Shortly after the Gardner Webb debacle I posted that the Kentucky team needed to get tougher. I was mostly reiterating what Coach Gillispie was trying to point out and from what I thought they looked like last year. This team has lacked a killer instinct for years.
Well I must say that it is nice to see that this team is beginning to wake up and that Coach Gillispie is calling out the players on toughness. Patrick Patterson put it this way.."Stop with the finesse stuff," he said. "Coach wants me to be tough, mean, be an animal out there."
Now when I talk about toughness I don't just mean physical play. I am also referring to mental toughness. The ability to exert your influence on a game one play at a time.
"Pat's going to be something else," Gillispie said. "When he decides he's going to dominate on every play, he's going to have a chance to do that against a lot of players. Not everybody. But a lot of them."
This team has a tendency to let others bully them around. They don't scare too many others. "... One thing that we lack that all my teams have had: they have a presence. We're coming at you. Right now, we don't have enough guys with presence offensively or defensively."
To me that means that we don't have enough guys willing to sacrifice themselves to bully other teams instead of vice versa. I put it that way because I am not suggesting that we need a team of thugs and henchmen. One can be a well-mannered and nice individual off the court but on the court be a beast of a player!
One thing for sure it's nice to see that Coach Gillispie is on the scene and he means business..."Gillispie did not single out Patterson as the only player who needed to be meaner. The UK coach lamented too many rebound battles lost, too many shots around the basket weakly missed.
When asked whether a mean streak can be coached into a player, Gillispie said, "I don't know if you can. But if it's possible, they have a good teacher. I promise you that."
I can promise that with that kind of coaching mentality we shall soon have a team that values playing the game and plays with a tenacity unmatched by others.
GO BIG BLUE!!!!!