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  • Kentucky vs Bellarmine Report Card

    By: Ronald "Doc" Ball


    General Impressions My overall impression was one of "Bad basketball", especially after the first half. In my mind I was convinced there would be no A or B grades, and despite an improved second half, I am holding to that. Hard to believe this team has literally regressed from what we saw in Nassau this summer. We managed to beat a tired, nonathletic, length limited team in a manner that was pretty piss poor.

    Jacob Toppin C+ His 12 pts, 2 assists and 5 rebounds were needed. Had no turnovers or steals. However of those 12 pts, 2 assists and 5 rebounds, NO points or assists were tallied in the first half and only 3 rebounds. His 0-4 was typical of the cats first half effort and effectiveness. Fortunately he managed to go 4-5 in the second half.

    Cason Wallace C- Probably a harsh grade, but then they all might be. Hit only one shot of his five attempted in 30 minutes. His saving grace was 3 assists to 1 turnover. Failed to connect on his 3 trey attempt. And managed to make half of his 2 FT attempts.

    Chris Livingston C Call raved about him post game so I guess Chris really earned his 12 minutes (please note the sarcasm). In fact Cal implored the crowd to chant for Chris next game so Cal doesn't forget about him on the bench. I'm not sure there is a face palm GIF big enough for that. Livingston managed to get 5 rebounds in that time, and an assist...but no points on no shots. He did manage a steal as well. I hate seeing him being wasted so much. In HS he was an absolute beast brimming with confidence and attitude. I saw his potential being as high as anybody on the team, and yet Cal "forgets" about him.

    CJ Fredrick C+ Finished with 11 points by hitting 3 of his 7 shots, all treys, and making a couple FT. Added 3 rebounds, but no assists, steals or turnovers. Played 18 minutes. I will say he did a good job of creating some looks for himself with a jab step move. Still waiting to see a screen or two for him.

    Lance Ware C- Poor Lance. With Oscars subpar game, he had an opportunity but came up short. Really not much in his 7 plus minutes. He was the only player with a negative +/- (-2). Was 1 of 1 from the field with 1 rebound and an assist to go with 2 turnovers

    Antonio Reeves C+ Game high 18 pts in almost 24 minutes. Shot 7-15 and hit half of his 6 trey attempts. Matched Toppins numbers in rebounds (5) and assists (2) but also had a blocked shot. IMO it was a good game for him, and I'm sure I'd have given a higher grade had the team looked better...but its a team game so how the team performs has an affect.

    Adou Thiero DNP

    Ugonna Onyenso DNP

    Daimion Collins D+ Needs to get his head back in the game. Needs to play like he can. UK needs to try to get him involved, maybe try something like a alley oop. Just throwing that out there! In just over 9 minutes he took a shot which he missed, had 3 rebounds and 3 turnovers.

    Oscar Tshiebwe C No double double for Oscar as he only managed 8 points to go with 12 rebounds. Several bunny shots that he could have or should have dunked. The other option is to kick the ball out when quadruple teamed, again, just throwing that out there.

    Sahvir Wheeler C IMO is trying to do too much and thus makes unfortunate plays. 6 assists is great but at the cost of 4 turnovers. Also managed 6 points on 2-6 shooting, including a trey. Led the team in minutes with over 35. Like many I am not a fan of the extended minutes with both Wheeler and Wallace on the floor together.

    Coaching C Cal literally admitted in the post game he forgot about Livingston. Its bad enough that he does it but to announce it!?! This team wasn't prepared at all. Our defense the first half was horrible. Granted, props for half time adjustments but at this point that should not be needed against a low major team.

    Officials B Any time Pat Adams is calling a game I expect absolute crap. Well, it wasn't crap so give them the grade. The other guys were Byron Jarrett and Shaun Seales

    Commentators B I like the team of Sunvold and Hart. Usually they stay on topic and don't have the goal of annoying the crap out of the listeners. However I think everybody in the BBN as well as the general population knows that Savhir parents met at Rucker park. Its falling into the same category as Willy Cauley Stein being a football WR and Kevin Knox's dad playing for FSU. Just because its in the media guide does not mean you need to mention it every single game.

