Lost in the UK Basketball Media Day content avalanche is a quote from Coach Cal that, honestly, I had completely forgotten about until just now.
In speaking about his team’s defense, Calipari said Tyler Herro has been better expected, maybe even better than Keldon Johnson:
“Tyler is better than I thought defensively. I thought Keldon would be better than Tyler defensively. I’m not sure of that.”
The assumption early on (and up until this big development) was that Herro’s defense is his weakness, while Johnson is the team’s lockdown defender on the wing. Johnson earned that reputation throughout his high school career and then on the big stage stage for his defense on Duke’s RJ Barrett in the final minutes of the McDonald’s All-American Game. Herro’s defense had always been considered a liability, even as recent as in the Bahamas, when he was doing everything else.
But now Cal is saying Herro might be better defensively? If that’s the case, my goodness. We already know how good he is offensively, but worried his defense may keep him on the bench in certain matchups. If he’s doing both, he’ll play as much as he wants.
It was a pretty shocking update out of the team’s recent practices. Now, do we believe it? Or was it Cal lighting a fire under Johnson to be even better?