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Starting Lineups: More Old Than New?


Probably made right around the time that 80% of next year’s team was born.  Frick.

It’s always fun to speculate on lineups, and with our offseason now more than a week underway, it’s about time to start doing that for next year’s squad.  Assume, for the sake of argument, that Nerlens is leaving for the NBA.  Assume also that everyone else is staying.  There’s no question that we’d have a lot of depth, and while Cal likes getting into a solid 7-man formation, that might not be possible with that lineup.  Question is, though, who starts?

Initial instinct is to say that the highly touted freshmen, particularly those in the Top Ten, would start immediately.  That’s probably true for at least Andrew Harrison and Julius Randle, regardless of returnees.  But don’t be so hasty to assume that some of the other guys will be thrown into spots with established players already.  If Archie, Alex, and Willie stay, is it obvious that they’d get replaced as starters.  At the very least, not immediately.

Remember that last year (or year before last, it’s hard to say which at this point in the offseason), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist began the season relieving Darius Miller.  Did we suspect that MKG had a little more ability than Miller did at that point?  I mean, probably.  He didn’t exactly surprise anyone with how good he was, even though he did impress a few people.  But Darius got the starting spot.  Why?  Because MKG hadn’t earned it to start the season.  Want to see a player work hard?  On a deep team, that’s easy.  Put him on the bench.  That’s one reason this year’s team might have struggled so much; with no depth, there was no real competition.  They were guaranteed their starting spots, regardless of performance.

Next year, though, don’t think that James Young, Aaron Harrison, Dakari Johnson, or Marcus Lee will start the first game.  They might, but I really suspect they won’t.  Again, Andrew and Julius probably will start, if only because of the current dearth of talent at their positions (Alex might be moved to SF in this scenario), and because they’re top ten players.  But expect to see a starting lineup that looks something like: Andrew Harrison, Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress, Julius Randle, and Willie Cauley-Stein.

Is your initial reaction to that frustration?  Because mine was.  But it makes sense.  Make the new players earn their spots from the returners.  Even if we think that other people could be better in those spots, we don’t know.  We’re not the coach or the scout or anything like that.  This way, the new players are motivated to work hard in practice, to potentially reach up and get that starting spot for themselves.  Essentially, they have the opportunity to be like MKG.

So in all of this, the real question should be: who starts at the beginning of the season, and who starts at the end?  It’s very likely that those will be two very different answers.

Article written by Corey Nichols

60 Comments for Starting Lineups: More Old Than New?

  1. BBN
    9:04 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    The difference is, Darius HAD earned his starting spot. I’m not so sure Poythress and Goodwin have.

  2. tom
    9:07 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    determining a starting lineup is, in reality, meaningless. It’s more important who is on the floor at the end of the game than who is on the floor at the opening tip.

  3. Uncle Ted
    9:08 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    Just the tip?

  4. Awat
    9:08 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    I think PG Harrison, Randle and Willie are locks. I think the other spots are WIDE open. Not saying Archie and Poythress won’t but they better get it together and quick with they want to see the floor early. I have a feeling they have left a bad taste in Cal’s mouth!

  5. markp
    9:09 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    Hope Wiltjer, Goodwin, Poythress, and WCS stay and let Cal worry about getting them all in. Could be like the 96 team that overwhelmed teams with numbers. I like that scenario.

  6. RealCatsFan
    9:14 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    And if Cal manages to get Andrew Wiggins, you pretty much have to expect him to start.

    I wonder if Cal will consider running more full court press with the number and level of athletes he will have at his disposal? With the personnel that will be available, properly done, a full court press with these guys could be devastating.

  7. cubster
    9:14 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    Stein Goodwin and possibly Poythress are gone

  8. JLB
    9:15 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    We tend to think of offensive skill sets in who will start but Cal will be focused on who will do the hard work of getting down in a defensive stance, showing good help defense, rebounding, and hustling. The question to be asked is which members of next years team will play the best defense to start the year.

  9. Real talk
    9:17 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    Poythress will not start he can’t guard ANYONE

  10. Ukfan2011
    9:18 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    False. MKG was named the very FIRST starter by Cal in the preseason.

  11. Reality
    9:18 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    #7 nailed it. All these guys won’t be coming back despite what they said after the RMU loss. I’d be shocked. Happy, but shocked.

  12. bung
    9:19 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    will we hire a fast break consultant?

