By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky opens regular-season play Friday against Stephen Austin, a NCAA Tournament team last year. After two easy exhibition wins, UK coach John Calipari said having his team ready for Friday’s game will not be a problem.
He is giving the team today off before hard practices on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“Thursday I’ve got to back up because we play three games in five days, including travel. So, there are things we’ve got to get done, and I think they know it,” Calipari said. “The things we’re doing in practice are bringing out that will to win. But everybody’s going to have to understand, you’re responsible for you and how you play.
Calipari said after Sunday night’s exhibition blowout of Asbury that he would feel comfortable playing eight or nine players in a regular rotation. He said Bam Adebayo and guards De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Isaiah Briscoe are givens in the rotation.
“Sometimes you’ve got three guards, sometimes you have two with Dom (Hawkins) and Mychal (Mulder) fighting for that other spot. I would say those bigs, again, do you play all nine or do you cut it to eight? That’s going to be when they get in, if they deserve to play, they will get more time,” Calipari said.
Mulder had 20 points and 12 rebounds Sunday and continued to make the shots that Calipari says he must to earn playing time.
“We had to make good decisions. We really used this game to get better in that aspect,” Mulder said. “The guards used it to practice against that, make the right decision and pass. The bigs helped a lot with getting out of double teams, so we really used the game for that type of experience.”
Freshman Tai Wynyard had 10 points and four rebounds in 11 minutes in his quest to earn more playing time.
“Right now I’m just trying to get better. We’re playing against a lot of good big men right now on our team. Bam, Sasha, Isaac and all of them. We have really long, tall guards and everything like that with Derek and Wenyen. I’m just pushing myself as high as I can go,” he said.
“We’re all fighting for each others’ spots, so it’s a lot of battling going on there. If you’re watching the training it’s fighting the whole time. We’re all just working hard to get better. That’s why we come to Kentucky, is to get better.”