A three-spot from UK basketball media opp previewing Wednesday’s game with Eastern Michigan.
1. Getting Alex Poythress better. Head coach John Calipari has taken to individual workouts with the freshman forward, who has been struggling recently. Calipari said that this morning’s workout was much better than the workout the two did together on Sunday. Poythress has to complete certain drills, or stations before he can move onto the next station. Sunday, the entire workout took 38 minutes. This morning, it took 27.
Cal did the same thing with Ryan Harrow earlier and the point guard showed improvement. Harrow said that in the workouts, Calipari is a little more encouraging than he is in practice.
“You help build their confidence (in the workouts), but you also build your confidence in them,” said Calipari when told of Harrow’s comments. “You’re also invested in their success.”
Calipari called Poythress “a beast” after the freshman played well against Duke, but he amended that statement this morning. Cal said Poythress was only a beast for “seven or eight possessions” and at other times reverted back to old, bad habits.
2. The New Year. Calipari said that he hopes by the end of the season he hopes this could be his most rewarding for himself and his staff. He said that has nothing to do with wins and losses. He said the team two years ago, the one that was 10-6 in the SEC but reached the Final Four, was very rewarding. He said the same thing could happen with this team.
“Where we are right now and what we could be, individual players and team, this could be my most rewarding year,” said the coach.
3. Free throws. Willie Cauley-Stein, who missed all four of his free throws in Saturday’s loss at Louisville, said he has been in the gym getting up more free throws already. Actually, Cauley-Stein missed six free throws as he was given two extra chances when Louisville committed lane violations.
Cauley-Stein said he thought there was more pressure on Poythress because everyone knows how good Poythress can be. Calipari didn’t agree with that statement, saying instead there is pressure on every player. That’s the way it is at Kentucky.
He said after Saturday there is pressure on Cauley-Stein to make free throws. And guess what he’s been doing since Saturday. Shooting free throws.
“That’s right,” said the coach. “Happy New Year.”