In the past, the zone has been a four letter word for John Calipari and his Kentucky Wildcats. This year however, Kentucky has seen a lot of zone and seems to be playing better against the zone defense. As a matter of fact, Cal seems to welcome the zone tonight.
Kentucky Coach John Calipari welcomes the likelihood of Baylor playing a zone defense almost exclusively Friday night. He said he’s OK with that because a zone brings more “cohesiveness” to UK’s offense.
“My feeling is they’ll play 95 percent zone,” Calipari said of the Bears. “They’re like us. They’re so long, you’re not getting the looks you think you’ll get in that thing.”
Yet, at this early stage, UK plays better against a zone, he said. Perhaps because the Cats have seen so much zone so far this season.
“Against man (to-man defense), we don’t seem as cohesive as we do against a zone,” Calipari said. “You can’t just come down and make a play. You have to pass-pass, drive.
“I really don’t care if people play zone. It makes us come together. … We’re playing off one another way better.”
For the second straight game, Kentucky faces an opponent that can’t keep their mouth shut and gives them plenty of bulletin board fodder. We remember Ed Cooley and his comment that he does not give “a damn” about Kentucky and we saw what happened when the teams played on the court.
Now for some reason, Baylor center Isaiah Austin is shooting his mouth off to the media and I’m sure Julius Randle and the rest of the Wildcats are taking notice.
“Coming out of high school, everyone wants to go with the hype,” he said. “Kentucky was the hype. … I made the best decision for me coming here. Coach [Scott] Drew is just as great a coach as coach [John] Calipari. We have just as great as faculty and staff. … Kentucky is not better than us in any way, shape or form.”
This game is somewhat of a homecoming for Julius Randle, Aaron Harrison and Andrew Harrison as the trio come from the Lone Star State. Julius was asked about the game and was a lot more tactful with his comments than Austin.
“I would say it’s a dream of mine just to be able to come back to my home state and be able to play in front of family and friends and fans in the city too, so I’m looking forward to it,” Randle said this week.
Randle, who is leading UK with 18.1 points and 12.6 rebounds per game, said when he committed to Kentucky he was aware of this game being scheduled — not to mention that this season’s Final Four will take place in the same building.
Speaking of Julius Randle, he has now passed Julius Randle as the likely number one draft pick in the 2014 NBA draft. Of course, that is a long ways off and the battle between Randle and Wiggins will go on to draft night. Also Jabari Parker and Dante Exum could jump up and grab the top spot as well … but for now, Randle is number one.
The elevation of Randle is no knock on Wiggins, who remains a tantalizing talent who could easily slide back into the No. 1 spot over the next few months. But NBA scouts have gushed about the inside-out play of Randle, a prototypical power forward who creates mismatches all over the floor. With dozens of NBA scouts in attendance for Kentucky’s game against Michigan State last month, Randle scored 27 points (on 9-of-14 shooting) and pulled down 13 rebounds. Said one NBA GM in attendance, “This kid is a beast.”
Andrew Harrison drops to #10 and Willie Cauley-Stein rises to #13. It seems weird to say that “just three Cats” are in the top twenty. That also means this team can still get a lot better. Watch out Isaiah Austin.