Most Recent Posts
- This year John Calipari says the SEC Tournament is important for UK’s mojo
- High school coordinator on UK WR signee Blake Bone: “He doesn’t get caught”
- Kentucky big man Julius Randle: “We don’t know what we’ve got to do but we’ve got to get going”
- UK coach John Calipari: “I didn’t think we had any kind of fight” to start the game
- Miami Heat sign former UK standout DeAndre Liggins to 2nd 10-day contract
- 2014 SEC Tournament Bracket: Cats to play 7 p.m. Friday
- Photos from Kentucky’s 84-65 loss at Florida
- Kentucky Wildcats TV: UK players Julius Randle and Dakari Johnson talk after the loss to Florida
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky assistant coach Orlando Antigua is always a positive person and it’s no surprise he had an optimistic outlook on the extra work sophomore Alex Poythress has been putting in during his recent slump.
“Alex has continued to work, and that’s the only way that … Willie got himself out of his little couple-of-games rut by working through it, and Alex is doing the same,”Antigua said. “We hope that he’ll continue to put that work in and that he’ll see the results of the work he previously had done and was having success with.
“It’s a little bit up and down, and the season is that way. You’ve just got to kind of manage those. Can’t be too high, can’t be too low. Just keep working through the process in between.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
When Orlando Antigua said that UK coach John Calipari is “coaching like he’s 35,” that prompted a question Wednesday about whether UK has an assistant coach assigned to Calipari to keep him from going too far on the court — or with officials.
“I don’t think that’s something that’s conversed or talked about. You just kind of – you know, Cal is very passionate and he’s coaching like he is 35, which is great. At the same time, as a staff, we have to help him at times if that’s the case, making sure he’s staying in the coach’s box – which is hard,” Antigua said.
Does that mean he always has to keep an eye on his boss?
“No, we’re watching the game so we know what’s transpiring,” Antigua said.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Late in Saturday’s overtime win over LSU, Kentucky freshman Julius Randle decided to take over guarding Johnny O’Bryant, LSU’s best inside player. It was a move that Kentucky assistant coach Orlando Antigua said Wednesday that he liked.
“That’s what it’s about. Those guys are on the court. As coaches, all we try to do is put them in the best position to go out there and compete and win,” said Antigua. “And when they get to that point where they’re empowered that way and they can communicate to one another, that’s what we try to get them to. When coach Cal (John Calipari) is talking about this being their team, those are moments that it becomes their team and not a coach-driven team.”
Randle said he didn’t go to Calipari about the move but just told teammates to let him switch off on O’Bryant.
“He was just making a couple tough baskets in the overtime period and I wanted to win. So I wanted to do whatever I could to help my team. On offense, every time I caught the ball they were crowding me, trapping and stuff like that so the biggest thing Coach has really been getting on me about is affecting the game in different ways. It’s not about scoring and that’s how I wanted to affect the game,” Randle said.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky assistant coach Orlando Antigua was glad to see UK players celebrate the way they did after Saturday’s overtime win over LSU.
“You want them to have fun, especially toward the end of the year. They have put in a lot of hard work and you want them to enjoy their rewards for working that hard,” Antigua said Wednesday.
He likes the way the players are even slapping the floor when the play defense.
“It gets them out of themselves and into each other. When you have that kind of passion and energy, it helps,” Antigua said. “I just think they are enjoying the moment and playing the game the way we ask them to and they are getting enjoyment from that.”
He says the players play so much basketball all year, that now it is just a matter of “if it clicks and they enjoy working together.” That’s why he said seeing the “pure joy” of Saturday’s win was what the coaching staff had been working to se.
“We want them to understand that that is what it is supposed to feel like,” Antigua said.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Mississippi is led by Marshall Henderson, who averages 18.7 points per game and leads the SEC with 4.2 3-pointers per game. But junior guard Jarvis Summers is one of the most improved players in the SEC as he ranks eighth in the league in scoring at 17.8 points per game and has increased his scoring 8.7 points per game over his last season average.
“Marshall and Jarvis are playing as well as any guards, not only in the SEC, but (in all of) college basketball,” Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said.
The Wildcats know they have to contain Henderson.
“I know he’s like a really enthusiastic player. He’s a great player, can really shoot the ball, stuff like that. So we’re going to have to be ready to play on Tuesday,” freshman guard Andrew Harrison said Monday.
Henderson, who has made a 3-pointer in 54 straight games, can also be a bit emotional on the court and his antics off irritate opposing players and fans.
