One of the big questions on everyone's mind today is, "What was wrong with Terrence Jones yesterday?" Coach Calipari answered this question in his post-game news conference. You can view it below.
In response to a question about Jones from Jerry Tipton, Calipari had this to say: "These guys are not machines, they're not computers. They have bad days."
That's what this was, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation -- a bad game by a good player. It happens. You have bad days, and so do I. I had one the other day that, I swear, had me believing that there was some kind of bizarre galactic conspiracy to make me go nuts -- but only for a minute or two.
I remember watching Jones on the sideline, and I made this comment in the postmortem, where Jones just sat down with a look of complete confusion and amazement on his face, and mouthed, "What's going on?" Jones was just like me the other day, looking for answers that sometimes simply don't exist. Bad days happen. They happen to all people, even the Michael Jordans and Tiger Woods' of the world. Just ask them.
So don't be too down on Jones, and realize that no matter how disappointed you may be in his performance, he is much, much more disappointed in himself. Jones didn't stay at Kentucky to become a cautionary tale, he came back to improve his draft position and help UK win a national championship, and I believe he will do both of those things. But yesterday, he suffered "one of those days."
Another thing that fans are complaining about is guarding the three, and this is a totally legitimate complaint. The problem, upon tape review, is that Kentucky tends to back off three-point shooters to prevent the drive. This is simply not understanding how to play basketball. When you have good 3-point shooters on the opposing team, you must crowd them on the 3-point line and force them to put it on the floor. Yes, you'll often get beat off the dribble, but that's where shot blocking, help defense and picking up charges comes in.
Speaking of picking up charges, when was the last time UK picked one up? They didn't draw a single charge yesterday, which tells me one of two things -- either Calipari isn't emphasizing that enough, or these players are too worried about penetration. Don't get me wrong, penetration can be a killer, but you'd rather have 3-point shooters beating you off the dribble rather than beating you from the arc.
Another thing about the 3-point shooting that UK really has to work on is losing known shooters. Every team knows who the dangerous shooters for the opponent is, and Christian Watford is definitely one of them for the Indiana Hoosiers. Watford's first three was heavily challenged by Jones , who was supposed to be guarding him. But his second three was in transition, and this is where Kentucky laid down multiple times. Watford ran to the left wing, but Jones was in the middle of the court guarding nobody. Watford spotted up and Hulls pitched him the ball underhand, and he had an uncontested look.
The identical play happened about 2 minutes later when Doron Lamb, who was covering Will Sheehey in transition, cheated toward the basket instead of guarding the wing three. The result was the second three in as many transition attempts, and once again, it was by a shooter UK should have known was dangerous. Kentucky has displayed this weakness before, and it is something that requires immediate attention by Calipari to correct. This is Basketball 101, also known as knowing the scouting report.
Jordan Hulls made a three when Watford picked off Michael Kidd-Gilcrhist at the top of the key. Jones' job was to step out and force Hulls to put the ball on the floor or drive, and not allow the jumpshot. Jones inexplicably hedged toward the basket instead, apparently worried about Watford and not the man with the ball. Despite MKG fighting heroically through the pick to challenge the shot, it was too late to prevent the great shooter Hulls from knocking it down.
We'll have more about this game later.