By Glenn Logan
John Calipari previewed the season today to the media, and you can watch it just below. Here are some observations that I had about his remarks:
- Andrew Harrison is back practicing, and the team is "different" with him. That should be no surprise.
- Alex Poythress has "narrowed his game," and is playing well according to Coach Cal. I really like hearing that, because Alex is ridiculously talented. What's holding him back is in his head, not in his body.
- Defense is still a problem. This is an effort thing right now. The team doesn't get that it takes so much intensity to play at this level, and that's what's holding them back. That's why you see them come out so strong in the second half defensively, because Calipari has had a chance to motivate their intensity.
- Practicing a lot against zone right now. That needs to be a consistent focus, because UK is going to see a ton of it.
- James Young is still out, but his being out is helping Alex and Aaron Harrison.
- Still working hard on lob passing, and having some frustrations with it.
- Points out that upcoming games are going to be physical, and that the new rules protect the guy with the ball, but not the rest of the team. That's absolutely right. The new rules say nothing about rooting out a guy in the post, or pushing with your backside, or impeding a player trying to get a pass.
- Said playing good teams this early is "not fair for my team." Defended the statement by saying UK is a non-traditional program. I think that's overstating the case. Calling it "unfair" is ... unfair. It is no doubt a disadvantage, but when UK plays a vastly smaller or less talented team, then they are at a disadvantage. I wish he'd just stop with that argument, it's not a worthy one.
- Talked about some of the former UK guys doing well in the NBA. Hearing him go down the laundry list of budding NBA stars is something you never get tired of.
- Need to get a group of 7 guys and get that rotation going. I think that's right, especially with young guys like this. You can play aggressively that way and still have plenty of people to put in for subs. He said you're going to have seven "starters," and that group could change over the year due to injuries or others playing better. He talked a lot about what Wooden told him, and honestly, we've seen this every year, this focus on getting down to about 7 guys who play the lion's share of the minutes. Don't expect that to change to some kind of 10-man pressing, Rick Pitino rotation. That just isn't in Calipari's DNA these days.
- He says that the team isn't selfish, they're just "not a unit." I think that's absolutely right. It's more about cohesion than anything else.