The Kentucky basketball team is coming off a grueling November. It was a month featuring eight games, including an exciting win over then-No. 1 Michigan State, followed by a crushing loss to Evansville inside Rupp Arena. It’s been a long month.
Now, the team is starting to transition into their holiday schedule, which means fewer games and more time for practice. Tyrese Maxey says that’s exactly what the Cats need.
“More practice – we need it. We need it to get better,” Maxey said Sunday following Kentucky’s win over Lamar. “We’re going to get a lot of practice in, try to get a lot of guys going and try to build on these opportunities.”
Those opportunities include just five games, with UK’s only weeknight game coming on Wednesday, Dec. 18 against the University of Utah in Las Vegas. That’s a significant step down from the team’s eight-game November, which included three games just last week.
“Personally I love to play games, but you get better in practice,” Keion Brooks said. “I’m looking forward to going to practice and watching some film and seeing what we can get better at.”
This transition also marks the beginning of the infamous “Camp Cal.” John Calipari says it may be a bit early in the season to start his period of intense training, which usually comes after the players’ finals are done for the semester, but he thinks his team needs it.
“It is a little early, but I’m having that mentality of we’re getting into this because these kids have to be able to fall back on their training or you’re thinking too much. Most of that thinking is stinking thinking. You need to fall back on the training,” Calipari said. “When you’re playing all these games and you have all these injuries and you’re practicing with six guys, it’s hard to fall back on the training. But I think going forward you’ll see we’ll, we should be better.”
We’ve heard the stories over the years, and sometimes we’ve even seen immediate improvements come January. Some years show more changes than others, and this year’s camp will feature more experience than normal: Nick Richards, Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley and EJ Montgomery have all gone camping before.
But the camp is primarily designed for the younger guys, especially now that we know Nate Sestina could be out for at least the next few weeks. Have the freshmen gotten any advice from the veteran camp-goers?
“I’ve heard a little bit about it,” Brooks said. “I mean, I really don’t know what to expect, but I know there will be some hard, grueling days. But that’s what I signed up for.”
“The older guys talk about Camp Cal. Right now, how they talk about it, I’m kind of a little bit scared,” Maxey laughed. “But I mean, we’re going to keep getting better every single day and keep working.”
If camp starts early, does that mean we’ll hear news of a “tweak” ahead of schedule, too?