Tag:DeAndre Liggins
Posted on: December 31, 2010 3:45 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2010 3:52 pm

UK can shoot its way to Final Four

Kentucky doesn't have five first-round picks on this team.

Three, probably.

But definitely not five.

So by that measuring stick this season's Kentucky team isn't nearly as talented as last season's Kentucky team, and yet I won't be surprised if this season's Kentucky team goes farther than last season's Kentucky team, which is to say all the way to the Final Four. They're young, sure, but they play with a unique level of maturity. Also:
  1. They're really athletic.
  2. They can really guard.
  3. They can really shoot.
(I like No. 3 the most.)

John Calipari has had four teams earn No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament.

They were:
  • UMass (1995-96)
  • Memphis (2005-06)
  • Memphis (2007-08)
  • Kentucky (2009-10)
Two of those teams made the Final Four (although both appearances were later vacated) and two did not, and the two that didn't lost in similar fashion, i.e., as favorites who couldn't make a gosh darn jumpshot. The 2005-06 Tigers shot 35 percent from 3-point range on the season and lost 50-45 to UCLA in the Elite Eight because they finished 2-of-17 from beyond the arc. The 2009-10 Wildcats shot 33 percent from 3-point range on the season and lost 73-66 to West Virginia in the Elite Eight because they finished 4-of-32 from beyond the arc. In other words, Calipari's two No. 1 seeds that lost in the Elite Eight lost because they shot just 12 percent on 3-pointers in Elite Eight games, which is both an astounding statistic and something I can't see happening to his latest dynamic team that looked great in Friday's 78-63 win at Louisville.

The Wildcats aren't the nation's best 3-point shooting team.

But they're in the top 20.

Kentucky is shooting 40.9 percent from 3-point range as a team and has two guards -- Doron Lamb (54.9 percent) and Darius Miller (47.4 percent) -- making about 50 percent of their 3-point attempts; Brandon Knight (38.3 percent) and DeAndre Liggins (36.1 percent) provide two more capable shotmakers. So is this the type of team that's going to miss 88 percent of its 3-point attempts in an important game? No, I don't think it is. And that's why it might be wise to call the Wildcats the SEC favorite and add them to the list of serious Final Four candidates.

They won't have five first first-round draft picks like last season's team.

I assure you of that.

But the less-talented Wildcats might be good enough to play for a national title, regardless.
Posted on: November 29, 2008 10:51 am
Edited on: November 29, 2008 10:51 am

UK's Liggins thinks he's Stephon Marbury

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Jodie Meeks was again fabulous late Friday (37 points on 11-of-17 shooting), which was good and necessary for Kentucky because the Wildcats were down a guard in their 74-72 victory over Kansas State.

Was somebody injured, you ask?


The reality is that freshman DeAndre Liggins pulled a Stephon Marbury and refused to enter the game in the second half after playing just two minutes in the first half, according to Brett Dawson of the Louisville Courier-Journal and Jerry Tipton of the Lexington Herald-Leader. Not only did this put Billy Gillispie in a bind, but it forced starting point guard Michael Porter to play 36 minutes even though he'll have to be on the court again Saturday -- less than 24 hours after Friday's final horn -- when UK meets West Virginia in the finals of the Las Vegas Invitational.

"He played very gutsy, because he was totally physically drained and worn out," Gillispie said of Porter. "He needed to be rested. He needed to not play so many minutes. But he had to. He showed a lot of toughness and grittiness."

And Liggins?

"I was really surprised by (his refusal to enter the game), but it's a freshman that's really competitive that wants to play all the time, and when you don't get to play all the time, sometimes you make mistakes like that," Gillispie said. "Hopefully it won't be repeated."

On one hand, this is bad. But on another it might be exactly what Gillispie needs to rally his willing and able players into an us-against-the-world mindset, because if there's one thing players don't like it's feeling like they were abandoned by a teammate (see Quintin Richardson's recent comments about Marbury as proof). That's why it's reasonable to suggest the players will side with Gillispie on this one, which means Gillispie might finally have everybody on his side and by extension the motivating factor needed to get this season turned around.

As for Liggins, I'll say this: The guy has been given every opportunity to play as many minutes as he could ever want, if only because UK has no great options at point guard. But he's been a huge disappointment so far (17 assists and 17 turnovers through five games), nowhere near good enough to throw fits. So if he's smart he'll apologize to his teammates and coaches, get into the gym, get better and start trying to be the point guard Kentucky so desperately needs him to be instead of the distraction he was Friday night when Gillispie wisely decided to limit his minutes in the spirit of winning a key non-league match-up only to have Liggins limit them further, and in a shameful way.

Category: NCAAB
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