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6 Line-Ups Kentucky could experiment with on potential summer trip


At this point, it seems all but certain that the Kentucky men’s basketball WILL be taking a summer trip to play exhibition games, most likely to a destination such as the Bahamas. The goal is for Kentucky to get 10 practices in before the trip, and to play a few international teams (hopefully 5-6 games) while on the tour. The experience proved to be invaluable a few years ago for the young Brandon Knight Final Four Kentucky team. Kentucky will use the trip to gain more legal practice time before the season, as well as to develop the incoming young talent to infuse with some of the strong returning pieces already in place.

Kentucky will have so much depth on next year’s team, that John Calipari and his staff could have plenty of opportunities to get creative while on this summer trip. Kentucky will have enough depth that Calipari could even essentially split the team up (7-8 on a team for a particular game, for example) for different games so that players received more playing time. The coaching staff will surely use the early season practice and exhibition games to toy with a few of the anticipated combinations we could see for next season. Here’s my suggestion for 6 possible line-ups/teams to experiment with while on the summer trip:


1. The “Guard Heavy”/”Quick” Line-Up 

Tyler Ulis, Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Alex Poythress, Willie Cauley-Stein

If Kentucky plays a team with 3 guards or a smaller line-up (a match-up Kentucky struggled with at times last year), Kentucky has the ability to shift the Harrison twins over to the 2 and 3 spot, potentially allowing for 3 guards to be on the floor at the same time. Add Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein to the mix, and Kentucky should be able to defend the smaller/quicker teams better this season.


2. The “Big” Line-Up (Part I)

Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Trey Lyles, Willie Cauley-Stein, Dakari Johnson

Imagine the match-up nightmare for opposing teams when they have to find a defender for a guy like Trey Lyles at the 3-spot.


3. The “Big” Line-Up  (Part II)

Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Trey Lyles and/or Alex Poythress, Karl Towns Jr., Dakari Johnson and/or Willie Cauley-Stein

If you haven’t caught the hint yet… Kentucky will have the ability to put a crazy number of “big” line-ups on the floor next season.


4. “The Veterans” Line-Up

Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Alex Poythress, Willie Cauley-Stein, Dakari Johnson

Just a few months removed from starting an all-freshmen starting line-up in the national championship game, Kentucky could easily start 5 returning players next season….


5. “The Youngsters”

Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, Trey Lyles, Karl Towns Jr. (and any one of the veteran big men or Alex Poythress)

… On the other hand, Kentucky could at times play next season with 4 freshmen on the court at the same time as well.


6. The “Sharp Shooting” Line-Up

Tyler Ulis and/or Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison and/or Devin Booker, Derek Willis, Alex Poythress, Karl Towns Jr.

Kentucky could potentially get its best 3-point shooters on the court with any combination of Aaron Harrison, Booker, Willis and Towns Jr. Throw Alex Poythress (led the team in 3-point shooting his freshman season) in the mix and Kentucky could have options for 3-point shooters on the court at the same time.


I think we will have a better idea for which types of combinations John Calipari has in mind after the summer exhibition road trip. One thing is certain…. Calipari has options.


Feel free to add other line-up experiments to the comment section that you’d like to see Calipari use over the summer on the team’s trip. Or if you just want to tell us how much we suck, the comment section is apparently the place for that as well.

Article written by Ally Tucker

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

27 Comments for 6 Line-Ups Kentucky could experiment with on potential summer trip

  1. Bdgercat
    6:10 pm May 24, 2014 Permalink

    I think all of these types of posts that disregard Marcus Lee’s are doing him a disrespect. I think that his experience last year and his athletic capabilities may surprise many people net season.

    • Hahaha!
      8:31 pm May 24, 2014 Permalink

      Hey, if you can’t beat us on the court, post a website talking about university profits or small business development!

    • TrueBlueUKJuice
      8:57 am May 25, 2014 Permalink

      Perhaps you are misguided you poor poor hateful little man….
      I am a cats fan… I just really wanted people to see this article pertaining to the awesomeness that is Kentucky’s biggest city.
      Are you really so very simple and closed minded that you ALWAYS think of the school whenever you hear of the city? please get your head out of your ass, buddy. Thanks, but nice try

    • Alec
      3:34 pm May 25, 2014 Permalink

      That’s a very true statement. Lee will shine this year, he is a very talented player. I would put him on the “defensive” line-up team and it goes like this: Marcus Lee, Willy Cauley-Stein, Andrew, Booker at the two, and Aaron at the three

  2. Illinicat
    6:27 pm May 24, 2014 Permalink

    What about the walk-on lineup? Malone, Long, Lanter, Floreal,+ Hawkins. That’s an unstoppable lineup that will give teams fits next year. Think about all that experience.

  3. lexslamman
    6:32 pm May 24, 2014 Permalink

    If Lee has a good summer, he’ll make some waves next year. Too much athleticism, if he becomes a lock-down defender he’ll be in the game a lot.

