One of John Calipari’s basketball mantras in the pre-season is to say he must devise an approach that works for each Kentucky team. It’s a task complicated by UK’s revolving door philosophy that makes for largely a new cast of players each season.
Marcus Lee vouched for Calipari’s skill in this area.
“Cal is probably the best at figuring it out on the fly,” Lee said at the SEC Media Day Wednesday. “He does it every year with a new team. He has to figure out. We can’t play the same way every year because he has different players.
“So it just takes time to feel each other out and feel how we should play together.”
This year’s challenge might be larger than last season because Kentucky has fewer veteran players, Tyler Ulis said.
“He’s doing a lot more teaching than he did last year,” Ulis said of Calipari . “Last year, guys were back, so they understood what he wanted, and we came on pretty quick. This year, he has to do a lot more teaching with new guys. We don’t know how we’re going to play yet.”
One constant is super-sized expectations. Even though seven UK players from last season’s team are going to either the NBA Draft or NBA free agency, the Cats are ranked No. 1 (along with North Carolina) in the coaches’ poll going into this season.
“That’s what’s expected at Kentucky,” Lee said. “You’re expected to come out and be the best and do the best you can. If at the end of the year, you have the opportunity to do greater things, you go ahead . . . that’s what you’re supposed to do here.”