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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Who is Your 5 Guys in the Clutch?

Kentucky hasn’t faced too many close games in the grand scheme of things this season.  In all, UK’s opponents have been within 10 points in the final 5 minutes of the game (or overtime) in just 8 games this season.  Obviously, UK has come out on top in each of those games.  And while in UK’s first 2 NCAA Tournament games, this has not been the case, it is almost a certainty that the Cats will play a couple tight games if they are to win the national championship.  So who are the 5 guys you would play in the final 5 minutes of the game should UK face a close situation in the next couple weeks?  Before you answer that, look at how Calipari has divided up the minutes in those 8 games I mentioned earlier:

Cauley-Stein (4:47), Aa. Harrison (4:32), An. Harrison (4:01), Ulis (3:23), Johnson (2:47)
Poythress (1:39), Booker (1:06), Towns (:34), Lyles (:34)

Aa.Harrison (5:00), Booker (5:00), Towns (4:28), Cauley-Stein (4:00), An.Harrison (2:44)
Ulis (2:01), Lyles (1:32), Lee (:15)

AT OLE MISS (overtime game)
Aa.Harrison (10:00), An.Harrison (10:00), Cauley-Stein (10:00), Booker (6:24), Lyles (5:51)
Johnson (3:54), Ulis (2:10), Towns (1:40)

AT TEXAS A&M (double overtime game)
Aa.Harrison (13:00), Lyles (11:11), Ulis (9:34), Booker (9:20), An.Harrison (8:17)
Johnson (7:31), Towns (6:18), Lee (5:08), Cauley-Stein (:50)

An.Harrison (5:00), Cauley-Stein (5:00), Aa.Harrison (4:44), Towns (4:11), Booker (4:00)
Ulis (1:16), Lyles (:49)

Aa.Harrison (5:00), Cauley-Stein (5:00), Ulis (5:00), Towns (4:09), An.Harrison (3:51)
Booker (1:09), Lee (:51)

An.Harrison (5:00), Cauley-Stein (5:00), Aa.Harrison (4:06), Ulis (3:26), Towns (3:25)
Booker (2:27), Lyles (1:35)

Aa.Harrison (5:00), An.Harrison (5:00), Ulis (5:00), Cauley-Stein (4:27), Towns (2:48)
Johnson (1:35), Lyles (:26), Booker (:11)

COMBINED (out of possible 55 minutes)
Aaron Harrison- 51:22
Andrew Harrison- 43:53
Cauley-Stein- 39:04
Ulis- 31:50
Booker- 29:37
Towns- 27:33
Lyles- 21:58
Johnson- 15:47
Lee- 6:14

A couple things are clear from the mind of John Calipari, and I don’t think these are groundbreaking thoughts: the Harrison twins and Cauley-Stein are going to be on the floor late in close games barring some unforeseen circumstances.  Once SEC play started, that was the case in every close game except at Texas A&M when Cal benched Cauley-Stein fouled out before the overtime periods.  As the season progressed, Tyler Ulis has seemed to earn a spot in crunch time as well.  But who that 5th guy is has fluctuated.  Booker, Towns, and Lyles have all seen their time in crunch time but with no noticeable pattern.  In fact, I was a little surprised to see that Towns hasn’t played more in crunch time, even in the last couple close games.

Personally, the 4 I think are a must on the floor are the Harrisons, Ulis, and Towns, not Cauley-Stein.  His play is so wildly inconsistent, even in a particular game, that I am not sure his spot at the end of games should be a guarantee.  We have been getting a much more productive, consistent performance from Towns for quite a while now.  Sometimes I even think that Willie’s highlight reel dunks sometimes mask the fact that he goes large portions of games doing little to no positive.  Cincinnati had their way on the offensive glass and many times that was on WCS.  Now, Willie at his best is probably the best player on the team.  But, in the Cincinnati game for instance, if that game had been close at the end, I think I would have moved Towns to the 5 and left Lyles in at the 4.

What about you?  Who is your 5 “Crunch Time” Players right now?

Article written by Bryan the Intern

11 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Who is Your 5 Guys in the Clutch?

  1. RealCatsFan
    9:12 am March 23, 2015 Permalink

    Completely agree with you, BTI. Absolutely love Willie, both as a player and a person, but he needs to bring his lunch pail to these games and go to work the entire time he is in there. This is not the time for timid play. He needs to be aggressive early, and not worry about fouls. Block everything within reach and dunk on everyone! Once he establishes that, he can succeed on pure intimidation.

    Right now Towns is a huge asset, both in shot blocking and offensive production. Plus, the kid is money at the line. You have to have him in at crunch time for the FT shooting alone.

