By LARRY VAUGHT
Defense and turnovers were both on Kentucky coach John Calipari’s mind today during his time on the Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference. And it seems the two are very much related.
“We were the low-turnover team in the country three weeks ago. Now, we’re 16, 17 a game, and we’re giving up probably five breakout layups because of that. Makes it 5 for 5,” Calipari said when asked about his team’s defensive woes recently.
“Second thing, we got guys (that) if they’re not playing well offensively then they don’t play well defensively, which tells you they’re playing, instead of with amnesia – next play – if they miss a free throw, miss a shot, turn it over, it’s like they can’t get away from it. So, we’re working on it. But if we’re going to be what we need to be, it’s gotta start with defense.”
He again cited “casual play” for the increase in turnovers along with trying to turn easy plays into hard plays and being “cute versus tough” at times.
“It’s not that we’re not good handlers. I got three good guards and have a couple off the bench. Our big guys are good with the ball,” Calipari said. “For the year, our assist-to-turnover ratio is outstanding, until the last (five) games. You talk about it, and sometimes you gotta get hit in the mouth a couple times to say, ‘I really gotta start doing this.’ ”