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Senior Slumpin’ on the Perimeter

Preseason expectations often get people in trouble.  There are countless predictions throughout history that have fallen laughably short.  Take the 7-6, Sun Bowl Runner-Up, Trojans of Southern California as an example.  They were predicted by many to win the BCS National Title at start the season without having a competent defense.  Predictions like these aren’t limited to football either. Like all other sports, many had an opinion on this year’s Kentucky team.  Depending on who you spoke with at the beginning of the season, Wright State transfer, Julius Mays, was predicted to be a senior leader who could knock down the perimeter shot at a high rate. Statistics supported that belief too. Last season Mays was able to connect on 42.4% of his perimeter jumpers and was the Raiders leader in possessions used.  He was never expected to lead Kentucky in possessions this season, but he did live up to the perimeter shooting billing early on, shooting 42.8% in the first 6 games. However, Mays has entered quite the slump recently, only connecting on 19.4% (6-31) of perimeter shots since the Notre Dame contest.  Such an early season struggle is frustrating, but it’s also reminiscent of another Wildcat senior who stumbled out of the gate.


Darius Miller entered the 2011-12 campaign playing the best basketball his of career.  At the conclusion of 2011’s Final Four run, Miller achieved a career high three point percentage of 44.3%.  Additionally, he tallied 31 minutes per game and used the ball on 17.3% of team possessions (both career highs). At the beginning of his senior year, fans and media alike, anticipated Miller to pick up right where he left off from the perimeter.  However, like Mays this season, Miller started his senior year in a slump, only managing to connect on 9.1% (1-11) of his three point attempts (5 games played). Leading many to question when he would find his stroke again.  It didn’t take long to regain that confidence though, in Miller’s next six games, he managed to drain 35.7% (10-28) of his shots from beyond the arc.  As the season progressed and the sample widened, Miller ended up shooting 37.6% (56-149) from outside.  In this case, the experienced senior just needed to shoot out of his lull.


Admittedly, the are undeniable differences in the style of game that Mays and Miller play.  Miller was much taller, more athletic, and possessed the ability to back down defenders in the lane.  Mays, in essence, isn’t much more than a perimeter shooter.  It’s worth noting that Mays is facing a much higher caliber of defender than he did as a Wright State Raider, so that’s possibly a factor as well.  While those reasons may help to explain the problem, what’s the solution to the shooting woes? To put it simply, keep shooting.  For his career, Mays is a very respectable 36.6% (101-276) from beyond the arc, so it doesn’t make sense to prevent him from shooting.  The “law of averages” tells us that things will swing back in favor of Julius’ shooting stroke.  When will he break out?  Impossible to know, but keep this in mind.  After starting his senior season shooting 9.1% from deep, Darius Miller broke out in a big way against Portland, sinking 4 of 5.  Kentucky’s next opponent is 272nd rated (KenPom) Eastern Michigan, the perfect opponent for Mays to build confidence against.  As a fan (especially as a Kentucky fan), it’s frustrating to watch a player under-perform his abilities. But, like Darius Miller did before him, Mays will eventually break out of this temporary slump, bringing Kentucky’s offense to a higher level in the process.


Article written by Jonathan Schuette

25 Comments for Senior Slumpin’ on the Perimeter

  1. UK Freshmen
    10:40 am January 1, 2013 Permalink

    Preseason #3 -> #52 RPI.

    What is our ‘great’ coach doing? We’re the biggest disappointment in college basket ball this year! Cal, do your job and quit blaming the players.

  2. by
    10:41 am January 1, 2013 Permalink

    Miller had a much better team around him which allowed for more open threes for him compared to Mays.

  3. by
    10:44 am January 1, 2013 Permalink

    Hey #1: If you believed the hype that this team was the third best team in the country at the start of this season, then you would be disappointed. Most of us came in to the season knowing that this team was going to need time to grow and was most likely ranked too high to start the year. Losses to Duke, Louisville, Notre Dame at their place, and Baylor are not that bad. Baylor is the only “bad” loss so far. Chill out…

  4. Jughead
    10:53 am January 1, 2013 Permalink

    1 Ginormous ignorant dbag. Here’s yer sign, bubba.

  5. Keeping It Real
    11:04 am January 1, 2013 Permalink

    Mays is the best pump faker in the nation.

  6. Since You Say It...
    11:05 am January 1, 2013 Permalink

    Well, UK Freshmen; we all know how much respect Cal has for your advice. He values your constructive comments above almost anything. What he tells me he respects most is your originality. So please keep your posts coming. Our season may depend on it. We await your next pearl of wisdom…

  7. UK Freshmen
    11:07 am January 1, 2013 Permalink

    As soon as I obtain gainful employment, I will cease posting here. Until then, expect me to post frequently.

