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The line-ups that worked vs. the line-ups that struggled

Following Kentucky’s first loss of the season two nights ago against Duke, John Calipari mentioned the fact that games can be won and lost in a matter of a minute or a minute and a half period of time. During Tuesday’s game, there were two crucial runs made– one by each team– that greatly impacted the way the game played out. During the two runs, Calipari utilized a total of three different line-ups. One line-up maintained, one line-up simply did not work, and the third was able to mount a comeback on the shoulders of a 9-0 run, that fell just short in the end. 

Duke started to build a lead early in the second half that hovered around 5-6 points for quite a while. With just over 15 minutes left to play in the half, Mason Plumlee picked up his 4th foul. Calipari immediately went with his two big man line-up, putting Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley-Stein on the floor together, perhaps trying to exploit Duke below the basket without Plumlee. With Noel and Cauley-Stein taking the court and 15:04 left in the half, Kentucky was down by 6. The 5 for Kentucky on the floor included Archie Goodwin at the point, Julius Mays, Alex Poythress, Nerlens Noel and Willie-Cauley Stein. The offense didn’t seem to find a rhythm with the two big men and Duke was still able to convert on the offensive end. With the line-up, Kentucky wasn’t able to chip away significantly at Duke’s lead.

The biggest line-up issue came with 12:59 left in the game, when Calipari went a little smaller with Jarrod Polson, Archie Goodwin, Julius Mays, Willie Cauley-Stein and Nerlens Noel. Offensively the group wasn’t able to find any success, settling for contested jumpers and unable to free up anyone by beating Duke off the dribble. In less than 1:30 with this line-up on the floor, Duke’s lead swelled to 12. By 11:29 when Calipari was able to take a timeout and adjust the line-up, the damage was essentially already done.

Around the time of Kentucky’s two exhibition games, Calipari talked about his desire to find out who would make up his “catch up line-up.” Tuesday night, I think we found out which group that seems to be (at least for now with the players Kentucky has available). Calipari went with Archie Goodwin, Julius Mays, Alex Poythress, Kyle Wiltjer and Nerlens Noel. Although Kentucky initially fell behind by 14 with this line-up, they almost immediately put together a string of defensive stops that led to baskets. Kentucky was able to turn a 14-point deficit into a 3-point deficit, putting them in a position to win the game. Mays missed a three at that point, followed by a Goodwin turnover on the next offensive possession, but that line-up got Kentucky back into the game.

The question still remains whether or not Kentucky can be the most productive having both Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley-Stein on the court at the same time. One question that comes up with having both on the court is whether it’s better to have another bigger guy like Poythress or Wiltjer on the court with them, or 3 guards. If Tuesday night is any indication, three guards and the two big men didn’t work. Poythress also doesn’t seem to fit as well in the offensive scheme with the other two big men in the line-up. He hovers around the perimeter and against Duke, he was very inactive during those stretches with Cauley-Stein and Noel. In addition, offensively, Noel seemed to find more space to work with when he got the ball on the block without having Cauley-Stein in the area. Calipari also seemed to go to the pick and roll almost every time down the court with the line-up of Goodwin, Mays, Poythress, Wiltjer and Noel. Calipari admitted today that they would likely employ much more of that offense in the future. “We are a post-up team, we are a pick-and-roll team,” Calipari said in his news conference today.

Kentucky was able to find themselves on the wrong end of a big run in a 1:30 span with one line-up that led to a 12-point deficit. With a completely different line-up ,they were able to find themselves on the right end of a 9-0 run to bring the game within striking distance. As Calipari said, sometimes it only takes a minute. 


Article written by Ally Tucker

I once successfully requested "The Wobble" to be played 6 times at one wedding.

14 Comments for The line-ups that worked vs. the line-ups that struggled

  1. Burly
    6:13 pm November 15, 2012 Permalink

    The big guys together has been a disaster…Maryland game they gave up 13-0 run…Duke went on a 8-0 run. AS Taylor says…never ever ever ever play those two together.

  2. mudcreekmark
    6:22 pm November 15, 2012 Permalink

    The only thing about playing the two bigs together is that more than likely Wiltjer or Poythress will not be on the floor. In my opinion, we need Wiltjer and Pythress in there together as much as possible. When Wiltjer is out I don’t have much confidence in our scoring ability. I would like to see them run their offense thru him. Let him post up and then make a play. he made some really good passes out of the post ups against Duke. Some way some how we have to have Wiltjer taking 15 plus shots a game.

  3. gjg
    6:29 pm November 15, 2012 Permalink

    The biggest problem with Noel and Cauley-Stein on the floor at the same time is on defense they both go for block after block and leave the back side open. Cal can fix that and when he does, they could work at the same time.

  4. Yngvie Malmsteen.
    6:31 pm November 15, 2012 Permalink

    Good job. Nice write up.

  5. gjg
    6:33 pm November 15, 2012 Permalink

    And another think. Wiltjer is a bit slow to get his own shot and apparently they haven’t put in some plays to get him open. He will be OK…

  6. BigBluSoTru
    6:53 pm November 15, 2012 Permalink

    If Larry Glover says this it has too be true .

  7. BigBluSoTru
    6:55 pm November 15, 2012 Permalink

    Only thing is that Patrick Toweles will have to transfer due to the spread offense Qb’s he prefers.

  8. Experience
    6:58 pm November 15, 2012 Permalink

    I’d favor a line up of WCS,NN,Alex,Wilt,and Archie- On defense go 2-3 zone with WCS and NN on the baseline wide with Wilt in the middle and Alex and Archie out front. On offense put WCS at the top of the key Archie at point Wilt at the two with Nerlens and Alex down low to rip the rim off. Run a Globetrotter weave through WCS at the top of the key with passes out to spot ups for Wilt and Alex or passes down low to Nerlens and Alex. Anyone drives the lane on UK Defense Wilt could use a “Duke flop” in the paint as primary with a double dip of WCS and Nerlens to swat it down to the glass on the other end. C’mon Coach.

  9. mudcreekmark
    7:22 pm November 15, 2012 Permalink

    8) I too would like to see what that lineup could do. It would work a lot better if we had a true point guard.I wish Cal would consider playing some zone. I said it last year when everyone was complaining about Wiltjers foot speed. We should always be able to help cover some of his defeciencies by playing zone.

  10. lexslamman
    8:15 pm November 15, 2012 Permalink

    The biggest problem with the ineffective lineup wasn’t Noel or WCS – it was Polson. He has a lot of heart and we all like him, but he just wasn’t quick enough to keep up with Duke’s guards.

  11. uk
    11:03 pm November 15, 2012 Permalink

    10. I don’t know if you noticed, but no one was able to keep up with Curry

  12. Rick Pitino
    12:14 am November 16, 2012 Permalink

    Psh, Cal said it only takes a minute!? I can tell you, for SURE, that it really only takes 15 seconds.

  13. Matt
    7:25 am November 16, 2012 Permalink

    In theory i like WCS and Noel together but it is obviously still being worked on. I don’t think the Duke game was good time to use it. these next few games will be great opportunities to work with those two in the game at the same time. also, it hurts offensively with them because neither has a respectable 15 ft jump shot. if those two play together at least one has to be able to have a jump shot be some what respected

  14. older than dirt
    10:03 am November 16, 2012 Permalink

    Good post Ally and congrats on your being named weekend editor. I enjoy reading your posts.
    Keep up the good work