Friday’s opening game against Mark Turgeon’s Maryland Terrapins was certainly an interesting one to say the least. From Kyle Wiltjer picking up where he left off on the offensive side to the unbelievable performance of Jarrod Polson; this game was certainly a good one to open up with. However there were some severe problems in Friday’s performance which included foul trouble and, most notably, a total lack of defensive rebounding. This total ineptitude on the defensive glass can be attributed to many things like lack of preparation, lack of experience, the foul trouble we were experiencing at the time, or even Maryland’s scheme; but this bad rebounding performance was the primary cause of the Terrapins second half comeback. So in order to find just what was causing the problem I re-watched the game (particularly the second half run) to see where we were lacking in rebounding performance.
(Note that in the pictures the orange dot represents the ball’s current location, the blue dot represents the key UK player position, and the red indicates the key Maryland player position. Also, apologies for the “Bigfoot Photo” image quality.)
Scenario #1: Kentucky 53, Maryland 40 (17:05 remaining). Cauley-Stein throws a reckless inbound pass that is intercepted by Pe’Shon Howard.
This turned into a fast-break opportunity for Maryland which understandably caused Mays (blue dot) to be out of position, leaving his man with a clear path to the board.
The shot was missed short and right of the rim allowing for a Nick Faust offensive board which set up a Dez Wells lay-up seconds later. The score at this point was 53-42 Kentucky.
Scenario #2: Kentucky 53, Maryland 42 (15:45 remaining). Pe’Shon Howard takes and misses a jumpshot, the ball falls into five people (3-2 Kentucky advantage).
Cauley-Stein correctly blocks his man out while Poythress who is free jumps for the rebound. Noel (blue dot, behind Alex Len in the above picture) doesn’t correctly block Len out who then tips the ball from Poythress to Dez Wells. This possession didn’t lead to a Maryland point, but it’s notable because of Kentucky’s tactical advantage.
Scenario #3: Kentucky 53, Maryland 48 (12:53 remaining). Jack Layman shoots a lightly contested three point attempt.
Archie Goodwin (blue dot) focuses on the shot rather than finding his man, Nick Faust (red dot).
Faust releases to the basket uncontested while Goodwin still looks at the shot. The end result was a Faust rebound after Cauley-Stein and his man neutralized one another under the rim. This possession, again, didn’t result in a point for Maryland, but it shows a lack of attention by Goodwin.
Scenario #4: Kentucky 68, Maryland 63 (2:03 remaining). Seth Allen finds a crease in the defense and drives to the basket while challenged by Noel.
Cauley-Stein (blue dot) who is under the basket is following the ball rather than his man who is behind him.
Cauley-Stein fails to recognize that Noel has the man covered, but he goes for the block, leaving his man open on the other side of the basket.
After a high arcing shot that sails the rim, Cauley-Stein is on the opposite side of the rim while his man, Charles Mitchell, grabs the easy rebound for a tip in. The score is now Kentucky 68, Maryland 65.
So after reviewing the tape, I’m inclined to believe that this performance is largely due to young Kentucky players spacing out thus allowing Maryland to get uncontested rebounds. During the run there were very few instances where Maryland had a schematic advantage against Kentucky so this is really the only conclusion that can be reached. Before we freak out let’s remember one thing; it was this team’s first game together and many of the players had never played an actual college game before. If this trend continues late into the season it will become alarming, but this issue will improve immensely as this team gathers more experience.
What about tomorrows match-up with Duke? Luckily for us, Duke didn’t grab many offensive boards against Georgia State (only 20.7% of potential offensive boards claimed, ranking them 251st). I understand that may be a bit skewed after only 1 game, but the Blue Devils did lose their leading rebounder from last season (Miles Plumlee) to the NBA Draft. So, while Kentucky will still have issues against Duke, I wouldn’t anticipate rebounding to be the main issue this time around as Duke isn’t the rebounding team that Maryland is.