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UK coach John Calipari to Nerlens Noel: You are an energy guy, not a skill guy

UK's Nerlens Noel gets one of his seven blocks in the win over Portland Saturday. (Clay Jackson photo)

UK’s Nerlens Noel gets one of his seven blocks in the win over Portland Saturday. (Clay Jackson photo)


Nerlens Noel had seven points, nine rebounds, seven blocks, two assists and one steal in 31 minutes in Saturday’s 74-46 win over Portland.

So how did coach John Calipari felt he played considering he had a deep leg bruise that he seemed to favor at times?

Calipar: “He did all right. He started limping. We took him out. If you want to play, fake it, don’t limp, play. He went back in. I said, ‘You’re an energy guy, you’re not a skill guy. You’re not an up and under swing, hook guy, that’s not who you are. You’re an energy guy.’

Get on Willie (Cauley-Stein). Willie one handed it, came down and lost the ball. Why didn’t you grab it with two, crab dribble it, dunk it. It’s harder, that’s why. So he comes back the next play, grabs it. Compete against the guy you’re going against.

“That’s what this learning experience is for this team. They’re getting better. But I’m not backing up. I’m holding them accountable on every possession until they’re ready to say, ‘C’mon, let’s go.'”

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  1. Jim Boyers

    Nerlens gave great effort today, but, then again, he always does. He and Julius are the only players who don’t seem to take plays off, EVER. They should be what the rest of the team aspire to be. They work hard and act like each play matters. You can’t ask for more.

    The only bad thing that I can say about Nerlens (and it can be said for EVERY player on the team) is that he is sometimes very weak with the ball. These guys all need to learn to protect the ball, not get it stripped by smaller players and take it strong to the hoop, instead of flipping it up and trying to make a weak, fancy play.

    Good effort today from all the guys.


    Thought the guys showed some improvements today and are starting to tighten things up defensively. There is a long way to go, but still believe we can be pretty good come the Big Dance. Patience!

  3. Jason

    I think you got 5 or 6 other players down the bench if the starters don’t perform take them. Out an put 5 new won. J b hall did it why not you cal

    1. larryvaught

      not sure UK has the depth to do that Jason

      1. DeWayne

        Mays and Polson are just about it, true Hood can give a 2-3 minute break. But he is a deficit on defense.

        1. UKFAN197TONE

          So is Kyle, but he plays.


    I like the no nonsense quick hook. They can nott afford to take a play off. Run hard, fight thru screens and beat your man to rebounds and loose ball. When we get easy scores off defense it leads to more confident offense because there is less stress because your defense is creating easy opportunities as well.


  5. Dave / New Mexico

    Still a long way to go. However, I am encouraged by the return of Harrow. I thought he looked good against Portland. I don’t see a national championship out of this squad. Sweet 16, perhaps (if they continue to improve).

    1. Chad

      did you see a final 4 two years ago. Most did not. This is a learn as you go system and we have some good ball in front of us. Go Cats There can be only 1

      1. larryvaught

        Would be great to think this could turn out like 2011

  6. Nancy/Ashland, Ky

    ditto on all Dave from New Mexico says…

    1. larryvaught

      Dave and Nancy, thanks for posting and reading. Glad to have you with us as always and very good perspective for all fans to have

  7. Dave / New Mexico

    Just a note…I am and will always be a Kentucky fan. I had dreams of attending UK, but family moved to New Mexico. I am now a full time student at NMSU, majoring in Tourism & Hospitality Management. GO BIG BLUE !!!

    1. larryvaught

      Thanks Dave. Stay in touch. Sounds like you could make an interesting fan story for the blog

  8. Tom

    The team looks out of sinc most of the time. Noel has no touch on his shots and Goodwin gets himself in trouble or loses ball on too many drives.

  9. Bryan

    The talent is there. Full development has not yet come full circle. If they start talking to each other..get stronger..find the cohesiveness and get a feel of that “sweet spot then look out! Many will be pleasantly pleased come March. Coach Cal is an expert. Gona be some returning freshman next year so I like it!

    1. larryvaught

      With you Bryan. Too early to write off season yet

  10. Whitvohn

    Should Harrow continue to develop; should Cal succeed with his usual job of motivating individuals and in molding the guys into a unit we can get back into the AP top 8. With that we could very well be playing for another Final Four. Without these three, maybe Sweet Sixteen.

