John Calipari met with the media today to update everyone on the status of his team following the loss at Tennessee and the upcoming game with Florida, a team Kentucky shares the SEC’s third place with.
Cal said of the Gators, “They’re really good. They’ve got good size. They have a 3-point shooting four. Their guards are good. Their defense is — they’re playing, they look like my old UMass teams. They’re giving you one tough shot. When you drive, you’ve got five guys near you and they’re rebounding with five guys. He’s doing a good job with that team. A really good job.”
More from Cal…
Practice has been hard and all about defense this week.
After giving up 71 points in 25 minutes to an 11-loss Tennessee team, the Cats returned to Lexington for what Calipari described as a “very hard” string of practices.
Today he said, “It was very hard. We made it more physical. I really zeroed in on our defense.”
The team practiced for about an hour and 20 minutes today before shutting things down for Florida. The hope was to create better habits defensively and in rebounding, where they’ve really struggled in recent losses.
Yesterday was a “rough-house practice.”
Tyler Ulis is his consultant.
Cal said today he called Tyler Ulis into his office and asked him, “What are you seeing? What about this guy? What about that guy? How do we help this? How do we help that?” He also asked for ideas and, “How’s the team?”
Ulis told him, “I’m good and as long as I’m good, I’ll get these guys right.”
He is coaching Jamal Murray on shot selection everyday.
Cal is encouraging Murray to play in a straight line, but when things go wrong, Murray reverts back to his old ways.
“He has never played that way,” said Cal. “When you’re asking a guy to do stuff that will change who he is as a player but he’s never done it, if it gets rough, then they revert back to what they know best.”
Skal Labissiere is getting better, but Cal can’t do it for him.
He acknowledged that Labissiere has been better lately and will have a good opportunity to continue his progression tomorrow, but only Labissiere can do it. Teaching him and coaching him up can only take him so far.
Cal said, “Look, we can teach, we can challenge, we can raise the bar; at the end of the day you’ve gotta go in there and perform. I can’t do it for you. I can’t fight for you. I can’t battle for you. I can cover for you; I can say it’s my fault. But at the end of the day you’ve got to get in there and you’ve got do it, and he’s getting closer.”
Isaiah Briscoe has to avoid getting fouled.
Cal said Briscoe is the only person on the team who will get tough around the basket. We see it when he rips a rebound away from the bigs, including some of his own teammates, to put the ball back up and in. He’s also done well defensively, although not against Tennessee, and he really wants to win.
But Kentucky can’t afford to send Briscoe to the line. He has to learn to pass or get his layup off when he drives inside, not look to draw contact. That’s part of the self-evaluation Cal asks of Briscoe and everyone else on his team.
So how does Briscoe avoid the line when teams are looking to foul him late in games?
“Run up the court. Run. Get off the court. Run. Just outrun the guy. ‘He’s trying to foul me.’ ‘Run faster than him. Don’t get fouled.’ ”
Hear for yourself…