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UK coach John Calipari on James Young: “He settles (for jump shots) and he avoids contact”

Kentucky's James Young grabs a rebound in the Cats' win over Louisville Saturday. (Victoria Graff photo/all rights reserved)

Kentucky’s James Young grabs a rebound in the Cats’ win over Louisville. (Victoria Graff photo/all rights reserved)


Is James Young settling for too many jump shots? John Calipari thinks so.

“He settles and he avoids contact, and that’s what we’re trying to get him to understand,” Calipari said Monday. “You’ve got to go in there to create a foul. It’s good for us. It gets us to the line, it stops the game, and it gets their guy out of the game. So if a team’s not deep and you’re driving it and getting them in foul trouble, which we are a great team … there’s only one game that a jump-shooting team took more free throws than us. The rest of the time, that’s what we do.

“We create fouls, and we get to the line because of how we play. Now, there’s all kinds of ways of doing this. You can decide to shoot jumpers and 3’s. It means you’re not going to get to the line as much as the other team. It’s just a fact, except that one game.”

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  1. Sully

    Cal’s right. Would love to see Young get himself to the basket, get some layups or close-up jumpers or runners, and get to the line. The more shots go in, the bigger the basket would look to him on those threes. The kid is so talented, maybe the most all-around talent on the team, and hate to see him just stand on the perimeter looking for threes.

  2. Little Baron

    Note to Coach Cal…
    Please check your notes, comments, media statements…
    Then sit the only gunner on the team beside you every time he takes the easy way

    Calipari made it clear at the start of this season that he was going to use the bench to handle this type situation. Young shoots TOO MUCH… especially since his shooting % does NOT justify it. Remember 2012. Championship TEAMs do not gain CHEMISTRY and become a FLUID MACHINE when ANY ONE PLAYER decided he should shoot more than everyone else, game after game. Give the ball someone with a better shooting % – how about Randle? Put in Willis – 3 rebounds in 6 minutes in his last outing. Put in Alex, who is one of the most efficient players, a real TEAM player, and work horse.

    If u is a GUNNER
    U n for a STUNNER
    When u b a DONE-ER

    Spend the TIME
    Ridin’ the PINE
    Works just FINE
    To reach yo’ PRIME

    Talented? Oh, yes, Young is very talented. Does he know the Pro Scouts were so impressed with him pre-season? You better believe it,,, and it just may be showing. Is he biding time, just looking for the draft? I don’t know, but I do know we have NOT seen the all-everything-super-versatile player that revealed himself pre-season, before all the hype may have gone to his head. We need TEAM players, who give it 110% EVERY game, and if that means playing walk-ons until everyone else “buys in”, then DO IT! The sooner the better. I believe MOST have “bought in”, but not EVERYONE. We need the starters AND the DEEP bench to ALL buy-in and contribute to this BIG BLUE MACHINE until it rolls over everyone in sight. The BENCH is still available, so put it to use when needed.

  3. Big Pooh

    We are not a great freethrow shooting team we have lost 3 games that we could have won because of we couldn’t hit freethrows that’s why we shoot a lot of jumpshots

  4. Little Baron

    Your remark is so accurate, Big Pooh. Calipari correctly states that driving to the basket can get opponenets into foul trouble… but that also depends on who is calling the game. If opponents are getting by with pushing, shoving, hacking, hammering and slamming our CATS when we drive to the basket, or even worse, calling a phantom charging foul… then we have a lot going against us – poor officiating and IF a foul is called, then we have to contend with our poor FT shooting %. That does make a jump shot seem more plausible than a drive. It’s a tough call. I do know that last year, we could not have fared much worse if we had never driven to the basket, with all the reckless tossing the ball toward the basket, weak passes (though seldom passing at all) for a turnover…

    The dribble drive needs…
    Fast AND strong guards who can penetrate
    Ball handlers who have control of the ball
    Ballet dancers who can float through the air with great body control
    Tremendous peripheral vision
    Skilled and trained (through MANY practices) hands that deliver accurate passes
    Bob Cousy, Pete Maravich, John Stockton heart, desire, skill to thread the needle
    Ability, guts & strength to take a defender holding onto you, up in the air with you
    Accuracy to get it in the bucket even when hacked and hammered
    Free Throw shooting accuracy
    An honest ref who will call the foul on the opponent, even in their gym, if he fouls
    Mental strength to dribble drive with precision the very next posession, after a mistake

    Those “few” characteristics will form a solid foundation toward being a UK PG

    Otherwise, the dribble drive becomes the ‘drivvel dive’… which saw last year & at times this year.

    Hopefully, our ball handlers and drivers (including Young) have matured and developed their skills to make plays in the dribble drive the rest of the year

  5. TheColoradoWildcat

    If that is an issue this far into a season….it is a COACHING issue!

