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Cal considers twin towers look

When asked Wednesday about Kentucky’s basketball prospects for 2012-13, Coach John Calipari noted the possibility of a twin-towers lineup.
Calipari said he would talk with former UK Coach Joe B. Hall about such a lineup. Of course, Hall used twin towers — Rick Robey and Mike Phillips — as a foundational piece for the 1978 national championship team.
“But,” Calipari said in adding a qualifier, “be fast. I don’t want to give away our speed and the things we do.”
Calipari dampened any expectations of Kentucky dominance this coming season.
“We’re not going to be as good as a year ago,” he said.
UK is starting over this coming season. Only one player who played significant minutes — Kyle Wiltjer — returns.

Dodson in Cal doghouse

Sophomore Darnell Dodson, who on first impression seems to be Kentucky’s most reliable perimeter shooter, came into the Miami (Ohio) game with 6:50 left in the first half.

When asked about that belated entry, UK Coach John Calipari said that he was not happy with Dodson.

“I was so mad at him earlier in the week,” Calipari said. “I said things I haven’t said here. I said words I haven’t used here.”

Calipari did not say why Dodson drew his ire.

Calipari also noted that Darius Miller’s improved play contributed to the decision not to play Dodson early. Miller had two points and UK trailed 36-18 when Dodson entered the game.

Dr. Cal mends Miller shot

Kentucky Coach John Calipari became shot doctor with wing Darius Miller. By prescribing Miller shoot while rising straight up, the player got better results against Miami (Ohio).

Miller made four shots against Miami after going scoreless in the opener against Morehead State. The adjustment to stop fading back on the shot made the difference, player and coach said.

“I was shooting kind of short when I was fading  back,” Miller said.

The UK player acknowledged that his confidence suffered a bit while he struggled to shoot better.

Calipari said he saw two weeks ago that Miller’s shoulders were pulling back as he shot.

“I told him, ‘Don’t change your shot,’ ” the UK coach said. ” ‘Don’t throw your shoulder back.’ When you do that, there’s only one way to shoot it: flat.”

Earlier, Miller said he was trying to find his niche in UK’s new dribble-drive offense. On Wednesday, he said he would not initiate offense, but would be ready to take passes and score.

“I just have to be ready to finish plays,” he said. “John (Wall) and Eric (Bledsoe) do a great job creating.”

No lineup change for UK

After Kentucky beat Morehead State Friday, John Calipari made a dramatic pronouncement: Only Patrick Patterson, John Wall and Eric Bledsoe could be assured to start against Miami.

The lineup announced moments ago reveals no changes. Darius Miller and DeMarcus Cousins joined Patterson, Wall and Bledsoe in the lineup.

Wall replaced Darnell Dodson in the starting lineup.

Cal: Miller needs ‘demonstrated performance’

UK wing Darius Miller said he couldn’t explain his slow start to the season: averaging 7.5 points in two exhibition games and then going scoreless against Morehead State.

Although Miller acknowledged that he’s still trying to settle into a role in the new offense, he dismissed that as a factor.

Meanwhile, teammate John Wall joined Patrick Patterson in saying Miller needed to clear a mental hurdle. “It’s just about him getting his confidence up,” Wall said.

UK Coach John Calipari said only “demonstrated performance” can boost a player’s confidence.

“Not me pumping you up,” Calipari said.

Cal: Mum the word on Liggins, lineup

Like a good poker player, UK Coach John Calipari did not reveal hiis cards on Sunday.

He declined to say who might start in Monday’s game against Miami (Ohio). He also declined to say if DeAndre Liggins would see his first action.

After not being happy with UK’s performance in beating Morehead State Friday, Calipari said he could be confident in penciling in only three of five starters: John Wall, Eric Bledsoe and Patrick Patterson.

When asked Sunday about the other two spots, Calipari said he would wait until after Sunday’s practice — or perhaps later — to decide.

As for Liggins, he didn’t play in either exhibition game nor in the opener against Morehead State. Calipari has declined to say why he hasn’t played Liggins despite earlier praising the sophomore guard’s transition to a new system.

Talk among reporters Sunday was that Liggins would play against Miami. But when asked about Liggins Sunday, Calipari said, “I don’t know yet. We’ll see. He’s doing good things.”

Wall, Bledsoe to double UK’s pleasure?

