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ESPN most excited to see UK platoon


Earlier today ESPN writer Eamonn Brennan wrote (with a sense of humor, I might add) about his thoughts on his excitement to see the UK Platoon system. Brennan has a great metaphor of a knot to explain the predicament Kentucky found themselves in with so many starters returning this summer.

That’s what I’m most excited to see in 2014-15: a real, legitimate five-in-five-out platoon, a team so big and talented that its coach can split it into two discrete groups and still almost always have the five best players on the court.

There are, after all, only so many minutes to go around. Lineup calculus can be the most difficult, nuanced knot a coach must untie. At this early date, it’s clear Kentucky really does have 10 totally starting-spot-worthy players on its roster. Back in April, the idea was more like a funny concept for a video-game simulation. Too much size? Too many players? Why untie a knot when you can slice it in half?

He has a point. This year it isn’t just one player I am most excited to see, it’s the entire team. In the Bahamas, we got to see the first glance of the platoon and I was left just wanting to see more. It worked until Poythress was hurt, which was worrisome. However once WCS and Lyles return to the court, there will be two 6th men waiting on the bench to replace a player who might not be having a good game.

We should probably enjoy it while we can, though. Calipari will be doing something which hasn’t really been seen in college basketball before on this level. Once Kentucky starts winning games on this new system people will call it unfair and make it out to seem that Kentucky has no morals. Just like people who say you can’t win with Freshmen, there will be a group of people bringing the ‘clutter’ the team has suffered from in the past. (They always find a way right?).

What are you most excited for this season after seeing the games in the Bahamas? Is it more of the Platoon system?

Article written by Courtney Hessler

Ashley Judd is my spirit animal. Follow me on twitter at: @Hessler_KSR

18 Comments for ESPN most excited to see UK platoon

  1. Rixter
    6:06 pm August 19, 2014 Permalink

    The same 2 things I’m always most excited to see. The annual thrashing of the Cardinals, followed by cutting down the nets in April

  2. Jason M.
    6:29 pm August 19, 2014 Permalink

    I am definately pumped about a possible platoon. I didnt think we had a deep enough team to pull it off but after seeing it in the bahamas its possible and a great idea. I don’t know if Belmont still does it, but not that long ago, Belmont had a platoon system just like what we saw in the bahamas, only they didnt all have the same talent that UK has, and they stayed so fresh they won enough games to get into the tournament, and their defense was considered suffocating b/c all the players stayed so fresh. I always wanted my team to try it out, even when we didnt have enough good players but I knew Coach Cal never would. But now..Do It Cal! Platoon the Troops!

  3. Paul
    6:36 pm August 19, 2014 Permalink

    More like Russell Crowe in Gladiator—Prepare to unleash Hell. That’s the fear our opponents should have. If I remember correctly some years back Donovan had a system of full court press, platoons, fast break and bombing threes. Got them to the Championship game where Tom Izzo managed to disrupt the attack and win the game. I like our chances next March.

  4. Bobbum man
    6:57 pm August 19, 2014 Permalink

    40-0 baby!!!!!!

  5. David
    7:09 pm August 19, 2014 Permalink

    this is Calipari being Calipari and letting the world see what it will be like in the 2 year mandatory NCAA near future…with more returning players, Calipari is still ahead of the game by showing potential recruits that they will still see significant minutes…development over haste…which he should be lauded for…

    • TJY
      9:48 am August 20, 2014 Permalink

      +1! Good insight, Cal never does anything without using it as a recruiting tool.

  6. Luther
    7:10 pm August 19, 2014 Permalink

    I’d love to see a real, legitimate five-in-five-out platoon but am not optimistic based on Cal’s track record and his many previous statements on the importance of playing no more than 7 or 8 players, max, per game. I thing we’d be unbeatable with the talent we have with a five-in-five-out system.

    I think Cal is too stubborn and controlling to commit to such a system, though – particularly against better competition. I’m afraid we’ll see more of the twins “pacing themselves” like last year as they continuously get back-doored and beat in transition because of fatigue while we have NBA pros sitting on the bench…

    • bigbluetruth
      7:45 pm August 19, 2014 Permalink

      One thing Cal has proved year after year is playing to his strength. Unlike slick rick and billy d who play the same style every game every year Cal has put a different kind of team and system on the floor each year he’s been in Lexington. Cal likes to win as much as we do and if the platoon systems gives us the best chance to win that’s what he’ll do.

