Skip to content

Kentucky Sports Radio

University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.

BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Does Cal’s Claim Hold Water?


I don’t blame Cal for this because in some ways I think he is just playing into the fan’s beliefs, but after the demoralizing defeat to Ohio State Saturday, the coach made some comments about guys essentially playing over their heads and hitting all the shots against Kentucky.  I think Cal has said this kind of the thing before but I know some fans make that claim all the time.  And there have been examples where guys just go off against UK, such as the Crispin Brothers, Steve Novak, that Texas A&M guy a few years back.  But the reality of the situation is every team in America, over the course of 32-40 games, is going to have examples of players having superb games against them.

The problem I have is with fans (or Cal in this case) who basically believe that UK is special in some way when it comes to this factor.  That because they are playing UK, teams and players just focus so hard and play better, or some would say get luckier.  I thought maybe there was some truth behind that claim, since if Calipari said it, it must be true, right?

Well, I did the research.  I looked at every game of the Cal era and compared the shooting percentage of the opponent against Kentucky to their season average.  In how many games did the opponent actually shoot BETTER against UK than their average?  The numbers don’t support Cal and some fans’ claims:

5 out of 38 games
Miami OH, Indiana, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Tennessee

6 out of 38 games
UCONN (Maui), Louisville, Alabama, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, UCONN (Final 4)

4 out of 40 games
Alabama, Ole Miss, Florida, Indiana (Sweet 16)

10 of 33 games
Notre Dame, Louisville, Texas A&M, Tennessee (x2), Auburn, Florida, Vanderbilt (x2), Robert Morris

11 out of 40
Michigan St, Baylor, North Carolina, Vanderbilt, LSU, Missouri, Florida, Georgia, Wichita St, Louisville, Wisconsin

6 out of 39 games
Ole Miss, Alabama (x2), Florida, LSU, Georgia

2 of 11 games
South Florida, UCLA

So, for Calipari’s career at Kentucky, teams have only shot above their season average in 44 of 233 games.  If anything, Cal should take a source of pride in that number.  That the defense he has built at UK has done such an amazing job at defending the opponent.  It comes off as excuse-making to essentially make up a stat that isn’t true.  I love Cal but this was foolish.  It becomes especially foolish when you consider Ohio State only shot 40% for the game!  They shoot 45% for the season.  Sure, they made 9 of 18 three-pointers and that was much better than they shot this season.  But those shots only accounted for 27 of their 74 points, not exactly a game changer.

Here’s another interesting part about the numbers above: THIS DOESN’T MEAN UK LOSES.  UK’s record in the 44 games that teams shot above their season average: 26-18.

My point in all of this is not that Kentucky doesn’t have games where teams play above their heads.  Of course they do.  But that is the natural process of a season.  Kentucky is not special in this regard.  So when our fans harp on this and then our coach repeats it, it makes us look ridiculous.  It’s an excuse for losing that doesn’t hold water.

I know what some people will respond: WHAT ABOUT 3-POINTERS???  That’s what Ohio State did so well that was above their average.  Ok, fine.  Here are all the times that a UK opponent has shot better than 50% from the 3-point line and made 7 or more 3-pointers:

2009-10: Miami OH (15-26, UK WINS)
2010-11: UCONN (7-12, UK LOSES)
2010-11: Penn (8-12, UK WINS)
2010-11: Alabama (7-14, UK LOSES)
2010-11: Tennessee (9-16, UK WINS)
2010-11: Vanderbilt (11-20, UK LOSES)
2010-11: Mississippi St (12-22, UK WINS)
2011-12: North Carolina (11-18, UK WINS)
2011-12: Indiana (9-15, UK LOSES)
2011-12: Florida (11-22, UK WINS)
2012-13: Notre Dame (8-15, UK LOSES)
2012-13: Samford (7-14, UK WINS)
2012-13: Auburn (7-13, UK WINS)
2013-14: Providence (10-19, UK WINS)
2013-14: Florida (9-15, UK LOSES)
2014-15: Ole Miss (9-17, UK WINS)
2014-15: Auburn (11-19, UK WINS)
2015-16: Ohio State (9-18, UK LOSES)

So even in the games when the other teams shoots AMAZING from behind the arc, the Cats are still 11-7 in those games.

