The good, the bad, and the ugly in UK’s win over Tennessee.
James Young took five shots from behind the 3-point line on Saturday, hitting two of them. For the third straight game, he seemed to take the shots that were available instead of trying to force a shot from distance.
One aspect I’d like to see improvement on is the percentage of his total number of shots that are from behind the arc. So far this season, Young has attempted 197 field goals. Of those, 114 have been three point attempts. Fifty-eight percent of Young’s attempts have been three point attempts. James Young wasn’t recruited to UK to be a 3-point shooter; he was recruited to be a scorer (the obvious retort here is, of course, threes are worth more than twos). Young has the complete skill set for a shooter—he doesn’t need to settle for threes. It’s worth noting that three point attempts only comprised about 44% of Doron Lamb’s total field goal attempts and he was recruited to UK in large part for his three-point shooting ability.
While most analysts will point to the overall rebounding margin of +15 for Tennessee as being troublesome, I’m more concerned with the 19 defensive rebounds for Tennessee compared to the 7 offensive rebounds for UK. Essentially, when UK missed, Tennessee was more likely to grab the rebound and force UK to get back on defense. And this was pretty evident for most of the first half—UK’s slow start can largely be attributed to having only one shot per possession. ‘Cats would miss, and UT would grab the rebound & get into their offense.
Rebounding oddities happen in basketball. But Calipari was quite vocal before the season began that he wanted his team to not be afraid to shoot the ball, figuring the length of his team—especially the interior guys—would likely mean they would collect the offensive rebound and re-set their offense. For the most part, that didn’t happen Saturday against Tennessee.
While most will point to Willie Cauley-Stein—and his play was ugly—I’m more worried about Dominique Hawkins. Hawkins played 7 minutes off the bench. His only contribution to the stat line? Two fouls, both of which were picked up in his first 2 minutes off the bench. After averaging 19.1 minutes per game the previous 5 games (Boise State, North Carolina, Belmont, Louisville, and Mississippi State), he’s averaged 5.7 minutes the last three (Vanderbilt, Arkansas, and Tennessee). Hawkins has been a very capable back-up to Andrew Harrison, giving Calipari an option of the bench he really hasn’t had since coming to Kentucky. While Andrew Harrison was phenomenal versus Tennessee, there will still be games where he is likely to struggle. He’s a freshman, it happens. If Hawkins is struggling, too, it forces Calipari to insert Polson into the point guard slot or move Aaron Harrison over from the 2-guard. Neither are ideal.
Of course, Hawkins is, himself, a freshman. And most—including myself—would say that his contribution this season has been mostly unexpected. But it’s because he’s been a pretty good back-up for much of the season that his performance today is considered ugly.
What was the good, the bad, and the ugly for you? Sound off in the comments or tweet me @couch_dad