We all know that Kentucky, without the benefit of an Enes Kanter in the post, has one of the smaller front courts of teams in the top 25. Josh Harrellson and Eloy Vargas aren’t exactly blowing up NBA Draft boards.
There are going to be times where 6’8″ combo-forward Terrence Jones is the tallest player on the floor for Kentucky. That said, if you take a look at the rest of the Wildcat’s starting line-up, UK is a fairly long and athletic team.
Brandon Knight is 6’3″. DeAndre Liggins and Darius Miller are 6’6″ and 6’7″, respectively. Off the bench, Stacey Poole and Doron Lamb are both 6’4″ and Jon Hood is 6’7″.
That length and athleticism is a major reason that John Calipari, who is known for his belief in man-to-man defense, is talking about playing zone. But not just any zone. The “CalZone”:
“It’s a funky — it’s not a traditional zone,” Calipari said. “It’s a little bit of a crazy, funky zone that we’re going to start using, that I’ll probably use over in Maui. It’s a combination of a couple different zones that we’re just going to throw at people and see what happens.”
If you think the CalZone sounds a bit confusing, you’re not alone:
Asked during a news conference following Friday’s Portland game to describe Calipari’s zone, Miller and Jones looked at each other briefly and said, “You got it,” each hoping the other would take a stab at the description.
“It’s really kind of hard to explain,” Miller said. “I don’t know how to explain it. It’s something Coach made up. I don’t know when he made it up, really. I mean, it’s different than anything I’ve ever seen. He said it was funky, and he’s telling the truth.”
Miller admitted the Cats are as confused trying to run that zone as they are trying to describe it.
While a topic like this is the perfect Monday morning fodder for a blogger like myself, its seems as if a coach going against a defense he has believed in his entire career is almost always unsuccessful, a last resort. Ben Howland took UCLA out of his typical man-to-man defense last season, and the Bruins went 14-18. Syracuse switched to a man-to-man from their regular 2-3 for last year’s exhibition against Le Moyne and ended up losing.
Kentucky fans have a right to be worried the more they hear about the CalZone.
At least as worried as they were when Isiah Brown, a 6’8″ junior forward for East Tennessee State that had never averaged more than 7.8 ppg, went for 25 points and 14 boards against UK in last Friday’s opener.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.