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SEC coaches sound off on Kentucky: “They couldn’t guard us for s***”


We’ve talked about Kentucky’s slump ad nauseam this week, but NBC Sports’ Rob Dauster took a different approach: he asked SEC coaches and assistant coaches why the Cats have been so bad lately. Some of them were pretty blunt (albeit anonymously), especially about Kentucky’s defense:

“They couldn’t guard us for s***,” said a member of one staff that has faced Kentucky recently.

I mean, you can’t argue with that. Other coaches/assistants said they contained Kentucky by forcing them to play in the halfcourt, where the Cats are painfully predictable. You know all of our complaints about body language and lack of communication on the court? Other teams have noticed it too.

There seems to be a lack of fight with this group. Talk to people around the conference and you’ll hear things like “don’t really see a lot of leadership” and “they seem disinterested.” Tennessee is totally outclassed in terms of talent but, as one person that scouted the Tennessee’s win said, “Tennessee just played harder.” In the loss to Florida, they got punched in the mouth and didn’t have an answer, as Florida dominated the glass, picked up every loose ball and lit up Kentucky in transition.

Blergh. Before you start making other arrangements for March, check out the rest of Dauster’s column, in which he points out that both Duke and Kansas have gone through similar growing pains this season. He also gives KSR a shoutout, and, as you know, flattery will get you everywhere on this site.

[What’s wrong with Kentucky?: Why the Wildcats have struggled in recent weeks]

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

37 Comments for SEC coaches sound off on Kentucky: “They couldn’t guard us for s***”

  1. DelrayCat
    3:14 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

    Cats are still #23 on defense using Kenpom metrics (#8 offensively). However, we have fallen substantially since conference play. NCAA title winners traditionally are in or near top 10 for both. So we are still in the discussion, just need to tighten things up. I think they had gotten so used to running and gunning at the expense of the defense, that once teams began to purposefully slow them down…everything suffered. The positive being they are learning to play different styles..that and the fact there are no true road games in March.

    • runningunnin.454
      6:48 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

      I like running and gunning;, and it’s more achievable when we play smothering defense…we haven’t been able to play that defense since we started SEC play. We played that defense early in the season; but, the inconsistency of conference officials in regard to touch fouls has precluded the defense that, say, West Virginia plays.

    • CATandMONKEY
      7:06 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

      Effective R&G is very often predicated on stifling defense. The best teams of Pitino, Tubby and Cal have all been superb on the defensive end usually allowing speed and talent…or even lesser talent as in the Tubby years- to take advantage of the opponents lapses and win games.
      No reason we can’t have both. I want both but we definitely need more D at this point.
      Agree that inconsistent calls lead to hesitation on defense and that requires clever coaching to help our guys play through. I believe it can happen.

  2. secrick
    3:14 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

    They can’t guard the middle because Gabriel only thinks offense, he has got to help Bam get some rebounds and block the middle with some block shots.. I know what has defense got to do with offense, plenty. I f you only think about scoring or shooting the three then you are not going to be a good rebounder. Just ASK MONK.

    • rockatao
      3:36 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

      You must be watching a different team than I am. Gabriel leads the team in rebounds / minute and is only slightly behind Bam in blocks / minute.

    • Catsby80
      3:40 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

      secrick.. the biggest issue with this team is the ability of our guards to lock down and stay in front of their man. they get blown by on drives and put our bigs in terrible positions. if the big guy shades off and takes on the guard, then he leaves his guy and gives up an uncontested dunk. if he stays on his fellow big man, then he gives up a layup by the guard. it’s a no win situation for our bigs. our guards HAVE to get better plain and simple.

    • secrick
      4:12 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

      He’s second in rebounding behind Bam and they both are getting 6 per game which i think is awful for their size. Love Gabriel stay inside and get some offensive rebounds is all i’m saying . Ha i know nothing about the game just my opinion.

