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By LARRY VAUGHT
ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s nothing more entertaining than a high-scoring basketball game, especially for University of Kentucky fans who love fast break basketball.
However, UKÃ¢â‚¬Ë†coach John Calipari is a believer in defense and was not thrilled with the high-scoring Blue-White Game Wednesday that produced a 126-104 win for the more experienced Blue squad led by Terrence Jones, Darius Miller and Doron Lamb.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We could win games scoring that many points, but I couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t stand it. I am a defensive coach. I pride myself on having our guys play great defense,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Calipari at the Southeastern Conference Media Day.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If we’re to be what everybody thinks we are, we’re going to have to be special defensively. That means you can’t just give up lanes to the rim. That means you stop splits, you contest shots and then you rebound like crazy. One team (in the Blue-White Scrimmage) had 24 offensive rebounds. The other had 14 offensive rebounds. That can’t be who we are.”
Calipari has not had a team allow opponents to shoot over 40 percent for a season since the 2003-04 season at Memphis.
His teams annually rank in the top 10 in field goal percentage defense. When the Cats seemed to come out of nowhere last year to reach the Final Four, it was mainly due to a defense that did not allow over 70 points in the last 11 games and held six opponents to 60 points or less.
Calipari said his team has Ã¢â‚¬Å“focused a lot on offense and it showsÃ¢â‚¬Â in the defense. However, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s convinced UK can be a Ã¢â‚¬Å“good pressing teamÃ¢â‚¬Â this season.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“There is a lot of stuff left to do. I get a headache thinking about what we have to do,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We have to teach fundamentals, the basics because those kids are so young which puts us behind in pick and roll defense, post defense, press offense, press defense. We are behind.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Yet that wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t change his approach to defense even with a team loaded with projected NBA draft picks.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You have to demand if you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t defend, you are not playing.Ã¢â‚¬Ë†Our guys know it. Last year we were a terrific defensive team and we played three freshmen. The year before we were, and we played four freshmen. It can be done, but they are not going to be good early in the year,Ã¢â‚¬Â Calipari said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s very simple. If you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t guard, you are not playing. You better figure that out pretty quickly. If you are breaking down defensively, you are immediately coming out of the game.Ã¢â‚¬Ë†I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t budge on that.Ã¢â‚¬Â