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Help me understand why Kentucky double teamed last night


Outside of coaching Hudson Automotive to the 2004 title game in the 6-8 year-old league, I have as much coaching experience as this cold cup of coffee sitting next to me, maybe less. I don’t claim to be a basketball coach, never have, and never will. I don’t even own a whistle or a clipboard. I’m just a guy with a beard and a taco addiction and a job that requires me to spend today writing about sports on the hour, every hour.

Now that I’ve made that clear, I have one question regarding John Calipari’s coaching last night: What was up with the double team? I went to bed confused by it, so I woke up and rewatched the game once I slept off those overreactions. And now that I’ve seen the game twice in its entirety, I still have no earthly idea why that was a thing Kentucky was doing against Tennessee last night.

Tell me I’m not alone here. Explain to me if you know, so I can know, too. Maybe there is good reason and I am too basketball illiterate to get it. Help me. Because it’s a real head-scratcher to me.

Were they trying to force turnovers? Were they trying to help Wenyen Gabriel and Derek Willis? Were they getting some double team practice in for Kansas? Did they enjoy watching Tennessee bust wide open three-pointers?

I ask because I don’t know and I want to move on with my life. Tennessee doesn’t have anyone resembling Hakeem Olajuwon, yet Kentucky doubled the post and was late to do it each time, resulting in free points for the Vols.

Do explain.


Article written by Drew Franklin

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

45 Comments for Help me understand why Kentucky double teamed last night

  1. wildcat502
    12:20 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

    When we double team, its all about help defense and UK does that very, very badly this season. In the above clip, you can see Monk guarding his guy. When the pass was made, Monk continued guarding his man, even when he didnt have the ball. He should have moved over to guard the open man and Briscoe switch but it didnt happen.
    This team plays defense very badly and thats disappointing for this time of year. If they dont figure it out soon, we`ll be lucky to make the sweet 16. We cant outscore everyone.

  2. J-Dub421
    12:23 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

    Derek Willis is continually 15+ feet away from whoever he’s supposed to be guarding.

    • luvmycats15
      1:43 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

      A few days ago I watched a clip of Cal telling the media that he was done trying to teach Willis defense! Kind of shocked me really that he would announce that to the world but he did. Said Willis was a senior & that if he doesn’t get it by now he never willl. He told Willis that as long as he made shots & grabbed some rebounds he would still play. I didn’t see him do neither last night! I’m starting to question Coach Cal’s methods for the first times since the HarrisonTwins debacle.

    • RealCatsFan
      2:48 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

      … and all it takes is one loss for the torches and pitch forks to come out! 🙂

  3. LouisaCatFan
    12:24 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

    More than that can you explain to me why he refuses to go zone! This team gets beat off the dribble more than any other team, they are lost on switches. I’m so tired of Cals antics on the side line, looks like a child having a tantrum.

    • johnnyr1
      2:42 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

      I couldn’t agree more. I don’t understand why for instance last night he didn’t call a time out and tell Monk to stop taking the off balance, ill advised shots or the other players to MAKE sure Bam touched the ball. He was on track for 6 total points in the first half?? instead he stands on the sidelines barking and flailing.

      I attended the MS St game and i agree was a poolrly officiated game but Monk’s shot selection was again horrible and Cal again just stood there flailing away.

    • Based God
      4:57 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

      I’m so with you on the zone. That was painful to watch last night. JMO, if we go to a zone at halftime last night we win by 10+.

  4. Han
    12:25 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

    Reasons I see double teams:

    1) We don’t have a reliable rim protector so we help in the paint. (Bam and Humphries get blocks sometimes and Gabriel can get hot, but everyone things they can come in and block, which is a staple of Cal’s teams at UK.)

    2) Humphries gets called for a foul if he even looks at someone, so we probably help him so he doesn’t try to do too much. Similarly, Bam gets a lot of bad calls so we’re probably cheating in there, too, to try to get the ball before it comes to that.

    3) Gabriel doesn’t seem able to handle big 4s or 5s so we help him.

    4) Willis constantly leaves/loses his man and helps on drives (leading to Cal yelling and putting Gabriel back in).

    5) Briscoe, Fox and Monk all want to get steals so they cheat off their man, even when guarding a sniper – they do this especially when the refs aren’t calling the other team’s pushoffs coming up the floor or when we get called for hand checks on our steals, making them want to make up for it all at once.

    It’s all been happening more and more lately. You might think it’s just us being exposed because we’re into the nitty, gritty conference season, but we all know we faced tougher opponents and situations in the non-con, so I don’t know why Cal’s lost control of this team lately. They’re all working hard and when they click, they’re dynamite, but lately, something’s off. I have to think it’s Briscoe and his leadership since he’s also not been scoring. Why is he suddenly having trouble? I don’t know. (I know he’s been big for us in some games the last month, but he’s not been consistent like he was in the non-con.)