    My crunch time 5:


    • mashburnfan1
      9:25 am March 23, 2015 Permalink

      agree but if we need ft shooting I would replace Andrew with Booker. If we go offense and defense subbing I would go offense and ft shooting Ulis, Aaron, Booker, Lyles and Towns.
      When we sub for defense go Andrew {size over Ulis}, Aaron, Lyles or Booker depending on matchup, Towns and WCS.

    • ClutchCargo
      9:29 am March 23, 2015 Permalink

      ^ I disagree on the Booker for Andrew sub. There is really nobody on the team I would rather have at the line for a pressure FT than Andrew. Except maybe Aaron.

    • RealCatsFan
      9:45 am March 23, 2015 Permalink

      Overall, as a team (with the exception of Marcus) we are shooting FT’s pretty well. Not a weakness for this team so far. Biggest issue is rebounding, and that is one of the areas where Karl and Trey excel. We need Booker to get his shooting eye lined up again before we can count on him to be in there at clutch time.

  2. jonthes
    9:19 am March 23, 2015 Permalink

    Willie at his best is the best player in the country. He’s had many clutch plays going back to when he was a freshman. His talent is so unusual he could dominate every second of a game if that was humanly possible, but it’s not. He actually impacts the other teams’ offense more than Anthony Davis did. Some respect.
    Towns is often not in the last minutes because of his foul trouble. He needs to cut out the silly fouls, in fact the whole team could learn from Wisconsin and not foul, as they managed in the Cincy game.

  3. Musehobo
    9:21 am March 23, 2015 Permalink

    I get the feeling sometimes that WCS is sort of taking it easy till he gets to the final four, perhaps wanting to make sure he’s not hurt again. I think if we make it there, he BREAKS OUT and destroys people on an even more consistent basis.

  4. Aaron Crafts Rosacea
    10:06 am March 23, 2015 Permalink

    If we are depending on FTs to win a game it has to be the twins. Point, Blank, Period!

  5. ukjaybrat
    10:08 am March 23, 2015 Permalink

    Towns not getting late game PT is not surprising. he is often in foul trouble. not even gonna try to figure out if he was in foul trouble in any of those games when he didn’t get the nod because i have a busy morning… ( hey that’s your job anyway 😛 )

    Willie isn’t in the game late because of his smooth offensive stroke. he’s in their because he is one of our best defenders. He is a large reason why teams we play go on droughts at the end of games.

    my 5:

    Harrison/Booker (whoever is shooting better that night)
    Towns/Lyles (whoever is having the better overall game that night)

    I like the willie/towns combo on defense but i like the towns/lyles combo on offense

  6. TJY
    10:23 am March 23, 2015 Permalink

    The Twins are winners and MUST be on the floor. Ulis is a great decision maker and doesn’t appear to let anything phase him so he must be in. Karl is our best free throw shooter over the last month, besides he is THE go to guy for points. I want WCS on the floor because he does things that no one else can do, especially on the defensive end, so I want him in for D, let Twins and Karl handle the O. I am fine with Trey in the game if any of the bigs are in foul trouble, he has really discovered how big of a mismatch he can be.

    Of course as soon as Devin hits that first three, all of this becomes moot as we will be back to beating teams by 20+.

  7. mgilkey13
    11:02 am March 23, 2015 Permalink

    In clutch time I want the best DEFENSIVE team possible. In my mind that lineup is Karl, WCS, Aaron (who is tremendously under appreciated for his defensive skills), Tyler Ulis, and Devin Booker (who is a good defender but reeks havoc on the offensive side as well when he’s moving). The good news is you’re not losing anything with Andrew in there for Booker or Ulis, and gaining the experience. Lyles is a maybe depending on the matchups, but assuming Karl and WCS aren’t in any foul trouble I think Dakari and Lee would be difficult to trust in a clutch situation at this point. But all that said the best part about this team is that EACH of these guys has the ability to be a clutch player, ALL can make plays. And that’s why they’re so special. They make plays for each other and we don’t have anyone making bad decisions to improve their draft stock (like a James Young for example). I liked James Young but he clearly had a tendency to shoot shots that weren’t there and to play lazy defense. This is also why Cal’s job can be both extremely easy or extremely hard depending on your perspective. There’s no bad lineup, but it’s so easy for us to second guess and have the expert answer here. Except that there is no correct answer because they all can shine at any given time. Fortunately, we haven’t had to do much second guessing this year and God willing, we never will. GO CATS!

  8. EdC
    4:38 pm March 23, 2015 Permalink

    I agree with Harrisons, Ulis, Towns and Trey UNLESS Willie has been working hard. Last game for example he had 2 lousy rebounds for the entire game. He was tied or outrebounded by all but 1 guard in the game. I think it is hard to have him in there if all he is giving you is defense and shoots 62% from the line.