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Will Malik Monk rebound or not?

Malik Monk can get off shots and score, but will he ever rebound? (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

In 24 games this season, Kentucky guard Malik Monk has 55 total rebounds. In the last two games against Florida and LSU, he’s played 70 minutes without getting a rebound.

Kentucky has played nine Southeastern Conference games. In four of them, he had just one rebound. So counting the last two games, he’s had six SEC games with a combined four rebounds.

His best rebounding games were in game three against Michigan State and the first SEC game against Mississippi. He had six rebounds in each game.

Monk, one of UK’s most athletic players and its leading scorer, is averaging one rebound for every 14 minutes played.

Kentucky coach John Calipari was not happy with his lack of rebounding after Tuesday’s win over LSU.

“He’s probably got to play less minutes if he’s not going to rebound the ball. You’re going to have to be in there less. It’s not hard in the equation. There were two or three opportunities, again, and I took him out. You didn’t get the ball, you’re out. It’s just making an effort to make them go get balls,” Calipari said.

The coach  might have pulled him from the game, but not for long. He still played 36 minutes.

So how can a player that athletic not get a rebound in 70 minutes?

“Probably should ask him that question. Probably a good one to ask,” Calipari said.

Probably a better one for the coach to answer, but Calipari refused after Tuesday’s game.

On Monday Kentucky assistant coach Tony Barbee said UK’s guards had to rebound better with that obviously meant for Monk. He noted how 5-9 guard Chris Chiozza had nine rebounds against UK.

“He comes up with nine rebounds and some of our bigger, more athletic guards don’t come up with as many as he did,” Barbee said.

Last year Jamal Murray was also a prolific scorer who had issues on defense. But he averaged 5.3 rebounds per game in his only season at UK. Even Tyler Ulis, who is much smaller than Monk, averaged three rebounds per game last year.

Monk didn’t deny before the LSU game that Barbee was talking about him — not De’Aaron Fox or Isaiah Briscoe — needing to rebound more.

“I just gotta stick my head in the lane and stay in the lane way more instead of leaking out,” Monk said. 
“Any kind of rebound, just stick my head in there and leave whenever I need to, when I feel like (it’s) the right time to leave. Just play the feel of the ball.”

He averaged 7.5 rebounds per game in high school.

“In high school I had to because we’d lose every game if I didn’t rebound. But Cal is telling me right now we’re going to lose every game if I don’t start rebounding right now. So, I just gotta pick it up,” Monk said.

Again, that was Monday and then Tuesday night he got zero rebounds in 36 minutes of play.

Will that lead to less playing time against Alabama Saturday? No way. He’s too valuable on offense.

He’s hitting 48.9 percent overall from the field — 58 percent on 2-point shots, 41 percent on 3-point shots. He’s an 82 percent shooter at the foul line. In SEC play only, he’s averaging 22.8 points per game and hitting 45 percent from 3-point range. Overall, he’s averaging 21.9 points per game.

Even if he doesn’t rebound and gets beat on defense, his scoring makes him too valuable to bench for long periods. He had 47 against North Carolina. He had 37 in the overtime win over Georgia, including 30 the second half.

After Tuesday’s game, Calipari said he would put his team through a three-hour practice and indicated he was not going to tolerate mistakes on the floor.

“We had a couple of guys I had to call in the office. I said, ‘Look, you’re a finisher for us. If you don’t want to shoot open shots, you’re not going to be in the rotation. I’m not going to play you. I don’t need you to do anything else. I don’t need you to drive, and roll baseline, and throw a bounce pass. I don’t need any of that,” Calipari said.

“I need you to shoot open shots.’

Okay, you don’t make them. Then it’s my choice to keep you in the game or let you keep shooting. Malik missed six in a row. Then he made three and we’re up 25. Whatever you’re supposed to do you must do. 

I’ve made it very clear individually and made it very clear as a team, not mean, I just said, ‘This is what we’re going to do.’
”

Notice, no mention of rebounding.

“Now we got to continue on that path and shore up the problems we’re having defensively.

 Some of those problems are personnel. They either got to step on the gas or they got to step back. Not being mean, I’m just being real,” Calipari said. “It’s that time. Either you step on the gas and get this right or you got to step back.

“Don’t want to shorten the rotation to five or six guys, but I will if I have to. I’d like to play eight or nine guys so they all get a chance to play, have fun, morale, all that. But you better deserve to be on that court, or… We’re at that time of the season.
”

Now we’ll see if it is the time of the season for Monk to rebound and score or just keep scoring and not rebounding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

17 comments

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  1. TheProfessor

    I get the feeling that he is talking to the wall, and its not John.

    1. Larry Vaught

      I would almost be willing to bet that Monk gets five or more rebounds Saturday. We’ll see how far off I am. I just remember 2011 and 2014 when I thought there was no Final Four chance and yet uK had chance to win titles both years.

  2. Larry Pup

    Cal said “Don’t want to shorten the rotation to 5 or 6 guys, but I will if I have to.” The way I see it, he needs ti sit some of these NBA hopefuls, these stars, to send a strong message. They can play better and live up to their hype, or sit and let other players who have been here the longest get more playing time. If you don’t want to work for rebounds and do the grunt work then sit. How many times do you have to tell these same players to get with the program. Bam needs to start playing like the big mean center he was billed to be. Riding the pine will either fix the problem or they go into a tail spin. It would do a world of good in the motivation department IMO. I doubt Cal will though, since he has to get rid of these NBA hopefuls, and make room for the next covey of future draft picks he is planning to bring in. Sitting them on the bench goes against his overall scheme.

