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Why Size Really Does Matter


By now you know Kentucky is looking at having one of the tallest line ups in the history of college basketball next year, with our without the twins.  Even if Dakari and Alex decide to leave, we’re still going to be huge, but let’s assume they return.  With that, you’re going to have three seven footers – all of which can flat out play.  A 6’10 Trey Lyles, two 6’9 forwards in Lee and Willis, and a 6’8 forward in Poythress.  For those of you counting at home, that’s 48 feet of domination waiting to happen.

But not everyone seems to think so.

When Willie declared he was coming back, it was met with tepid reactions from national media.  Most of the pundits takes aren’t worth repeating here, because they generally don’t know what they’re talking about.  But there was one point that was raised that intrigued me – is now a bad time to be going big, when basketball in general is trending towards small ball?

It’s a valid concern.  If you want the best examples, look to the NBA.  The Miami Heat can ‘go small’ playing Bosh as a center when need be, the Thunder do it when they don’t play Perkins, Golden State plays better when they go small, and as a general trend, centers are disappearing and being replaced by forwards.  The emergence of a ‘stretch 4’ – a power forward that can take the ball behind the arc and shoot it, ala Frank Kaminsky – are almost a necessity if you want to contend for a title.

So should that be a concern in college as well?  Is there such a thing as being ‘too big’?

Frankly put, no.  I don’t think there is.

Let’s look at two examples.  For the first, we’ll point back to the NBA and look at the Indiana Pacers.  While everyone else was busy going small, they went all in on a big line up, focused on being the best defensive team they could, and anchored themselves to a dominant big man in Roy Hibbert.  The common thought here was – when Miami or another team goes small, they will be too quick for Indiana to handle.  Only it has worked the other way – in the same way that Alabama football became a power team in the midst of spread offenses, dominant post presence allowed for Indiana to score when needed, grab rebounds, but more importantly keep Miami out of the paint.

My other example?  Last years Kentucky team.  Much in the same way Indiana smothers you inside, Kentucky did the same game after game in the tournament, dominating the glass and making it tough to score off anything inside 12 feet. You can get away with going small in the pros, because if you’re a pro you likely have a decent jump shot and can score off screens or force the bigger post players to guard you outside the paint.  If there is one thing that college players aren’t great at, it’s knocking down shots.  While Kentucky will be getting easy points inside the paint, anyone who wants to beat us next year will have to light it up from the outside – a feat that few college players are capable of.

The key to next years team is still going to be in guard play – simply because that’s where we lack the most bodies.  But our identity will be down low, and even if teams are trending small… sometimes it pays to buck the trends.  

Article written by Will Lentz

29 Comments for Why Size Really Does Matter

  1. Han
    8:22 pm April 18, 2014 Permalink

    After a nasty behind the back pass and full court pass by Towns, the announcers said that the doctor told Towns he could still grow 1-4 inches.

    Also hit a 3 for his first points, I think.

  2. John Ellis
    8:24 pm April 18, 2014 Permalink

    It’s hogwash. Anthony Davis was the most dominating player in college basketball since Alcinder/Jabbar, and he will dominate the NBA too. Small ball is being played out of necessity by other teams.
    UConn won ONLY because Randle had an anxiety attack and by time he was over it, UK was down 30-15 – AND they missed their free throws. And almost won anyway.

  3. Casper
    8:28 pm April 18, 2014 Permalink

    Towns will be our stretch 4.

  4. Mary smoky mountain
    8:29 pm April 18, 2014 Permalink

    Centers are disappearing? Good luck having a job in the future in sports writing.Is dakari returns we will have 3 centers. The number one player in country is a center. Your an idiot

    • Rei
      8:51 pm April 18, 2014 Permalink

      You should learn what the difference between you’re and your is before you insult someone’s intellect.

    • Oh Mary...
      9:11 pm April 18, 2014 Permalink

      You seemed to have skimmed through this article (which was an interesting read I must say) and have only read the bold print. He was saying how UK has no shortage of centers/big men and that, in general, the sport of basketball is gravitating toward smaller line-ups. He continues to support the idea of big men by talking about how a much larger pacers team gave the heat more than they could handle in last years playoffs.
      For people that actually read the entirety of this article, and understood what he was saying, this made perfect sense. Perhaps, whoever wrote this does have a good future in sports writing or journalism when people of at least marginal intelligence are reading it; clearly a trait you don’t have. Your rock is cold, go crawl back under it now.
      -beef wellington

    • CallItHowISeeIt
      9:13 pm April 18, 2014 Permalink

      I love pointing out the stupidity of the “writers” on KSR just as much as the next troll, but this time, you sir, are the idiot.

      “.Is Dakari returns we will have 3 centers.” – no space after the period and you said is instead of if…idiot

      “The number one player in country is a center” – The number one player in THE country is a center…idiot

      “Your an idiot” – No sir, YOU ARE an idiot!!!

    • V.W.
      9:39 pm April 18, 2014 Permalink

      Calling out folk’s for spelling errors and typos is just sad.

      Give it a freakin’ rest already; Douchebagativity exemplar.

    • DoubleStandard
      10:00 pm April 18, 2014 Permalink

      If someone publicly criticizes an article they didn’t even read, they have opened themselves up for the spelling police to take shots, and I’m all for it. You can’t call someone an idiot when you sound like an idiot.

  5. Skeps
    8:29 pm April 18, 2014 Permalink

    UConn won because they had speed that could shoot. You better have quick guards and big men that can shoot outside of the paint.

