It was another close game for the Wildcats. And, as always, John Calipari had plenty to say about his team’s performance following the victory. As if you’d expect anything different, Cal tended to take a question and run with it. In case you missed the live stream, here are the main takeaways:
On Kentucky’s defense and rebounding
Just as they did Friday against Utah Valley, Kentucky struggled defensively late in the game. The Cats gave up 45 points to Vermont in the the second half, compared with just 24 points in the first. Even worse, they allowed Vermont to claim 21 second-half points from behind the arc, as the Catamounts went 7-10 from the three-point line in the final twenty minutes.
Kentucky’s rebounding also slipped after halftime: they secured 21 rebounds in the first half, but grabbed just 15 in the second. According to Calipari, their main issue with rebounding stemmed from going after one-handed grabs.
“Now, how many one-handed rebounds did we go after today? Now do you know why I’m nuts about one hand? One-handed stuff loses you games,” Calipari said. “Kevin Knox had one… P.J. had one before that. But the game winner P.J. grabbed with two hands. This is a freshman team, we’re learning.”
He also touched on his teams’ ability to shoot three-point buckets versus their ability to guard them. In today’s game, Kentucky struggled with both. The Cats went 3-9 from behind the three-point line, while the Catamounts hit 10-29.
“I would like us to shoot seven or eight more threes than we’re shooting right now,” Calipari said. “But this is a team that can throw it to the post. [Vermont] decided not to double team the post, which means you’re not going to shoot many threes.”
On the final minutes
It’s early in the season, but the final minutes of today’s game were still stressful. But, according to Calipari, that’s not a problem, as he needs to learn who he can go to in these late-game situations.
“I’m so excited about this game because we’re going to learn about ourselves,” Calipari said. “And we’re going to learn about individuals, what they’re capable of and maybe what they’re not capable of. And we’re going to learn.”
Kentucky missed seven of their final eight shots. The explanation?
“I was trying to find out, ‘Who do we go to?’ I don’t know yet,” Calipari said. “Do you know? If you know, write me a note because we don’t know. I tried – if you notice, I was trying all kinds of different things.”
“What I did like is Kevin [Knox] making that three [late in the second half]. It shows me he has courage enough to make it. Couple other guys missed all their shots. Well, maybe late, I’m not going to have you shoot it. Somebody who can make it and, ready for this, and if you get fouled, make free throws, you’ll have the ball in your hands at the end.”
In addition to Knox, Cal liked Quade Green’s performance at the end of the game.
“I kind of like Quade with his hands on the ball at the end, to be honest,” Calipari said. “I thought it looked pretty good.”
On his Positivity
Earlier in the season, Cal said he is being harder on this team than he has been on any other during his time at UK. Today, he touched on his “positivity” and how hard it’s been for him.
“They’re all freshmen – they don’t get it yet. And I’m trying to be as positive as I can… I just hope I’m not trending down. I’m trying to be positive. It’s so hard. I punch walls when I get in my office. I smile.”
The busy schedule continues. Just in case you’ve forgotten, Kentucky will play their third game in five days against No. 4 Kansas Tuesday. But, according to Cal, they have “a lot of time” before then to prepare.
“We have a lot of time to prepare. So I haven’t looked at anything for Kansas. I will go to my office tonight and I’ll break down this tape. I’ll watch some Kansas stuff – I’ll be home by 9:30. I might bring the dogs to the office so I may stay a little longer.”
It’s against NCAA rules for Calipari to review game tape with his team tonight, but Cal says they will be watching it tomorrow morning.
“Tomorrow at 10… they will watch the Vermont high and low lights, and then we’re on to Chicago and it’s all Kansas.”
One of the main problems he sees right now? Staying in front of their guards.
“We’re not staying in front of guards right now, and it’s scary,” Cal said. “Kansas coming in two days.”