Point being, what happened against Ohio State is not the norm, it is the anomaly.  And I would hope our fans and coach would look at it that way from now on or risk looking silly.

Article written by Bryan the Intern

25 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Does Cal’s Claim Hold Water?

  1. kjd
    8:17 am December 22, 2015 Permalink

    Excellent article.
    I have to add, against Ohio State, most of the threes were wide open looks. Defense is a factor also.

  2. emlang08
    8:24 am December 22, 2015 Permalink

    Shooting percentage is not a complete stat to justify the claims that we are everyone’s superbowl. Much more has to be considered.

    Maybe not a better percentage, but did they get up more shots? better shots? more 50/50 balls? More hustle? more will? more fan support than usual? nothing to lose mentality?

  3. Duuuuuude
    8:28 am December 22, 2015 Permalink

    I think what he is talking about is when a team which is medeocher at best has a game where they play at a much higher level, or at least up to their potential. Ohio State had lost to some very poor teams, but could have beaten anybody last week. It happens.

    • BigBlue2U
      9:16 am December 22, 2015 Permalink

      medeocher sounds like a new weight loss plan, brought to you by Cher!

    • Duuuuuude
      9:46 am December 22, 2015 Permalink

      I know……turrible spelling! lol

    • somerset bill
      10:39 am December 22, 2015 Permalink

      nice try, though.

  4. TJY
    8:30 am December 22, 2015 Permalink

    He should just stick with we are “Everybody’s Super Bowl” on this one. A talented yet underachieving OSU team, gets to play “THE” team in college basketball, on network TV, at an NBA venue, with a week to prepare. UK did not respect OSU enough to be ready when the ball was thrown into the air. Did they make shots, yes, but that is because they were focused and this game gave them (OSU) a chance to prove they are someone.

    This sounds like the same description I would use when talking about LSU. LSU can’t beat us with the efforts they have put forth this year, but when we roll into town in early January, they are going to have the same attitude as OSU did last weekend.

    After last season, I’m ok with this loss and the UCLA loss IF we learn something from them. I think we will, I think Cal will use it to keep the attention of the guys and I think we will improve much more than if we had cakewalked to a 15 point victory.

    • CatsfaninFL
      9:00 am December 22, 2015 Permalink

      Totally agree. Regular season losses don’t mean nearly as much as people want to worry about unless they start to pile up (2 isn’t anything to worry about). What matters is these guys start to realize they can’t take anyone for granted. Our guys gotta just keep learning and buy into that team mentality. If they do, we’ll have a year like Brandon Knight or first year w/ the Twins. If not, it’ll be a rough road for them (and us).

  5. Catsby80
    8:48 am December 22, 2015 Permalink

    This is actually pretty decent research, BTI. But you still suck. Go Cats.

  6. david8577
    8:55 am December 22, 2015 Permalink

    I agree with the other comments above that there are many other factors than just shooting percentage. I appreciate all the work you put in however. BTI, sucking like it’s his job.

  7. GTx2
    8:59 am December 22, 2015 Permalink

    It’s hard to measure intangibles mathematically.

  8. Sasquatch
    9:00 am December 22, 2015 Permalink

    NERD!!! He’s not talking about annual percentages. If I’m guarding you and you shoot 45% and then you play against AD and shoot 40%, I’m putting money on you shooting out of your mind against AD to get to 40%. He just means they hit shots when he felt they played good defense.

    That being said, I prefer no excuses and this team will get better as the year goes on.

  9. smahurin
    9:05 am December 22, 2015 Permalink

    I partially agree with BTI and partially with the posters above. In a 36-40 game season every team is bound to have guys “go off” against them. But just looking at shooting percentages alone is a fairly poor way of looking at it. I certainly didn’t run the numbers but I would guess the average FG% of the teams UK has played is somewhere around 45/46%. UK’s field goal percentage defense has been very strong every year with the exception of 2 (well 1-1/2). The 2013 team was mediocre by national standards (terrible by UK and high major standards) and the 2014 was average (still terrible by UK standards). But I’d guess that over the course of Cal’s tenure at UK our FG% D is somewhere around 40%.