  13. UKani
    9:19 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    like #4 PG Harrison, Randle and Willie are locks. I think that Willie will be an absolute stud and turn into a lottery pick. He and Dakari Johnons will split time almost evenly. I think Poythress and Archie Goodwin will have a fight on there hands to keep there positions. Poythress will probably start in the doghouse.

  14. You're Crazy
    9:19 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    Poythress and goodwin if they stay will NOT start…especially by year end.


    Top seven rotation would be – Harrison, Harrison, Randle, WCS, Young, Lee, Kyle #8=Johnson.

    Swap out WCS and Johnson if WCS leaves. Goodwin and Poythess ROTFLMAO

  15. yevkazim
    9:20 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    Let me take the counter to your article here. I think it is clear that both the fans and the players themselves thought that Goodwin and Poythress should have been better this year. Does putting in the starting lineup next year simply because they return, send a message to them that what they did last year was OK? Perhaps the better message to send would be to bench those guys, and motivate them. If fans felt that this years team needed leaders, then maybe the focus should be on creating leaders for next year. Perhaps teh benching of those guys will motivate them into becoming better and leaders. For me, the starters need to be not Goodwin and Poythress, and hope their benching will motviate them to becoming what the team needs, experienced leaders.

  16. bung
    9:21 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    Hoods good…

  17. kyle heavy
    9:22 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    Jones, Lamb, and Miller turned it around and went to the final four the year before those recruits came in. They earned that respect. This team went to the NIT. NONE of them will start, except may Cauley-Stein, if he sticks around.

  18. Rae
    9:23 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    Cal could mess with everyone and have two starting lineups that he uses interchangeably. What fun!

  19. BBN
    9:29 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    2013-2014 Starting Lineup:

    Andrew Harrison
    Aaron Harrison
    Andrew Wiggins
    Julius Randle
    Willie Cauley-Stein

    This starting five is announced at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to “Hypnotize” by Notorius BIG prior to the Providence game.

    The team goes 40-0 and we are telling our grand children about them 20-30 years later.

  20. GettingWiggyWithit
    9:29 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    Not bashing Poythress, but he won’t start at the SF slot- no way. He can’t handle the basketball at all and at the SF slot you have to have handles. He won’t start at PF because Randle is a more polished player right now, so it seems to me Poy will have to come off the bench.

  21. asdf
    9:30 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    I say that both Harrison’s start, Archie is big enough to play the 3 so he’ll start there, plus, Randle and Willie.

  22. BBN
    9:34 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    I think Archie has a chance to start IF Wiggins does not come and IF he can beat out James Young.

  23. 2011-2012
    9:34 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    Somebody named Corey didn’t do their homework. MKG and Darius Miller both started the first game of 2011-2012 season. T Jones did not start.Just saying!

  24. bosshogg24
    9:35 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    Corey,You need to leave the starting line ups to somebody who knows more about basketball, they won’t look anything like what you said!
    #19 looks more accurate!

  25. Trav
    9:35 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    You gotta start and play the twins together man! The have espn!

  26. UKHoopsters
    9:37 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    Coach Cal should look at Coach Mitchell… swap 5 for 5 and go for “40 Minutes of Dred”

    aka.. 94 Razorbacks “40 Minutes of Hell”

  27. JKUK
    9:39 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    I think that starting lineup is probably right but Young or Wiggins might start over Poythress

  28. Rockfield, KY
    9:40 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    My hope for Archie is that he could stay and become a Kemba Walker type player. The truth is, however, we never know what we’ll get from these kids and no one has any clue who will start until they start playing. Speculation is meaningless.

  29. Urincatland
    9:42 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    Make all them compete for their starting spots!! There would be no more of this standing around and not playing hard…. Especially Poythress!! Make them prove that they want to be on the floor wearing that Kentucky uniform. Go Cats!!

  30. Big Blue 66
    9:43 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    I think WCS goes pro…depending on his workouts, may even slide into the lottery. Cant teach 7′ and mobile

  31. Tyler
    9:43 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    Frustration? That’s one heck of a starting lineup!

  32. MustacheMan
    9:43 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    What did Alex and Archie do to deserve a starting spot? They never “earned” it – they just had the benefit of an entire team leaving for the nba before they arrived. See how they do in off season workouts and give it to whomever works together the best.

  33. kdh2011
    9:46 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    Darius and MKG both started. TJ came of the bench as punishment for the 2 am car crash.

