By LARRY VAUGHT
What were John Calipari’s first impressions of Kentucky’s 85-74 win over Texas A&M Tuesday night?
As always, his first impression can sometimes result in a long answer — and it did after this game.
“We had some guys that got outworked. Just got outworked and think it’s OK. Like what’s the big deal, you know who I am.,” Calipari said. “You’re either outworking the other guy or he’s outworking you.
“I’ll give you — we said at halftime, we were going over all pick-and-rolls, so now you’re going to ask, ‘Well, why did they go under and give them 3s? Your game plan was to go over the pick-and-rolls?’ Yeah. ‘Well, why would they go under?’ That’s a good question to ask: Why would you do that? That’s what inexperienced teams do.
“The other play, the timeout, they have it on the baseline. I drew up that play. Here’s what they are doing. One guy broke down. Didn’t do what he was supposed to do.”
That was when Texas A&M got an easy basket on an inbounds play. But maybe Calipari still had UK’s Citrus Bowl win on his mind — after all running back Benny Snell was sitting in the front row at the game along with Dan Issel, UK’s all-time leading basketball scorer — when he threw in a football analogy.
“It’s like football, folks. You ready? The quarterback goes like this: The whole team runs that way and he hands off this way (indicating opposite direction). That’s when the whole arena says, ‘Who was wrong? Were the other 12 guys wrong or the quarterback?’ ” Calipari said.
Okay, so he had 13 players on the field instead of the allowed 11. You know what he meant.
“We’re breaking down execution right now and it’s driving me crazy, and it’s one guy. Like we were — we were going to let one guy shoot. Do you know, when he ball faked, we were going to let him shoot. Let me say this again: We were going to let him shoot and he ball faked, three times, and not like little. We left our feet and jumped two feet in the air,” Calpari said.
“ So that’s the kind of stuff that we’ve got to clean up and it’s just not acceptable if we are going to be any good. You cannot play that way. This has got to be a team playing together. Really happy for Ashton. I’m happy for Immanuel and really happy for Jemarl and how he played. EJ did some good stuff and then the game got a little rough and it got away from him. Like I said, if you can offensive rebound, do you understand I’m not taking you out? Don’t get blocked out. A shot goes up, go, move, run, don’t ever run into anybody. So we got a lot of stuff we’ve got to get done, but it was a good win.
“And let me say this, I watched the game with Arkansas, Texas A&M, and it was like a tie game with a minute or two to go. They could have easily won that game against Arkansas. Arkansas made three 3’s in a row down the stretch, which is how they won the game. So, you know, I think Billy (Kennedy) is doing a heck of a job keeping his team where they have a chance. They had a chance to beat us today.”