UL press could be feast, or famine

Louisville is sure to put Kentucky's ball handling ability to the test on Saturday by employing the press. The press is a double-edged sword, if they get a lot of turnovers the Cards get much needed easy baskets. If Kentucky's length and athleticism break the press for easy baskets it could be a long day in Rupp Arena for Rick Pitino's squad.

When Louisville coach Rick Pitino brings his Cardinals into Rupp Arena on Saturday the odds are heavily in favor of using the fullcourt press in an effort to rattle John Calipari's young Wildcats.

This maneuver could be a feast for Louisville, or it could lead to famine for the Cardinals.

The Cards will have to turn the Cats over off the press in order to have their best chance to leave Rupp with a victory. Turnovers would lead to easy field goal attempts for the Cardinals, who come into the game shooting just 44% from the field, including 32% from behind the arc.

The Cardinals will need those easy opportunities to offset a Kentucky defense that will challenge and alter shots in the halfcourt. Led by freshman Anthony Davis the Wildcats are averaging ten blocked shots per game, and altering many more.

The focus of the Louisville pressure is sure to be Marquis Teague, the youngster has been turnover prone at times this season, often these came trying to make a play with a high degree of difficulty instead of making the easy pass. Veteran guard Peyton Siva (pictured) will without a doubt be charged with pressuring the Kentucky freshman in halfcourt sets in which Louisville plays man defense.

The flip side of the coin is Kentucky's press offense. These young Wildcats have been very proficient at throwing the ball over the press, this allows them to use their length and quickness advantages to create quick easy scores on the offensive end.

Nothing has displayed this advantage any more than last night's fast break, in which the Wildcats whipped the ball up the floor for a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist lob to Davis for the quick score. During that play the ball touched the ball once, as Terrence Jones caught the ball in stride, put down a single dribble and whipped the ball ahead to his teammate.

Too much emphasis on turning over Teague could be problematic for the Cardinals. Calipari has shown no hesitancy in yanking his freshman guard out of the lineup and inserting Darius Miller at the guard position, leaving Doron Lamb to set up the Kentucky offense. Lamb leads the Wildcats with a 2.45 Assist-to-turnover ratio.

Some may view Teague on the bench as a Louisville advantage, but it is something Kentucky is accustomed to doing. Kentucky frequently operates with one guard sized player in the game, as there are only two players under 6-7 in Kentucky's primary rotation of eight players.

It will be interesting to see how Saturday's game plays out.

Should Louisville turn the Cats over regularly, and take care of the ball themselves, it could be a long day for Calipari's youngsters.

Should the Wildcats consistently beat the Louisville press for easy baskets it becomes a long day for Louisville.


AllWildcats Top Stories