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The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: Duke Edition

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  • The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: Duke Edition

    The Good

    Garden of Good and Evil. It's always great to see a college basketball season begin. Yeah, the weather is getting colder. And yeah, it gets dark as I'm driving home from work. And sure, I'm in my pajamas at 5:15 for some reason. But dangit we've got hoops, we've got fans in seats, and we've got somewhat of a return to the old days. That's pretty sweet.

    Somewhat Boxy Mound of Rebound. Oscar Tshiebwe showed he belonged on the big stage last night, constantly rebounding the ball with three guys fighting him. He was one of the toughest guys in a game of pretty tough guys, and if that effort and production is what we're going to see from him all season then we found a gem.

    Point Guard U, Redux. Yeah, Sahvir Wheeler collapsed late. And I do look at the box and see those 7 turnovers. But if not for Wheeler Kentucky is in a bad way in that game. He really lit up Duke's defense, getting wherever he wanted to go at all times. And then when they backed off he showed he can shoot the ball. At the time of his commitment many UK fans groaned. But it looks like right now that Wheeler might have been a godsend.

    Fight with Rocks. One of the problems last year, arguably the main problem, is that the team had no fight. We all saw that and there's no reason to rehash it. I liked last night when Kentucky got down we scrapped back to within 4. Then Kellan Grady has that wide open three in the corner and...well, we know what happened. But this team looks to be of a different stock than last year, and that's a good...no, a great thing to behold.

    The Bad

    Nothing's Free. This is a surprise to nobody: Kentucky is a jumpshooting team. But to be a legitimate contender in college basketball you really need guys who can get to the foul line. Last night Kentucky shot 7 free throws total. We hit 6. Kellan Grady played 31 minutes on the wing and didn't get there once. That's not a recipe for success.

    Turnt Over. Wheeler's turnovers were an issue last year and they became an issue last night. His penchant for getting too deep hurts him. He wants to drive sometimes almost onto the baseline, which puts a 5'8" guy at a severe disadvantage when he's trying to throw the ball back into the paint. He did some great things last night but 7 turnovers from your starting point guard is almost impossible to overcome.

    Burned in Transition. Kentucky didn't do a good job of getting back last night. There were some other defensive issues (see below), but one thing Duke did is run on us and run effectively. There were several missed jump shots--including the huge one that TyTy airballed in the second half right at the beginning of their run--that ended up knifing us as Duke took it the other way. This is something that can be cleared up but last night we kind of stunk at reacting to Duke pushing the ball.

    "Chump"ions Classic. A loss in that game means that Kentucky is now 1-4 in the last 5 Champions Classic games, including two losses to Duke. Not a good look for the winngest program of all time.

    The Ugly

    WhyWhy TyTy. A lot was pinned on TyTy Washington going into that game. He appeared to be the next in line of Cal's great freshmen guards. He hadn't missed a three in the exhibition games. He was the only Kentucky player who really registered in the NBA discussion. He was signing endorsement deals with every company under the sun. Then he steps into the Garden and...yikes. He forced things. He couldn't hit the open shots he took. His floater, which looked brilliant in the first exhibition, betrayed him. And more than anything I thought he looked physically overmatched. By the end of the first half I thought he had a deer-in-headlights look, and you don't see that a lot from these five-star freshmen not named B.J. Boston. I think TyTy is going to be fine, but can he be an elite player is the question. Last night did not answer that question at all.

    The Frosh Princes of Dead Air. Speaking of the freshmen class: yikes. Our freshmen were just plain bad in that game, which hurt worse because Duke had two freshmen who balled out. Daimion Collins is still an enigmatic man of mystery, and Bryce Hopkins came in and did some things but couldn't put the ball in the basket. Then you had TyTy. Not a good night for Cal's group of young guys.

    What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate. The ball screen defense last night was about as bad as you'll ever see. Duke was running easy stuff: ball screen on one side, roll, ball screen on the other, roll. Then they'd have Keels or Moore just dribble off that screen and attack like their hair was on fire. And it worked. All. Night. We made no defensive adjustments at all. I chalk this up to such a new team and guys just not communicating. Several times we had players who just were not in position, and oddly it was our older guys--Grady a lot, Tshiebwe more than once--who got burned.

  • #2
    I said it in the other thread, but I do not like these games and I do not like that they've replaced marquee home games. These games don't work if we don't have stud freshmen.

    It did start on time, though, or at least close to it.

    Comment


    • #3
      Looking at Kansas last night though, we might not be the winningest program for much longer.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Dwight Schrute View Post
        Looking at Kansas last night though, we might not be the winningest program for much longer.
        Agree...they looked very good against MSU and were missing one of their best players. They don't play another decent team until January. They could very easily be 13-0 before playing anyone that is any good. UK on the other hand has ND, Ohio St, UL prior to January. KU is only 2 wins behind UK and I think probably passes us sometime in December or January.

        Comment


        • #5
          ^^
          None of those teams are really all that good, but you never know with a Cal early season team.

          Comment


          • #6
            Hard to imagine this team going through with just the Duke loss into the new year.

            One, this is still a team that's going to have to rely on shots falling. When they fall I think we'll be dangerous; when they don't I think it's going to be ugly even against mediocre teams. That's the nature of building your squad around shooters rather than rim-attackers.

