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What is Alex Len’s Lasting Impact?

“Look, we can’t all do the big arms thing. I’ll do big arms and you all just look at me and go ‘Ooh, look, he’s doing big arms.'”

With only one more day separating Kentucky and the Blue Devils, Cal might be putting in some late night calls to Joe B. Hall’s rotary phone to get a couple tips on the Twin Towers mechanic.

Cal is famous for redesigning his systems to fit his players, instead of the other way around, but this might be his biggest challenge at UK yet, as the Terrapins showed last Friday.  One of the biggest questions the game left about Kentucky’s two frontcourt anchors was: how will they handle other skilled big men?

Maryland’s offense left a lot to be desired, but if there was one bright spot, it was 7-plus foot center Alex Len, who cleaned up with 23/12/4 on 55.6% shooting.  While Jarrod Polson was getting all the headlines on the Kentucky side, Len was making a name for himself around Maryland.  A few national columnists paid some close attention to his game, and heaped some praise on him afterward:

Gary Parrish:

I leave this borough on this Saturday in total agreement with everybody who has suggested that Len, the Maryland sophomore, was the best player on the court late Friday during Kentucky’s 72-69 win over the Terrapins.

Dan Kelly (to ZagsBlog):

There is a lot to like about Alex Len one game into his sophomore year. He has obviously improved very much. If he continues to play like he did last night he might be the second best big man in the draft behind Indiana’s Cody Zeller.

Kelly had a few nice things to say about Noel and Cauley-Stein (whom he correctly points out needs a nickname), drawing attention to Willie’s athleticism and instincts, and Nerlens’ motor and shot-blocking skills.  But ultimately, it was Len who got the most praise, and rightly so.  So what impact will his admittedly laudable game have on our frontcourt going forward?

We’ll see tomorrow night, as they’ll have to improve before taking on Mason Plumlee, whose stat line (19/14/4) was pretty impressive in Duke’s opening win against the Georgia State Panthers.  Plumlee’s role in the Blue Devils’ offense is key, anchoring the middle to allow great scorers to spread the floor and shoot the lights out.  If Noel and WCS are able to neutralize, or even mitigate Plumlee’s effect on the ballgame, the rest of the Cats will have a much easier time.  If they can’t, well, 1-1 isn’t so bad.

Whatever Nerlens and Willie do on the offensive end, they cannot afford to make a star out of opposing teams’ big men.  That’s precisely what happened last Friday, and even though they won, it’s a dangerous habit that’ll come back to bite them in the long run if left unchecked.  So what impact will Alex Len have on the Wildcats long-term?  Will he be the first of a series of bigs who take advantage of weak spots inside?  Or will he be a wake-up call that spurs Noel and Cauley-Stein to improve their defense against opposing big men?

Trusting Cal, my money’s on the latter.  Maybe they’ll turn it around by tomorrow against yet another Plumlee brother, or maybe it’ll take a little longer than that.  But eventually, look for the New Twin Towers to figure it out sooner rather than later.  And when they do, other teams might as well write a nice farewell letter to the rim, because they won’t be seeing it for a year.

Article written by Corey Nichols

54 Comments for What is Alex Len’s Lasting Impact?



  1. Ted Nugent
    9:06 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    In cal we trust……TED FOR PREZ!!!!!!



  2. playersfan
    9:10 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    Noel and WCS are not towers, they are basketball players, Hall’s twin towers were towers. Players in that day were not normally that tall, they stood around the basket and played off each other dunking the ball. Other teams have tall players now, like Maryland, and you have to be able to move, shoot, blockout, rebound, all of which Noel and WCS will be incredible at once they have had time to work on those things. If you are 7′ in high school they don’t have to teach you to rebound, you just stand there and jump and get the ball. The coaches will change that.



  3. Better question...
    9:12 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    What is Alex Legion’s last impact? His mom doesn’t seem so crazy now, does she?



  4. Wheeler's Pharmacy
    9:13 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    Their nicknames are obviously Ketchup and Mustard



  5. JackB
    9:20 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    They will be fine. Len didn’t become a star because Noel and WCS did not play well. Len was just really good. You could tell right away. Also foul trouble kept them from playing tougher D – the calls early put UK on its heels defensively. Hopefully they will be allowed to play a little with Plumlee.



  6. Ted Nugent
    9:25 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    @3 whats up with the alex legion reference?



