“Hard Work” has become the buzz keyword concerning the Kentucky Wildcats basketball season this year. After the Notre Dame game, it has seeped over into the fans consciousness and hustle plays like diving for a ball are rewarded with the same bravado at Rupp Arena as a slam dunk. And yes, the players know that hard work is expected of them and they are working hard. And it is starting to show. And even though it took a while, you can see the players effort getting betting during the game. Jarrod Polson acknowledges the team is trying but not quite there:
“We’re trying hard, but we’re trying to put together a 40-minute game of competing and playing hard is what we’re struggling with,” Polson said. “We had a hard and tough week of practice (last week) and I think it did help a little like (Calipari) said, but at the same time, we know we have a long way to go and he knows that. Hopefully the next two weeks and on will help us. We’ve just got to compete and play harder. We’ve got to stay hyped the how game and I think that’s where he is trying to get at. We’ve got to compete every possession and not be happy when the big plays happen.”
One of the team’s issues this season has been slow starts to open the second half. Lipscomb scored the first four points of the second half, while Kentucky didn’t connect on its first bucket until Kyle Wiltjer made a layup with 18:28 remaining.
“I don’t think we’re really ready to go (after the half),” he said. “We’ve just got to bring the energy. I don’t really know the answer, but we have to compete more and play harder out of the gate to open the second half. We tell each other before we go on the court we have to bring energy right now and obviously it hasn’t worked so far, but we’ll take care of it and move on.”
Now that classes are out of the way, this is usually the time that Calipari’s teams get better:
“This is when Cal’s team’s usually get a lot better,” he said. “We have nothing to worry about, absolutely nothing. It’s just basketball for the next two weeks. We have nothing (else) on our minds and hopefully we can get better.” He said those workouts have been “rough, competitive and defensive-minded.” “I definitely think we’re improved, but the way we’re going to practice moving forward is definitely going to help us, too,” he said. “Just having that mindset that everything is a win or a lose is what we kind of work on in practice.”
Since some Wildcat fans are grumbling about the Wildcats of Christmas present, perhaps it is time to take a look at the ghosts of Christmas past and Billy Clyde Gillispie. Resident CBS troll Jeff Goodman took at look at the BCG era and where some of his infamous recruits at Kentucky ended up:
Vinny Zollo, Furman – The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 3.7 points as a freshman at Western Kentucky before transferring to Furman this past offseason. He’s sitting out this year and will be eligible next season.
Michael Avery, Somona State – The 6-foot-5 guard was offered by Billy Clyde in the eighth grade and is now at Somona State, where he’s averaging 3.2 points in six games this season. I admit, it is a frightening look back and just gives us another reason to be thankful for John Calipari.
If you want to reward Jeff for his story and buy him a Christmas present for his home under the CBS bridge, I suggest a fact checker. BCG did not sign Jodie Meeks. But what is facts when you are a national journalist?
I know that our Coach Cal takes a lot of heat from the national pundits but the reason UK fans are so defensive of him is because he has a HUGE HEART. The latest indication of this was yesterday when he took them to Campton, Kentucky to offer a different leadership lesson:
Coach Cal and the Kentucky Wildcats joined Samaritan’s Feet at Campton Elementary School to deliver shoes and a message of hope. More than 450 students from Campton Elementary and Rogers Elementary School sat down at chairs in the gymnasium, had their feet washed by the players and coaches, and were given new shoes for the holiday season. “This is a great experience for our kids and for our staff,” Calipari said. “You reach a level of certain things. Fame is fleeting. Money has wings. But when you’re in a position to reach back and help, I’m just wanting these players to know (that’s what) you do. This is a big day for our basketball team but a bigger day for all these young kids. To be able to put new shoes on their feet (is a big deal), but being that they’re from Kentucky makes it even better.”