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Calipari has turned teams with early losses into Final Four teams before

By LARRY VAUGHT

With games against Utah, North Carolina and Louisville coming up the next three weeks, Kentucky could easily pick up another loss — or maybe two — before starting conference play.

The Cats took their second loss of the season Saturday when they fell in overtime at Seton Hall.

Kentucky has lost multiple games before Dec. 9 only three times under John Calipari — 2010-11, 2012-13 and 2013-14. But two of those seasons (2011, 2014) Kentucky went to the Final Four. The other season Kentucky went to the NIT but that had more to do with an injury to Nerlens Noel than the early losses.

Tennessee and Auburn both seem to be playing a lot better now than Kentucky. Yet UK is still probably the SEC’s most talented team and Calipari always seems to have a knack for getting Kentucky’s problems solved before the year ends.

“Every year that I go through this, it’s painful and aging — trying to figure out your team, trying to get them to finish games and mature quickly,” Calipari said after Saturday’s loss. “It’s hard. And I’m gonna have to go through it again.”

Yes he is because Kentucky has a lot for him to try and figure out as shown by the loss to Seton Hall.

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  1. Yes, those teams did make it to the final 4, but comparing those teams, and their start to this team and this team’s start is comparing apples (bright shiny one actually) to oranges (with dull pitted skins).

    In 2010-11, that team started the season with and early season adjusted net efficiency of 0.281 points per possession. Yes, they dropped some early, but they played the most difficult early schedule of the Calipari Era in doing so. The 2013-14 team started the season with an ANE of 0.278 ppp.

    Both of those teams demonstrated in their season beginnings the ingredients for a strong final four type finish, and to their credit and to Calipari’s credit, they delivered at the end. Those teams got even better as March arrived, and grew enough to make final four runs.

    This year’s team’s early season ANE is the lowest of the Calipari Era at 0.085 ppp. Yes, this team will get better between now and March, but this team is very unlikely to develop into a Sweet 16 type team by March. The platform from which this team will grow is much lower than the platform that those other teams had; therefore, this team’s ceiling is lower than the ceiling those teams reached.

    Right now, I see this team losing 3 of its last 4 non-conference games, and this team will struggle in the SEC, especially but not only , on the road against the likes of Auburn, Tennessee, Florida, Mississippi State, and others.

    19-12, 10-8 is my current projection. I see a #6 to #8 seed in the NCAA, and I will not be surprised by a loss in the first or second rounds, and if not, in the sweet 16.

  2. That appears to be a very realistic assessment, Professor.
    It’s hard to believe that this current edition of UK Basketball was ranked in the top two just a short time ago.
    It sure didn’t didn’t take long for that bubble to burst.

  3. When the balloon is over inflated, it takes little to burst it. When the balloon is under inflated, it can be expanded with careful effort. But once that over inflated one bursts, it is a lot like humpty dumpty, no one, not even Calipari, can put it together again.

  4. Plenty time to be better regardless. This team has the tools get it done, but I still think Cal needs quitting putting to much pressure on these guys. Needs let them play loose like they did at Bahamas

  5. Just watched Tennessee beat Gonzaga, and I don’t think UK has anyone that could start for that team; not even PJ because he takes to many plays off in most games. Some UK players may have more upside, but UT is full of experience and talent right now. Looks very likely to be 2 loses to UT this year.

  6. Tennessee has been playing good basketball, but the team in the SEC that has been playing best has been Auburn.

    UK currently sits in the #6 spot in the SEC. #6 #6. Disgusting is what it is.

  7. That’s just show anybody can beat anybody on any given night. That’s what make college basketball is about regardless who you are. Go Cats!!

  8. yes, upsets occur throughout college basketball. For the last decade, the upset rate has been about 26%, or on average, the weaker team wins 1 of every 4 games. However, as the separation of strength rises from near 0 (50% chance for either team to win, the probability of an upset falls from 50% to near 0% as the predicted margin based on strength rises. When the predicted margin is 1point, the probability of an upset falls to about 45%. At 3 points, it is about 40%. At 7 points, the probability of an upset falls to about 28%, which is close to the national average for all games. At a 10 point margin, the probability of an upset falls to about 15%.

