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UK first half basketball woes are easily fixable

first half woes(H/t Darrell Bird | CatsPause)

This season, UK Men’s Basketball has taken the term “second half team” to a new level. However, is that something fans should worry about?

Fans were left less than satisfied Wednesday with the lack of aggressiveness from the starting five as the Cats took on Mississippi State. Since Mississippi State is 10th in the SEC, many fans expected the Cats would dominate the Bulldogs the entire game. However, as you know, the Cats fell behind early and took 12 minutes before they tied the game and then took the lead.

Throughout the entire season, the Cats have had issues starting games strong. Here are flow charts from the past four games to prove that:

Miss State Flow chart Louisville Flow Chart Belmont Flow Chart UNC Flow Chart

Although the first half slump has been part of all the games this season, many hoped the 13 days of Camp Cal would fix that issue.

One thing that has been consistent with the team this year; their short-term memory loss. The team seemed to forget about their losses quickly by not letting them affect their performances in the games they had ahead of them, which is great and something a good team should be able to do. However, the memory loss hurts them as well, since they cannot seem to remember what they learned at Camp Cal.

Even Cal said, “We were really rusty. When you watch the tape it is amazing how they revert back.”

A lot of the rustiness could account for the 10 day break in the schedule, as well.

Energy and aggressiveness are key components to defeating teams as the Cats get deeper into SEC play. Every team Kentucky has faced this season has opened with energy Kentucky has been unable to find out of the gate, and this has left Cal worried.

“This is every game now, and it’s the same reason. They out run us, they out work us, they’re more alert to play then we are. And then we kinda kick it in,” he said. “I told them after the game, [do this] against a really good team, and you’ll be down by 20 and you’re not coming back”

Not to worry, however. There are plenty of things that will help the team with their first half woes.

For one, the Cats have a history of playing rusty after a break in the schedule. Lucky for them, their breaks are over for the rest of the season. The upcoming schedule pace should help the Cats stay on track as they progress as a team.

While the scheduling might be out of Cal’s control, there are a couple of things he plans on doing to help make the team better out of the gate.

At his pre-Vanderbilt press conference, Cal said he was thinking about starting different people who understand what he expects from his players. He also stated he was happy with the performance with his bench players more so than the starters.

In his weekly call-in show, Cal said team members need to start thinking differently. Throughout the season the players have been selfish by trying to run down the clock and shooting the ball when they feel most comfortable. Calipari is hoping that by changing that mindset, he will be able to fix the opening jitters.

“My challenge to them now is you’ve gotta think different. When you have the ball think pass and you think score when you don’t have the ball,” he said.

Much of the team’s roster has come from schools where they did not have the talent to pass to, which explains where this bad habit came from. While bad habits might be hard to break, if anyone can break them….it would be Cal.

While it might seem a bit like nit-picking, it is the small technical things like this which divide National Championship teams from all the rest. These small things will help the Cats come out of the gate strong and help them be able to play a full 40 minutes of ball.


Article written by Courtney Hessler

Ashley Judd is my spirit animal. Follow me on twitter at: @Hessler_KSR

9 Comments for UK first half basketball woes are easily fixable

  1. Pie Charts
    6:09 pm January 10, 2014 Permalink

    I like pie charts better…preferably lemon and coconut !

  2. SoCalCat
    6:31 pm January 10, 2014 Permalink

    The photo says it all. Mitch Barnhart worried about calls for Cal’s head after an early NCAA exit this year. Just kidding.

  3. How?!
    6:40 pm January 10, 2014 Permalink

    I wish there was something bigger than normal caps that I could’ve wrote that in. Before “Camp Cal” all the talk was about how much better they are going to be after so much time to practice. Now instead it gets used as an excuse for why they aren’t ready or improved. This is a team just like last season without solid point guard leadership. And it doesn’t matter how much talent you have if you don’t have a PG that can run the offense. A solid PG demands the ball after every rebound and inbounds. Ours takes off running down the court like it’s going to be a fast break. A solid PG runs to the rebounder to get the ball from him fast. Before the “big” throws it away with a stupid pass or tries dribbling it up. Ours runs away from them helping them make the bad pass or encouraging them to dribble it. How Cal seen Andrew as a “stone cold killer” I’ll never know. He’s talented but he doesn’t have a PG mindset.
    Then throw on there we have a bunch of “shooters” that can’t hit 3s

    • GoCats2
      6:55 pm January 10, 2014 Permalink

      Is that real?
      Relax buddy. Its January and these guys will be fine. Guaranteed Final Four. Patience.

  4. Jame223
    6:53 pm January 10, 2014 Permalink

    Could we see Dominique or Poythress get a start tomorrow? I don’t think both will but I have a feeling one may.

  5. bluebloodtoo
    6:54 pm January 10, 2014 Permalink

    I don’t mean to be nitpicky, but those charts show that the team starts both halves slow on offense (exception with Belmont game), not just the first half. They also show that once they start scoring the slope stays pretty linear. This team does not have big runs of scoring and then dry spells of no scoring very often other than the start of each half.
    It also shows that on the UL game and the MsSt game, the opposing team did not score well in the last quarter of the game. Is that defensive intensity, high scoring players fouling out, or teams running out of steam?

  6. jaws2
    7:48 pm January 10, 2014 Permalink

    Soooooooooooooo sick of hearing about “rust”. That’s ridiculous. These guys should be destroying teams and Miss St should never have been in the game. Overall the team showed no improvement Wed night after camp Cal.

  7. Catlogic15
    9:03 pm January 10, 2014 Permalink

    If we didn’t know the date, I’d swear Cal’s comments were made prior to Camp Cal.

  8. rockatao
    9:27 am January 11, 2014 Permalink

    ” .. the players have been selfish by trying to run down the clock and shooting the ball when they feel most comfortable”. what the hell does that mean? I doubt that ANY player intentionally tries to run down the clock unless told to do so by the coach. and when should they shoot? when they feel the least comfortable?