Kentucky Basketball: Biggest Question Marks in 2014-15
Despite having a talented and deep roster, the 2014-15 version of Kentucky basketball has plenty of question marks heading into the season.
With a plethora of big guys and only a set amount of minutes in each game, there is a logjam in the post position. On the flip side, will Kentucky head coach John Calipari be able to find minutes for point guards Tyler Ulis and Andrew Harrison to keep them happy?
Let's take a look at some of the biggest questions heading into the 2014-15 season for the Wildcats. Whether lineup-based or scheme-based, there will be questions for Kentucky, no matter how talented the Wildcats are.
How Will Marcus Lee Fit into the Rotation?
Not many McDonald's All-Americans would be fine with playing garbage minutes as a freshman like Marcus Lee did. Sure, he came on during the NCAA tournament, but that was only because Willie Cauley-Stein went down with an injury.
With Cauley-Stein and Dakari Johnson returning to Lexington and freshmen Karl Towns and Trey Lyles joining the Wildcats, Lee could find himself as the odd man out again. Lee doesn't do anything better than any of the other four players, so you can't put him in for strictly offensive or defensive reasons over anyone.
Expect Lee to play roughly the same number of minutes he did last year. He should play no more than 10-12 minutes a game, playing the energy spark off the bench. He'll provide decent defense and plenty of hustle while giving the other bigs a chance to catch their breath on the bench.
Who Takes the Last Shot?
If Kentucky is in a tight game and the clock is running down, who is getting the ball to take the last shot? Most people would immediately say Aaron Harrison due to his NCAA tournament heroics, but is that what happens this year?
Harrison seems to be the logical choice due to his ability to shoot from deep, especially on contested shots. He can use his size to get to the rim and is a tough finisher in the lane. But other options are available. The next two options would be Harrison's brother, Andrew, and freshman Karl Towns.
Andrew Harrison, who had the ball in his hands late in the game last season, would be a solid option due to his size and mid-range jumper. Andrew, usually guarded by a smaller point guard, can bully his way into the lane and use his size to finish at the hoop or pull up for a mid-range jumper, which he excelled at last year.
Towns, is a unique player in the sense he is 7'0" and can shoot from behind the arc like a guard. He also has the ability to dribble like a point guard. Running a clear-out for Towns would allow him the space to go one-on-one against a much slower player, or draw help for an easy pass to an open teammate.
Can Tyler Ulis and Andrew Harrison Share the Floor?
Andrew Harrison could score 100 points in a game and freshman Tyler Ulis would still be a crowd favorite for Big Blue Nation. That tends to be the case when you're listed at 5'9", play like a bat out of hell and make exciting plays off the dribble.
The question going forward is whether Ulis and Harrison can play together, and if so, who will be the true point guard? During the trip to the Bahamas, Kentucky played two platoons of players, with Ulis and Harrison on opposite teams, so you didn't get a chance to see them together.
There's no doubt that Calipari can make it work between two guards, much like he did with Eric Bledsoe and John Wall. Ulis, a traditional point guard who looks to pass first and prides himself on defense, will take over the point guard position when the two share the floor. Harrison is a good point guard, but his game is suited to play off the ball as well.
Can Alex Poythress Play Small Forward?
Alex Poythress is going to be the key for Kentucky's successful season in 2014-15. He is a unique player who has the size and length to play the power forward position at the collegiate level, but in the NBA he is a small forward.
This year, he will be called upon to be the small forward, allowing Calipari to play the talented big guys two at a time. Poythress doesn't play like the prototypical small forward due to his lack of shooting over the last year and a half.
What he can do, though, is guard multiple positions and allow Calipari to draw up schemes based around his mismatch at the small forward position. In order for Poythress to be successful at his role, he needs to continue to take advantage and grab a handful of offensive rebounds and putbacks. Poythress also must develop the outside shot that he had as a freshman.
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