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Calipari: “We could not guard anybody.”

John Calipari was not happy with UK’s defense — or lack of defense — at Florida. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Before Kentucky played Mississippi, John Calipari warned that he was worried his team might revert to its prior bad happens.

What he probably meant was that he worried UK would quit playing so hard on defense. It did against Ole Miss but was good enough to still win. It did again Saturday at Florida, but it was not good enough on the road against a really good team to win and got beat 80-67.

“Here’s a team, they shoot 50 percent against us and made 10 3’s. I could see we weren’t connected (against Ole Miss). You think you’re better than you are and the way you play is you’re in a dogfight and you’re going to play harder than the other guys,” Calipari said.

“We didn’t do it against Mississippi and we didn’t do it today. We’ve got a couple of days to get regrouped before we go this week into St. Louis (for the SEC Tournament) and let’s see if we can get it right. But if we play this way, you’re not winning.”

Florida made 10 3-pointers, including a couple of heavily contested shots in the first half. Calipari said that was not the problem.

“We could not guard anybody. They were shooting lobs, dunks, layups, so we went to the zone. So the first time we went to the zone our guard doesn’t bump our forward back and they’re standing in the corner with no one on him and the kid makes a 3. I mean that’s the kind of breakdowns we had today,” Calipari said.

“And then we got to where we were bumping and moving and made it hard and we got back in the game. Then we threw that ball away and that was the game. But you know, we fought. We kept fighting. Did we go down 23? And we were still playing to win.

“I didn’t even look up. I knew it was a lot. I refuse to look up when its that many. So I’m just trying to say let’s get back in this and we did. We got back in it.” 

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  1. Playing defense is not an easy or natural thing to do. It takes energy, focus, and a desire to shut your man down…that’s defending one man. It takes time to learn how to play defense as a team, but there has to be a desire to do so. This team never had that desire…you don’t make Sport Center’s highlight reel playing defense. You won’t play much in the NBA if you can’t guard anyone…ask Malik Monk. This team refuses to play hard defense for more than 15 to 20 seconds and opposing teams have learned this. Don’t shoot until the last 10 seconds of the shot clock and you will get an easy shot. Sure, they try to go into desperation mode late in the game, but that doesn’t work against well coached teams…they have to be in FOCUSED mode from the beginning tip. That’s what is required when playing at this level. It’s not fun, but you do get a sense of satisfaction when you have done it well. This is what this team, or what is left of it next year, needs to learn over the summer. Scoring 15 points a game doesn’t matter if your guy scores 20. Learn to play defense and that will show you why you need to play offense as a team too. One on one play will never beat a disciplined defense.

    1. This team does not have an individual desire to improve their play to help each other. Shame to think we are a 4 seed going into the tourney. UT was predicted to finish 13th preseason in SEC and look what hard working physical play, with good mature talent and strong coaching can produce. Meanwhile Cal continues to be blinded by * ratings and height at the expense of physicality, heart, fundamental basketball skills, and tough coaching. He would rather be a yelling maniac and play softball with his 2 main “head cases” Richards and Diallo. In the mean time, KU continues to gain on us each year and will they eclipse us with Cal still in place?

  2. Calipari’s use of the doctrine of relative badness is amusing. We are better than some teams, he says.

    The standard is not to be the better than most, but for this program to be competitive on a national stage (top 10). This team falls well short of the UK standard and has been languishing around #30 for most of this season. They will probably get a higher seed than 7 or 8, which is the seed they have actually earned this season, but this team is not better than a 7 seed NCAA team.

    That means a first weekend casualty to the field remains likely for this group.

    Yes, my emotions have experienced wild swings over the last 3 months, but yesterday’s game revealed the very issues that this team has been unable or unwilling to resolve from the beginning.

    So sad.

  3. Frankly, I think this miserable season is quickly closing in on a lackluster conclusion (two or perhaps three more games at the most).

  4. Little changed of subject it’s about recruiting I hope Cal is looking into couple of guys out of Hopkinsville Deterrion Ware a big forward that can flat out shoot the threes or can play the center position he plays for Christian Co. I seen him play twice the kid plays hard. Another in state prospect is a kid from University Heights last name Tandy he’s also player the we need for in state on UK roster this kid leads the state in scoring but is a division 1 player and I think he’s just a Jr.

  5. If the kid plays hard probably wouldn’t be welcome by Cal…not sexy enough.

  6. Mike, Cal is fine and don’t insult any recruit by your standards. I understand your frustrations and yes if Cal doesn’t win no.9 soon there’s going to be a rumble from lot of BBN. But the college basketball world is under lot of scruity that could change the landscape of college basketball. NCAA will be a thing of the past I hope soon they trigger this mess.

  7. For all his OAD recruiting, I wish one scholarship every other year minimum would be allocated for the best Kentucky high high schooler who “wants to wear the blue and white” and bring success to this program. That would put at least 2 such players on every team, and provide an historical perspective into the ranks of the players. Clearly, there is none of that present at this time. I can think of a long list of Kentucky players that have delivered great success during their UK years, the likes of John Pelphrey, Larry Stamper, Ronnie Lyons, Mike Casey, Jack Givens, Melvin Turpin, James Lee, Winston Bennett, Feldhaus, ………..

    Yet, Calipari recoils at the mere suggestion that a little Kentucky blood on the roster would be a positive for the program.

    I know I am an old dinosaur, but I’m just saying.

    1. I like that idea Professor and applaud Matthew Mitchell for doing that. Quintin Goodin of Xavier is one player who really wanted to be at Kentucky but was ignored

    2. Great idea Professor, but I don’t think it will catch on. It used to be a privilege to play at KY and carry on its winning tradition. Now these one and done wannabes think they are doing the University a favor to come here. There is no rivalry with anyone from the team’s standpoint…just another game, yet we get the best game from everyone wanting to put an L on KY.

  8. Several players on this team seem to be ready for the season to end. Some have been pampered for so long, they hate when someone puts the responsibility and blame on them. All Knox and Diallo want to do is shoot. Neither one could rebound against my grandmother and she passed away years ago. Absolutely no effort on defense from either one, all year. Diallo is averaging 1 assist and .8 steals. This from a guy that is supposed be supper athletic; not even 1 steal per game. I will actually be glad when the season is over. Tired of trying to cheer for a group of players that just don’t try or care enough to listen to coach.

    1. Let’s just hope this was a bad game and that the players move on. I do agree they went in cocky

  9. Went in cocky and came away rocky. I think this season is done.

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