Most Recent Posts
- High school coach says he’s heard “no NBA talk” from Andrew or Aaron Harrison
- Playing No. 1 Florida “just going to be another game” for James Young
- John Calipari: UK needs Alex Poythress to “do two or three things on offense” and no more
- Kentucky gets the Gator off its back, beats Florida 75-70 in SEC semis
- Willie Cauley-Stein says Cats “obviously 100 percent” believe they can beat No. 1 Florida
- John Calipari has assigned assistants to monitor players’ minutes in games
- Kentucky Wildcats TV: How you approach the end
- John Calipari says Kentucky must “make some jump shots” to play with Florida
By LARRY VAUGHT
Coach Craig Brownson is not sure either Aaron or Andrew Harrison fully appreciated how difficult it might be to play for John Calipari or how large the spotlight was at Kentucky.
“I think they are glad they have been through it, but I think it has been hard. You can always know something is coming but until you step into the spotlight or just the environment of Kentucky basketball, you can’t know,” Brownson said. “What we got at Marshall County (for the Hoop Fest their senior year), they get every day. I think they knew what they were getting into, but you can’t understand it until you are in it.”
He says the twins’ father, Aaron Sr., has “handled it well” this season.
“I see his dad a lot because their cousin still plays for me,” Brownson said. “They are his sons. Any kind of criticism … just like me, I feel they are third and fourth sons to me so it bugs you when you hear and see that about kids you love and care about. You know they have a good heart and are doing the right things.
“So I am sure it has been hard on him at times, but he’s also realistic and understands that’s part of the deal when you play basketball at Kentucky. I believe they know that, too. They knew they were getting into a spotlight. That’s what you play for.”
Brownson says he’s heard “no NBA talk” from the family and hopes he doesn’t.
“I think it is more the media than them talking about the NBA. I hope they don’t spend time on that. We always talked back when they were with us about controlling what you can control. They can’t control the media and everybody’s perceptions of them. Just focus on what you do best and improving,” the coach said. “That’s all they can really worry about. Hopefully they are not paying attention to that stuff and I don’t think they are because they have enough to worry about to just win games the way they want to.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
For Kentucky freshman James Young, today’s game against No. 1 Florida is just “another game” on the schedule.
“We’re just going to take it game by game and just try to keep winning every day,” Young said Friday. “It’s to show we can play with everybody and compete with everybody. We get this win, it’ll be a good win for us.”
Wouldn’t it be nice to keep Florida from going unbeaten in SEC play?
“That’d be nice. But like I said, it’s just going to be another game. We’re going to come here with a lot of energy, a lot of fun, execute the whole game, not just one half,” Young said. “Just play with unleashed offense is what Coach says. Go out there and have fun with it and we’re doing a lot better with that in practice. We just got to turn that into game and have more fun with it.”
Here’s more of what Young said Friday:
On what the team learned from game one against Florida that will help with game two …
“It just shows that we can compete with anybody. We came out with a lot of energy, we had a lot of fun out there and I think it shows we can compete with anybody.”
On team feeling like they have nothing to lose …
“We just see it as another game. I know its their Senior Night and it’s probably a big game to them, but we just going to come out there and play our game, hopefully come out with a win.”
On going back and looking at his video from a down shooting night against Alabama …
“I looked at the video and I just kept leaning back a little bit too much and just kicking my leg out. I came to the gym a little bit later and worked on my shot a little bit so it should be good.”
On him feeling like he’s falling back when he’s shooting …
“Yeah, I tend to do it a lot and kick my leg out and Coach has been getting on me a little about that and just getting up extra shots to work on my form.”
On the focus of practice since game against Alabama …
“Just having a lot of energy, having fun with the game. You got to love playing basketball and that’s what we do. Really just having fun.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Earlier this season Kentucky coach John Calipari thought he had Alex Poythress moving forward. The last few games, though, Poythress has had trouble scoring and doing the same things he was earlier.
“We’ve got to get Alex playing back to how — an aggressive, ‘We need you to do two or three things on offense. Rebound and defend and go block shots. If you’re open, shoot the ball. One-dribble pull-ups. Don’t try to pass cross-court scoop pass. Don’t. Just give it to the guard. It’s not your game.’” Calipari said.
