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UK Basketball: The good vs. the bad from 2007-08

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Basketball is officially kicked off now everywhere in the nation, and it's time for us at A Sea of Blue to begin looking at the 2008-09 season in earnest.  In order to do that, we are going to start by taking a look at the good versus the bad from last year from a statistical perspective., an awesome stats website, is my source for these numbers.

First, the good:

Statistic Value National Rnk Conf. Rank Comments Category
Blocks 149 47 4 This should improve even more with the additional size UK has coming in. Defense
Block Pct 8.7 33 4
Blocks Per Game 4.8 35 4
3-pt Field Goal Pct 36.9 91 2 You have to worry about a big drop in 3-point FG shooting. Overall, FG shooting should be pretty good Shooting
Effective Field Goal Pct 52.7 59 3
Field Goal Pct 46.9 40 2
True Shooting Pct 56.7 41 3
Free Throw Rate 41.1 48 1 With Bradley and Crawford gone, I expect this stat to suffer some. How much will depend upon the newcomers. Free Throws
Free Throw Point Pct 22.2 62 1
Free Throw Pct 73.3 51 3

Kentucky was a pretty decent 3-point shooting team last year with Crawford and Bradley making the shots.  That figures to suffer a bit this year, but maybe not as much as some originally thought.  Word is that Liggins is more competent from the perimeter than first thought, and Meeks and Porter should both be able to shoot respectable percentages.  I have heard that Galloway isn't a reliable 3-point shooter, but that Ramon Harris has greatly improved his range.  Of course, you have to treat all this with a grain of salt -- kind of like the whole "summer basketball" reports we always get that so often turn out to be hyperbole.

Field goal percentage from 2 ought to be about the same, or maybe even better due to the addition of bigger people and a strong motivation to go inside to Patterson, Stevenson and Harrellson.

Another thing that may decline somewhat from last year is free throw shooting.  Bradley and Crawford were both very reliable from the line, and we lose them.  Patterson, Stevenson, Meeks and Porter are all reliable free-throwers, but the newcomer's skill is yet to be determined.  We may not drop badly, but I do expect us to go down playing a deeper rotation with younger guys.

Blocks, I expect, will go up, and that is a very good thing.  Stevenson and Patterson will of course lead the charge, but Galloway and Liggins are both tall for their positions, long and athletic.

Now, for the bad, and unfortunately, it is a much longer list:

Statistic Value National Rnk Conf. Rank Comments Category
Assist to Turnover 0.8 227 10 Turnovers vs. assists have been an increasing problem since 2005. Better ballhandlers should help. Assists and Turnovers
Assists Per Game 12.7 202 10
Assists 395 212 11
Turnovers Per Game 15.8 72 1
Turnover Pct 23.7 43 1
Fouls Per Game 18.8 149 2 I expect this to stay about the same. Aggressive defense creates fouls. Fouls
Disqualifications 18 60 1
Total Rebounds Per Game 35.7 252 11 We desperately need to improve in this statistical category, and our increased size, depth and athleticism should help a great deal. I expect us to be a top team in rebounding this year. Rebounding
Total Rebounds 1107 248 11
Offensive Rebounds 301 281 12
Team Rebounds 69 325 12
Offensive Rebounds Per Game 9.7 281 12
Team Rebounds Per Game 2.2 327 12
Defensive Rebounds 737 166 10
Rebound Pct 49.5 207 9
Field Goals Made 735 205 12 Hopefully, these stats will improve with an increased tempo. I am concerned about our three point percentage given our relative lack of outside shooting and new 3-point distance. Scoring
Efficiency 103 150 10
Field Goal Attempts 1566 293 12
Points Per Possessions 1 117 9
Field Goal Point Pct 52 147 9
3-pt Field Goal Attempts 493 294 12
Floor Pct 50.3 197 11
Points Per Game 68.5 180 11
3-pt Field Goal Point Pct 25.7 248 11
3-pt Field Goals Made 182 246 12
Points 2124 195 12
Steals 206 184 10 Better athleticism should help. Defense

The good news about the bad news (does that make sense?) -- I expect us to dramatically improve in two major areas right off the bat -- rebounding and turnovers.  We get much bigger everywhere, which means rebounds ought to come much easier.  We bring in much better ballhandlers than we lose, and I expect that will improve our turnovers and assist/turnover quite a bit.  I sure hope so -- I am tired of seeing UK stink in those statistical areas.

Almost all Kentucky fans would grind their teeth to dust this year if we play the kind of deliberate, slow-down run-out-the-clock basketball we played last year with this new team.  The good news on that front is, I don't expect we will.  We have many people capable of running the floor and getting into early offense this year, and I expect to see much more of that.

I think our 3-point attempts may actually go down from last year due to the longer line and relative lack of great shooting, but then again, a higher tempo might produce at least as many attempts and maybe more, overall.  I'm not really sure.  What I do know is that we don't have a ton of reliable 3-point shooters on this year's team, at least not that I know of right now.  But off-season improvements are hard to figure at the moment, so we may be much better off than I imagine.

I do expect our assists to go up, partly as a result of the higher tempo and partly due to better ballhandling and passing.  We have several really good passers on this team including Patterson, Liggins, Galloway and Porter, and that should really manifest itself in a better A/T ratio and more assists.

Finally, there are steals.  We need to improve this stat, and there isn't any reason why we shouldn't with the number of long, tall athletes we have this year.  Galloway looks like a guy who could lead the league in steals, and Lilggins was known to be a good steal guy in high school.  Let's hope it translates over to the college level.

OK, that's how I see it.  I know many of you have been waiting on some basketball stuff, so jump right in.