Over at SportsIllustrated.com, stat guru Luke Winn finally released his end-of-the-year awards, and not surprisingly, Cal and the Cats are near the top.
For the full season, Winn says Cal was the most efficient coach, the most dominant coach, and the one who had the most success with the least experience. If you’re keeping count at home, that’s three of the eight awards. In order to get you to click over, here’s just one of the glowing superlatives:
6. Dominating One’s League: John Calipari, Kentucky
Basketball Prospectus’ John Gasaway tracks in-conference efficiency numbers all season in his Tuesday Truths, and the Wildcats’ efficiency margin in SEC games was an absurd +0.26 points per possession — better than any other leader of any other conference. They steamrolled, rather than tightrope-walked, their way to a 16-0 record in the SEC. For comparison, Syracuse (long the nation’s No. 2 team) had an efficiency margin of +0.16 in the Big East, and Kansas (UK’s title-game opponent) had a margin of +0.18 in the Big 12.
Pretty nice, eh? In terms of the postseason, Winn says Cal and his team had the best offensive tournament, thanks to their half-court offense and the superb stability of senior Darius Miller:
2. Best Offensive Tournament: John Calipari, Kentucky
Would you believe that Wisconsin actually had the best average offensive NEM (25.6) in the NCAAs, just ahead of the Wildcats (25.4)? The Badgers did, but their run ended at three games, which falls below the Data-Based Awards’ minimum for official recognition … so yet another honor goes to Mr. Calipari. He earned it, in large part, by orchestrating an absurd offensive performance against Indiana in the Sweet 16 — a game in which Kentucky posted tourney bests in PPP (1.401) and offensive NEM (44.8). In back-to-back games in the NCAAs, the Wildcats handed Iowa State and Indiana their worst PPP-allowed figures of the season.
According to Synergy, of teams that played at least four tourney games, Kentucky had the best half-court offense (0.975 PPP) and the second-best After-Timeout Efficiency (0.975). Neither of those facts are surprising, but this one is: Of the Wildcats’ six rotation players, it was senior reserve Darius Miller who had the best individual offensive efficiency rating in the tournament, averaging 1.273 PPP. Kentucky players, in order of tourney efficiency: Miller, Doron Lamb, Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Marquis Teague. Miller was almost forgotten amid all the one-and-done mania, but he had a phenomenal postseason.
Not too shabby for someone who just rolls the balls out, right?