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Calipari on Poythress: “He went from good to really good to great (in pracitce)”


At his press conference today, John Calipari had two really interesting personnel observations.

First, sophomore Alex Poythress, a starter last year and bench player this year who has been up and down.

“Alex was as good as I have ever seen him anywhere at any time in our last practice,” Calipari said. “Not only did he play, but he sustained. Yesterday’s practice he went from good to really good to great. I was like amazed. Hopefully he is starting to get it.”

Second, little-used freshman forward Derek Willis.

“We need to get him in (games). Play as stretch four where he can shoot jumpers. He has got to compete in practice, but he has been great  the last couple of practices,” Calipari said.


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  1. Phillip Barker

    Wondering if Willis is a better game player than practice player???

  2. Jimharris

    Ain’t nobody can put them on the floor except you, Coach. Don’t just talk about it, do it!

  3. TheProfessor

    I don’t think Terrence Jones really got with the program with his effort and contributions until the middle of his second season, but when he did, he because a force for that team, and demanded attention and allowed Anthony Davis and/or MKG to have more freedom offensively. That also opened up the floor and made it easier for Teague to be successful at the point.

    I believe in Alex Poythress, and when he starts to assert himself and sustain it, Julius Randle, and the Harrison Twins will benefit immediately.

    My preferred starting 5 are Willie, Alex, Julius, Aaron and Andrew. I like Young, Johnson, Lee, Willis, and Hawkins off the bench.

    Camp Calipari begins in 24 hours. The transformation of this team is about to begin.

    1. UKFMLY

      I also still believe in Alex. He could be the second coming of Darius Miller. We all remember how that story turned out. I know he has been up and down but if he had performed the way he has during anytime except the Cal era we would say he is young, learning and getting better and we as fans would have had the patience to allow him to come into his own. Since Cal, players like Alex and Kyle (who may just develope at a different rate)are looked at as not living up to the BBN expectations. I personally am bothered by that. Alex had an above average freshman year when compared with all NCAA D1 freshman. Kyle was the SEC sixth man of the year as voted by the COACHES and yet both has been much maligned by the BBN. I just don’t get it. Alex will be fine and so will the Wildcats.



    2. Larry T Clemons

      I agree…..When Alex starts to Turn it Up every play, everything will open up…..Hard for the defense to put two on Julius & Alex….

  4. ukcrazycat

    I called the Joe B. Hall and Denny Crum Show this past Monday to answer the Raferty’s trivia question they have each week. After answering the question correctly, I ask Coach Hall what he thought of Derek Willis in practice. I simply stated that I thought, at times, ( yes, I am a professional CBB sofa coach ) we needed Willis on the floor playing a stretch 4 when Randle gets in foul trouble. That way, by having another serious 3 point threat, we could spead the floor more and open up bigger lanes for the dribble drive offense. Coach Hall said the biggest thing keeping Willis on the bench was his footwork on defense but he that is the best shooter on the team. Now, it’s probably just a big coincidence because I seriously doubt Coach Cal was listening to the show or Coach Hall said something to him about it, but a rabid UK fan can dream, can’t he?

    1. Kokamo Joe

      Unless Calipari changes his system Willis will not contribute. He may be a shooter, but he is not as skilled as the freshmen that Calipari recruits. Like Hawkins, Willis will be recruited over every year. For the most part we love the recruiting and the announced number one class each year. Some of us even love the struggle that Calipari goes through as he molds his teams…the drama….will he or won’t he, etc.

      The day that Willis and Hawkins become starters or major contributers the one and done system will die.

      1. ukcrazycat

        I wasn’t saying Willis was the same caliber of player as the rest of the freshman or should start or play major minutes. I was only saying that if front court players get into foul trouble or if Cal ever decides to play a zone defense, ( I see now that I didn’t put that part of the conversation with Coach Hall in my post ) Willis could contribute. Yes, he is a shooter but he is a good ball handler and a great passer.

  5. Mike

    Sounds real good but can’t drink the Alex kool aid after one good showing in practice. I still wish Cal would limit some of those comments re the players. He bragged AP up at beginning of year with practice performances but we all know that doesn’t, especially with Alex, transfer to the game.

  6. Jim

    Miller was the Cat who came through in the clutch, when the team needed a boost, especially scoring, in tight games during his senior year. Who does Cal have that can right the ship in rough waters? There is no talented Senior coming off the bench that can make an NBA team like Miller. Who is the closes to what Miller was on this year;s team? Poythress. He may be a star, if he stays four years. The team needs that type of player for this season, and we all know Poythress has to become what he is not, to make that happen. WCS is a shot blocker, but does not have the offensive skills. Poythress has talent. He needs confidence and execution. Will he transform by the end of the season? Don’t know. I do think he will be a star by his junior or senior year, if he stays. Would like to see him start the next game and have Coach throw down a challenge to UK’s most talented freshman to raise his game to the next level…..who by the way has his sights set on being the first pick in the draft. Go Cats!

    1. Kokamo Joe

      We all know that Calipari is a master paychologist and PR man. Why did the claim that after almost a year and half Poythress suddenly grew up and became a beast. Could it be that Calipari challenged Poythress in that practice. Could it be that Calipari will start him against Belmont? Could this be the ultimate test for Poythress. Be a beast or sit on the bench and forget the NBA?

      Belmont is an OVC team. Sure they beat North Carolina. But this game is in Rupp and Belmont has wilted lately. This is the perfect time for Poythress to assert himself. The Cats will blow out Belmont and enter the UL game on a high note.

      After beating UL, we enter league play where we are the king of a football conference. What better opportunity for a young team to jell and an old man…the sophomore Poytress to become a leader.

      1. Larry T Clemons

        Best post I ever read by you….thanks KJ

    2. UKFMLY


  7. Gene T.

    I just think we need fresh legs at points in the game. I also am a couch/recliner coach. I just keep wanting to see more of Lee. We need some energy, and I like what he brings. I would like to see a deeper rotation and wear teams down, instead of them wearing us down. GO CATS!

  8. Kokamo Joe

    It is true that using the bench more will create fresh legs and fresh legs are vital at the end of games. And Calipari does have competent players on the bench.

    But as an expert couch coach and recruiter, do you believe that Calipari playes his potential NBA draftees because he figures that they need the playing time in order to remain high draft picks. I too am an expert on the couch and I ponder this often.

    Let us wait and see what the real coach does. If he continues to go with a 7or 8 rotation by NCAA tournament time we will know that he is sticking with the idea that he must prepare his prize freshmen for the NBA draft. If he subs a lot we will wonder if these subs will ever become future stars.

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