  4. doc
    6:50 pm May 24, 2014 Permalink

    Kentucky is going to obviously be thedeepest team in memory next year. They also may be the one of the best team we have had since the 1990s. In fact, I envision this team to go 10 deep and has theoptionof two starting lineups like in 1996. I would love to see five players at the scorers table ready to enter as we are pressing and pulling away from the other team.

    we have recruited speciality players that have a real niche to fill- not just talent and athletism but speed and shooting; Tyler ulis is the key to these recruits and one of the fastest players in the country who can shoot defend and pass. Booker is a pure shooter and will be ready to help right away and be asked at times to be our 3, instead of his normal 2. Towns is the most skilled player at 7 feet and will be able to play the 4 and open the floor up. Lyles is a 4 and has a great midrange game and at least 6’10”. Lyles could be the forth starter as he can shoot better than Poythress. I can say without hesitation at this time the “shoe in” for starters will be the Harrisons and Dakari Johnson, with possibly Towns, lyle, Poythress or Booker to occupy the remaining 2 spots.

    The only starters for sure are the Harrisons and Johnson(improving the fastest of any player on the team and has a real nice touch inside and losing weight and continuing to become more stonger and more muscular). The other two to start will be based on a combination of scoring and defense, but naturally the first inclination will be to have a starting five that can look like last years starting five-regarding balance- by having Lyles and Booker start. This five gives the offense continuity to match last year, however, towns will be really hard to keep out of the starting lineup, and may be the 4 instead of lyles. I have a feeling Poythress seems like he may do better coming off the bench still and be a spark and leader in that capacity and not have pressure to impress all the time.

    The first five will be our team that should have the most composure but the second(should Cal choose to run 5 in and 5 off) will be more exciting. This first will resemble last year and the second five; the speed,defense and run and gun team. If the players are to be balanced out for 2 fives. Ulis will lead the charge with Marcus Lee and WCS and poythress plus a shooter like Booker or towns or even a Willis at times. If the second five is a running team, this will allow for more players obviously to playing the game and more minutes to be shared. I would love to see us press as well.

    This very deep team has one weakness, as we do not have the prototypical 3 like an MKG or Jefferson for Arizona. The real 3 to me for the small forward position, who can drive shoot and defend(this is one of the most important positions and the mold of a Jabari parker or andrew wiggins can be the ultimate 3). This makes predicting the last 2 spots of the first line up a little more difficult as we do need one more ball handler other than Andrew Harrison, and one more three point shooter and slasher to fill James Young’s spot. The easiest replacement given the naturally deficient NCAA level is the three guard lineup and and feel that Booker will end up being our three. You can guess the Towns will be the 4 on talent alone but Lyles is not a bad option as well.

    Expected starting lineup 1.An. Harrison, 2.Aa Harrison, 5.Dakari Johnson, 3. Booker and 4.Towns- alternate starter-lyles for towns. possibe Poythress would be in but offensive balance needed
    need suggestions for the SG3 for starting five
    could also have three gaurd line up with Ulis?
    second five: 1.Ulis 2.booker 3.Poythress 4.Lyles 5. WCS
    alternate second- Lee, Willis and Hawkins for Ulis

    In any event it’ll be great to see how it all works out.

    • theRealDeal
      6:59 pm May 24, 2014 Permalink

      Who in the fracking hell do you actually think is going to read all that?…

    • Cal
      8:03 pm May 24, 2014 Permalink

      I did. This is all i think about 24/7.

    • Hahaha!
      8:32 pm May 24, 2014 Permalink

      I think a TL;DR is appropriate here.

    • Jud
      7:17 am May 25, 2014 Permalink

      I think people are sleeping on Alex. All he has to do is learn to drive with the ball. That is the easiest skill to learn. He has is an NBA 3 without the handles.

  5. bigbluetruth
    8:45 pm May 24, 2014 Permalink

    I can’t wait for this upcoming season. Coach Krybaby and Self have proven they can’t win with “one and done players” and now Coach Cal has his deepest and most talented team since arriving at UK. An elite 8 and 3 of last 4 final 4’s, a national championship, a national runner up and a 6-1 record against the demons in red to the west.

  6. Glenna
    8:58 pm May 24, 2014 Permalink

    I definitely believe Marcus Lee should be in two or three of your scenarios. Not only was he sensational when called on in the tournament, but the NBA was interested in him due to his athleticism. We need him in there a lot more this year.

    • Casper
      9:32 pm May 24, 2014 Permalink

      i love Lee. but he is a tweener, on an NBA team.
      i hope Cal lets him play.

  7. bleedingblue
    10:08 pm May 24, 2014 Permalink

    Fast team.

    Fast long and block some shots

    Don’t know why the OP just leaves off Lee when he had a great NCAA tournament.

    3pt shooting lineup.

