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 and second impressions from Tuesday’s practice, here are third impressions from Wednesday’s practice:
– Cal said freshman Karl-Anthony Towns is “way better than I thought when I saw him in high school. . . . In high school, you saw him and (thought) he’s got a ways to go. Well, what I’m seeing (in early UK practices) is a very active player who’s skilled and runs better than I ever thought he’d run.”
– Cal said freshman Tyler Ulis has learned that because of his size (5-foot-9), he needs to take the initiative by picking up farther up the court and reducing the chances of opponents taking advantage of his size. Think of how UConn’s guards pressured UK in the 2014 national championship game. “Up on us so we didn’t get a running start,” Calipari said.
Of Ulis, Calipari said, “I don’t see his size being a factor, but I imagine it will at some point. But I haven’t seen it to this point, and he’s playing against huge guards right now.”
– There’s no more room for additional national championship banners along the wall behind the men’s court at the Craft Center. The eight banners run hang along the length of the gym. There’s space for more along the wall behind a baseline nearest the office windows that look down on the court.
– Ex-Cat Jon Hood shot around after practice.
– Calipari can teach how to improve a seemingly good moment. For instance, when a 7-footer runs the court in transition and takes a pass for a dunk over a helpless guard, Calipari might blow his whistle. In a game, the guard might not be so helpless. He might get in position to take a charge. Better to pass upcourt to a wing, who can then lob a pass for a 7-footer to dunk with impunity.
– Full disclosure: A Calipari press conference preceded practice. So several impressions listed above came from the press conference, and not from practice.