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10 Games In: A Statistical Comparison of Coach Cal’s Teams


Can you believe we are already a third of the way through Kentucky basketball’s regular season? Time flies when you’re worried about shooting and Skal Labissiere’s tenacity, I guess.

As we await the Cats’ next opportunity to prove shooting and Labissiere’s tenacity shouldn’t be a concern, let’s take a look at how this year’s team stacks up to the John Calipari teams of the past. I spent a lot of time with the internet and a calculator to tally up where all seven teams stood at the 10-game mark each season, and you’ll find that some of our concerns aren’t all that concerning when compared to history.

I looked at two of the more important statistics: free-throw and three-point shooting; as well as other critical areas: rebounding, turnovers, points scored and margin of victory.

Turns out this team’s ranking varies in each category when put up against its predecessors:



Believe it or not, this year’s team is John Calipari’s best at the foul line through ten games. That’s pretty impressive considering Marcus Lee and Isaiah Briscoe are two of the worst in the program’s history.

Lee currently is the worst among Kentucky players with at least 35 attempts in their career; and if Briscoe fell into that category, he would be the worst with a 38.9 percentage, just beneath Lee at 39.1 percent.

Yet this year’s team still ranks first in Calipari’s seven seasons at Kentucky.



While the current Cats rank first in free-throw shooting, three-point shooting is a completely different story. This bunch is the worst of Calipari’s seven teams, hitting only 27.6 percent of their long ball attempts at this stage.

However, Cal insists he isn’t worried about shooting. “We have good shooters not making shots right now,” he said last week.

Doron Lamb and Brandon Knight led Cal’s best shooting team in the early part of the 2010-11 season.



Though it was the most fun to watch, no team will ever turn the ball over as much as the 2009-10 team. John Wall and the guys coughed it up almost 17 times per game through the first third of that season, with games of 20, 21, 23 and 24 turnovers.

This year’s team ranks in the middle, averaging 12.8 turnovers per game. Jamal Murray accounts for 3.1 of those turnovers on his own.



Cal’s two previous teams were his most dominant on the glass with a 12.4 rebounding margin through ten games. The Cats aren’t too far behind this year, out-rebounding opponents by 9.7 boards each time out. That number will only improve as Skal Labissiere betters himself in that element of the game.



All but one of Cal’s teams at Kentucky were in the 78-82 points per game range through ten games, with the exception being last year’s platoons. This team falls right in the middle of the pack at 79.5 points per game.

Can you imagine if they were making shots?



And finally, we have the most fun statistic: how bad the Cats beat opponents. Last year’s team destroyed the competition to the tune of almost 30 points per game, and this year’s team is doing around half of that, winning games by an average of 14.7 points. That number is within a tenth of a point of the 2009-10 and 2010-11 teams.


Tune in next time when we compare Calipari freshmen!

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

10 Comments for 10 Games In: A Statistical Comparison of Coach Cal’s Teams

  1. Long Dong Silver
    8:06 pm December 15, 2015 Permalink

    Great breakdown, Drew. That freethrow graphic was surprising.

  2. Melvit
    11:49 pm December 15, 2015 Permalink

    The weird thing is, with this year’s team, I’m confident that they will hit at least one 3 pointer in every game. Last year’s team, I was nervous every game that the streak was going to end.

  3. Leuther
    12:08 am December 16, 2015 Permalink

    Thanks Drew. Good analysis. Might want to double check the FT stats, though…

  4. Angelo
    12:51 am December 16, 2015 Permalink

    Wow! Drew! You are smart! Fun facts

  5. 25OR624
    6:28 am December 16, 2015 Permalink

    in a surprise announcement this a.m., Bo Ryan retired.

  6. alewis
    7:46 am December 16, 2015 Permalink

    Nice work here! I really like these kinds of stats. Basically you did a pre-Camp Cal analysis. Could we get a post-Camp Cal analysis side by side with these stats? Just to see how every team started and then finished.

  7. smahurin
    8:39 am December 16, 2015 Permalink

    The 3pt stats are interesting not necessarily with regards to this year, but if you look historically other than the knight/lamb team, cals team are not dependent on the 3 (from a total makes/attempts standpoint) but also who would have guessed the wall/bledsoe team would be 2nd in 3pt percentage. I guess they actually were a good percentage-wise 3pt team. I don’t think anyone would content it was necessarily because they were great shooters, but more likely a result of most of their 3’s being from wide open looks… wall and bledsoe really could collapse a defense.

  8. SoCalCat
    9:21 am December 16, 2015 Permalink

    One of the better posts in a while. Thanks!

    • SoCalCat
      9:23 am December 16, 2015 Permalink

      Although, I am surprised we did not see Kate Upton pictures from the past 7 years on her statistical improvements.

  9. somerset bill
    1:57 pm December 16, 2015 Permalink

    the free throw shooting rank is not a complete surprise. in addition to having a couple historically bad free throw shooters, i think a few other guys are on track to be in the top few percent all time at uk.

    if ulis continues the year at his current rate, and ends up shooting twice as many free throws as last year, he will end up behind only meeks, macy and ford, percentage-wise. (statistics courtesy and my second grade math teacher)

    skal and jamal have dropped off a little lately but they started out on a similar pace.

    cal is known to adjust to his talent. i wonder if he has considered re-working a little to limit isaiah and marcus’s trips to the line.