For the past few months, John Calipari has warned fans about this team’s youth, so he wasn’t surprised when they stumbled early vs. Utah Valley. After watching Calipari for eight seasons, what was surprising is that the Cats clawed their way out of the hole with a 2-3 zone, which spurred an 18-0 run.
“The start was kind of expected,” Cal said. “We shot 21 percent in the first half and at halftime, I said, this is good for us. Let’s see who we are. Let’s see who is willing to fight. We went zone and it kind of got us going. And that’s what we should use the zone for.”
Of course, that wasn’t the only question Calipari got about the zone. When asked, Cal admitted he doesn’t like to use the zone because it doesn’t prepare guys well for the next level, but he’ll use it this season because he’ll have to.
“I probably am, but let me say this: I’ve had seasons where we’ve not played one bit of zone or we’ve played one team zone. The issue becomes, I have a responsibility to teach these kids how to play pick and roll defense, how to stay in front of people man to man. From here on, there is no more zone. They’re going to have to learn.
“But I also have a responsibility to win. So, I’ll play as much as I have to to win a game. I’m not — what happened was, we have a group of five we’ve been working with in the zone. But when I subbed, we weren’t as good in the zone. So, basically, you have five guys, and then it’s okay, how many minutes can you play with five guys in the zone. Can you get through two timeouts and play six, seven minutes? If we played seven minutes today in the zone, would you say that’s more than we played all of last year?”
Like it or not, it clearly worked tonight.