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Kentucky Basketball: Blue-White Scrimmage Preview And Live Game Thread

Tonight, Kentucky plays their intrasquad scrimmage which may be their toughest game until Kansas on November 18th.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, to the preview and live game thread for the 2014 Kentucky men’s basketball Blue-White scrimmage. Here are the particulars for tonight’s event:

Date: Oct. 27, 2014
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: Rupp Arena, Lexington, KY
TV: SEC Network
Radio UK Sports Network

Earlier in the day, UK released the teams for the scrimmage, and they are quite interesting. Let’s look at them first, then analyze them a bit:

First Platoon

Status Name Position
Starter Andrew Harrison Point Guard
Starter Aaron Harrison Off Guard
Starter Willie Cauley Stein Forward
Starter Trey Lyles Forward
Starter Karl-Anthony Towns Forward
Reserve Derek Wilis Forward

Second Platoon

Status Name Position
Starter Tyler Ulis Point Guard
Starter Devin Booker Off Guard
Starter Alex Poythress Forward
Starter Marcus Lee Forward
Starter Dakari Johnson Center
Reserve Dominque Hawkins Guard

These are two very evenly-balanced squads with specific strengths and weaknesses. It seems clear, if we are to infer from this that these are the same squads UK will start the year with, that John Calipari has worked very hard to achieve both balance and diversity. Both these teams are full of quality, and both have their strengths and weaknesses, based on what we think we know from Big Blue Bahamas. Let’s look at them:

Platoon 1 Strengths

  • Size — This is a huge team, with the front line averaging over 6‘11", and the back court averaging 6‘6". Immense.

  • Strong guards — The Harrison twins are the strongest guard tandem, as well as the biggest. It will be hard to keep them away from the rim.

  • Rebounding — This should be the better rebounding group of the two because of their overall size, but not by much.

  • Shot-blocking — This looks like the better of the two groups when it comes to shot blocking, but not by a huge margin.

  • Offense — This is a powerful offensive team with shooting inside scoring.

Platoon 2 Strengths

  • Quickness — Platoon 2 looks quicker at almost every position.

  • Team speed — Platoon 2 should be faster up and down the court.

  • Ballhandling — Platoon 2 looks better to me with three guards.

  • Physicality — With Poythress and Johnson, the second platoon looks more physical

  • Defense — the second platoon is built to defend in the full court.  It should be much more effective in the press.

I really love these two groups, and I think this should be the best basketball game Kentucky will play until the middle of this month when they challenge Kansas in the Champions Classic.

What to look for

The first thing I want to see is cohesion — are either one, or both of these units cohesive? Do they play as a group, or as a collection of talent?

Second, I want to see sharing of the ball. That wasn’t a problem in the Bahamas, and I don’t expect the introduction of Cauley-Stein and Lyles to affect that at all. Still, it’s something to watch for because the chemistry is likely to be slightly different — note that it could be better rather than worse.

Third, I want to see if the first platoon really can outrebound the second. The physicality of Poythress and Johnson will not be easy to match. WCS is not a particularly physical player, and although Lyles is supposed to be, he’s operating at a whole different level than he was in high school.

My next area of emphasis will be shooting the ball. I can’t pick between them as to which has a better perimeter game, but it should be the first platoon. Derek Willis is certainly a better shooter, or was, then Hawkins, and I’d rate the guards about even. Lyles is supposed to be pretty good from outside and we know Towns can do it from there if needs be.

Finally, can the first platoon defend the second? I know #1 is a shotblocking group, and taller, but not that much taller. In transition, if the Harrison twins get run off the floor by Ulis, that’s going to be instructive. Kentucky has got to improve in transition defense, and that should show up on one side or the other.

That’s about all I have. Add whatever you want below, and I’ll see you at game time.