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Will Kentucky have a versatile, lockdown defender?

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The off-season speculation has been in full swing. A number of topics have been tossed back and forth, including a variety of opinions surfacing as to which Kentucky player will lead the team in scoring next season. Everyone has thrown in their two cents as well about the non-conference scheduling and the team’s overall potential heading into next season. But one topic of discussion/speculation that I have not heard many rumblings about is one that has become a staple of both of Calipari’s past two Kentucky teams. And one of those teams made a Final 4, while the other won a national championship. Each of those teams had a versatile, lockdown defender. Two years ago, Calipari had DeAndre Liggins and this past year he had Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (you could  probably make a case for Darius Miller as well). Not only were Liggins and Kidd-Gilchrist both exceptional defenders, but they had a combination of length, athleticism and quickness that allowed them to defend a number of opposing players at different positions ranging from point guards to forwards.

One of the attributes Calipari looks for offensively in his players, especially the small forwards and big men, is the ability to cause match-up problems for opposing teams with ball-handling ability and the ability to drive and create their own shots. Match-up problems such as an opposing big man trying to defend a quicker/less-traditional big man, or a smaller opposing guard trying to defend a lengthy wing, have caused headaches for teams trying to line up with Kentucky. But the match-up nightmares for the opposing teams have come at both ends of the floor. The defensive combinations Calipari has been able to throw at opposing teams, such as a 6-6 player like DeAndre Liggins guarding and disrupting a point guard like Ohio State’s Aaron Craft with his length, has been a useful tool in the overall defensive prowess of all of his Kentucky teams. Will Kentucky have a player to fill that role heading into next season?

We’ve all heard the praise for Nerlens Noel. His shot-blocking ability has clearly been documented. Noel will likely fill a role very similar to Anthony Davis’ from last season defensively. But will this team have a DeAndre Liggins, or a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist-like defender? The two most viable options, purely based on size and position seem to be Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin. Poythress is similar in size to Kidd-Gilchrist and has been praised for his athleticism. If Wiltjer and Noel are in the game and occupying the big men for the opposing team, Poythress’ length at the 3 could pose issues for a small forward or a shooting guard. I’m not sure if Poythress can match up with an opposing point guard though like Liggins or Kidd-Gilchrist were able to do. Goodwin has been described by scouts as a tough on the ball defender. Goodwin has also been quoted about his desire to give maximum effort on the defensive end of the court as well. Goodwin lacks the height of Kidd-Gilchrist/Liggins though.

Ryan Harrow is relatively short for a Calipari point guard, and would probably have trouble guarding an opposing team’s forward. Kyle Wiltjer’s foot speed on defense was the cause of much scrutiny last season, and Julius Mays has been billed as a great scorer but not overly athletic. Calipari’s teams always play good defense as a unit. I don’t worry about that being an issue. But the question remains: Do you think Kentucky will have a versatile, lockdown individual defender on next year’s team ? And if so, who do you think is the most likely candidate to fill that role?


Article written by Ally Tucker

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

26 Comments for Will Kentucky have a versatile, lockdown defender?

  1. Poopy Hot Dogs
    6:06 pm July 20, 2012 Permalink

    I can’t wait to watch Davis and Wiltjer man the middle next year.

  2. Isaac in Long Beach
    6:08 pm July 20, 2012 Permalink

    I was gonna say the same thing, 1.

  3. Ally Tucker
    6:12 pm July 20, 2012 Permalink

    Haha, wishful thinking. Fixed it.

  4. El Cormanyo
    6:16 pm July 20, 2012 Permalink

    Just a tip: you don’t have to say Kidd-Gilchrist and Liggins EVERY time you use the phrase “lockdown defender.” Since it’s clear that those players are the template for your entire question, after you defined what unique contributions those players made defensively. Sorry to be a pedant, but that got really distracting.

  5. Garry Rust
    6:17 pm July 20, 2012 Permalink

    I’d say give NotJerryTipton a crack at it. He seems to be able to reject anything about UK.

  6. PortlandCat
    6:18 pm July 20, 2012 Permalink

    your mom

  7. Adam
    6:23 pm July 20, 2012 Permalink

    I would say Poythress is most likely of any of the incoming guys. At 6’7-6’8 and as long and agile as he is he has to potential to lock down a few different positions.

  8. MKG for MVP
    6:30 pm July 20, 2012 Permalink

    Calipari will figure it out I’m sure, but I agree that there doesn’t seem to be the defender that can cause a matchup problem on defense.

  9. elguapo
    6:35 pm July 20, 2012 Permalink

    4. Just a tip: these kids write for our entertainment. They are not paid much (if anything) and you don’t pay one cent to come here and read what has been written. If you and all the other crybabies don’t like what you see here, then why the hell do you keep coming???????? Do you really think any of the rest of us are impressed (at all) when you come on here and browbeat the young writers that spend their own time to bring us information in the “most ridiculous manner possible”? GTFO jerk.

  10. UKfan
    6:39 pm July 20, 2012 Permalink

    Def Kyle Wiljter guarding all 5 spots!

  11. Dude
    6:43 pm July 20, 2012 Permalink

    Actually, Harrow is average if not a little taller than the normal point guard these days. According to him, he grew a couple inches over the past year.

  12. Rocky
    6:45 pm July 20, 2012 Permalink

    Well said #9. There seems to be a bunch of arseholes.

  13. Pancreas
    6:50 pm July 20, 2012 Permalink

    There is some crazy length in that picture. It’s no wonder we are always one of the best defensive squads in the nation.

  14. bluebloodtoo
    6:54 pm July 20, 2012 Permalink

    Jon Hood?

  15. Dear UL and IU fans, We are national champions; you are not. The end.
    7:04 pm July 20, 2012 Permalink

    Has to be Goodwin. Poythress will be depended upon for a lot of points, and we don’t need him in foul trouble.

  16. Ridge Runner
    7:30 pm July 20, 2012 Permalink

    Good item to watch how it develops, Ally.

  17. Bob Sugar
    7:38 pm July 20, 2012 Permalink

    A word to the not so wise about next year’s team: there won’t be a lockdown defender like Liggins or MKG. The personnel is not there. This team will instead have to play solid team defense and rely heavily on their size and athleticism to limit opposing teams to one shot.

  18. Kneel
    7:45 pm July 20, 2012 Permalink

    AP22 has a similar motor to MKG and Ligg…look for him to step up and make the hustle plays transitioning to his high energy explosive offense.

  19. coacht18
    8:09 pm July 20, 2012 Permalink

    Archie Goodwin whose motor never stops runnin!

  20. neg
    8:44 pm July 20, 2012 Permalink


  21. Jay
    9:33 pm July 20, 2012 Permalink


  22. Ellen's brownies
    9:45 pm July 20, 2012 Permalink

    #9 elguapo – AMEN!!

  23. Han
    10:39 pm July 20, 2012 Permalink

    If he wants to get minutes, Beckham should learn to fill that role.

    Who knows, maybe Hood and his healed knee will be a dynamo.

  24. cody
    11:47 pm July 20, 2012 Permalink

    Wasn’t Shabazz the best scorer in this years class, and he said he could not score against Poythress.

  25. i.b.poe
    8:38 am July 21, 2012 Permalink

    A&A = anti-aircraft

    Archie n Alex, both extremely versitile. Will they be lock-down defenders? Dunno, we’ll see. But they have the length, athleticism, motor….. That’s one of the reasons to be exited about the team — to see what happens!

  26. 3rd Wheel from "Oh, Brother Where Art Thou"
    3:01 pm July 21, 2012 Permalink

    Well….I’m with you fellars’