John Calipari met with the media today before his team’s second exhibition game Friday evening. Here are four key points you missed by not being there:
Skal Labissiere needs to get more aggressive, play with his back to the basket.
“He’s got a ways to go” is Calipari’s go-to response whenever he’s asked about Skal Labissiere, and it has been since the summer.
Today, Cal said Labissiere has to learn to do three things offensively: fight for position; hold that position; and catch the basketball. The freshman is still too reliant on his face-up game when he needs to be bodying up and fighting inside. Karl-Anthony Towns had the exact same problem in his first few months in Lexington.
“But I’ll say this, he has gotten so much better in a short period of time,” said Cal. “But he’s got a long way to go. He’s got to learn that same will to win, to fight for balls, all that stuff, and everything we do in practice just keeps trying to bring it out of him.”
Isaiah Briscoe has been a pleasant surprise.
It’s tough for the nation’s top ranked point guard to be a surprise in his first couple of months in college basketball, but Isaiah Briscoe has been just that.
“He’s been maybe even a pleasant surprise,” Calipari said of his young guard. “Like, I knew he’d be good. I didn’t know he’d be this good.”
Cal said Briscoe texted him yesterday to say, ‘I believe I can be the best defender.’ That’s a message Cal planted in his head the moment he arrived on campus and he’s been working to improve that aspect of his game ever since.
Charles Matthews needs to relax and play.
It sounds like Matthews is overthinking things on the court. He’s trying too hard to be perfect, when in reality no one is going to be perfect. According to Cal, Matthews has done better in practice than he did in the scrimmage and exhibition.
An example of a mistake he made in the exhibition: He airballed a three-pointer when he could’ve taken the pull-up jumper at the elbow, a shot the coaching staff wants him to take.
“That was your choice to shoot that when we’re working every day on you getting to that elbow,” Cal said of Matthews’ decision. “Just do what we’re working on, because I tell you, he can defend, he slashes, he’s a good enough passer, he’s got a good enough feel. He’s not a playmaker, he’s a finisher, and that’s how he’s gotta play.”
It’s too early to set a rotation.
Right now there are six clear players: Tyler Ulis, Isaiah Briscoe, Jamal Murray, Alex Poythress, Skal Labissiere and Marcus Lee off the bench. Now, does that become seven? Eight? Or do those six make up the bulk of UK’s regular rotation?
“It’s just too early to tell. If guys deserve to be out on the court, they’ll be out there. If they don’t, or if someone deserves to be out there more than them, and it’s obvious, then… nothing I can do.”
“I wish it was eighth grade where everybody had to get 10 minutes, but that’s not what this is.”