By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky’s defense has been perplexing — or maybe almost non-existent — at times this season.
Could it be because the Cats do not have a rim protector like DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Nerlens Noel, Willie Cauley-Stine or Karl Anthony-Towns?
“We’re playing a smaller team, and we really should be a better shot-blocking team than we are, but what’s happened is we’re not blocking the shots we should block,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said Monday.
“Now, as you say that, I think we’re second or third in the league in blocked shots? Top 10 nationally, so not the greatest shot-blocking team, but we’re pretty good.
“The issue becomes straight-line drives. The issue becomes whoever is guarding the ball. You’ve got to get up in this guy. You’ve got to disrupt them. See if you can’t disrupt a team by just playing defense then you’ve got to trick them.”
How do you trick them?
“Then you’ve got to play trapping. You’ve got to play different kinds of zones. If you can disrupt them man-to-man, you don’t have to do all that. We’re just trying to figure out – again, as coaches, you sit there and look and say, ‘OK, how do we help these kids?’ ” Calipari said.
He said he asked players at individual meetings if there was more that he could do to help them.
“My job – this is not about me. This is about you being your best version. So how do we do this?’ I’m not here to beat them down. I get on them at practice. We’re going to go hard. We went hard yesterday. We didn’t go long, but we’re really working on the things they need,” Calipari said.
He also asked the players if any of them could be a defensive stopper like Davis, Michael-Kidd Gilchrist, DeAndre Liggins or even Tyler Ulis last year had been at UK?
“A couple said, ‘Some day I hope to be.’ But there were five or six that said, ‘I can be,’ or ‘I’m a stopper.’ Well, then why are people scoring on us like they are if you’re a stopper?” Calipari said.
He didn’t share that answer because my guess is that no one had any way to explain that.