Less than 6 Weeks Until Midnight Madness
For 2005-06 Season

For many wildcat fans, the 2004-05 season ending loss in the NCAA Elite 8 to Michigan State in Double Overtime was a disappointing end to an otherwise successful season.  Our Wildcats fell short of the Promised Land of College Basketball by the slimest margin, a missed free throw near the end of regulation.

As frustrating as this loss was, the off season has been even more troubling.  When the season ended, it appeared that Kentucky would return a veteran team, losing only Chuck Hayes from the starting line-up, with a deep bench and new recruits to reinforce the four returning starters.  However, the summer held many surprises.  First, Senior to be Kalena Azebuike decided to enter the NBA draft.  While Kalena's departure was certainly a disappointment, most fans, including this writer, understood his personal situation and his need to move on with his career.  However, Kalena's announcement was followed by a similar move by Sophomore to be Randolph Morris.

Neither Mr. Azebuike nor Mr. Morris impressed the NBA moguls sufficiently to receive a draft selection in either of the two rounds.  Kalena's decision to leave the University of Kentucky early was irreversible due to his attachment to a sport's agent during the draft.  Mr. Morris' situation is less clear.  He consistently contends that he did not engage a sport's agent at any time during the draft tryout and evaluation periods.  However, he may have accepted some compensation from various NBA teams for travel and tryout opportunities.  Under the NCAA rules, Mr. Morris may be able to reverse his decision to leave school early if he repays all monies spent by the NBA teams on his behalf, and he indeed did not engage an agent.

As of this writing, Mr. Morris has enrolled and is attending classes at the University of Kentucky in anticipation of a sophomore season with the Wildcats.  However, the NCAA has yet to declare him eligible.  The main sticking point appears to be whether Mr. Morris' denial of any agency relationship is indeed true.

If the NCAA does allow Mr. Morris to continue his collegiate career at Kentucky, he will certainly be penalized for allowing his name to remain in the NBA draft pool.  That penalty will take the form of a suspension of up to 9 games, perhaps more depending upon the amount of money involved in the NBA tryouts.  Coach Smith appears optimistic about this decision, and included Mr. Morris in the pre-season team photograph.

Assuming Mr. Morris will return after a nine game suspension, his first game of this season will be the Louisville game in Lexington on December 17, 2005.

In addition to the customary 16 game SEC schedule, UK will play 14 non-conference games including games against perinial powers North Carolina [Lexington], Indiana [Indianapolis], Louisville [Lexington], and Kansas [Lawrence].  In addition, Kentucky will compete in the pre-season Guardian Classic, hosting N. Colorado, Lipscomb, and South Dakota State in the first two rounds, and anticipating a trip to Kansas City for a Final Four that will probably include host schools Iowa, Texas, and West Virginia.  The remaining six non-conference opponents will be Liberty, High Point, Georgia State, Iona, Ohio, and Central Florida.  Kentucky will tune up for the 2005-06 season with exhibition games against Northern State and Georgetown College.

This season I will continue my basic game tracking of efficiency and the related parameters discussed and presented in these pages.  I invite you to comment and raise questions.

During the 2005-06 season, I will continue to address the use of the RPI Strength of Schedule factor as a normalizing parameter in making direct comparison of data for two teams.  I began looking at this relationship near the end of the 2003-04 season, and during all of last season.   I believe that I made progress last season with the algorithm to describe this relationship.

I will also continue tracking the number of points scored by each team during bonus possessions due to offensive rebounding. 


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Copyright 2005 Richard Cheeks
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