By LARRY VAUGHT
Lack of energy was a problem for Kentucky in its loss to UCLA. Or at least that was the lasting impression coach John Calipari had.
That changed when the Wildcats beat Valparaiso on Wednesday night.
“I feel like our energy level was really high. I looked up, I think it was about 13, 12 minutes in the first half, and they only had four points on the board. I feel like that was all to do with defense, turning defense into offense and really flying up and down the court,” said senior Mychal Mulder after the game.
“Defensive pressure on the ball, off the ball, and staying sharp and focused and keeping that energy high for that span of time. That’s really hard on a team when you do that to them. That’s a great team. We watched film on them and seen who they’ve played. They’ve played high-level games.
“To be able to do that against a team like that, that shows we have the potential to do that on the biggest stage. That’s something we’ll continue to work on with the energy and just try to keep that high. Again, that starts in practice.”
Mulder said there is a “noticeable difference” in the way this team plays compared to last year, his first season at Kentucky.
“But energy level is something we understood both years I’ve been here. We understand every game we go into this team is jacked up, they’re ready to play. You’re going to get the (opposing) team’s best every game. I feel like we go into practice knowing that, so we’re prepared to go into that game,” Mulder said.
Yet Calipari says this team has yet to have what he calls a bad practice. Mulder agrees.
“Sometimes we’ll be half way, three-quarters of the way through practice and I’ll be like, ‘Man, this is like the best practice of the year,’ and I’ve thought that several times. I’ve voiced that several times,” Muler said. “That’s something I feel like we can be proud of as a collective group, that we can go so hard and the competition is at such a high level already. It’s something to look forward to, to see how high we can get.”