By LARRY VAUGHT
North Carolina is coming off an upset victory over Gonzaga and Kentucky coach John Calipari knows the Tar Heels will come at his Cats in a “lot of different ways” in this afternoon’s game in Chicago.
“They’re going to score points. We’re going to score points, too. The games we’ve played against these guys in most cases it’s been two teams going right at each other. That’s how you’re going to have to play,” Calipari said Thursday.
“Some of the shots they take are tough shots, but they make them. You can’t have that phase you. Texas was down I believe 17-5. You just keep playing. They came back and won. Gonzaga had them down and then they came back and won.
“They’re a team that’s going to score. You just try to make it difficult on them. The biggest thing is you have to rebound. We’ve been a good rebounding team until the last game. We’re going to have to rebound. They’re good. They’re a good team.”
It was two years ago that Carolina senior Luke Maye hit a game-winning shot to eliminate UK from the NCAA Tournament. Calipari says his players will find a player who “plays as hard as he can” every play.
“There’s no take off a possession or two. He can do it in the post and he can do it shooting 3s. He’s got a little fadeaway, step-away that he’s starting to shoot. But here’s the best thing: He’s a good athlete. Not a great, great athlete,” Calipari said.
“He’s averaging 10 and a half rebounds a game (to lead the Atlantic Coast Conference). He just works harder than the other guy. So if you take possessions off, he will rebound on you and get baskets. Whoever is playing him, you cannot take possessions off. You can’t, ‘Well, it’s just one play. What’s the big deal?’ That player plays on every possession, which is why he does what he does.
“He’s not going to outrun you, outjump you –- even though he’s a better athlete than you think. He’s a grinder. Makes you have to play.”