First off, the good part: In what should come as great news to – by my estimate – 6 or 7 people out there, Lexpatriates will be returning to form following a week-long hiatus tomorrow evening. Exciting stuff, I know. I’ll give everyone a moment to regain their composure…
Now for the bad part: Kentucky lost today. This is devastating stuff, and I’m sorry you had to find out this way.
I’ll talk more about this tomorrow, but while there’s no need to go into a sky-is-falling type of panic over today’s L to the Vols, I do think there is some legitimate reason for concern regarding Kentucky’s suddenly-exposed vulnerability. The reasons why:
– Kentucky can’t shoot. Like, at all. Everyone’s currently hearing about how they went 2-for-22 from 3 today, but did you know they shot 3-for-11 against South Carolina, 3-for-16 against Vanderbilt, and 4-for-24 against Mississippi State? Over their last four games, they’ve hit just 12 of the 73 3’s they’ve taken. That’s 16 percent. AKA, Terrible. There are a few reasons why: Teams, along with realizing that they can’t match up with Kentucky man-to-man, have started to notice that if they dare Kentucky to beat them from the outside, they’ll try. And sometimes, like today, they’ll fail. At one point early in the season, Kentucky was shooting some remarkable percentage from behind the 3-point line (something like 42 percent, but don’t quote me on that), and while that percentage wasn’t completely misleading, it didn’t do justice to the team’s true shooting ability. Teams were still guarding us man-to-man back then, and Wall and Bledsoe were going past whoever tried to guard them and the defense was collapsing and their kickouts were getting other guys (and occasionally each other) open looks. It doesn’t matter if it’s Eric Bledsoe or Jodie Meeks out there, when there’s nobody within five feet of you when you let it go, the chances of it going in increase a lot. Kentucky isn’t getting those same looks nowadays, thanks in no small part to the all the zone defenses (like today’s 3-2 from Tennessee) they’re seeing. Those defenses are designed to clog the lanes, and everyone of Kentucky’s scorers (with the exception of Dodson) does most of their scoring in the lane. Even Wall, Bledsoe, and Miller, Kentucky’s perimeter guys, are slashers more than they are shooters. Which brings me to my next point…
– John Wall really can’t shoot. Actually, that’s not totally true. He’s not a terrible shooter, he’s just not even close to good enough to justify some of the shots he takes. His numbers from the field over the past four games: 6-of-16, 3-of-11, 4-of-15, 6-of-16. Wall needs to take a page from Rajon Rondo’s school of thought and completely abandon those ridiculous pull-up and fallaway jumpers, save for when there’s no other option (i.e., the game or shot clock is about to expire). Better yet, Calipari, or someone, needs to pull him aside and say, You’re fastest player in the country. You have a 43-inch vertical leap. You’re an excellent finisher. You can get to the rim on anyone. DO IT! If I see Wall dribble around the top of the key and launch another off-balance 3 with a defender’s hand in his face with 10+ seconds left on the shot clock, I swear to God I’m going to drive to Lexington and offer to coach him myself. Part of the reason he’s started taking more of those bad jumpers is all the zone defense he’s been seeing, but that doesn’t mean he has to settle for horrible shot after horrible shot. Be patient. Word harder. You’re the most talented player in the country, and you’re playing with three other first round draft picks. Use them. And given all that, don’t tell me you can’t figure out how to carve up 3-2 zone.
– Brandon Knight isn’t a UK-lean anymore? This one doesn’t pertain to the loss today, obviously, but WTF? I don’t have an ESPN Insider membership anymore (it’s dirt fucking cheap and still not worth it), but seeing this headline makes me want to reinvest: Brandon Knight Done With Kentucky? What?! I checked on Cats’ Pause and there’s nothing about it. Diddo for KSR. Anyone know anything about this? I was under the assumption that Knight to UK was a done deal.
More tomorrow. Until then, Adios. And enjoy your Saturday night.