Four quick notes and four videos from Kentucky’s 117-58 win over Ottawa in an exhibition game at Rupp Arena on Monday night:
1. Three’s good company. As expected, John Calipari started a three-guard lineup. Tyler Ulis, Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe hit the floor first with big men Marcus Lee and Skal Labissiere. Afterward, the trio said they rarely play together in practice. You couldn’t tell it on the floor. The three exhibited good chemistry. They shared the basketball. Ulis finished with 10 assists. Murray had nine.
“They’re all unselfish. They’re all skilled,” Calipari said. “They can attack the basket. You can play a little more random yet be organized. Again, we needed to press. We did it for two reasons. Conditioning. I wanted to just keep guys in and let them try to see where they are if we had to play a full game. Obviously not there yet.
“But the other press, I ran that press a little bit my first year here. Haven’t really run it since. I’d like to run it with this team. You know me well enough. If we’re giving up layups or open shots, I can’t take it. We won’t use the press.
“But that’s a press that should be good for us because of our personnel. Now I have to go watch the tape to see where the breakdowns were. We probably gave them 12 points in the first half where they threw over the top and got a three or a layup or a shot, and probably a couple in the second half. In a big game, you can’t give up, in my opinion, 16, 17 points in a press.”
2. Isaiah Briscoe can be the best defensive guard in the country. If he wants to be. That’s what Calipari said after the game. Told that, Briscoe said, “I want to be.” The freshman said he sees himself as a pretty good defender now. But he says he can get better. “He’s a bulldog,” said teammate Murray. The two go against each other often in practice. Murray said sometimes he wins the battle, sometimes Briscoe wins the battle. Back and forth. Calipari wants a defensive stopper, no doubt. He sees Briscoe as having the athletic ability and makeup to be just that.
3. Rebounding. Calipari has talked about it a lot already. His previous teams were glass-eaters. You wonder if he’s worried about this group. He started Labissiere and Lee together, and you wonder if it is because he wants to have guys who can rebound with a three-guard lineup. “If our guards rebound the way we did today, we’ll be fine,” Calipari said. “Jamal gets 12. Tyler gets four. Isaiah gets three. That’s 17 rebounds amongst our guards — 19, I’m sorry, 19 rebounds.”
4. Ottawa was happy to be here. Mitch Barnhart’s alma mater was happy for the invitation to play in Rupp. Here’s the Division II Ottawa coach Aaron Siebenthall and guard Marshon Norfleet, who scored 20 points, talking about playing Kentucky before 20,000 people.