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Scouting Kentucky: Can't stop just one, and can't score on 'em, either

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Marquis Teague is a quick guy who can get to the rim, but one coach doesn't see much else. (Getty Images)  
Marquis Teague is a quick guy who can get to the rim, but one coach doesn't see much else. (Getty Images)  

Scouting: Louisville | Kansas | Ohio State

How should you attack Kansas?

What's the secret to stopping Kentucky?

Where's Ohio State's most obvious weakness?

What's the biggest concern when facing Louisville?

These are questions various sportswriters have spent months answering, but the truth is that sportswriters are just sportswriters. They get paid to have opinions and type them into a computer. But they never have to, you know, actually figure anything out. Coaches do, though. That's what they get paid to do.

So with that in mind, CBSSports.com college basketball writers Gary Parrish, Jeff Goodman and Jeff Borzello spent the past few days talking to men who have coached against either Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio State or Louisville this season. Parrish, Goodman and Borzello spoke to at least three men who have coached against each team and asked them for what amounts to a scouting report. The coaches were promised anonymity to ensure complete honesty. Here is what they said:

Scouting Kentucky: Style of play

"Their style is overwhelming. Here's the thing about UK -- it's not Anthony Davis that beats your ass. You can match up with him and kinda eliminate him. The problem is Terrence Jones, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Darius Miller. Those guys. You can't match up with all of them. You might have one guy who can guard one of them or two guys who can guard two of them. But no team has three guys that can match up with all three. So there's always a mismatch, and they are great at identifying that mismatch. One of those matchups they will crush you. That's what makes them tough. They [bleeping] kill you from one spot."

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"They are the best team in transition that I've seen in recent history. They have multiple guys who can bring the ball up the court and multiple guys who can finish. When they play fast, and they usually do, they are impossible on the break."

"They can beat you playing different ways, but they'd like to run on you and you'd rather them not. I don't know how you stop them in transition. If you watched our game with them you know that already."

Offensive strength

"They just have so many weapons. So many guys who can score. Terrence Jones can score four different ways. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist can score different ways. Darius Miller can score different ways. They can all score different ways. So they hit you a bunch of different ways to get buckets."

"They identify mismatches so well and any one of those guys can score 20. And they have two perimeter players in Marquis Teague and Doron Lamb who can create a shot. Most only have one. They have two guards who can go make plays, and because of that they're tough to guard."

"It's their versatility -- especially at the wing positions. They have so many players 6-5 to 6-9 who can do multiple things. You can't match up with them all. They have too many big players on the wing and you can't match up with them, and because of that they just kill you."

Key player

"That's hard to say. Obviously, their heart and soul is Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. He's so willing to stick his nose in there. He's not afraid. You just don't see that composure in 18-year-old kids a lot. Michael is phenomenal."

"There's not just one. But, and this is gonna sound crazy, but I think it's Darius Miller and somebody else. I don't know. But Miller is one of them. He's had a bunch of big plays in a bunch of their wins. But, honestly, they don't just have one guy. That's why they're kicking everybody's ass."

"I'm going with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. He has incredible toughness. And if he's scoring, he motivates their team that much more. We just couldn't match up with him."

Primary weakness

"The weakness is that they're predictable. You know what they're doing. Anthony Davis is going left. Darius Miller is foot-faking and going right. Terrence Jones is gonna shot-fake and go left. Doron Lamb is going baseline. Marquis Teague wants it in his left hand. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist can go either way, but he won't change directions. I watched tape for days on them. We knew everything every guy on their team was gonna do."

"Inconsistent outside shooting is their weakness. If you take away transition baskets and make them beat you outside the paint, you can beat them if they're off. Vanderbilt in the SEC tournament is a classic example."

"It's Marquis Teague. He's the weak link. If he's the point guard on any other team, he's not getting talked about this much. He's fast and he can get to the rim when it's open. But he's not John Wall or Brandon Knight or any of those cats. He's a high-major player but I'm not sure he's gonna have a long career in the NBA."

How to stop them

"They are 301st in the nation at causing turnovers. They don't cause them. They only play six guys. So they don't run around and wreak havoc because they have no depth. So you beat them by not turning the ball over because that's not even something they're trying to make you do. And you have to stop transition. You can't let them get out in transition. You've got to stop the basketball in the open court. That's exactly what Vandy did when they beat those guys."

"I still think the way you beat them is to zone them or to play a sagging man-to-man and make them beat you with jumpers. That's your only chance."

"You have to score in transition. If you let them set up, you're in trouble because Anthony Davis is back there and he changes everything. And then you're taking 3-pointers, and you're probably missing 3-pointers, and they're running. So to stop them you have to not let them get out in transition, and that means you probably need to try to run on them."

Best way to score on them

"That's a great question. They are No. 1 in defense for a reason. You gotta have a point guard who can do something with the ball, and I think it really requires a point guard and a post. They switch everything. So if you can get Anthony Davis in a switch, then you can score. That's what Indiana did against them. Victor Oladipo would go straight at Anthony Davis when he got switched. So if you can get him away from the rim you've got a chance to score."

"You have to have a low-post guy who can turn on Anthony Davis and put it right in his nose. If you don't have that, then you've got to have somebody he's guarding to be a threat away from the basket so that you can pull him away from a basket. You have to attack him from that position or get him away from the basket. You can score if you do those things. Otherwise, you better try to score in transition."

"The thing you can't do is turn the ball over and let them get out on the break. If you can make them score against your half-court defense, you've got a chance. Basically, you have to run on them but you cannot let them run on you."

Ultimate concern

"Them in transition is just a nightmare. They only have one guy who can't run the break and that's Anthony Davis, and he can finish the break, and that's a problem. If it were just Marquis Teague running the break, that's easy. But almost all of them can do it, so it's hard to stop."

"Their defense will just swallow you up. They can physically overwhelm you. Those guys at the two, three and four spots just kill you."

"You've gotta keep them off the free-throw line. They've made more than their opponents have taken. They don't have many great shooters, but they make free throws. So when they stick their head down and start attacking and you foul them, you're in trouble. You gotta keep them off the free throw line."

Something extra

"Anthony Davis is unbelievable off the ball. He's a freak of nature. He doesn't block shots on the ball that much. He hates contact. But when you drive you better drive to dish."

"People don't understand how good Darius Miller is."

"I know people talk [bleep] about Cal, but he's a helluva lot better ball coach than people realize."


Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for CBSSports.com and frequent contributor to the CBS Sports Network. The Mississippi native also hosts the highest-rated sports talk radio show -- The Gary Parrish Show -- in the history of Memphis. He lives in that area with his wife, two children and a dog.
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