This season is very young so far, but after only three games, I thought we would examine a few key statistics from a player perspective. Obviously, losing the first two games is an ugly stat from a team perspective, and much has been made of our turnover problems. What I want to do here is look a little deeper at some key statistics, and see how the individual play with regard to those stats is affecting overall team performance.
The problems I see with this group of stats are probably the same ones most 'Cat fans see. Jodie Meeks has entirely too much of the scoring load, more than double the number of points/possession as Patrick Patterson. That can't continue. It suggests that too many shots are being taken from the perimeter, and against better defensive teams, that is going to make us uncompetitive.
Notice how efficient Ramon Harris is. He actually has more points per minute played than either Stevenson or Patterson. That's because he rarely takes anything remotely resembling a bad shot, and Harris has scored almost as many points as Patrick Patterson. Anyone who thought Patterson was his old self need only look at this statistic to be utterly dissuaded. Ramon Harris is primarily a defensive stopper, and if he is averaging more points/minute than your stud forward, your team has issues.
Darius Miller has been more efficient per minute played than than Patterson or Stevenson. Overall, we see some nice balance shaping up scoring-wise, but the disparity between Meeks and the rest of the team is just too great. Clearly, Meeks is getting too many shots compared to Patterson and Stevenson in particular. Unbalanced scoring like this will make it much easier for teams to defend Kentucky. and make UK subject to cold shooting by Meeks.
Again, the problems in these statistics are pretty obvious. First off, our point guard position has a combined A/TO ratio of 1.04-1. A 2-1 A/TO is considered good in college basketball, so I think we can safely say that 1.04-1 is bad -- essentially one turnover per assist.
DeAndre Liggins is both an assist and turnover machine. He leads the team far and away in both statistics, and although he is a freshman, the 'Cats desperately need him to mature quickly. What is interesting is that Patrick Patterson has the best A/TO ratio per 40 minutes played on the entire team. Maybe we should let him initiate the offense (kidding!). Michael Porter, as we see, pales in comparison to Jodie Meeks in assist/turnover. That is mainly because Meeks is pretty much a one-way pass these days.
We need to see better passing into the post, which will greatly improve both statistics. In addition, Kentucky needs to be much more patient bringing the ball up the floor on both inbounds after baskets and on the break. Kentucky has yet to run a really good fast break all season, with most of them being run incorrectly by players entering the break from the middle of the court, rather than from the wing. This is Basketball 101 type stuff that even the freshmen shouldn't have to learn.
These two groups of stats are illustrative of most of Kentucky's offensive problems right now -- unbalanced scoring and lousy ball-handling. Solving them will be a gradual process, but the learning curve for these stats isn't all that steep. What it really comes down to is fundamental execution of the little things, like dribbling with a purpose, crisp two-handed passes and solid positioning. This team has plenty of skill to win against most anyone, but the execution so far has been sadly lacking.
Kentucky really needs to get more inside-out balance in their scoring, and do a much better job of entering the ball into the post. Patrick Patterson's high A/T ratio demonstrates the good things that can happen when he gets the ball in the post area. Part of the fault for this has been Pat's -- he really hasn't posted up nearly as strong as he did last year, nor is he as relentless at getting good position.
Jodie Meeks has got to do a better job of trying to help make that post entry, or draw defenders to him and kick the ball back to the wing for a reversal that should lead to a clean entry pass. Jodie is obviously willing to pick up the scoring load, and we do need some of that, but at this point, we have to find a way to get our interior players more involved. Kentucky has its best front line in some time, but right now it is under-performing mostly due to a lack of focus on getting the ball where our front-court players can do the most damage.
Passers from the wing have got to stop hesitating with the post entry and make it immediately when it opens up. How many times have we seen Patterson get position and the ball handler looking to move the ball somewhere other than down into the post? We don't need to telegraph the pass, but the wing players really need to make the entry pass as soon as Patterson establishes position.
Again, all these things should improve as the season progresses, but what we are seeing now is, as I have mentioned before, a lack of the offense being able to see the ball at all times and keep the big picture in mind. The most important thing we can do on offense right now is get some clean feeds into the post, and develop that skill as fully as possible. Good things will happen if we do.