Column: Dribble Drive clicking at right time



Mid-major season is over. No more Hartfords or Riders, Sam Houstons or Long Beaches.

In these first two months of the season, did UK learn what it wanted to learn?

By the looks of Tuesday’s Hartford bashing, they’ve learned a lot. If nothing else, the Cats have learned how to throw the alley-oop with Globetrotter-esque style and grace. But Tuesday’s jamfest wasn’t just a result of UK’s distinct size advantage.

The Dribble Drive Motion offense is here.

On March 31, the night it was announced John Calipari would be the new UK coach, fans were loading up YouTube videos of the DDM on their cell phones while waiting in a frenzy at Blue Grass Airport for him to arrive. Fans wanted to know what UK basketball would like in this new era.

Since the beginning of the season, the Cats have tried to run the offense smoothly. They’ve been successful in spurts. But Tuesday? Buzzer to buzzer, it looked smoother than Rupp Arena has ever seen.

Guards were being aggressive, taking the ball into the lane. The dribble never stopped — that is, unless the ball was in mid-flight. The Cats were hitting high-percentage shots and draining wide open 3-pointers — Calipari called it a “turkey shoot” —  at a high percentage.

If it’s this easy, why don’t all 347 Division I teams run this offense? Because it’s not that easy. These highly talented players are just starting to feel it more often than not.

“It’s really easy when you got guys with basketball IQs really high,” Calipari said. “When they’re in there and they know what they’re trying to do and they play off each other, we’re pretty good. Folks, we shot 72 percent in the second half. That’s hard to do without people out there, like you’re scripting offense doing 5-on-0.”

During the break between semesters, Calipari has gone to three-a-day practices. One of the sessions has been devoted exclusively to the dribble drive. One of the other sessions has been spent solely on offense and of that session, Calipari said 60 percent has been dribble-drive work.

Now that these players have had a chance to play 14 games and see what the dribble drive looks like in full context, they can take that and refine it in practice. At this point, how could the dribble drive be any better? If your leading scorer gets 16 assists in a game, it appears as if things are clicking along pretty well.

But now that the Cats have reached this part of the schedule, they can’t be inconsistent. No more picking and choosing when the offense decides to show up (Tuesday) or stay home (last Wednesday against Long Beach State).

“I think it’s going to be exciting playing against all these teams,” said Darius Miller, who scored 16 points Tuesday. “They’re all going to be good teams from here on out. Nowhere to hide.”

And because of the Southeastern Conference’s super-media deal with ESPN, 11 of the Cats’ 16 league games will air on one of the Worldwide Leader’s networks.

Really, nowhere to hide.

Do the Cats need to produce crazy 30-assist, seven-turnover nights every night in league play? No. Do they need to hit 14 3-pointers every night? Hardly.

But if the dribble drive is running properly, it will always look a little different. The result should look the same, though.

The Hartfords and Riders can second that.