Kentucky coach John Calipari knows what to expect from Morehead State. He just hopes his team is prepared for the Eagles.
“They’ll scramble and if the game is allowed to be physical they will turn us over a bunch, but it’s what we need,” he said Tuesday. “It’s not, how much have we worked on press attack, we’re still trying to get them to play hard. We’re trying to get them to play a full possession. We started working on situations (Monday) and that was just very average, what we did. We have to continue from this point on, working on some specialty things but we still have the basics we have to get better at.
The eighth-ranked Wildcats (2-1) will take on a Morehead squad that plays an up-and-down pressing style, similar to the one coach Sean Woods enjoyed as a player at Kentucky from 1990-92. Woods, in his first season at Morehead State, has the Eagles off to a 3-1 start going into tonight's 7 p.m. contest between the two instate programs at Rupp Arena.
Like each of his team's first three encounters, Calipari wants the contest to be a learning experience, which he said will prove to be beneficial, especially when it comes to playing a team that employs a pressing style on the defensive end of the court. Although his team is favored, Calipari added that the Cats aren't prepared for the up-and-down style that waits his squad.
“We put in our presses, we just put them in so now we have two of our presses in, they’re not very good but they’re in,” he said.”Now we can press, we couldn’t press before. We have some zone stuff in so both zone defense and zone offense, so now it’s not very good but we can do it. Our press attack is in, it’s not very good but it’s in.”
Calipari is anxious to see how his team responds to the Eagles' defensive attack.
“We have to find out what we like about what we’re doing and what we’ll change,” he said.”You put it in, you go with it, if you like it fine, if you don’t, we’re playing different than we played a year ago. I like my team, this will be a great test, they’re all teams that are different and that’s what we need.”
Like his coach, Mays said the Wildcats view the game as an opportunity to get better.
“We’re still looking at every game as a learning game,” he said.”We’re trying to get better at something new each game. We’re still trying to attack to the offensive and defensive glass a lot better. I think we are starting to define ourselves scoring in transition, wanting to post the ball and play like that.”
Calipari responded to Woods' comments on a bad 'vibe' he received from the Wildcats during a recent telethon to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy. Woods has since apologized for the remarks and Calipari understood where the former UK player was coming from during a teleconference earlier this week.
“Knowing Sean I figured he misspoke, I chalk it up to that and I move on, I’m not taking it personal,” he said.”Our kids, you may have talked to them, I bet half of them didn’t know he said anything. This program, do you know how much is said about this program and me personally? I don’t listen to it and then the other stuff is that I walk on water. Guess what? I don’t. I’m a regular guy, a sinner like everybody else and I try to do my job. I don’t buy into all that stuff. Say what you want 50 years from now people will evaluate the jobs we’ve done, where we’ve been and that’s all I can count on.”
UK Basketball: Eagles won't be an easy task for Cats
John Calipari//The Associated Press