John Calipari has found an offensive lineup he likes, one he says will get more playing time as a group moving forward.
After tweaking Kentucky’s starting lineup and rotations through the team’s first 12 games of season, one lineup has stood out from the rest, one Calipari says grades out among the best in college basketball.
And while he didn’t reveal which players were included in that group, he did single out redshirt freshman guard Dontaie Allen as someone who “has made us different.”
“I’ll say this, Dontaie has made us different,” Calipari said during his call-in radio show Monday evening. “When you do the numbers, there’s a group that’s in there that, our numbers are as good as anybody in the country offensively. Guess what? Those guys are going to have to play more together. Instead of playing 10 minutes, maybe that group’s got to play 20 minutes together?
“There’s things we’ve got to figure out, but please understand that I’ve got to keep all these guys in a place that they believe in themselves, they believe in each other, they know I believe in them, but it’s not communism. We’re all competing. If you have to take a step back so someone else can take a step forward…”
The UK head coach said he’s dealt with adversity and rough starts during his time in Lexington, adding that he told the story of his 2013-14 group to his team on Monday, highlighting the team’s early struggles and unexpected run to the NCAA title game that year.
Once this team starts playing for other players rather than themselves, they could see a similar redemption story.
“Over the years, I’ve tweaked everything,” Calipari said. “I told the guys the story today, in 2014, it took us till February to figure out what we had to do. We were 8-8 in our league at one point. That team got it together. There are a lot of people out there are hoping we can’t pull it together, but I think we can. I really do. We’re still not making the game easy for each other, especially on offense.
“Everyone’s trying to get theirs, taking an extra bounce. Everyone is in there – except Lance Ware – to create shots for other guys. We’re talking about it, working on it, showing them tape. When you’re defending the way we’re defending, our record should be flipped. It’s not one guy, it’s a team full of guys.”
Any guesses on who may be included in that go-to lineup?