Calipari still working on Jamal Murray’s shot selection


Jamal Murray (Vicky Graff Photo)

Jamal Murray (Vicky Graff Photo)

At times Jamal Murray’s scoring can carry Kentucky’s offense. At other times, his questionable shot selection can stymie the UK offense.

But to win, Kentucky has to have his offense.

“It’s getting better. I’m working on him every day,”  UK coach John Calipari said about the shot selection Friday. “I told him, ‘I’m not changing. You have to understand what I’m saying.’ I stopped him 10 times, both on defense and offense.

He even asked point guard Tyler Ulis for ideas and says Ulis gave him some he was not going to reveal.

“IMaybe this will make it simple for him. Go straight line like they do, but he has never played that way. When you’re asking a guy to do stuff that will change who he is as a player but he’s never done it, if it gets rough, then they revert back to what they know best,” Calipari said.

“We’re working every day. It’s the same thing with all of the other guys. We have to figure out whether it’s Dominique (Hawkins) or Charles (Matthews). Just keep working with them.”

1 comment

  1. Murray and Briscoe have had the lowest individual efficiency on this team all season long. Even during the 4 game “surge” that now appears dead in the water these two guys barely managed to lift their efficiency from the negative to a value slightly above 0.00 ppp. Murray’s shot selection is a primary factor for his poor numbers, while for Briscoe, it has been turnovers and poor free throw shooting.

    Some fans want to deny these facts about these two players. Even Skal’s individual numbers have been better than these two all season, but Skal has been roundly criticized by talking heads and fans alike. Poythress has been one of the top 3 efficient players all season, yet the criticism about his lack of effort is repeated endlessly like a broken record.

    When I have tried to point out these facts, the knee jerk response has been that the numbers are meaningless.. I agree that the numbers have less value in a quantitative sense, but in a qualitative sense, for comparison purposes about relative contribution to the overall team effort, these numbers have been quite reliable for many years, with the aberrations in the numbers being the rare exception not the rule.

    Here are the current individual efficiency values for this team through 22 games:

    Lee, 0.69 ppp, 0.58 mpm
    Ulis, 0.31 ppp, 0.66 mpm
    Mulder, 0.30 ppp, 0.31 mpm
    Poythress, 0.30 ppp, 0.42 mpm
    Willis, 0.24 ppp, 0.34 mpm
    Matthews, 0.14 ppp, 0.11 mpm
    Hawkins, 0.06 ppp, 0.12 mpm
    Skal, 0.01 ppp, 0.02 mpm
    Briscoe, 0.00 ppp, 0.00 mpm
    Murray, 0.00 ppp, 0.00 mpm

    One “flaw” in this manner of presentation is it is based on the number of possessions ended by a player, not the time the player is on the floor. I also track the contribution of each player to the team margin, in terms of points per minute of play. That value is provided above immediately following the efficiency, as mpm.

    The mpm measure drops Mulder below Poythress and Willis, and lifts Hawkins above Matthews.

    No matter how one chooses to express it, Skal,Murray and Briscoe have not contributed to this team over the course of the full season. Yet, given their recruiting headlines and publicity, their projected NBA draft status, they have gotten substantial playing time regardless of the on court contributions. It took Willis nearly all season before Coach Calipari gave him the playing time that his production should have earned him. Mulder needed more time to give him an opportunity to determine if he could sustain his higher levels of productivity with more playing time. Hawkins’ injuries have really hurt this team because he has been the most efficient guard, other than Ulis and he has been unavailable for large portions of the season. But, given the default position that sends Murray and Briscoe onto the court, I wonder if Hawkins would have had more playing time even if he had been available and able to go full speed.

    When an incoming freshman class is not as strong as 2011-12 or 2014-15, Coach Calipari must use returning players who play better basketball despite the lack of clippings and let those freshmen grow into legitimate playing time. This is the largest flaw in the current philosophy of the UK Basketball program.

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