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Calipari says this team’s shot-blocking gives him 2014-15 vibes

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Yesterday marked the first time this Kentucky team has faced off against each other on the court, and John Calipari liked what he saw so much he compared them to arguably his greatest squad ever. In a Zoom call with reporters earlier today, Cal said this team’s shot-blocking ability has him flashing back to the 2014-15 group that made scoring so difficult Jay Bilas said it was like throwing a frisbee in a forest.

“Yesterday’s practice reminded me of a practice about four or five years ago where you would drive and two players would block your shot. Like, bam, bam! And I laughed and we were out there and I said, ‘That’s what I’m talking about.’ That kind of team makes somebody shoot jump shots. That kind of team has your shooting percentage defensively so low that most of the game you’re out running and then you’re flowing into dribble drive.”

Kentucky’s frontcourt this year includes 7-foot Wake Forest transfer Olivier Sarr, who averaged 1.2 blocks per game last season; 6’9″ freshman forward Isaiah Jackson, who had 10 blocks on his high school senior night; and 6’9″ freshman forward Lance Ware, who averaged 2.4 blocks per game on the EYBL circuit in 2019. Clearly, their rim protection has caught Cal’s eye thus far.

On offense, Calipari said he’s enjoying taking his time to teach his new guys — wait for it — the dribble drive.

“What I’ll do with the offense this year, right now Joel and I were the only two on the floor for the past month and a half. Just he and I together. And let me just tell you, I love it. Takes me back to my UMass days where I’ve got one assistant and I’m on the court coaching. All that I’m doing right now is putting in the dribble drive slowly because I have time. And I’m really getting them to understand spacing.”

Calipari hasn’t shied away from heaping praise on this group, but he did note that it’s still very early on, and right now, he’s also focused on making sure this team does its part to make sure there’s a season at all.

“We’ve got a long way to go. Again, it’s August, but it was funny — yesterday, it was the first day we’ve done anything against each other. Everything has been separated in groups…We talked about opening up our locker room. I’m not sure I’m ready to do that yet to where they can all congregate together because again, one guy doing something dumb can lock you down. Even if we’re going live, guys, I’ll go five, seven minutes and we’ll do something scripted, so 5-on-0, 3-on-0 where they’re spaced and then we’ll come together again for five to seven minutes and then we’ll separate. I’m trying to be respectful because we’re learning new everyday and I just want to make sure with my guys that we’re doing this in a safe way.”

“I want to keep going through the testing. I want to make sure, if we have any issues. I’m challenging the players. If they can’t live like this, they can’t be here. We’re in the lodge, the practice facility, cooks in the building, the weight room, look, if you go out and do something outside, you don’t need to be here because you’re going to infect everybody and we’ve got this pretty well in order.”

Like Cal said, it’s really early, but the fact that he’s comparing this team to the 2014-15 squad in any way so soon has me ready to wear five masks every time I step out the door.


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.

11 Comments for Calipari says this team’s shot-blocking gives him 2014-15 vibes

  1. Realme
    2:29 pm August 26, 2020 Permalink

    Yes please.

  2. thecatster
    2:32 pm August 26, 2020 Permalink

    Social distancing should work very well for teaching the dribble drive. Both are all about spacing.

  3. CJKAssassin123
    3:05 pm August 26, 2020 Permalink

    This pandemic could actually work to our advantage?

  4. runningunnin.454
    3:48 pm August 26, 2020 Permalink

    Don’t have time to watch the video; did he say anything about renaming Rupp Arena? Like maybe a chance to listen and learn?
    Yep, listen to lies and rumors; and, learn nothing.

  5. bbn606
    3:48 pm August 26, 2020 Permalink

    Please don’t remind us of the 2015 team. One of the biggest disappointments in UK history and to rub salt in the wound, that trophy resides at Duke.

    • Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
      5:07 pm August 26, 2020 Permalink

      He said 2014-15 that would be the 2014 team.

  6. chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
    4:23 pm August 26, 2020 Permalink

    2012 team was better IMO. This will rankle some, but they had the talent to overcome (coughcough) Cal inexplicably taking his foot off the gas with a lead, in multiple games, mostly the last 2. 2015 didn’t. They were deeper, but not more talented.

  7. CahillsCrossingNT
    5:02 pm August 26, 2020 Permalink

    It’s for the better that the 2015 team lost to Wisconsin because Duke would’ve schooled them in the final.

    • Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
      5:09 pm August 26, 2020 Permalink

      This is how you flop, this is how you trip people, this is how you pay to play. Duke would have lost but they would have definitely taught them a few bad lessons.

    • Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
      5:10 pm August 26, 2020 Permalink

      Forget the number one lesson Duke teaches other teams, this is how you get the refs to carry you when you can’t win against a decent team.

    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
      7:58 pm August 26, 2020 Permalink

      Cahill, what planet are you from? Matt had Jay Williams on KSR after that Final Four was over, and when MJ said UK would have pounded Duke because they had no strong inside game, Jay agreed with him. I realize you still have to play and upsets happen, but you make no sense.