By LARRY VAUGHT
John Robic said it was way too early in the season to Kentucky having four losses, including two in Southeastern Conference play, going into Thursday night’s game at Arkansas.
Kentucky blew a 12-point lead in the second half at Auburn last Saturday and Robic said the coaches spent time showing the players on tape what were good and bad plays the final 15 minutes of the game.
“I think it’s an accumulation of probably everything. It’s not on one certain individual or one certain play. Breakdowns both offensively and defensively,” the Kentucky assistant coach said. “We’re not coaching any more or any less. This is what we do. It’s just with a different group of guys. We’re coaching each and every one of these kids and this team. We go into every game the same exact way and prepare the same exact way and nothing really changes no matter what game it is. I think as a staff and as a team we’re putting everything into this thing that we can.”
After the Auburn loss, UK coach John Calipari promised changes. Robic said Wednesday he could not talk about them.
Instead he talked more about winning plays that Calipari wants the team to recognize and make.
“Coach (Calipari) has stressed it for the last three days: It’s winning time. It’s either a winning play or not a winning play. We’ve been grading film that way as well, showing the players, ‘Was it a positive play? or was it a negative play?’ so that they see what you have to do. Now there are positive plays that we missed shots. That’s OK. It’s the ones that your negatives outweigh your positives. That’s when you’re going to lose a lead,” Robic said.
“I think they’re getting it, yes. Will it carry over (to games)? We sure hope so. But I think that they’re starting to see it. When you see it on film I think that helps you even more than just going through it.”
Kentucky has lost two of three SEC road games and Robic hopes the young players have seen the need to play with more urgency on the road starting at Arkansas.
“I think the first time out to play on the road was a shock to them. Now they’re starting to sense when you go to Alabama and it’s sold out, you go to Auburn and it’s sold out, this game is sold out at Arkansas with another T-shirt giveaway, they understand now. The teams are excited to play Kentucky,” Robic said. “They’re excited to play us but we have to have more excitement and more energy to them, especially going into their building.”
As usual, Robic said Arkansas will trap and press often on defense, especially in home games.
“We have played against teams that have pressed us and had success. Going on the road and doing it is a different story. We just have to be ready for pressure and be willing to attack it, have great spacing, and be strong with the ball,” Robic said.
Kentucky also had to defend the 3-point shot better than it did at Auburn.
“Arkansas has (been) shooting the ball really well. It is probably one of their better shooting teams. Anthlon Bell and (Dusty) Hannahs can really shoot the ball. If you look at their stats, they take the majority of their 3s, those two young men, but shoot it at a really high percentage. I would call them both elite shooters, both off the dribble and off the catch. Their teammates do a good job of finding them open,” Robic said.
“Going back to the Auburn game, you had (Tyler) Harris made three; he had made four going into that game. You had the point guard – lKareem Canty – he banks one over the top of Derek Willis’ reach and goes in. That was a focal point and something that we failed at.”