[Moderated by Matt Jones]
**Disclaimer: This is NOT a literal comparison of the women’s players vs. the men’s players.
The men’s and women’s Kentucky basketball players got a little chippy with one another in the media on Friday. Snide comments were exchanged about one another’s teams, though very obviously in a harmless and playful fashion. Two of UK Hoops’ youngsters, Samarie Walker and Bria Goss, made bold (likely tongue in cheek) statements in saying that the men’s team couldn’t play the same type of intense defensive style that the UK women are known for playing. Later in the day while fielding questions from the media, Doron Lamb was asked about Goss’ and Walker’s comments. Lamb bit back by saying that even if the ladies were spotted 20 points, the men would still win by 100.
Though in all likelihood both sets of comments were made in jest, I felt that the comments paved the way for a closer look at both teams in a position by position breakdown. Obviously, comparing a male athletic team and a female athletic team is nearly impossible. In a head-to-head match up, regardless of the relative skill compared to the rest of the men’s college basketball world, 99 times out of 100 the male Kentucky player would likely overpower the female Kentucky player. Don’t make this out to be something that it’s not. I am not comparing or saying that one player is actually better than the other. Instead, I will be speaking in relative terms to each respective team’s competition and skill provided to their team. For example: Which player is more valuable to his or her team in the game of women’s basketball or the game of men’s basketball (relative to the competition across the country as well)?
POINT GUARD: Marquis Teague vs. Amber Smith/Bria Goss
Advantage: UK Women
– Though Marquis Teague has slowly but surely become a consistent floor general for his team, both Amber Smith and Bria Goss have been steady since day one. Teague has been susceptible to committing turnovers and lacks the threat of a consistent jumper or three point shot. Goss and Smith are a perfect combination of experience/leadership (Smith) and young talent/ability to score in a number of ways (Goss). Teague is no slouch when it comes to the defensive end of the court but Smith and Goss are ruthless on-ball defenders and help Kentucky force turnovers at a rapid pace. Smith and Goss have accounted for 65 total steals already this season.
SHOOTING GUARD: Doron Lamb vs. A’dia Mathies
Advantage: UK Women
– This may be the easiest pick of the bunch. A’dia Mathies is by far the most valuable all-around player for the UK Hoops team. Mathies does everything for her team, averaging 15.2 ppg, 5.5 rebounds and leads the team with 62 steals. When her team needs a big play, Mathies always has the ball in her hands. She is a finalist for the Wooden Award, which is given to the best female basketball player in the country each year. Doron Lamb has failed to reach double digits in the past 3 games for his team. He is known for his ability to shoot the 3-ball and hit the running floater. His offensive game is his strength, but he has been relatively inconsistent throughout the year, though his season average sits at 13.3 ppg. Mathies is the key cog for her team regardless of whether or not she is scoring in a game. Lamb lacks the game changing ability that Mathies has in all facets of the game.
SMALL FORWARD: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist vs. Kastine Evans
Advantage: UK Men
– Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is a no-brainer to win while being compared against anyone, in almost any category imaginable in life. Though he takes the small forward category, it might not be by as much as you’d think. Kastine Evans often plays the role of the “glue” for the UK Hoops team, quietly doing all of the little things that the team needs from her in order to win. Evans averages over 26 minutes per game, which for a team so deep (majority of the players play less than 15 mpg), says a lot about her impact on the game. Evans rarely leads the team in any particular category, but also rarely leaves a space on the stat sheet empty. Kidd-Gilchrist, in my mind, is similar to Evans in that he is the “glue” for the men’s basketball team. He does all of the small things, that often go unnoticed. He fights for loose balls, dives on the ground, muscles his way through traffic for an offensive rebound, etc. Kidd-Gilchrist has a much more complete offensive game than Evans, almost always scoring in double figures. Both players can fill up a stat sheet, but Kidd-Gilchrist fills it up at a much higher clip. Kidd-Gilchrist is also the undeniable leader for his team. Nothing about his leadership is quiet. Oh, and he very well might be the #2 player selected in this year’s NBA draft. Yeah, he’s pretty good.
POWER FORWARD: Terrence Jones vs. Brittany Henderson
Advantage: UK Men
– Brittany Henderson fills an interesting role for the UK Hoops team. She often starts the games, playing down low, but actually only averages 14 minutes per game. The women’s team is known for playing a 4 guard line-up during large stretches of the game. Henderson’s role is limited, especially offensively. Henderson is not known for flashy post-moves or big time scoring capability. Henderson is relied upon to give UK some size defensively and to use her height to rebound the basketball in an otherwise very small line-up. Terrence Jones, when he is on his game, is a high impact player in almost every category. He can score on the post. He can shoot from long range. He can drive the ball at bigger defenders, causing match-up nightmares. Jones is an underrated shot blocker, as well as possessing the ability to grab double digit rebounds on any given night. Jones is one of the most talented players in the country, though he hit a major slump early in the season. When he’s on his game, he’s a top-5 player in men’s basketball.
CENTER: Anthony Davis vs. Samarie Walker
Advantage: UK Men
– Once again, the UK Hoops team plays with a small line-up. Walker is truly more of a power forward than a center. For Kentucky’s team, she is a big body. Compared to some of the other teams Kentucky faces, she is under-sized. Walker has shown flashes of brilliance already after being forced to sit out the first semester due to a transfer. Her role on the team is important. Kentucky must have some kind of low post offensive scoring presence and Walker provides exactly that. She can roll off of picks, offering a lob option for Kentucky’s quick and savvy guards. Anthony Davis is the best player in the country. The challenges that he provides to other teams as a defender is unmatched by any other college basketball player. His offensive game is steadily improving as he adds new wrinkles in almost every game. Did I mention that he is the best player in the country? He wins this category by leaps and bounds (no offense to Walker).
BENCH: Darius Miller, Kyle Wiltjer and Eloy Vargas vs. Keyla Snowden, Bernisha Pinkett, Maegan Conwright, Crystal Riley, Samantha Drake and Azia Bishop
Advantage: UK Women
– The UK women’s team absolutely runs away with this category. Just look at the number of players listed for each team and that tells the story. The UK women’s players listed are not just players that fill the rest of the roster. All of the players listed play significant minutes in each game. One of the most impressive things about the UK Hoops team is their ability to interchange a number of players with a similar skill set throughout the game, rotating a fresh group in every few minutes. The number of athletic and skilled bodies that they can throw at teams is hard to match. Add to all of that the fact that Keyla Snowden is a dead-eye, and I mean dead-eye, shooter. If she hits an early three pointer, forget about it. She can hit them in bundles and even if she misses, she will keep shooting. Snowden’s shooting reputation forces teams to defend her tightly on the outside, opening up options for her teammates all over the court. Darius Miller is essentially a 6th starter. Beyond Miller, Kentucky’s bench is rather thin (the loss of Sam Malone still hurts me to this day). Wiltjer has picked up his defensive game enough to warrant keeping him in the game for his obvious offensive talents. He is still a far cry from reaching his full potential and being a major impact player on his team. Eloy is a centaur. UK hoops can’t match that.
COACH: Matthew Mitchell vs. John Calipari
-Both coaches are about as good as it comes in their respective sports. Both coaches are top notch recruiters, motivators and in-game strategists. Matthew Mitchell is a better dancer but John Calipari is a better eater.
@AllyTuckerKSR Follow me, everything is alright. I’ll be the one to tuck you in at night (just kidding, I don’t sleep).
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