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Previewing the Tide

Blankenship, you better be there!

Tonight, Kentucky travels to Tuscaloosa, taking on Anthony Grant’s Crimson Tide. If history is any indication, this match-up between Calipari and Grant will produce yet another competitive/low scoring outcome. In the past five meetings between the two, Kentucky owns a 4-1 record over the Tide, but that record doesn’t reflect how close a majority of those contests were.  When considering points scored and allowed, Calipari coached Kentucky squads only average a 7-point margin of victory over Grant coached teams.  This meeting will likely be similar as both Alabama and Kentucky can’t afford another loss at this point in the season. Pair those bigger picture implications with a hostile home crowd and two defenses known for their overall efficiency and the necessary ingredients for another tight game are present. While Kentucky looked much improved against Auburn, don’t expect this final outcome to be similar, Alabama is still very dangerous despite what their record says.

Alabama’s offense isn’t the best example of overall efficiency, they’re ranked 106th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency according to Kenpom.com. While they aren’t always the prettiest, they possess a trio of offensive threats capable of causing trouble for opposing defenses. Trevor Releford (center) and Trevor Lacey (right) are the most efficient of the three.

Trevor Releford is having an outstanding season, averaging 16.2 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game.  He’s also among the nations elite in maintaining possession, turning the ball over a mere 1.7 times per game.  Because of Alabama’s slow offensive pace, he probably doesn’t get the credit he truly deserves as a distributor.  In terms of assist/turnover percentage, which measure personal possessions and team tempo, he assists on 19.4% of team shots (498th nationally) and turns the ball over on 13.6% of possessions (255th nationally).  He isn’t among the nation’s elite distributors, but he’s certainly capable of providing for others on the floor.  The other important aspects of his offensive game are his abilities to draw fouls while rarely committing any himself.  On the season, he’s among the SEC’s best in drawing contact, averaging 5.2 fouls drawn per-40 minutes while committing only 2.4 per-40 himself.  Given the previously mentioned statistics, Trevor Releford is on Elston Turner Watch tonight.

Former Kentucky recruit, Trevor Lacey, is Alabama’s other key offensive threat.  Halfway through the season, he averages 12.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game. Lacey was billed as a perimeter threat out of high school, though he initially struggled in that role as a Freshman, connecting on 30.1% of his perimeter attempts.  However, this season is much different as he connects on 45.5% of his perimeter jumpers.  What makes Lacey even more of a threat is his ability to find other teammates on the floor.  While his per game assist numbers are impressive, his assist rate is even more so. While on the floor, Lacey assists on 25.4% of team shots, placing him 241st nationally.  Having a three point shooter as effective as Lacey is a true advantage for any team, but one with the ability to distribute at a high rate alongside efficient shooting forces a defense to spread to uncomfortable lengths.

Another player to watch out for tonight is Rodney Cooper.  Like Releford and Lacey, he averages similar per game totals; 11.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.1 assists on the season.  But unlike his teammates, he does so less efficiently.  While the previously mentioned two average over 40% shooting from the perimeter, Cooper only manages to shoot 29% and turns the ball over at a higher rate.

 

Anthony Grant’s teams are known for their defense, and this season is no exception.  The Crimson Tide are ranked 54th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency, and they’re doing so with blocked shots and turnovers.  The primary shot blockers are Devonta Pollard and Nick Jacobs who swat 0.9 and 1.0 per game respectively.  This may not seem too impressive, but this is due to slow pace of play.  When you consider block percentage, which measures team tempo, minutes payed, and shots blocked, they swat 4.4% and 6.0% of opponent twos, ranking them 259th and 153rd nationally. Creating turnovers is the other Alabama trademark; they’ve forced turnovers on 23.1% of opponent possessions (53rd nationally).  Currently they have four players in the (individual) national top-500 in forcing turnovers, but the two most notable are no other than Trevor Releford and Trevor Lacey.

 

Tonight’s game certainly won’t be easy for either side.  Kentucky can’t afford another loss this early in the conference season given the perceived “downness” of the SEC.  Likewise, Alabama struggled early in the season and can’t afford another loss either.  One more thing to note is Alabama’s ability to connect from the perimeter; they shoot 35.5%, which is nearly identical to Kentucky’s season percentage. When examining the numbers, Kentucky is the better of the two teams, but if recent history is any indication, tonight’s game will be an absolute brawl.  Combine two teams playing for everything, a charged home crowd, and recent historical outcomes together and you’ll see why Kentucky is only a 3.5 point favorite.

 

Article written by Jonathan Schuette

12 Comments for Previewing the Tide



  1. oldschool
    8:13 pm January 22, 2013 Permalink

    I know I’m not well received here – but check out my post on the Gordon dunk post below and try to understand my concerns with the current generation of BBN.



