Tony Barbee met with the media this afternoon to preview tomorrow’s game against Missouri. It’s the first time Barbee’s met with reporters before a game this season, so it was interesting to hear his perspective on the Cats’ improvement, along with some ten-cent vocabulary words. Here’s a breakdown…
The latest on Dominique’s ankle?
“He kind of tweaked his ankle again yesterday. I haven’t seen him today so we’ll see how he goes today. He said he was feeling better last night so we’ll see how he progresses today in practice.”
The high-ankle sprain has to be the trickiest of all basketball injuries, right?
One reason Barbee is concerned players might look ahead to Kansas?
Saturday’s game against Kansas is pretty big, but first things first: Kentucky must take care of business vs. Missouri. The Tigers only have one win in conference, but it’s over Auburn, a team that embarrassed Kentucky a few weeks back. Is Barbee worried that his players may look ahead to Kansas? He said with younger players, it’s inevitable.
“Yeah, you can, you can, but that’s why you rely on your veterans and your focus in practice. There’s been no talk of the next game around here, but it’s kind of inevitable for younger guys to possibly look ahead. But we’ve got to focus on Missouri,” Barbee said.
One reason Barbee’s not concerned that players will look ahead to Kansas?
“Obviously it’s a challenge with younger players. The consistency of not worrying who your opponent is but just preparing to play your best. We lean on our veteran players to bring it every night. I think Tyler is the guy who brings it every night and plays with a sense of urgency. We’ll just have to get our freshmen to catch up to speed.”
More praise for Tyler, because we can’t ever get enough…
Barbee was asked if he’s ever coached a player like Tyler Ulis. It won’t surprise you that he has not.
“No, especially given his size in the so-called disadvantage that it brings for any player. We always say it’s not how big you are; it’s how big you play. Tyler is one of those guys that looks in the mirror and he sees a guy that’s about 6-10 and 280 pounds. That’s what he thinks he is and that’s how he plays. He doesn’t see that as a disadvantage in any way, and that’s a good trait to have. We wish more players had that.”
I wish all players had that. Basically, I wish Tyler Ulis would be like Peter Pan and never grow up or lose his eligibility, but that’s selfish.
Derek Willis does not have that “laissez-faire” type attitude anymore
Barbee broke out the big words to explain Derek Willis’ attitude shift in recent weeks.
“The biggest change isn’t that Derek has gotten the opportunity; the biggest change is Derek has changed his mental approach to the game. That’s been the biggest change. And then Coach, and as a staff, we saw it in practice. Now all of the sudden Derek deserves an opportunity to play because of his mental approach. He would admit that he’s been a little laissez faire-type attitude and approach to practice. We’ve been on him about it and for some reason it clicked about a month ago. He must have just told himself, ‘I’ve got to change for this to work.’”
In case you just assumed Laissez Faire is the name of Derek’s show poodle, here’s Jerry Tipton to help out:
Laissez-faire means letting things take their own course without trying to impose your will.
— Jerry Tipton (@JerryTipton) January 26, 2016
Look for more Skal tomorrow night
Skal Labissiere only played four minutes vs. Vanderbilt, which Calipari chalked up to a bad matchup on his call-in show last night. Barbee said fans should expect to see more of Skal tomorrow night since the matchups are more in his favor.
“It’s possible. They don’t have the–in terms of style of offense, it wasn’t more so individual matchup, but in terms of the style of offense for matchup for Skal. So this should be a game where he can be more impactful.”