LEXINGTON — Kentucky senior guard Julius Mays has taken on a leadership role early this season and feels the Cats are ready to make major strides despite three losses to this point.
Mays, who transferred to UK¿from Wright State and was eligible immediately because he’s a graduate student, hopes the Cats show major signs of improvement Saturday when they host Lipscomb. Here are his thoughts on the team:
Question: What has been the biggest surprise about playing at Kentucky for you, or has there been one?
Mays: “Just how much work we put in and we are still not where we want to be at and we have a long ways to go, yet we have put in a lot of work in already. It is amazing to see how much talent we have, but we have not all really gotten on the same page and been able to play for each other and compete at the level we know we can.”
Question: Have the Kentucky fans been harder to deal with, especially after losses, than you anticipated?
Mays: “It is not hard to deal with. Fans are going to be fans. When you are winning, they are obviously all about you. When you are losing, they are the first people to bash you. You can’t let fans get in your head. We have a good fan base, but main thing I¿have been telling the guys since I got here is that last year’s team is last year’s team and we are a different team and have to build our own identities. I think it is good we took those early losses to see that. We are not where we need to be and we are not as good a team as we think we are.”
Question: Have some young guys struggled to accept that like you have?
Mays: “I think they all put pressure on themselves that they had to live up to something that they really didn’t have to. Last year’s team was last year’s team. You don’t have to be that guy off last year’s team. Come in and be yourself and bring to this team what you do best and don’t try to bring anything else. I¿think we are finally starting to get it and the next few weeks we will be fine.”
Question: How does a team develop chemistry with so many new players?
Mays: “Practice and spend time with each other putting in extra work. Get to know each other. It is all about spending time in the gym. We are definitely making progress in that area. I think it was lacking at the beginning of the season but it is starting to pick up a lot.”
Question: So were you too full of yourself as a team but does the atmosphere at Kentucky contribute to that feeling?
Mays: “We kind of came into the season and thought our stuff did not stink. We thought we were a lot better than we were and were listening to what people were saying and it showed in those games that we lost. It was great to lose those games and let us know we are not as good as we thought we were and that we have a lot of work to do and we still have a long ways to go. We need to be killed and do what he (John Calipari) has been doing to us.”
Question: Can point guard Ryan Harrow’s return change any of this?
Mays: “He is a big difference. He is a true point guard and is a guy that can create for himself and really for others and get everybody involved. He really changes the whole game for us.”