With the team leaving for New York this afternoon, the Kentucky basketball team held its post-holiday media opportunity this morning to preview Sunday night’s game against Providence at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Five quick things from this morning:
1. Providence ramps UK’s schedule up a level, said John Calipari. “The next step,” according to the coach, when talking about the Friars, who are 6-1 heading into this afternoon’s game against Fairfield, 12:30 p.m. on Fox Sports 1.
At present, the only loss Ed Cooley’s team has suffered has been to Maryland 56-52 in the finals of the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands. Providence shot just 27.1 percent from the floor in that game.
But the Friars’ best win to date may have been in that tournament, as well. In the first round, Providence rallied to beat Vanderbilt 67-60. Not that Vanderbilt is a great team, but Providence trailed 56-40 with 10:34 remaining before outscoring the Commodores 27-4 the rest of the way to pull out the victory.
2. John Calipari knows a selfish player because, well, he was a selfish player.
“I knew all the tricks,” he said.
3. Back to Brooklyn. Kentucky opened up the 2012-13 season with a 72-69 win over Maryland at the Barclays Center. This is Kentucky’s return trip.
It’s also a return to Brooklyn for Dakari Johnson, who was born there on September 22, 1995. Johnson spent part of his time growing up in Lexington, playing as an eighth grader at Sayre. He played his high school basketball at Montverde Academy in Florida, but Brooklyn is where he calls home.
4. Kentucky has the biggest upside in the country, Calipari said. That’s because the Cats are the youngest team in the country. And according to the coach, the team still has plenty of areas in which to improve.
He mentioned effort, playing all the way through possessions on defense, giving up the ball earlier, sprinting the floor on offense — the usual laundry list on which Calipari has been harping for the first few weeks of the season. That includes drawing fouls to shoot free throws. “We should be shooting 40 or 50 free throws a game,” he said.
Cal said that he definitely thinks his team should be shooting the basketball better. Through seven games, Kentucky is shooting 45.2 percent from the floor. Last year’s tema was shooting 49.1 percent from the floor after seven games.
“We’re probably, for me, shooting too many threes,” Calipari said. “The most a guy should shoot is four or five threes, that’s the most. And that’s like, you’re on fire. The rest of the time you drive the ball, that’s how we play.”
Here’s Alex Poythress talking about how he thinks he has played to this point.
5. Travel can be broadening. Since the team was departing for New York today, and the game is Sunday at 8:30 p.m., Calipari said he planned on doing some things beside basketball, thought the coach was unclear what those things might be.
Related link: Watch Calipari’s entire press conference