By LARRY VAUGHT
After playing at Louisville Saturday, Kentucky will have a week off before opening Southeastern Conference play at Alabama.
Kentucky coach John Calipari just wants to see his team, which is coming off an 80-72 win over North Carolina, keep getting better and not get caught up in the hype for this game.
“Let’s just see if we can continue on this path. Had too many turnovers last game and some of them late in the game. Let’s get those down to 12, 11, 13 somewhere in that range we’ll be feeling pretty good,” Calipari said. Friday.
“You want your team to fight like crazy like we did last game. Anybody that watched it that hit me just said, ‘That looked like one of your teams.’ Early in the season it was like, ‘That doesn’t look like a team you’ve coached.’ Basically, the intensity of play and the unwillingness to pass and create for each other – the unwillingness to talk kind of in shells – that is normal. That is not abnormal.
“We’re just working our way through. It’s a process. It’s day to day. Sometimes you take a step back. My whole mission has been this is a player-driven team. I do not want it to be a coach-driven team. I shouldn’t have to raise my voice for effort and intensity. If I raise my voice it’s because I’ve said the same thing three times. Short of that, I shouldn’t have to. Again, we have great kids who want to do it.”
Calipari said Louisville having a new coach — Chris Mack — won’t impact the rivalry.
“You’re playing Louisville in their building where they play well and where they’re waiting in the weeds for us. It’s going to be a hard game,” he said.
Calipari said Friday he anticipates the Cardinals may open the game pressing.
“I think they’ll throw some of that 1-3-1 at us a little bit. And I think they’re going to fly up the court, and if they can’t, they’re going to try to – they run good stuff to get shots,” Calipari said. “And then they rebound like crazy. They run guys to the rim.
“I think they’ll play as fast as they can or as fast as we’ll let the game go. Like I said, I think they’re going to throw some stuff at us, which I would expect that they would.”