By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach John Calipari admitted again after Wednesday’s win over Missouri that he “probably screwed” up Skal Labissiere by forcing him to play inside. Against Missouri, Labissiere played out on the floor more on offense and had 10 points. On defense, he blocked five shots. Of course, he did not have a rebound, something Calipari says has to change if he wants to play at Kansas Saturday.
“We have to go play a Kansas team that’s an inside-out game, that’s how they play. What if he can’t rebound in that game? Can I leave him in the game? You know I can’t. That’s what I just said to him. If you can’t guard their big guy, and you can’t get a rebound, I can’t leave you in the game. I love you, come and stay with me tonight, but you can’t play in that game,” Calipari said.
Labissiere says he’s feeling more comfortable mainly because of the way he has practiced.
“Practice has been harder, we’ve been pushing each other at practice. So my confidence went up a little bit. I’m getting more comfortable out there. I just have to play basketball. I was overthinking a little bit too much when I was out there playing a few weeks ago. I’m just – I’m free when I’m playing now. So that’s the main thing for me,” he said.
His confidence was so high that he managed to flex after a blocked shot — which had Calipari and assistant Kenny Payne both laughing — and pound his chest after a dunk.
“I’ve always been that way. Whenever I’m having fun, that’s what I do,” he said.
He also knew not to buy into the theory that Calipari “screwed” him up.
“I don’t think he did. I think at the beginning of the year after the good starts, things didn’t go the way I wanted it to go. I just have to bounce back and I think I’m doing it right now,” he said.