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Should Kentucky’s Willie Cauley-Stein, a 65.6 percent shooter, be getting more shots?

Willie Cauley-Stein heads up the court after grabbing a rebound in the win over Transylvania Friday. (Victoria Graff photo)

Willie Cauley-Stein heads up the court after grabbing a rebound in the win over Transylvania Friday. (Victoria Graff photo)


Sophomore center Willie Cauley-Stein was a non-factor in Tuesday’s loss at Arkansas when he had two points, six rebounds and one blocked shot before fouling out after he played just 18 minutes. However, Arkansas coach Mike Anderson knows how important Cauley-Stein is to UK.

“He plays the game unselfishly. I think he presents a problem. As you look at him each year, from last year to this year, he’s so much more established,” Anderson said. “He’s athletic, he can come out on the floor, he can run the floor like a deer. And he’s got a great feel for the game. He’s a good passer.

“So he presents a problem from you can throw it in there, he can make passes, he can come from the blindside to block shots or straight up. So he’s a very versatile, big guy for a 7-footer.”

Cauley-Stein leads UK with 57 blocked shots and 17 steals. He’s second in rebounding with 7.6 per game and fifth in scoring at 8.9 points per game. He is hitting 65.6 percent from the field (61 of 93) — but averages only about six shots per game.

James Young (38.8 percent) has taken a team-high 188 shots while Julius Randle (53.4) has 161, Aaron Harrison (46.3) 160 and Andrew Harrison (37.4) 115. Alex Poythress, a 52 percent shooter, has put up 75 shots.

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  1. AndyP

    I absolutely believe that Willie should get the ball on the low post at least 2 or 3 times a game, if not more. He is very fluid and can use either hand to score. Any team needs all the scoring options available and Willie is certainly a scoring option. If Willie and Julius could pass like Chuck Hayes and Eric Daniels, we would be unbeatable.

  2. coldspringmike

    AndyP, your last sentence hit the nail on the head. Julius and Willie are getting doubled, sometimes tripled when receiving the ball down low. Passing out to the wings or even back out top and then MAKING the darn shot should help in getting them more space in the post. Of course having six arms blocking your view and passes does present a problem, not to mention getting beat up at the same time.

  3. Don

    Yes Willie should be getting the ball more..If he becomes a threat in the post,it will open it up for Julius and Alex more..Willie ought to be shooting 9-10 shots per game. Cal needs to spread this around more..Young needs to quit firing away from the perimeter so often. This offense could be pretty good if things were spread around more..All of the guys need to be involved and not so many standing around watching.

  4. Little Baron

    Agree wih your article & the posts.

    Willie needs 8 or 10 shots a game.
    Julius needs to get the ball more often & refs need to call at least one of the 2 or 3 fouls every time he gets hammered as soon as he touches the ball!
    Alex needs more shots.

    The PATHETIC shooting of the Harriaon twins and Young has HURT THIS TEAM A LOT!
    it allows teams to collapse inside which leads to turnovers often caused by fouls that refs don’t call.

    SOLUTION… We need to hit 3’s AND be able to PASS into the low post. If Willis and Polson were shooting the 3’s and passing inside when the middle would open up,’we would have more inside buckets and fewer turnovers. The pathetic shooting from 3 this season is ANOTHER reason UK should have genuinely worked to convince Wiltjer that he would be needed THIS season – for his EXPERINCE (a Junior with a Championship Ring he helped win) AND a 3 point shooting threat who can also pass into the low post.

    We are barely a shot at the Sweet 16 if we don’t improve in some critical areas and continuing to let the lowest percentage shooters take the majority of shots is NOT going to get the job done.

  5. Little Baron

    Add Jon Hood to the list of players I want to see given a chance to HIT THE THREE AND PASS TO THE LOW POST. Forget the dribble drive. It is too inconsistent with the reckless play leading to turnovers. Put in some guys who can BIT THE THREE AND PASS THE BALL INSIDE TO THE LOW POST. The current 3pt shooters don’t bit often enough to unclog the middle. With some of our 3-pt shooting, Mr Roto-Rooter could not open up the clogged drain.. I mean lane :)

  6. JimHarris

    I don’t know what has happened to WCS lately, but whatever it is, it’s not good. Just as he was beginning to play with intensity and starting to show some offense, his whole game seems to have collapsed. He should not get the ball more ’til he gets his game back!

    One sign of trouble showed up on TV: was UK player had just made a shot and the crowd was doing its usual wild stuff but a shot of the bench showed WCS just sitting there–no expression of any kind other than just a dull dead look. Also noticed that another player or two was reacting similarly. One was Hawkins.

    I watch enough basketball to know that in tough, hard-fought games the bench of other teams is into it and reacting to good plays gleefully. Not UK this night! Is there some limburger here that we fans don’t know about? Is this at least partially why WCS shouldn’t get the ball more until he rights his boat? Is this why we struggle mightily against teams that we should be blowing out of the gym? Is this why Cal is still excusing poor play on “they’re just babies, they don’t know” when we’re past the half-season mark and ” freshman mistakes” still abound? Is this why not once all season long have these Cats looked like the team we thought we had?