    Other A tale of two halves. Shot 18% from long range in the first half, and 45% in the second, for a total of 32%. Overall shooting went from 30% to 56.5% by half (41.5% overall). We predictably won the rebound battle 42-21. We had 2 more TO than Bellermine (12-14) and 1 less steal (6-7). 28 of our points came in the paint and 13 on the fast break. Our bench kicked in 13 points with CJ kicking in 11 and Lance 2. We need more bench production but then they won't score from the sidelines.
    Comments 27 Comments
    1. kingcat's Avatar
      kingcat -
      Good or bad, Cal used most of the game to practice running different half court offensive sets. Something they are still very poor at.

      They did not play pressure defense and were not forced to play Bell’s preferred tempo. At least not by Our opponent.

      My gripe is that I don’t enjoy watching glorified practices where the goal is to expose our own weaknesses. To a point Cal’s teams are much better without coaching when given freedom to wing it out on the court.
      Sometimes the coaching takes, and other times it doesn’t. Guess we will see in London which it is going to be. My concern is that this is an experienced team which is still being coached like a freshman led group. Tearing them down as a unit to rebuild them into something they just..are not. Instead of letting them go out and have fun playing the game with their unique creative athletic ability and at the tempo they themselves create.
    1. Crazy4Blue's Avatar
      Crazy4Blue -
      Didn't we just fire a football coach for being terrible on offense?

      Cal quote:
      “This team plays different,” Calipari said. “And then you’ve got to play a little different because of how they play.”

      How about imposing our will on the other team for a change?. Make them play the way we want to play?
    1. Doc's Avatar
      Doc -
      Quote Originally Posted by CitizenBBN View Post
      I'll be honest Doc, not sure how Cal gets a passing grade for that hot mess.
      I don't disagree, and may offer support for that. I rarely listen to the post game but I was driving home so had it on. A few things caught my ear but one of the most memorable was his comments concerning how the full team hadn't gotten a lot time due to injuries, specifically to Oscar and Savhir as well as Damion personal time. In the past Cal has used the good ol' we are young stuff. Well the specific missing players are not freshman, they have each had a year in the program, they were all fully involved in the summer practice to prepare for the Bahamas and 2 of them were starters last year who averaged over 30 min a game. It's not like they needed to learn jack. Many UK fans, myself included are tired of these lackluster starts to the season and the constant excuses (or explanations) that come with them. We had the summer trip as extra practice yet we see so many teams that presently are far better at execution than us. Last nights game was as embarrassing as the Gonzaga game when it comes to being ready despite having another week of practice and playing an inferior opponent. We joke about "Camp Cal" and the tweeks it brings. How about doing Camp Cal in October? Or tweeking in November? It would be one thing if we were playing inexperienced players. We aren't. Hell, Wheeler, Oscar and Jacob all played over 30 minute for UK last year. The only inexperienced player we have at the college level is Wallace and to be honest he is perhaps the most consistently good player we have.
    1. dan_bgblue's Avatar
      dan_bgblue -
      I do not think that there has been an announcing pair that has failed to talk about the ice cream at Rupp during a home game, and the last pair did not disappoint, although they held it to a minimum, unlike Jimmy the airplane Dykes.
    1. ShoesSwayedBlue's Avatar
      ShoesSwayedBlue -
      Great report card as usual. Shows how little I can usually stand the commentary that I had never heard the Rucker Park story.
    1. Doc's Avatar
      Doc -
      Quote Originally Posted by dan_bgblue View Post
      I do not think that there has been an announcing pair that has failed to talk about the ice cream at Rupp during a home game, and the last pair did not disappoint, although they held it to a minimum, unlike Jimmy the airplane Dykes.
      Did they reference ICE CREAM? I missed that
    1. StuBleedsBlue2's Avatar
      StuBleedsBlue2 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Doc View Post
      I don't disagree, and may offer support for that. I rarely listen to the post game but I was driving home so had it on. A few things caught my ear but one of the most memorable was his comments concerning how the full team hadn't gotten a lot time due to injuries, specifically to Oscar and Savhir as well as Damion personal time. In the past Cal has used the good ol' we are young stuff. Well the specific missing players are not freshman, they have each had a year in the program, they were all fully involved in the summer practice to prepare for the Bahamas and 2 of them were starters last year who averaged over 30 min a game. It's not like they needed to learn jack. Many UK fans, myself included are tired of these lackluster starts to the season and the constant excuses (or explanations) that come with them. We had the summer trip as extra practice yet we see so many teams that presently are far better at execution than us. Last nights game was as embarrassing as the Gonzaga game when it comes to being ready despite having another week of practice and playing an inferior opponent. We joke about "Camp Cal" and the tweeks it brings. How about doing Camp Cal in October? Or tweeking in November? It would be one thing if we were playing inexperienced players. We aren't. Hell, Wheeler, Oscar and Jacob all played over 30 minute for UK last year. The only inexperienced player we have at the college level is Wallace and to be honest he is perhaps the most consistently good player we have.
      But, didn't they need to learn new things? Fans were clamoring for change, Cal wanted to change some things, and there is different personnel on the team that requires to do things a little bit differently. Most importantly, the change was focused around getting players to do things that they needed improvement.