  7. Cobalt Cat
    9:26 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    They just need to play position defense – and quit trying to block everything. When they go for the block (particularly together) and miss – they end up way out position, leading to easy offensive rebounds/put backs for the opposition.

    I’m confident that will be addressed.



  8. duckdynasty
    9:28 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    Keep the basketball info coming, forget about football, ya know…just like UK did years ago.hahaha What makes anyone think UK should even be in consideration for even a fair to middle football coach, they get what they deserve…an offensive coordinator from a middle road team, leaving most to say “who is that?”



  9. Travis
    9:28 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    Ok which one is going to be Ketchup and which is Mustard?



  10. RYNO
    9:28 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    Wow- 2nd best big man behind Cody Zeller in the draft? Someone please tell Dan that 2 slow white big men are never the two best big man prospects in any NBA Draft. I know it feels good to shower Len with praise after his great performance, but it’s simply not realistic. Who are the best big men in the NBA again? Tyler Zeller? Psyco T? Is it Spencer Hawes? No, it’s Dwight Howard, Tim Duncan, and the future is Anthony Davis. I realize he is not comparing Zeller and Len to them, but c’mon now, 2 slow white guys, the top 2 big men in this draft- someone must live in Colorado or Washington and has been smoking non-stop since last Tuesday.



  11. Catscatscats
    9:31 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    The reason UK couldn’t rebound was not entirely the fault of noel and cauleysteing. They both go for blocks and when both are swatting, it is alex poythress job to get the board much like kidd-gilhcrist cleaned up the glass last year. We will be fine with rebounding when Poythress lives up to potential.



  12. JackB
    9:32 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    Len did not look slow Friday night. He looked very good and skilled around the basket. He is also a legit 7 footer it looks like. He looked like an NBA player – especially for a team that wants a center instead of two power forwards.



  13. RYNO
    9:34 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    Dan also commented that Cole Aldrich and Macin Gortat are the best big men in the NBA today.



  14. Damn
    9:35 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    REBOUNDING!!! REBOUNDING!! Grab the damn ball and squeeze the air out of it. Team needs to be tuff! I know they’ll be tuff later on but I hate duke and they need to bring sum attitude to the game and play sum damn ball!!



  15. Travis
    9:36 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    #7 I partially agree but at the same time Noel doesn’t need to be setting up(trying) to get charges.



  16. RYNO
    9:38 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    12) Of course he didn’t look slow. He played great! But you also have to factor in that he was playing against mostly 220 lb. 18 year olds in their 1st college game. The NBA doesn’t have too many of those. All I’m saying is that he’s clearly not the 2nd best big man prospect in this draft class. In fact, if the draft were held today, even after that sub-par performance from Noel and awesome performance from Len head-to-head, who do you think NBA GM’s are picking first? Not Len.



  17. kycatman
    9:39 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    Yeah, Len had an outstanding game against us but, we got in foul trouble and this guy made some circus shots. I think he will be good the rest of the year but not great. Like Cal has said many many times, we are a Super Bowl to everybody and Maryland almost pulled it off. We should know a lot more about our team tomorrow night and I fully expect WCS & Noel to have a much better game! Our team chemistry will come around and when it does, look out because these guys have a world of talent that they will unleash on opponents. #9 is waiting, enjoy the ride! Go Cats!!!!!!!! Go Cal!!!!!!!!



  18. Head Bussa
    9:40 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    Three things for these guys:
    1) They have to get down the floor quicker because Len was beating them on these “rim runs.”
    2) Try to stay on your feet more and when you do go up, block the shots straight up. You don’t have to go flying at the ball and jumping past the shooter.
    3) Remember to stay balanced on rebounding. Do not stay on the same side of the rim as one another. Balance the rim and they’ll get tons of rebounds. The other night the Cats would leave one side of the rim empty and Maryland kept taking advantage of that.



  19. Government worker off
    9:42 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    Nerlens= BIG KETCHUP,,, Willie= BIG MUSTARD



  20. fish on
    9:44 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    Wiltjer= big mayo?



  21. Head Bussa
    9:44 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    I do not agree at all that Len was the best player on the floor. He just wasn’t. Archie Goodwin was clearly the best player, IMO. Yeah Archie was out of control at times, but he can’t be stopped from getting to the basket. Once he figures out how to finish a little better he will be a great one.



