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Five Things That Need Fixin’

Good morning. Let’s talk basketball and five things I think need fixin’ before March. Feel free to add your own in the comments section if you got ’em because these aren’t the only five, just five on my brain at the moment.


1. Turnovers. (Obviously.)

The turnover problem is still fresh on our minds after Kentucky turned the ball over some 15 times in the loss at South Carolina. Ashton Hagans is at the root of this problem. He has 16 turnovers in the Cats’ four SEC games, nine of those coming in his last two games: four turnovers against Alabama, five Wednesday night at South Carolina. Combine that with his inability to finish at the rim and it is fair to say Hagans has room to improve offensively, although he is still an assist machine.

As a team, Kentucky is averaging almost 14 turnovers per game in league play, while sitting one turnover shy of matching its opponents in total turnovers on the season.

UK, 203 turnovers; Opponents, 204 turnovers.

Protect that ball because it only gets harder from here.

2. Defending ball screens.

The pick-and-roll defense has been bad all year. The entire defense hasn’t been good, but the pick-and-roll has been a killer.

You know what also has been a killer? When the other team spreads the floor and goes 1-on-1 to the basket. Go ahead and put two points on the board if you ever see this happening.

3. Boxing out.

Wednesday night at South Carolina the UK bigs were like Oprah, just tossing out free offensive rebounds to anyone who wanted one.

The Gamecocks had TWENTY offensive rebounds; before that, Alabama had 16 in Rupp Arena. It looks to be an effort issue too. Zero interest in boxing out. If Nick Richards isn’t in the game, Kentucky probably isn’t getting it.

4. EJ Montgomery needs to shoot some free throws.

While looking over the season stats earlier I couldn’t help but scream WTF at my computer when I saw that, before Wednesday night, EJ Montgomery had only taken 12 free throws all season. That’s less than one free throw a game, so probably like one trip to the foul line every two games at best. How? This man is 6-10, 230. He should be inside drawing contact and getting some free points.

Now to be fair, he went 4-for-5 from the line at South Carolina, so maybe this complaint is one game too late.

5. Some guys are way behind.

I think it’s pretty clear who’s dragging behind while others get better. There is a desperate need for a couple more consistent contributors, but right now it is a lot of inconsistency from the group outside the Big 4. One guy in particular — you know who I’m talking about — just can’t seem to do anything right.


Ok now I’m in a bad mood on a Friday morning. I regret doing this, but what has been said has been said. Kentucky is still a good basketball team with Final Four potential. Just got some things that need fixin’.

Let’s beat Arkansas tomorrow. Go Cats.

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

50 Comments for Five Things That Need Fixin’

  1. mothandras
    10:41 am January 17, 2020 Permalink

    Lets face it “This is the least gifted team”, UK has had in a while.

    • BBNfromOklahoma
      10:45 am January 17, 2020 Permalink

      Also, whether this is true or not, it does no good to be negative. Like it or not, this is the team we have to go into March with, so let’s get down to business and figure out how to improve. The entire NCAA lacks a truly dominant team. Why can’t we make a final 4 run like everyone else also having struggles?

    • 4everUKBlue
      10:59 am January 17, 2020 Permalink

      Yes ^^^

    • DelrayCat
      12:23 pm January 17, 2020 Permalink

      Agreed. I think we can even say it is the second least talented team in Cal’s era at UK. Of course that title belongs to the 12-13 team. They had slightly better talent down low with Willie Cauley-Stein, Poythress, and Wiltjer, but the guard trio of Polson, Harrow, and Mays was definitely inferior…lol.

    • The Big Lebowski
      7:36 am January 18, 2020 Permalink

      This is a team full of low level 5 stars and 4 stars who would still be developmental in the old days AND have Juniors and Seniors ahead of them.

      Cal can’t force them into being something that they aren’t.

      If this team makes the Sweet Sixteen, I’ll be surprised.

      The thought of making the Final Four is almost laughable at this point. Hell, if they keep this up, they might be NIT bound.

