Julius Randle is unquestionably the most physically talented player on the Kentucky Wildcats team, no player maybe even in the rest of the country has Randle’s natural combination of size, quickness, and basketball skill. His enormous frame and his determination in the paint have led him to an NCAA-leading 9 double-doubles this season and through 12 games the Wildcat freshman is averaging a seemingly effortless 18.2PPG and 11.3RPG with an ability to score nearly at will once he’s received the ball in the paint.
However, going up against Louisville will be a different animal for Randle and the Wildcats, something that the 2010-11 Kentucky team can speak for as well. In that game in 2010 Terrence Jones was the Kentucky freshman off to an incredible start, and Louisville made it a point to take TJ out of the game and let the rest of the young Kentucky team beat them, and despite constant double teams Jones mastered the play that could come back and hurt the Cards again today, the dump off pass. With all of their attention focused on Jones, who had multiple games of 25-15 at that point in the year, Jones simply dumped the ball off down low to Josh Harrelson when double teams came his way, leading to a career 25-12 night from Jorts in a 78-63 win over the Cards.
UofL will not be able to hang with Randle 1-on-1 in the post, Montrezl Harrell could provide some opposition defensively but give Randle enough time with him 1-on-1 and Harrell will almost assuredly be in foul trouble which is something the Cardinals can’t afford. Louisville will likely double team Randle as soon as he gets the ball in the post, and we’ve seen in the last couple of games that Julius is becoming more and more comfortable with passing out of double teams down low back up top, but if 2010 tells us anything about Louisville’s defensive strategy, Randle may want to turn his head and look right below the rim for Willie Cauley-Stein. Putting the brakes on the Cards’ pressure defense will be the key to remaining composed for the young ‘Cats, and Julius Randle, who will be at the heart of that pressure D, may hold the key to great day of shooting for the team.