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7 New Year’s Resolutions for Kentucky Basketball after the Louisville loss

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

After some avoidance and distractions (thanks, Grayson Allen and UNC!), I’m finally reflecting on last night’s game. With a weeklong break, I see quite a few things the team can focus on in Camp Cal before they make the trip to Oxford, Mississippi to open conference play. In the spirit of the season, here are seven New Year’s Resolutions for UK Basketball in 2017.

1. Better shot selection

Our guards are terrific — last night, Jay Bilas called the duo of De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk the best backcourt he’s ever seen — but why do they take such horrible shots? I get that Malik Monk’s gonna shoot no matter what, but instead of going for the deep three with the defender’s hand right in your face, why not keep ’em honest and drive to draw the foul? Same thing for Fox, whose shot selection has to be the most infuriating of them all. Speaking of Fox…

2. De’Aaron Fox recapturing his defensive mojo

When Fox came to Kentucky, he was hyped mostly for his speed and defensive skills, but lately, where have those skills gone? Last night, Quentin Snider scored 22 on Fox, which I doubt any of us predicted, in large part because Fox wasn’t up in his grill enough. Fox needs to get back to fundamentals and remind us why people hyped him as the best defensive guard of the Calipari era coming in.

3. Get the ball to Bam more often

Minus his free throw shooting (more on that in a minute), Bam played pretty well last night, finishing on the inside and making all but one field goal. Louisville did a good job clogging up passing lanes last night, but the guards must get the ball to Bam first before scrambling to make something happen on the outside. If need be, get it to Bam down low and he’ll pass it back out. Bam’s still on the Kenny Payne big man track, but in the second half last night, Kentucky was its best when Bam was getting the ball, so let’s do that more often.


4. Hit your free throws, they free!

I know, I know, requisite grumbling about free throws. Last night, Kentucky hit only 50% of its free throws in the second half. Against top ten teams, that ain’t good enough. In the past five games, Kentucky’s hitting 63.8% of its free throws, a mark which I hope improves as we get closer to March.

5. Find a solution at the four spot

I actually thought Wenyen Gabriel played well last night, grabbing seven boards and blocking two shots in 12 minutes, but it’s clear he’s still a work in progress, which leaves a gaping hole in Kentucky’s lineup at the four spot. Derek Willis is doing better on the boards, finishing with nine last night, but he’s been cold, and without his shooting, is he any better than Gabriel there? It will be interesting to see whether Cal sticks with the Gabriel/Willis combo or resorts to Mychal Mulder at the four spot coming out of Camp Cal; although Mulder has played well, I think Cal still prefers the former not the latter.

6. Never use that lineup again

At some point in the first half last night, Calipari experimented with a lineup of Isaiah Briscoe, Dominique Hawkins, Mychal Mulder, Derek Willis, and Isaac Humphries. After a quick Mulder three, Louisville went on a 7-0 run to take the lead. Kentucky didn’t lose just because of that swing, but it clearly disrupted momentum. I’m all for experimenting, but let’s do it with at least one of the big three (Fox, Monk, Bam) on the floor, please.

7. Anything from Sacha Killeya-Jones or Isaac Humphries

Both are talented and have potential, especially SKJ, but so far, we haven’t seen much (or in Humphries’ case, maybe too much). Even a minor improvement from either one would help Kentucky immensely, giving the Cats another option at the post position. With the SEC down, hopefully SKJ and Humphries can get more minutes to build their confidence.

Your turn.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

23 Comments for 7 New Year’s Resolutions for Kentucky Basketball after the Louisville loss

  1. kyjohn
    4:45 pm December 22, 2016 Permalink

    Seems like poor free throw shooting has been a trademark of Calipari coached teams wherever he has been.Remember Memphis in the NCAA final against Kansas made free throws would have given Memphis a NCAA title but not to be.
    Fox and Monk remind me of Archie Goodwin who never saw a shot he didn’t like.Sometimes i wish Cal would call a timeout and introduce his big men to the guards because they seem to forget they (the bigs) are part of the team.

  2. Trevathan
    4:46 pm December 22, 2016 Permalink

    It just sucks because their horrible effort is negatively affecting football recruiting.

  3. UKalum2014
    4:57 pm December 22, 2016 Permalink

    Feel as though you have to stick with Willis at the four. Shots will eventually fall and he is what he is defensively. Team reminds me somewhat of last year’s team but with a better player at the five.

  4. E Cat
    5:01 pm December 22, 2016 Permalink

    All good suggestions. Another is to stop switching on screens, especially if Bam/Willis/Humphries get pulled out top. I’m OK if our guards switch, but if a center screens for the point guard, you can’t leave Bam on Snider like last night. That worked when we had AD and MKG, but has not since.

  5. Duuuuuude
    6:05 pm December 22, 2016 Permalink

    I love Wenyan, but his hands are not very good……a lot of balls are going off his hands. I would probably prefer Willis at the 4 and let him gain the confidence he needs because we are going to need his shooting down the road.

    The Briscoe was the leading scorer the first half of this young season, but his roll has diminished over the last couple of games. They play better when he is leading the team and he is involved.

