Will this CATS team ever learn to play defense?

02/03/2014 11:13 PM

My title is a little facetious, I know, but seriously this has to be a question ever UK basketball fan has considered while watching this 2013-2014 edition of Kentucky basketball. Defense wins Championships!! Was there a better example of this statement than in this years’ Super Bowl??? If you were like me you were probably just a little upset with the outcome, Peyton is my favorite player and yes I know he played at Tennessee, and if you were like my roommate who is a huge Broncos fan you probably punched your door in disgust. Nevertheless back to the disgrace of a defense the Cats have portrayed at times this year on the hardwood.

At this moment UK is ranked 92nd in scoring defense, 323rd in steals per game and tied for 252nd in Turnover Margin!! 323rd and 252nd!!!!! Those are not numbers that are favorable for a team to win a National Championship, and that would mean that the #QuestFor9 is out of reach. Don’t lose hope yet Cats fans! UK is currently ranked 54th in KenPom’s Adjusted Defense rating and 7th in Adjusted Offense. The last 5 National Champions have all been rated in the top 20 of both offense and defense and while 54 is quite a bit off of that 20 mark it is not impossible to see them keep raising this number by the time March gets here. It has been steadily raising since November and will only get better as this team grows.

In their last 5 games the Cats have had TO totals of 7, 13, 11, 15 and 8. UK won 4 of those 5 games (the loss took an OT dunk/lack of a box out to get) and while the talent of these teams was not exactly the toughest in the country, these teams came out to play against UK because, well it’s UK and they aren’t. These numbers don’t necessarily show improvement and nowhere in any of the game footage that I watched do I see the possibility of this team growing significantly at these parts of the game.

Not to be such a “debbie-downer” but with just 10 games left in the regular season, if there is any hope for this team it is that every player on the roster, not named Sam Malone, Brian Long, Tod Lanter or EJ Floreal, can score at a D1 level with ease. The fact that for this team to win they will probably have to “outscore” every opponent is disheartening, but not unlikely.

So don’t lose hope Cats fans, this team is very, VERY good at scoring and will be fun to watch the rest of the season. I’d say a group of 18 and 19 year olds have plenty of time for growth, just something to watch out for as we head into the home stretch of conference play.

AND REMEMBER IF YOU ARE HEADING TO RUPP TONIGHT FOR THE GAME….MARSHALL HENDERSON IS COMING TO TOWN!! I know you all know what to do. GO Cats!!

@austinthaintern

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