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By KEITH TAYLOR, Winchester Sun
WIllie Cauley-Stein doesn’t mind when Kentucky coach John Calipari lifts his voice. Cauley-Stein has gotten used to Calipari’s tone during practice and wasn’t surprised when the Kentucky coach got vocal at times in the team’s 93-61 victory over Northwood last week in the first of two exhibition games. Cauley-Stein said Calipari’s vocal chords are louder in practice, but likes it even better during a game situation.
“In a game setting, it’s better, because now you’re playing, but in practice you know you’ve got to keep on going longer,” he said. “When you’re getting yelled at in practice, you have to just keep on doing it over and over again. He does it a lot in practice, but it’s not necessarily because he’s mad or something, we just can’t hear him. I a game, I expect him to scream — you can hear him more.”
During his first unofficial outing, Cauley-Stein was part of several lineup changes. He scored eight points, grabbed nine rebounds, collected three steals and blocked two shots in 27 minutes. Cauley-Stein doesn’t mind mixing it up underneath and is splitting time between forward and center.
“There are times when I will play the five, so it’s just different, now I have to learn different plays and I just started learning the four (last) week,” he said. “I don’t know what I’m doing right away, but it looked good out there (Thursday night).”
Calipari even experimented, with a twin-towers look in the post, putting Cauley-Stein and Nerlens Noel underneath at the same time. As a result, the Cats scored 48 points inside the paint in the exhibition opener against a much-smaller opponent. It’s not certain how often Calipari will used the twin towers combo in the post, but he hinted that it may become more frequent as the season progresses.
“I like the big team, I like the two big guys together,” Calipari said. “I’m fine with that. Nerlens (Noel) was really good today. Willie (Cauley-Stein) was good, Nerlens was really good.”
Cauley-Stein liked the idea, too and was caught off guard when Calipari decided to play the two big men together.
“I didn’t know we were going to do it,” he said. “We talked about it, but we didn’t do it in practice or anything. It was definitely weird, but I liked that lineup a lot.”
Calipari added that the competition between the two big men behind the scenes is benefitting both players.
“I like the fact that I put them in together a couple days ago and they really talked to one another, like up and down the court they were telling each other I’m here, you go up, you do this, and it was good to see,” the Kentucky coach said.
Cauley-Stein added that the team is still looking for a vocal leader and added that the process is taking time.
“We’ve still got to find a vocal leader to be honest, at some point, everybody has their moment when they start talking to somebody, we just don’t have a person who does it all of the time,” he said.
Although Kentucky scored 93 points in the exhibition opener, he likes the way the team competed in the second half against Northwood, especially in the second half. Cauley-Stein enjoyed the fast-paced style.
“It is more fun playing that way. When you are playing defense like that, and you can get fast breaks more and scoring more, and it just kills the other team — it takes their heart away,” he said. “That is how he wants us to play because then they have no chance to come back.”