      This version of Cal is more akin to the post-66 Rupp than the Cal of 5 years ago. Unless Cal makes serious adaptations, Kentucky will see no Final Fours again until the next coach. I see possibly a 2035 Final Four when the first post Cal coach has been fired and a new coach is in his third or fourth year at the helm.

      I’ll be surprised as hell if Cal makes it back to a Final Four much less wins another Championship.

      There are too many changes ongoing in College Basketball and Cal is not adapting or learning new tricks.

    • UKgrad80
      11:30 am January 18, 2020 Permalink

      You have to list Calipari stubbornness as a problem. Not calling time outs when losing a 14 point lead then putting it in his pocket for the trip gone. His refusal to use a zone defense. His refusal to fill out his roster.

  2. BBNfromOklahoma
    10:43 am January 17, 2020 Permalink

    It has also bugged me that a fairly consistent free throw shooting team has struggled of late. Need to refocus at the line, with the exception of Quickley.
    On a more nitpicky note, it drives me nuts that as good of a shooter as Juzang seems to be, he can’t hit some open buckets. I know we were spoiled last year with Herro and even stretches from PJ from 3, but my goodness he can’t find the net right now.

    • E11Q
      11:01 am January 17, 2020 Permalink

      I’ve not seen anything to indicate that he actually is a good shooter other than his recruiting analysis. And let’s be real about those, they aren’t the most reliable in the world. I mean many reports on Montgomery said he was an excellent “stretch 4 with range” and he can’t hit a bull in the ass with a bass fiddle.

    • BBNfromOklahoma
      11:21 am January 17, 2020 Permalink

      I mean, his mechanics are actually smooth and really sound from a shooting standpoint. I think he is a good shooter, but the mental aspect or whatever is hindering him is frustrating. I am obviously not a shooting coach (or ANY coach for that matter), so I don’t have the slightest idea how to get him to hit to bottom of the net. It’ll come, but I am growing impatient and want him to progress like….NOW. Same with Whitney. I know the tools are there, I want the “lightbulb” to go off him already.

    • DelrayCat
      12:06 pm January 17, 2020 Permalink

      I disagree with the assessment that Whitney has the tools. He has the body of a one-and-done, but the skillset and athleticism is just not there… yet? He needs a year or two in the weight room and along with conditioning and then maybe.

    • magimae
      12:52 pm January 17, 2020 Permalink

      Montgomery needs to be benched until he gets his head out of his rectum

    • BBNfromOklahoma
      1:37 pm January 17, 2020 Permalink

      The kid is absolutely explosive when he jumps. He is a freak athletically. We’ve seen him hit 3’s. The latter requires a nice touch. I think these tools are available to him for a successful tenure at Kentucky. Getting beat to rebounds should not be an option, he has the ability to out-jump everyone on the court. He lacks the fight and bruising ability which isn’t teachable, it’s a desire thing. He knows he’s struggling and that “I’m underachieving” mentality is a difficult thing for anyone, much less a 19-year-old playing for the outspoken BBN to overcome.

    • The Big Lebowski
      7:38 am January 18, 2020 Permalink

      We are expecting too much of Whitney.

      He is a two or three year player. He has talent. He has ability. He’s also a Frosh and barely 18 years old. He’s still a high school kid.

      One and Done is beyond Whitney.

  3. samodamo
    11:09 am January 17, 2020 Permalink

    How about let’s play through Nick, feed the big man!!!

  4. stringmusic78
    11:11 am January 17, 2020 Permalink

    Two major things that will be the demise of this team.

    1) No big time production from Montgomery. Sestina helps out but without Montgomery being a stud other guys need to step up which leads to the next problem.
    2) Very little production from the wing, inconsistent at best. Whitney and Brooks need to put up consistent production.

    South Carolina loss for example… The typical Montgomery stat line of 6pts 5 reb coupled with 2 points from both Whitney and Brooks is not going to get it done.