  2. BlastFromThePast
    8:23 pm January 22, 2013 Permalink

    From the greatest guy ever. “Was busting for a shiit this afternoon so I thought for the first time ever id use the public toilets. I walk in there and there was only 2 toilets in there, both taken. So I stood by the sink holding in this mega boris. All I could think about was how good This will feel after I unleash the demon within, and while standing i could slowly feel the head leave its mark on my undies. 5 minutes pass and im still waiting in the quiet, listening to grunting and the ‘plop’ sound of the boris hitting the water. I couldnt hold this in any further, so I had to say something. “how long will you guys be?”. No answer. “I need to shit real bad I can feel it coming.” “shutup and wait your turn” he says. Another minute passses and usually I can hold this in but today was real bad. I couldn’t do it any longer, so was time for plan b, shit in the sink, pulled down my pants and started grunting loudly and you could hear the boris slide down the sink. One of the guys then yelled “what the fuk r u doing” and opened his door, so I flashed my penis at him. he qikly closed the door and then I heard the toilet paper begin to roll. I only got one shit out but it was enough, I used the paper towels to wipe my ass, and turned on the hand dryer so the hot air would make the shit smell even more. i heard his belt buckle and as I ran out I yelled “dont forget to wash your hands” and threw one of my paper towels with shit on it over in his cubicle.”



  3. woodworm
    8:27 pm January 22, 2013 Permalink

    quite a book you wrote on the gordon dunk. is it available on amazon. i saw gordon play against the harrison twins and he is a great player and one i hope winds up at UK. you keep harping about team play even though our coach is one of the biggest proponents of team play in the game. we’re winning in bunches with cal’s methods. you spend so much time complaining about UK bball and it’s fans why don’t you root for creighton or butler, you’d probably be much happier. University of Kentucky–2012 NCAA National Champions



  4. Blue Jesus
    8:33 pm January 22, 2013 Permalink

    1) I understand what you’re saying about team basketball, and I agree with much of what you wrote. At the same time, a team is more likely to be a good team if it’s made up of good players, and Cal has been pretty good at that. I’m not just talking stars either, but personalities. Darnell Dodson is really the only player I can think of that was a mistake. I don’t know anything about Aaron Gordon’s team, but I assume it’s not filled with stars like him, but at a place like Kentucky it will be, and Gordon will be a contributing member of the team, not the only big time player like he probably is in high school.



  5. oldschool
    8:37 pm January 22, 2013 Permalink

    I’ll be happier when UK returns to playing COLLEGE basketball.

    When Barkley spoke the other night criticizing the one-and-done – he alluded to shady agents and money-hungry parents. I think he also considers coaches who exploit these young kids with promises of NBA stardom a bit responsible for the problem as well. And as Barkley said – just because you ‘can’ do it – doesn’t mean you should.

    I hear the argument all the time – Why wouldn’t a coach try to get the best players possible? It’s not always about the best players. Herb Brooks was the U.S. Hockey Coach in 1980 and quite possibly did the most remarkable job in sports history of selecting, molding and coaching any team. When he held try-outs for the Olympic Team, he said he wasn’t necessarily looking for the ‘best’ players, but the ‘right’ players.

    My point is that this season is the best evidence that Cal must rethink his strategy. You cannot assemble a team of 18-year-olds and expect them to excel at this level. Even with all the raw talent in the world – they are going up against men who are as just as big, often times stronger, and almost always more experienced. Notre Dame’s Cooley will never play a tick in the NBA – but he outplayed Noel – simply because he was seasoned.

    All this talk about UK going undefeated next season is baffling. Based on what? Another group of untested 18-year-olds who have padded their stats against kids who will never pick up a basketball comptetively again after March? Or they dominated in an AAU circuit that emphasises defense about the same as the NBA all-star game?

    I’m not knocking the kids. But UK deserves a program that honors the concept of the student-athlete. That concept seems to be working quite well for about 60 some teams that are currently ranked ahead of UK.



  6. W.W.B.B.N.D?
    8:42 pm January 22, 2013 Permalink

    Please find a picture of a hot Bama co-ed to add to Bama post. Thank you



  7. New school math
    8:54 pm January 22, 2013 Permalink

    5) I’m think Cal just won #8 with his system. So I give your slap stick logic no credibility.



  8. ha
    8:55 pm January 22, 2013 Permalink

    Sorta funny that oldschool brought up the greatest sports upset of all time that would have never happened had the Soviet coach not completely sabotaged his own team as an example of how to build a consistent winning program. And the NCAAB model programs were a list of teams that have all had less Marc success than UK’s Cal led teams (with the possible exception of Butler, but I’ll take the banner over two championship losses and a first round exit). Remarkable cognitive dissonance, there.



  9. ha
    8:56 pm January 22, 2013 Permalink

    March*



  10. oldschool
    8:59 pm January 22, 2013 Permalink

    7- Cal won with three returners who played significant minutes. No such luxury this season and it shows.
    No guarantee he’ll have that next season – although Wiltjer and Polson may prove very beneficial next season.



  11. New school math
    8:59 pm January 22, 2013 Permalink

    Just wonder with hind sight 20/20 if Oriakhi and UK both would have made different choices. Just me but I think we would be in a different position now if he came. He would have been considered a top 10 pick. I would have liked to seen him on the court with Noel plus leadership he could have brought!



  12. New school math
    9:07 pm January 22, 2013 Permalink

    No guarantee who will come back at any school, you must have missed the last 10 years of Tubby. Your logic is flawed because you are picking out 1 season and throwing away the other 3. Facts are facts elite 8, FF, NC and 1 under performing team! I think 99% of the fan base is happy with that.
    With a monster team coming in next year plus Wiltjer, WCS, and Harrow I just can’t see your gripe.