            Secondly almost all Cal's teams have a weird bump in the road through December. That team that was an inch away from the Final Four in 2019 had that brutal game against Seton Hall. The Quickley team had back to back losses against Utah and Ohio State. It seems to happen more often than not.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Will Lavender View Post
              Hard to imagine this team going through with just the Duke loss into the new year.

              One, this is still a team that's going to have to rely on shots falling. When they fall I think we'll be dangerous; when they don't I think it's going to be ugly even against mediocre teams. That's the nature of building your squad around shooters rather than rim-attackers.

              Secondly almost all Cal's teams have a weird bump in the road through December. That team that was an inch away from the Final Four in 2019 had that brutal game against Seton Hall. The Quickley team had back to back losses against Utah and Ohio State. It seems to happen more often than not.
              I don't think they are either, but it's not impossible.

              Comment


              • #8
                I'll say that last night wasn't as bad as we think, though. Cal left Tyty in too long and it cost us on that 4-6 minute run where they scored like 8 unanswered, but we were there last night. Duke had the two best players on the court and I think is probably a top 5 - 7 team.

                There aren't a whole lot of teams built like Duke and I think we can still probably have a pretty good record. I don't know what this team's ceiling is but they're definitely better than last year.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Dwight Schrute View Post
                  I'll say that last night wasn't as bad as we think, though. Cal left Tyty in too long and it cost us on that 4-6 minute run where they scored like 8 unanswered, but we were there last night. Duke had the two best players on the court and I think is probably a top 5 - 7 team.

                  There aren't a whole lot of teams built like Duke and I think we can still probably have a pretty good record. I don't know what this team's ceiling is but they're definitely better than last year.
                  Last night was definitely not brutal. There were definitely some things to take away. Defense was really the main thing and Cal's teams are almost always ragged defensively early.

                  Kentucky shouldn't be into moral victories, particularly against Duke, but that looked like the makings of a potentially solid team.

                  Trouble it, you don't know if that have that top-flight talent to be a real Final Four contender. Most of those teams have a couple dogs who can go get a bucket against the shot clock. You also in college basketball can "count the pros" a lot and tell who's going to be who in March.

                  Kentucky might not have hardly any of those, and that's concerning.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Will Lavender View Post

                    Last night was definitely not brutal. There were definitely some things to take away. Defense was really the main thing and Cal's teams are almost always ragged defensively early.

                    Kentucky shouldn't be into moral victories, particularly against Duke, but that looked like the makings of a potentially solid team.

                    Trouble it, you don't know if that have that top-flight talent to be a real Final Four contender. Most of those teams have a couple dogs who can go get a bucket against the shot clock. You also in college basketball can "count the pros" a lot and tell who's going to be who in March.

                    Kentucky might not have hardly any of those, and that's concerning.
                    I don't think they do unless Tyty improves a whole bunch and Oscar can stay out of foul trouble. Maybe Collins or Hopkins or someone steps up to become a third guy and Kellen Grady becomes a scoring machine - a lot of possibilities. But nothing that pops out at you right now. I just worry we don't have enough size.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      We need more from Brooks, but it's obvious that he isn't a lot better than his freshman year. TyTy will be fine. Wheeler and Tshiebwe are the backbone of this team right now but they need a lot of help. Wheeler needs to remember he's at Kentucky and not Georgia where he had to do more.

                      I thought Duke's got in our heads with their talk and actions that resulted in a few altercations which were handled fairly well by the officials. Maybe they should have called a T when the ball was tossed at Ware.

                      I've seen this happen so many times with young officials where coaches talk to them more, and I noticed coach K using every opportunity last night. However, I watched the young guy more and saw no reason to think he was intimidated at all.

                      This team needs to learn how to spell Defense, and then work hard to apply it.
                      John 3:3

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                      • #12
                        I know this means nothing, but Paolo should be a Cat. Sure wish Cal had orchestrated those staff changes a year earlier.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Downes Van Zandt View Post
                          I know this means nothing, but Paolo should be a Cat. Sure wish Cal had orchestrated those staff changes a year earlier.
                          I don't remember a whole lot about his recruitment. Seemed to remember at the time that K was more open to Banchero's desire to be a point forward Ben Simmons type guy than Cal, who wanted him to be a traditional 4.

                          For all of Cal's talk of 'positionless basketball' we is awfully stodgy when it comes to guys playing traditional roles. But I agree the Barbee and Justus recruiting duo was not getting it done and I'm glad they're out.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Downes Van Zandt View Post
                            I know this means nothing, but Paolo should be a Cat. Sure wish Cal had orchestrated those staff changes a year earlier.
                            What a player. So smooth and has toughness to boot. Looked to me like a legit #1 pick.

                            I said this elsewhere but he reminds me of Michael Porter Jr. a little, but seems to be more hard-nosed. Just a very tough player to handle because of his size and skill.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Will Lavender View Post

                              What a player. So smooth and has toughness to boot. Looked to me like a legit #1 pick.

                              I said this elsewhere but he reminds me of Michael Porter Jr. a little, but seems to be more hard-nosed. Just a very tough player to handle because of his size and skill.
                              He’s a NPOY candidate w/o question. I’d take him over Chet, and pretty much any upperclassman who immediately comes to mind.

                              Heard him compared to a larger Chris Webber. I like that comp.

                              Comment

                               

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                              The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: Duke Edition

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