Now I am not big into claiming a team is this, or claiming they are that. But in the two games I have now seen the Cats play and having seen most of the other top 25 teams in the country I can pretty safely say at this juncture that they are one of the top 5 teams in the country. UK has an outlook, a presence about themselves on the court that is one of the most focused and well balanced I have seen at UK in some time. Right now as I see it, there are two leaders, early, in the NPOY award this year, Luke Ridinour from Oregon and Mr. Bogans from the University of Kentucky. Bogans has played with the poise, where-for-all and total game understanding that everyone had projected for him when he first came to UK. Better late than never I always say.
Tulane is not UNC and they are not UVA, but
they are solid middle of the pack Conference
Offensive Schemes- No
matter what a team runs, and in
Kentucky ran primarily a wide range of entry plays, of which I picked out about five I could easily identify from start to finish. Kentucky did not run flex until the 11:30 minute mark in the second half. When Kentucky was not kicking it up ahead to stretch the defense on the break, they would fill the lanes and get into a four out one in, Estill usually, would go from block to block on the reversal of the ball. Kentucky also would go into a simple single post pass and pick away motion after running several of their entry plays. On the out of bounds plays there were two different plays I noticed, one of the out of bounds plays lead right into an on the ball pick up on the wing for either Bogans or Fitch after they came off a double pick on the low block ball side and the ball was thrown in.
Here are the five different out of bounds plays I saw during the Tulane game. All of these plays are being diagrammed and described from the half court perspective. The numbers are not the numbers or signals that Kentucky uses, I am just numbering them for ease in describing them.
Entry play 1
Fitch dribbles the ball up on the right side, where Bogans is on the wing, a little lower than free throw line extended. On the blocks are Camara on that right side and Estill on the left. On the left hand wing is Hayes. Fitch dribbles the ball towards Bogans on the right wing as Camara busts up from the right block to the left side guard opposite Fitch. Fitch passes him the ball then Camara passes the ball to Hayes on the left side wing. As he does that Bogans comes over and sets a back pick on Camara who then cuts off on an arc towards the hoop on the right side for the first option which is the lob. If he does not get the ball on the lob then Bogans steps towards Hayes for the pass and a potential shot.
Entry play 2
This play is a simple quick hitter designed for getting the ball to the block area to Estill or Camara. Bogans starts on the right side, corner and Fitch dribbles the ball over towards the right side. Camara starts on the right side block and then turns and goes across to set a pick for Estill then Camara pops up to the high post are. Hayes stays out on the wing wide on the left side.
Entry play 3
This entry has a similar function to entry 1. Bogans is on the right side corner position, Camara takes up a position on the right side wing above Bogans and Estill is on the left side post area and Hayes is on the left side wing. Fitch dribbles the ball over behind Camara who turns to face the right sideline to set a pick for Fitch to dribble off of. As he comes off the pick, Bogans comes up from the corner spot and sets that back pick again for Camara and then pops out to the three point line looking for the ball. Fitch can hit Camara on the lob, Bogans on the roll back or Estill who rolls into the post on the left side trying to pin his man.
Entry play 4
The ball starts on the left side with Estill on the left side high post, Bogans on the left side low block, Camara on the right side high post and Hayes on the far right side corner spot. Fitch dribbles the ball to towards the left side wing, free throw line extended. As he does that Estill goes down from the high post to set a pick for Bogans to pop straight up off of to get the ball around that left side guard spot at or near the three point line. Camara comes off that right side high post up a few steps and sets a pick for Bogans to come off of. As Bogans gets the ball on the pass back from Fitch, Hayes who is in the corner can either stay there and float up as Bogans comes off the Camara screen or he can run along the baseline into the right left side corner off an Estill pick on the left block where he is not positioned after screening down for Bogans.
Entry play 5
Fitch brings the ball up the left guard side, passes it over to Hayes on the left wing. Estill who is on the left side high post sets what is called a UCLA pick for Fitch to cut off of straight to the low block. As Fitch cuts off Estill's pick, Estill pops out to that left side off guard spot and gets the pass back from Hayes. Camara, who is on the left side block then tries to step into the middle of the lane to pin his man so Estill can take a dribble or two and deliver a bounce pass right to Camara. Bogans sits outside the three point line on the right side for the kick out if his man doubles. Hayes makes that pass to Estill then goes down and sets a pick for Fitch who is on that left side block to pop out to the left side wing.
Defensive Schemes- Here is where Kentucky right now is further ahead than nearly any other team I have seen to date. Their only area of slight weakness right now is that they need to close out with their hands up a bit better instead of getting them up after the offensive player has gone into his shooting motion. The cats are maintaining wonderful off the ball spacing and they are helping and recovering nicely. One other area that could use some shoring up would be on the defensive boards. I would like to see some better contact made on the boards instead of UK trying to simply out jump other teams as much as they have been.
Brett Ayers (mikeness30) can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have comments or questions