    Remember last year he complained all year that he had issues, but lacked a bench with which he could correct them? That was not true. Just an excuse to cover his a$$.

    How do we know? Because this year he has said bench, and he refuses to use it!

  6. King Ghidora

    Cal does not seem to be in control of his players for the past 2 years. Success will do that to a team sometimes. Great coaches get past it. The team isn’t hungry for wins. They’re hungry for a paycheck IMO.

    To tell the truth I think the Cats need an outside shooter or two that can hit consistently. Surely Cal understands you have to shoot from the outside when the other team has 5 defenders in the paint. I saw a photo not long ago showing where a team was doing exactly that. 5 guys all standing in the paint or within an inch of it. I’m not at all convinced that driving every time into a defense that collapses constantly is a winning formula. The 2012 team certainly had shooters who hit 3’s. Lamb and Miller were both exceptionally good at it. Lamb hit 47% of his 3’s. Miller hit 38% his senior year but shot 44% as a junior. I think that is the biggest weakness of this team other than a lack of hustle.

    I guess I’m just not a big fan of the dribble drive offense. It makes for an ugly game filled with way too many free throws and a lot of disruptions in the flow of the game for both teams. The Cats are certainly getting to the FT line a lot. But they are losing a lot too. Those slow moving, free throw shooting contests are boring to watch too. And one thing is sure. If one team starts getting a whole lot of fouls called when they drive the refs will try to even things out by calling more for the other team even when they shouldn’t. They don’t like looking at those lop sided free throw stats IMO. It makes it look like they called the game for one team over the other.

    1. TheColoradoWildcat

      Well stated. The part I do not understand is this: “It is good for us. It gets us to the line….”

      What is the point of “getting to the line” where we shoot such a low percentage of our shots?

      And consider this: if we do not hit a good percentage from the outside….the defenders have no reason to come out of the lane. Then the so called “dribble-drive” becomes more of a “dribble-crash” or maybe a “dribble-park.”

      The most frustrating thing regarding this crop of players is NOT the players; rather the leader of those players, Coach Cal. Last year his excuse was the fact that he lacked a “bench” with which to discipline the guys.

      Wonder what this years’ excuse will become, as he now has that bench…but refuses to use it.

      I really like Coach Cal….but it is time for him to stop talking out of both sides of his mouth, like a “flip-flopping” politician, and START KEEPING SOME OF HIS PROMISES…unlike the “flip-flopping” POTUS he so adores!

      Come on Coach…you are not running for office here….COACH for crying out loud!

  7. thom adams

    Sadly… none are either right or wrong completely here. Yet, I believe the issue is much simpler. These players, this team is not nearly as good as advertised both in talent and execution. Young is an average shooter, the twins are decent but slower than average guards, WCS is erratic, and Randle (easily the best of them all) makes too many poor decisions which affect outcomes at crucial moments. In fact, none of these players have shown me that they are “winners”. That is knowing when you must have a stop and you get one, must make a shot and you do, must hit free throws and you’re money, etc. Every game (close ones) have these moments and winners recognize them and then make it happen. Poythress has been a positive and Dakari as well. I’d bet Lee would have been a star by now if given the chance to play and some free throw instruction and practice. Willis and Hood could also have been huge contributors if given some PT and shown some confidence in their games. It’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

  8. Stinger2

    Young is the overall best player on the team, this team would be nothing without him period. His outside shooting opens up opportunities for Randle and Cauley Steins. We have no true point guard to make this team work. Can not stand the lack of effort by most of the starters, use the bench, the four Kentucky boys and Poythress, Johnson and Lee will give you more effort and play together.

    1. King Ghidora

      Sorry but I disagree completely. Randle draws a double team all the time and most of the time he draws a triple team. He creates the open shots for Young. Young does nothing to create shots for Randle. There’s a big reason Randle started out averaging over 20 ppg and Young started under 10 ppg. It wasn’t until teams started parking their players in the lane that Young started to get some points.

      Randle is by far the best player on the team and he has trouble deciding what’s a good play and what isn’t. But he’s improving and learning to kick the ball out. The more he does that the more Young scores. Young only shoots 34% from behind the 3 line. That’s not that great for a guy who was supposed to be the #1 outside shooter and one of the best in the country. Randle shoots a higher percentage from the floor despite attracting special attention from every team and he also shoots a higher percentage of free throws. Then there’s the rebounds. But if you want the real story Young only has 6 more assists than Randle even though Randle is the #1 shooting option. A SF should have a lot more assists than a PF.

  9. Little Baron

    I agree with many comments on most posts.

    Calipari has not given Lee or Willis an adequate chance nor played Polson enough. He has NEVER given Jon Hood a fair chance. He should be starting Alex and Dakari. I am a big fan of Willie, and believe Calipari (and seemingly the staff) are not doing a good job of handling the players and meeting their needs, to get the most out of them. Last year and half of this year is enough to convinve me there are some BIG ISSUES that need to be resolved, or we are in for some long seasons ahead. Cal needs to learn to teach and coach a zone, needs to play it so we can use our shooters, and needs to stop publicly criticizing every player instead of accepting responsibility for the failure to build a TEAM.

