It’s going to take more than Kentucky’s imaginary assist column for John Calipari to get his team to share the ball. The Cats are still too selfish and unwilling to distribute the way Calipari expects, and it was the main focus of his postgame comments after the loss to Missouri.
“It’s obviously not working,” Cal said of his new method of recording assists, which he thought would inspire his players to become better passers. “I’ve done this a long time but I haven’t had a team this young. And when they’re this young, each player is trying to establish who they are as a player, and it just takes time. I was disappointed with a bunch of guys.”
The point guards were especially disappointing, at least in how they facilitated the offense. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was UK’s most aggressive penetrator in the game, but Calipari said he would like to see Gilgeous-Alexander reel it in a little bit and do a better job running the offense.
“We need Shai do some of the stuff he’s doing, but he took 16 shots. He needs to take about 10 shots. The two point guards took 27 shots.”
“Shai had six assists, but he still had four or five other plays where he could’ve passed it to guys. Quade the same thing. It’s almost like I don’t care if you’re open or not, you’re going to have to pass. I don’t have the answer right now. We gotta create shots for each other. The game’s too hard.”
Calipari sees youth as the driving force in his team’s mental lapses and unwillingness to buy in to what he is telling them.
“What young guys do when they’re trying to establish themselves, is they’re defensive and they’re into their own self. So they lose some of the team stuff. Well we gotta get through this.”
He added, “I’m just waiting for them to break through. Most of it is — ‘play this way.’ And guys are fighting that, like ‘I’m going to play my way,’ which means ‘I am not passing,’ which means none of us pass, which means no easy shots. And you’re in dog fight, which we’ve been in 15 times this year.”
More dog fights to come.