UK Basketball: Time For A Change?

By KEITH PEEL, Contributing Writer

The Golden State Warriors have done it. So have the Villanova Wildcats. The Kentucky Wildcats would like to do it also but lately haven’t been able to. Do what, you ask? Win a championship? Yes, but no. It runs deeper than that. Not just win a championship but become the dominant program in their neighborhood. That neighborhood for UK just happens to be NCAA Men’s College Basketball. Here’s how they might.

In looking at the teams mentioned previously that have done it recently one thing stands out – skilled offensive play from their four perimeter players. Both teams – Golden State and Villanova – run a version of a “four out – one in” motion offense. It is made up of four players setting up at the three-point line while one post player plays in the “paint” area.  It requires players to follow basic patterns through movement rules but – like a quarterback in football running the read option – each player on the floor has to read what the defense is doing – or not doing – and make the appropriate offensive play. It may be a back door cut if the defender turns his head or it might be a “pick and pop” if the defender plays the screen incorrectly. The point is this offense requires all players to participate at all times. No loafing, no standing and definitely no watching. Every player has a role in the “motion” of the offense.

If one takes the time to watch video of all three offenses – I did – one will note that in the Kentucky offense generally two players play together through a “high screen and roll” isolation play while the other three offensive players stand and watch. That allows three defenders to also either stand and watch or help off on the “pick and roll” participants. It’s not so effective when only 40% of your players are involved in the offensive activity.

In the “four out one in” motion offense every player is moving, screening, cutting and if nothing else making the defense guard each player during the offensive sequence. Not so with the UK offense. With a two-man game occurring on most sequences it allows the defense plenty of time to rest and allows the defense the opportunity to avoid having mistakes turned into baskets.

If talented perimeter players are given the opportunity to do more during the game to help themselves score by working together it should follow that the overall team will benefit from the additional movement, screens and offensive cuts. So far it is working well for Golden State and Villanova.

In looking at UK’s potential roster in 2018 it appears to be particularly guard-heavy. Even if Gabriel, Washington and Vanderbilt all return for next season – which doesn’t appear likely based on the current rumor mill – only one of those players – Washington – is a true low-post type player. Gabriel is best suited on the perimeter facing the basket and Vanderbilt appears to have more of a “Willie Cauley-Stein” type of offensive game – offensive put backs  with an occasional jump hook. EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards would also qualify as players that could play in the “paint”. Conversely a potential guard lineup of Quade Green, Jamrl Baker, Tyler Herro, Kelvin Johnson and Immanuel Quickley – with a possible Ashton Hagans if he reclassifies to 2018 – would be the perfect fit for a “four out – one in” offensive set that uses motion, cutting and screening to create either open three-point shots or clean drives to the basket. 
Walt Frazier, Naismith Hall-of-Famer and New York Knicks great, said,”Winning squads emphasize fundamentals-pick and rolls,teamwork,and defense. They play with passion and they play hard. They move the ball, and when their players don’t have it, they move well without the ball.”  It just makes sense that if all players in an offense are moving – even if theyvdon’t have the ball – then all players are a threat to score. 
Walt Frazier said it, Golden State and Villanova are proving it and maybe it’s time for UK to consider it. After all, two teams that can win two out of three championships in the respective leagues – the NBA and the NCAA – must be doing something right. 

No. 13 Kentucky throttles Morehead’s high powered offense

Trey Dawson (Quinn Foster/UK Athletics)

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kole Cottam reached base all four times he came to the plate and Luke Heyer and Ben Aklinski homered as No. 13 Kentucky shut down the high-powered Morehead State offense to score a 7-1 win in front of 2,835 fans at Cliff Hagan Stadium on beautiful Wednesday evening.

Cottam, who now has reached base in 11 straight games and registered hits in 15 of the past 17, went 2-for-2 with two runs scored, an RBI and two walks to pace the Cats’ offense. Heyer blasted his 14th home run to tie Cottam for the team lead and Aklinski drove in Cottam with a two-run shot in the eighth inning as UK methodically dispatched of the Eagles.

