The secret to Kentucky's success

Suddenly efficient offense fueling Wildcats' Final Four run

Updated: March 30, 2014, 9:39 PM ET
By John Gasaway | ESPN Insider

Julius RandleBob Donnan/USA TODAY SportsJulius Randle's offensive rebounding has helped fuel Kentucky's March surge.

Can we all agree right off the bat that Kentucky's not a "real" No. 8 seed anymore? The talented and explosive Kentucky Wildcats are scoring points in bunches, and the rest of the Final Four field -- starting with UK's next opponent, Wisconsin -- should be aware of this fact.

John Calipari's group was actually pretty fair on offense during a regular season when the team was branded as a disappointment. This was the SEC's third-best offense in league play (behind Florida and Tennessee), and the Wildcats were particularly adept at grabbing offensive rebounds and drawing fouls. Those traits are commonly regarded as effort stats, as opposed to shooting percentages, which are more often regarded as skill metrics -- and that, again, reinforced the perception of this team. Calipari's youngsters, it was said, were talented and athletic enough to get offensive boards or earn trips to the line, but they weren't yet skilled enough to play at the highest level.

Now you've probably noticed that the perception of this team has changed, and rightfully so. Kentucky has shown that effort and skill can be brought together. The result is an offense that has scored 1.16 points per possession in the tournament, and may be getting better with each passing game.