By LARRY VAUGHT
When Kentucky coach John Calipari found out his team might have to play UCLA and North Carolina in the South Region, thoughts about his team’s loss to UCLA in Rupp Arena and the overtime win over North Carolina in Las Vegas came back.
“They’re really good teams. We had a guy (Malik Monk) that went for 47 (against North Carolina). They should have beat us. And the other team beat us and beat us good. The score wasn’t indicative of how bad they beat us. So hopefully we’re a better team for both of those games,” Calipari said.
“And North Carolina had a kid out, point guard we weren’t sure was going to play, it was first game back. They’re good. But so is Dayton. There’s teams along the way that you look at and you say, wow. I’m not looking ahead.”
Neither is senior Dominique Hawkins.
“We’re going to be ready for whoever we have to play, but we’re just going to focus on the teams we need to focus on,” Hawkins said. “Defensively I think we are playing the best we have all year. We’ve been stopping the best scorers and making them take tough shots. Offensively, we’ve been giving it to the guy with the hot hand.”
Derek Willis, like Hawkins, has been part of 13 NCAA tourney games going into Friday’s night game with Northern Kentucky University.
“You need all the players you can get. It can be anyone any night. I think freshman year it was—I think Marcus (Lee) had come in and had a great game. He had like 10 points, rebounds, blocks I think even. That could be any one of these players that thinks they’re not really getting quality minutes, they could come out and have a night like that and that gets us a win. Everybody’s gotta be prepared,” Willis said.
“I feel like me and Dom definitely have the most experience with postseason play. That’s just what’s going to take us—that’s how we’ve been prepared for this moment. We’re just going to go from there. We’ll be ready though.”