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ESPN: How John Calipari hacked college basketball

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Everyone points to recruiting as the key to John Calipari’s success, and for the most part, they’re right, but ESPN’s John Gasaway has another theory this morning. Gasaway writes that the secret to Cal’s success has been assembling multiple rim protectors on one team, creating a wall around the basket:

Calipari has taken the role of “rim protector” and made it plural. Ordinarily, this role is supposed to be filled by one guy who’s susceptible to foul trouble and less than skilled offensively, but UK’s paying no price to speak of for having center-type players logging minutes at the 4 spot. These rim protectors don’t foul often, and they’re also excellent offensive rebounders. This season, the Wildcats have pulled down 46 percent of their missed shots.

The way college basketball is supposed to work, Willie Cauley-Stein, Karl-Anthony Towns, Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee should be playing the 5 spot for four different teams. Instead, they’re playing alongside each other. Calipari has flouted convention and built a wall of size around the basket. That wall won’t always be the determining factor — Columbia and North Carolina actually shot somewhat normal percentages on their 2s in back-to-back games against Kentucky. But having multiple rim-protectors on the floor at the same time gives the Wildcats the potential to simply nullify any opponent’s aspirations to compete, let alone win. Just ask UCLA.

Calipari is famous for developing point guards, but after DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Nerlens Noel, Willie Cauley-Stein, Dakari Johnson, Karl Towns, Marcus Lee, etc. etc. etc., his bigs may be his calling card so far at UK.

[ESPN Insider]

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.

3 Comments for ESPN: How John Calipari hacked college basketball



  1. BUCats
    11:26 am December 22, 2014 Permalink

    This is definitely it on the defensive side of the ball. The big guys put the lid on everything within 10 feet and scare shooters who are shooting mid range shots. He has big guards who can’t be shot over and funnel the quick opposing players to the shot blockers. Other than WCS, we don’t really have any elite defenders individually. The system is what suffocates other team’s offenses.



    • BUCats
      11:47 am December 22, 2014 Permalink

      Tyler Ullis is a great defender, but he is helped out tremendously by the backline support. He is able to play aggressive on ball defense because anyone who gets by him will get swatted.



  2. jrdh13
    3:37 pm December 22, 2014 Permalink

    yes most teams will have that one guy but we just happened to have 4 guys that can block shots way above the rim