If John Calipari’s memory is correct, players should learn in the sixth or seventh grade to follow the flight of the ball on shot attempts and then find someone to block out to gain proper rebounding position. That’s something UK didn’t do Friday in its win over Maryland when the Cats were outrebounded 54-38.
“If we haven’t worked on it, I can’t be upset and we hadn’t. I just thought we’re 7 foot, 6-11, 6-10, 6-9, we’ll rebound. No. When your guards are taking off and they’re wedging you under and you’re looking at the ball and you’re next to the cheerleaders, you’re probably not going to get the ball,” the Kentucky coach said Monday. “But we worked on it. It’s going to take time.
Calipari has emphasized to his players that they must rebound better tonight against Duke in the State Farm Champions Classic in Atlanta.
“We just have to be more aggressive and want to get more rebounds. If we rebound, we are going to win the game. That’s just how we are going to be able to play,” freshman center Willie Cauley-Stein said. “We just have too many weapons where we shouldn’t be outrebounded like that. He (Calipari) wasn’t mad. We just have to learn from it.”
Calipari says Duke’s veteran team will pose plenty of problems for his team, especially with guard Ryan Harrow’s status again uncertain because of flu-like symptoms and guard Julius Mays having his eye swollen due to a blow he took against Maryland.
“They’re a veteran team, they know how they are playing, they do a great job of posting the ball, they do a great job of spacing the court, they use pick-and-rolls for threes and if you leave corners it is automatic buried 3,” Calipari said. “They play really hard, they deny, they try to steal, they switch, they switch out of bounds plays, they play pick-and-roll defense funky. They will do stuff we haven’t seen and be physical and they will make shots that Maryland did not make. They could take 25 3’s
“Yet for two days (after Maryland), we worked on us. I didn’t worry about Duke and then when you start zeroing in on Duke, I can’t give my guys 30 things today to think about. We’re going to do what we do. There are two or three things we’re going to do and if they expose something, what did Maryland expose? Rebounding, they exposed it so we came back and worked on it. Now we’re going to finish the Duke game and you’re going to say, ‘Well they exposed this and this.’ Well, you’re right, now we’re going to get back and work on it.”
Freshman Archie Goodwin had 16 points, two assists and two rebounds in his debut in Brooklyn against Maryland.
“A lot of the crowd looked like they were up against us which is something I wasn’t expecting. It was a great experience and it was a blessing. I would rather play in front of the crowd like that and play in front of a lot people. (Rapper) Jay-Z was courtside and a lot of people don’t get the opportunity to play with Jay-Z courtside,” Goodwin said.
He said it was not hard for him to defer to teammates instead of shooting. He was 3-for-8 from the field and 9-for-11 at the foul line.
“It is different but it’s not something that I mind doing. I am not a selfish player. Anything that I can just do for us to get a win, I will do,” Goodwin said.
Calipari played Goodwin said at the point and likely will again tonight. Former walk-on Jarrod Polson also had 10 points in 22 minutes against Maryland and Calipari emphasized he will not hesitate to use him extensive minutes again. The UK¿coach said he may play Jon Hood more or that Twany Beckham, who seems over a back injury that has limited him, could play.
“There are all kind of lineups I might play. If they go big, maybe we will use Kyle (Wiltjer) at the three (small forward). There are a lot of possible lineups,” Calipari said.
However, he likes the ability Goodwin has to get to the rim when he’s at the point.
“That’s what we had with Tyreke (Evans) at Memphis. That’s the kind of stuff you want, because the guy with the ball can score any time he wants,” Calipari said. “I also like Jarrod at point guard and moving him off the ball. I like Julius there, too, because he is so steady because he makes the right shots and plays and is never in a hurry.”
Freshman forward Alex Poythress had eight points and seven rebounds against Maryland but was not always as active as Calipari wanted. He also picked up four fouls.
“I think you just got to know that if I am not competing at the level I should compete at in every possession, then I know I am hurting the team and not doing what I need to do,” Calipari said.
Duke forward Mason Plumlee had his 19th career double-double in an opening win over Georgia State that impressed Calipari.
“He is so much better. He runs the floor,” Calipari said. “Their guard play is always solid. They can play different lineups. They have a lineup that may not guard as well but will score better. If they are ready to bury somebody, they will put in the scoring lineup. If they are playing an offensive oriented team, they will go with defense.
“This is one of those ones where you could have 26 turnovers because they play a little different and we haven’t talked about it or gone through it. I’m going to try to show them three or four little things so that they know what to look for and don’t have their minds jumbled. It will be a great test in that kind of environment playing a veteran team that shoots the ball like they do with Plumlee, who may be the best big guy we see all year.”