Kentucky defeats OSU-How the Game was won!

Let me get my biases off my chest first thing.  I am a huge SEC fan, but I picked OSU to win it all.  After seeing last night’s game I learned many things, but the most important thing is that John Calipari can coach better than I thought and that Thad Matta might be the next one on the chopping block after the Bucks fire Jim Tressel.  When you look at this game on paper there is NO WAY that UK wins, but that is why they play the game.

There were several fundamental reasons why UK was in a position to win, and that is the best you can hope for when you reach this point in the tournament.  At the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 there are no pretenders.  Just look at VCU and tell me they are a pretender-they are not.

Here are some fundamental reasons why UK was in a position to win:

  • Thad Matta is a cornjerker (seriously, that is his HS mascot from Hoopeston-East Lynn HS in Illinois), but that is not the reason he cannot count.  Here’s what I mean.  UK has one truly effective post player, Josh Harrelson.  Jorts (Harrelson’s nickname) has 5 fouls and OSU did not pound the ball in to Sullinger enough to make Harrelson more vulnerable.  UK’s backup, Elon Vargas, is pretty worthless and OSU could have laid waste to the Cats had they employed this strategy.  Look at the shot chart below and notice how few of the Buckeye shots came in the paint.  There is no excuse for this other than lack of preparation.image
  • Josh Harrelson has become the real deal for UK.  I have to admit that I gave Jorts absolutely no respect at the beginning of the season, but I will say now that he is the classic “understudy”, one who worked with the stars (last year’s team) and was prepared for his time on the stage when it came about.  Jorts the Understudy learned much last year from Daniel Orton and DeMarcus Cousins and he is putting it to good use this year.  He was on par with Jared Sullinger last night, a player who some call the national player of the year; I don’t think he is quite that good.  Take a look at this move from Jorts the Understudy in a YouTube video: 
  • UK’s experienced players were more effective than the OSU seniors.  Harrelson, Miller and Liggins played much more intelligently than Diebler, Lighty and Buford.  Look at the shot charts for each of these players at this link and you will see that OSU died by the 3 point shot when they could have feasted in the paint.  Again, poor coaching and preparation.
  • OSU has not played against the level of athletic ability and penetration that UK presented.  When you review the OSU schedule you will see that there is NO ONE in the Big 10 (11, 12?) with the level of athleticism that UK presents. They did play Florida in December, but that was a much different Florida team than the one in the Elite 8 with UK.  What does the Big 10 have against penetration????

You may take issue with my points, but I believe they all hold water.  Bottom line is this; John Calipari’s strategy was the Jorts could handle Sullinger, allowing UK to match up on the shooters.  He guessed correctly.  OSU did not respond and this allowed the Wildcats to be in a position to win.  A Knight in a Blue Mist, Brandon Knight,  provided the killing blow to make the difference.


About Dan Ryan

Ryan Search & Consulting provides Talent Acquisition, Talent Development and Succession Strategy solutions in the Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Industrial and Healthcare markets. Come learn more about our firm at

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