By LARRY VAUGHT
Here comes another John Calipari tweak.
The University of Kentucky coach said Monday he was putting in a tweak just as he did late in the season two years ago when No. 8 seed UK reached the national title game.
Calipari and the Cats will unveil the tweak Tuesday night at Florida.
“It’s not a wholesale change from what we do, but you Basketball Bennies will have an idea of what I did. Most of you in this (meida) room have no idea what I tweaked, but the people who really follow it and study it will say, ‘Wel,l this is what he just did,'” Calipari said Monday.
He noted it was unlikely that junior forward Derek Willis would be back for this game but said the tweak will help whether Willis plays or not.
“It’s something I probably should’ve done a long time ago, but you kind of get blinded. You start winning games and guys are doing certain things and other guys are not so you just leave it alone. But we’ll see,” he said.
“I’m not the kind of guy that says, ‘OK, we’re going to run a bunch of plays for this kind of score.’ We didn’t run plays for Karl (Towns). We didn’t run plays for Julius (Randle) or any guys. We play basketball, we create actions and then you’ve got to insert yourself. We’re an unselfish team. It’s not like guys are selfish, but we’re creating space for you to go do what you do. So with these guys we’re just, like I said, it’s not just our bigs. There are some other things we’re going to tweak to get some other guys a little more confident in what they’re doing.”
He said a friend had suggested he make changes but he didn’t listen. Then during the loss at Vanderbilt Saturday, he realized he needed more confident players.
“Demonstrated performance builds your confidence. So if they’re struggling to insert themselves, you’ve got to help them and say, ‘This is how you do this. Within what we’re doing, let’s think about this.’ That’s what tweaking is. ‘OK, guys, here’s how we’re playing. Let’s focus a little bit more on this. Or let’s focus more on this,'” Calipari said.
“It’s too late to change how we play, but there’s no reason that we can’t have a confident basketball team. That’s what we should have.”
He said some of the tweak is mental but part is changing how the team is playing.
“You’re changing the mentality of how they’re doing this. That gets them, especially the guys that need it. But I’m anxious to go see,” he said.
He knows winning at Florida will be no easy task, but mainly just wants to see improvement from his team.
“We just need to go out, play defense, which in the second half against Vandy we had so many slipups, so much slippage in the game. And then offensively just be confident in what you’re doing,” he said.
“We just can’t play through one and two guys. You can’t in a game a guy gets going just let him go. But you can’t every game. That’s not how I coach and it’s not how you win at the highest level.”