Camp Cal officially got underway last night at 6:00 p.m. with the first of many practices in the long break before the Mississippi State game. Today the team began three-a-days and the work won’t slow down until Monday, one week from today. No game this coming weekend and no classes during winter break means no days off for Kentucky basketball to kick off the new year. The free time without any NCAA regulation on practicing gives the young Cats plenty of time to correct what needs to be corrected and to grow closer as a team.
Here are some things that need attention this week. Feel free to add more in the comments section.
Body language is better, but we’re still seeing too much whining and overreacting when things aren’t going their way. This team still hasn’t gotten the message Calipari continues to preach: Don’t lose your cool over things beyond your control.
Bad calls happen. They happen often.
“So what?,” Cal says. “Just play. All that other stuff is clutter. Just play, compete, battle.”
The most obvious of UK’s struggles, free throw shooting is a glaring problem with Calipari’s bunch and it could kill their title hopes in March (think Memphis in 2008) if it doesn’t improve between now and then. The Cats are currently ranked 258th in Division 1 basketball at 65 percent from the stripe on the season. Everyone on the roster has room to improve, but no one more than Andrew Harrison, who is 19-for-33 in UK’s last three games.
The trick to improving free throw shooting is very simple and needs very little coaching. It goes like this: Go to the gym. Shoot free throws.
Kentucky’s halfcourt defense was outstanding against Louisville, by far the best we’ve seen all season. Opposing teams are going to have a hard time putting points on the board if the Cats can maintain that stifling D in the games to come. However, UK still struggles defending the pick-and-roll; it has been the Achilles’ heel all year.
I haven’t gone back to the tape but if my memory serves me correctly, Calipari had his players switching on every screen and UofL did a terrible job taking advantage of the mismatches. I suppose it worked against the Cards, but I’m not convinced the problem has been solved. There have been several possessions this season where the UK defenders look completely lost after the screen and it has led to easy buckets for the opposition.
More of them.
Effort and intensity is improving each game and it is not as big of a concern as it was early in the season. Still, it never hurts to work on playing for the entire possession, especially defensively.
Don’t let up.
Kentucky’s passing needs to improve and they need to do more of it. UK is 224th in the nation in assists per game and I can’t watch any of them lob out one more careless, lackadaisical pass on the perimeter. Louisville almost intercepted a lazy Randle-to-Andrew Harrison pass 20 seconds into the game on UK’s first possession and the Cards did get one a minute later that led to an easy layup.
For a group so skilled across the board, this is team has a difficult time moving the ball.
With almost 13 turnovers per game, Kentucky is the 237th worst team at taking care of the basketball. Part of that is because of the careless passes, and part of it is because Cal doesn’t mind the occasional turnover if they’re attacking, but the team needs to eliminate (or at least cut down) on the unforced errors.
Protect the rock, gentlemen.
More, more, more.
Know your role.
Coach Cal said Louisville is so good because each player knows their individual role. Dominique Hawkins is the only player on his team that knows and plays his role, he said.
Point being, be more like Dominique Hawkins.
Become a team.
Kickball again this year, maybe?
And do that brother-keeping thing. Cal really likes when his players do that.