Rebounding is going to be a problem for Kentucky early in the season. - Jason Szenes
Examining the Four Factors in the Kentucky Wildcats-Maryland Terrapins game in the Barclays Classic last Friday
First, here's the graph of the Four Factors from the game, courtesy of Statsheet.com:
Well, this doesn't take rocket science to figure out. Kentucky shot the ball fairly well, although by no means outstandingly well. 48.2 eFG% is slightly better than the current Division 1 average of 47.1%, particularly when the opponent manages only 35.3%. The question then becomes, why was this game as close as it was?
The answer lies in the number of shots taken. Maryland took 19 (yes, you read that right) more shots on goal than Kentucky. You simply don't have to shoot well when you get up that many more shots than the opposition.
As we look at the factors, we see that, for the most part, Kentucky's position looks good. The 'Cats outshot Maryland, turnovers were about even (17.6% is really pretty darn good), and Kentucky got to the line a lot. Where they went wrong was that UK missed a large number of free throws (10 out of 28) and allowed the Terps to nearly double them up in offensive rebound %. That offensive rebound disparity was where almost all those extra shots on goal by Maryland came from.
Kentucky struggled rebounding the ball because the beefier Terps constantly pushed the slender Wildcats under the basket, making it impossible for them to get in position. If you'll recall, last year's team, in particular Anthony Davis, had this very same problem early in the year. It's just exactly what you'd expect from a young team.
We are going to have this rebounding problem for a while, perhaps all year. The sooner Alex Poythress understands that he's going to have to provide the beef, and get the boards, the better. Archie Goodwin also needs to wade in there and try to get some caroms.
John Calipari will get this worked out eventually, but for the next five or six games, I suspect we'll be lamenting rebounding quite a bit. Anyone who watches that Maryland tape will have a good understanding of how to manage Kentucky in the rebounding department. That's just something Calipari will have to figure out with his young charges.