By LARRY VAUGHT
Once he got to Kentucky, James Young found out that even though he was a McDonald’s All-American and one of the nation’s top-ranked recruits, his game had more flaws than he ever imagined.
“I didn’t pay attention to them at all really. I think that’s what’s going to make each player better really,” said
Young after scoring 13 points in Saturday’s win over Georgia. “A lot of guys have started to do individual work during practice. It’s getting everybody better really. It’s just coming together as a team really and communicating more.”
Young said the breakdown process each player goes through under coach John Calipari can be demanding.
“It’s not (fun), it’s not. It’s not good at all,” Young said. “You just got to get it over with, learn from it and get it over with. You can always learn more. He just points out your flaws and what you need to get better at. I think that’s what makes us good players.”
While UK earned praise from Calipari Saturday for its teamwork and overall play, Young knows there is plenty more to do starting with Tuesday night’s game at LSU.
“I wouldn’t say a breakthrough (against Georgia), but we’re just getting better day by day, practice by practice. I just feel we’re slowing getting better. To be where we want to be is going to take time,” Young said.
“It was a great win for us. We were practicing really hard these last few days and we just want to get better game by game, and I think that’s what we’re doing. I feel like during practice we just communicate a lot more, and it’s translating over to games.”
“Like I said, it’s a process. It’s just going to take us game by game, day by day just to get better as a team. Every day we’re just communicating on how we should be a better team, and I think we’re getting there.”
It helped against Georgia that sophomore center Willie Cauley-Stein (eight points, six steals, six blocks, three rebounds) snapped out of a three-game funk.
“It helped us a lot. He got a lot of blocked shots, lot of steals, and that’s what led us to open buckets,” Young said. “We get a lot more pressure because he always gets defensive stops. I feel like that’s when we all step up, too.”
Young said UK’s “communication” was better against Georgia, especially with point guard Andrew Harrison.
“When I see ‘Drew drive, I really just point up and I just see the defender not looking at me at all, so I just tell him to throw it up and he throws it up,” Young said. “Really passing the ball around and communicating a lot.
That’s what I think is really helping us become a better team. It’s just coming with playing together. We’re communicating a lot more. Somebody will say one more and we’ll hear it and hit the open guy.”
The communication has helped on defense, too
“We’re getting better than where we were when we first started. We usually give up a lot of baseline drives or just let the guy drive right past us, but we’re getting better,” Young said. “Two months ago we weren’t as good as a team. Now we’re just starting to play better as a team and communicating more.”