August 11, 2014 Louisville, KY.
Big Blue Bahamas Players Analysis
John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats are off and running in the Big Blue Bahamas Foreign Tour. The Wildcats used 10 players to defeat the international Puerto Rico team by a score of 74-49. The 2014-2015 Kentucky Wildcats displayed great deal of team chemistry and showed why they will be one of the top teams in the country this year. Scary thought is that they played well with two of their best players out on the bench with injuries. (Willie Cauley-Stein and Trey Lyles)
Here are some of my thoughts on the play of each player from today’s game.
Although he didn’t shoot the ball particularly well in today’s game, the 5’8 guard still impressed me with his control and efficiency. He only hit 1 out 5 shots, but had 5 assists versus 2 turnovers along with 2 steals. He’s disruptive on the defensive end too. I can see Coach Calipari putting him on the small guards the Twins had problems with stopping last year. He’s sees the floor well, gets into the creases of the defense and delivers the right pass 80% of the time. This young guard doesn’t play like a freshman. He’s very mature and I know it’s too early, but takes coaching well from Calipari. I liked how he responded to the mistakes he did make. He’s about the intangibles, the little things it takes to make a team successful. Everyone was concerned with his height, I am no longer concerned, because he’s a basketball player with a high basketball IQ. Size doesn’t matter. He needs to be able to make timely 3’s to keep the defense honest and develop a floater around the rim to become the all around player I envision him to be. This young guy will be a fan favorite and fun to watch. Emmanuel Mudiay Who?
Coach Calipari should show Marcus Lee film of Chuck Hayes. Chuck Hayes was like a garbage man and did whatever it took to help his team win. This is what Marcus Lee should be too. Marcus Lee looked great around the rim. He finished with 9pts and 6 rebs and 2 steals and many altered shots. Lee can be used in different game scenarios this year. He’s an energy player that plays above the rim. Last season against Michigan was his coming out party, so this year Lee seems poised to be more consistent. He can make a living around the goal. I know the practice reports have talked about how he’s hitting the jump shot, but that was non-existence in today’s game as he only took one jumper. If he’s able to develop a 15 footer to stretch the defense over the course of the season this will help Kentucky when facing 2-3 zones in the future. Lee knocking down the 15 footer would also raise his draft stock. Based off of today’s play, Lee should see significant minutes this year.
I’m proud of the big man for being discipline by shedding the extra pounds. Kentucky fans are all too familiar with Dakari having trouble with getting up and down the court for long stretches in many games played last year. Not this Dakari. The 7’0 Big Man ran the floor and finished with a two-handed slam to end the first half today. Running the floor and finishing with a slam was a rare sight last year for the emotional leader. Dakari pulled down 6 rebounds and finished with 6 points, but seeing the big man get up and down the court was a great sight to witness. Can Dakari Johnson improve on his free throw shooting? Remains to be seen, but I like seeing the lean mean Dakari machine.
Devin Booker is a bigger Doron Lamb. Doron Lamb may end up being the better shooter of the two, but Booker will be very close and is much more athletic than Lamb was at UK. I like seeing him at the 3 spot. Booker shot 25% on 1 of 4 shooting behind the 3 point line, but it was the other things Booker did on the court that impressed me. His shot will come, but with it not falling today, Booker attacked the rim and got to the free throw line. He needs to get stronger, but he looked like he cared on defense by switching on every pick, and running through screens. Once his shot fall and he gets on the boards then the sky will be the limit for this freshman.
There was a swagger about Poythress on the court today that he displayed only in glimpses last season. He had 10 points off lobs and it didn’t even feel like he was in double figures. Poythress also grabbed the most offensive rebounds of any player too with 3. 6 boards total. Poythress needs to play the 4 spot to be effective in my opinion. How Calipari will get him minutes there remains to be seen. If Poythress could go back to shooting the ball like he did as a freshman will be the key to him taking his game to the next level this season. Kentucky needs Poythress to shoot free throws in the 70’s to pull out close games this year. One of the guys from Analyzed Sports feels the play of Alex Poythress will be the key to Kentucky winning it all this season. Time will tell, but overall this was a good performance from Alex today.
KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS JR
Towns finished with 10pts and 7 rebs and 2 assists. Towns Jr appears to be in better shape from when I saw him last at the McDonalds All-American Game. He has a post game with a soft touch around the rim. He can put his back to the basket and get you two with a jump hook with either hand, or he can get you two by finding the open guy in a high low offense. Word is he has the ability to stretch the defense with the 3 point shot. He took 2 today and missed them, but I still believe he will hit a better percentage from the outside than both Anthony Davis or DeMarcus Cousins did at Kentucky. Karl will probably see late game situations often, because I predict he will be the best free throw shooter of the 3 big men in Wille Cauley, and Dakari. Write it down I said it.
Hawkins has been in the gym hitting them weights because he looks huge on the court. I like the combination of he and Ulis in the backcourt. We know Hawkins is a defender, but he must find his shot from the outside that help propel his high school basketball team to a state championship. Hawkins found his role last year, but looks more confident in playing that role from today’s assessment.
Willis looked like he belonged on the court with the other players. He defended well and had a couple of assists that were lobs towards the rim to teammates that were nice to see. Willis will play some this year, but I look for him to break out during his junior and senior years at Kentucky. He also needs to take his time and set his feet when launching from beyond deep. I guaranteed they will go down at a high percentage if he makes that simple adjustment. If he can knock down the 3 point shot in the high 30’s he will see the floor a lot this year and make Kentucky unguardable in 2014-2015 .
Since everyone lumps them together all the time I will too. This team belongs to Andrew and Aaron Harrison. Andrew and Aaron both looked much lighter on their feet and more comfortable in their roles during any point of the regular season last year. I like seeing Aaron attack the rim and finishing with a dunk instead of trying to finger role at the rim. Without James Young this year, Aaron can’t shoot 25% from three. He must shoot at least 34 or 35 percent from 3 to keep Kentucky from facing a 1-3-1 zone like John Wall’s 2010 team did. Andrew Harrison hung his head one time, but he’s a floor general on the court. Attack the Rim anytime when in doubt should be his mindset. Andrew doesn’t jack up a lot of threes, but he’s capable of hitting them at a high percentage. Overall the Twins played well and I believe they will be the key in Kentucky winning a ninth national championship.
Needs to get more minutes in tomorrows game.
Catch the highlights courtesy of Kentucky Wildcats TV.