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Calipari: Willis needs defensive confidence


Derek Willis (Vicky Graff Photo)

Derek Willis (Vicky Graff Photo)

Derek Wills hit seven 3-pointers Thursday night against Tennessee and scored a career-high 25 points. But Kentucky coach John Calipari said Friday he was “really proud” of how Willis has improved his defense.

“We have five games left, it’s a long season, and they’re all beat up a little bit. Everybody else’s team is beat up the same way. You just have to go play,” Calipari said Friday. “They (opponents) are isolating him a little bit, but he’s getting better.

“The confidence he’s built in us and in himself in his offense – now he’s got to do the same defensively. There is such a thing as defensive confidence and he doesn’t have it right now. His feet are moving, like, ‘Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god,’ well, if you shoot the ball like that you ain’t making them. If you try to defend that way you’re going to get beat on the bounce.”

Calipari said Jamal Murray, who had 28 points Thursday, has had the same problem but has gained defensive confidence.

“He’s getting more confident in his defense and his ability. And the only way to work through it is we just go every day and we do the drills to get those guys to move their feet, to stay in front, to make the guy score through their chest,” Calipari said.

“Don’t go for ball fakes – they still do. Doesn’t matter that every day in practice we make them stay down. They’re not machines, they’re not computers. They revert back to some of their old habits at times.”

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