Greg Sankey’s statement on Commission on College Basketball report

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey on report of Commission on College Basketball:

“We are grateful to the Commission on College Basketball for its diligent work and clear support of the educational value of collegiate sports.  The Commission rightly focused its attention on a number of key issues affecting the sport, including agent certification and access, the one-and-done rule, grassroots basketball, and increasing the accountability applied to individuals and institutions who fail to meet the expectations for integrity in college athletics.

 

Terry “Touchdown” Wilson just “an athlete playing quarterback”

Terry Wilson (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

While he can run, he’s not a runner. Instead, Kentucky quarterback Terry  “Touchdown” Wilson calls himself a “pass first” quarterback who likes to stay in the pocket.

“But if it gets iffy in the pocket and guys are in my face, my speed helps me get out of those problems,” he said. “That’s a good asset on my game that I can do. That’s what coaches like about my game. I can throw the ball pretty well. Everybody wants to get caught up in that dual-threat quarterback stuff and think of somebody like Michael Vick who just squirts out of the pocket and runs.

Zion Harmon’s philosophy: “Live positive. That’s what I do.”

Zion Harmon (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Adair County freshman Zion Harmon has been in the limelight for years and that certainly won’t change this summer when his AAU team includes James Wiseman, the top rated player in the 2019 recruiting class, and 2019 Kentucky commit D.J. Jeffries.

Harmon is one of the top-rated players in the 2021 recruiting class but he’s made no secret of his intent to graduate in three years and be part of the 2020 recruiting class.

Troy Squires finalist for 2018 Senior CLASS Award

Troy Squires (UK Athletics Photo by Britney Howard)

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky senior catcher/first baseman Troy Squires was chosen as one of 10 finalists for the 2018 Senior CLASS Award for baseball, it was announced Tuesday. The award honors seniors who excel both on and off the field of play.

Squires, a 5-foot-11, 200-pounder from Elizabethtown, Ky., earlier this season was named National and Southeastern Conference Player of the Week for his performance in a career week that culminated in a series win over No. 3 Texas Tech. He also was a Second-Team All-SEC selection on 2017, his first as a full-time starter.

Calipari’s Cats Returning to Bahamas for four games in Augusst

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Pack your bags, Big Blue Nation, because the Kentucky men’s basketball team is headed back to a memorable destination for a foreign basketball tour this August: the Bahamas.

The Wildcats will return to the Atlantis on Paradise Island in the Bahamas for a four-game, eight-day trip from Aug. 6-13. UK will train on the island and play four professional teams during its stay as it prepares for the 2018-19 season.

UK softball coach Rachel Lawson on her team’s defense (Larry Vaught/Verizon Video)

Lincoln Co. sophomore Trinity Shearer impressing college coaches

Trinity Shearer handles the ball extremely well for a 5-11 sophomore.

By LARRY VAUGHT

Lincoln County sophomore Trinity Shearer seems to be catching the eye of several college coaches with her early AAU performances.

Eastern Kentucky and Austin Peay both reached out about the 5-11 point guard Monday after her play over the weekend in Louisville.

She had 18 and 24 points in her first two games when coaches from Eastern Kentucky, Murray, Austin Peay, Southern Illinois and others were watching. One recruiting analyst tweeted that she was the “best player” on the floor much of the time.

Quade Green’s return provides leadership, experience Cats need

Quade Green (Jeff Houchin Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

First his mother told Lexington Herald-Leader basketball writer Jerry Tipton that her son, Quade Green, would return to Kentucky next season.

Then Green — in his own playful way — sort of confirmed that in a video for the CATSPY awards show where walk-on guard Jonny David joked he was declaring for the NBA draft.

Green walked behind David and said, “You know I’m coming coming back next year? You’re going to be my starting shooting guard. You’re leaving me?”