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!