  22. Catfan
    9:50 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    20- LOL



  23. Rockfield, KY
    9:58 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    20. thank you for that, I’m going to have to call him that from now on since “Water Fountain” didn’t stick



  24. Brian
    9:59 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    Maryland got so many offensive rebounds (especially in the first half) because they were throwing up so many god awful bricks that the ball was careening all over the place. That said, the rebounding still sucked, but Maryland’s horrendous brick laying made it seem even worse than it was.



  25. Corey Nichols
    9:59 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    Alright, 20 wins. We can all go home now.



  26. tom
    10:00 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    4 – Hilarious!



  27. bluesince66
    10:01 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    Couldn’t have worked out any better. Our guys get humbled a little and we still win. Wouldn’t have wanted to be at practice yesterday or today.



  28. Rick
    10:01 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    Polson = Tartar Sauce Packet?



  29. Paul
    10:01 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    All part of a steep learning curve.



  30. RYNO
    10:06 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    24) Agreed. Some of their shots were off by 1 or 2 feet- makes for wild bounces off the backboard/rim. They were out of postition on several, but that’s clearly where they will make adjustments going forward. The rebounding margin should have been slimmer than it was, but I agree with #27- they’ve paid for it in practice and it probably helps them in the long run. Idiots like Parrish and Dan will provide the rest of the motivation they need to make it right.



  31. Mess038
    10:07 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    Yes, 20 – I actually laughed for about 15 seconds when I read that. By the way, vote for Ashley and Go Cats! http://www.seniorclassaward.com/vote/DI_volleyball_2012/



  32. Chezzy
    10:09 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    Football Coaching update. I saw Lou Holtz at Fayette Mall in the Apple Store.



  33. matt
    10:15 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    When Len missed, he missed bad. However, he did show some very good moves and an ability to hit some outside shots. He recovered quite a few offensive rebounds, as did the whole team, and i think that has something to do with that fact that noel and WCS would both go for the block leaving open players without a body on them (and that lack of guards crashing for boards as well). Len was definitely one of the best players on the court and rightfully so



  34. jaws2
    10:21 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    We just need to toughen up some 18 year old kids and get Alex in to the flow. They’ll get it. Against duke I’m more concerned about how we protect Noel and Willie from the constant flopping by the duke bigs. The only way duke beats KY is by getting those two in foul trouble. If that happens, game over, we’re 1-1.



  35. Big Whoop
    10:30 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    I watched Duke vs. Ga. St. and was not impressed. Plumlee is it in terms of a big guy and he isn’t all that athletic. We will win this game because Cal, I’m sure, has already taught Willie and Nerlens not to let the opponent push them under the basket so they can’t get the rebounds. Shut down the three and block out and this won’t be that tough of a game.



  36. Downcline
    10:33 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    Alex Len = Darren Morningstar



  37. HicksPickSix
    10:35 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    Thank you for enlightening us with your in-depth knowledge of Basketball. I see a Pulitzer in your future, sir.



  38. jaws2
    10:36 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    Big Whoop, they are masters of the flop and play defense. They WILL pressure the ball the entire length of the court. In the right circumstances that’s all duke needs. I hope you’re correct though.



  39. Bob
    10:39 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    20. *Drops mic*



  40. SMH
    10:40 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    Ryan said it perfectly.
    We can NOT force him who to hire



  41. SEC MANIAC
    10:40 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    RYNO – First, I like the nickname as Im hoping this is a Ryne Sandberg reference.

    However, I disagree somewhat on your stance on LEN. If the draft were held today, I do think Noel would go before him, but not because Len is white. Scouts love Noel’s upside and his defensive potential. However, I do think Len could ultimately be drafted higher than Noel as I could easily see there draft stocks go in different directions after this season. Plus, the fact that Len outplayed Noel head-head will go in Len’s favor come draft time especially if Noel doesn’t improve immensely. Len isn’t youp typical American white center. He came to Maryland from the Ukraine and was a major coup by the Maryland staff.



  42. BMILES
    11:17 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    “Block Towers”



  43. Dr. Mantis Taboggin
    11:40 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    “We’ll see tomorrow night, as they’ll have to improve before taking on Mason Plumlee, whose stat line (19/14/4) was pretty impressive in Duke’s opening win against the Georgia State Panthers.”

    There is nothing impressive about a Plumlee ever other than there are so damn many of them.



