In the preseason, John Calipari said he thought this team might be one of the best defensive squads he’s ever had; given all the defensive breakdowns we’ve witnessed this season, that seems like a cruel joke. Today, Calipari was asked what made him believe this squad had such great defensive potential.
“Because, on the ball, it started with De’Aaron Fox. So, when your defense starts there and then you have an Isaiah Briscoe, and then you have a Malik Monk. That defense starts on that ball. You have to be able to go up and play people.”
One of the knocks on Kentucky’s defense this season has been the lack of rim protector, ala Marcus Lee, but the Cats are actually eighth in the country in blocks per game, with 6.05. Calipari said he’s much more concerned with his team’s inability to defend straight line drives, probably their most infuriating issue on defense right now.
“The issue becomes straight line drives. The issue becomes, whoever is guarding the ball, you’ve got to get up in this guy. You’ve got to disrupt them. If you can’t disrupt the team by just playing defense, then you’ve got to trick. Then you’ve got to play trapping, play different kind of zones. If you can disrupt them man-to-man, you don’t have to do all of that.”
Cal said that yesterday, he asked each of his players if they had what it takes to be a defensive stopper. Five or six of them told him they already consider themselves defensive stoppers, which made him laugh.
“So yesterday, we had individual meetings and we had a team meeting, In the individual meetings, I asked all the guys, ‘Can you be a stopper?’ A couple said, ‘Someday, I hope to be,’ but five or six of them said, “I can be your — I’m a stopper.’ Well then why are people scoring on us like they are if you’re a stopper?”
Great question. Can we just clone Dominique Hawkins, please?