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Cats still searching for offensive identity, Calipari says “I don’t have the answer”

After hearing about Kentucky’s shooters versus Kentucky’s makers all season, the Cats certainly found themselves falling in the former category, rather than the latter Wednesday night. Throughout the Cats’ 69-66 loss to Utah, UK attempted 21 more field goals and two more three-pointers than their opponent. Still, the Cats’ success rate was considerably lower than the Utes’.

Utah attempted 42 field goals and connected on 23 of them, good for nearly 55 percent. Meanwhile, the Cats threw up 63 attempts but found success on just 26 of them (41 percent). Behind-the-arc, the difference is even more drastic: 8-15 (53 percent) for Utah; 2-17 (11 percent) for Kentucky.

After the game, Ashton Hagans was asked for his opinion on the team’s offensive identity. Does the team know what that identity is or will be?

Um, I wouldn’t say 100 percent,” Hagans said timidly. “But we’re getting there. A whole bunch of freshmen, so that just takes time. We have to let everyone figure out their role so we can get better.”

Head coach John Calipari didn’t seem to have the answer right now either, especially in terms of how it relates to long-range shooting.

“I don’t have the answer. I wish I did,” Coach Cal said. “I believe we’ve got good shooters. [They’re] just maybe timid right now.”

A slow start certainly couldn’t have helped that timidness – the Cats connected on just four of their first 14 bucket attempts. By the end of the half, Kentucky was 13-of-31 from the field. The team missed each of its first seven three-point attempts, until Kahlil Whitney connected on one two minutes into the second half. Players on this particular Kentucky team, as well as players across the sport, have often said nothing helps their in-game confidence more than draining a few baskets early in the game. One could then assume nothing hurts it more than a 4-of-14 start from the field or an entire first half without a trey.

Still, a slow start wasn’t necessarily new for this team, according to Hagans.

“Last year, we started off slow most of our games. We’ve been in this situation.”

But some things have changed since last year. Of course, the 2018-19 squad also had their struggles with shooting, but players – rather, makers – like Tyler Herro and, surprisingly enough at the time, PJ Washington could often deliver the necessary dagger in big moments. This year’s team doesn’t have that consistent weapon. Still, Hagans says this year’s team is “a lot better right now” than the Cats were this time last season.

“Last year, we had players that could throw the ball into it and get a bucket when we needed it. This year, we have talent all over,” Hagans said. “This bench is loaded; starting five is loaded. We just have to put last year in the past and focus on this year to try to do something.”

That talent “all over” has admittedly been hard to find behind-the-arc so far this season. The Cats have hit just 42 of their attempted 153 three-pointers this year. That’s good for 27.5 percent and No. 346 in the nation. No player on the current roster has made 12 three-pointers throughout the season’s first 10 games; Maxey and Quickley have connected on 11 apiece, while Hagans has a total of seven. Whitney comes next with four.

Against Utah, those four players finished 2-15.

“[Quickley] missed some big shots, and he’s one of our best. Tyrese missed some shots, and he’s one of our best. I missed some shots, so, yeah, it happens to the best of us,” Hagans said after the Cats’ 2-for-16 Wednesday night performance. “Like I said, we’ll get back to practice tomorrow, lock in and just get better.”

Sometimes shooters – and even makers – go cold on certain nights, against certain opponents, or inside certain arenas. The remainder of Kentucky’s season will rely on having some kind of offensive weapon, even when deep shots aren’t falling.

Article written by Maggie Davis

I love sports, podcasts, long walks on the beach and Twitter (@MaggieDavisKSR)

41 Comments for Cats still searching for offensive identity, Calipari says “I don’t have the answer”

  1. dave1964
    5:04 pm December 19, 2019 Permalink

    With the amount of money you are getting paid you better come up with an answer

    • 4everUKBlue
      5:16 pm December 19, 2019 Permalink

      LMAO! You funny boy.

    • VirginiaCat
      6:32 pm December 19, 2019 Permalink

      It’s disheartening when you are losing to underdogs with less talent and your coach says essentially that he doesn’t know why, but wishes that he did. The problem isn’t that the team is slow to get it, it’s Cal who is slow to get it…and then he flames out in the tournament.

    • wineboy7
      10:30 am December 21, 2019 Permalink

      I’m 100% with you Dave!!!

    5:12 pm December 19, 2019 Permalink

    Answer us easy Cal! We are a run and gun trap , press team not a half court offense with the PG only supplying pressure vs ballhandler on D. The answer is in the last 6-8 minutes of UTAH GAME! Don’t understand how he is getting paid millions and cannot see this. It’s almost comical! It’s like that’s Pitinos style I won’t play that style no matter if we loose 12 games he is saying to himself! He is trying to put a square peg in a round hole with this team. It absolutely makes no sense to me. It’s turned into Tubby Ball with 4*-5* recruits and ugly to watch!

