Who is Kentucky's leading candidate for national player of the year--Anthony Davis or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist?
Sporting News' Mike DeCourcy put MKG on his first-team All-America squad at midseason, saying Kidd-Gilchrist has made the biggest impact on winning for the Wildcats. DeCourcy said Davis' lack of big-time offensive production was a knock for now but the 27-point showing against Arkansas may signal that is changing.
CBS Sports this week came out with its weekly rankings for the nation's top player and Davis was third, behind Kansas' Thomas Robinson and Creighton's Doug McDermott, with Kidd-Gilchrist rated sixth.
Stats guru Ken Pomeroy is working on a numerical ranking of the player-of-the-year candidates at his kenpom.com site and he has Davis ranked fourth.
"Anthony Davis ranks fourth (behind Robinson, Jared Sullinger and Draymon Green), well ahead of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. This (formula) factors in both sides of the ball, which when factoring (talk about) player-of-the-year, people don't do," Pomeroy said on "The Leach Report" radio show this week. "First, his shot-blocking. Everybody knows about. But the interesting thing about (him) is that he's also a very good defensive rebounder. And you just don't see that combination very often. When guys are blocking shots, they are out of position in terms of getting rebounds. He does that and it puts his defensive metrics off the chart."
As for Kentucky as a team, we asked Pomeroy how this UK team stacks up v. last year's Final Four squad.
"This year, they are a pretty good offensive rebounding team. They're a good outside shooting team but the thing that gets under-reported in the media is they don't take many three-pointers. They're 301st in the country in the number of three-pointers that they take," said Pomeroy. "Defensively, it's a pretty typical Calipari team. Where they excel is their two-point percentage defense--right now, they're third in the country. They give up 38 percent on their two-point (attempts), which is outstanding but one note of caution with that is in SEC play, that's risen to about 48 percent. That explains why the last two games have been tighter than Cat fans may have expected going in. It was particuarly stunning with Auburn because I have their offense rated worst in the conference. But maybe that's a flukish thing going on there."
Anthony Davis is making an all-out assault on the blocked shot pages of the Wildcat record book. And if Kentucky reaches a Final Four, Davis is on pace to finish with enough blocks to rank fifth on the CAREER list at UK. How's that for a staggering statistic?
Looking down the road, what tournament records could Davis re-write? Well, for Kentucky, the record for blocked shots in an NCAA Tournament game is six, shared by Nazr Mohammed and Jamaal Magloire (they each got six vs. UCLA in a '98 regional semifinal win). The SEC Tourney standard is nine, by Andre Riddick vs. LSU in 1993. By the way, Riddick had 15 points and 10 rebounds in that game, meaning he's come the closest in UK history to recording the school's second-ever triple double.
Nationally, Shaquille O'Neal holds the NCAA Tourney record for blocked shots in a game, getting 11 vs. BYU in '92. For a tournament, Florida's Joakim Noah is number one, with 29 blocks over six games in the Gators' 2006 title run. At Kentucky, Magloire's 18 blocks in 1998 is the record for NCAA Tournament blocks in one season.
Marquis Teague had arguably his best game in the win over Arkansas, with a season-best nine assists. And the pass-first mindset he displayed was in tune with what legendary UK point guard Kyle Macy said recently was needed at that spot.
"If your point guard is taking the second-most attempts, he better be a pretty good shooter--ala a Brandon Knight. With this team, (he) doesn't need to really put points on the board, unless it's late in the shot clock. Then, they can't really back off of him and he can use his speed and quickness and get to the rim. The main thing is get everybody else involved and get the offense running right," Macy observed. "Scoring from the point guard position--with this team--that should be one of the last things the point guard is thinking about. There are just so many options.
"It's amazing to me that Anthony Davis, as well as he's playing, is last on the team in field goal attempts," Macy continued. "If I'm a point guard, I'm getting him the ball every chance I get. I want my big guys (who do what he does on defense) to be real happy."