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Calipari: Kentucky’s defense already far ahead of the curve

© Brad Penner | USATSI

© Brad Penner | USATSI

Outside of Tyrese Maxey’s stellar play, the biggest takeaway from Kentucky’s win over Michigan State was defense. Led by reigning SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year Ashton Hagans, the Cats held the Spartans to 39.3% from the field, 19.2% from three. Only Cassius Winston scored in double figures, and even then, made only one of seven three-pointers.

Today, John Calipari said he can’t think of a team that’s been this good defensively to start the season.

“What I saw defensively, for this early — this is my eleventh year. I’m not sure if there’s a couple teams that were better defensively at this point than we were that game. I don’t.”

Of course, a lot of that credit goes to Hagans, who has done such a good job guarding Maxey in practice that Calipari said it was no wonder Maxey had a breakout performance against someone else.

“You guys haven’t been in practice, you would have seen that Tyrese has not done that, what he did up there. Not one day in practice. Not one day. As a matter of fact, I’ve been all over him. If you ask who I’ve been the toughest on, they’ll tell you him and in second place is Kahlil [Whitney]. But he’s the one. But part of it is he has to go against Ashton. My son and I were talking today and he was talking about Ashton and he said, ‘There’s no one like him. You don’t realize it until you play against him. You can’t even make a bounce.’ Ask Johnny Juzang. When that kid switches on Johnny, Johnny says, ‘Here, take it.'”

Ouch for Johnny!

“And so, he has to go against Ashton and then he started driving, like, ‘Holy cow, I can drive! I can get a shot off!’ That shot, that deep shot he had, Ashton would have been to where his head would have been hitting the kid’s chin. So, it’s been a great thing and it’s been great for Ashton, to play against somebody that good.”

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

13 Comments for Calipari: Kentucky’s defense already far ahead of the curve

  1. Ridge Runner
    3:45 pm November 7, 2019 Permalink

    It also shows Coach is up for a change or.. perhaps he thinks a change is good now for this particular group. I recall and perhaps some of you as well, when cal has stated in both a press conference as well as post game comments that with past teams after the first couple of game.. “We haven’t even worked on defense yet”. Anyone remember those years? I know of two. Anyway, glad he changed for whatever reason as it got us a W in our first game for sure.

    • Ridge Runner
      3:47 pm November 7, 2019 Permalink

      Oh and yes, Tyrese had something to do with that W as well. Lol

    • UKCatAttack
      5:36 pm November 7, 2019 Permalink

      I think experience is the key to what he’s able to implement this early.

    • Ridge Runner
      6:25 pm November 7, 2019 Permalink

      Absolutely CatAttack -but I think by reading his comments, one could perceive he always worked on defense early on whereas there have been times when he chose not to.

  2. GoCatz
    3:56 pm November 7, 2019 Permalink

    Johnny Juzang….”here, take it”…hilarious!!

    • ibescootch
      5:02 pm November 7, 2019 Permalink

      I laughed out loud at that! I absolutely hated playing against guys like that who were just twitchy, like their hands and feet were constantly moving, so not only are you trying to make your play with the ball, you’re thinking about what they’re doing. I think that’s a lot tougher on a ball handler than people realize. It may not even be producing turnovers, but it’s mental energy you have to expend to do your job.

    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
      5:24 pm November 7, 2019 Permalink

      Scootch, I think we saw plenty of that in Ashton’s breakout game against UNCheat last year. Ashton had their PG constantly wondering where he was.

    • Saul T. Nuts
      10:35 pm November 7, 2019 Permalink

      Coby White is now starting for the Bulls and is one of the top rookies in the NBA this year, and Ashton made him look silly and scared.

  3. IrishCat
    5:48 pm November 7, 2019 Permalink

    Nick’s pick and roll defensive is elite. His ability to defend the top incoming guard in the nation off the switch is something very very few 5 men in college basketball can do. The guys who are a little behind will come along faster with Nick and the 3 guards setting the tone at all times. By March we might be locking ppl down like a Tubby team, but with 5 star talent.

    • Bluehender
      5:58 pm November 7, 2019 Permalink

      Good eye IrishCat. Nick made a difference Tuesday night on the defensive end. We really don’t need him to score a lot, but I’ll say this..I’m comfortable with him at the foul line. He missed one down the stretch but I think he was a little fatigued at that point. I’d like to see him get a few more rebounds but his defense was good..

  4. KYjellyRoll
    5:56 pm November 7, 2019 Permalink

    That is exactly why some of these kids come here! To play against other greats and improve their game! Some of these recruits that pass the opportunity to play with elite teammates and just be the main man are really missin out. Go Cats

    • makeitstop
      8:32 pm November 7, 2019 Permalink

      U mean there’s no competition like that at say…. Oklahoma State?

    • ukisdabest
      7:32 am November 8, 2019 Permalink