This morning, Kansas coach Bill Self said that on Saturday, most eyes will be on four players: De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Devonte’ Graham, and Frank Mason III. Self billed the matchup as a showdown of youth vs. experience, and when asked about it on the SEC Coaches Teleconference a few minutes ago, John Calipari said he hopes his young guards think of their teammates first rather than getting into one-on-one battles with Graham and Mason.
“What I don’t want to have our guys do is get into the one-on-one stuff. We’ve slipped a little bit in our ball movement and creating shots for each other and kind of slipped into, okay, let me go get something here and if I can’t, let me try to pass it now. So, let’s hope that my team doesn’t get into that, but I will tell you, these are veteran guards, they’re crafty. Watching the tape from a year ago, they’re not going to make a whole lot of mistakes that are unforced. If you leave them open, if you lose sight, it’s a three. They’re shooting a high high number from the three-point line.”
Kentucky’s regression the past two weeks has been frustrating, but Calipari said it’s just part of coaching a young team.
“It was only two weeks ago, man they play hard, they dive for loose balls, they scramble defensively, they really help each other. Man, they shared the ball, they’re fast and they give it to the open man. Well, over a two-week period, that has slipped and slipped and slipped. Now, you’re not – again, that’s what happens to young teams. Sometimes they get intoxicated by wins and you think, well I can do it the way I used to do it, I don’t really have to bend and you take some L’s.”
Wilting under pressure is not an option on Saturday.
“It’s a big time challenge for these kids and we saw it last game where you have your chance to get back in the game and win the game and we just make some unforced errors and that’s the process of learning with young guys. Now, you hope they realize, okay what did I do, what could have I done and next time I’m in that situation, I’m going to do the right thing, but these are experiences my young guys have never been in.”