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By LARRY VAUGHT

Sophomores Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein both had solid freshman seasons at Kentucky and each contemplated putting his name into the NBA draft as classmates Nerlens Noel and Archie Goodwin did before deciding to stay at UK.

Now with the transfer of Kyle Wiltjer, they become UK’s two most experienced players to go with a No. 1 recruiting class that includes six McDonald’s All-Americans.
Both have been working out this summer and Kentucky coach John Calipari admitted on the Southeastern Conference teleconference that both of them are going to be “challenged” next season.

“ I think part of the lesson that we learned (last season) and I did as a head coach is, you can’t protect players. Competition is what brings out the best in all of us,” said Calipari. “And if it doesn’t, you must learn that you can’t blame, you can’t hide from it. It needs to bring out your best. It needs to wake you up earlier in the morning, it needs to get you working harder, it needs to get you being smarter about what you’re doing in your training; more disciplined, more conscientious.

“And last year, we had eight guys on scholarship. When we had an injury, we were playing seven scholarship players, and I did it somewhat to protect some of the guys in the program, and you really can’t do it that way. You got to have the full complement.”

Now he does.

“Now there’s competition, now you really see guys blossom. Right now, Willie’s challenged by the other big guys. Alex is challenged by Julius (Randle) and the other guys,” Calipari said. “So all of the sudden, they’ve elevated their game, and you make an excuse, you’ll be sitting. ‘Yeah, I know, I know. OK, you sit there.’

“And they know that now, because you’ve got other guys. So I think what you’ve seen this summer — and it’s a short period of time right now, but what you see is, they’re on a mission like some of my best teams have been on.”

20 Responses to Calipari thinks being “challenged” will help both Poythress and Cauley-Stein

  • And that’s what a All American Does ! Kyle is a Kentucky Wildcat….He’s a Honorable Young Man, with a Great attitude and He is Loved By BBN. Kyle Has A National Championship Ring and could likely have TWO more. Kyle should stay at Kentucky and work harder. Get an Attitude and Fight like your in Battle every time you step on the Floor, in practice & Games ! Kyle is just To Dang Nice, Where’s Dan Issel, That’s The Kyle I Want To See ! Kyle ” Issel ” Wiltjer….Do That Kyle and you won’t have to worry about Playing Time. When was the last time you got a Bloody Nose or Fat Lip from an elbow down low…? ” Exactly ” and that’s what you should fight for before you give up at KENTUCKY. It’s not for Everybody, But Kyle, it could be for you…Now GET MAD, and TAKE THE BALL FROM YOUR COMPETITORS, even your Team Mates. ” No More Mr. Nice Guy ! “

  • Jake Meyers says:

    (Kyle takes ball, video camera, WBA rap sheet, and goes home…..to write BBN a Dear John (Calipari) letter)

  • AndyP says:

    UK is not for everybody and that fits Kyle to a tee. He was a turtle trying to play with a bunch of rabbits. If you want what’s best for the kid it’s to see him go to a school where he can play significant minutes in a system that fits his lack of speed and quickness.

  • Kokamo Joe says:

    I would love to see Kyle hang around and spot up for those three pointers. But that is a bit selfish of me. I expect that Kyle has had his share of fat lips and bloody noses, especially during his first year.

    Kyle could hang around and sit on the bench next year and expect to be a major player in the UK scheme his senior year. He could even take a red shirt year. But his problem is that the UK freshmen are always going to be front and center. In most systems staying would be a wise decision. Calipari’s scheme calls for number one recruiting classes and their rapid departure to the NBA. This leaves little opportunity for players to develop and move ahead of the incoming freshmen.

    We do not know what Kyle’s decision will be. Let us leave that up to him and Calipari. The major thing that I wish for him is success, wherever that may be.

  • Kokamo Joe says:

    Re: Poytress and Cauley-Stein

    Will last year’s experience blossom into leadership this year? Clearly leadership above the freshman level must come from these two. Both seem to be fine young men, but can they lead? What about Polson? Polson is a wonderful young man with an intelligent head on his shoulders. But you have to play to lead and will great freshmen look up to a former walk on? Leadership will come, we just do not know from where yet.

    Now will Cauley-Stein and Poytress blossom next year? I hope so, Johnson will be a challenge to Cauley-Stein and Poytress has his work cut out for him.

  • Kokomo Joe Says, ” But his problem is that the UK freshmen are always going to be front and center “……BULL…Coach Cal will put the best Players on the Court, period…And your wrong, Kyle is not a Fighter, He’s Soft or he would be staying and starting….Your talking about Kyle as if he wasn’t discussed as, ” one of those One & Dones ” before he even arrived in Lexington…but admitting that puts a flaw in your hypothesis. Good Try. Kyle is just To Dang Nice, Where’s Dan Issel, That’s The Kyle I Want To See ! Kyle ” Issel ” Wiltjer….Do That Kyle and you won’t have to worry about Playing Time.

