A quick three-spot from Kentucky basketball’s media availability Thursday previewing Friday’s opener against Albany. In addition, we have videos from John Calipari on Jamal Murray’s shot selection; Marcus Lee calling the opening this team’s “Bahamas” and Murray responding to Albany’s coach saying Murray will be the best player in college basketball.
1. It’s an interesting three-game, five-day stretch for Kentucky to start the season. Albany comes to Rupp Arena on Saturday night. New Jersey Institute of Technology visits Rupp on Saturday. Then the Cats travel to Chicago for the early-season showdown with Duke next Tuesday.
“There’re going to be a lot of answers,” John Calipari said Thursday.
Albany has a veteran team that went to the NCAA Tournament last season. NJIT has “everybody back” from a team that won at Michigan last season. Then, of course, there is Duke. It’s a tough early stretch for a team that will start three freshmen: Isaiah Briscoe, Jamal Murray and Skal Labissiere.
“This is our Bahamas,” Marcus Lee said.
2. Tyler Ulis was seen wearing a walking boot. The point guard played with shin splints all last season, but when asked about the boot Thursday, Calipari shrugged it off. The coach joked that he even wears a boot. Still, you have to wonder whether the shin splints have returned or whether Ulis is just being overprotective early in the year.
Calipari said Isaiah Briscoe has a bruised knee. Not sure whether the freshman will play both Friday and Saturday. Dominique Hawkins is available to play, Calipari said. In fact, the coach said jokingly that Hawkins has already hurt four players.
3. Worried about the team’s fight. Calipari continues to talk about making sure this team fights hard. He knows it has athletic ability and basketball skill, but will it fight on defense — Cal said defense is his biggest concern right now — and for rebounds?
That’s why Calipari said he is on Alex Poythress. He wants the senior to get back to being aggressive defensively. Marcus Lee said that at times during practice, Poythress does things like the old Alex, before last year’s knee injury.