    • Cals Hoverboard
      6:44 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

      Catsby hit the nail on the head. If you watch the same games that I do, it doesn’t take a mental heavyweight to see our guards either cannot, or refuse to, stop straight line drives! My god, it’s so obvious! High pick and rolls, we usually always make the wrong decision. Teams have scouted us and have a blueprint on how to attack our swiss cheese defense. Cal is so damn worried about our #4 position (yes, Willis and Gabriel are defensively challenged) but our guards are where we bleed to death on defense. Fox, who is supposed to be the quickest, just jogs around and cannot stop a penetrating opponent. Monk just doesn’t seem to care on the defensive end. Briscoe, has shown in the past that he can be a stopper, but it seems like it’s 50-50 lately what his effort is gonna be. Cal has time to “get their heads right” but damn, we may be running out of time. I don’t worry so much about the offense, it’s more “fixable”. The defense MUST be addressed or else we’ve got little chance to take it deep in March. The defense will carry us on those nights when the basket shrinks and guys run cold. Right now, it seems like our offensive success hinges on whether Malik is hitting fall away 24 footers. But our offense will benefit tremendously by an improved defense. Ever heard that? Great defense leads to good offense?

      8:09 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

      I kinda of like Wenyen in there on D, at least he is going to fight for his life. Bam is the issue, he’s not a good defensive rebounder. He never learned how to put his body on a man to box out and secure the rebound. He looks like Tarzan but plays like Jane. Then this is the worst pick and roll defensive team I have seen, if the other team runs that middle pick and roll its either a lay up or wide open jumper. Also they are switching to much, that’s how we get killed on the boards. Fox and Monk are in there playing post defense on their bigs while Wenyen and Bam are on the perimeter guarding their guards. Of course they are going to get more rebounds. Also half court offense is so stale, we need not to throw it in there to Bam, that’s when bad things happen. His offense needs to be catching lob dunks / dump off passes from penetrating guards and offensive put backs. He’s not Shaq, he’s more like Dwight Howard. you can’t jump throw it in to him.

  3. Booby Petrino
    3:28 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

    I look forward to TN and FL coming to Rupp. I don’t care what you naysayers think, I think the Cats will avenge the losses. Yes, I know we only beat LSU by 7 and they’re lousy. Still think the Cats will get Ws and the negativity will simmer down.

  4. KYcats11
    3:29 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

    We can’t guard them FOR SHIT? Very stupid and uneducated word choice by the member of the staff of a recent team we played. Of course we can’t guard them if SHIT is our motivation.

  5. UkfanMatt
    3:33 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

    The no fight is the kicker. You are gonna get punched in the mouth so to speak. The other team is going to shoot lights out on the night your team can’t buy a bucket. But you need to keep hustling, keep fighting, dive for loose balls, box out, etc…

  6. Rod Crandler
    3:42 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

    We were a one trick pony. Run and gun. Teams figured it out and drop at least three back on defense when a shot goes up. No more run and gun. That’s why we don’t “look as good” as we did earlier in the season. In the half court we don’t have much of an inside presence so it’s jumper city. When they don’t fall (ala Monk)…ruh rho.

  7. dcarlinf1
    3:46 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

    Forcing them to play half court is what UL did. And the team has never been the same since. I knew it at the time. It just took a few weeks to slide to where we are now. Those saying there is time to fix it are out of their minds. This team is going nowhere in March.

    • catsarerunnin
      3:51 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

      Yeah I’m writing of this season too and only watch spring training baseball….

    • dcarlinf1
      4:06 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

      I haven’t written off entirely. But I have serious doubts they can fix their issues. Its getting late in the season.

    • maximumscott
      4:23 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

      They havent been issues all season long. They have only recently surfaced. It takes time to turn it around once a glaring weakness has been exposed. If they do figure it out I will say yo wont be able to play with this team.

    • dcarlinf1
      6:18 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

      The issues started in December.

    • CatsfaninFL
      4:13 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

      I’ll respectfully disagree… if we got found out in the end/middle of February, I’d agree. But right now? Dropped 3 of 5 games by early February? Long practices that are defensively focused now being implemented? I think we have time to right the ship. Monk, Fox, and Briscoe all have the talent to be lock down defenders, they just needed to be shut down and face the music to realize AAU ball won’t get them anywhere. Honestly, I’d hang that article in the locker room for further motivation before 3 hour practices.

  8. Booby Petrino
    3:57 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

    I don’t know why people keep acting like offense is the problem. We’re third in the NCAA for average points per game, with the FL game being our lowest point total all season…and we still scored more in that game than other ranked teams have in their games. Clearly defense is the problem, not the half court offense.

    • Sentient Third Eye
      4:00 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

      Because if the break isn’t working, we do struggle in the half court. That’s just a fact, and we have to address it.

