In the week leading to the trip to the Bahamas, Kentucky Coach John Calipari invited the Kentucky media corps to attend this week’s practices. UK asked reporters not to cite specifics from the workouts. But opinions were fine.
Following first impressions from Monday’s practice, here are some second impressions from Tuesday’s practice, which lasted about two hours:
— The Cats look slim and trim. Players like Willie Cauley-Stein, no wide body anyway, look sleek. Dakari Johnson, something of a bulky low-post presence last season, looks noticeably trimmer.
If you insist on bulk, Alex Poythress still combines muscle with athleticism.
— Any hopes of Cauley-Stein and freshman Trey Lyles playing in Bahamas continue to fade. Neither participated in the practice, although WCS took shots from the high post before the workout.
— If opponents play zone defense, Kentucky will need perimeter shooting. Dunking, which figures to be a signature weapon given Kentucky’s height, might not be available. So can Kentucky keep defenses honest with outside shooting?
A controlled (very controlled) 25-minute scrimmage featured eight jump shots and six dunks. The first five jumpers were made by five different players. Fans will like freshman Devin Booker’s soft touch.
— During pre-season practices last year, UK Coach John Calipari talked a lot about effort. I’m trying to remember if he brought up the subject Monday or Tuesday.
— Prettiest play of the day? I’d give the nod to freshman Tyler Ulis. He caught the ball in transition and made an immediate cross-court pass that the fast-breaking Booker caught in stride and drove for a dunk. Nice to see a player thinking a play or two ahead and not trying to decide what to do with the ball once he catches it.
— Referees worked a portion of the scrimmage. They looked in mid-season form, especially when the call was an intentional foul on Louisville.