The Big Blue Lowdown

Insight, Analysis and Expertise on All Things Kentucky Basketball


Big Time UK Analysis

What an amazing show UK put on today in CATlanta. (Up until the last 2 minutes where disaster struck--More on that later)

Right now, every player UK puts on the floor is capable of driving, dishing, shooting from the perimeter or scoring. Even Harrellson is starting to find confidence in his back to the basket game with an assortment of head and pump fakes.

I am hopeful UK faces a physically worn team tomorrow in the winner of UF/Vandy.

I continue to be hard on Brandon Knight as I don't believe he is a point guard. He has really struggled the last couple of weeks but has finished games strong and usually been reliable at the free throw line. It will be important for Knight to distribute the ball and take good shots in the NCAA tournament for UK to make a deep run.

Doron Lamb looked like the kind of scorer who could put UK on his back in the Dance. That was before his ankle exploded at the end of the game. It depends on whom you believe as to his status for tomorrow's game. Before the unfortunate incident happened, I would have expected a huge NCAA tournament from him. He was playing with extreme confidence and for the first time all season playing defense as if his life depended on it. UK was a much better team with him contributing on both sides of the court.

DeAndre Liggins is such an enigmatic player. Athletically he appears at times to be a complete mismatch for anybody guarding him. At 6-6 and with an 8 foot wingspan and huge hands that allow him to handle and rebound the ball effortlessly, you get the sense he could explode and become an unstoppable force. Unfortunately for him and UK, he still appears to harbor a "hesitancy" to "be the man" often passing up shots and then over-penetrating and making a poor pass or decision. It’s frustrating at times but there is still a chance the Bright Lights of the NCAA tournament might make the switch come on and he becomes the player he was forecast to be coming out of HS.

Darius Miller IMO is now UK's most well rounded player. The light switch was flipped on permanently in the UF game at RUPP and since then he's stepped up time and time again with great back to the basket post up moves over smaller players and clutch deep wing shooting when the shot clock is running down. Right now if UK needs a basket in the halfcourt, Calipari is going to post Miller up and let him work his magic. He has always been blessed with an assortment of head fakes, and body contorting fadeaways in traffic in the lane. He is now converting them 50% of the time. You also get the sense when he has the ball in the post something good is going to happen. It's likely he will be a huge factor if UK advances deep in the dance as few teams have a player who will be able to defend him.

Terrence Jones is really struggling now. It's clear to this observer that seven months of playing out of position with his back to the basket has completely worn him down. He doesn't appear to be happy and his scoring has all but collapsed. He is also hesitant to shoot the ball from within the framework of the offense often over-penetrating and settling for crazy off balance one handed runners off the glass. He needs to focus on playing great defense and running the court and rebounding in transition. He will definitely be a small forward at the next level next year but to help UK he will have to continue to do the "little things" and make sure he concentrates at the foul line and avoids foul trouble. There is no doubt a person of his great talent will be needed for UK to make it past the first couple of rounds.

Josh Harrellson appears to be playing his best ball of the season at the perfect time. He has such great soft hands and his body is almost a human eclipse underneath the goal. Blessed with great timing and a knack for finding the ball in traffic, he continues to amaze with his uncanny offensive rebounding and stick backs. Now Calipari is actually running some feature plays for him in the post as well. If Josh can continue to give UK 10 points and 10 rebounds a night for the rest of his career, it presents an entirely new dimension to UK' offense and something most opponents won't be able to prepare for.

Calipari: What can I say? He is not a great tactician or in-game coach. His decision to play his starters up by 20 or so inside the last two minutes was arguably one of the worst decisions ever made by a UK coach. He has made many poor decisions this year but this one definitely tops all the others by a wide margin. I think it's pretty obvious to be the type of recruiter John has become you definitely give leeway/deference to your players and today it might have cost UK any chance to advance far in the Dance. If they are without Lamb for the first and 2nd rounds they will be in total life or death struggles just to keep five productive D-1 players on the floor. This is what you get with John Calipari. In normal times an injury to one player wouldn't hurt his team. But this is a year where he could not afford an injury and he failed greatly in doing everything within the realm of his power to avoid it.

I wanted to end this post by also discussing my thoughts on next year’s team.

If any of you have not seen the YouTube highlights of Marquis Teague, I urge you to view them here now. This guy defies description. I've told a few folks he is the closest thing to Isaiah Thomas I've ever seen coming out of HS. He has other worldly ball handling skills, change of direction and explosiveness. He embarrasses people when dribbling around, through or between them like few guards I've ever seen. When you combine those kinds of skills with a deft, long range shooting touch, you get a #1 overall NBA draft pick type of player. He is a much better ball handler and shooter than John Wall. He is much smaller however and not as explosive off the bounce (who is more explosive off the bounce than John Wall right now?). There is no doubt he starts from Day 1 and moves Brandon Knight to the shooting guard position, assuming Knight stays.

The kind of team Calipari has assembled for next season is truly FRIGHTENING from a talent perspective. In all honesty, assuming Jones leaves, the rotation will still be stacked with NBA caliber players 1 through 11.

1)      Teague/Knight

2)      Lamb/Knight

3)      Liggins/Gilchrist/Poole

4)      Miller/Davis/Wiltjer

5)      Davis/Another Juco Big/Vargas

Both Davis and Teague are potentially #1 and #2 in the NBA draft next season after one season in college. Davis is a super freak who just needs about 20 pounds of muscle to be Kevin Durant Part 2.

One thing I also believe needs to be said is Michael Gilchrist appears to be one of those guys who was just as good as a frosh in HS as he is now. He doesn't do anything outstanding and his athleticism while good is not great. If he can develop a great long range jump shot he'll be able to play in the NBA for a long time because he does everything else incredibly well. But as a UK fan I wouldn't expect him to come in and have much of an impact next season. He will also be entrenched behind Liggins and Miller who will be doing everything they can to showcase their game for professional evaluators in both the NBA and Europe.

Last point, if Lamb is out for the remainder of the season, it would be truly a devastating loss and one that will be difficult to recover from. It could also affect UK’s seeding, but we’ll wait and see.

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Kentucky freshman Charles Matthews is transferring, the school announced. Former ESPN 100 prospect. - via @ESPN App…
1. This loss means nothing. UK lost a game on the road in bizarre circumstances vs a very good team. If anything,...
Time to put Texas A&M to bed and get tuned up for a high seed in the big dance.
Epic collapse by UK tonight. Still something not right with this team.
Tough loss over the weekend, but the Cats showed heart...they'll be back.

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