By LARRY VAUGHT
Why isn’t the work Kentucky is doing in practice, especially on blocking out to improve rebounding, carrying over to games because UK is giving up way too many offensive boards in games lately?
“I don’t know. I don’t have the answer. But I know they saw it (from the South Carolina game) and I know they want to do right,” Calipari said Friday.
The UK coach had individual meetings with his players Thursday to talk about Wednesday’s 81-78 loss to South Carolina when the Cats blew a 14-point lead and gave up 56 points in the second half.
“I asked each guy, ‘Am I asking you to do something you can’t do? Can you do this or can’t you do it? Meaning you’re not capable of putting your body on somebody else. Just tell me.’ We went through some of that with each guy individually,” Calipari said.
“Your choice is I choose not do it or I choose to do it. It’s a choice you make. And that choice leads to us winning or losing but it also leads to you not playing as much, but it’s your choice. I mean, I had to take Keion (Brooks Jr.) out because he had a wide-open shot and he choose to walk or try to –well, why didn’t you shoot it when you know you’re a finisher and I’m telling you to shoot and I don’t care if you make it?
“You made a choice. ‘I’m not shooting this open shot. Why would you pass up this open shot?’ ‘I don’t think I’m going to make it because I missed four.’ ‘That’s not on your team. Get in that gym and practice more. Your job is to shoot that shot.’ Well, if I go 0 for 6, I’m really embarrassed.’ ‘Your job is to shoot that shot. That’s what you do for us. These other guys drive it and create shots for you and you and you, and then if you can’t make them, I’m not—OK, just get in the gym. You got to master your craft and you can’t run around.’”
Calipari, though, was just getting started.
“I come back to, what’s the hardest thing for you to do? Then work on that and focus on that and do it over and over and over. That’s how you build your confidence. My son (Brad Calipari) knows if he misses two in row, I want to see the third one; see if you have any courage. Let me see. He played a game earlier and he missed two and I said, ‘I loved that other shot.’ He said, ‘Yeah, I know you loved it because I missed two and I had to focus on the third shot and still make it.,'” Calipari said.
“Yeah that’s confidence. That’s toughness. That’s relying on your training. These guys haven’t been around that much. Again, if I’m missing shots, OK, I’ll do something else to make it look good. No, no, your job on this team, here’s what it is. That’s why I asked the question, can you do what I’m asking? Can you not do it? If you can’t do it, we got to figure something out.”