“You just try not to pay attention to that and try not to feed into it and just play the basketball game,” Harrison said. “I’ve never played against him, but from watching tape and stuff, definitely a pretty tough person to guard because he’s always looking for his shot. He can always go off a screen.”
Kentucky assistant coach Orlando Antigua says the Cats know Henderson is “going to shoot” and have to be ready.
“He is a talented, talented player and it’s going to be a good challenge for our guys. Not just for our guards, but for our entire team to make it difficult on him. He is going to get his shots up. We know that. It’s what he has done his whole career there at Ole Miss, so we are just going to have to try and make it difficult for him,” Antigua said.
“Obviously he doesn’t have a green light, he has no light and he is really active and those guys are really looking for him. Ole Miss does a good job of trying to get him in positions and screen for him so that he can come off and do what he does. So we have our hands full.”
The UK assistant said Henderson was “unique” and not like other players.
“He shoots it out 30 feet so, I don’t know if you can push him out any further than that. Our success last year was that we moved the ball, and we scored the ball really well. Obviously, Nerlens (Noel) had a great impact on defending the rim,” Antigua said. “We just have to try and continue to make it difficult for him. He is going to get his shots up. We just have to have a hand in his face, make it as difficult as possible, control the rebounds, and see if we can get out and get some easy baskets in transition.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
What did Kentucky coach John Calipari tell his players after the game?
“We have to finish games,” assistant coach Orlando Antigua said was Calipari’s message. “Playing on the road in conference games, small things come into play. Executing. Listening out of timeouts. Obviously, rebounding and getting loose balls. It came down to that. A couple of 50-50 plays and free throws.”
Antigua did the final portion of Calipari’s postgame show on the UK Radio Network with Tom Leach after the overtime loss at Arkansas Tuesday.
Leach asked him how he felt point guard Andrew Harrison played against Arkansas’ pressure (Antigua had to help separate Aaron Harrison from a taunting Arkansas fan when the two exchanged words as UK tried to leave the court after the game).
“He did hold up, but he has to continue to get better. They all do, especially defensively and finishing out games. In conference games, it’s going to be tight, especially on the road.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach John Calipari continues to praise the way sophomore Alex Poythress is practicing.
“I want a couple more baskets and a couple more rebounds (per game) from him,” Calipari said Tuesdy. “I have never seen him play like this. Ever. Now go do it in a game.”
Calipari noted how Poythress “dunked on somebody” in practice Monday and was smiling after he did it.
“He grabbed the ball and was smiling,” Calipari said.
The coach stopped practice and asked if anyone could imagine Poythress smiling like that.
“Did he smile all of last year?” Calipari asked. “Coach O (Orlando Antigua) said, ‘Yeah, when he was leaving the gym.’”
Calipari said every player moves forward at his own pace like Poythress is now.
“I just hope the team is getting it so we can move forward,” the UK coach said.
—ESPN Analysts Predict Kentucky, Michigan State, Kansas, Duke and Arizona as Top Five—
It’s the same story every year: freshmen get lots of attention at the dawn of a new hoops season—simply because they’re freshmen. Just ask Kansas incoming 6’8” phenom Andrew Wiggins—among other buzzed-about freshmen—who will likely enter the 2014 NBA Draft, considered one of the best in years.
ESPN The Magazine’s annual College Basketball Preview issue, which hits newsstands Friday, November 1, devotes its pages to this highly anticipated season, revealing what you need to know, projecting tournament seeds and even predicting the order that teams will finish within every conference across the nation.
In “ESPN Power Rankings,” The Mag ranks the top 25 teams coming into the season with Kentucky as No. 1, followed closely behind by Michigan State, Kansas, Duke and Arizona.
In the accompanying cover feature – “The Best 121 Days of His Life” – reveals that despite Wiggins’ inevitable NBA future, he is determined to make each moment in Lawrence, Kan. count.
The College Basketball Preview Issue also features “The Return of Russdiculous,” which explains why Louisville’s top scorer Russ Smith surprisingly returned for his senior year.
In addition, The Mag features “The Near-Death & All-American Life of Orlando Antigua” where Tim Keown sat down with John Calipari’s right-hand man at Kentucky to hear his one-of-a-kind recruiting pitch, as well as “Holy Crap, They Gave Me Another Chance,” which features ever-rebellious Marshall Henderson who returns to Ole Miss, swearing this time will be different.
Other 2013-14 College Basketball Preview Issue Features:
Jay Bilas gives us an essay on radical things college hoops can do to compete. (Hint: We could learn a few things from the NBA.)