    • V.W.
      9:44 pm April 18, 2014 Permalink

      I agree to an extent; Uconn guard play was outstanding. Kentucky’s kids were tired. Julius was not 100%. No excuses. Facts. Kentucky should have pushed the ball inside more. Didn’t happen. And, of course, when exhausted, the toll s often paid at the free throw line and outside shooting. No excuses. Fact. Very proud of the effort put forth by these kids. Unreal. Well pleased.

  6. Mary smoky mountain
    8:32 pm April 18, 2014 Permalink

    Is towns is our stretch 4? are you saying trey rides the bench? Not happening. Wcs at c and lyles at the 4. If you think others wise your high or have never watched how cal coaches

    • Interesting
      8:36 pm April 18, 2014 Permalink

      So Towns off the bench?

  7. Mary smoky mountain
    8:35 pm April 18, 2014 Permalink

    The number 1 and 2 players in the country are centers but they are disappearing? Haha your an idiot

  8. GotCred?
    8:35 pm April 18, 2014 Permalink

    The key is versatility & UK will have it next year with or without the twins. Obviously, they’ll be better with them, but if forced to go big (due to foul trouble, injury, or poor play by the guards), Willie can defend the 2 while Karl can play the 2 on offense; Poythress & Lyles can play the 3 both ways.

  9. bobolopolis
    8:50 pm April 18, 2014 Permalink

    The NBA is getting smaller because there hasn’t been that one dominant we can win championships riding this guy Center since shaq was in his prime. The league used to be huge in the hope that one of the three 7′ guys teams used to stock would be capable of slowing shaq down.

  10. Don't know much
    9:06 pm April 18, 2014 Permalink

    We are going to freakish with the big guys. Lyles can spot up and make his own shot and Willy will dominate the middle. IF the twins come back folks………It’s going to be a long season for whoever we play!

  11. Ridge Runner
    9:10 pm April 18, 2014 Permalink

    Agree with what Townes & Lyles bring to our already big frontcourt but wow… Can you imagine (yeah if) Andrew runs point with opposing teams trying to guard him —then off comes speedy gonzaelez -a.k.a. Tyler to spell him?? Wowza, what a drastic change for opposing teams to deal with!

    • Ridge Runner
      9:12 pm April 18, 2014 Permalink

      Ooops…Towns* –but I think ya’ll knew who I meant.

  12. js2
    9:12 pm April 18, 2014 Permalink

    Poor blog. Of course size matters in basketball. Who are these “small ball” teams you speak of?

    Also, poor comparison of college ball to the NBA.

  13. Reality
    9:38 pm April 18, 2014 Permalink

    Just amazes me how you all get yourselves all built up with these big dreams of domination. This team will not be better without randle and young regardless of how many 7 footers come in (only one see’s the court at a time). This team will NEVER EVER see the talent of a Wall, Bledsoe, Patterson, Boogie, Orton team and they never came close to dominating!!!! Talent alone means next to nothing. Once you build these kids up to be unbeatable, anything less seems a letdown. You make yourself miserable if they’re not winning every game by 20+

    • Confused
      11:24 pm April 18, 2014 Permalink

      Your wording confused me at times. Not trying to be a jerk, but if you’re saying that the Wall and Cousins team “never came close to dominating” (the way I took it based on your wording), then I don’t think you paid much attention that season. 35-3 seems pretty dominant to me. Plus, I don’t think you can really be so confident that next year’s team won’t be dominant as well. In Cal’s 5 full seasons, there were two teams (’09-’10 and ’11-’12) that lost a combined 5 games. That’s incredible, and depending on who comes back next year, I think another team like that could be feasible. I know you’re one of the resident cynics around here, but come on.

  14. Steve
    9:38 pm April 18, 2014 Permalink

    Size is all well and good but UK has lost 3 games in the finals that we should have won because we could not hit a 15 ft jumper called a FT. It has something that has cost Cal at least 2 championships or 3 if you included his Memphis tenure. Lets hope FT shooting is on the menu between now and October.

    Go CATS.

  15. BNClay
    9:56 pm April 18, 2014 Permalink

  16. Ace
    10:00 pm April 18, 2014 Permalink

    I hope Dakari comes back. My hope is he does not end up like Orton in the D league. Dakari is one of my favorites.

  17. WCS Fan
    10:41 pm April 18, 2014 Permalink

    I think we are all so excited over the prospect of getting back more players than we previously thought, there’s a chance we will repeat the mistakes of last season and expect way too much. If the twins don’t come back, remember these guys coming in are very good but they are still Freshman, and will take time to develope, and certainly don’t need the pressure we put on last years squad.
    Regardless of what team we end up with, it will be a good squad and they will almost certainly be fun to watch! Go Cats- come on back Aaron & Andrew!

    • PhilUK18
      11:28 pm April 18, 2014 Permalink

      I agree, to an extent. To me, a lot of the expectations hinge in whether or not the twins come back. If they’re back, I think expectations will and should be sky high for next season. I certainly wouldn’t expect 40-0 or anything, because that’s silly no matter the talent of a team, but I would be unpleasantly surprised if the Harrisons come back and we lose more than 5 regular season games next year. If the twins leave, I personally will be ready for another potentially tough regular season while expecting them to evolve into an extremely tough team to beat come March.

  18. Welcome To The New Age
    10:01 am April 19, 2014 Permalink

    The NBA Age Limit Is Top Priority: Welcome To The New Age

  19. WCS Fan
    1:07 pm April 19, 2014 Permalink

    I agree, well said