Dec 29, 2012; Louisville, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Willie Cauley-Stein (15) dunks against the Louisville Cardinals during the second half at the KFC Yum! Center. Louisville defeated Kentucky 80-77. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky Wildcats: Two Towers


Kentucky is in need of that lethal combination of players who contribute in multiple ways and in diverse lineups. (See Wall and Cousins or Davis and MKG) Those combos are important to weather any storm. They’re almost as important as veterans. Players who know one anothers game so well, and feed off of it, that they calm storms. Not to mention, together they must dominate. We have such a combo in the works with Noel and WCS.

Now, numbers don’t tell the whole story, nor are they a great predictor of the future and there will not be a better example of those two statements than Willie Cauley-Stein in 2013.  Take a look at WCS stats thus far:

GP: 12
Min: 20.2
PPG: 7.5
RPH: 5.5
APG: 1.1
SPG: 0.1
BPG: 2.9
TPG: 1.1
FG%: 59.7
FT%: 35.7

Clearly the numbers are nothing to write home about. For a 7-footer with the freakish athleticism of WCS to only be pulling 6 boards a game is pretty pitiful. At first glance it appears he isn’t giving Calipari a positive return for the investment of 20 minutes/game. And until the Louisville loss on 12/29/2012, I agreed with that sentiment wholeheartedly. You see, the UL game was a turning point for WCS and the rest of UK’s season, even though we lost.

If you think the turnaround is based on his MONSTER stats against UL, you would be wrong unless you think the stats below are MONSTER:

Min:23
PTS: 6
REB: 8
AST: 2
BLK: 3
FG%: 75
FT%: 0 (0-4 Officially but missed two additional due to UL lane violations)

So, based on the numbers for the season and the UL game, you cannot possibly think that WCS will have much of a positive contribution in 2013…and you would be wrong.

Much to my surprise, Cal started Noel and WCS against UL and while I hated not seeing Poythress out there, I understand that he’s a Hummer with a VW engine and needs a new engine before he can help us. So, what sets WCS up for a great 2013?

He has the Hummer motor AND the Hummer body and it was on full display against UL. He still plays helter skelter on C and D, but he is playing 100 MPH at all times. How many 7-footers will you ever see dive OOB to swipe a ball out of the hands of a defender? You probably won’t see another one. I was shocked I saw that one.

Don’t misunderstand me, his game isn’t polished and likely won’t be by 2013′s end, but we don’t need polished; we just need improved. Particularly woeful is his FT shooting but that’s a technique issue and very correctable. Where we won’t find WCS much anymore is on the bench and pairing him up with Noel down low is a weapon that no other team in the country can contend with…once he cleans up his game.

At the start of the season, my impact player would have been Poythress but WCS is slowly proving his worth outside the numbers.

What say you?

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