They Did What?!?!!
Five first-round locks (Marcus Smart, Mitch McGary to name a couple) who put the pros on hold and whether or not it was a good call.
By Jordan Brenner
Tankapalooza ’14: How to Win by Losing
We talk anonymously to an NBA GM on why his team is gutting its roster this offseason to get this class of one-and-dones, and Chad Ford’s first-round mock of the draft that has everyone talking.
The Near-Death & All-American Life of Orlando Antigua
Coach Cal’s top assistant survived a bullet to become one of the most feared recruiters. Can the Cats stellar incoming class show that a program that embraces one-and-dones win on a consistent basis?
By Tim Keown
College Basketball Confidential
College ballers dish on getting paid, shaving points and making a pass at the coach’s daughter.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Karl Towns Jr. played for the Dominican Republic national team for the second straight summer and called it a “blessing” to be part of that team.
“Playing for the national team is such a great experience,” Towns said. “You don’t play for yourself, you play for your country. You are playing for a lot more than yourself. Everything changes. Your philosophy changes. It means a lot to put on the jersey and represent your country.
“Then you learn so much from older players, guys who are in the NBA. You learn the tricks of the trade and things you never thought about. It just raises the IQ level of your game and gives you so much experience.”
He has no doubt playing for the national team helps prepare him for his future career at UK.
“When I go to Kentucky, I will play for everybody. Not just myself, but the fans who also want to win a national title and have us win every game possible,” Towns said. “I will go out every night and look for wins for Kentucky, and so will my teammates. Wins will be all that matters.”
John Calipari coached the Dominican team in 2012 while UK assistant Orlando Antigua was the coach this summer. Towns said there were a lot of “similarities”between the two coaches.
“For me, the biggest difference from last year to this year was my body had changed a lot. My mentality was just to do my job, compete and produce,” Towns said. “I got good, quality minutes. But playing for them both was great for me. I know coach Cal is my head coach at Kentucky. I feel I have the system down and think it is going to be great for me at Kentucky.”
Towns makes 500 3-pointers daily in individual workouts, but he emphasizes he’s a post player, not a perimeter player.
“I have been working so hard on my post moves that I feel very comfortable in the post or shooting a 3,” he said. “I shot one 3 the whole tournament (with the Dominican team) and that was with one second left (in the game). I like staying in the post. I was very efficient there and my numbers were good. I feel so comfortable on the post and know I can do more damage and be more efficient for my team on the post.”
Towns says his father taught him early to become versatile on the basketball court, one reason his shooting and ballhandling skills on the perimeter are so good for a seven-footer.
“I always try to be the most versatile player on the court,” Towns said. “I have a competitive attitude and always want to be the best at everything I do. I don’t want anybody to be better than me. I look at things to do better than anybody else. I go into the game and want to be the best and most versatile player daily and want to do what I can to be ready to help Kentucky win a national title next season.”
Towns’ father says much of what his son does comes “naturally” but he refined his skills through extra work.
“At a young age, dad needed to say, ‘Let’s go.’ Now he has a regiment set up. He goes to lift weights for an hour and a half, then goes to the lab (gym) for two hours, gets up shots, does post moves,” Karl Towns Sr. said. “I think playing for the Dominican team and being around the game at the highest level has given him the mindset to know what he needs to do to improve.
“I am so proud of him. We are best friends. We do everything together. Our father-son bond is strong. When we are in the gym, we are just like any father-son. We argue. We fight. He wants to do it one way, I want it another way. But once we put in our work, it’s all love and respect. In the gym it’s business, and he loves his time in the gym. I’ve always told him his work and sacrifice would pay dividends, and it has.”
Now the New Jersey senior is ready to hopefully lead his team to another high school state championship.
“I am doing everything I can working out that will help me down the road at Kentucky. But what I am doing right now will also help my team this year,” Towns said. “I can’t wait for the season to come around. We’ve had so much success and I want to keep that going or maybe even have more than we have the last two years.”
Towns sounded like he might back off his plan to play baseball — he’s a first baseman/pitcher — after basketball ends.
“I did get in the batting cages overseas,” Towns said. “Right now I have to worry about basketball season. After that I may need to be training for Kentucky, or I may play baseball.”
If he doesn’t play baseball, that could give him more time to play golf. He regularly drives the ball 325 yards or more and recalled hitting a tee shot on a par-four recently to within three feet of the cup.
“I play like Tiger (Woods). It’s all or nothing,” Towns said.