  • King Ghidora says:

    Issel wasn’t really as slow as many made him out to be. He had to deal with social issues to get his due IMO. The NBA wanted a new style of play and Dan didn’t fit the mold. He played basketball. He wasn’t “Showtime”. I like basketball myself. Showtime will come if you really play basketball well. Issel scored a ton of points for a guy with no foot speed. Yeah right. Watch his videos. He was fast to get out on the break. If Kyle could just do that he would be a much better player. But defense is a different animal today.

  • Komoka Joe says:

    We do disagree. Calipari’s success is first his remarkable ability to recruit the best and place them in the draft as soon as possible. He has had a great 8, a final four, a championship, and a failure during his four years in Lexington. By any measure this is success. I will take that any time, but part of the equation is that a little rain may fall in spite of the recruits.

    Maybe Kyle and our two Kentucky freshmen could be able to beat out future McDonald All Americans. I agree that Calipari would play a better Kyle above a newcomer if he proved to be better. But I just don’t see him as a better player no matter how much he mans up and gets or receives a bloody nose. If the kid was from this state I could see the value of him hanging around, he would have his future assured as a born and bred Kentucky boy. But that is not the case.

    The decision is his. If he stays I hope that you are right and I am wrong.

    Calipari’s system is based on the best of the best and a quick UK exit. The exit is necessary to keep the conveyor belt going. Calipari has hinted that he may change his approach. I don’t know if that is good or bad. We can find out by watching next year’s two Kentucky kids. If by the end of their sophomore years they are mired on the bench and Calipari is roping in the biggest and the best…we will know.

  • Karen Sprinkle says:

    IMO, Cal made it pretty clear what “his scheme” is in his recent remarks, and it has nothing to do with class rankings. He said it’s all about great players and that it’s hard to win with bad players. I truly believe class rankings are something that the fans obsess over, and that Cal really doesn’t care about the rankings–he cares about the recruit being able to play his style. Of course, getting the recruits that can play his style are generally the recruits are highly ranked. He simply tries to get the best players who fit his general concept of basketball, including but not limited to great defense, and then tweaks the offense to fit the skills of his players. Unfortunately, last year’s team didn’t ever seem to get how to play the Calipari-style defense correctly. I’m not sure we’ve seen that much of the DDMO in his first 4 years, but we may get to see it more this year, based on personnel.

  • Perfect Post ! ” Thank You “….KS, your on it.

  • Kokamo Joe says:

    I can only go on Calipari’s statements and his actions.

    Here is a quote that he made at the time that he was hired: “I am here because I can recruit the best of the best. That’s why I am here. We can get who we need, then, it’s changing the culture of the program.”

    We can call it culture, scheme, system…whatever. The truth remains that this quote and his quote about drafting 5 players was the best moment in UK history (which led to players aspiring to be Cats) has chanced the culture of the program, just as he promised.

    His scheme…system…culture is about moving them in and moving them out. As long as they go, they will come. He has proven that he is willing to take a chance on recruits. He had some bad actors at Memphis and by taking Bledsoe (questionable academic record), Cousins (questionable conduct), and the kid from Turkey (questionable eligibility due to possible professional experience). Bledsoe and Cousins came to UK and did quite well, due I’d say to Calipari guidance. The Turkey kid was never eligible, but he was a valuable practice player. I do not have a problem with Calipari taking a recruit who is not squeaky clean as long as he is able to both control and counsel the kid.

    There is nothing disloyal in accepting the scheme as it is and being delighted with it’s results.

  • KO ko ” for coco puffs ” Jo, THE ONLY SCHEME, is YOU and your constant rant on Our Basketball Coaches and Our Players….This is not only, one of the Most Exciting Times in Kentucky Basketball History, but also one of the Most Unique and unheard of, in All College Sports…KOKO JO, You are constantly Bashing this ” Uncharted Path ” as if there is Plot to overthrow BBN….If I took ANY COLLEGE SPORTS PROGRAM, over the last 5 years and pin pointed every individuals, (Players & Coaches alike) weak points, miss steps, every statement and only looked at it with pessimism, then I would Be Kokamo Joe ! Jo, You are the Schemer, the boil, The poison Ivy on what was a great message board. There are plenty of intelligent individuals on this Board that make critical calls, from proactive observation. ” Jo, YOU ARE NOT ONE OF THEM ! Just stop it, and enjoy Kentucky Basketball, as WE continue to make History…I’m sorry if We, (Kentucky Basketball Coaches & Players) are not good enough for you to applaud…” So, find another Team KOKO JO…See Ya ! Oh, By the Way, BBN is enjoying This Journey, Sorry, your missing out ! ” I can only go by Kokamo Joe’s statements & LIES “….Hey, Jo, still waiting for that post where you accused me of Bashing The Louisville Cardinal’s Basketball Players ! Liar. ( For BBN, I am sorry for my harsh retort, But KoKO Jo, earns it, as you all know, I have never done this with anyone else on this Board )….

