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Three point defense in the Calipari era

Photo by Joe Robbins

The most obvious discrepancy between Kentucky and North Carolina in the game yesterday was from the three point line. North Carolina shot 11-18 from deep while the Cats only connect on four of their 17 attempts. It seems that three point defense has always been the area most exploited by opponents in Cal’s two plus seasons in Lexington. The easiest explanation is that the length on the teams from the past three seasons makes going inside less appealing than pulling up from distance, but at some times it seems that opposing teams can’t miss from deep – especially in Rupp.

Both Portland and UNC had impressive performances from long range during their visits to Lexington and going back to Cal’s first games against Sam Houston St. and Miami (OH) teams have always seemed to find the magic touch against us.  Does the adrenaline rush of playing in their “super bowl” boost the shooting capabilities of our opponents or do the big lights of Rupp add to that experience?

In the 2009-2010 season of John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, UK opponents shot 35 percent from deep when playing in Lexington and only 31 percent in games away from Rupp either in true road games or at neutral sites. It seemed that the numbers were enhanced by the teams that the Cats were heavy favorites over, too. In “big games” against traditional rivals and in the SEC and NCAA tournaments, the Cats held opponents to 29 percent shooting. The Nick Winbush’s of the world skewed the numbers on overall three point defense and made Rupp seem to be a friendlier venue for opposing shooters. However, those numbers are not held up in the next season.

Last year, the story of the team was an inability to win on the road. That was reflected in the teams three point defense. While the home percentage didn’t change by much – only dropping to 34 percent – the road percentage ballooned to an absurd 44 percent. Again, it was inflated by the teams that UK was expected to beat. In “big games” UK opponents stayed consistent with the Rupp average, shooting about 35 percent per game. The absurd 44 percent on the road can be attributed to those disappointing losses to teams like Ole Miss and Arkansas  that had the fan base in a frenzy in the middle of the season.

In this young season, the Cats are allowing 33 percent shooting in Rupp and 28 percent away from home. Since the only “big games” so far have been against Kansas and UNC, the number isn’t really reliable at 46 percent. While there is a marked improvement against teams away from the confines of home, the home percentage has stayed relatively constant over the past three seasons.

In the total Calipari era, UK has allowed an average 34 percent in Rupp and 38 percent at all other venues. While the shooting performances in games like the UNC one will be the most memorable, it’s the outings by teams like St. Johns that serve to bring the averages back down to earth. 34 percent is still high considering the athletic abilities and defensive capabilities of Cal’s teams but the super bowl factor and the Rupp experience don’t seem to elevate the percentages as high as it sometimes seems they do.

Article written by Matthew Hays

19 Comments for Three point defense in the Calipari era

  1. RidgeRunner
    2:37 pm December 4, 2011 Permalink

    It takes some time to be able to roll off the picks and close out quickly on the 3-point shooter. We’ll get there. Hell, with John Wall & Big Cuz group…it was end of December before they were able to do this and the reason why that team had so many close games early. We’ll get there. Cal knows.

  2. GoCats2
    2:39 pm December 4, 2011 Permalink

    My guess would be coincidence and fan paranoia. Sometimes other teams hit a lot of threes and sometimes they do not.

  3. BTI for president
    2:49 pm December 4, 2011 Permalink

    I’d like to look at UK’s home/away three point percentage. Perhaps soft/stiff rims and backdrop come into play.

    We play such an aggressive defense, with all that switching there’s bound to be open threes early in the season. After time our perimeter defence improves.

  4. RidgeRunner
    2:53 pm December 4, 2011 Permalink

    Bra sizes.
    Bra sizes.
    Bra sizes.

    -sorry just practicing.

  5. Bubba Earl
    3:10 pm December 4, 2011 Permalink

    Go Lady Kats, just beat DaVille by twenty!!

  6. RidgeRunner
    3:11 pm December 4, 2011 Permalink

    5..Good comment. KSR, give the Lady Cats some ink!

  7. Dane Brammage
    3:15 pm December 4, 2011 Permalink

    Could be the reason why ‘Turnce CHONES’ played so well inside first half. Then, ‘disappurred’ (bustin’ ash defending 3 pts) ND 2nd half. Crucial. Play, needed, where, and by whom.

  8. UKFanInCincy
    3:23 pm December 4, 2011 Permalink

    Is there anywhere on the net to watch a replay of the UNC game?

  9. bcat
    3:32 pm December 4, 2011 Permalink

    Link for the 360 Fancam from yesterday.
    Thank god Matt was facing away from the camera…

  10. ???
    3:39 pm December 4, 2011 Permalink

    Those prunes got things going

  11. UKGoBigBlue
    3:40 pm December 4, 2011 Permalink

    Cal teams have always been bad at defending the 3 . The kids are always too worried about getting back or taking off on offense. Either they don’t practice this on their own or apparently any time, they are absolutely horrible at free throw shooting.

  12. UKSoCal
    3:48 pm December 4, 2011 Permalink

    This would have worked a lot better as a chart.

  13. Manchester
    4:44 pm December 4, 2011 Permalink

    I agree with #12; a chart/pic or linked Excel spreadsheet would be nice. I found this article particularly interesting. I used to be a math major (changed to English) and I like to see numbers tossed around. I enjoy the ridiculous and humorous posts too, but I’d like to see more articles like this. Good job, Hays.

  14. Manchester
    4:46 pm December 4, 2011 Permalink

    Agree with #12. A chart/pic or linked Excel spreadsheet would be nice.

    I found this article quite interesting. I like the ridiculous, humorous stuff, but more of this please.

    Good job, Hays.

  15. Catsfando
    5:38 pm December 4, 2011 Permalink

    From what I saw we got hung up on screens too much, allowed too much space between defender and shooter, and were were helping out down low too much to get back out on the deep shooter. With that said the double downs completely shut down the UNC inside game.

  16. Hardline Charlie
    6:27 pm December 4, 2011 Permalink

    Unlike most other teams when they play us, this isn’t their “Super Bowl.” Our perimeter defense really sucks at times and there really is no excuse.

  17. TT
    6:33 pm December 4, 2011 Permalink

    The three point shot is the shot most LIKELY to be missed ya know! gawd talk about pickin apart everything possible.

  18. kfund
    7:45 pm December 4, 2011 Permalink

    #9 They should have made the photographers etc sit down rather than block the view of the fans.

  19. bmt22033
    8:58 pm December 4, 2011 Permalink

    On Saturday, UNC shot 20% *better* from 3 than they’re averaging and UK was 17% *worse*! Considering that, it’s amazing that Kentucky still pulled out the win. On the other hand, if you adjust the 3 point percentages back to their averages (with everything else being the same), UK could have won the game by double digits! That’s also hard to believe! Regardless, I’m proud to be a UK fan and it was a great win for a very young team.