  44. JeffB
    11:50 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    Our freshmen just got outplayed. Mitchell was a beast on the boards for UM and he is the lowest ranked freshman between Noel, WCS and Poythress. What does that say for our freshmen? Noel and WCS are weak, physically and Poythress is lost and shows no aggressiveness. Harrow was sick and was a no show, but I haven’t been impressed with Harrow at all and we cannot score without Wiltjer and Polson on the floor. Look at when UM made their run in the second half and who was on the floor at that time. Why didn’t John Hood get more playing time? He has played against many first rounders and knows the offense and can rebound and make the outside shots Poythress can make. I realize Poythress has more upside than Hood, but why not use Hood to light a fire under his A$$.



  45. Issel's two front teeth
    2:00 pm November 12, 2012 Permalink

    If the guards and wing players follow Polson’s lead, and crash the boards, the Cats will be fine. Goodwin worked so hard to get to the basket, if he crashed the boards, he would have scores on some easy “put backs”!Stop “Cherry pickin” your not in high school anymore, go get a rebound.Our bigs got pushed into the cheerleaders too many times! They are going to have to toughen up before the SEC starts.

    Just an observation, not trying to be critical.

    Love this team, we are going to be hard to handle in Feb., and March.



  46. RYNO
    2:16 pm November 12, 2012 Permalink

    41) I don’t want sound like a prick because you sound like a nice person- but c’mon now, no matter where Len’s from, his percieved “ceiling” is because he’s white. And that’s okay! It’s historically accurate.

    Lets quickly run down a list of all the top big men in the NBA now-
    Dwight Howard, Tim Duncan, Demarcus Cousins, Tyson Chandler, Andrew Bynum, Amare Stoudemire, Anthony Davis….please stop me when I get to a big white boy that you’d rather have start over any those players. Who’s your white counterparts? Pao/Marc Gasol, Andrew Bogut? Dirk Nowitzki would be a good argument. He’s 7′ tall, but he doesn’t play traditional big man basketball (post up/rebound). Your foreign-born argument, however, holds true though because they are all foreign. I think we can agree that none of them except Dirk, who I disqualified, is gonna crack the top 5…ever.

    Now let’s run down all the great big men in NBA history- Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Hakeem Olajuwan, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, Shaq, Kareem Abdul Jabarr, Moses Malone. White counterparts include Kevin McHale, George Mikan, and Bill Walton. I can’t count Bird because he wasn’t a true PF/C even though he was listed at 6’9″.

    So, if you look at the game currently or historically, it’s just a bad bet to draft Len ahead of Noel, no matter how they each looked against each other (Noel’s 1st ever college game also plays a huge factor).



  47. RYNO
    2:18 pm November 12, 2012 Permalink

    41) It is a Ryne Sandberg reference, but I hate the Cubs. : ))



  48. JBR
    2:57 pm November 12, 2012 Permalink

    All you guys bashing Len…get over it and be an adult and admit that our guys got their lunches handed to them. I was at the game, and sat courtside. Len was absolutely the best player on the floor THAT NIGHT. He had better moves and a better nose for the ball. That will come with time with our guys…but what angered me is that he WANTED it more than our guys. Maryland showed a lot more heart and desire on the floor…that should not happen.



  49. RYNOSANDBERG
    3:19 pm November 12, 2012 Permalink

    48) No one is bashing Len, unless you count the current and historical examination of the success of white big men in the NBA. Everyone but one person has readily admitted that he outplayed UK’s front court.



  50. RYNOSANDBERG
    3:23 pm November 12, 2012 Permalink

    Hey Corey- What’s the deal not allowing me to post under RYNO anymore here. Are you the one who blocked me from KSR before? If it was you, I really don’t appreciate it because it was completely uncalled for. I haven’t been overly negative or vulgar. If you can’t disagree with someone and lay out a legitimate argument, what’s the point of the comment section? As a UK law student, you should appreciate it. If you think I’ve gone too far, you have my email. Just let me know. Thanks



  51. Corey Nichols
    4:47 pm November 12, 2012 Permalink

    50 – I don’t block anybody. In fact, I’m not sure how to. I’ll occasionally delete comments if they’re vulgar, or directed at someone else, but no I’m not responsible for that. Nor do I ever plan to be.



  52. fish on
    5:59 pm November 12, 2012 Permalink

    u guys that commented on #20 cracked me up… made my day!



  53. RYNO
    11:36 am November 13, 2012 Permalink

    51) Thanks Corey- keep up the good work. I like reading your posts. I sorry I whined.



  54. Corey Nichols
    1:10 pm November 13, 2012 Permalink

    53 – Not a problem; we appreciate you all reading and commenting. Most of you, anyway.