  • Karen Sprinkle says:

    Joe, you’re missing my point. And I am basing my opinions on what Cal has said and done recently, as much as what he has said and done in the past. Class rankings are great, but Calipari is about getting the best players to play the type of basketball he wants to play. Pardon me if I’m misreading your multiple posts about this subject, but it seems you think that Cal is just picking players because they are ranked highly so that he’ll have the #1 class year in and year out. Judging him on his actions, we know there are players in the top 10 that he has even failed to offer, which would seem to indicate that having a #1 class ranking in and of itself is not the supreme goal. Getting great players who can play the way he wants them to play is the ultimate goal, it seems to me.

    Judging him on his statements, he also said just within the last month that there is nothing wrong with players staying as long as they need to stay. That would seem to shoot down your theory that he is bound and determined to move players out as if they are on a conveyer belt. I believe that Cal has learned a lot from this past season and may tweak his recruiting strategies accordingly, just as he has shown a complete willingness to tweak his offensive scheme to fit his players. We can argue, discuss and debate what WE think he’s going to do, but only time will tell.

  • Kokamo Joe says:

    Semantics. Don’t get bent out of shape because of semantics. Scheme is not a bad word. I use it as defined by Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary that being “a plan or program of something to be done.” Contrary to your interpretation I am instead of bashing, I am praising. I quoted Calipri when he first came and pointed out that he has done exactly what he promised…which was to recruit the best of the best and change the culture of UK baskeball. As you have posted, this is an exciting period of UK basketball. That is exactly what I have posted time after time.

    I use the word scheme when referring to Calipari’s system. Scheme, system, culture…it is all the same. Calipari brings expertise in promotion, he is by far the greatest recruiter in the country, he has been to a great 8, a final four and he won a championship in four years that he has been here. He has a super class lined up for next year and he is already in the hunt for his 2015 class. Darn right it is exciting. I have mentioned this time after time.

    It is a mystery how you can miss positive remarks and misunderstand almost every thing that is not expressed in the same words that you use.

  • Kokamo Joe says:

    Karen, I think that we are in perfect agreement. My statements are based on his words and his actions. I DO NOT MEAN TO BE CRITICAL. I THINK THAT IT IS SUPER THAT HE IS THE BEST RECRUITER IN THE COLLEGE GAME. Of course, he cannot get every kid that he would like to have, Wiggins proves that. But he did get 6 McDonald All Americans this year. I really think that these high quality players have their sights set on..as they say…their dreams. So we get them for a year or two.

    I doubt that he gives a hoot about having a number one class. I think that he does care about quality players and to date he has reloaded every year. There is nothing wrong with that. Personally I would like to see players hang around for 3 or 4 years, but I am not the coach. This coach is succeeding. Why change a winning way.

    When he came he brought some of the players that he had been recruiting to Memphis and couipled them to what Gillispie left behind. Five of that team were drafted. Year 2 brought a boat load of good recruits and a final four. Year 3 brought a championship and a mass exodus. That has been his past.

    You are dead right. Last year was not good. Calipari says that he will change his philosophy and he brings in 6 McDonald All Americans plus a couple of promising kids from Kentucky. I would love to see some of the McDonald All Americans hang around and I would love to see our two Kentucky boys nurtured and developed into starting or at least contributing players by their junior years. But if we have a ton of players leave after next year’s excellent season and if Calipari has lassoed another number one recruiting class, I will be pleased.

    You are correct. Time will tell what approach he will take. We will know by the time the Kentucky bred kids reach the end of their sophomore years. But here is a truth……..what ever scheme that he uses….as long as he wins, uses his great PR to keep UK in the news, and keeps us fascinated by his long range recruiting…I will be happy..

  • Karen Sprinkle says:

    It certainly is an exciting time to be a Wildcat fan (on multiple levels)!

  • Kokamo Joe says:

    Re: bashing the Cards
    I believe that I addressed that earlier, but if I did not….I must have gotten you mixed up with another person who posts frequently on this site. I apologue for that statement. Some of us feel that we must hate the rival and are thrilled when they lose. Some of us feel that it is UK first and good for UL if they win the other games, just so long as they don’t go further in the NCAA tournament than us. I am glad that you are in the later group. Shows good sense.

    IMO there is no right or wrong in either position. More power to all who think what they wish. But remember we are all in the same boat. Who wants to be in lock step with the rest of the world?

  • KOKO Jo says, ” I apologue for that statement. Some of us feel that we must hate the rival and are thrilled when they lose. Some of us feel that it is UK first and good for UL if they win the other games, just so long as they don’t go further in the NCAA tournament than us. I am glad that you are in the later group. Shows good sense.” WRONG AGAIN Mindreader, Not in the latter group…I want U of L go as far as they can, But if they meet up with My Cats , herrrrre Birdy, birdy , birdy ” swat ” !

  • Kokamo Joe says:

    It appears that you read my statements with an eye to what you hope I mean rather that with a rational and understanding intention.

    What does “UK first and good for UL if they win the other games” mean? or “if they win the other games, just so long as they don’t go further in the NCAA tournament”.

    Does not that mean when they meet up with my cats here Birdie, birdie, birdie, swat!>?

    Of course it does. According to your own words you are a non Card hater, you just want to beat them. Still think that shows you have good sense.

  • Larry Pup says:

    Leading cheers for the “red birds” again are you Joe? They have all their fans plus Joe.

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