UK has plenty of problems in basketball this year (5-3 record being one of them) but the most controversial topic of discussion on this year’s Wildcat team is the point guard play. Everyone is calling for Michael Porter to be benched as the starting point guard in favor of talented freshman DeAndre Liggins. We at APIAS are among the majority who think that Liggins is the young man who should be starting at the point for the Cats. It’s not that we have anything against Porter, it’s just that he is ineffective. How ineffective is he?
Well, like most of our arguments at APIAS we don’t take this subject lightly. We’re not generally of the mold of blogger that just spews our opinions without any factual back up to our argument. Okay, well some times we do go on a tangent, but not today. Today we’re starting a new segment on APIAS called “The case for DeAndre Liggins.” In this segment we will be running down the game box score and determining how well the team played with Michael Porter at the helm, Liggins running point, or both players in the game at the same time. This will be done for each and every game that Porter starts beggining with last night’s Miami game. For the run-down of the Miami game, hit the jump.
First, here are the game time performances broken down by time, player at the point position, and score at the beginning of that segment in the game.
20:00 (1st) Porter start. 0-0
14:43 (1st) Liggins in, Porter out. 7-16
7:43 (1st) Porter in, Miller out. 20-29
4:00 (1st) Miller in, Liggins out. 24-35
3:22 (1st) Liggins in, Porter out. 24-40
20:00 (2nd) Liggins start, Meeks out. 26-46
17:59 (2nd) Meeks in, Liggins out. 28-49
16:23 (2nd) Liggins in, Porter out. 32-49
Now, let’s look at the point differential for each of those segments.
Porter -9 [5 minutes]
Liggins even [7 minutes]
Both playing -2 [4 minutes]
Porter -5 [1 minute]
Liggins -4 [3 minutes]
Both playing -1 [2 minutes]
Porter +4 [2 minutes]
Liggins +11 [16 minutes]
What does all of this mean? Well if you add all of those +/- stats up you get Michael Porter -10 on the game, DeAndre Liggins +7 for the game, and the team was -3 against Miami with both players in the game. It is also important to note that Porter handled point guard duties most of the time when both players were in the game last night. They do some trading off at that position, but especially at the start of the second half Porter was walking the ball down for the Cats on every possession but one.
As we’ve said on many an occassion (or at least we’ll start saying it) the numbers don’t lie. With Porter in the game at point the Cats were -13 last night and they were +7 with Liggins on the floor at the point guard position. Getting the ball up and down in transition is a very important part of this team’s game as their half court scoring ability is limited. The transition game when Liggins is on the floor allows them to score with a guard or big man beating everyone down the court, and more importantly, it allows them to get secondary break scoring opportunities out of Meeks via a trailing three pointer or Patterson with the foul line jumper or delayed cut down the middle.
We won’t end this by throwing pleas at Billy Gillispie to start Liggins, and we sure as Hell won’t throw him under the bus for this. What we will say is that the 2008-09 Wildcat basketball team appears to be better with DeAndre on the court instead of Porter. Does that mean he should start? Who cares? Liggins’ minutes looked good last night (32) but Porter’s were a bit much (17). The problem is that with Harris on the bench and Miller passing up open 15 footers (shoot the flippin’ ball Darius) Billy doesn’t have much choice but to play Porter. My suggestion would be to send M.P. to off-guard. Mabye we’ll get lucky and he hits a three or two and draws attention to himself.
Up today against the Cats is Mississippi Valley State. If Billy starts Porter, look for another edition of “The Case for DeAndre Liggins” on Monday. Who knows, Porter may be +25 in that one.