  3. Cats79

    It’s time quit being so negative to the players or team, let’s cheer them on and see what happens at season end we can criticizes all we can, but they need our support regardless. Go Cats!!!

  4. TheProfessor

    This team played for over 2 months as well as any team in the country, and nearly as well as any Calipari coached team of the last 7 years. Then something changed, and this team is in the tank.

    Waiting to the season end to comment ignores the obvious change.

    This is on Coach Calipari to get it fixed, and get it fixed now. It is on the players to respond to Coach Calipari, rather than ignore him.

  5. Cats79

    We all know what’s to be done professor, just sit back and chill and see how the team responds until March madness.

  6. UKFMLY

    So this is my two cents and I know it’s worth less than that:

    It must be tough being perfect. I read and post here regularly and I am always amazed at the number of excellent coaches, we have as fans. I am also amazed by the number of perfectionist as well. But what is most amazing to me are those who often forget what it’s like to be young and in college. These are young men. I know all who post here did exactly what their parents and coaches told them to do when they were young. They were never distracted or strong willed. They always performed to the best of their abilities and are exactly who their parents raised them to be with no steps off the path. Tongue firmly in cheek. Look people we could be IU, MIch State, Kansas(with several players under criminal investigations) or little brother with the possible loss of a championship looming over their heads. Relax and enjoy the ride. It may be rough and bumpy sometimes but it is the BEST RIDE IN THE NATION. Best coach, best fans. Best by a country mile. I’m with Cat79. Get behind them and cheer them on. They all could be playing somewhere else and we are blessed that they chose UK.

    KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK! GO BLUE OR STAY HOME! !

    1. Larry Pup

      UKFMLY, Cats79, I can’t fault some of what you all are saying, but using Cal’s own words, this is Kentucky basketball, and you are held to a higher standard based on the program’s tradition, and national prominence. We all know that. UK basketball fans want a national championship every year, I am not convinced anymore that this current team has what it takes to do that. I hope I’m proven wrong. How can any UK basketball fan be satisfied with a talented team like UK has, but a team that is regressing before our very eyes. A team that was humiliated at Florida by 22 points, and then blows a 25 point lead against LSU in their own house, arguably the worst team in the SEC this year, allowing LSU to shoot over 62% in the second half. Yeah, they won, but if they continue to play like they are right now then get ready for more heartache. It is getting much to late in the season to baby these players. They are certainly not listening to their coach if you listen to his talking points. Surely you both can see that. Criticism undeserved is one thing, but the criticism coming now is spot on, Many UK basketball fans simply want these players to represent Kentucky basketball with heart and toughness. Many players in the past have done just that, and that is the bar these players face every day at Kentucky.

      1. UKFMLY

        I never said there was anything wrong with the criticism I just think some times the critics forget that these are young men. I know the standards and I understand the passion. I know the statistic and the numbers. I want the same things all UK fans want but I chose to try my best to stay positive and enjoy the team no matter the success. Just my choice. You guys can be as negative as you please. Rant, rave throw stuff at the T V. Call in and tell coach “you know what this team needs” (tongue firmly in cheek). be my guest. I just think it’s a waste of time just like me typing this response. 🙂 Best Fans in the Country.

  7. Mike

    This team right now is not a Top 20 team. We are not good at anything and are bad with almost everything related to offense or defense. i agree with Bruce Pearl’s comment that “we will not be making a run toward the big dance” He picks Florida to replace us there. We are playing at such a low level that every team on our schedule now has a real good chance to beat us. When has a high rated UK basketball team been in that position. Mizzou and LSU may be the only teams currently worse than us over last 6 games or so. Cal appears to have lost this team and there has to be some serious chemistry problems in locker room. Have I given up on this team?…..hot quite yet but well on the way. This team has to be the laughing stock of the SEC if not the country.

  8. Cats79

    All can say is root for Louisville then. Sometimes things ain’t to be at this point Jesus Christ get a life!!!!!

  9. Cats79

    If there was such as perfection this world wouldn’t exist

    1. Mike

      Reality stings a little doesn’t it? I am trying to figure out if you are on the women’s or men’s cheer leading team.

  10. Cats79

    Mike I’m life long cat fan sometimes I wonder if you are betting your house against Vegas odd makers.

    1. Mike

      Cats79….I have been a life long cat fan longer than you have been. I just don’t have the patience that you apparently have with this team. I know I can get very negative and do on a frequent basis, but I just cannot support this apathetic play and attitude this team has, and I do put a lot of this on the coaching staff as well. These guys have all the talent in the world and said at beginning of the season that their goal was to win the NC which is what most freshmen say and is the reason they come here. These guys are getting worse as the season goes on and do they look like they have any winning attitude or play? Do you know of 1 other team out there that started with our high expectations and that has regressed to the level this current team has? This team and coaching staff continually want to bring up the “they are still young” line. The local sports guys in Nashville were talking about the UT season yesterday and how they have over achieved for their talent, height, etc. and done it with hard play and good coaching. Do you think they won’t be coming to Rupp with the belief that they can knock us off again? Alabama has a very good shot at beating us as well. We will see what happens.

  11. TheProfessor

    I hope this team’s collective light comes on soon, and they finish the season playing the way they started the season through mid January. No doubt they are capable.

    What is undeniable is they have not been playing that way for 9 games.

  12. Persimmon Knob

    Ahhh! The trials and tribulations of the small market sports fan. Your only nationally rated program is 19 – 5 and abject terror is rising its ugly head. What to do, what to do ?

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