    Yes, the fact that upsets occur keeps the teams and fans of the weaker teams forever hopeful that they can be the beneficiary of the rarest of rare upsets. However, in the big picture the best team wins 3 out of every 4 games played.

    When teams are near the top, the only upsets they ever experience are when they lose to a weaker team. When teams are near the bottom, the only upsets they ever experience is when they beat a stronger team. For the vast majority of teams, they win nearly as often against stronger teams as they lose to weaker teams, evening things out over the course of a season.

    Fans look at the upset wins as evidence that their team is better than it really is by expanding the significance of upset wins while downplaying the significance of upset losses. But at the end, the teams that play more efficiently will prevail. That is why the #1 efficient team has won 50% of the NCAA championships since 2002, and that 50% success rate is likely to continue in the future.

    I want my team to be most efficient, and if not most efficient, second most, and if not second most, in the top 5, and if not top 5, top 8. If not in the top 8, it won’t matter at the end of the year. If success of this program is measured by final 4 and championship banners, as our coach has proclaimed, then this team is not one of those.

    I don’t want a team that gets an occasional upset win. I want the team that wins and wins and wins, recognizing that everyone is shooting for us for their chance to get their occasional upset.

  9. Professor time has change compare to old apples and today’s new apples. There are so much parity in terms of the unknow teams can beat the powerhouse teams on any given night. It’s been a proven fact th last e 15-20 years. The term upsets is more common in today’s college basketball world compare to the days we grew up with back in the 60’s and 70’s

  10. Parity is an excuse for losing.

    The distribution of teams, top to bottom, has not changed in decades, and will not change this year or next. The names in the top 20 slots may change year to year, but the distribution of strength, top to bottom is very consistent.

    When your team is down in the realm of mediocrity, then there are upwards of 30 teams above them they could beat, and 30 teams below them that could beat them. That yields the parity argument. But when you are near the top (top 25 or highter) that is simply not true.

    This team, and last year’s team, played its season as a member of the mediocre.

  11. Consider the following data:

    Date Games Pom Rnk Pom AdjER
    11/3/2017 0 2 0.277
    11/10/2017 1 4 0.267
    11/12/2017 2 5 0.253
    11/14/2017 3 6 0.247
    11/17/2017 4 5 0.244
    11/20/2017 5 8 0.229
    11/22/2017 6 11 0.215
    11/26/2017 7 9 0.217
    12/2/2017 8 13 0.204
    12/9/2017 9 15 0.201
    12/16/2017 10 17 0.210
    12/23/2017 11 19 0.197
    12/29/2017 12 16 0.212
    12/31/2017 13 18 0.205
    1/4/2018 14 18 0.201
    1/7/2018 15 22 0.194
    1/10/2018 16 23 0.190
    1/14/2018 17 26 0.190
    1/17/2018 18 29 0.178
    1/21/2018 19 36 0.167
    1/23/2018 20 33 0.170
    1/28/2018 21 25 0.186
    1/31/2018 22 26 0.180
    2/4/2018 23 30 0.176
    2/7/2018 24 29 0.174
    2/11/2018 25 32 0.169
    2/15/2018 26 34 0.168
    2/18/2018 27 32 0.171
    2/21/2018 28 25 0.180
    2/25/2018 29 23 0.189
    3/1/2018 30 22 0.191
    3/4/2018 31 23 0.186

    Does this indicate a team that is:

    1) Improving through a season,
    2) About the same through a season, or
    3) Getting weaker through a season

  12. That’s why you’re called “The Professor”.

  13. professor, I will answer that later on the season. It way too soon too judge what will this team will do, but I think they will get better as the season goes along.

    1. which question? The only question I posed regards a team from a prior season, and has nothing to do with this UK team or this season.

  14. There is a lot of basketball left to be played, but I am getting a bad vibe about this team. Richards and Montgomery have become no shows, Quickley and Herro are regressing too. The verdict is still out on Hagans, but his shutdown defense disappeared in the second half against the Hall. If Travis has a good game PJ doesn’t and vice versa. Johnson and Green are up and down. The Cats are committing way too many turnovers and seem to be intimidated by equally skill level players. I have no idea what this team does in practice and now it seems to be a team lacking in confidence and pride as the schedule gets tougher. I think Cal has messed with their heads. Look at what this team did in the Bahamas with Cal not coaching. Let these kids play.

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