      The information is out there, and I do not recall it off the top of my head, but wasn't the extra summer time practice primarily focused on individual instruction and some team integration? Also, weren't there guys that missed a portion of the summer practices too? Having a conversation about what was happening during the summer is a valid one. Maybe they should have been preparing for Mich St and Gonzaga (where they even scheduled during the summer practices?) instead of individual performance improvements or finding successful combinations.

      I think another thing worth remembering is that past Bahamas trips were filled with 1st round NBA talent, we don't have that this year. The learning curve, no matter the expertise is going to be slower with less talented, lesser high basketball IQ guys. Disruption is going to have greater impact. It's a downside to focusing on experience over talent, and why I say give me the talent year in and out and I'll gladly accept some early bumps in the road.

      Finally, I know people are tired of "the excuses", but when our team isn't performing to expectations, I want to hear what's going on. I prefer the term explanation, instead of excuses. Excuses has an undertone of bs. I don't think Cal is bs'ing us at all, and I know some disagree. The one thing that we knew about this team was that it was constructed totally different than any other Cal/UK teams in the past, more like his old UMass teams. To draw a hard line on expectations is a little bit silly, as we have nothing to compare it to. It turns out that a hodgepodge of experienced college players with a pro or two offers its own unique challenges, especially when disrupted (and NO, not every team is dealing with a player's fathers very untimely death), that takes its own path, albeit a familiar looking one.
    1. LakeCat's Avatar
      LakeCat -
      JMO but regardless of what talent Cal brings in the future or this yearís team he isnít winning a National title. The game has past him by and he doesnít even recognize it.
    1. Catfan73's Avatar
      Catfan73 -
      I guess you could give the coaching a C if you average the F from the first half with an A in the second but Iím just going with average for the second. So D overall.
    1. ukpumacat's Avatar
      ukpumacat -
      I missed the game as my team was playing at the same time (nice win for us!). I did go back to read the Game Thread. Kind of glad I missed it now.

      None of it is a surprise. Cal has no idea what he is doing offensively. Like seriously none. I seriously don't understand going into a season knowing for MONTHS who your players are...having practices...Bahamas...etc etc. And you still don't know what kind of offense you want to run.

      Playing our bigs together is asinine. Not having multiple shooters on the floor is asinine. And trying to run the DDMO with a team that lacks guys who can beat their man off the dribble is asinine.
      We finally actually have some shooters this year and we rarely play them together. And not only that, we don't run anything to actually get them open. It is all asinine.

      It is pretty clear that Cal really isn't sure what to do. And of course he doesn't have an assistant on the bench who excels in offensive strategy so he can't get help there either.
      Reading that thread, even Bakert and Hoss were pissed. When those guys are complaining about Cal it isn't a game I want to watch. Haha

      P.S. We are ranked 4th in defense according to Kenpom and 16th in offense. Anyone who has watched this team play knows how terribly silly both of those rankings are. Just please remember that when going back and telling me how good Cal's offenses have been at UK by using kenpom numbers. They are badly skewed.
    1. Darrell KSR's Avatar
      Darrell KSR -
      Quote Originally Posted by ukpumacat View Post