    • UKsuperdave
      9:16 am December 20, 2019 Permalink

      I hate to say it but I kinda had the same thought. I mean these guys couldn’t hit the ocean from 2 feet or 22 feet. Play to their strengths speed, length and defense. But instead it’s gonna be spread the floor dribble drive, dribble drive. Position-less basketball blah blah blah. This ain’t the NBA. He wants them to help each other out but won’t draw up a play to help get a open shot?

      Just go play great D and see what happens. Nothing going to help the offense but putting the ball in the hole and Cal ain’t gonna help them with that by actually coaching.

  3. Realme
    5:14 pm December 19, 2019 Permalink

    Put on your big girl panties and figure it out Coach! You’re the expert.

    • DelrayCat
      11:04 pm December 19, 2019 Permalink

      If we were being honest, Cal is not even a top 20 coach when it comes to actual coaching. Yes, he is easily the greatest recruiter of all time in college basketball…but there are at least 20 coaches out there who could coach circles around him in terms of adjustments, teaching proper execution, and maybe even player development. He’s been awesome for KY, and I am glad he’s there…but he clearly has deficiencies that are regularly exposed.

  4. CJKAssassin123
    5:25 pm December 19, 2019 Permalink

    He better find it quick!

    • wineboy7
      10:39 am December 21, 2019 Permalink

      I hear you Delray Cat, glad you have enough ….. to say it! Love Cal but I’m getting tired of him worrying about his ego of putting kids in the NBA and not more winning our 9th championship.

  5. DelrayCat
    5:26 pm December 19, 2019 Permalink

    Hagans’ assertion to them having talent all over and being loaded, essentially being better than last years team, is downright laughable.

  6. CrystalBall
    5:26 pm December 19, 2019 Permalink

    Not a very good remark for a CBB head coach to make in public.

  7. BlueByYou
    5:29 pm December 19, 2019 Permalink

    We are better full court and in transition. How do you dictate that style? Press and run. OK, we may give easy baskets you say….well, we already are anyway. Run the competition to death and kill them the last 7 minutes. We have the depth. It ain’t rocket science. But where Cal may be an innovator in some areas, I’ve never seen anyone so stubborn when it comes to style of play.

    • notFromhere
      5:50 pm December 19, 2019 Permalink

      Are you 13?

      I guess you’ve never heard of Tubby Smith and his time at UK, who led each season with, “We’re gonna run the floor more” yeah that Tubby Smith…. He’s not just a myth.

      Most stubborn style of play coach in spite of the players on the roster. Cal IS a close 2nd

    • BlueByYou
      5:55 pm December 19, 2019 Permalink

      Only someone who is 13 responds like that. Grow up!

  8. scottg74
    5:37 pm December 19, 2019 Permalink

    What’s is Hobbs’s purpose? I once thought he was the O guy. He doesn’t recruit as that’s up to Cal, Joel, KP and Barbee. So if he’s offense, where’s it at? Where’s the shooting fundamentals? Bring in Delk or any alumina shooter who can possibly coach shooting and the basics.

    • makeitstop
      6:20 pm December 19, 2019 Permalink

      Yea I’m starting to look down the bench. Time to reshuffle the assistants. Someone is not earning their paycheck.

    • DelrayCat
      11:06 pm December 19, 2019 Permalink

      I agree with this assessment. They need a shakeup. But those fat assistant coach salaries and their job stability probably hinders that desire we share.

  9. Bigblueswami
    5:43 pm December 19, 2019 Permalink

    How about stop settling for deep 3s just because they’re easier to get. This is where you miss seeing able to pound it inside and getting 3s on kickouts

  10. Righteous1
    5:45 pm December 19, 2019 Permalink

    I believe we will start seeing basketball players at UK either leave at the end of the fall semester or before the NCAA/NIT tournament to prepare for the NBA draft like James Wiseman in the very near future because the NBA draft is the most important day of the year. I can see enough doing this to the point that we will have to use the walk-ons to have enough players to participate in either the NCAA or NIT tournament. I am curious if the NCAA would extend a bid in that scenario?

    • dcforuk
      10:00 pm December 19, 2019 Permalink

      I do not see that happening except under extremely unique circumstances.

  11. notFromhere
    5:45 pm December 19, 2019 Permalink

    Judging by the posts on here, things are pretty offensive already.