    Without running any numbers to back this up, if teams average 45% throughout Cals tenure, and we only give up 40% (not sure how accurate these #’s are just my guess) statistically we SHOULD rarely give up a higher percentage FG than they shoot throughout the year.

  10. dwells58
    9:11 am December 22, 2015 Permalink

    Consider how many games Calipari has lost at UK- 37. 18 is about half of those. So in 50% of our losses, teams have shot above average. That changes your argument a little.

    However, it’s not just about team shooting percentage, you need to take individual performance into account as well. The team can shoot 0-10 and one guy go off and shoot 10-10. 50% overall, but one outstanding performance can be a game changer.

    I’m not trying to make excuses, but you cannot completely falsify a statement with one fact.

    Quit trying to debunk our coach and start supporting our boys a little more. 9-2 is not the end of the world.

  11. RealCatsFan
    9:27 am December 22, 2015 Permalink

    I think BTI touched on one key concept but did not fully explore it – defense. The really successful UK teams played smothering defense and did not allow a lot of open shots. Look at the number of good shooting opponent performances during the 2010-11 & 2012-13 seasons compared to 2009-10 & 2011-12 and last year. Hopefully this team goes more in the direction of the 2010-11 team rather than the 2012-13 team. No matter what, we fans need to not give up on them. The 2014 season should serve as a reminder of that.

  12. @BallBlog_Chad
    9:39 am December 22, 2015 Permalink

    I like how you say “still 11-7” … which would literally have half of BBN calling for Cal’s head … since Cal has been here, how have we fared against those teams on that list? I mean of those 7 losses, UConn was good that year and so was IU, but the other games are all considered “bad losses” by most of the fan base.

  13. secrick
    9:41 am December 22, 2015 Permalink

    Ha man are you a Louisville fan, Last time i read your post.

  14. ukcamel
    9:45 am December 22, 2015 Permalink

    Notice those are mostly SEC and other big conference teams? Of course teams that play in the SWAC aren’t going to shoot better against us when they play most of their games against much smaller, slower opponents. The fact that even in 6 SEC games last year our opponent bettered their season average against WCS, Towns, etc. is pretty amazing though. Lends some truth to claim that teams get way up to play us.

  15. bbn4LIFE
    10:11 am December 22, 2015 Permalink

    Dave ragone and BTI sucks

  16. ragoss2
    10:18 am December 22, 2015 Permalink

    26-18 and 11-7 are significantly lower than his long term winning percentage at Kentucky which exceeds 84 percent, so I think this makes your point invalid. Along with your statement 27 points from 9 threes is not game changing especially given we only lost by 7. Furthermore, if you watched teams before they play Kentucky and compared them to when they actually play Kentucky, you would know what Cal is referring to. Of course the law of averages work them self out over the coarse of a 40 minute game but statistics do not tell all. Watch the game!

  17. somerset bill
    10:40 am December 22, 2015 Permalink

    “…but, we’re stuck with basketball.” ~ bryan the intern quote.

  18. Stopover
    12:13 pm December 22, 2015 Permalink

    Oh, trust me….Cal already looks silly and his headed toward slight paranoia.

    • UK Big Board Update
      12:49 pm December 22, 2015 Permalink


    • UK Big Board Update
      12:50 pm December 22, 2015 Permalink

      Hookers, abortions and lies make you look silly….

  19. smackdab
    4:15 pm December 22, 2015 Permalink

    This is a really bad way to look at it. If teams normally shot better against us than anyone else, we’d have a horrible record. But there is some truth to the fact that players ‘get up’ to play against us. Just like we ‘play down’ to average teams, and play up to bigger opponents. When we’re playing down to a small-time opponent, who has been looking forward to the UK game on their schedule for over a year, you can bet they’re going to be more amped up for our game. And if they catch fire, they’re going to ride it as long as they can cuz they know they’ll have more scouts watching them than any other game.