    • DelrayCat
      12:14 pm January 17, 2020 Permalink

      Agreed. EJ showing little to no progress is most concerning. He has not improved at all. And yes, the entire freshman class is an utter disappointment. We are getting squat from Whitney, Brooks, and Juzang. They are playing like typical freshman…3-4 year freshmen. And Maxey has been great only like 5-6 games…the rest…meh.

    • The Big Lebowski
      7:43 am January 18, 2020 Permalink

      I don’t know. I love Maxey.

      He is always fighting even if he isn’t hitting shots. He fights. He rebounds. He defends. The kid is hype.

      Love that kid.

      Maxey, Hagans, Richards and IQ ARE the team this year. Sestina is serviceable but he’s a role player/back up small forward at best. That this team relies on him as a starter says it all. Love the dude but a starter he should not be.

  5. bluebew
    11:28 am January 17, 2020 Permalink

    I’m not going to disparage these kids. I know they are giving it their best efforts. And I’ll bet they are feeling the pressure, and feeling down in regard to whatever struggles they each are facing. It’s just that some kids are on a different timeline of development.

    The current, urgent problem with this team is that there are only two or three that are on a “now” timeline. If two or three more don’t get on the “now” timeline developmentally, we’re going to continue to see exactly what we’ve been seeing: Upside Potential conjoined with head-scratching losses. And an early exit in March.

    • The Big Lebowski
      7:46 am January 18, 2020 Permalink

      I agree.

      And that is part of the problem.

      Cal hasn’t adapted to the fact that he’s not getting 5 HIGH level five stars to reload each year. Others like Duke have started pulling in those high five stars.

      Cal will never have a team like the AD team again. No one will. Cal has not, cannot, will not, whatever adapted to that fact.

    • WatchutalkinboutWillis
      8:45 am January 18, 2020 Permalink

      I think what we are seeing IS Cal adapting to a world where guys are going to be able to go straight to the NBA again. He is recruiting lower level guys and showing how he can turn them into pros and often quickly. Whether it works remains to be seen, but I don’t mind years like this if it creates players returning and improving and giving us a chance at an occasional great team.

  6. JATR4
    11:30 am January 17, 2020 Permalink

    Sestina and Montgomery, quit leaving your man open for the corner three and learn to block out. It doesn’t take talent to do either, only desire!

  7. chrislarkey
    11:40 am January 17, 2020 Permalink

    Dont want to hear how this team is so young and how they get overwhelmed.

    We have 4 guys back from last year that were basically starters.

    Quit playing down to other teams level.

  8. DelrayCat
    12:09 pm January 17, 2020 Permalink

    This team needs to play zone more. Everyone complained about the fouls and referees, but if we were being honest most calls were hand-checks on quicker players. Over and over again we see smaller players go right around EJ, Whitney, Brooks, Sestina, Nick, etc. and in many cases they just put their hands out to stop progress rather than move their feet…that’s a foul. With such a collection of slow-footed bigs, but with nice length, a zone 80% of the time would be a great strategy to limit this problem.

    • 72uksprinter
      12:36 pm January 17, 2020 Permalink

      I love our coach. But, he has had teams who would be MUCH more effective playing zone.
      He says he hates it because it allows more offensive rebounds?
      How many more would a team get when USC got 20?
      You are correct. The bigger guys this year are all a step slow on defense. My man, Nate, is two steps slow.
      It is hard to watch teams run past them and either score or get fouled every single time.
      Reportedly, Barbee favors the zone and knows how to teach it.
      He didn’t have this level of talent at Auburn but stole a few games with the zone.
      I think Cal’s ego gets in his way on this one.
      Hey, Coach… we couldn’t play any worse on the second level, maybe give it a try for more than token minutes a game?
      But, what to we BB Bennies know? LOL

  9. Papaw
    12:27 pm January 17, 2020 Permalink

    Hagan’s is a turnover machine. I’ve screamed at the TV so much my voice is shot because I can’t figure out WHY does Nick run at full speed going with his man going out to set a screen 35 feet from the basket? That leaves the lanes wide open without a rim protector back. As you said, opponents simply spread the floor and it’s 1 on 1 to the hole

  10. CrystalBall
    12:29 pm January 17, 2020 Permalink

    One of the disadvantages to playing zone is it allows opponent better opportunities for offensive rebounds, and limits your defensive rebounds.