  8. yargamel
    10:57 pm May 24, 2014 Permalink

    Honestly, in our experience so far, freshmen tend not to be great, consistent shooters. I think it probably has a lot to do with conditioning/strength and actually having to play both sides of the floor the entire time they’re out there for the first time. Our best pure shooter last season was Young and he was wildly inconsistent and obviously, he’s gone. So while I expect Aaron to be a lights out shooter all season long next season with some help from Andrew, UK’s ranged shooting is still up in the air.

    Also, I think it took a season’s worth of disappointment to get Randle in the right mentality last season. UK’s going to be good, but who coming in is instant-star good? A John Wall or Davis-type player? Let’s give them some time to get into a team-first mindset and get in the groove.

  9. jus sayin
    11:18 pm May 24, 2014 Permalink

    Trey Lyles can NOT play the 3. Don’t know why I keep seeing that.

  10. Roy
    1:53 am May 25, 2014 Permalink

    Def team


    Could run
    Ball pressure
    Shot blocking

  11. eric
    8:36 am May 25, 2014 Permalink

    A line up that I like that people aren’t talking about is putting Marcus Lee at the 3. Most teams will have a smaller/quicker 3 and Marcus Lee’s versatility on defense will allow him to guard any 3 that another team has as well as give him an offensive advantage with his height.

    Also, I don’t know how much I like the idea of Andrew playing off the ball. Obviously, we’ll have to see and I’m sure Cal will experience with it, but the I think Andrew has to play with ball in his hands as he has his entire life.

    • Casper
      8:45 am May 25, 2014 Permalink

      I agree

  12. Teej
    11:47 am May 25, 2014 Permalink

    UK’s two most notable strengths going into next year is its depth across the board and its bevy of frontcourt options. While we obviously have more guys capable of playing the 4 and the 5, that doesn’t mean we can just throw Lyles or Lee or Willie or Karl or whoever at the 3. Poythress is living proof of that and the 3 is where he’s going to have to play if he wants to make a living in the NBA. You can’t play the 3 if you can’t handle the ball plain and simple. While early on you may see some experimentation with bigger guys being tried out at the small forward, I see us playing 3 guards or Poythress, possibly Willis at the 3 the majority of the time. Honestly I think it will be tough to play Willie and Damariscotta together unless one of them can hit a 12 foot jump shot. I like the idea of pairing Willie with Karl who can shoot or Dakari with Trey who can shoot or vice versa. And I just don’t envision Lee getting much run this year as much as I love him. He’s basically a slightly smaller Willie with even less offensive polish.

  13. Levi
    12:14 pm May 25, 2014 Permalink


  14. Ace
    12:41 pm May 25, 2014 Permalink

    I think the only way to make this bunch happy with playing time is to have 10 players that get minutes up until the SEC play begins. Then, I think rotation needs to be down to a eight man rotation. However, if Cal can blow teams out in the first half then he could do ten man rotation all the way through.

    $$$$$$. The biggest threat to this teams title hope is disgruntled players bringing others down because of playing time. Cal does not press the whole game and does not do a lot of zone, so with his playing style I don’t see how he can get in more than eight players a game.

    If Marcus Lee and or Stein can develop a mid range game with a consistent shot of 50 percent or better then freshman may not get to play a whole lot. Marcus Lee has to be able to shoot to see floor time.

  15. Dan
    12:56 pm May 25, 2014 Permalink

    What I would like to see explored is a two unit format with each 5 as close to equal as possible. That would allow each unit to be molded over the year as a complete team, not unlike the pros where a guy like James Harden was on the second unit in Okla. Cal could play one unit for 6 to 8 minutes and then substitute the entire unit.
    Then there could be a competition between each unit by comparing per minute point spread against each common opponent, and which ever unit was best over the prior 3 to 4 game stretch, that unit would start the next game. This would keep each unit focus on the unit competition and not let up in a game when the team has a big lead because it would hurt the units per minute competition. And, if a player tries to act individually to the detriment of the team the unit’s results will impact that players chances of playing along with his unit. This should provide incentives to keep everyone happy at least until the latter part of the season when the best 5 will need to start in preparation for the tournament run.
    To keep the unit comparisons pure the 5 guard and 7 big man could substitute for either unit when a player in that unit is not performing with no mixing of units. The substitute players could actually be one of the best at the position with the aim to have that player stimulate scoring or defense on either unit and that player might get more overall playing time than unit players.
    You would not be so locked into the concept when playing highly ranked teams but it should work with most teams Kentucky will face next year. The objective is stronger incentives to players to promote competition in practice and games, and provide more emphasis on team performance over individual results. Just a thought for discussion.

  16. Uncle Dirty
    3:53 pm May 25, 2014 Permalink

    Good God… Marcus Lee is a freak athlete and will see starter’s minutes in some games. And Trey Lyles will NOT play the 3. Sure he might be the most offensively polished guy, but no chance he can excel or even keep up at that position.

  17. Tha Blonde Bomber
    1:06 am May 27, 2014 Permalink

    I think the only ones that should play are the ones that play locked down defence and rebound on both ends.