It’s not easy being a basketball player for John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats. Especially during the Holiday season. Shortly after UK beat Belmont, the men’s basketball team scattered across the country, for a few days of family time, egg nog, and food. But as most of us are putting on our “eating pants” tomorrow, Willie Cauley – Stein and his team mates are headed back to Lexington, preparing for the annual UK/Louisville war.
Now in his second year of Camp Calipari – mas, Willie Cauley Stein is used to the brutal workouts ahead of the team.
Apparently, coach John Calipari is diabolical in his approach after the break. Those who do nothing but eat and lounge will suffer upon their return.
“He makes practice miserable for that reason. It will show. It will get you for sure. You will be dying,” Cauley-Stein said. “It’s just saying, ‘Look, we gave you a workout schedule. Are you mature enough and are you committed enough to the team to do it?’ It’s vital to do something because of how big the game is.”
There are nine freshmen on the team, four of them starters, who have never experienced the post-holiday gauntlet.
“I’ve warned them,” said Cauley-Stein, a Kansas native for whom the break is not all bad. “We haven’t been home for months, so it’ll be good just to step back and really evaluate yourself and come back fresh, ready to go. I’m really excited to see my family and friends I haven’t seen for a couple years.”
When Rick Pitino is not wearing brand new Minnesota Gophers duds and supporting his son’s coaching, he is still finding time to run his mouth about UK. Apparently, Pitino took his team to Miami to get away from the rivalry. Why Miami? Apparently, the University of Kentucky is a foreign entity to folks in South Florida.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino got his team out of town for the express reason of not having his players bombarded with the rivalry. He also said he was going to Miami to “strategize.” Is this the right call?
“To be honest, we came down here to get away from the distractions,” Pitino said. “The fact that nobody knows UK, nobody could care less about UK, and most people don’t know where it is, it was great.”
Being from Florida, I can tell you that I see BLUE on a daily basis and seeing Cardinal Red is about as common as seeing Hoosier Red sown here. It does not happen.
There is no truth to the rumor that Clint Hurtt arranged the social and partying schedule for Pitino’s team while in Miami though.
Remember this guy? Well James Blackmon and Trey Lyles may never face each other on the college basketball court as Hoosiers and Wildcats, but the two did battle last night. Blackmon came into the game averaging 43 points a game, but Lyles won the battle, at least for now.
While the Mr. Basketball debate will rage into March, Tech was the decisive winner in this head-to-head battle. The 6-10 Lyles was too much for smaller Marion to handle inside as he finished with 29 points and 12 rebounds.
“We believe he’s not only the best player in the state, but one of the best in the nation. He continues to prove it game in and game out against great competition.”
— Tech coach Jason Delaney, about Trey Lyles
Marion (2-2) trailed just 42-40 early in the third quarter before the Titans (7-1) blew it wide open with an 11-0 run. Lyles had seven of his points during that stretch, including an emphatic dunk, one of his five on the night.
Both Lyles and Blackmon Jr., who scored 12 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter, focused on the team matchup and not the individual showdown. But Delaney made the case for his star.
“He took over the game when it was needed,” Delaney said. “We believe he’s not only the best player in the state, but one of the best in the nation. He continues to prove it game in and game out against great competition. That’s the big thing. With our schedule, he may not be scoring 50 points a game but he’s doing great things against great competition.”
While Marion struggled to stop Tech’s transition game, its offense also bogged down in the third quarter. The Giants shot just 4-for-17 from the floor during that eight-minute stretch.
Two more Lyles dunks early in the fourth quarter pushed the lead to 16, and Marion never seriously threatened from there.