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Will extra conditioning help Cats against Portland on Saturday


Will two days of extra conditioning workouts help Kentucky when it hosts Portland Saturday?

Kentucky coach John Calipari was so frustrated after Tuesday’s lackadaisical second half against Samford in a 31-point win that he announced his team would have 7 a.m. conditioning workouts the next three weeks along with regular afternoon practices.

“It’s all mental. He is trying to get us more mental tough. There is no way we can’t be in shape. Going through the offseason and even how practices are now, there is no way we are not in shape. It’s all mental,” said UK freshman center Willie Cauley-Stein after Tuesday’s win. “You have to approach it like it’s going to help you. A lot of guys don’t do that. You approach it like it’s going to make us better and three weeks it’s going to be crazy how good we are. If you approach it in a good way then it is going to be a good outcome.”

Portland (3-5) is coming off a 68-60 loss to No. 18 Nevada-Las Vegas. Junior forward Ryan Nicholas had 15 points, a career-high 19 rebounds and a career-high six assists in 37 minutes for the Pilots, who led 28-22 at halftime and built a nine-point lead early in the second half with about 16 minutes to play before UNLV went on a 13-2 run.

Riley Baker hit a short jumper in the paint and Oskars Reinfelds made a slicing lay-up through the paint. The Portland lead was still nine moments later when Korey Thieleke converted a traditional three-point play that gave the Pilots a 39-31 advantage with 16:07 remaining.

The Pilots outrebounded UNLV 43-39, had a 36-28 edge in points in the paint and held the Runnin’ Rebels to 36 percent shooting. However, UNLV was 18-for-29 at the foul line while host Portland was just 5-for-9. Portland also had 21 turnovers that led to 21 points for UNLV.

Portland junior guard Korey Thieleke had a career-high 12 points for Portland and sophomore center Thomas van der Mars had 11 points and a career-high nine rebounds.

Cauley-Stein wasn’t convinced Tuesday that extra conditioning would make that big a difference in Saturday’s game because he said based on what returning players had told him, UK had already done more conditioning work with strength coach Rock Oliver than last year’s team ever did.

“They played a lot of pickup (in the preseason last year) and we were running every day and doing stations and doing five suicides between stations and they were not doing that last year,” Cauley-Stein said.  “Coach Rock, I love that guy to death, but they are saying this is way harder than last year. So when people say last year they were so much better, blah blah blah, … they were not even doing the stuff last year like we are now. Now we are doing it every day before practice and they sure as heck were not doing that

“That really struck home with me. I don’t know if it did with anybody else. We are doing just as much as they were doing last year. We just have to start playing like they did last year with a lot of emotion and fire like we are not going to get beat and right now we don’t have that dog in us.”

Calipari thought it was more than not having the “dog in us” after Tuesday’s game.

“There’s nothing you can tell me other than you’re not in shape. That’s okay. That’s an easy one,” Calipari said. “Some of it may be mentally you’re not strong enough, you’re soft. So the conditioning is good. It makes you stronger mentally.”

Cauley-Stein joked Tuesday said early morning workouts weren’t that unusual because based on “my time here with Cal we are going to get up regardless” of whether they are conditioning or not.

“He’s the coach. If he doesn’t think we are in shape I guess we aren’t in shape. I feel good when I am out there. But who knows,” Cauley-Stein said.

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  1. John

    Get that dog in you.
    Gotta love that.
    I think that’s what’s missing.
    Get that dog in you.

  2. Jim

    Jorts couldn’t catch a cold, before Cal had him lose weight. Then, he caught every pass thrown to him and got an NBA contract. There is a lot to be said about conditioning.

  3. Jim Boyers

    They need to worry less about what last year’s team did or didn’t do and make their own way and their own fortune. These guys have all the talent they need, what they lack is the motivation, hunger and the obvious love for each other that has existed the three previous seasons. When they discover how much each of them really has to depend on the other and work for each other, then they will become special. If it never happens, then they will go nowhere.

    I do think last year’s team had an immense advantage playing pick-up games, the whole summer, with NBA players. You can never overestimate all the pointers and motivation they got from that experience.

    This Portland team isn’t going to be a joke. I hope they aren’t looking past them. Once that ball is thrown up, I think they are going to know they are in a game. I am anxious to see how they are going to respond.

  4. grant

    I am not convinced that the extra running will help as much now as later down the road ,but i guess you have to motivate them somehow. The missing piece is a future pro point guard.

  5. Kokamo Joe

    With the talent that we have Portland should be no challenge, especially in Rupp. This team has lost to Ohio University, Montana State, New Mexico, Washington State, and UNLV. If these players are not in shape by now, one has to wonder why they are not. I expect that physical conditioning is not the problem. Perhaps it is mental. Could it be that these super stars just did expect the other teams to really compete with them? Could it be that they need a bit more of a team attitude and that is the adjustment that Calipari is making.

    Portland will, or should be a breeze. UL should be the only real challenge before the SEC schedule begins, and I expect they to be ready by then. A win over UL would be a signature win…then it is the SEC where I cannot seen much of a challenge, except maybe at Florida.

    The Cats are fine.

  6. Ron B.

    I love Willie to death, but first and foremost, coach needs to curtail his access to the media. He seems to want to ramble lots. This isn’t going to help the team, but it will certainly undermine Cal.

  7. Ron B.

    Seems like the team is complacent. It’s as if they think since Cal sends five or six to the league every year, they too will go in the top twenty based on potential alone. These boys need a wakeup call. Bench their butts. I’d rather lose now than in March. This team doesn’t seem very closely knit. It also seems like this crap started when Harrow was sick (wink wink). Willie sounds a little rebelious, and I wonder if some of this could be because of what might of happened between Harrow and Cal.

  8. Kokamo Joe

    Re: bench their butts. HE CAN’T BENCH THEM. He has no one else to play. Long, Malone, and Lanter won’t play. Polson plays because Calipari has to play him, he did not see the floor last year. Hood? Who could he replace? Beckham? This kid might have some skill, but Calipari never plays him, even in blowout games.

    Noel, Goodwin, and Poytress know that they are going to be drafted on potential as much as anything else. Comming together and making a deep tournament run would help their draft status, so that should be the prize which stimulates them to work hard and play team basketball. Cauley-Stein has the potential to go, but that will depend upon whether Calipari recruits a first rate center for next year.

    Calipari keeps his roster thin feeling that he can mold the one and dones into a top five team that then ship them out. He already has most of his team for next year signed and he has his center for the year after next. These young men know that. I say that the UL will be their comming out party and they will sail through the SEC and be poised for a one or two seed in the NCAA tournament.

    Keeping the roster thin does have a danger. What if he gets a group that he cannot motivate? That is not likely. Expect the system to go on and on and expect it to continue the success.

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