Guest post: Numbers project 57-point win over Clarion Sunday

Malik Monk. (Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics)

Malik Monk. (Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics)

By RICHARD CHEEKS

As the Cats prepare for their 2016-17 basketball season, many observers rank them as a top 5 team. 2016-17 UK opponents in the preseason top 50 are Michigan State #14, UCLA #21, North Carolina #5, Louisville #9, Kansas #3, Texas A&M #30 twice, and Florida #17 twice. That will be 9 (5 nonconference and 4 SEC) basketball games against teams in Pomeroy’s preseason top 50. Last season, the Cats played 8 (3 nonconference and 5 SEC) regular season games against teams that ended the season in Pomeroy’s top 50.

As has been the case every year, Coach Calipari has said that while he likes this team, he will need time to learn how this team should play before they have any chance to be worthy of such a high preseason ranking. That learning process has begun. Following the Blue-White game, Coach Calipari said that he will make sure to have either Isaiah Briscoe or De’Aaron Fox on the floor at all times, and he certainly plans to play them together as well during games. Malik Monk showed all in the B/W game that Coach Calipari will need to have him on the floor as much as possible as well. However, Dominique Hawkins put the entire Big Blue Nation and the team on notice that his return for a senior season is not simply to put in time on the bench. The Cats have 4 solid guards that Coach Calipari can use in his rotation to distribute about 100 minutes of playing time per game.

The front court is also worthy, and the battle for playing time will be fierce. Edrice (BAM) Adebayo is a man-child who will command playing time. Derek Willis will be a contributor in his senior season, and Isaac Humphries has improved during the off season. I seems clear that one or two of the freshmen front court players will challenge these three for playing time.

On Sunday night, Coach Calipari will see his players perform against a live opponent for the first time. These exhibition games will provide significant input to Coach Calipari about how his team should play together.

Clarion will appear in Rupp Arena on Sunday, October 30, 2016 game is a repeat appearance for Clarion, Coach Calipari’s Alma Mater. These exhibition games are about the Kentucky team, and identifying the areas that Coach Calipari must emphasize over the next 10 days as the Cats prepare to open their quest for a return to the Final Four in search of the program’s 9th National Championship.

Let the journey begin with the exhibitions, just as it has every year within my memory.

Over the past 7 seasons, the Cats have averaged a 41 point victory over its first exhibition opponent (96-55) and for those same previous seven (7) seasons, the Cats have improved between their first and second exhibition games to a 58 point average margin (109-51). This and the second exhibition game the following Sunday are about effort and improvement. The measuring sticks are the margins of victory and the degree of improvement between the first and second starts.

For the past seven “First Exhibitions” the opponents have been Campbell (74-38), Pikeville (97-66), Transy (97-53), Northern Kentucky (93-61), Transy (76-42), Pikeville (116-68), and Ottowa (117-58). This year, based on how prior exhibition games have played out and the relative strength of Clarion, this game shapes up to be a 57 point game, 104-47 if the Cats are on par with the previous seven Calipari led teams at the beginning of November.

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  1. Game Summary:

    Coach Calipari raises the curtain on the 2016-17 season with a 3 guard starting lineup consisting of Edrice (BAM) Adebayo, Wenyen Gabriel, Derek Willis, Isaiah Briscoe, and De’Aaron Fox.

    The Cats control the opening tip, and Wenyen Gabriel scores the first points of the season. Derek Willis then scores on a fast break following a steal. At the first media timeout, the Cats sprinted to an 11-7 lead. In the second segment, Sacha Killeya-Jones, Isaac Humphries, Dominique Hawkins, and Malik Monk make their first appearance with Isaiah Briscoe staying on the floor. The Cats race to a 19-10 lead, forcing a Clarion timeout with 14 minutes remaining. At the under 12 media timeout, the Cats extend their lead to 10 points, 24-14 at a pace of about 85.

    At the under 4 media timeout, the Cats extend their lead to 20 points, 40-20. At the half, the Cats lead 48-22.

    The Cats scored 48 points on 42 possessions, 1.143 points per possession, and Clarion managed their 22 points on 40 possessions, 0.550 ppp. The Cats made 55.6% of their first half shots, and 2 of 6 from outside the arc. Clarion was limited to only 26.7% shooting in the first half, but managed to make 4 of 12 shots from long range (33.3%) and only 4-18 from inside the arc where the Cats’ interior defense was nearly air tight.

