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Kentucky Wildcats
First, I want to thank you for subscribing to my newsletter. At Hoops Insight, I hope to use data to find insights that reveal things you didn't realize about the Kentucky Wildcats. I'm using play-by-play data to track what's happening, who's doing it, and who is in the game, in order to show you things the box score can't. Check out my past newsletters in the Hoops Insight Archive, and read about the stats I like to use in my stats glossary.

If you have any questions about things I'm saying, the data behind it, or if you just want to debate a point, feel free to contact me on Twitter at @hoopsinsights or email at sean@hoopsinsight.com. I'd love your feedback on the newsletter and how I can improve. Thanks, and I hope you enjoy my work.
2 games in a row with foul trouble for PJ....
In each of the last 2 games, PJ Washington has sat for significant amounts of the first half after collecting 2 fouls. Each time UK has trailed at halftime, and only against Ole Miss were they able to come back to win. Getting Reid Travis back may help keep PJ out of foul trouble, but there's another hidden factor that can help. Before I get into that, here's the stats profile for UK's last 2 games.

Stats Profile vs Tennessee and Ole Miss, Mar 2-6 2019


What You Should Know: For the season, PJ Washington has committed a foul on 4.6% of the possessions he has played. That percentage has been pretty consistent regardless of the teammates sharing the court with him, with one exception. When PJ Washington is on the court with Immanuel Quickley, he commits a foul on only 3.7% of his possessions. That may not sound like a big difference, but that's the only situation when Washington's foul rate drops below 4.0%. Also, in a 70 possession game, that is a drop of almost 1 foul per game, enough to keep a player out of foul trouble. 

Washington isn't the only player who fouls less when Quickley is in the game. EJ Montgomery, Nick Richards, and Ashton Hagans all have their lowest foul rate when Quickley is in the game. Only Reid Travis sees his foul rate climb when sharing the court with Quickley. For the season, UK commits fouls on 20% of their possessions when Quickley is playing, down from 23% when he sits.

What Is Happening? It is no coincidence that 3 of UK's big men see their foul rate decline sharply when Immanuel Quickley is on the court with them, or that it's the 3 big men who are most active trying to block shots. Quickley stands out among UK's guards in his ability to keep ballhandlers in front of him. This is crucial for keeping big men out of foul trouble. When a ballhandler is able to beat his man and get into the lane, the big men typically have to rotate over and try to stop the drive. If the big man is a shotblocker, he will likely attempt to contest the shot. It's really hard to do this when the ballhandler has a head of steam, and this can lead to cheap fouls on the big man. For a great example of this, check out Washington's 2nd foul against Tennessee. Admiral Schofield comes off a curl and catches a pass, and starts to dribble into the lane. Keldon Johnson is late, and isn't able to cut him off. Schofield gets into the lane, PJ Washington comes over to contest the shot, but bumps him in the air and draws his 2nd foul. If Johnson was able to cut off Schofield, Washington wouldn't have committed this foul. Quickley is very good at containing ballhandlers, especially when making his way around a screen, which keeps him between the ballhandler and UK's big men. This keeps Washington, Richards, and Montgomery from picking up cheap fouls trying to prevent open shots. Quickley also helps keep Hagans from picking up fouls, since Quickley can defend the ballhandler and let Hagans play off the ball more. 


What Does This Mean for UK? In order for UK to reach their potential, they may need to navigate some foul trouble for their big men (especially Washington). UK could use Quickley as a defensive sub in these situations to help keep the big men from picking up additional cheap fouls. This could be especially helpful in games where UK has to decide between sitting Washington for long stretches in the first half (and potentially falling behind, like against Tennessee) or leaving Washington in to maybe pick up more fouls. This is most useful against teams with ballhandlers who draw fouls at a high rate, like LSU's Tremont Waters. If UK's big men get in foul trouble against LSU, putting Quickley on Waters can help neutralize one of LSU's best foul magnets. Other guards who could merit this treatment are Michigan State's Cassius Winston, UNC's Colby White, or Purdue's Carsen Edwards. UK could end up drawing any of these dynamic guards during the NCAA Tournament, and should be prepared to use this tweak in order to keep their best players on the floor as much as possible.

 
Thanks for reading my newsletter. If you have any questions, want to argue a point, or have some feedback, feel free to reach out via email at sean@hoopsinsight.com, or on Twitter @hoopsinsights. If you liked this, let me know as well, and tell your friends to subscribe at www.hoopsinsight.com.

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