Thursday, December 27, 2012

Kentucky vs Louisville....A Preview

Kentucky vs Louisville….12/29/12 
(Saturday 4PM-EST/3PM-CST) TV-CBS
UK leads the series 30-14


Louisville Cardinals

Location: Louisville, Ky
Enrollment: 22,000
Arena: KFC Yum Center 22,000

Head Coach: Rick Pitino
Career Record: 629-234 (72.9%) 26 Seasons
At Louisville: 275-106 (72.2%) 10 Seasons

All time Record: UK 30 wins vs UL 14 wins (UK 4 straight wins)

2011-12 Record: 30-10
2011-12 Big East Record: 10-8
2011-12 Postseason: NCAA (Lost in Final Four)

2012-13 Record: 11-1

Louisville 79 Manhattan 51
Louisville 80 Samford 54
Louisville 80 Miami, OH 39
Louisville 51 Northern Iowa 46
Louisville 84 Missouri 61
Duke 76 Louisville 71
Louisville 69 Illinois St. 66
Louisville 80 College of Charleston 38
Louisville 99 Missouri-Kansas City 47
Louisville 87 Memphis 78
Louisville 79 Florida International 55
Louisville 78 Western Ky. 55

Louisville/Kentucky

PPG-78.1/PPG-78.5
FG%-45.5%/FG%-49.0%
3 PT%-33.1%/3 PT%-35.6%
FT%-69.8%/FT%-64.7%
RPG-38.8 (+6.5)/RPG-38.8 (+4.3)
APG-15.3/APG-16.4
TO’s-12.8 /TO’s-12.3
SPG-11.8/SPG-8.0
BPG-3.3/BPG-7.9

Probable Starting Lineup

Russ Smith-G 6’0” Jr……………………19.7 PPG
Peyton Siva-G 5’11” Sr………………….11.4 PPG
Chane Behanan-F 6’7” Soph…………....10.8 PPG
Wayne Blackshear-G/F 6’5” Soph…...…10.0 PPG
Gorgui Dieng-C 6’10” Jr…………..……..8.2 PPG

Other Key Players

Stephen Van Treese-F 6’8” Jr…………..2.4 PPG
Montrezel Harrell-F 6’7” Fr…………….6.7 PPG
Luke Hancock-G/F 6’5” Fr……………..6.3 PPG
Kevin Ware-G 6’5” Soph……………….4.8 PPG

This is arguably the best and deepest UL team since Pitino took over the reins. Russ Smith and Peyton Siva rate as two of the best guards in college basketball….they make the Cards go! Siva leads in assists with 75 thus far this season while both Smith and Siva lead in steals with 34 and 28 respectfully. Both get to the FT line frequently and are 80% plus FT shooters. Siva is the better perimeter shooter hitting 38%, but Smith shoots the most from long range and hits a decent 34%.

The Cardinal frontline is very tough in the paint….Chane Behanan makes the most of his huge build at 250 pounds in the paint and is second only to Dieng in rebounds. Behanan also gets a lot of put backs on the offensive boards, but can shoot out on the floor as well.
Wayne Blackshear plays both guard and forward…. is a solid perimeter shooter and does a nice job on the boards as well. Of course, it’s Gorgui Dieng who is UL’s leader in rebounds and a player who has continued to improve significantly in his years as a Card. Dieng’s status for the UK game is not clear at this point….Dieng is recovering from a wrist injury. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Dieng in the lineup.

Pitino uses his bench a lot….going 9 deep in most games….with all 9 players averaging at least 15 minutes. Montrezel Harrell is a very good freshman who gives Pitino another solid frontline player while Luke Hancock can give UL quality minutes at guard or forward.

Pitino’s excellent bench allows for UL to apply a very effective press which has resulted in a 141 steals this season and an average of 12 SPG. Pitino uses the press at key times during a game and a few quick steals can totally change the game. UL has had great success with it’s terrific defense and press in creating 20 plus TO’s in a number of games.

This is a very good UL team with key 3 starters back from last season’s Final Four team plus a number of key subs….and the Cards added some very talented freshmen. Unquestionably, this Cardinal team has all the ingredients to make a run at another Final Four and a potential NCAA championship. This Cardinal team has the talent, experience, depth, defense and coaching to have a very successful season!

UK arrives at the Yum center after playing arguably it’s best overall game of the season in defeating Marshall. The arrival and progress of Ryan Harrell as PG has been a huge plus for these young Cats. Coach Cal is seeing his very young talented team increase their intensity and play much harder throughout the game. Certainly, the early season losses…. a loss in national rankings….and coach Cal’s tough camp in more practices appears to have finally awaken these young players that talent alone doesn’t win games….team play and hard nose defense along with great intensity wins games.

Cal is still waiting for Goodwin and Poythress, especially, to play to their potential. Right now Archie Goodwin is struggling in his shooting missing 4 layups in the Marshall game and too often taking bad shots. Unfortunately, Goodwin also leads UK in TO’s with 36 this season. Archie has great talent, but needs to be more of a team player offensively and defensively. In addition, Goodwin needs to learn that he can’t always drive to the basket….and if he would pull up for an 6-12 ft jump shot he would often get much better shots.

Alex Poythress, like Goodwin, possesses a great deal of talent. Poythress is improving, but thus far UK fans have only seen glimpses of just how talented Poythress can be on UK’s frontline. Alex has a good attitude and is working hard to not think so much on the court and just react with his great talent. For this UK team to have a very successful season…..both Goodwin and Poythress must significantly improve their overall game!

While coach Cal is preaching defense and the Cats are playing better defense….they also need to start making shots. Julius Mays who has had a calming effect on the court and is known as a good shooter…..has really struggled shooting the ball thus far this season. Mays is only 33-92 for 35.9% and a very disappointing 16-52 from the perimeter for a 30.8%. Kyle Wiltjer has had two great perimeter shooting games, but has struggled in most other games. Wiltjer is working hard on his shooting….and he is a proven very good long range shooter….the Cats really need much more consistency from Wiltjer’s perimeter shooting…and more scoring in the paint.

Free throw shooting is also a problem…especially for Noel who is shooting 53.3% and WCS who is hitting only 41.7% from the charity line. A team average of 64.7% from the free throw line can easily cost UK games in very close contests.

While this talented UK team is definitely improving, they still have a long way to go and a number of issues to correct. The UL game will be a huge challenge for UK….the Cats will be facing a top 5 Cardinal team on their home court. To pull an upset….UK will need to be very strong with the ball and minimize TO’s…..play defense with great intensity….shoot the ball well….and make free throws. Last but not least, UK needs to stay out of foul trouble. This is a tall order for such a young talented UK team, but it is definitely a possibility.

I would feel a lot better regarding UK’s chance against UL in March, but right now this early in the season….I see UL defeating UK by at least 10-12 points. Hopefully, I’m wrong and UK springs a huge upset! GO CATS!

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