By LARRY VAUGHT
After watching his team fall behind by 10 points again minutes into Saturday night’s game against Vanderbilt, John Calipari says his team has to make a dramatic change.
“We have to be more desperate to start games. We have to be more desperate for 40 minutes,” Calipari said even though his team won 56-47. “We have to understand that every team that plays us is excited and in the beginning of the game, they are coming.
“Over the length of the game, like in the second half, we held these guys to 20-whatever, 24 percent in the second half from the floor. If you can understand the beginning of the games, they’re playing Kentucky.
“They are in Rupp Arena. They are going to do things. They are going to play sharp. But as the game goes on, if you will stay desperate, you will have your chances.”
Slow starts have become an alarming trend for a team that has struggled to live up to its preseason ranking and expectations.
“It’s getting ridiculous. It’s five halves in a row where we just start the game and we’re getting smashed,” Calipari said. “We lose a guy on a pin-down to open a game for a three. We have a simple interchange and our big guy, we’re telling him: That guy drives. Do not let him shoot. Let him shoot and he makes another three.
“They had 14 points in the first half in transition and we weren’t getting any. They were running back. They weren’t really trying to offensive rebound. They shot it and ran back to make sure we didn’t get baskets, and guess what, we didn’t.
“They played zone for 40 minutes and it’s really difficult, folks, when you have young guys that are still learning the feel, when to look to the post, when to — we were thrown around the perimeter and I was trying everything to just get something to work.”