Calipari changing traditional practice habits to get Cats on track

Published 3:31 pm Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Kentucky coach John Calipari changed his team’s practice routine prior to the 63-57 win at Arkansas on Saturday.

Calipari, who rarely puts his teams through scrimmage situations this time of the year, sent the Wildcats through two days of head-to-head competition in an effort to get them on the right track after the disappointing 79-62 setback to South Carolina on Jan. 23 in Columbia.

“We went an hour and 15 minutes of scrimmage on Thursday, and then we went 40 minutes of scrimmage (Friday). I’ve never done that,” he recalled. “But after South Carolina, what are you going to do? You can’t talk them through it. You can’t show them. You get them on the court and you make them go nose-to-nose, and you hold them accountable.”

Email newsletter signup

The risk, Calipari said, is possible injuries, but added “we have enough guys to overcome it” and didn’t rule out producing a duplicate practice schedule ahead of Wednesday night’s encounter against Florida.

“I may do exactly the same thing,” he said. “That same kind of practice.”

Looking back at the loss to the Gamecocks, Calipari said a two-and-a-half minute spurt in the second have proved to be costly. He added that his “needed to get clipped like we did” after failing to respond the entire contest.

“It was a four-point game, and in 2 1/2 minutes it was a 13-point game and it was three turnovers, bad shots and then bad defense down on the other end where we’re not talking and they’re making open threes because of us … and they finished,” Calipari said.

Edwards Struggling

Justin Edwards didn’t start against the Razorbacks and has been struggling. He didn’t score in nine minutes against Arkansas and scored a combined 20 points in the team’s seven conference games.

“He’s got to get himself jump-started,” Calipari said. “The way you build your confidence is through demonstrated performance on that court, where you build your own confidence. Part of it is make really easy plays. Don’t try to do crazy stuff. Don’t do stuff that’s going to lead to turnovers or missed layups or bad shots. Defend, rebound, dive on the floor, get a breakout, dunk it. Make an open three, bang! All of a sudden, (he’s) got this.”

Calipari added Edwards is “trying to build (confidence).”

“Now he’s got to carry over what he’s doing, demonstrated performance in a game,” he said. “Not for me, for himself. He did some stuff today that was good. He’s not there yet, but that’s all right. I told him I believe in him. I know how good he is.”

Poll Position

After splitting a pair of games last week, Kentucky fell four spots to No. 10 in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 poll.

Auburn, which lost two games, fell eight spots to No. 26 and Tennessee remained idle at No. 5. Alabama made its debut and is ranked 24th this week.