By LARRY VAUGHT
After failing to get a rebound the last two games, Malik Monk has heard plenty about rebounding from coach John Calipari and the Kentucky staff going into Saturday afternoon’s game at Alabama.
“I said to him, ‘You’re not rebounding, you’re not defending the way you should. How are we dealing with this?’ He said, ‘Coach, tell me, and if I don’t do it, sit me.’ He said it to me. I didn’t say it to him, and I told the team what he said. ‘Anybody else want to have that comment?’ Calipari said Friday.
“You have other guys that were like, ‘No’. But that’s how they should feel. If I’m not doing my job, sit me out. We can afford to sit anybody.”
Excuse me for being more than a bit skeptical. During his entire time at Kentucky, Calipari has never shown a propensity for sitting a star player for long periods. Don’t forget Monk leads UK — and the SEC — in scoring. The easier solution is for Monk just to rebound.
It’s not just Monk who has lacked consistency on the boards. He’s just been the worst.
“I want Bam (Adebayo) to go get double-digit rebounds every game. Wenyen (Gabriel) will fight like heck. It’s our guards that got to stick their noses in there and go rebound. This team (Alabama) is going to shoot it and send four guys to the rim. That’s what they do. And if your guards don’t rebound, it’s going to be ugly,” the UK coach said.
“If your guards do rebound, we can fly because you’re giving up something by sending them to the rim. And if we do what we’re supposed to, then we fly. ”
Calipari went back to his go-to explanation — this process at Kentucky is not easy for a freshman-dominated team.
“I think they get it. We got great kids who are learning. I had a friend of mine call me last night and just say, ‘Man, what’s wrong with (Kentucky)?‘ You know, you’ve got a bunch of young guys trying to figure this out for the first time, thought it would be easy, no it’s hard. Alright, now let’s find out what you really are so you really can be evaluated, because those lists don’t mean anything. They don’t. It doesn’t mean who (they’re going to draft). I’ve seen guys where you’re the fifth and you go second round. What happened? Or you go 28. That stuff doesn’t matter. That has no effect on how this stuff goes,” Calipari said.
“We got a month to get this right. These guys are in a great frame of mind right now. It’s going to be a really hard game for us to win down there the way they’re playing and how hard they rebound the ball. It’s exactly the medicine we need to say ‘Where are we right now rebounding the ball?’ Because you’re going to find out, similar to what Florida did, shoot it and go get it.”