    • Luther
      8:21 pm August 19, 2014 Permalink

      Bigbluetruth, hope you’re right! Go Cats!!

  7. Bradley
    7:56 pm August 19, 2014 Permalink

    For the platoon system to be effective we must dictate the tempo of the game. If we can press the pace and make the game up and down we will not lose with the platoon system. If an opponent is capable of slowing it down against us a platoon system can actually be a detriment to the the team. Tubby was the king of using his depth in a way that actually hurt us. I suspect we won’t go 5 in and 5 out in the games where opponents control the pace and slow it down. Otherwise we will see it.

  8. gr
    8:59 pm August 19, 2014 Permalink

    If you saw the last two games in Bahamas’, it was evident not having WCS to stop easy inside baskets is a critical issue. No one else on the team can do what he can do defensively. He needs to play at least 32 minutes a game for us to beat the good teams. Don’t see the platoon system happening. At least not against the better competition.

  9. bigbluetruth
    10:01 pm August 19, 2014 Permalink

    I don’t think people understand that the groups of five doesn’t have to be the exact ones we seen last week. What makes you think Lyles and or Lee can’t block shots. Believe me they’re both more than capable of defending the middle. No way do we need Willie playing 32 mins, and he won’t need to with all the help. This group will be unstoppable and will beat the LOSERVILLE TURDS and UNC TURD EELS by 15-20 + and show college basketball who the king is. The only sad thing is as long as Cal is at UK and Crean is at IU and slick rick is at LOSERVILLE those are just another game anymore. Funny how they had a year, The CATS are starting another century off great.

  10. wolfer
    11:14 pm August 19, 2014 Permalink

    Two things you can mark down:
    1. Cal will play little or no zone.
    2. Seven, and at most eight will get a huge majority of the minutes. For example, Willis will average 5 or less minutes per game, and Lee will be lucky to average 10 minutes per game.
    Cal is Cal.

  11. UKALLDay
    11:26 pm August 19, 2014 Permalink

    Yeah they are going to have to Platoon, especially if they want their guards to pressure the ball like that or if they want to extend the D. They have 12 good players, but I think he will play 11.

    Starters: 1st Platoon
    An. Harrison
    Aa. Harrison
    Alex Poythress
    Karl Towns

    2nd Platoon:
    T. Ulis
    Trey Lyles
    Marcus Lee
    Dakari Johnson

    Domonique Hawkins subs in with both Platoons in case someone messes up or gets tired.
    I do not think Willis is quite ready to crack the rotation. He’s good but not on the level of the other 11, to play for this loaded you have to be a PRO.

    • cireb
      11:49 pm August 19, 2014 Permalink

      Switch WCS and Dakari IMO.

    • UKALLDay
      1:47 am August 20, 2014 Permalink

      I will once Dakari learns how to catch lobs and block shots. Dakari is good however the man can’t clear a phone book with his vertical. In Coach Cal’s system he relies on shot blockers to start the break and get easy buckets like Anthony and Nerlens and now WCS. WCS just fits better! He is the best Defender/Shot blocker in college hoops

  12. TJY
    9:47 am August 20, 2014 Permalink

    At first when I saw we were using the platoon system, I would watch the 5 guys go to the bench and be sad that they weren’t going to be playing for the next 4 minutes. By the time 4 minutes was up I would be sad that group wasn’t going to be playing for the next 4 minutes. Like a good book that switches between characters, the author makes you love them and miss them until you are hooked on the characters in the next chapter you are reading. That is the way I felt and I loved every minute of it.

    I still would like to see the guys mixed and matched between platoons and believe that will happen especially when WCS and Trey are added to the mix. I can’t wait to see us on the floor and I really don’t see a team that can play with us unless they have 5-7 players that can run for 40 minutes without a dropoff…even then, it will be difficult.

    GO CATS!

  13. TheHeadshrinker
    12:32 pm August 20, 2014 Permalink

    Much too early to know what will be done, but the discussion of 5 for 5 substitution brings back fond memories of the 1996 team, whose toughest competition was the team that they faced in practice every day. When you have a team this deep and this competitive, the toughest part will be managing egos around playing time. I think Cal is up for the challenge.

    GO CATS!!