    Dare I say after just our third loss, time for a tweak?

  5. RealCatsFan
    12:26 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

    To me, that play was Willis’ fault – no reason for him to double. Monk can’t slide over without leaving his man open at the top of the key for a 3. If you double, then someone needs to get in the passing lanes to try to get a steal when they try to pass out of it. Just doubling with no other movement is pointless.

    • Luether
      7:52 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

      At his best, Willis is a below average defender…

    • unbridled
      11:40 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

      If Willis is “at best a below average defender,” what is monk?

    • Luether
      11:51 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

      Ask your mother…

    • unbridled
      7:31 am January 26, 2017 Permalink

      My mom said Monk is a super talented young man that absolutely refuses to guard anyone. she obviously knows more about sports than you do. Did you play the clarinet or twirl the baton?

  6. TBW3011
    12:36 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

    The sooner we admit that Cal is subpar when it comes to strategy and adjustments the sooner everyone can stop the handwringing. He’s an incredible recruiter. Incredible and getting a lot of young talented guys to play hard and play together. His weaknesses are glaring though. Every coach has strengths and weaknesses. Game planning, in game adjustments and stubbornness are his weaknesses.

    • The Professor
      4:34 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

      I agree with Cal’s stubborn streak. Cal seems more interested in preparing guys for the NBA than winning games by changing strategy. He is going to stick to his man to man D regardless because that is what his players will be doing in the pros. It works as far as making our guys better prepared when they get to the league but it does not always help us win games now. It is a bitter pill we must accept by having Cal as coach. He gets great players but we will live through freshmen mistakes every year whereas other schools keep them for another year or two.

    • TBW3011
      4:59 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

      Agreed. It will also cost us titles. We will win tons of games. Make a lot of deep runs. When it gets to the 4 team tourney at the end it will bite us in the butt time and time again.

    • catsarerunnin
      6:01 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

      Yes by all means we should win a title every year. And winning lots of games is just boring.

  7. meeksfor3
    12:51 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

    Derek Willis with quite possibly the poorest attempt to get back out to his man ever. He made a half hearted attempt to get back to him, stopping half way and didn’t even bother to put a hand up at any point. He absolutely drives me insane playing defense with his hands down.

  8. wildcat502
    12:53 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

    Cal does lack in the x`s and o`s during a game. I hate to watch the good guy/bad guy thing as well. When Cal gets on a player and sits him. Payne laughs and looks like he is joking with the player………………….everytime. Let what Cal said to him soak in and quit playing the “good guy”.

    • alewis
      1:09 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

      The point of the double team in this case is to force Tennessee to make athletic plays instead of running a disciplined offense. It was always derek or gabriel trapping, probably bc the scouting report says their man isnt a good shot (ut shot the lights out last night). Monk is also supposed to rotate over to at least make the guy make a move, or derek can rotate back, overplay, and make the guy drive. Neither of those guys did that and it was easy pickings for someone with a hot hand (the entire ut team). I like the double but you gotta have everyone bought in to make it work.

  9. rkmattox
    12:56 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

    Glad I’m not the only one. WTF? Why do we need to double anyone on Tennessee’s team?

  10. Jack Nicklaus
    1:02 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

    Fact is that they are all playing poor defense now. Blaming Willis for everything is BS. Sure he gets beat sometimes but so does every other player. Our defensive game plan is what the problem is….there is a guy driving on us to the rim all the time…and they are generally successful, no matter who the guy is or who we may have guarding them.

    • WatchutalkinboutWillis
      1:42 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

      Willis does get blamed alot more for defensive mistakes than others. These guards playing for the steal instead of the contested shot drives me crazy too. It isn’t early any more…these things should be clicking against a team like UT. At least it was away and before KU…I can just tell myself that is the reason.

    • unbridled
      11:44 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

      Willis and humphries are the scapegoats for the teams sad defense. They are the sacrificial lambs. The scapegoats. The Freshman obviously have no culpability.

  11. alewis
    1:11 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

    I prefer the hardnose on ball defense we get with dom. I think of fox buys into being a great onball defender the trapping can go away because fox and dom can speed the opponent up just by on ball defense.

  12. Rod Crandler
    1:17 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

    Interior Defense: Willis is too slow, Bam is too soft, Hump fouls, Gabriel getting better. Double team to keep them from driving in the first place because once they get inside 10ft, we are not very good at stopping them.

  13. secrick
    1:17 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

    The guy WIllis was guarding in this post you have is a 5 % 3 point shooter and they would give him the 3 all night long the other kid was killing us in the middle with the turn around. Sorry but that wasn’t that bad of play except of course he hit the three which was bad. I think it’s more a i want to score myself problem than a defense problem.IF YOU CAN CALL 3 LOSSES A PROBLEM, i don’t.

