Top-ranked Kentucky opens doors on practice
Kentucky opened its practice on Wednesday, allowing students,
faculty, staff and a national television audience to watch the
top-ranked Wildcats’ workout and scrimmage.
”I want the students into it, I want the players alert and
focused through the week,” coach John Calipari said. ”Our
practices are pretty consistent in how we go about it, then it
turns into … `Why don’t we call ESPN?’ Then it was like, `I bet
it rates higher than games.’ It’s Kentucky. That’s the Kentucky
The Wildcats are trying to become the first team since 2003 to
finish the Southeastern Conference undefeated. Next up for Kentucky
(25-1, 11-0) is Mississippi (15-9, 5-5) on Saturday.
They also have games remaining at Mississippi State, home versus
Vanderbilt and Georgia and the regular-season finale at Florida on
March 4. The Wildcats’ rotation includes highly touted freshmen
Anthony Davis, Marquis Teague, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Kyle
Wiltjer to go with sophomores Doron Lamb and Terrence Jones and
senior Darius Miller.
”The way we’re playing, I’m happy, but I’m not satisfied. I’m
just not satisfied because I want to make sure we’re getting better
and I’m looking for areas where can we grow,” Calipari said. ”I
guess we could be more perfect, but the reality is I’m happy how
we’re playing, but I’m not satisfied. I want us to improve on
Calipari decided to open practice after what happened in the
days leading up to Kentucky’s only loss. The Wildcats beat North
Carolina by a point on Dec. 3, but fell at Indiana on Christian
Watford’s buzzer beating 3-pointer exactly one week later after he
gave the team two days off. He also downplayed that any team would
gain an advantage watching the practice on television.
”You say, `Well what if this doesn’t work?’ I know the other
doesn’t work, because I lived it,” Calipari said. ”The other
thing we did absolutely didn’t work after North Carolina. So I’m
trying something different. Maybe it won’t work, but we’ll see.
”We’re really not changing anything.”
The afternoon practice drew about 2,000 people to the 8,000-seat
Memorial Coliseum who received free tickets as students, faculty or
staff at the university. The Wildcats wanted to make it open to the
public, but parking around the campus while school was in session
proved to be too logistically complicated to solve on short
Calipari was also unsure if they’ll be able to do a similar
event in the future or if the NCAA will outlaw similar live,
”If it’s allowed. It may not be allowed” in the future, he
said. ”But I’m not worried about that. What I do is worry about my
program and my team and that’s it. We go from there.”
The practice included a question-and-answer session with
Calipari from fans, drills, a shooting contest that included
students and a scrimmage.
Calipari said his favorite part of taking the Kentucky job in
2009 has been walking into a sold-out Rupp Arena every time the
Wildcats play there, where he’s 48-0 since he’s taken over. He also
was asked humorous questions like who would win a beauty pageant
among his players and who he would rather coach – Kobe Bryant or
Calipari took the high road on each, drawing the most laughs
when he said he’d love to coach Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin over
the other two superstars.