Kentucky Basketball: Coach Cal Reacts To The Blue-White Scrimmage

Kentucky coach John Calipari's reaction to last night's Blue-White scrimmage is instructive, and combined with what we all saw on the floor last night, really helps put the team in perspective.  As you might expect, he was not as impressed overall as some of us were.

Lex 18 has the transcript of Calipari's comments, some of which I would like to highlight for additional discussion:

I mean, if you watched that as a pickup game, you were really excited because there were dunks. We were 1 9 from 3 because Doron (Lamb) couldn't make a shot during the first half. Darius (Miller) has 11 [points] until the very end of the game where he hit 3s. Kyle (Wiltjer) and Anthony just aren't tough enough right now.

I could not agree more with all this.  We can't have Doron Lamb missing wide-open threes, because that's where most of his clean looks are going to come from.  Yes, he did a good job in the midrange and on the break, but 3-point shots are going to be his main weapon.  He has to make them.

I think I mentioned that Miller vanished into the background for large stretches, and I'm not the only one who noticed.  Anthony Davis did play soft, as did Wiltjer, and both of them got pushed around by Jones and Vargas.

I liked what I saw in Eloy (Vargas). He battled. He missed a ton of shots, a bunch of one footers. But he battled and fought. That's all we're going to ask him to do.

Cal is more generous here than I am. Yes, Eloy worked hard, but you can't miss one footers.  You just can't.

COACH CALIPARI: I can tell you, it wasn't great defense.

Gee, coach, 126-104.  Ya think?

Seriously, defense always lags on Cal's teams.  Last year, we were a really bad defensive team until just before conference time.  It takes a while.  Nobody defends the pick and roll well out of high school, because that's a team thing -- a single player cannot defend the pick and roll.

Cal goes on to say he was happy that the ball got shared well, and it really did.  If you are looking for one really big "that's awesome!" out of this scrimmage, I'd start right there.  But this was funny:

Had a couple plays where we passed guys up where I stopped the game and said, ‘Why didn't you throw it to that man right there?' The guy is [saying], ‘I'm shooting the ball, I haven't shot in a while.' But, you know, we got a ways to go.

Heh.

I think we could be a good pressing team. I like what I saw in the press today. Not that we were perfect, but I liked what I saw. Now we just got to build on that and really give them better rules in how we're going to play.

...

I'd like to press 30-40 percent of the game. That's how historically I've done it, until we got here. Last year we played six guys. We couldn't press that much. Even that first year, we played so fast that we pressed some, but probably 15-20 percent of the game.

This is one that I forgot about in the postmortem.  The press was very effective several times.  And then there were a couple of times where you had one guy pressing that thought he had help, but didn't.  That's normal for this early, though.

But I'd like to see us press more.  Heck, Kidd-Gilchrist by himself in the press is a nightmare.  If the other guys can just give good effort, Kidd-Gilchrist will be disruptive enough for the press to be effective.

If anybody saw that and didn't say, ‘He better start coaching,' then you're truly a football player watching basketball or a volleyball player watching basketball. But if you know basketball, which we have four million people in this state that are experts in basketball, you had to say, ‘Wow, he's got a ways to go with this team. But, wow, they're athletic, long, fast, whoa.'

Sort of speaks for itself.  That's pretty much what we are all saying.

Last year it took us until February before we could figure out how we had to play. Let's hope it doesn't take us that long this year.

Can I get an "Amen?"

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