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What needs attention during Camp Cal


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.

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.”

Free throws.

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.

Pick-and-roll defense.

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.

Free throws.

More of them.

Sustain effort.

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.

Free throws.

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.

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

33 Comments for What needs attention during Camp Cal

  1. tommy
    8:16 pm December 30, 2013 Permalink

    Freethrows are all mental and muscle memory.

  2. KcMunk
    8:19 pm December 30, 2013 Permalink

    Free throw shooting is repetition. Do the same thing Every time. One double. Two. Doesn’t matter. Just keep it the same and please somebody get James Young to square up. He looks like he is going to pull the ball down the right field line.

  3. Delk for 3
    8:28 pm December 30, 2013 Permalink

    Shooting more free throws with your same old form (bad form) is not a good idea. It only makes things worse. Andrew has got to get with his brother or Kyle Macy (best person) and learn how to get his arc down. He is flicking the ball up there with incredibly too much arc. As long as he keeps that form, I guarantee you his percentage will not improve. Cal and them have to see this and they will more than likely fix this aspect of his shot. James Young, on the other hand, does seem to turn to far left but I feel like he is a good enough shooter that he will be able to figure it out. ‘m very confident his free throws will start dropping more regularly.

  4. electricat
    8:33 pm December 30, 2013 Permalink

    everybody says MORE free throws. I disagree. more QUALITY free throws I agree.
    instead of hitting 100(which they’re just going to jack up to hurry) make em hit 8 out of 10 before they can leave.
    then you will see a lot of concentrating not just jacking them up and forming bad habits

  5. Joe Joe
    8:39 pm December 30, 2013 Permalink

    A study conducted by Dr. Blaslotto at the University of Chicago was done where he split people into three groups and tested each group on how many free throws they could make.

    After this, he had the first group practice free throws every day for an hour. The second group just visualized themselves making free throws. The third group did nothing.

    After 30 days, he tested them again. The first group improved by 24%. The second group improved by 23% without touching a basketball. The third group did not improve which was expected.

    In conclusion, let’s work on visualization and actually shooting free throws. We should easily be able to get to 80% as a team by tournament time. They are sitting at 66.5% as a team right now.

    • jwall
      9:33 pm December 30, 2013 Permalink

      Ya only need to be 90% as a team for the rest of the season so easy!

  6. Teachable Mo'
    8:47 pm December 30, 2013 Permalink

    The biggest thing they need to work on is quit being ball hogs.
    The second thing they need to do is learn how to play basketball.

    • eaux
      10:49 pm December 30, 2013 Permalink

      why are you even here?

  7. UKTopherDad
    9:00 pm December 30, 2013 Permalink

    Also, in-bounds from the baseline!!

    • Issel's two front teeth
      11:32 pm December 30, 2013 Permalink

      I agree, that inbounds lob in the corner is ridiculous! Atleast run some type of movement to look like you worked on it.

  8. we were right about chane
    9:10 pm December 30, 2013 Permalink

  9. ffffff
    9:11 pm December 30, 2013 Permalink

    polson should be playing!!!

    • Wyman Hoten
      11:33 am December 31, 2013 Permalink

      The only player shooting 100% from three point range. Not only should he be playing more, but also shooting more.

  10. Skeps
    9:25 pm December 30, 2013 Permalink

    Free throw and 3 pointers need to be fixed.

    • Wyman Hoten
      11:39 am December 31, 2013 Permalink

      Poythress has the best three point percentage of all of the “regulars”, but has taken only 11 treys for the season. Why is he not shooting more treys? Last year Poythress shot above 40% for the season from long range. I just do not understand the reason for so few treys from him. He has a great stroke.

  11. TE
    9:28 pm December 30, 2013 Permalink

    Great stats Drew. If we hit 75% free throws as a team, we are probably undefeated. We draw a lot of fouls, and miss a lot of front ends. That’s points that never get on the scoreboard.

    I know a trademark of Cal’s teams are shorter 7 man-ish rotations, but I’d love to see and I think we are capable do stretching to 8 possibly 9 guys. The key is to get the core guys as many reps/practice as possible, but it would be great to see some do these guys crack the rotation by knowing their roles amd contributing.

    • Bunny
      11:43 pm December 30, 2013 Permalink

      Agree…good post…

  12. Andrew
    9:47 pm December 30, 2013 Permalink

    The idea shouldn’t be to shoot MORE free throws! That’s like having them
    practice their bad habits at the charity strip. The idea should be to become better shooters! Have the players become comfortable shooting from that length all over the floor. Many of these guys aren’t great shooters as it is which clearly translates at the line.

