John Calipari loves having a set rotation; however, with the depth of the 2013-14 Kentucky Wildcats, Calipari can tweak his lineup as he sees fit based on the circumstances.
With seven McDonald's All-Americans on the roster and nine players averaging over seven minutes per game, Calipari can make numerous situational lineups throughout the season.
While Calipari has been criticized and even blamed himself for forgetting to sub during Kentucky's recent loss to Baylor, per Kyle Tucker of The Courier-Journal, this slideshow will take a look at the best lineups Calipari can use based on the situation throughout the year.
Read on to see who will be on the floor when Kentucky needs a bucket or that all-important defensive stance.
When Kentucky needs to make a comeback or desperately needs a bucket, John Calipari's smartest move is to take out center Willie Cauley-Stein and go small by inserting Alex Poythress at the power forward position and sliding Julius Randle to center.
The move allows for more freedom in the paint by having another player in Poythress who can step away from the rim and hit jumpers. By having the lane open, it gives Randle the ability to play one-on-one in the post, with room to attack the basket.
Randle has been one of the best players so far this season, averaging 18 points per game through Kentucky's first nine games. Allowing him to play one-on-one in the post gives the obvious advantage to the freshman. However, if teams decide to double down in the post on Randle, this lineup surrounds him with the best shooters from behind the arc for him to kick the ball out for an open look.
It also allows more room for players like Andrew Harrison and James Young to drive to the rim with no center waiting for them.
Sure, Poythress might not be putting up the scoring numbers many Kentucky fans from expected the former McDonald's All-American, but he opens up the floor for the other four players on the court.
For those who argue that Cauley-Stein is a better scorer or taking him out of the game makes Kentucky play without a true center, remember the smallest player on the court is still 6'6" for the Wildcats. Cauley-Stein has played strong lately for Kentucky, but his forte isn't what he brings offensively.
Sure, this team may not put up the most amount of points offensively, but how many teams are getting buckets against this lineup? There's not one weak link that Kentucky's opponents can attack one-on-one.
As a team, Kentucky is averaging four steals and eight blocks per game, and this particular lineup makes up three steals and 5.4 blocks per game. Willie Cauley-Stein leads both categories, averaging 1.1 steals per game and 3.8 blocks per game.
Dominique Hawkins might be the most unknown freshman in the country, as he was offered a scholarship late by Kentucky and didn't really make a name for himself until he won Mr. Basketball in the state of Kentucky as a high school senior last season.
However, Hawkins has shown he fits right in with those freshmen who are McDonald's All-Americans, as he's supplanted himself as the backup to Andrew Harrison at point guard and one of the better on-ball defenders in the country.
Aaron Harrison had his coming-out party defensively in Kentucky's victory over Providence when he shut down Friars' star Bryce Cotton in the second half. Ever since then, Harrison has been the best wing defender Kentucky has had on its roster.
If anyone were to get beat off the dribble, it'd be tough for teams to score regardless because of Marcus Lee and Cauley-Stein waiting for them at the rim. Lee, much like Cauley-Stein, is long and can jump through the roof.
|Jarrod Polson||Crowd Favorite|
|EJ Floreal||Highlight Reel|
|Derek Willis||Forgotten Freshman|
|Marcus Lee||Need a Fifth to Play|
As many people expect this year, Kentucky will have the game wrapped up with a couple of minutes left to play and John Calipari will be able to empty his bench. This lineup is one that we will only see when Kentucky is up big and Calipari needs to put five players on the court.
Sure, the positions aren't true "positions," but this isn't a necessarily a true lineup. However, if we do see these five on the court together, you can tell your friends you read it first.
Most of the time these players will just be on the court to hold the ball, but if there's plenty of time, expect to hear the crowd to yell for Jarrod Polson to shoot the ball whenever it's in his hands, no matter how far away from the basket he is. Also look for EJ Floreal to try to posterize any defender who gets in his way.
As for Marcus Lee, well, he's on this roster because Calipari isn't Norman Dale from Hickory High School and plays the game with five guys on the court. How many other teams can have a McDonald's All-American on their blowout lineup?