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Kentucky’s New Offensive Approach Paying Dividends

Photo: Kentucky Today
Antonio Reeves led UK with 24 points in a GLOBL Jam opener Wednesday in Toronto, Canada.

Austin Cocanougher
Herald Contributor

Just a few short months after John Calipari hired a new assistant coach, John Welch, to be Kentucky Basketball’s Head of On Court Training and “offensive coordinator,” the Wildcats appear to be a totally different basketball team than anything fans have watched in several years. Typically a team that plays a hard-nosed, “pound the ball into the ground” style relies on their defense and superior athleticism to win games. At the GLOBL Jam in Canada this summer, Kentucky is swinging the ball around, spacing the court and looking to score in bunches. Despite fighting with fans, media and various basketball experts for years that his two big-men and long twos approach could win in modern basketball, Calipari looks to have finally given in to keeping up with the times. But is the small taste of offensive output from a few off-season scrimmage games really enough to get fans’ hopes up that a real change is coming? Or, is it yet another example of a small concession to doubters of the program that will inevitably be reverted back once the grinder starts churning?

Unlike other “tweaks” to the Calipari system over the years, this change appears to be permanent. In his tenure at UK, he has never allowed any assistant to run practices, take over game planning, implement an entire offensive system, or even bring up “analytics.” However, since hiring John Welch, the way things are done within the program has changed. Not only is Cal allowing Welch to run practices, incorporate an NBA style of play, and implement technology into everything that players are doing to optimize output and efficiency, but he is even letting Welch and the rest of the staff bring analytics (advanced stats used for giving yourself the best chance to win “by the numbers”) into practices and games.

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