  13. Big Bear
    9:50 pm December 30, 2013 Permalink

    Would like to see KY work on perimeter defense, zoning inbound passes, and a full court, 3/4 pressing defense. they have enough players that they could press, wear down opponents, and get spread out some minutes. Also quick outlet passes that advance

    Individually: James Young passing, Randle 18 foot shots and giving up the ball when crossing half court. WCS moving without the ball, post moves, Harrisons need to work on defense and close outs.

  14. Syrin
    11:36 pm December 30, 2013 Permalink

    Fast breaks

    Get some. Stop some.

  15. Bunny
    11:42 pm December 30, 2013 Permalink

    FREE THROWS!!! Many, many, many correct repetitions, please…

  16. Johnny Basketball
    11:46 pm December 30, 2013 Permalink

    Maybe, the players should play a crowd noise tape at the Craft Center to help them have the feel of a real game while they shoot their free throws. They say they make them when they are not in games.

  17. Cal just follow this advice
    12:11 am December 31, 2013 Permalink


    Here it is all mapped out for you. If you will just follow all of the coaching suggestions from this post, the guys are guaranteed to be so confused they won’t know which way to point their peckers.

    Why do we all need to coach when we don’t get paid for it?

  18. SmoothJazz
    12:13 am December 31, 2013 Permalink

    I think the problem with free throws is that they never take enough time and concentrate. So many times they just hurry to shoot them instead of slowing down and concentrating. Maybe bounce the ball a few times before shooting. The players seem so rushed in the game.

  19. UKBlue
    6:52 am December 31, 2013 Permalink

    Cal teams have never learn how to guard against the 3; as big & long as this team is, they should be better at guarding against wide open 3’s. Young needs to learn how to hit free throws, play defense, and more importantly learn how to pass. Randle needs help dribbling the ball & hitting free throws. Andrew being 18 & having to learn & run the offense is a daunting task; kid just learn the offense & hit some free throws.

  20. Michael F. Jox
    7:41 am December 31, 2013 Permalink

    You can practice free throws until you’re blue in the face, it won’t matter. The mental part of a free throw is the biggest thing, and it’s something that no one can fix…you either got it or you don’t. While I agree that making them shoot free throws in practice when they are winded is a benefit, you gots to have the yams to step up to the line and make them when they matter, and pracitcing isn’t gonna give you that.

    On a side note: More Alex Poythress please! I know few will agree but damn the offense looked a lot more fluid with Julius on the bench.

  21. bung
    8:49 am December 31, 2013 Permalink

    assists on the fast break…assists in the half court…passing in general…fast breaks basics…

  22. bigblue091812
    9:11 am December 31, 2013 Permalink

    FREE THROWS. There is enough talent on this team of players who want to excel that everything else will take care of it self, you can see they’ve been listening to Coach Cal. If the CATS can get to 70% from the line as a team we’ll be a very tough out and a team no one is going to want to face in the NCAA’s.

  23. Winded
    9:17 am December 31, 2013 Permalink

    I think conditioning in general needs to improve. Guys are getting winded too soon, and now even cramping up. Run them till they drop, puke, or both. They have enough good players that they should be running more. I liked our half court defense against UofL. If that continues to improve and they start to run more, undefeated from here …

  24. Joe
    10:08 am December 31, 2013 Permalink

    Kentucky can place the most powerful, dominant front court in college basketball ( Poythress, WCS, and Randall) on the court. This is a tough combination to defend and rebound against. Poythress will take some defensive pressure off of Randall.

  25. TubesInColorado
    10:39 am December 31, 2013 Permalink

    All great points, but to expand on a couple:

    Passing: More in and out; and not in the Chane Behanan kind of way. We have the shooters and big men to be downright unbeatable if we can create more open J’s on the perimeter and less double/triple teaming down low by working the ball in and out of the post more effectively.

    Free throws: Work on simple mechanics. ie: bend your knees…Randle is a board at the line. And it’s odd seeing Jimmy Young not dribble before the toss…

    Thanks for welcoming comments. GO CATS!!!

  26. Wyman Hoten
    11:49 am December 31, 2013 Permalink

    I have always thought that if a player can shoot well from the field but not at the line, that it might be a good idea for him shoot free throws using a jump shot instead of a set shot. Has anyone ever tried that before? Is it even allowed? Just wondering.

  27. cats42301
    12:49 pm December 31, 2013 Permalink

    Ditto on FT’s. These guys need someone like Kyle Macy come in and show them proper form. The motion needs to start from a set position, knees bent, straight up and follow through. Too many have a stand straight, bend the knees, shoot technique with no concentration.