With his belated college debut at hand, Kentucky freshman John Wall expects to feel butterflies Monday night against Miami (Ohio).
“If you don’t have jitters, you’re not a basketball player,” he said on Sunday.
Wall’s return figures to cause the Kentucky camp to feel other emotions: elation, reassurance, anticipation.
But Coach John Calipari downplayed this first time to see his star freshman guards, Eric Bledsoe and Wall, on the court together against outside competition.
When asked what he expected Wall’s addition to mean Monday, Calipari said, “I don’t know. Hopefully, less turnovers. But maybe not.”
Wall sat out the opener against Morehead State on Friday as part of the punishment for allowing an agent, his AAU coach Brian Clifton, to pay some of the recruiting expenses.
That made Miami Coach Charlie Coles re-think his schedule.
“We should have scheduled this game on Friday,” he quipped. “Oh, man, he’s going to play Monday, buddy.”
Coles saluted the speed and assertiveness that Wall can bring.
“I like him because he can go from one end of the court to the other,” the Miami coach said. “That’s the best weapon a point guard can have. Because what that does (is) it never lets you set your defense. When you don’t set your defense, that means dunks, open three-pointers, fouls, offensive rebounds.”
For a while in the recruiting process, it appeared Wall and Bledsoe would go to different programs to ensure each a starring role.
Calipari sold them, especially Bledsoe, who committed first, on the idea of playing together.
What sounded to some like a recruiting pitch has become reality. Calipari has spoken often how each plays better in tandem.
By following through on his recruiting pitch to play Bledsoe and Wall together, Calipari said he was acting like any coach on any level.
“If your best two players are at the same position, play them both,” he said.

‘Intelligent’ Bledsoe at UK controls

With star freshman John Wall having to sit out Kentucky’s opening game against Morehead State on Friday, Coach John Calipari offered good news: Alternate point guard and fellow freshman Eric Bledsoe should be ready to go.
Bledsoe sat out UK’s second exhibition game after spraining an ankle in the first.
When asked about Bledsoe’s availability against Morehead State, Calipari said the freshman was “very, very fast” in Wednesday’s practice.
The UK camp conceded that not having Wall makes a difference. The NCAA ordered Wall to sit out one regular-season game as punishment for having some recruiting expenses paid by an agent, AAU coach Brian Clifton.
“John is more advanced in his conditioning and pace of the game,” Calipari said. “That’s it. If Eric went just as hard up and down the court, you’d see the same kind of speed.”
UK players voiced confidence in Bledsoe.
“I don’t think much will be different,” Josh Harrellson said before identifying one difference. “The game probably won’t be as fast-paced.”
Wall has a “quicker change of direction,” Darnell Dodson said.
But in terms of running the team and basketball knowledge, Calipari vouched for Bledsoe, who the UK coach called “one of the most intelligent players I’ve coached. He also has unbelievable instincts. We have a lot of key words. (When a key word is said), This kid — boom — he’s right into it.
“Now, what he’s got to start doing is be more vocal. He’ll do it with a head nod when they need a yell.”

Fans aid UK’s warmup routine?

While noting a perceived lack of coditioning against Campbellsville on Monday, Kentucky Coach John Calipari suggested that maybe the Cats expended too much energy during warmups.

“What would wear you out?” Calipari asked reporters. “Anxiety. Not knowing how to warm up.  They warmed up like they were out of their minds. Dunking.”

If that was th eproblem, two fans helped out before the game against Clarion. The fans asked freshman Daniel Orton to stop warming up and pose for a picture. Orton posed.

UK welcomes back Wall, but may sit Bledsoe

Kentucky players and Coach John Calipari look forward to welcoming freshman John Wall back to active duty against Clarion Friday night.
Wall sat out the opening exhibition against Campbellsville as part of the punishment for accepting an agent, his AAU coach Brian Clifton, paying for some recruiting expenses.
Coincidentally or not, UK did not attack the basket against Campbellsville like the dribble-drive requires.
When asked if Wall’s absence led to the timid play, Mark Krebs said, “You want to say it didn’t mess with it because we’re all supposed to pick up the slack. It definitely afffects you.
“In the future, we have to take up the slack better.”
Calipari noted how seeing Wall play against outside competition for the first time should excite UK fans. The coach also said that Wall is the team’s vocal leader
Freshman DeMarcus Cousins wished aloud for the game when Wall and Eric Bledsoe both play. That might not happen against Clarion because Bledsoe might be rested because of a sprained ankle incurred against Campbellsville, Calipari said.
It won’t happen in the opener against Morehead State on Nov. 13 because that’s the second game Wall must sit out.
“I can’t wait till we get them both,” Cousins said. “Then we’ll have a story.”
And the name of that story?
“The unstoppable duo,” Cousins said.