  11. Jason

    I respectfully disagree with Coach Cal’s approach with Nerlens Noel. Yes, he’s all energy now, but the coaches needs to teach him how to improve his skill level, free throws, post moves, etc. I see a kid that could be very skilled if any of his coaches took the time to make it a priority. Too often they only focus on winning instead of developing the player. Sometimes it’s best to lose while getting better, than to win and finish the season less skilled than when you arrived.

  12. Bleeding Blue

    With regards to Jasons last comment. I must respectfully disagree with you, Coach Cal was not an outstanding point guard in College, but Rod Strickland was in high school, college and NBA. Kenny Payne although not an outstanding big man in the NBA, he most definitely knows the game from a post players perspective. Orlamdo Antigua, the most courageous player (awarded that), definitely knows how to teach mental toughness and stamina. Coach Cal has the staff to coach each position and Coach it well! He knows what he is doing and you can guarantee that he makes college basketball more of a learning experience and teaching experience than he does anything else. He dreams of all his players playing professionally so they can make a better life for themselves and their families. While teaching his players at a collegiate level, he has been fortunate enough to be very successful…..how?…..because he and his staff are masters at what they do.

    1. Jason

      I need to see Nerlen’s learn 1 or 2 post moves before I’d agree. I could teach a guy a post move in a week. It has to be a priority. Also his release on his hook is shoulder height. He needs to be taught to extend his arm. I’d like to see more screens and pick-n-roll. This team will win a lot of games with effort, but skill development is the key.

      1. larryvaught

        Jason, agree on Nerlens. Believe he is working hard, but has a lot still to do. remember all the recruiting analysts warned that his offensive game was really lacking — and they were right

  13. Bleeding Blue

    Jason I agree with the hook shot. The hook shot is designed to be an unstoppable, unblockable move, but his…..well from where he releases the ball, it is too easy to block but most the time there is no need to block it lol, its so flat, so hard, it rarely goes in. He is not the “smooth” offensive presence that AD was and its unfair for UK fans or commentators to try & compare him to AD at this stage in his career. We musf remember that during the first part of the season last year, AD wasnt a dominating offensive presence with the exception of the lob that he got from other players creating. We as the Big Blue Nation, must have faith in Coach Cal & staff along with all the players, they will come around & I truly believe that they have a real shot at beating Louisville. With all the practice time theyre having over Christmas break and the vengeance theyre gonna be playing with., while I know that these group of Cats are more like Kittens right now, I have faith in all of them and I believe the UK UL game will be stellar!

    1. larryvaught

      BleedingBlue, I think that UK-Louisville game will give great insights into the rest of the year. UK doesn’t have to win, but has to show more poise, leadership and physical play. If the Cats do that and don’t win, still possible to have a really good year. But if UK still seems to lack direction and doesn’t play tougher, it’s going to be hard for this team to get where I thought it might

  14. Bleeding Blue

    Larry I do agree with you. This team came into the season with unfair expectations. Most of that is based on what Cal proved last season, you can be successful with a group of 5 star freshmen. There was preseason hype surrounding this team and thus far, they have proven to be “normal” freshmen. Unlike last years team, this group doest have the Leadership of Darius, Terrence & Doron. They dont have the player with the absolute refuse to lose mentality of MKG. They just dont have it…….YET! On Paper, this team is exceptional, but on the court they are yet to show us they are a Team, that they refuse to lose, that they have that “go-to” guy. With regards to Louisville, for bragging rights, for confidence, for AP rankings, for the gain of Faith in some UK fans, a WIN would be great, but more importantly a good solid 40 minute game of basketball will show what this team is really capable of. If they arent physical, if they dont show the desire to win no matter what, if someone doesnt step up as the leader, a person may begin to think that this team just “dont have it”. One last thing, I was at the mall and overheard two guys talking UK Basketball. One guy said “man this team is terrible”. The convi went back & forth and more negative things were said., I wanted to let them know that they couldnt be TRUE Kentucky fans by the things they were saying, one even had the nerve to say they needed to fire Cal. Anyway, we must ALL have faith in this teams potential and the coaching staffs ability to find a way to get that ability to show on the court.

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