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By LARRY VAUGHT
Now that we are three weeks from Selection Sunday, let Kentucky coach John Calipari explain what areas he likes about his team and what areas specifically the Wildcats need to improve on before NCAA Tournament play begins.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The 40-minute game; make a couple bad plays, it should not lead to two or three more.Ã‚Â GetÃ‚Â Ã¢â‚¬â€ you know, grab the team. It is kind of like this.Ã‚Â At times, the quarterback throwsÃ‚Â (when we) need a first down.Ã‚Â It is third and 12 and he throws it to the guy four yards in. Ã¢â‚¬ËœWell, he should have ran.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ No, you shouldn’t have thrown it to him.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ We need to get it to the 12 yards, not four.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“So we’re making some of those plays where we’re throwing it to the wrong guy at the wrong time in the wrong place and then get mad at him because he makes a bad play.Ã‚Â That stuff, we got to cure that.Ã‚Â You just got to know Ã¢â‚¬Ëœnot now.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ We got a nice lead or it is a close game, I’m notÃ‚Â Ã¢â‚¬â€ we will pull it out.Ã‚Â We execute.Ã‚Â We are a skilled team.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We only had 10 turnovers again (against South Carolina Saturday).Ã‚Â I mean, sometimes I think when we only have 10, we are not playing fast enough.Ã‚Â We got to play more aggressive.Ã‚Â I like it to be 11, 12.Ã‚Â When we had eight, I think it was against Vandy. It is obvious we are not playing aggressive enough.Ã‚Â You will have turnovers when you play fast and play hard that way.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“But we are getting better at executing offensively, both zone and man.Ã‚Â They’re more focused on doing their job.Ã‚Â I just told them, Ã¢â‚¬ËœLet’s own the last five minutes of every game we play, let’s own it.Ã‚Â Let that be our time.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ And so I’m trying to do everything I can to get their minds off the score and on execution.Ã‚Â I don’t want them to play not to lose.Ã‚Â You have to just play to win and you got to execute.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Well, the football comparison was a bad one because the UK football team threw four-yard passes on 3rd-and-10 all season. Surely Cal didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mean that was bad strategy like most UK football fans believed it was.
But I think what Calipari was saying is that the Cats still need to learn to play a full 40 minutes, play faster and more aggressive, make better decisions and learn to finish games in dominating fashion.
If they do that, then this Kentucky team may yet play longer in March than many still believe.