Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Alabama 59 - 55 Kentucky

Well, this is going to be my last post about UK basketball for a while.  When I turned 45, I promised myself that I wouldn't spend the rest of my life watching bad sports teams.  I've done too much of that already.  So I'm not going to spend much more time watching this year's iteration of the Cats.  I wish them all the best, and I will jump right on that bandwagon as soon as it gets going again.  But I refuse to spend the rest of the winter watching Archie Goodwin (2-12 from the field, 3-6 from the line, 2 assists, 3 turnovers) and Ryan Harrow (3-12 from the field) try to drive to the basket through the other team's defense.  I don't want to see any more sloppy play from Alex Poythress (5 fouls in 15 minutes).  And I can't sit through 13 more nights of horrific free throw shooting (they went 6-11 tonight, with Wiltjer missing a huge free throw with 1:11 to go that represented UK's last chance to take the lead.)

I feel bad for Wiltjer, because he did play well otherwise.  He went 6-10 with 14 points and 7 rebounds, and he could have done more if Goodwin or Harrow had let him have the ball.  In fact, I feel bad for all the players except for Goodwin, Harrow, and Poythress.  But for whatever reason, those guys are just not capable of doing whatever it is they are supposed to do for this team.  I thought, after the Auburn game and the first half of this game, that the Cats had decided to play hard-nosed defense and run the offense through Wiltjer, and I thought that might work.  But after watching Goodwin and Harrow go one-on-three over and over in the second half, I now have no faith that the Cats can stick to any scheme that doesn't involve those two guys taking at least 20 shots per game.  And I don't see how any team that has Harrow and Goodwin taking 20 shots per game is going to do well.

So I will be taking a break.  I'm told that we have a good recruiting class coming in next year, and I hope that is true.  And these last three years have been fun.  But into each life some rain must fall, and this appears to be our year for a downpour.


  1. In five SEC games, Archie Goodwin has shot 20-59 from the field, for a shooting percentage of 33.9 percent. He is 1-12 from three-point range, for a percentage of 8.3 percent. How can you win when a guard who makes 33.9 percent his of his shots -- and who can't shoot threes at all -- is taking almost 12 shots per game?

  2. In the same five games, Ryan Harrow has gone 23-59 for the field, for a shooting percentage of 39.0 percent. He has gone 4-18 from three-point range, for a percentage of 22.2 percent. How can you when if your point guard is putting up numbers like that?

  3. Finally, there's Poythress. He's 14-26 from the field (53.8 percent) and 16-19 from the line (84.2 percent). But he's only playing 22 minutes per game, due to foul trouble and missed assignments.

  4. Having looked at the numbers for Goodwin, Harrow, and Poythress, I'm actually amazed that UK has won any SEC games, much less that they have a winning record (3-2). It just shows how well everyone else has played.

  5. Pomeroy still has UK finishing 12-6 in the SEC, but I can't see it. To win more than 10 games in the league, they would have to win one of the following: at Ole Miss, at Texas A & M, at Florida, at Tennessee, at Arkansas, home to Florida. I can't see them winning any of those games, much less two of them.

    And for what it's worth, I don't think they'll get into the NCAA's if they go 12-6 in the SEC. I think they'd have to go at least 13-5. So that means they'd have to win three of the games listed above, and avoid being upset in their other games. If Coach Cal can get them to do that, he should be the SEC Coach of the Year.

  6. I should also point out that this team blew a 16-point lead against Vandy, and they blew an 11-point lead against Alabama. I don't think I've ever seen a UK team blow two double-digit leads in the span of only five games.

  7. Ask UNC fans how hard it is to win while rotating in players. So far Calipari had made it look easy, as did UNC at one point, but it is not easy. There will be years like this and there will be players who come and transfer elsewhere.

  8. Actually, having thought about it for 48 hours, I'm feeling somewhat more hopeful. It seems clear that Goodwin and Harrow are pretty much the whole problem. If they quit taking so many dumb shots, UK could improve dramatically.