      P.S. We are ranked 4th in defense according to Kenpom and 16th in offense. Anyone who has watched this team play knows how terribly silly both of those rankings are. Just please remember that when going back and telling me how good Cal's offenses have been at UK by using kenpom numbers. They are badly skewed.
      Do you know if those numbers use preseason "data" as well? I would think they stand on their own, but maybe not. I wish I had thought to take a look at Pomeroy before the first game, or after some teams had played a game to see if they had AdjO and AdjD ratings despite not having played a game...
    1. CitizenBBN's Avatar
      CitizenBBN -
      Puma, the game is worth watching just to watch how horribly bad we are on offense. Defense was lax, but structurally not a debacle, we just didn't play very hard. Even with that effort they only had 21. WE should have been up 20 at the half even with that defense.

      to see how bad we really are on offense you have to take out transition baskets and offensive rebounds. That will tell you how we execute in the half court, and maybe BEvans has those numbers somewhere but I'll bet big money they are bad. They would be worse if we didn't just have so much talent that we also hit contested shots.

      We're mostly running an offense based on spacing to create gaps. That is the basis of the dribble drive. To get defenders to guard you in it you have to have guys who can shoot so they can't sag and help as easily, and you have to be able to, wait for it.... dribble and drive the ball.

      We only have two guys who can do that reliably, Wheeler and Wallace. Reeves, Toppin and Livingston are in the B group for that option, all can do it against the right defender, but not reliably. Reeves is maybe in between the A and B group there, but he's not a finisher at the rim as much as a drive some and jump shoot guy, and the DDM needs rim finishers preferably.

      it's a problem b/c you need at LEAST 3 guys who can drive the ball in that offense, preferably 4, and you really need 4 guys who can shoot with at least some range on the court at the same time.

      That's what forces the spacing and the gaps in the defense.

      We run it horribly. We don't space to create gaps, in part b/c defenses can sag and fade off guys, and we don't have enough guys who can just beat their man one on one off the dribble, which is fundamental to the scheme.

      So Cal "tweaks" it with some high screens with his big, or basic baseline cut screens, maybe a curl screen here and there.

      What you end up with is a dux mix of a scheme, part of it trying to screen guys to get open like traditional ball, part of it spacing and gaps to drive. No wonder these guys stand around and don't know what to do. We do nothing at all purposeful in the half court usually until about 10 seconds to go, and then it's usually an attempt to break down a guy one on one and either get a shot or maybe pass it. It's DDM, but it's forced and desperate and done with players who aren't really suited for it.

      That happens b/c unlike in football Cal has to keep guys on the court who can also play his defense, which involves a lot of switches. That's why he's got 3 bigs in at a time, b/c Toppin and Ware and Collins and Livingston and even Reeves can switch better.

      His defense dictates those rotations more than his offense, but it leaves his offense handicapped.

      I'm open to anyone pointing out where that overview is wrong, but not with some stat that is falsely interpreted to saying we are somehow good on offense. Take out things we are good at like transition and Oscar getting 20 boards a game and see how we look. Further we get a fair amount of our makes in the half court out of sheer talent and not from good open looks.

      That scheme will hold up when you have Monk/Fox etc. b/c they can break guys down and get their own shots. That's why this has looked so much worse since that year, b/c we haven't had enough guys who fit the system and have the sheer talent to just beat their man one on one.
    1. ukpumacat's Avatar
      ukpumacat -
      Quote Originally Posted by Darrell KSR View Post
      Do you know if those numbers use preseason "data" as well? I would think they stand on their own, but maybe not. I wish I had thought to take a look at Pomeroy before the first game, or after some teams had played a game to see if they had AdjO and AdjD ratings despite not having played a game...
      I think they did have ratings before playing a game. I think Darryl even posted something about it.
      I like Pomeroy. But there are definite ways to ďtrickĒ the numbers.
      Like I said, no one watching our games thinks we are either of those ratings. Not even close.

