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If Bam is in Foul Trouble, Who Do You Play, Isaac Humphries or Tai Wynyard?


Since the season started, Bam Adebayo has struggled to balance his physical strength with personal fouls.  Most calls are unjust, made simply because of his size, but regardless of circumstance, Calipari is forced to adjust.

Calipari’s actions are based on matchups.  More often than not, it pays to go small with Wenyen Gabriel and Derek Willis.  To keep things simple, who is the one post that performs best in place of Bam Adebayo?

For many, the answer is simple, based off one statistic: Kentucky is 19-0 this season when Humphries scores.  There’s no doubt Isaac has an offensive advantage.  With the ability to knock down a ten-footer from the free throw line and a soft touch around the basket, a casual observer is confident the ball will go through the net when it leaves Humphries’ hands.  Still, you should not confuse correlation with causation regarding the 19-0 statistic.

As much as Humphries excels offensively, Wynyard holds the upper hand defensively.  He understands help defense.  There have been many great posts, but Anthony Davis and Willie Cauley-Stein were exceptions to the rule, blocking shots with ease on help defense and stepping out on the perimeter when needed.  Wynyard does four under-appreciated things well that are essential to traditional posts:

1.  He bumps cutters.  When Wynyard is in the game, cutting through the lane is a treacherous act.

2.  He plays with proper spacing and low center gravity.  John Calipari’s biggest early critique of Adebayo and Humphries was their posture.  They stood to tall, allowing opponents more opportunity to draw a foul.  The spacing is much more difficult to explain, so I’ll just say Wynyard is good at making the paint look more crowded than what it is.

3. He jabs and gets back.  A lost art in post defense, when faced with choosing between defending their man and the penetrator, all too often posts select one instead of both.  Wynyard doesn’t commit to one player; he jabs at the opponent. It forces the player to hesitate and think, “Do I have t take the floater, or can I pass it?”  That hesitation is all it the time he needs for his teammates to recover.

4.  He does not try to block shots.  Contradictory to the ideology of many “Basketball Bennies,” for many posts, including Isaac Humphries, trying to block shots is the worst thing they can do.  When Humphries tries to block shots, he swats down, giving the official an easy call.  Like Kansas’ Landen Lucas, Wynyard can stand straight up, take contact from a smaller guard and affect the shot without fouling or touching the ball.

Wynyard has not played enough minutes to determine the effectiveness of his play, earning more than five minutes in just three games.  With less minutes, there’s less time to mess up.  Still, it’s safe to say Humphries has the advantage on offense and Wynyard has the advantage on defense.

So who do you play?  It depends on what you need.

The last time Kentucky played Tennessee, the Vols scored more than half their points in the paint, outscoring the Cats inside 42-28.  Most of their buckets came off tight curls on down-screens or from easy layups on backdoor cuts.

In tonight’s case, Calipari should go to Wynyard for defense, but in the future, it all depends on the opponent.

Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

25 Comments for If Bam is in Foul Trouble, Who Do You Play, Isaac Humphries or Tai Wynyard?

  1. Catlogic15
    3:38 pm February 14, 2017 Permalink

    Easy one. Humphries, ’cause when he scores it’s a guaranteed win.

  2. RexRox
    3:47 pm February 14, 2017 Permalink

    I believe Wynyard deserves a chance. He seems to be more physical, and really hasn’t a real opportunity to prove himself. While Humphries may have a dependable 10-12 foot jump shot, it is super frustrating to watch him miss 1-2 footers. Would prefer to see him go for the dunk and even if he misses, there is a chance to draw a foul.

    Give Wynyard a real opportunity by getting some significant minutes. If Cal determines Humphries is the better option, we haven’t lost much by seeing what Tai can do.

  3. AJBlue
    3:49 pm February 14, 2017 Permalink

    Great point on #4 – This goes for all bigs including Bam. Best shot blockers only get about 3 or 4 a game. The rest of the time when they go after them they foul or leave the back side open for easy put backs. Pick your spots to go after blocks, otherwise hold position and get the board.