    We sure could have used Wiltjer this year… no doubt about it. And we could have used Meeks when WVU knocked us out of a run for a Title in 2010. Calipari does NOT really go after or use adequately real shooters.

    Cal needs to go to a coach P or coach K camp and learn how to set plays so shooters can get a screen to shoot over. How many times in the past 5 years have we seen a shooter get a screen for the purpose of launching an uncontested 3???

  10. Cliff Richardson

    I’m an old guy from U.K. of the 1940’s and WW2. The old quote “it’s not the winning or losing, it’s how you play the game ” no longer prevails. The pleasure of watching these young fellas compete is rewarding. These days it’s all about the almighty dollar from the Athletic Director, the coaching staff and the players after they have proven themselves. When the ’48..’49 UK team went pro and formed the Indianapolis Stars, the players got caught with the point shaving scandal. It destroyed their careers and dissolved the team. Whether we win the National Title or not is not going to change the course of human events one iota. Just enjoy the sport and the atmosphere that surounds the game and let these kids do their thing. Our whole society has gone nuts and the fans have become radicals. It’s crazy…..while the coaches make their fortunes.

    1. King Ghidora

      I certainly don’t judge my life by how well the Cats play. Yes I follow them closely because I have gotten a great deal of enjoyment from it over the years. But I don’t go nuts if they don’t win a title every year. The only game in my life that really messed with me was that 1992 Duke game. It was just such a shame for a group of guys who put it all on the floor. And we loved them for doing it despite the fact they lost to Duke. It’s the same now. If the team put everything on the floor we would love them even if they had the same number of losses. But they don’t.

      I’m not losing sleep over this. I don’t have long crying spells in the shower. My life goes on. I just like to see them win. Heck even losing to Wooden’s last team didn’t affect me all that much and I was in school at UK at the time. I’ll got even farther. It didn’t upset me tremendously that I broke my leg and missed my chance to be a walk on for the Cats (they asked me – not the other way around). That’s just life and basketball is just a game. Lots of things are far more important. Basketball is a distraction and a good way to spend winter evenings when getting outside is tough for an older guy like me. There was a time I would have been coon hunting on a lot of winter nights but the knees and the back put a stop to that a long time ago.

      Don’t mistake my presence here every day as obsession. I am retired and don’t have a lot to do with my evenings. I don’t like tv much unless it’s sports because that’s the only thing that isn’t scripted and sometimes I think it is to an extent. Yes I’m a blue blooded UK fan. But perspective is something I always keep in mind. I’ve had kidney failure twice in the last 3 months and I only have one kidney (cancer got the other one a long time ago). Trust me that’s more important than the Cats. I’m still facing an uphill battle with my problems. But if I lose that battle I will be the big winner anyway. It’s my family that will suffer. I’ll be home. We’ll all be able to do tomahawk slams in Heaven. :) I could do that a long time ago. I rarely even think of that. That was really a long time ago like maybe 40 years or so. I don’t miss it all that much.

  11. Bob

    LSU played an perfect game agaisnt Kentucky . Kentucky is young and at times it’s crystal clear .They were falling to block out and get back on defense and offense. Problems at the foul line. And some of the stupest fouls made. They looked so good when they passed the ball and waited for the open shot which is team play.They are going to drop some more games in the SEC . I think James Young plays hard and yes he avoids contact but he is always running the court . This team needs to come together and quickly pick up on defense , run the court, block out, and pass the ball for the open man. I do not care if they lose every game in the remaining season and they come together as one in the playoffs they will sweep and hang #9 thats how good these kids are . Coach Cal should have playing every second at pratice come together. This is why you need an 3 or 4 year starter on every team . For once in 50 years i had an smile after staying up late to watch them loose . To many times we as Cats fans fails to give teams whom beat us credit .I think lsU wanted to make an statement for there Kentucky Mr Basketball team mate. It doesn’t get any easier and it’s lessons being taught . Go Big Blue

  12. Harmon

    Like all of us I am just a Kentucky Basketball Fan and only played Basketball 2 years in Jr High School. It is difficult to have seen the Cats execute so well against Georgia with forty minutes of offensive and defensive determination to the mess that was the LSU game. Poythress is becoming a solid contributor. Young is probably the best athletic, all-around ability player the Cats have. Randle plays very well but at times tries to do too much. Here’s the kicker, the Harrison twins struggle. The Cats do not play very well together. As Larry Glover put it, “You hear Cal talk more about NBA Draft Day than the National Championship” which is a good point. If individual players are more concerned with only improving their NBA Draft Stock then there is no Team and mere individuals will lose more games.

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