The 2017-18 Kentucky basketball team had scorers and shot-makers, but it’s obvious the Cats didn’t have any true knockdown shooters. The one they did have, Jemarl Baker, missed the entire season with a knee injury.
John Calipari knew before the season even began that it wouldn’t be one of his best shooting teams, which says a lot considering not many have been elite from beyond the arc.
Calipari said this team will not be known as a shooting team, but admits not many of his Kentucky teams have been considered that.
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) October 12, 2017
And he was right.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the team shooting 40.4 percent from three, but he certainly wasn’t Kentucky’s biggest threat from deep. He never hit more than two threes in a single game and shot over three three-pointers just twice. Wenyen Gabriel wasn’t too far behind with a 39.6 percent clip, and that was with the help of a hot streak to finish the season, including his seven-for-seven performance in the SEC Tournament. Quade Green shot 37.6 percent from three, Kevin Knox shot 34 percent, etc. As a team, they shot just 35.7 percent on the year.
To make matters worse, for the first time in nearly 30 years, Kentucky failed to make a three-pointer in a single game. The epic streak was broken, and it surprised no one this was the team to end it.
And John Calipari is tired of dealing with it.
“Last year that hurt us,” Calipari told the Courier-Journal and other media at his satellite camp in Union, KY. “My first year, 2010, should have won a national title that year but we go (4 for 32) in a game from the three-point line. You can’t win a game like that. This has become a hit-or-miss league: If you make it you win; if you miss it you lose.”
From now on, Coach Cal says he will put together teams that can shoot at every position, and he thinks he has that this year.
“I want to have everyone on the court that can shoot the ball,” Calipari said. “You’ve got to be honest, you’ve got to play them. Anytime you’re playing against a team where they’re playing off of one person it’s hard. How about two? And we’ve had sometimes when they played off three.”
“You’re talking all our guys, (even) our big guys,” Calipari continued. “So yeah, I’m excited about this team in that regard.”
Quade Green, Jemarl Baker, Immanuel Quickley, and Tyler Herro, they can all shoot well. PJ Washington has improved his jump shot and EJ Montgomery saw a massive growth spurt a la Anthony Davis in high school, so he still has guard skills (including a solid jumper). If the Cats get Reid Travis, they have another guy that can knock down open jumpers, as well.
They’ll struggle a bit shooting with Ashton Hagans, Keldon Johnson, and (to a much greater extent) Nick Richards, but Cal absolutely has the tools necessary to put shooters in position to hit shots.
You can read the rest of Calipari’s interview with Jon Hale of the Courier-Journal here.