    • VirginiaCat
      6:46 pm January 17, 2020 Permalink

      Playing M2M against USC didn’t help us with offensive rebounds, so what would be the harm of going to a zone to mitigate their penetration? The reason that Cal doesn’t use zone is because it isn’t used in the NBA. He wants his players to play the kind of defensive schemes that they will encounter in the NBA. If it results in a few losses, no problem.

  11. Fly Cat
    12:46 pm January 17, 2020 Permalink

    And another thing that needs fixin is this general curse hanging over the basketball program that has been around since we lost that Wisconsin game. Some bad voodoo. Don’t know the cure. But puttin it in the hole is a start. Yes, I know that’s what she said, so save it.

  12. kybirdieman
    1:12 pm January 17, 2020 Permalink

    Need on ball defense from guards. Never had it since Cal has been coach. Just like Auburn last year, spread floor, let their guards consistently beat ours off the dribble. 56 points after a USC adjustment by coach at halftime and Cal had no answer other than have our 3 worst wing players on the floor when they cut into 14 lead.

    • StuckinLville
      2:47 pm January 17, 2020 Permalink

      Did you not watch Tyler Ulis? Teague? Wall? Bledsoe? SGA? Hagans? I agree the defense was terrible at the end of that game, they should have picked him up a lot sooner, but to say we have never had it is just silly.

  13. Megan
    1:38 pm January 17, 2020 Permalink

    How about a little perspective on turnovers? Yeah, 15 is a bit high. But not much. It’s only 2 or 3 more than we should expect. 10 is terrific, 12 is just fine, and 15 is a little more than you’d like. People think the fewer, the better, but that’s not so. As John Wooden explained, there’s a trade-off. You don’t want to minimize turnovers by playing too cautiously. If you’re not turning over the ball, you’re not pressing. You want to play aggressively enough to generate better scoring opportunities even if that also yields more turnovers. “A good garden may have some weeds,” he said. That balance strikes around 12 per game, roughly, plus or minus a couple.

    Here’s what Calipari said after the Evansville loss: “Well, we only had 13 turnovers. That’s not bad.” No, it’s not. But a lot of BBN thinks otherwise.

    So let’s stop complaining about stats that are within a standard deviation of a good season average. There are more significant things to talk about here.

    • syrin23
      12:35 am January 18, 2020 Permalink

      This is a valid point in general, but the second half TO’s Hagans had were not from aggression but laziness and stupidity. Jumping then looking for someone to pass to, stopping his dribble then taking another step, changing pivot feet. Good gracious, they were awful.

  14. StuckinLville
    2:45 pm January 17, 2020 Permalink

    EJ is soft as hell. The dude is just too nice and too passive and he will NEVER get to the NBA if he can’t show some toughness. Last year near the end of the season he was an offensive rebounding machine; I dont know what has happened. Anyone saying this team doesn’t have talent is clearly an idiot. The talent is there, they just need the will to win. Cal needs to start going after those pit bull types. I’ve seen Greg Brown’s aggressiveness so hopefully he can land him and Jackson seems plenty aggressive as well.

    • syrin23
      12:36 am January 18, 2020 Permalink

      EJ plays SMALL. There is no better explanation. When he drives to the bucket, he tries to avoid contact rather than power through it. He still misses the shot.

  15. FatDaddyCat
    2:50 pm January 17, 2020 Permalink

    How about we have Ashton Hagans actually guard his man? I bet if you go back and check the stats for the last 10 games the opposing point guards are averaging 15 points or better a game. He gets steals, but is NOT a good on ball defender. I can’t understand all the hype he gets for his defense. Makes awful decisions constantly on both ends of the floor. Winds up with numbers, but in my opinion, they are empty stats.

