By LARRY VAUGHT
No one has to tell John Calipari that Kentucky will face a loud, sold out arena at Florida tonight. But the UK coach said Monday he’s not worried about that.
“I’m, again, just trying to focus on my team. I know how good they are. I know how good they are in that building. It’s just I’m focused on my team. Let’s just try to get better. Let’s get this thing – we gotta build a couple more guys out of this,” Calipari said.
“You gotta go into tournament play. And if you think of us historically, we never went into tournament play with one or two guys playing well. We go into tournament play with five and six guys playing well. And then you’re hoping seven gets in and does something too.
“We’ve gotta get to that and we have time. Again, working on that earlier than normal, but let’s see if we can begin that process, that climb to get our team like that.”
He says playing freshman Tai Wynyad is not at option at this point to bolster UK’s inside play that took a beating at Vanderbilt. Instead, he wants to build the confidence of the players he has been playing all season.
“How do we get this more consistent? How do you build your mentality? You all know that comes from within. If you’re relying on someone else to do that for you, what if he’s not feeling good that day? The guy you’re counting on to pick you up? I mean, you gotta do that yourself. You gotta get yourself in a frame of mind – and then if it doesn’t go well,” he said.
“Look, Alex did not walk (in the game at Vanderbilt Saturday). You saw it. He did not walk, and he didn’t trip the guy. It was like two ridiculous calls. But, that kind of caved him in. You can’t be that way. Relax. We’ve had it all year. All year we’ve had that. So? Just play. So, we’re trying to talk to him about that. He can’t let a call or a play cave you in. Just play through it.”
Instead, Poythress fouled out in 14 minutes without taking a shot. With Derek Willis out with an ankle injury, Kentucky was doomed.
“We know if we don’t have everybody playing confident we’re not going to be very good. So the question becomes how good can this team be? Now, we’ve got this week and next week and the tournament to get this thing to where we are steering up,” Calipari said.
“You know, playing on the road’s not a good place to try and do it. The road in our league is the toughest place to win, of any conference in the country on the road in this league. But, it’s our next game, so let’s go.”