

    It will take time, we will learn and we will be the last 5 seed team ANY #1 or #2 seed will want to see. Relax BBN, we are UK, we recruit like no one else, we have one of the top 3 coaches in the game, and we will be a great team, but you CAN NOT expect a NC contender from this team, its just not there. So lets support this team, and not prove to coach cal that we only love him when he’s winning, because he said he’d like to be here another 6-7 years, and personally I would like to see that too.



  43. just saying
    6:09 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    meant “depth would not be an issue”



  44. uk, uk
    6:09 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    Yall give this yeam a chance. Growing pains my friends! But i see ppl getting on here bad talking these players, n trying couch coach. U dont know what its like to play d-1 bball. So stop it akready. A true fan is learning to take the wins with the losses. We’ll get this thing moving. N when we do, i wanna be part of thethe fans that had there back when they struggle. Also do you thinkthink a recruit would want to play for uk if your dogging these players out over three games? So all i say is walk wit your heads up. n if someone tries to talk crap tomorrow at work, you only have to say two words. NATIONAL CHAMPS!



  45. uk, uk
    6:15 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    Sorry for weird spelling typed on my touch phone.



  46. ONE EYE
    7:30 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    ALERT! ALERT! ALERT! COACH CAL JUST MET WITH HIS PLAYERS,,,,AND AND I COULDN’T SEE ANY MORE 🙁



  47. BradyCat33
    7:47 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    #BBN, RELAX,,, Although i absolutely hate losing any game period .. We as TRUE UK fans got spoiled after last season .. We hung #8 & have 2 understand u CANT win every game, not even Cal, so we all need to relax & remember where we came from 4 yrs ago with Clyde! !!! We,rr fine & gonna b fine come March



  48. obi-wan
    8:25 pm December 2, 2012 Permalink

    Hey #42, you rock.