Stevenson, Orton 'won the game for us' vs. UNC

jtipton@herald-leader.comDecember 9, 2009 

On Monday, Kentucky players watched a video of key contributions made in Saturday's victory over North Carolina by two players who didn't score a point.

"I thought those two won the game for us," UK Coach John Calipari said of Daniel Orton and Perry Stevenson. "... Their effort and energy was unbelievable."

Orton and Stevenson combined for three blocks, five rebounds, one assist and a steal.

"Right now, I feel it's my role," Orton said of playing good defense. "... I played OK. I expect to see myself doing a lot better. But I can't complain. We're winning."

Calipari suggested that Orton was in an enviable position.

"He's got the best job on the team," the UK coach said. "No pressure. Whatever he does is, like, added. Wow. No baskets, and we're talking of Daniel Orton as the best player."

To play more, Orton must bring a more consistent effort to practice and games, Calipari said.

So far, Orton and fellow freshman DeMarcus Cousins have shared playing time. This competition and their different personalities have not caused any friction, Orton said.

"I guess we've developed a brotherly love for each other," he said.

Orton and Cousins have also developed an instinct for knowing when Calipari will substitute one for the other.

"We both can read coach pretty well," Orton said. "Mainly the frustration in the way he reacts. His body language. He shakes his head. He'll roll his eyes occasionally."

Cousins 'cocky?'

UConn forward Stanley Robinson thinks so. Because he shares Birmingham, Ala., as a hometown with Cousins, he presumably believes he has an informed opinion.

"He's so cocky," Robinson wrote of Cousins in a blog item reported by the Hartford Courant. "He's just too cocky for his own good. I'm just ready to play him. He's a freshman, so I'm ready to play him."

Robinson, a senior, denied that he and Cousins disliked each other.

"No, no, he just jokes too much," Robinson said. "I told him, 'Stop playing around so much.' So he jokes too much, but he's a great dude, overall."

The three UK players made available to reporters Tuesday were aware of the comment. Cousins was not among them.

Calipari said he hoped Cousins was mature enough to not let a personal agenda get in the way of the team objective.

Of course, truth is a defense. Under prodding from reporters, Orton acknowledged that Cousins is no shrinking violet.

"DeMarcus is confident," Orton said. "Sometimes overly confident."

Liggins update

When asked whether there were any new developments with DeAndre Liggins, Calipari said, "Not at this point. But he's trying.

"He's doing the right thing. ... You've got to prove to me over a period of time you're going to do what we need you to do."

Calipari suggested that Liggins had done the right things, but not consistently enough to play in a game.

The UK coach said he was under no obligation to explain why Liggins has not played.

"There's no reason I have to tell the general public," he said. "I'm the head coach. I make that choice. I'm not going to tell you."

Blocks

UConn has led the nation in blocks the last eight seasons. The Huskies are averaging 9.9 blocks this season despite their best shot blocker, Ater Majok, not being eligible until the end of the fall semester.

Reserve Gavin Edwards leads UConn with 23 blocks.

With its size, UK will attack the shot blockers, Calipari said.

"You've got to worry about us blocking shots, too," he said. "We're going to block our eight or nine, too."

Kentucky averages 8.3 blocks per game.

Three-point lines

Calipari expressed concern about the NBA three-point line in Madison Square Garden confusing shooters.

"You'll see my players shooting threes from there because it's there," he said.

Etc.

■ UK point guard John Wall said he did not think he'll need surgery to ease the tendinitis in his knee.

"There's no telling when (the pain) will go away," he said. "I wish it would be right now."

■ Dan Shulman, Dick Vitale and Doris Burke will call the game for ESPN.

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