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Are Cats being selfish on defense, too?

Vicky Graff Photo

By LARRY VAUGHT

After Kentucky lost at Tennessee, coach John Calipari indicated his team played selfishly on offense. But Monday assistant coach Tony Barbee said selfish play can also impact a team’s defense.

“That’s probably 50/50 offensively and defensively. You can be very selfish on the defensive end of the floor as well and both of those things were in effect in our Tennessee game,” Barbee said.

How can you be selfish on defense?

“When you’re supposed to be helping in the concepts that we do defensively and you’re focused in on your man and you’re looking in at your man and he doesn’t have the ball. There’s a lot of different ways you can be selfish defensively,” Barbee said.

“Not playing your role in our concepts defensively can cause you to be selfish and breaks down your defense because defense isn’t any individual. You’ve got to be good individually on the ball, but defense is five guys playing as one. We didn’t do that in this last game.”

Freshman Keldon Johnson said he could sense UK’s selfish play during the loss at Tennessee.

“We really weren’t making extra passes, things like that. You could tell, we really need each other out there for us to be successful. You could tell and it really opened up our eyes,” Johnson said. “It was pretty bad (on defense). We were getting blown by a lot and we weren’t  … I’d say most of the time it was blow-bys on the wings which caused 3-pointers out there and easy lanes to the basket.”

Freshman Immanuel Quickley says UK does not have selfish players.

“Just sometimes, we don’t know. Some of us are freshmen, so we’re still learning. Covering for each other, rotating, helping the helper, things like that are ways that we, quote-unquote, are selfish,” Quickley said.

Regardless of what is going on, Barbee wouldn’t deny that freshman point guard Ashton Hagans needs to be the catalyst on defense.

“Again, not to make excuses, because what he’s trying to do in this game with his game at this level and then hopefully for him what he wants at a level beyond that, he has to do it every night against really good guards because that’s what this game is,” Barbee said.

“That’s what the guards that have come before him in this program have been able to do, but that’s not all Ashton. That’s Immanuel, that’s Jemarl (Baker Jr.) behind him. All those guys that are collectively bringing the intensity offensively and defensively to the floor every single night.

“Now if you look at (Tennessee guard) Jordan Bone, that’s what you get from an experienced guard in college basketball. And Ashton played like a freshman and he played like an experienced veteran.”

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