How the dribble-drive could help U of L

Lots of UK news in the past few days, but little coming out of the U of L camp. The buzz, unquestionably, will stay with UK in the runup to the next basketball season. It is, with the arrival of John Calipari and his subsequent recruiting exploits, a fait accompli (which of course, in French, translates to “media conspiracy.”)

Calipari on the recruiting front reminds me of Al Czervik, the Rodney Dangerfield character in the movie “Caddyshack,” when he’s blowing through the Bushwood Country Club gift shop.

He’s rolling through buying everything, “I’ll have a box of those, give me two of those, give me six of those.” Calipari’s taking it all but the naked lady tees.

But I digress.

A lot has been said and written about John Calipari’s dribble-drive offense, and it’s certainly going to provide a challenge to UK’s existing players and incoming guys.

But it also poses a new challenge for a U of L program that has prided itself on defense in recent years.

U of L, next season, will be a different type of team, and one of the intersting things to watch with the Cardinals will be which style coach Rick Pitino adopts. He’s very deep and experienced in the backcourt, with Edgar Sosa, Jerry Smith and Preston Knowles all returning, and Peyton Siva coming in. Add perimeter-oriented three men like Reggie Delk (sorry, Reggie, called you Tony in the original posting) and Jared Swopshire in, and Pitino is pretty well suited to put together a dribble-drive attack of his own.

The point is, U of L will be a much smaller, quicker team next season.

If there’s been a prime weakness of U of L defenses, though, the past couple of seasons, it has been defending off the dribble.

Given that the team’s arch-rival is installing a dribble-drive based offense, if I were a motivated U of L player over the summer, I think I’d probably dedicate myself to on-ball containment defense. U of L has based its defense under Pitino on pressure and aggressive zone defense. And maybe this team will play its share of zone.

But those back-court guys are going to have to be adept at keeping people out of the lane. If UK’s dribble drive provides motivation for these guys to work on becoming better on-ball defenders in the offseason, it’ll pay off in Big East play, whatever the outcome at Rupp Arena next December.

While U of L fans may be rankled by all the attention UK is getting with the arrival of Calipari, it also affords the program a rare luxury. Expectations are pretty moderate for what should be a pretty good U of L team coming in. That can’t help but be an antidote to complacency, and perhaps a pretty big motivator before everything is said and done.


30 thoughts on “How the dribble-drive could help U of L

  1. Leeroy Jenkins here. Nice blog Eric. Wish you could get some articles in the paper about UL. I know the focus is on UK right now and hopefully this will motivate the UL players to work that much harder in the off season.One glimpse of hope (from Card Chroncile): Some odd smakers have futures lines up for next year’s NCAA championship. Not surprisingly Kansas is getting the best odds at 6-1. With UK’s latest news they come in second as 10-1. BUT THE BIG SHOCKER is that in UofL checked in with the third best odds of cutting down the nets at 12-1.

  2. Whoa, now that’s an ugly hat. I mean, you buy a hat like that I bet you get a free bowl of soup. Ohhh it looks good on you though.Great flick!

  3. Thanks for the good eye, Kevin. Saw the item about the odds on CardChronicle and I think it underscores that point. This is a very good Louisville team coming back. It’s just a different kind of team. If Jennings and Samuels keep moving forward, they’re going to be very tough. Some of the spotlight might be off them, and this stuff going on with Pitino has taken some of the attention, but it should obscure where the program has come, and that it will probably be a top 15 team in the preseason.

  4. Good point in your post EC and that should have been the theme of the blog entry. No need for the UK angle. Pitino nor any of the players are going to be going out of their way to do anything special for one non-conference game next year. The Cards have bigger fish to fry and a likely top ten team of their own(as usual).As for defending this patented streetball offense, if Cal wants to let his point guard go one on one all game long so be it. He’d have to score fifty because no one else will get a set play shot off.

  5. Syl, I’ll decide the themes of my blog entries, thanks. But I think this topic of U of L being a bit overlooked is one that will be discussed more as the season gets closer.Unfortunately, we haven’t seen a lot of Pitino to get his insights on the nature of this next team, but that will change as the summer wears on.And if you’re right, and beating Kentucky isn’t something that motivates these guys during the summer, with all the attention UK is getting now, then I’d suggest something is wrong.I can tell you that when I last talked to Pitino back on May 9, he said that what Calipari is doing at UK only energizes him. His quote:“With Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville and Tennessee, the way they are recruiting now and how competitive they’re going to get, and with the personalities involved and the programs involved, it’s going to get as competitive as any time that we’ve seen in modern basketball.And to me, that’s about as much fun as you can have.”So I think they are paying attention, and I think both will benefit from the rivalry being more competitive. No, it isn’t a main motivator. But if one is going to be ranked in the top five, no matter which one it is, the other would do well to develop the tools to compete. Especially if doing so is something that will help them later on in conference play, as this would U of L.

  6. Sorry, I don’t mean to tell you what to write. Like you said, it’s just a little rankling to know that the Cards will have every bit the team the Cats will and we haven’t heard a peep about them unless the story starts with UK or Sypher.But I still don’t think the UK game is that big to the players and coaches. To the fans sure, but what you’re implying smacks of fear and uber-respect of mighty big brother. The Cards aren’t going to spend all summer trying to learn how to guard John Wall. Is Calipari going to spend all his free time trying to figure out how to get over on Pitino?”No respect. No respect I tell ya.”

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