A few notes from Coach Cal’s turn on the SEC Coaches Teleconference this morning…
– In his opening, Calipari joked (I think) that he thought Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt was at home and asked why his team doesn’t get to play any home games. He joked (I think) that he should be paying more attention to the schedule.
– Coach Cal said that despite his team failing to close out another game at the end, the thing he’s trying to focus on with them is that they are losing them long before that with short spells of mistakes and ineffectiveness. He said that in every game they’ve played this year, they’ve had at least one stretch in the middle of the game where they have fallen into a rut and that is where they need to get better. Against Florida, it was at the end of the first half when Brandon Knight went to the bench and the start of the second half when the Gators opened up the lead to double-digits. Cal said they’re going to work on avoiding those slow stretches.
– In terms of specific players needing to provide more, Cal cited the need to get DeAndre Liggins 8-10 shots per game. He acknowledged that Liggins needs to finish his lay-ups, but said that they spoke yesterday about him getting more drives to the basket out of the offense and that he needs to feel more comfortable shooting the three-point shot, which Cal noted he does better than anyone on the team during practice. He added that Liggins has earned the ability to take more shots through his defense and he wants to make sure he’s getting and taking them when he gets them. Hopefully, this little reward is noted by his teammates.
– Though it’s not necessarily anything new, it was particularly interesting to again hear Calipari side with taking talent over experience after the Cats dropped another close game to a more veteran squad. Calipari quoted John Wooden again in saying that he believes talent will win and that he would prefer to take very good young players and try to develop them. Of course, he did qualify that by saying that the best recipe is a mix of both and that his best teams at Memphis had young talent (Derrick Rose) and veterans (Chris Douglas-Roberts and Joey Dorsey) and last year’s team benefited from having Patrick Patterson and two reserves who had previously been starters (Ramon Harris and Perry Stevenson). It’s a debate that will continue as long as Cal is UK’s coach and he noted that a lot of reasons why Florida won (offensive rebounds, “out-working” the Cats) came from experience. UK is unquestionably a better team when they have both. But, the lack of veterans on the roster from the time Cal came in makes the freshmen have to play. Then, you end up with two guys who never would have been tabbed as one-and-done players (Orton and Bledsoe) leaving. That then makes guys like Doron Lamb being forced into a bigger role and a similar decision. With the continued recruitment of elite players, the ability of Kentucky to field a team balanced in talent and experience will likely come down to the development of guys like Jon Hood and Stacey Poole and maybe even the decision of guys like Knight and Lamb to return for a sophomore year. It’s certainly a nice problem to have, but it might be one that’s a little hard to alter. I blame Gillispie.
– Along a similar note, Coach Cal was asked about a possible NBA rule that would make players enroll in college for two years. Though Cal didn’t endorse the idea outright, he did say that he thought making guys play for two years in college would be beneficial both to college basketball and the NBA. It would absolutely be great for UK.
– With Tennessee coming to town tomorrow, Scotty Hopson is listed as questionable. Calipari said he expects him to play since “it’s Kentucky”.