    • dcarlinf1
      4:07 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

      ^^^ this

    • CatsfaninFL
      4:23 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

      Since we’ve supposedly been found out by UL… we have scored nothing less than 85 in a win. Our losses we have scored 70 (UL), 80 (UT), 73(KU), 66(UF). The losses outside of the UF debacle were 3, 2, and 6, respectively. I’m with BP. Defense is the problem. Even after being “found out” we still put up 80+ the vast majority of the time. Fix the defense and we’ll be fine.

    • Sentient Third Eye
      4:31 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

      I agree that defense is a greater problem, but there’s no rule saying we can only fix one or the other.

  9. jim tom
    4:02 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

    Sounds pretty accurate to me . I’ve seen nothing to suggest otherwise.

  10. UKPROF
    4:15 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

    “DEFENSE?” “We don’t need to play no stinking DEFENSE!”

  11. kjd
    4:15 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

    KSR crew talking again today how our team has shown their a great team earlier in the season. Just look at the NC game. They looked great! Yeah, we scored 103, but NC poured in a 100. NO DEFENSE!!!
    You go nowhere in March without defense. We lack the mental fundamentals of defense. We lack defensive effort. Does anyone notice the times when the opponent’s missed shot bounces on the floor while our guys look on?
    A solid, fundamental team will beat raw, individual talent more often than not in the tourney. IMO.

    • maximumscott
      4:25 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

      Talking heads putting UNC in a position to win title. Just saying. UNC played their best and we played ours. We won. That should speak volumes. Also, remember the IU sweet 16 game?!?!? We let them have 90 while we score 100. That was a good defensive team, but IU played incredibly well that game.

    • RC
      5:10 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

      My wife is a Tar Heel and we live in NC. I watch a lot of UNC. They’re much better than UK today. The Heels are a terrific rebounding team (and we aren’t) with more quality depth (9 deep legit contribute). UNC can run, can play in the half court and their D is merely average (not Gawd Awful). Consistent outside shooting is their weakness. They’re streaky from 3 but have 3-4 capable shooters.

      Overall I’d take UNC’s chances at the Final Four before I’d take UK’s. They’re no joke.

  12. phantompain
    4:31 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

    When I get a chance later I will (can’t right now; not registered and at work), but hopefully some people can light up the Loserville fan that made a comment. His monikor is uk2ndbestinthestate. He says we have no stud shot blocker (correct) but that we also don’t have PG that can get to the rim at will and score/dish which is pretty typical of a Loserville fan to say the dang near one thing we do have is a deficiency of this team lol.

  13. Sentient Third Eye
    4:32 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

    I hate to call out Briscoe, but he hasn’t been the leader we wanted him to be. Last year we had Tyler to drill it into the new guys what was expected. I don’t think Briscoe has displayed the same level of leadership at all.

  14. 3 fan
    4:44 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

    The article is spot on. No defense. Its not a secret. Cal is going kicking and screaming into playing a zone but if that gives us the best chance to win, do it. Cal also admitted a month ago to telling Bam to let layup go to avoid foul.

    Our bigs suck. I mean like almost 28′ of suck.

    We have no fight. The LSU comeback at Rupp was disgusting. I just don’t see this team going far.

  15. na8vecat
    5:39 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

    Here is the deal……. If Monk is not hitting we have trouble . Willis and Briscoe but are inconsistent at shooting 3’s . I think there is some chemistry problems on this team .

    They dont share the ball like they used to at the beginning of the season , I think think some players may be a bit frustrated at players playing for themselves IE Monk .

    But hell I could be wrong

  16. RealCatsFan
    5:49 pm February 9, 2017 Permalink

    I realize that there is a lot of timing and quickness associated with being a good shot blocker, but I honestly think that the way the games are being called has adversely affected our inside defensive effort. Bam and Isaac are so worried about getting called for a phantom foul that they hesitate before going for a block, or back away completely, like we saw with Bam the other night when he had three fouls on him. And in his defense, Cal did say that our players need to back off and let them have a layup when they are in foul trouble. So perhaps some of the problems are related to mixed messages from the coaching staff.

    I think they need to just commit themselves to maximum defensive effort and see where the chips fall. If players get in foul trouble, so be it – time for the reserves to step it up. Maybe we should run a trapping press once in a while to force some turnovers. I know Cal doesn’t believe in steals, but with Fox and Monk’s quickness, they could raise hell on the passing lanes, especially if we execute a trap.