    The Cats made 6-9 free throws (67%) and Clarion managed to make 2-4 free throws.

    On the Boards, the Cats controlled the glass 24-17 overall, but each team fought for 7 offensive rebounds, the Cats secured 41.2% of their misses and limited Clarion to only 29.2% of their misses as second chance opportunities. The Cats committed 9 turnovers, one for each 4.7 possessions while Clarion committed 15 turnovers, one for each 2.7 possessions.

    Second Half:

    The Cats win 108-51.

    Analysis:

    UK scored its 108 points in a total of 80 possessions for the game, and Clarion scored its 21 points on a total of 79 possessions.

    Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 51-28, and the Cats won the battle of the offensive glass 17-12. Kentucky used its 17 second chance possessions to score 6 second chance points, winning the second chance points battle 6-2. Clarion had an offensive efficiency of 0.620 ppp on its 79 first chance possessions and 0.167 ppp for its 12 second chance possessions. UK had 1.275 ppp on its 80 first chance possessions and 0.353 ppp on its 17 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a strong 51.5%of its misses as offensive rebounds while Clarion was able to convert a respectable 26.1% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

    UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 13-22 [59.1%]. Clarion made 6-10 [60.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 44-72 overall [61.1%] and 7-15 from long range [46.7%]. For Clarion, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a low 9-40 [22.5%] and from long range, Clarion hit 9-20 [45.0%].

    The Cats committed 15 turnovers, one for every 5.3 possessions. The Cats forced 26 Clarion turnovers, one for every 3.0 possessions.

    Next Game On Schedule: Next Sunday night, again at Rupp Arena, the Cats will take on Asbury in the second, and last exhibition game of the 2016-17 season

  2. Nailed the points on that 1

    1. Uncanny how Professor got it exactly right to start the season. Guys in media room noted that too after the game last night

    2. Thank you, both of you, for these supportive comments. The fact that the 57 point margin in the game matched the theoretical margin is much more a statement about this team and a matter of luck than a statement about my analysis. If the margin had been 52 to 62 points, it would mean to me that this team is about where most Calipari teams have been in late October to early November. If the margin had ended below 50, it would have meant to me that this team is not competing as well as his prior teams, and ditto for a much larger margin, the team playing much better than his prior teams.

      These exhibition games are not games in which the concern is winning or losing, but how well the UK team performs together against a live opponent who works to disrupt UK plans as much as it can. Since both Clarion and Asbury, as with all these exhibitions opponents over the years, are very limited in their ability to disrupt, the margins should be very large. These games are about identifying weaknesses, and shoring them up before the real games begin on November 11.

      That is why 5 of the 7 prior Calipari teams have shown a significant improvement in its performance between exhibition 1 and exhibition 2. I want to see if this team shows us a similar improvement in the Asbury game. For the record, the two teams that did not improve in this manner were last year (2015-16) and 2013-14.

      During the Calipari Era, the average game Raw Net efficiency for exhibition games 1 and 2 have been 0.54 ppp and 0.71 ppp, respectively. The game Raw Net Efficiency for the Clarion game was 0.69 ppp. To show a similar improvement as the average when it plays Asbury, the Raw Game Net Efficiency should rise to about 0.8 ppp. We will see what happens next Sunday night.

      As a basis for comparison, UK has played this type of exhibition opponent since 2004-05, the last three Smith seasons, and the two Gillispie seasons. In those 5 seasons, the UK teams posted an average raw game efficiency of 0.09 ppp in their first exhibition games and 0.36 ppp in their second exhibition games. All five of those teams improved between games 1 and 2. The highest game efficiency in those 5 seasons was 0.53 ppp in the 2008-09 season, an efficiency that Calipari’s teams have exceeded in 10 of his 15 exhibition games to date. During those years, UK scheduled exhibitions against two opponents included in the Calipari array of exhibition opponents, Georgetown and Pikeville.

      While 0.8 ppp may seem extraordinarily high, 4 prior UK teams have been in that range or higher in their second exhibition: 2009-10 against Clarion at 0.78 ppp, 2010-11 against Dillard at 0.80 ppp, 2011-12 against Morehouse at 1.05 ppp, and 2014-15 against Georgetown at 0.84 ppp. No Calipari team has reached the 0.8 ppp threshhold in the first exhibition game, the best first game performance having been last season, at 0.73 ppp.

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