      And if you look at the raw numbers and stats they arenít good at all (even on his site).
      Our rebounding always helps us. And our transition buckets really skew the ratings to help us.
    1. bigsky's Avatar
      bigsky -
      Dribble turnover offense.
    1. ukpumacat's Avatar
      ukpumacat -
      Canít disagree with any of that Chuck.
    1. bigsky's Avatar
      bigsky -
      I am amazed at how bad we finish at the rim. At least one game all the bunnies lived.
    1. StuBleedsBlue2's Avatar
      StuBleedsBlue2 -
      Quote Originally Posted by bigsky View Post
      I am amazed at how bad we finish at the rim. At least one game all the bunnies lived.
      Oh absolutely. It's mind boggling. With just a few minutes left in the game, we were under 50% on such shots. That really didn't improve throughout the game. The other thing on offense that really bothered me, and one of the things that I was looking to check the box for the game, was whether guys were ready to catch and shoot. Early, or most of the 1st half, they were not, and I think that definitely affected the 3pt FG shooting. That definitely improved in the 2nd half, though, enough to check my box off with a light pen.

      Most of what I was looking to see was on the defensive end, to which I was happy.

      Back to the rim finishing, though, Oscar missed too many and he was obviously frustrated. Two other misses were horrible lob passes from Wheeler to Ware. Ware was there both times and Wheeler just couldn't make the pass. One of them being a questionable interference call that was waved off.

      If we make our normal (lower than what we should be making) shots at the rim, take a couple of those good 3 attempts that were passed on, or make 1-2 of those really good looks that were attempted (Wallace/Fredrick/Reeves a combined 2-9 in the 1st half, IIRC), then we are looking at a 30-pt win.

      Even with the offensive struggles in the 1st half, the defensive breakdowns that we saw against Gonzaga and Mich St. were not there. That made me happy. Even the times when we had to defend for a full 30-35 seconds, would run down and have a 5 second offensive possession, the guys still were disciplined enough to guard for 30-35 more seconds. It's been a while since we've seen anything like that, and that also made me happy. If we would've had those same breakdowns, we probably don't win.
    1. Bakert's Avatar
      Bakert -
      Quote Originally Posted by Darrell KSR View Post
      Do you know if those numbers use preseason "data" as well? I would think they stand on their own, but maybe not. I wish I had thought to take a look at Pomeroy before the first game, or after some teams had played a game to see if they had AdjO and AdjD ratings despite not having played a game...
      I can't say for sure, but it doesn't look like Barttorvik uses pre-season data. I'm basing this on the fact that there is no data prior to the first games being played.

      In his ratings, UK's adjusted offensive efficiency is #29 and adjusted defensive efficieny is #17.
    1. ukpumacat's Avatar
      ukpumacat -
      Quote Originally Posted by Bakert View Post
      I can't say for sure, but it doesn't look like Barttorvik uses pre-season data. I'm basing this on the fact that there is no data prior to the first games being played.

      In his ratings, UK's adjusted offensive efficiency is #29 and adjusted defensive efficieny is #17.
      And I guess that's the rub, right?

      When people say they want us to improve offensively, they are talking very specifically.

      Our half-court offense is awful. Our baseline out of bounds offense is non-existent. However, since these ratings include ALL offense (meaning offensive rebounds and transition points - which is where our assist numbers primarily come from) our overall offensive rating is fine. This is true almost every Cal year. And the better his defenses the better his offensive ratings because of the transition points.

      Same with defense. We are great at blocking shots. And rebounding (thank you Oscar). But anyone watching would never say this is a good defensive team yet.
    1. Bakert's Avatar
      Bakert -
      Quote Originally Posted by ukpumacat View Post

      And if you look at the raw numbers and stats they aren’t good at all (even on his site).
      Our rebounding always helps us. And our transition buckets really skew the ratings to help us.
      But is that bad? I know you have mentioened this before, and I get it, but in the end isn't the goal to put up more points than the opponent? While you may not want to have to rely on offensive rebounding and/or transition baskets to do that, isn't part of being a good coach being able to leverage your strengths*?

      I understand that there will be games where to win we will need to run a good set and get a clean shot and we certainly are not there yet, although it seemed to me in the second half last night we did something different from what were doing in the first half. Regardless, my point is that I agree we need a better offense, but if we are a top 10 team in terms of rebounding and getting transition baskets and that leads to wins, why does it matter how ugly our half-court offense looks?

      *And I do get the irony. If a good coach can leverage good rebounding/transistion baskets, he should also be able to run sets that will get open looks for good three-point shooters.
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