  6. UKBlue1
    6:57 pm December 22, 2016 Permalink

    The freshmen have reverted back to AAU ball. They have no idea how to play defense, they don’t know how to rotate, call out picks or talk to each other or guard against the 3. Fox is a good guard, but his lack of defense & quick shot with the 15 footer with tons of time still on the clock is taking away from everything good he’s doing. We might as well just except the fact the 4 spot is going to be horrible all year; Willis can’t do it & has never played consistently to think he can or will & Wenyen isn’t big enough.

  7. henderblue
    7:11 pm December 22, 2016 Permalink

    All good points with maybe the exception of#6. I’m not sure that that lineup could not be effective in certain situations. Definitely have to get Fox back to playing great defense. And definitely have to have improvement at the 4 spot. And also would say that the second person who made the comment about “horrible effort affecting football recruiting” is a pathetic troll. At least we have that win under our belt

  8. henderblue
    7:21 pm December 22, 2016 Permalink

    Also do not understand why SKJ’s playing time has dropped off. I really thought he would be a positive at the 4 spot for us. He had shown some skill and ability to get in there and mix it up around the basket. And we need that. Bam played very well last night but with little help looked worn out toward the end of the game.

  9. thelexcat
    8:22 pm December 22, 2016 Permalink

    How about freakin rebound. We had a chance to win that game but we gave up a crucial offensive rebound to Louisville in which they were able to go up 4 with little time to spare. I think on the stat sheet we rebounded more but should have had one more.

  10. 3 fan
    10:10 pm December 22, 2016 Permalink

    Not sure why Hawkins had so much PT. His stats were a waste.

    And pull Briscoe out of the game every time he shoots an 18′. He cannot make that shot

  11. UKFaninNY
    10:21 pm December 22, 2016 Permalink

    Bilas did not call them the best backcourt he’s ever seen…

    I believe he said they’re the best freshmen backcourt this year (or maybe ever… but he definitely put “freshman” in there)

    • Mrs. Tyler Thompson
      9:45 am December 23, 2016 Permalink

      You might be right, I swore I heard best backcourt he’s seen, but I’m probably wrong. I’d go back and watch the tape to find out but that sounds depressing.

  12. unbridled
    11:24 pm December 22, 2016 Permalink

    Molder needs to rotate in. His offense is essential…even if that mean briscoe or monk need to sit. Briscoe can not shoot. It’s that simple. Monk is streaky. We need 2 consistent shooters.. They are proving rather difficult to find. Jones cannot play this year. Gabrielle’s minutes need to be reduced. He’s not ready. Willis needs to be drug along and his confidence restored. Humphries will hopefully benefit greatly from camp cal. I think he has much more upside than we have seen.

    • unbridled
      11:25 pm December 22, 2016 Permalink

      Oh and fox shouldn’t be allowed to shoot further than 8′ from the basket. Hopefully they can figure out the defensive regression as well.

  13. SanDiegoCats
    11:59 pm December 22, 2016 Permalink

    This team just beat a really good North Carolina team who beat a decent northern Iowa team by 40. They did it on a neutral court. They shot 30% yesterday and lost only by 3. And to a top 10 team on the road. They had what, 4 days rest? I wasn’t even over the UNC game yet. Chill out people.

    • unbridled
      7:59 am December 23, 2016 Permalink

      There are glaring strengths and weaknesses with this team. They have the potential to be very very good. They also have the potential to be very mediocre. Hell coach cal has said this much. Sorry if you can’t see that.

  14. BlueHeaven
    6:25 am December 23, 2016 Permalink

    I realize it is December, only one game and Louisville eventually had to beat UK but what bothers me has been the lack of heart or caring about a loss. With all of the one and done players it seems like they don’t care if they really lose, don’t care about UK tradition and frankly don’t care about the university. I’m not saying they should if their intent is to spent 5 months at UK to get the exposure to move to the NBA but for me it has ruined watching them whether they win or lose.

    • unbridled
      8:02 am December 23, 2016 Permalink

      What do you base this on? Would you prefer they react like Grayson Allen and throw a childish temper tantrum? I think the overall support and dedication to uk from the one and done players is commendable.

  15. meeksfor3
    8:35 am December 23, 2016 Permalink

    Cal jumping up when Bam dunked on the Egyptians face is classic.

  16. BlueHeaven
    9:37 am December 23, 2016 Permalink

    Unbridled, I base it on my own perception after watching UK basketball since 1965. Cal’s first year his players had a lot of passion, a will to win and seemed to hate defeat. Since 2012 a lot of them seem to emotionally walk through the motions and could care less if they go 35-5 or 5-35. In games like the one on Wednesday it becomes more about personal show time that the team. As I said just my perception after watching UK basketball for the past 51 years.

    • SanDiegoCats
      11:21 am December 23, 2016 Permalink

      I don’t see a lack of will or fight. If we made a few more ft’s Wednesday we would be praising them for it. There’s also noticed chemistry which is great to see so early on such a young team.

  17. henderblue
    4:24 pm December 23, 2016 Permalink

    Sorry BlueHeaven. I disagree.

  18. Wildcat Sheli
    5:55 pm December 23, 2016 Permalink

    What WAS Cal thinking with that lineup? The momentum dramatically shifted . . . almost senselessly, for no reason. Did anyone ask Cal about that? That was too big of a game to experiment like that when things had been going well.

    UK MBB tweeted during the game Dom’s excellent defense stats and the difference it was making when he was on the floor.