    • michaelb
      3:23 pm January 17, 2020 Permalink

      Ashton has grown his game tremendously this season …. let’s tell the firing squad to hold off a minute

  16. FatDaddyCat
    3:36 pm January 17, 2020 Permalink

    Nick Richard’s has grown his game tremendously this season, as has Immanuel Quickley. Hagans is the same dude from last year. Can’t finish at the rim, gets airborne with nowhere to go or no idea what he’ll do when he gets there, gets caught in pick and rolls constantly hanging the bigs out on island, takes way too many gambles on D and winds up allowing straight line drives for the bigs to clean up at the rim leading to a lot of our big guys fouls. Only difference is this year he has a longer leash to get his numbers and he has to initiate offense every trip because there is no PJ to play through at the elbow. I am sure he is a great young man and all, but in my humble opinion he puts this team in more tough spots than he does good ones.

    • syrin23
      12:37 am January 18, 2020 Permalink

      Richards has picked up SUPER cheap non-fouls that past two games that had him sit almost an entire half. I think it’s a mistake to sit a crucial player an entire half. I would rather he foul out and win rather than not foul out and lose.

  17. Looother
    5:54 pm January 17, 2020 Permalink

    Nice post, Drew. I especially hate it when we lose because we get both out-coached and out-worked…

  18. Righteous1
    12:01 am January 18, 2020 Permalink

    I noticed that nowhere in this article that there is no mention of better coaching. I find that a better quality of coaching would make all of the outlined points superfluous.

    • 4everUKBlue
      12:45 am January 18, 2020 Permalink

      Thanks BigOlRighteousSlater! Now hurry home your mama’s calling.

    • The Big Lebowski
      7:56 am January 18, 2020 Permalink

      4everUKBlue, So, you believe that Cal has perfected his craft and has nothing left to learn. You believe that the college basketball game is stagnant and that there is nothing left to which a coach must adapt. You believe that Cal is the perfect embodiment of a College Basketball Coach. You believe that it is impossible to surpass Coach John Calipari as a basketball coach. Cal is beyond reproach. Cal is the Jesus Christ of college basketball.

      If you do not believe these things, you should hurry home because your mama is calling. Either that or you’re a hypocrite and/or scared to speak.

      I absolutely abhor sycophantic people who worship and defend coaches of a game who are paid millions of dollars to win as if none of them should be questioned or held to any standard whatsoever. That kind of hero worship is part of the problem in the US.

    • 4everUKBlue
      10:07 am January 18, 2020 Permalink

      No I don’t but I also don’t believe anyone of the trolls on here are smarter than Cal and that includes you little lebowski. What’s the matter, you on your period?

    • UKgrad80
      12:02 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

      Thank you Lebowski for stating the facts Cal has many many flaws!

    • The Big Lebowski
      8:49 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

      It’s basketball, not rocket science.

      “What’s the matter, you on your period?” “little Lebowski”

      What are you? 12 years old?

  19. eyebleedblue
    12:11 am January 18, 2020 Permalink

    Turnover sand rebounding for sure.
    Would also like to see IQ get some time at point. 10-15 minutes a game.

  20. Righteous1
    1:38 am January 18, 2020 Permalink

    Well now, I see a charter member of the LCBC commented at 12:45 am!

  21. VACat19
    9:40 am January 18, 2020 Permalink

    This game was at the end of Camp Cal, and this happens every year. They are tired (and freshmen are more tired than they have ever been in their lives), so it’s not surprising that the team:
    -Missed free throws
    -Got out-rebounded
    -Lost focus
    -faded down the stretch

    • UKgrad80
      12:03 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

      Well than maybe camp Cal sucks!

  22. ziplock
    1:33 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

    The refs need fixing is the biggest thing for me. Their offshore bank accounts must be large