  34. Vince
    9:50 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    Everyone that said Poythress and Goodwin haven’t earned their starting spot are spot. I don’t think they’ve earned squat, especially Poythress. I can’t in any way see Poythress starting next season, especially at the beginning. Maybe Archie, but if we get Wiggins, that dream is over. I also can’t envision the Harrison twins not starting. Everyone knows that Andrew Harrison will start. I just highly doubt Aaron Harrison won’t start at the 2.

    #19 has it right:

    1 – Andrew Harrison
    2 – Aaron Harrison
    3 – Andrew Wiggins
    4 – Julius Randle
    5 – Willie Cauley-Stein

  35. Vince
    9:50 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    spot on***

  36. robuk
    9:51 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    Aaron will start because he knows what his brother is about to do and when he is about to do it. After the first couple of games archie will be pulling splinters out of his arse.

  37. Vince
    9:52 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    And by the way, to Corey Nichols: I don’t think the new guys will have to work too hard to earn a spot from Poythress.

  38. Indiana Cat
    9:53 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    If Wiggins comes to UK, there is no way he is coming off the bench! I say give the new guys the start and see if that will light a fire in the returning players. They did whatever they wanted this year because they knew Cal HAD to play them. Make them earn some playing time next year!

  39. NkyCatFan
    9:54 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    Archie will be our third best SG behind Aaron Harrison and James Young. IF he comes back, and we don’t get Wiggins, he may get a chance to start at SF, but no chance to start at SG.

  40. brain
    9:55 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    If you’re in any way frustrated about next years team you’ve got serious mental issues.

  41. Big Blue 66
    9:55 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    run a 3 guard front, im mean the twins are 6′ freakin 5″….if you get wiggins put him, young or goodwin at the third guard….put Randle, Dakari and or Lee in for bigs….so many combos with this many great players….but as I said earlier, WCS will go pro..wish he would stay, but hes oing to go

  42. Jay
    9:56 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    We need to throw last season in the trash, along with our opinion of these players (at least temporarily). There’s no telling what these guys will do over the summer in terms of improvement and attitude adjustments. Cal makes everybody earn their starting spots, and it would be unfair to make Alex/Archie/etc have to earn it “more” than the other guys because of what happened 7 months ago.

  43. Matt Jones on Radio
    10:01 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    I feel like I go over this all the time!

  44. No brainer
    10:04 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    None of the returning players have “earned” their spots. Positions 1 thru 5 will be open for the taking….

  45. Musehobo
    10:05 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    I kinda doubt Wiggins ends up here. When predicting a starting roster, I would leave him out unless he commits. Obviously I want him, just don’t have good feeling about it, and am VERY happy with our current squad.

  46. Musehobo
    10:06 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    43) Completely aqree

  47. DavidBiloxi
    10:15 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    Poythress and Darius Miller were both passive players. Darius came along as the season progressed but he was the same player Poythress is now for much of the season. The boards at one time were lit up about how Darius was not quite holding up. Everyone expected and wanted him to do more. He finally broke out of his shell in the end and he was a senior. So people can stop all of that Darius was a leader stuff because he wasn’t. Second, Andrew Harrison is Archie Goodwin with a better jumper, more control, and he PASSES the ball. Archie has a long offseason to change his mentality. I think we go the Twins, James Young at the 3 because he is nowhere near as passive as poythress, Randle, and probably Stein.

  48. Bsb Coach
    10:17 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    It’s obvious that so many people responding have never coached. Cal will give everyone a clean start and evaluate them “next” school year. Some returning players may make great srides and some may not. It is fun to speculate, but no one really knows until they lace them up this fall. Of course, all scenarios are exciting! I agree w/Jay #42

  49. Corey Nichols
    10:28 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    All – MKG did not start the exhibition game against Transylvania, which was the first intra-squad competition that the 2012 Wildcats had. Obviously, it didn’t take him long to earn his spot in the lineup. So shuttup.

  50. BigBoyBlue
    10:36 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    Some fans are either freaking incredibly stupid or have horribly memories. Goodwin can not shoot well enough to beat out the newcomers. Poy simply doesn’t do anything well enough to play over anyone. They sucked for a reason. James Young is being under estimated by many. He’s gonna ball out for the BBN.

  51. Corey Nichols
    10:45 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    50 – I agree with the James Young part. Legit baller. But my point was that Cal will probably begin the season starting older guys. Which is really best for the younger guys. I’m not saying Archie or Alex will keep their spots for the whole season, but they’ll probably begin it there, should they stay.

  52. Both Harrisons will start
    10:47 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    Goodwin over Aaron Harrison? Seriously? Goodwin will come off the bench to Aaron Harrison.

