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Cody Fueger wants Kentucky to shoot 35 three-pointers per game

Zack Geogheganby:Zack Geoghegan05/14/24

ZGeogheganKSR

Kentucky turned into an offensive juggernaut last season, hitting three-pointers at a higher rate than any other team in the entire country (40.9 percent on 24.2 attempts per game). Unfortunately, the defense suffered as a result. However, the new coaching staff in Lexington made it a point to address any possible defensive concerns early on in the transfer portal. Bringing in several Defensive Player of the Year winners should help.

But don’t expect the offense to take much of a dip. If anything, the Big Blue Nation should still expect to see the high-powered, fast-paced scoring prowess that it did a season ago. Head coach Mark Pope and his staff added a handful of elite outside shooters to go along with those defensive stalwarts. More scoring pieces could be on the way, too.

After running a “video game” like offense at BYU, Pope and Co. expect to bring something similar with them to Kentucky. The three-pointers will once again be raining down inside Rupp Arena in 2024-25.

“How coach Pope likes to build his program, his teams is give these guys a ton of confidence first and foremost. He wants them to play fast, free, and fearless,” Kentucky assistant coach Cody Fueger said Tuesday morning on KSR. “Offensively, we’re trying to get up 35 threes a game and if you turn down an open shot, you’re coming to sit on the bench. That’s how he coaches. He wants to give these guys tons of freedom and wants them to play off their instincts. So that’s a huge thing for us offensively. Just playing fast, playing the transition. And let these guys make plays and make reads.”

Admittedly, averaging 35 three-point attempts every game is… a lot. During Pope’s first four seasons at BYU, the Cougars never shot more than 25 outside shots per contest. But it’s certainly possible. Last season’s BYU team under Pope — his fifth year in charge — attempted 32 per game, second in the country, while hitting at a 34.8 percent clip. North Florida’s 33.2 attempts per game were enough for first.

When the roster features high-level shot makers such as Koby Brea, Kerr Kriisa, and Andrew Carr (plus whatever new additions are brought in to fill out the roster. Hell, we can even throw in the incoming freshmen), gunning for 35 long-range shots each game doesn’t seem too far-fetched. From what we’ve heard from the staff so far, it certainly sounds like Kentucky will play fast enough to reach that mark on a regular basis.

But what about the defense? Former head coach John Calipari built the program’s identity on hard-nosed defense — last season’s team just didn’t fit that mold. What will Pope’s strategy look like? He’ll still roll with the traditional man-to-man defense, but there will be plenty of wrinkles mixed in.

“And then defensively we like to — our base is man to man, but we’ll do a bunch of punches during the game, whether it’s we’ll trap a ball screen or come out in a press or we’ll change it up after timeouts,” Fueger said. “Things like that. Or we feel like we can get one quick in the halfcourt.”

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2024-05-27