UK Basketball: Could lack of depth hurt the Wildcats?
Nerlens Noel (3) and Willie Cauley-Stein have both been consistent shot blockers this season for Kentucky, but coach John Calipari worries that he¿s playing Noel and others too many minutes in certain games. (Victoria Graff / January 15, 2013)
Kentucky coach John Calipari has not said that, but he did acknowledge Monday that some players are having too play too much and used Archie Goodwin’s play in Saturday’s loss to Texas A&M as an example.
“He did good, then he tired out. He shouldn’t have been in the game. He should’ve been out, and I left him in there trying to finish out the game. So the last five minutes, we’re up four and he just dies on screens, gets beat, couldn’t sustain it. Well, he shouldn’t have been in the game that long. That’s not his fault. That’s my fault,” said Calipari.
“And then probably the same with Ryan Harrow. Trying to play him too much. I played Nerlens (Noel) too much, but I didn’t have a choice because Willie (Cauley-Stein) got in foul trouble. So we’ve got to get a better rotation. We’ve got a lot of things to deal with as we go forward and you’re trying to play your best basketball when you know the other team is going to play their best basketball. You’ve got to try and figure out as we go forward how do we play our best, how do I get these guys to continue to grow.”
Goodwin leads UK¿in scoring at 15.7 points per game and in minutes played at 32.1. Senior guard Julius Mays and Noel, who leads UK¿in rebounds, blocked shots and steals, are both averaging 31 minutes per game. Alex Poythress averages 27 minutes per game and Harrow is averaging 26 also but his playing time continues to climb dramatically.
Still, Calipari says it is too early to push the panic button despite UK’s 10-5 mark and two home losses.
“Willie is still playing well. I think Archie and Ryan are playing fine. I think you’ll have Julius and we’re trying to get Alex (playing better). We’re doing everything we can and when I watched the tape Alex played fine, he just didn’t have enough energy sustained, enough effort that was sustained effort,” Calipari said. “When I watched the tape he wasn’t in knots playing basketball. It has nothing to do with shooting, dribbling, doing all that stuff. It has nothing to do with that.
“It’s a simple sustained effort, fighting screens, continuing to play, sprinting the court. That’s what we’re trying to work on with him. He wants it bad. He’s such a great kid and wants to please us and please me, but like I said, it’s all a process.”
Calipari knows players thinks they are playing harder than they ever have and “this dude wants more” from us.
“Now, if it were on a normal situation and he’s a freshman I’m happy. I’m hugging him and telling him, ‘You’ll be alright, just try and play a little harder,’ but we’re at Kentucky, this is warp speed. Everything is on steroids so you’re challenging kids that are 17, 18, 19-years old to be like (Texas A&M senior Elston) Turner, 24 years old. You’ve got to be him,” Calipari said.
“But you decided to come here. It wasn’t me. I didn’t beg you to come here, you knew coming in. I think they’re getting the picture. Hey, we’ve got a ways to go. I’m telling you, the (Tennessee) game is going to be a hard game for us but I’m anxious to see how we respond, I’m anxious to see how tough they play. Those are all good things.”