  53. Mack
    10:50 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    All 3 of the Texas guys will start and if Wiggins and/or Gordan signs then they will start there is too much talent coming in for an auto start for WCS. Alex and Archie are the ones that need to prove they should start if they return. Lee, Young, and Johnson will have a good chance of major time, I don’t know if Coach can handle that many in a rotation.

  54. Bamacat55
    11:01 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    It was pretty clear to the coaching staff, the fan base and probably the plyers themselves that they didn’t live up to expectations. Were the expectations too high, probably. If Alex, Willie,Archie and Kyle return, they have the summer to put things back in order on how they should have played and very well could fight for a starting position because they are talented but it disappeared at times last year. They all should stay but if any of them leave, I wish they the best of luck.

  55. oh my
    11:04 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    I can’t believe you think Poythress would start again at SF. He can’t play the position. He’s not quick enough, can’t handle the ball, can’t make plays for others, has no bb iq, can’t defend, no motor, and doesn’t seem to want to improve. The only place he should play is PF, backing up a couple other guys. If he’s our starting SF then we are in trouble next year. Also you know Cal will want the Harrison twins playing together so I believe both of them will start. We need a SG that can shoot or else the dribble drive doesn’t work, the other team will just clog the paint and we’ll end up watching Archie driving into 3 defenders. I don’t think there is any way Goodwin or Poythress start next year and if they do we will not be as good as everyone thinks.

  56. big cat
    11:15 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    You will see a completely new team hit the floor next year. Goodwin doesnt want to be here and WCS has $ in his eyes. Poythress will not come back if everyone else leaves. Harrow will not return because Cal has lost the trust. Kyle may be on the outs to Gonzaga or the likes of Oregon. Look for Cal to get 1-2 players by seasons end. Alot of things going on by the Final Four, it will be interesting to see how things play out. In my opinion, lets clean house and get the negativity and selfishness out of the program.

  57. Kiddekat
    11:17 am March 28, 2013 Permalink

    #26 “40 minutes of hell” puts the emphasis on what the opposing team must handle. Regardless of who starts, it is going to be “40 minutes of heaven” just watching our guys play. Wiggins, Randle and the twins are locks, I believe. And with his shot-blocking and rebounding ability, Lee could be a surprise by mid-year. We would not need for him to score that much with that line-up. Young,Johnson, Hawkins, and whomever returns off the bench? Wow! Just wow!

  58. Silly to Speculate
    12:29 pm March 28, 2013 Permalink

    1. No way WCS stays. He will be a 1st round pick and he will not (and should not) pass that up.
    2. Harrow already has transferred once. Can’t see that he has anywhere to go. Unless Cal pulls his scholarship, he will stay and earn whatever playing time he can. That would be a good thing for him and the team, in my opinion.
    3. Goodwin almost certainly will go pro based on athleticism and potential.
    4. Poythress may not have a legit option to go pro, at least not as a first rounder. I just don’t see it. I think there are at least 20 forwards in Div. I who are better, bigger, and more aggressive. But, he may not want to stay if he doesn’t think he can beat out the newcomers for PT. If he doesn’t think he can be a starter next year (based on his own assessment or upon what Cal tells him) then he probably will go pro even if he goes in the late 2nd round.
    5. I don’t think it matters what Wiltjer does. If he stays, he probably won’t play. If he leaves, so what? He is just too slow and too timid to make a contribution, other than as an instant offense 3-point threat on a highly talented team. If he wants to stay and play that role (sort of like last year), then that’s fine, too. But, it really doesn’t matter too much.
    6. BOTTOM LINE–all new players next year…lots of hype…but none have played college ball…and there is no guarantee we won’t have some of the same problems…lack of experience, lack of aggressiveness, lack of basketball IQ…that we had this year. On the other hand, it will be fun to see if they can play up to their resumes and have a special season.

  59. jason m
    2:16 pm March 28, 2013 Permalink

    I really don’t want archie to start period. Even poythress and WCS are big question marks for me, WCS lacks anything close to an offensive game and his inability to shoot ft’s is frustrating. Dakari will be able to do both and put the biscuit in the basket. Plus, after Randle’s announcement, i’m really beginning to feel like Marcus Lee is being overlooked by everyone, that guy is going to be great.

  60. robro
    3:05 pm March 28, 2013 Permalink

    If we are not figuring Wiggins into the situation…then i go
    Young,Johnson,Lee, Poythris see that order. He can run a carousel at both the 2 and 3 spot and the 3 and 4 spot.