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Willie Cauley-Stein: “Ever since my pinky injury, I’m kind of hesitant”


He had his first double-double of the season Tuesday against Texas-Arlington, but Kentucky sophomore center Willie Cauley-Stein was not overly impressed with his play.

“I was kind of disappointed. The first half was ugly. The second half was a lot better, but still disappointed,” said Cauley-Stein, who had 14 points, 10 rebounds, two steals, one block and one assist in the 105-76 victory. “I feel like I could have done better, I could have done more. But, I mean, I’m not satisfied. “

Kentucky coach John Calipari was frustrated with Cauley-Stein’s offense early in the game after he put up an air ball in the lane.

“When he threw that one, he got it in the post and he threw it out, I said that’s it. Throw him the ball every single time. You’re going to make plays. I don’t care if you shoot air balls, you’re making plays,” Calipari said. “He aggressively made plays. He goes now and ends up six out of eight (shooting).

“You remember the shot in the first half, the turning air ball throw? I mean, what in the world? What? Well, you have to want to do this and you have to be aggressive, and he did it in the second half. I mean, he’s a double-digit rebounder also.”

Here’s more of what Cauley-Stein had to say after the game.

Question: Are you comfortable shooting 10 or 12 times as Calipari suggested he wanted?
Cauley-Stein: “I mean, yeah. Who wouldn’t be? Getting 10 or 12 shots a night would be nice, but it’s not realistic here. We got too many guys that have that kind of talent so you know that some games you’re feeling it you’re going to get 10 or 12 and some games you’re going to get four. That’s just how it is here. I mean, it’s not a bad thing.”

Question: What did Calipari say at halftime when UK was up only nine points and was being outrebounded?
Cauley-Stein: “I don’t even remember. He was more mad that an individual dude was going at our necks … I don’t know. Basically it was effort thing. You can’t let that one dude get that many rebounds. That’s basically what it was.”

Question: What positives can he take from the game?
Cauley-Stein: “I’m starting to get aggressive again on the offensive side. It’s been a challenge ever since I injured my pinky (in the preseason) to try to get that offensive mindset back, but it’s coming slowly but surely. Coming into this season, I was feeling like I was going to be a producer on the offensive side, and ever since my pinky injury, I’m kind of hesitant. I don’t really have that much feeling in the pinky still. It’s just weird. I have to change my mindset to rebound, block shots, and defend and score a dunk when I have it. Now it’s, like, I’m starting to get it back.”

Question: Why was rebounding an issue?
Cauley-Stein: “Giving up rebounds, we had a little setback. But it’ll get better. Especially (since) we got four days of practice. It’ll be better.”

Question: Did it feel good to score 105 points?
Cauley-Stein: “I mean, yeah, but coulda been 120. We missed a lot of easy plays and gave up a lot of points too. That’s probably another reason why I feel so low is we gave up 70-something points and we can’t give up 70 points.”

Question: Why was Calipari not pleased with the team effort?
Cauley-Stein: “Being a sophomore I know what he’s talking about ‘cause last year was the same thing: the effort, you don’t play a full possession. Now that I’m back and you can see it, it’s more like old habits. In high school, you don’t have to play like that because you’re so much better that everybody else. Now it’s like you gotta get in your mind you’re going to have to play like that the whole time and it’s just habits.”

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