In his last six seasons, Calipari's teams have won 33 games or more five times. The only time he fell short of 30, the 2011-12 Wildcats advanced to the Final Four. Under Calipari, UK and Memphis' seasons have ended in the Sweet 16 once, the Elite Eight three times, the national semifinals once and once in the national championship game.
Clearly Calipari has coached some special teams, but his most recent one is poised to be on a different level, at least statistically speaking. In a number of different key areas, the 2011-12 Wildcats are putting up unprecedented numbers compared with Coach Cal's last six teams:
- Effective field goal percentage (offense) - Effective field goal percentage (eFG%) is a composite of 2-point and 3-point shooting that takes into account the additional value of making a 3-pointer. Cal's teams have shot better from inside and outside the arc, but never this good from both. UK is hitting 52.8 percent from 2-point range and 36.6 from 3-point range, resulting in an eFG% of 53.3. The 2009-10 UK team had the previous high at 53.1 percent.
- Block percentage (defense) - Every Calipari team since 2005-06 has been among the top 12 in the nation in block percentage, but this year's team blocks a higher percentage of its opponents' shots than any of them. In fact, it's not even close. UK is tops in the nation with a block percentage of 22.2, 4.4 percent better than the 2009-10 Wildcat team that led the nation. Primarily responsible for that is Anthony Davis, whose personal block percentage of 14.6 is 5.5 percent better than Calipari's next best individual shot blocker (Joey Dorsey in 2006-07).
- Effective field goal percentage (defense) - Calipari-coached teams have made their living on defense, ranking in the top 10 nationally in eFG% each season and ranking first twice. The Wildcats are second this season behind Wisconsin, but their eFG% of 40.9 is the best of any of Cal's recent teams. The shot blocking of Davis and company has had UK especially deadly from inside the arc, where opponents are hitting just 38.5 percent. None of Calipari's last six teams have held opponents below 40 percent from 2-point range for an entire season.
- Free throw rate (offense and defense) - On the year, UK has attempted an astounding 175 more free throws than its opponents have and has made more free throws (361) than opponents have even attempted (330). The Wildcats have also committed fewer fouls per game than all but 20 teams in the nation. All that has resulted in both the highest offensive free throw rate (43.8) and lowest defensive free throw rate (27.9) among Calipari-coached teams since 2005-06. The defensive free throw rate is especially impressive since none of those teams have ever posted a number better than 29.7 and a pair have actually been over 40. Moreover, for UK to be able to block over one-fifth of opposing teams' shots and foul so infrequently is pretty amazing.
NOTE: Free throw rate is calculated simply as free throw attempts divided by field goal attempts.
- Free-throw shooting - Not only is UK getting to the line more frequently than Calipari's past teams, they're also hitting them more often too. After a rough start to the season, UK has settled in at the free-throw line. The Wildcats have hit 71.5 percent of their attempts, which is half a percent better than Cal's next best free-throw shooting team (UK in 2010-11).
Based on these numbers, this year's UK team is unique. As conference play wears on and tournament play begins, the Cats will try to prove just how special they can be.
All advanced statistics via kenpom.com