One of Kentucky’s biggest issues right now is sharing the ball. The Cats rank 182nd in college basketball in assists, with only 13.7 per game; in the last two games, that number has plummeted to eight. Tomorrow night, they’ll face a Tennessee team that ranks 19th in the country in assists (17.2 apg), which John Calipari says is further proof the Vols are doing everything well right now that his team is doing poorly.
“What Rick (Barnes) is doing at Tennessee is unbelievable,” Calipari said on this morning’s SEC Teleconference. “It’s not just what he’s doing defensively, but how they’re playing offensively – the shots they take, how they share the ball. They may share the ball, I would say assist to made baskets, probably better than any team in the country. That’s hard to get guys to do, which is exactly what we’re struggling with right now.”
Part of the problem is personnel. Unlike years past, Calipari doesn’t have three point guards on the floor at once, which means he’s had to go outside the box to “force” his team to pass more. He told reporters he spent the weekend trying to come up with new ways to motivate them.
“We’re not the two teams we’ve had in the past where I played three point guards. This is a different team, so we may have to play a little bit slightly different with the same concepts with a different idea of how we’re playing. I spent the weekend trying to figure that out. The other thing is – again, I say this all of the time – when you’ve got young players, they’re trying to establish who they are as a player. Figure out who they are as a player. It’s a natural process. Before Missouri I said, ‘Do me a favor, play for your teammates. I want you to think about how can I make this game easier for my teammate.’ It’s hard for them right now. We’ve gotta force some things to get them to play with each other.
“I’m trying to bring it along, but it’s a different process because this is the youngest team that I’ve even ever coached. It’s become that challenge. Look, this team is capable of doing it. I believe in this team. It’s just, I’ve gotta do a better job and they’ve gotta fight more.”