  4. CVL123
    3:49 pm February 14, 2017 Permalink

    I’d start Bam and Isaac and bring SKJ AND Tai off the bench

    Briscoe, Mulder and Hawk can back up the guards and Willis can Gabriel

    Fox, Monk, Gabriel, Bam, Isaac start 12345

    • Danny7676
      4:01 pm February 14, 2017 Permalink

      He would never do this, but I like it nonetheless

    • JusSayin
      5:00 pm February 14, 2017 Permalink

      If we sit Briscoe who will do the rebounding? And Gabriel gets beat off the dribble by almost any perimeter player.

      5:44 pm February 14, 2017 Permalink

      Naw that 5 is to slow for this modern type of basketball, they would get ran and there will be a miss match as most teams play 4 out and 1 in so Bam or Isaac will have to gaurd a Tatum or Josh Jackson which will be a MAJOR problem. The best 5 he has is Fox, Monk, Willis, Wenyen and Bam.

      The is enough shooting to spread the floor and you have enough rebounding and it does not slow them down.

    • catsarerunnin
      6:02 pm February 14, 2017 Permalink

      Well this modern type of basketball thingy is overrated…

  5. KYcats11
    3:53 pm February 14, 2017 Permalink


  6. Jeremy D
    3:56 pm February 14, 2017 Permalink

    When Hump scores…….60% of the time, we win all the time…

  7. BNClay
    4:06 pm February 14, 2017 Permalink

    Important to remember Wood Chop played with a pro team in New Zealand. So he has spend a lot more time learning some of these finer points of the game than these other dudes did in high school.

  8. bosshogg24
    4:18 pm February 14, 2017 Permalink

    Humphries does not have a soft touch around the basket! He and Bam both should be playing facing the basket, neither is a center! How many years before Humphries quits fouling and plays up to expectations?

  9. Willis Wolf Tattoo
    4:23 pm February 14, 2017 Permalink

    Either the Aussie or the New Zealand Lumberjack need to step it up if we want to make a deep run in the tourney. Also SKJ must be beyond bad based off his PT this season. Can’t even get enough time to develop.

  10. secrick
    4:23 pm February 14, 2017 Permalink

    I believe Jones turning out to not be the player we had thought he would be has hurt this team. Cal want say that but we where expecting him to be good on the boards and he doesn’t even play.

  11. BlueDeuce
    4:24 pm February 14, 2017 Permalink

    It is nice to be able to score from all 5 spots, but then again, I like to see all 5 spots play defense too.

    Tai has a clear advantage on defense based on his time playing pro ball in Australia but so far, has shown he is limited on offense (for whatever reason). I like Tai and think he can be the inside presence we need because Bam isn’t going to play defense and if he tries, he fouls. Gabriel needs to get in there too and stop leaking out when shots are put up!

    Humphries gives up more than he scores (ala Willis as everyone says) so I think you play the defensive player and see if he can bring his offense up. There are still 4 options on the floor to score and honestly, once they start scoring he’ll get lobs, dunks, put backs, etc.

  12. timbo
    4:34 pm February 14, 2017 Permalink

    Wynyard. Every. Time

  13. timbo
    4:35 pm February 14, 2017 Permalink

    If Humphries goes more than 30 seconds from sub-in to first foul, I’ll do cartwheels in a tutu.

  14. BallDontLie
    4:47 pm February 14, 2017 Permalink

    Team struggles defensively. I’ll take the guy who plays better defensively.

  15. az1006
    5:18 pm February 14, 2017 Permalink

    I’ve been all about Wynyard getting more minutes for a couple of months now. He certainly isn’t going to do anything flashy, but one statistic I would love to see is the +/- splits for he and Isaac. I would venture to guess that despite his lack of offensive skills, he’s going to be in the + category while Isaac appears to be in the minus. Isaac may score a few points here and there, but he is so foul-prone that I’m sure the opponent more than makes up for it with free throws.

    This team struggles far more on the defensive side of the ball than they do on offense. Give me the guy that can help us get stops. He changed the game against Georgia, and has earned more PT if you ask me.

    As for SKJ…I’d like to know what he’s not doing in practice to see the floor. Cal talked about him being a potential starter in the preseason, and he’s barely played in conference. Not really complaining, just wonder what he’s missing. Hopefully he doesn’t, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he transfers.

  16. Luether
    6:39 pm February 14, 2017 Permalink

    Nick, the FT line is 15′ – not 10’…