    • TheNewOriginal
      2:41 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

      Please don’t attempt to inject an intelligent comment into the discussion.

  14. looking4number8
    1:23 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

    You definitely didn’t need to double team that far from the basket and you have the sideline as a defender.

    I will say when that white guy came in with his fingers taped up…I was thinking, he must be in to play a role similar to Hawkins. I did not expect him to be hitting any big threes like that but the dude was wide open…

  15. KYcats11
    1:40 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

    I think the clip you showed, they were double teaming because he dribbled to the corner sonewhat, and you always trap in the corner. But the other double teams I have no idea why.

  16. AndTheDevil
    1:43 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

    I assume the double teams were an attempt to speed up/turnover Tennessee. And let’s be honest, NO ONE on this team is good at defense except maybe Dom. Fox is learning that relying on hands and speed is fine in AAU but not so much in college. I’m sure in high school he could steal from behind after letting a guy drive the lane. Monk just doesn’t give a sh*t about anything unless it ends with him shooting. Can’t score points on D. Bam has no awareness on the defensive end. Also can we stop with the Bam is a good perimeter defender, please? Go back and watch games. If letting a dude drive the lane is good perimeter D than I’m outstanding, too. I’ll give Briscoe some points on D. Decent unless calling a tight game and he cant’ hip check his man. At least, Gabriel and Willis, to lesser extent, try to play D, they’re just not good at it, though both have sequences.

    Also the man Willis let shoot the 3 shoots 22% from there. 4-18 on the year and half of those came last night. So, I’m sure in the scouting report there was a line saying “Let Evans shoot 3s”

    • RealCatsFan
      2:56 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

      In HS Fox could probably just block the shot from behind because he was so much bigger, quicker, and more athletic than most of his opponents. Probably the same could be said for most of the 5* kids out there. They have been able to rely on raw athletic talent for so long that no one ever bothered to teach them the basic fundamentals for defense – FOOTWORK. Footwork is the basis for defense in ANY sport.

    • unbridled
      11:33 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

      Spot on!

    • unbridled
      11:34 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

      ^^^comment is directed to and the devil

  17. jaws2
    4:11 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

    No doubt this is one of Cal’s worse defensive teams. Get prepared for Saturday because any coach with half a brain will try to isolate and drive to the basket. We have not proven we can stop it in any game other than cream puffs. We’re going to foul or KS is going to score. We better hope we can trade baskets.

    I’ve said for 6 years why do we guard a center 17′ from the basket that can’t shoot? We do it over and over and that’s on Cal’s style of defense. PERIOD!

    And WHyyyyyyy do we get smoked on in-bounds under the basket OVER and OVER!! Oh, that’s been going on for 6 years as well.

    • THE William Hill
      4:21 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

      You should probably stop watching UK. Its obvious it upsets you too much.

      Go follow Louisville. They’re ranked like 15th or something. They might get another title in 13-26 years or so…

    • catsarerunnin
      6:04 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

      Jaws you really should start your own wet blanket business.

    • jaws2
      8:09 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

      Instead of making these pathetic comebacks, why don’t you guys give me ANY argument where I’m wrong. I’ve been a fan of UK for 50 years so don’t give me this find another team, wet blanket crap. If you can’t see the obvious, it’s on you.

    • catsarerunnin
      8:47 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

      Sell crazy someplace else. We’re all stocked up here.

    • Luether
      9:03 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

      I agree, jaws. Might be time for a coaching search…

  18. Duff86
    4:25 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

    That was a weak ass attempt at a double team. Willis kept about 2 ft. off that guy and he just dribbled back out. If Willis knew how to defend he could have contained and forced a turnover there. At least attempt to prevent the guy from dribbling out or making a pass and give the rest of the defense time to adjust.

  19. ncaa is in on it
    4:26 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

    I was going to call into the radio show to ask whats up with all the mid range jumpers? FOX can get to the rim anytime he wants and Bam is like 21 for 25 from the floor the last 5 games AND he hits his freethrows!!!

    Im so sick of seeing us get beat on man to man defense and it goes on and on the whole game. TRy anything different. Zone or press only for 5 mins. but try something???

    How good would we have been in a 1-3-1 when we had Ulis???

  20. 4everblue
    7:15 pm January 25, 2017 Permalink

    Well damn if Cal would only listen to Drew and all you other coaches we would be undefeated I’ m sure. Such a shame Cal is not smart enough to read all the coaching advise on this site on a daily basis. No one thinks more highly of Drew and his opinion than….that’s right Drew. If you guys are that good a coaching a team maybe you should go out and actually coach in real life instead of hiding behind a laptop.