“We’re trying to narrow in guys so they can play in a confident way. You’re competent at these things, and it’s going to make you confident.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Willie Cauley-Stein knows a win at No. 1 Florida Saturday would change the perception of what Kentucky’s season has been like.
“I mean, they’re the No. 1 team. We’re searching for a big win, and it would definitely be a big win if we could pull it off,” Cauley-Stein said Friday.
He says Kentucky “obviously 100 percent” believes it can win.
“I mean, it’s a game. You play to win the game,” Cauley-Stein. “I think the team knows what we’ve got to do and what mistakes we’ve got to fix before we go down there and play tomorrow. But for the most part, I think we’re prepared more than you can be. There’s not much more we can do.
“We were searching for a win bad (against Alabama Tuesday). It might have been ugly but a win’s a win. Anybody in the SEC is liable to beat you. Any win is a good win.”
Cauley-Stein, like coach John Calipari, still believes the Cats have a big run left in them this season.
” It’s to that point where our backs is kind of against the wall. Players are going to have to show that they’re players – everybody on the team. It’s definitely a thing that we’ve got to keep in mind when we go in there,” he said.
He thinks it “would be great” to run Florida’s Senior Day and unbeaten SEC record.
“That’s what we go down there for and that’s kind of the motivation of what we’re trying to do,” he said.
He says there are mistakes UK made in an earlier loss to Florida that can be corrected.
“Not give up wide-open shots. There late we gave up wide-open 3s. Make sure we’re putting a body on everybody rebounding. Other than that we played a near-perfect game until those three points,” he said. “I think being a young team you make those mistakes at the end. We’re so young you don’t really know when the crunch time or the winning time is. It’s the last five minutes of the game and that’s when – everything else before that really doesn’t matter.
“You win or lose a game in the last five minutes, and I think we’ve learned that the past year pretty much. The last five games has been a struggle, but definitely watching that game back on film, easily you win if you take care of the things that you’re supposed to do as an individual.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Remember a few games ago when Kentucky coach John Calipari said he had players playing too many minutes because they would not take themselves out of game. Apparently, the UK coach has found a way to solve that problem — and it’s not him just taking a player out.
“We even got guys arguing that —I ’m putting a couple of assistants on individual players and telling them, ‘You sub. If they don’t want to come out, just take them out.’ So we’re doing whatever we can to get guys off the floor,” Calipari said Friday.
He said assistant Kenny Payne is assigned to Julius Randle, who had cramping issues early in the season when he played too many minutes.
“Julius in the last three weeks has done everything we’ve asked him to do. We just want him to take more jump shots, but he’s doing everything else. He’s rebounding the ball. Because he’s not playing as many minutes, he’s not breaking down defensively as much,” Calipari said.
By LARRY VAUGHT
For a team that has not been making shots in its last three games, facing No. 1 Florida and its defense could be a big problem Saturday.
“Offensively, you’ve got to make some jump shots,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said Friday about what his team must do to play with Florida. “This is not a game you can go 2-for-22 from the 3. Their field goal percentage against the 3 is like 34 percent. They make sure if they give up something, it will be the 3. This is a game where they force you to make jumpers.”
That is not something Kentucky has done the last four games against LSU, Arkansas, South Carolina and Alabama either from the perimeter or inside.
“They shot the ball well yesterday. Had a great practice,” Calipari said Friday. “Got to do it in games. Have a fire and passion to play. I think they will be ready to play, but we are playing an outstanding team that has not lost a home game in a long time.
“I want them to fly up and down the court, be aggressive, create for each other more than us having to run stuff. But they do a great job getting back in transition defense and will not give us easy baskets. You have to be strong with the ball. Our numbers versus are fine versus their numbers. It’s just let’s go and compete and see what happens. There’s nothing going to be easy about it.
“They press (at home) more there than they do on the road. You have to be strong with the ball and be aggressive. You have to be able to play their pick and roll offense.”