  9. One game at a time.

    The Louisville game showed that this group of Kentucky players has enough working parts to succeed. And then the Texas A&M game showed that Nerlens Noel has the fierceness to be the alpha dog. And then the Auburn game indicated the different ways that Kyle Wiltjer can be the team's best player.

    Three things, though, that temper my optimism:

    --One, I think Coach Calipari believes Goodwin and Harrow are indispensable. Per the ESPN sideline reporter the other night, at the end of the game, he told those two to just drive to the goal a lot. It appeared to me that each possession Calipari gave his team two options--either Goodwin or Harrow take the ball and drive, or give to Wiltjer to isolate that wooden defender he was going against. So, anyway, Calipari seems to believe that Goodwin and Harrow are integral, so they have to do better if he's going to make them such a big part of the plan in huge situations. There have been signs that confidence is justified, but we'll see. Goodwin plays a pretty different game, but he reminds me a lot of James Blackmon as a freshman in terms of his spurts of brilliance vs. his spurts of not-so-brilliance. Harrow plays a pretty similar game, but he reminds me almost not at all in terms of Isaiah Thomas as a freshman in terms of just owning the gym. Anyway, if Goodwin can be a little less like freshman Blackmon and Harrow can be a little more like freshman Thomas, ... whoa. Now we're talking, baby.

    -- Two, man, this team is young. Man, last year's team was young, but, man, it isn't nearly as young as this team. I kept waiting all last season for all of those young guys to go nutso together, but it sure looked like Darius Miller and maybe even Doron Lamb and/or Terrence Jones kept that from happening for so long as to cause problems. Now, except for maybe Wiltjer and maybe Jared Polson and mayyyyyyyyyyyybe Jon Hood, there just isn't the guy to grab and steady the rudder when the ship starts coming apart at its seams. We don't need Wiltjer, Polson or Hood to start pretending and artificially yelling at guys to show that they're older and knows what's best, but one of those older guys needs to behave like he absolutely knows he's the guy who should have the ball in his hands when the kids aren't alright.

    -- Three, what's up with Willie Cauley-Stein? Around Christmas, he looked to me to be the best candidate to take the in-season, Calipari-signature leap forward (in the vein of DeAndre Liggins, Josh Harrelson and Marquis Teague). I think WCS, in terms of his physical abilities (not necessarily his intensity, is a Jannick Noah/Dennis Rodman-type, long and taught coil. But that doesn't work if his knee is going to be a problem.

    1. Oh ... four: Who on this team believes Jesus is calling him to not allow the Elston Turners of the world to have the night against UK that will put him in their schools' athletics halls of fame? I'm looking at you, Alex Poythress.

    2. Good points all. Here are a few thoughts in response:

      1. I'm just not seeing it with Goodwin or Harrow. They can't shoot, and they don't have the speed and finishing ability of a guy like John Wall. Also, they can't (or won't) pass the ball to open players. So I really don't see the point in asking them to drive. Personally, when I see Goodwin start dribbling toward the basket, I assume the possession is over and that we need to start getting back on defense. Honestly, I would rather see every possession end with a three-pointer from Julius Mays than see Goodwin or Harrow start dribbling toward the basket in a half-court situation.

      2. This team is very young, and that's just a huge problem.

      3. WCS just doesn't have enough basketball skill to make much of an impact in the SEC. He can't catch in traffic. He can't dribble. He can't shoot free throws. He's just a very one-dimensional player, and that's how he should be used.

      4. I'm not so worried about how the team plays defense -- no one has gotten a lot of easy shots against the Cats. But UK is terrible at preventing the other team from getting offensive rebounds. One thing that would help in that regard would be for Goodwin to start helping with the boards. He did some of that against Alabama. I'd like to see a rule that Goodwin can take one shot for every rebound he gets.

  10. Here's my bottom line: I want to see UK play some games where Harrow and Goodwin combine for fewer than 12 shots. I think that would make a huge difference for the team.