    • CrystalBall
      10:25 pm December 19, 2019 Permalink

      notFromhere. Very good.

  12. J. Did
    5:55 pm December 19, 2019 Permalink

    Need more out of the bigs, who have been here forever. Really need them to not commit stupid fouls. And box out. Need to run and gun. Need that PG or off guard to sprint down court for the snow bird. Need to press. Defense wins games. If these CATS are in good shape – or when they will be – things will; take care of themselves. Free throws are huge.

  13. eddiesuttonsliver
    6:07 pm December 19, 2019 Permalink

    A) if this team losing to evansville at home wasn’t your wake up call it’s your own fault if you just got it today. cal shouldn’t have had to tell you basketball experts. proof is in the pudding.
    B) there are no great teams in college basketball this year. so welcome to the club.

  14. LouisaCatFan
    6:13 pm December 19, 2019 Permalink

    Maybe they are timid because instead of coaching Cal is on the sidelines throwing a tantrum.

  15. Aar
    6:14 pm December 19, 2019 Permalink

    Last night Cal commented that they weren’t passing the ball enough and the players were talking about it. To me, many shots looked rushed. Also, to me, off-ball motion was lacking. I’m sure Cal noticed those things, too.

    It would not surprise me in the least for Cal to be working on the team’s offensive motion and installing actions to get shooters open looks today and tomorrow in preparation for Ohio State. It wouldn’t be the first time that he told the press one thing while doing the other.

  16. JT55
    7:19 pm December 19, 2019 Permalink

    Of course he doesn’t have an answer. He’s a piss poor Xs and Os coach. Always has been, always will be. His misses on the recruiting trail are very evident this season.

    • DelrayCat
      11:08 pm December 19, 2019 Permalink

      I still maintain not filling the roster is also a huge problem. No reason to leave 3-4 open scholarships every single year.

    • Lip Man 1
      2:49 am December 20, 2019 Permalink

      Cat: Completely agree with you. It’s either guys NBA bound, or bench warming scrubs just around to improve the team GPA.

  17. dcforuk
    9:25 pm December 19, 2019 Permalink

    Systems are perfectly designed to produce what they are producing. If you want to understand how a system is designed, look at its production. The November/December production is based on the design of the one and done system. Absent multiple John Wall, ADavis, MKG type players, it simply takes longer.

  18. T-Town Cat
    9:26 pm December 19, 2019 Permalink

    Looks like Johnny Juzang is this year’s Jamarl Baker. Recruited as the great shooter that we need, but gets three minutes of playing time while watching the rest of the team go 2-17 from the three-point line.

    • dcforuk
      9:55 pm December 19, 2019 Permalink

      I just told my son that someone said Juzang should have played more and he said “yeah, that’s right.”

      However, he’s struggled shooting too

    • dcforuk
      9:58 pm December 19, 2019 Permalink

      I just looked at JJ’s season 3PT %.

      He is a whopping 2-13!

    • DelrayCat
      11:08 pm December 19, 2019 Permalink

      As soon as he misses one, Cal pulls him out.

  19. Lip Man 1
    2:46 am December 20, 2019 Permalink

    “I don’t have the answer…” – John Calipari.

    I guess five million (or however much he makes including bonuses) doesn’t buy you as much coach as it used to.

  20. chrislarkey
    8:19 am December 20, 2019 Permalink

    hire an offensive cord.

    • nicky
      8:32 am December 20, 2019 Permalink

      That would require swallowing your pride and northeasterners don’t do that

  21. bbn606
    8:36 am December 20, 2019 Permalink

    8 million dollars a year and doesn’t have an answer.

  22. classof68
    10:44 am December 20, 2019 Permalink

    I don’t have a problem with Cal being honest. If he doesn’t know, I don’t want him making something up. I just want him to realize his recruiting needs to get back to where it was his first 4 or 5 years. We can’t get to a FF with a bunch of fringe 5 and 4 star recruits. We don’t get top 10 recruits or good big men anymore. I really wonder how well the assistant coaches evaluate the recruits they are going after. And how well they are selling the program. Cal and Payne are good at recruiting but I doubt they are the ones doing the bulk of recruiting. Cal is hard headed and won’t replace any of the assistants. And he is more worried about getting the recruits to the NBA than winning. He’s said many times players are first – they will drag the program to the finish line. His philosophy should be the program first and they will drag the players to the NBA.

  23. chrislarkey
    11:54 am December 20, 2019 Permalink

    I love Coach Cal, he has been great for UK and is the best recruiter we have ever had. Having said that he cant get BIGS on consistent basis and it kills his guards. I also wish he would use all his schollys.