UK Basketball: Calipari says Noel needs some help from teammates
Kentucky center Nerlens Noel looks for a shot during the Wildcats' loss to Duke on Tuesday. (Victoria Graff / November 16, 2012)
“He was aggressive. What we’re not doing is when he goes to help somebody, no one is helping him. That’s the issue. It’s not Nerlens. I was really happy with Nerlens,” Calipari said Thursday. “Everybody can say, ‘Well, they’re leaving their feet and that’s why the basket is open.’ No. We did the same thing last year, but when he (Anthony Davis) left his feet someone got his back.
“Now we’ve got guys (when) he leaves his feet they’re running the wrong way. You’ve got to go that way and go get that ball. If you’re a big guy it should be easier. If you’re a small guy, just make sure his guy doesn’t get it. We’re just learning. We’re trying to figure out how to be a helper. The next step is be the helper’s helper. Then you can be the helper’s helper’s helper. We’re not quite there yet.”
Kentucky (1-1) will try to keeping getting there tonight when it hosts Lafayette in its Rupp Arena opener after playing neutral-site games against Maryland and Duke.
Calipari wants Noel, who had 16 points and eight rebounds against Duke, to continue to be aggressive while learning when not to leave his feet early trying to blocks hots.
“He didn’t do it that often. He did it a couple times. How many blocks did he have? OK, he got three blocks and probably left three or four other times that he didn’t get it,” Calipari said. “They know he’s not getting any help, so they didn’t even try to make baskets because there’s no one helping him. That’s not Nerlens. Nerlens is doing fine.
“I need he and Willie (Cauley-Stein) both doing the same thing. That’s the rest of our defense. Again, we’re so far behind. There’s things that they exploited, there’s things that we were able to see. It was two good games for me to learn about my team.”
One thing he learned is that sophomore Kyle Wiltjer, the team’s leading scorer against Maryland with 19 points, cannot get shots on his own. He managed just five points on 2-of-5 shooting.
“We’re going to have to help him. He did not play as hard as he needs to play. He saw it on the tape,” Calipari said. “If he’s not getting shots off, then he won’t be on the court as much. I’m not mad. I love him, but he better figure out how to get shots off. If he can’t then he won’t be on the court as much.
“Kyle’s got to step up. The Maryland staff (was) like, ‘What happened to him?’ Well, he didn’t play as hard. He didn’t compete like he did against Maryland. Part of it is, we can’t expect our team to find him shots. We’re freshmen. We’re not going to do that. So now it becomes, he’s got to get his, or I’ve got to call some stuff to create shots for him. But it’s going to be a combination.”
Wiltjer said a “long film session” pointed out the need for the team to offensive rebound better and also improve its defense.
“Duke did a good job of getting to me on the 3-point line and not giving me any easy looks. I just have to in the future make stronger and quicker moves in the post. When they are playing me out there (3-point line), I have to be getting more involved rather than just shooting 3s.”
Calipari expects Lafayette to do a lot of pick-and-rolls and shoot 3s.
“They’re going to hold the ball a little bit, yet they score. Scoring 80 points a game. But they’ll run the clock down if they have to. It’s what we need right now,” Calipari said. “We need a team that plays well together offensively, really plays off the defense, not running as many ‘plays,’ doing a few actions to try to get shots off. Will shoot the 3. Big men will shoot the 3s.
“Well-coached team. They’re going to play some zone. We need to face zone. They’ll play man-to-man, but they’ll switch a lot and do stuff that we need to see. They’re going to double-team the post. We need to see it, see how we play. So it’ll be a good game and a hard game for us.”
He expects more from senior guard Julius Mays tonight, too. He was 2 for 8 from the field against Duke in 37 minutes.¿He had seven points, three assists and one rebound.
“Played him too many minutes. Couldn’t play that many minutes, and so now he goes under ball screens, went under some screens, stopped off getting picked, handoffs, didn’t try to square the guy up,” Calipari said.
Mays says Kentucky has to play with as much intensity in this game as it did the first two.
“You don't ever want to let up on any opponent. My thing is approach every game like it's a Maryland or a Duke no matter the name of the team,” Mays said. “I think we still have to work on making a lot of hustle plays, coming up with the loose balls, coming up with long rebounds and just learning how to close.”