    Silly questions? Yes! But they cloud my mind with serious doubts about this team and where it will stand when the season is done. Hope I’m jousting with windmills. Time will tell.



  8. TheProfessor

    I have advocated for weeks that Willie should be ending more possessions than he has been. His individual efficiency is the highest among the players who play regularly, yet he end a very low number of possessions. He needs to get more offensive opportunities in his minutes than he gets.

    The last couple of games have been the exception, and it does appear that as SEC opponents get more physical with the Cats, Willie has pulled back some. That is a concern that I hope he addresses on the court very soon.

  9. Little Baron

    Willie needs the ball more down low. No doubt about it. The twins and Young put up way too many shots compared to Willie, Julius & Alex, who are all more efficient scoring. TEAM chemistry will never be built if the guards don’t dish to the big men. We sure lack the alley-oop passers, which were in abundance in seasons past. Our guards seem to think “shoot first”, “shoot second”, and if nothing is there “just throw it at the basket” and as an after thought “pass it to a big man”.

    The lowest efficiency on this team belongs to Young and the twins, regarding players with any significant playing time, and Hawkins is right there with them. Polson is the ONLY guard with a high efficiency rating, and Hood (who seldom steps foot on the floor) is also well ahead of Young, the twins & Hawkins.

    When guard play is down, the team does not function as a unit, and chaos rules. There is no way we should start a game at Rupp with such pathetic loss of interest in basketball… didn’t any of the starters want to play on Saturday?

    Calipari should be barred from saying “we are young” ever again! He chose the one and done method, so “young” is no longer an excuse… especially this far into the season, as Jim Harris clearly pointed out.

  10. King Ghidora

    One thing about it. We should see some of the “one and done” types coming back next season. Maybe they will be more productive by then. There’s little doubt that the big problem with this team is the lack of consistent shooting from anyone not 6’9″ or taller. Young has started to come around but they need players that will show up every game. The twins look like they’re scared to miss so of course they do. You can’t shoot that way. you have to be confident in your shot. The worst thing to do is to hold the ball and think about whether they should shoot or not. Dang is Smith back at UK or something? Shoot the freaking ball if you’re open.

    It can be a freshman problem to play like they’re playing. Some players need time to get confident. It took Darius Miller until his junior year to really be the player he could have been all along. His 3 point percentage went up 11% that year. His overall shooting percentage went way up too. And it showed. By the time he was a senior he was the confident player UK needed to take the big shots and get the team going when they were shaky. His 3 point shooting actually went down his senior year but his overall shooting didn’t. He had to force up quite a few shots his senior year when the shot clock was winding down etc.. It hurt his percentage but he was the team leader on that team. He turned around a lot of games. But he had other great shooters to back him up too. Like Lamb. Lamb is the kind of shooter a team needs. He just knew he was going to make his shots. There was none of that deer in the headlights look when he decided to shoot. The twins and Young all have that look too often. They expect Randle to carry them too much IMO. And he can’t do it with 3 people guarding him. Someone is going to have to step up and make outside shots or this team is going to struggle a lot more in the SEC like when they play Florida on the road.

    This team needs to ratchet things up a notch or 3. They simply must start making those outside shots or they won’t go far. I’m still hoping they will.

    1. Little Baron

      KG, I agree we need to start making 3’s, and agree with you comments about Miller. We really miss Wiltjer, IMO – he would have been a JR with a ring – “been there & done that”. Cal refuses to give some guys the minutes to see if they can hit the 3 – Willis, Hood & more minutes with screens for Polson. Obviously the shooting of the twins, Young & Hawkins has not been getting it done from 3-land. No consistncy, so the middle remains clogged. Need to try some others – even Alex is not shooting the 3 as well as last year.

  11. King Ghidora

    Alex is way down on his 3 percentage but he doesn’t shoot a lot of 3’s so he might not have a big enough sample to really prove a lot. He’s doing so much better inside maybe he just takes the ball inside instead of shooting the 3 like he did last year.

    I’m not so sure about Wiltjer. He was great the second half of his freshman year but when teams concentrated on him he couldn’t get it done at all. Of course it would be hard to concentrate on him the way things are this year with the front line doing so well. Still it’s that shooter’s attitude that makes all the difference IMO. He could be on top of the world or withering away like he did last year. Teams would certainly know they had to guard him.

    The players they have should be capable of making 3’s. Heck any decent player could hit an open 3 when I played HS basketball. We had a coach that said you had no business playing if you couldn’t hit a wide open shot. It worked for him somehow. All his players could shoot.

    I see much lesser teams play with such confidence and just drain 3 after 3. That’s what UK needs. To shoot with confidence IMO.

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