By LARRY VAUGHT
Are Kentucky’s other players following Ashton Hagans’ lead on defense?
Hagans, a sophomore guard, was the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year last season and can totally disrupt an opposing team’s offense.
Kentucky coach John Calipari got asked that exact question after Friday’s win over Eastern Kentucky. However as he often does, Calipari’s answer didn’t have a lot to do with Hagans but it did provide some insights into his defensive thoughts on this team.
“Nate’s doing it, Immanuel Quickley, when you look at our how active we are defensively, it’s our guard play. And again, I’m trying to put all three of those guards in together some. I did it a couple different times today and we’re fast and I still have to figure out how do we play,” Calipari said.
“Look, I said it yesterday, for Kahlil (Whitney) and Keion (Brooks) , and even Johnny (Juzang), they’re not used to playing random basketball. When they catch the ball they look — if you remember the play that Immanuel made where we threw it at the top of the key and as soon as he caught it he knew he had a drive and he just caught it and went and then got to the rim and got fouled.
“Those others, they can’t do that. They will catch it and square up and the defense adjusts and now it’s a tough shot. That’s going to take us a month or two. So right now, I got to create some stuff for him. But we did and they got pushed off screens. So now the guy came down to screen for him and they got pushed off the screen and we really didn’t get anything. It was their play.”
Kentucky returns to action Tuesday night against Evansville, another team it should handle easily. It will be UK’s first game ranked No. 1 this season.
That will let Calipari tinker more with defensive alignments and how he can use guards Hagans, Quickley and Tryese Maxey together the best.
“I got an idea, a couple tweaks I would like to do offensively that I talked to them about. But we didn’t have time (yet),” Calipari said.