By LARRY VAUGHT
John Calipari was not happy with point guard Ashton Hagans’ play against Alabama when he just needed one more rebound and assist to have a rare triple double. But he was really unhappy with him after Wednesday’s loss at South Carolina when he went 2-for-10 from the field and had five turnovers as UK allowed South Carolina to wipe out a 14-point deficit and win.
The coach was not a lot happier Friday when he met with media before the Cats left for Arkansas where they play Saturday at 4 p.m. on ESPN.
“He has a three-minute stretch where he gave up nine points and allowed three turnovers and it became a four five-point game when it was 14. So, no, but it wasn’t just that,” Calipari said.
He’s right about it being more than just Hagans that played poorly. But he’s also right to be concerned when the player who many consider the best defender in the league gets beat like that on defense.
So what else still is bothering Calipari from the South Carolina loss?
“From the beginning of the year one of the things that I talked about this team that had to shore up is toughness. They had 20 offensive rebounds, and when I watched the tape — I didn’t say much to them after the game. I walked in and said, ‘Hey, that’s a tough loss right there. Put your clothes on. Let’s get out of here.’ That’s all I said. After I watched the tape on the plane, then I called them up to the front of the plane and then I had a few things to say,” Calipari said.
“It was one team clearing space and the other team buckling under. One team clears space on both ends. Shot goes up, three guys run, and on the other end get hit and kind of crumble. It’s good for them to see it.”
Wait. There’s more.
“Our pick-and-roll defense again — because you cannot become confident defensively if you’re getting thrown around. You can’t get a rebound and you’re absolutely getting man-handled, you’re not going to be confident defensively. How do you hold them to 28 or whatever it was and they get 61 in the second half?,” Calipari said.
Well it was actually 56 in the second half and 25 in the first half but why let facts get in the way of a good rant?
“They made some shots and they made some free throws. OK, so let’s add 10 – not 30. Like, what in the world? And it came back to that. We’ll see,” Calipari said.
“The team that we’re playing, Arkansas, you know, they play really hard. They play rough. They’re not big but it doesn’t seem to hurt them on either end of the court, and they have specific roles of what guys are going to do, what kinds of shots they’re going to take, and they do it.”