  8. bung
    11:11 am January 1, 2013 Permalink

    did I mention that my new yrs resoluto is to stop pointing out how we ignore the fast break as the first scoring option after a defensive rebound…oh sure with two 7 footers and 3 guards we should get a load of rebounds and be able to transition to an easy lay up…but if coach wants to walk the ball up and let the other team set up their defense before we try and score then I spose that is the sporting way…so I aint gonna mention it again…

  9. UK Freshmen
    11:19 am January 1, 2013 Permalink

    Coach Cal just needs to start coaching to his contract as the highest paid in the country. Why do we suck with all this talent?

  10. Jarvis Redwine
    11:43 am January 1, 2013 Permalink

    9) How soon we forget that the 2010-11 Final Four team had 9 losses. UK will be fine in March and April, as always under Cal.

  11. jim jim
    11:51 am January 1, 2013 Permalink

    We really are kinda of not good, sometimes you will just have that

  12. jim jim
    11:52 am January 1, 2013 Permalink

    We will be fine come March and April next year, unfortunately not this year

  13. twnky
    11:58 am January 1, 2013 Permalink

    Love uncle j but he’s not a big time d1 player. He often looks over matched against other teams. Maybe if Kyle would learn to use his size a lil better it could open up more looks for uncle j

  14. Jarvis Redwine
    12:02 pm January 1, 2013 Permalink

    11) 12) Keep watching.

  15. kycatman
    12:04 pm January 1, 2013 Permalink

    @ UK Freshman Says: This dude must be a troll because any smart Kentucky Basketball fan knows that Cal poops ice cream so, your either a troll or someone who is very stupid to think Cal needs to do this or do that per your coaching ability. This years team did a lot of growing up against L-Ville and will continue to get better. By March I think this years version of Cals Cats will be exactly where they need to be in order to make another deep run in the Big Dance! Go Cats!!!!!!!! Go Cal!!!!!!!!

  16. Delk for 3
    12:09 pm January 1, 2013 Permalink

    Most of the players on this team are scrappy and competitive dudes. This team is by no means perfect or very good, but they are a decent team who is improving. In addition, Noel and Cauley-Stein are overwhelming match-ups for most teams and if those two keep improving like they are they will provide a major problem for most competitors. I like this team and am really interested on what the end-product will be. If Poythress can join the rest of the team with their high-level of effort this team could be really tough. I think once this team starts beating some average teams from the SEC (instead of total cupcakes) they will get some much-needed confidence and this team will start to look better.

  17. Reality Check
    12:11 pm January 1, 2013 Permalink

    10) that team was also one play away from losing in the first round to a team that does not offer ‘ships.

  18. mudcreekmark
    12:38 pm January 1, 2013 Permalink

    What has Mays done to deserve the most minutes on the team? He is too small to defend an elite two guard, his handle is not good enough to run the point, and his shooting is terrible right now. So why play him 35 minutes against UofL, and right at 33 minutes a game on the year? You need outside shooting to spread the defense. Why not play Wiltjer a few more minutes. Wiltjer is averaging just 24 minutes a game despite shooting 43% from the three point line compared to Mays shooting 29% on the year.

  19. Bigcat4453
    12:38 pm January 1, 2013 Permalink

    True #17, but if you want to play the ol’ ifn game, that team was one basket from playing in the championship game that year too. If you want to play ifn, you gotta play the whole game! 🙂

  20. Bigcat4453
    12:40 pm January 1, 2013 Permalink

    Mudcreek, I think Coach Cal has discovered he’s come up a little short in the back court this year. He probably won’t let that happen again!

  21. Syrin
    12:54 pm January 1, 2013 Permalink

    There’s a HUGE difference between Miller and Mays. Miller has an NBA level body, size etc. Mays does not. Miller could miss shots but get rebounds, drive to the basket, etc. Mays is a one trick pony with limited physical upside. He’s a nice player coming off the bench, and would have been our best player under Tubby, but now, he’s much more physically limited than the rest of the roster and should not be getting 35 minutes a game.

  22. Syrin
    12:56 pm January 1, 2013 Permalink

    UK Freshmen is still having hallucinations from his bukake session I see. It must suck to have to have your stomach pumped in the ER for semen over ingestion.

  23. tyrone biggins
    1:45 pm January 1, 2013 Permalink

    @18 I agree with both of you. There is no way that Mays should be getting Poytress’ minutes. Poythress has showed what he can be in spurts, which def. shows that its mental and not physical. What I dont understand is why Cal is just now deciding to work with him individually. They have team psychologists, this is not something they just discovered. This is on the coaches. It’s what they’re paid to do.

  24. Jarvis Redwine
    2:40 pm January 1, 2013 Permalink

    17) That’s the difference between losing to Lehigh in the 1st round and making the Final Four, I guess.

  25. Jarvis Redwine
    2:40 pm January 1, 2013 Permalink

    17) or Morehead St.