Kentucky Presents its 2005-06 Squad To Its Fans
In First of Two Exhibition Games

In recent years, the two pre-season exhibition games have provided the Kentucky Wildcats an opportunity to play an uptempo game in which as many of the players can display their skills to the home fans, who have been craving, and missing basketball for seven long months.  All the while, the fans, and some reports suggest the players, have hybernated away this off season with visions of championships dancing in their heads.  I must admit, this fan has courted such visions during the Summer and early fall of 2005.

Since the level of competition in these exhibition games has been below NCAA Division I level, the offensive and defensive performances during these exhibitions tends to exceed the eventual season averages for these parameters.  In addition, UK tends to play these games at an elevated pace, about 10 percent faster than they average for the season.

Based on these historical relationships, Kentuicky's performance tonight against Northern State is a mixed bag of good and bad news.  Prior to this game, I reviewed the relationship of the two pre-season exhibition games to the season-long averages for points scored, points allowed, possessions for each team, and the three efficiency measures, offensive, defensive, and net game. 

Based on this analysis, I opined that if Kentucky had 90 or fewer possessions per game for these two games, then the pace of this Kentucky team will not be significantly faster than recent Kentucky teams.  Tonight, UK had 90 possessions, suggesting a season pace of about 81 possessions per game, essentially the same as last season.  The promise, indeed dream, of faster pace appears to be withering on the vine again this year.

Last year in the pre-season game, I observed that the 2 offensive rebounding advantage that UK earned was lower than previous exhibition seasons, and did not bode well for UK's rebounding ability.  That prognosis proved accurate, as rebounding plagued the Kentucky team all season, and was the achilles heel in OT against Michigan State in the Elite Eight of the NCAA last March.  Tonight, Kentucky earned a +5 offensive rebounding advantage, which suggests this team will be a stronger rebounding team than its predeceasor.

The offensive performance tonight was lackluster, at best, and at 0.889 ppp is one of the lowest offensive efficiencies ever posted by a recent UK team in one of these exhibition games.  UK has averaged about 1.03 ppp in these games, which is about 10 percent higher than they tend to average for the season against D1 opposition.  Therefore, the offense was weak.  This was reflected in the poor free throw shooting and three point shooting, both weaknesses on last year's team as well.

The defense was outstanding, holding Northern State to only 0.600 ppp, and the Net Game Efficiency was 0.289 ppp, which is also a strong performance.  Prior to tonight, the best year in this category for the exhibition games was 1996 when UK averaged 0.280 ppp Net Game Efficiency.

So, some good news, some bad news.  Tonight's exhibition game was a mixed bag.  Next week, UK will finish its tune-ups against local Georgetown College.  We shall see then whether the team improves its offensive efficiency while maintaining the defensive effectiveness.

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Copyright 2005 Richard Cheeks
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