UK Basketball: My Plea for Patrick

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Between 1962 and 1973 the UK men's basketball team had seven teams that boasted two 18 points per game scorers -- '62 Cotton Nash & Larry Pursiful, '64 Nash & Ted Deeken, '66 Pat Riley & Louie Dampier, '69 Dan Issel & Mike Casey, '70 Issel & Mike Pratt, '72 Jim Andrews & Tom Parker, '73 Andrews & Kevin Grevey -- Since that time no UK team has had two players on the same team average at least 18 points per game.

That could change, this year.  With both Jodie Meeks (22.9 points per game) and Patrick Patterson (18.2 points per game) above the 18 point per game thresh-hold, a thirty-five year first could very well be attained (also, since 1986 only Kenny Walker and Jamal Mashburn have averaged over 20 points per game).

I think that's great and all, but I'd like to see those averages switched; in other words I would like to see Patterson averaging around 23 per game, and Meeks at 18 or so.  And here's why:

Shooting Percentages and Shot Distribution

On the year Jodie Meeks has taken 146 shots.  The next highest number of shots taken is 91, by Patterson.  That's an average of six more shots per game for Meeks ... that's way too many, especially when one considers that Meeks is shooting 44% on the year, and Patterson is knockin' it down at a white-hot 72.5% rate. 

Take into consideration UK's three losses: 

  • vs. VMI -- Meeks took 27 (3 of 11 threes) shots, to Patterson's four.  Meeks shot 48%, Patterson shot 75%. 
  • vs. North Carolina -- Meeks took 20 shots (3 of 9 threes), to Patterson's 11.  Meeks shot 25%, Patterson shot 73%.
  • vs. Miami -- Meeks took 17 shots (2 of 12 threes), to Patterson's 13.  Meeks shot 24%, Patterson shot 62%.

That's 54 shots for Meeks and 28 for Patterson.  Unbelievably out of whack, and at the same time, one would think an incredibly effective teaching tool.

After the Miami game, coach Billy Gillispie had this to say about UK's shot selection, and the high number of shots taken by Jodie Meeks:

"He missed a bunch of shots.  When you play lethargically and are not carrying out assignments then that reveals itself in offense.  It is a lot harder to hit guarded shots.  We were playing against a zone most of the night and we should have been able to get the ball where we wanted to.  People don't make guarded shots.  We were foolish to take those kind of shots.  Our whole deal is to get the ball inside.  When you play outside-in, then it is going to be a long night and that is exactly what we did."

Coach Gillispie could have legitimately spoken those same words after every game this year.

Kentucky's bread is buttered by the sweet moves and soft touch of Patrick Patterson.  The coach knows it, but I'm not seeing evidence that the team is buying into fact. 

I do see evidence that Jodie Meeks sees nothing wrong with the current shot distribution; after the Miami game, Meeks had this to say:

"I'm not really sure what was going on ... I couldn't seem to hit anything.  The shots I was taking were pretty good shots, just none of them would fall today.  I guess you have games like that."

His words seem to directly contradict those of his coach.

I don't mean to be too hard on Meeks.  I realize there are other, more complicated issues involved in UK's inability to feed the post consistently.  Meeks, though, is jacking up a lot of shots (early in the shot clock) without giving the offense a chance to work, especially in the first half of games:

  • Versus Miami in the first half, Patterson did not take a shot until the 8:30 mark, with the score standing at 33-22, Miami.  In that same time eight three-point shots were taken, and Meeks took nine shots himself.
  • Versus Mississippi Valley in the first half, Patterson did not take a shot until the 9:00 minute mark.  There were a total of 14 shots taken before Patterson attempted his first.  Meeks took only three of those shots, which is an even more offensive stat -- You're telling me that the two best offensive weapons UK has took a grand total of three shots the first 11 minutes of the game?  Why?

If I'm Gillispie, I write on the chalkboard:

                                                              27 of 36

                                                    should read 45 of 60

Coach Gillispie should then embellish his admonition with, "Patterson needs to take more shots.  The guy is shooting 75% over the last three games, but he's only taken 36 shots.  He should have taken 60 shots.  Get him the freaking ball!"

If that doesn't prove an effective sales technique, then G should fully utilize his primary motivational ploy -- pine time.  If it's good enough for Joe Crawford, then it's good enough for these guys.

This team should be 'coached up' enough to realize that the outside game is set up by pounding the post.  Surely, Gillispie has emphasized this point with his troops.  But has he said this to them, "Is there a better way to create a sag in the perimeter defense than to feed a player averaging 72.5% from the field?  Talk about creating open looks ... this is the prototype."  If he hasn't, someone needs to check his credentials (I kid).

Sometimes it takes a bit of adversity to gain the full attention of a team, especially a young team.  I think, though, that 6-3 qualifies as a little bit of adversity ... so hopefully Gillispie has the team in full attentiveness mode.  Their hearts should be open and their minds receptive.

The players must me made to realize that in order for Kentucky to achieve what they have the TALENT to achieve, they first must admit to themselves that everything runs through Patrick.  If the numbers begin to reflect that mindset, then UK will have a successful, perhaps wildly successful season.  If not, more of the same will be the most likely outcome, and no one will be pleased with that.

NEGATIVITY DISCLAIMER-- I don't want the readers to think I'm 'down' on this team.  I am not.  I see a lot of good things happening, I have seen improvement (which I will write about leading up to the IU game).  But we're nine games into this thing, and I haven't seen the area relevant to my post improve one iota.  And that needs to change, post haste.

Thanks for reading, and Go 'Cats!

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