We continue our player recaps with a look at the senior to be from Evansville, Indiana, Kyle Kuric. Did you know he was Homecoming King last year? If not, go back and watch every single game Louisville played on any of the ESPN channels and you’ll find out. Let’s go.
Like Preston Knowles, the 2010-11 season was Kyle’s best at Louisville. This was mainly a result of Kyle actually playing. During his freshman season, Kyle was behind a guy named Terrence Williams, who averaged about 37 minutes a game, so no chance for Kyle to play then. His sophomore year, he played just under 14 minutes per game, but was also behind Reginald Delk in the rotation and did not see too many meaningful minutes.
That changed this past season.
Kyle played in all but two games and started quite frequently. He averaged 28 minutes per game and in those minutes he produced. Kuric scored 10.8 ppg on 51% shooting, including a stellar 45% from three point range. I don’t have access to game tape so I cannot find the exact percentage, but I’m pretty sure Kyle shot in the neighborhood of 79% from the left corner. He was also one of the best foul shooters on the team at 76%, but only shot 33 free throws total on the entire season.
Outside of scoring, Kyle grabbed 3.9 rebounds per game, up from 2.5 a game as a sophomore. He also averaged 1.2 assists and 1 steal per game.
I think many Cardinal fans would point to Kyle’s dunk against Notre Dame as Kyle’s best moment of the season, and while that play was incredible, I’m going to go in a different direction. I think his performance against UNLV was more important. Kyle was coming off a pretty poor start to the season and had to sit two games after sustaining a concussion as the Cards welcomed in UNLV for a big game.
Going into the game, I feared Kyle had gone back into his shell and was not going to have the breakout season I was hoping for. Luckily, I was wrong.
Against the Runnin’ Rebels, Kyle finally put a solid game together. He scored 17 points on the strength of 5-8 shooting from three point range and grabbed 5 rebounds with 2 steals to help lead the Cards to a strong win over Lon Kruger’s squad. As excited as I was about the win, I was more excited about Kyle’s performance and I think it really jumpstarted his season.
I honestly don’t think Kyle had a truly bad moment this year, but if I had to pick one, I’ll go with his missed free throws against Morehead State in the NCAA Tournament. Kyle, who as I said earlier shot free throws at a 76% clip on the season, missed 3-4 from the line in Denver and in a single point loss, that stings.
To be clear, in no way am I placing the blame for the loss on Kyle Kuric, that was a total team effort. However, I imagine if I were Kyle and I had missed those free throws, I’d feel pretty sick to my stomach over that.
There are two things I would love for Kyle to focus on this off-season that I think could help the 2011-12 squad tremendously. First, I would like Kyle to improve his ball handling. I’m not saying he needs to learn to play point, but I do think an improved handle will pay dividends in not only bringing the ball up the court against pressure, but also should result in a more balanced offensive attack for Kyle. We all know he can shoot it from deep, but if he can add some slashing and drives to the basket to his game, with his athleticism I think he could become a legitimate 15 points per game guy.
Second, I would like to see his rebounding numbers increase. As I said earlier, he grabbed just under 4 rebounds per game last season and while that does not sound very impressive, let’s remember he had to play an awful lot of the power forward spot due to injuries so he was often times forced to rebound against someone a lot bigger and a lot stronger. I think next year we will see him exclusively at the 2/3 spot and as a result of that, I think his rebounds will increase almost by default. Having said that, there were still many times when Kyle was caught ball watching and was not prepared for a rebound that was there for the taking.
I think the combination of playing his natural position and an improved focus on the glass, Kyle can grab 6-7 rebounds each contest. Much like everything else with Kyle Kuric’s game, the ability is there, he just needs to find it, then utilize it. We saw some consistent glimpses of it this past year, I think he’s due to put it all together for a full season.