Kentucky played with Florida until the final eight minutes in Lexington earlier this season when Calipari said “we lost the game because of two offensive rebounds” that led to five Florida points.
“We fouled late in the (shot) clock two or three times down the stretch. Just didn’t have enough defensive discipline. We didn’t play fearful and then we hit a stretch of games where we got rattled,” Calipari said.
Calipari said it would be important for senior point guard Jarrod Polson to play well to give Andrew Harrison breaks.
“A guy like Jarrod can’t be timid. If you are open, let them go. We have to get minutes out of him,” Calipari said.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Even though Kentucky coach John Calipari says he pays no attention to what others say or write, he apparently has been a bit stunned by comments about him and his team lately.
“What’s amazing to me is a team that has this much ability and size and the numbers we have are pretty good … if you look at our numbers: defense, shot blocking, offensive field goal percentage … we have some numbers that are not great but to have people say this team is done, I just don’t believe it,” Calipari said Friday as UK gets set to play at No. 1 Florida Saturday.
Calipari noted that with the “kind of skill and ability” his team has despite its eight losses, he doesn’t understand why critics have written off UK but not other teams that have lost games recently.
“Let’s hope the light goes on. If it goes on this game, fine. If they need another game, fine,” he said. “I believe in this team. I believe in individual players. These are great kids. I had a ball coaching them in practice yesterday.”
He’s had friends tell him how tired he looks coaching this team.
“I am tired. It is March. I am exhausted. How stupid is that? Do you look at any coach that is not tired (in March)?” Calipari said.
Others tell him he’s not having as much fun as he normally does.
“I told my team, ‘You guys must be rubbing off on me because that’s never been said about me when I’m coaching,’” Calipari said.
He knows his players are playing with the “weight of the world” on them because they were “over hyped and set up for failure” — and included himself as part of the reason for the over hype.
“But none of that matters. Go ball. Let’s see where we are against the best team in the country on their senior night,” Calipari said.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky’s game at Florida Saturday is not a postseason contest, but it might have a postseason atmosphere and is a good chance for seniors Jarrod Polson and Jon Hood to stress to younger teammates what games the rest of the season will be like.
So what can Hood and Polson tell them?
“Me and Hoodie, we haven’t played that much in tournament times at all but we’ve been there and we know what it’s like. It’s win or go home. Pretty much it’s just going to be getting in their ears and just telling them that you can’t let up at all once the tournament starts. If you let up, it’s over,” Polson said.
Will teammates listen?
“I think they do. I think really respect us,” Polson said. “They know we’ve been here for a while now and I hope they think we know what we’re talking about. So I think they do respect it and they listen to us.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Florida has figured things out this year that Kentucky has not. That’s why the Gators are 17-0 in SEC play, ranked No. 1 and a lock for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tourney going into Saturday’s game with UK.
“With this team coming into the year, there were some question marks. He (Florida coach Billy Donovan) has guys that have been really good leaders and not just accepted roles, but really embraced them,” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said. “Patric Young has been not good, but a great leader our there.
“Just the body language they exhibit on the floor and as trivial as that may sound, they are a really good group. Of the teams I have watched this year, they are the most fun to watch. They are all willing participants in this and that has been fun to watch.”
Florida has a veteran, senior-dominated team that Bilas has enjoyed watching.
“You got to watch this group grow up together instead of being together a year and then the big shots going pro. Billy has been challenged by some of these players as they have grown up, but the reward has been nice to see. They have all responded in a really positive way,” Bilas said.
ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla says the Gators “epitomize” what a team should be.
“They play and act and look like a team. When you look at this team, I am not sure there is anybody I would say is a lock to be in the NBA 10 years. But every guy understands his role. They are unselfish, coachable, having shooting, have size. In terms of having a great team, this is the blueprint,” Fraschilla said.
Fraschilla noted that Donovan might prefer to have five All-Americans to coach, but then said “you have to be careful what you wish for” after noting earlier that he felt “badly” for what Calipari was going through this season because of his recruiting approach.
“In Billy’s case, players come in understanding what is expected of them and most times you figure it out and the pieces all fit and then you have a chance to be an extraordinary team,” Fraschilla said.