UK-Florida notes

Calipari has no time for scaredy-Cats

Coach says minutes earned by toughness

jtipton@herald-leader.comJanuary 12, 2010 

Sounding as if his patience is wearing thin, Kentucky Coach John Calipari drew a metaphorical line in the sand on Monday. He said the UK players have two options:

■ Play hard.

■ Sit comfortably on the bench.

"If you battle and fight, I'll play you," he said. "If you don't, I'm not playing you."

Calipari mentioned no names. But follow-up questions centered on starting wing Darius Miller and one of his backups, Darnell Dodson.

"We've got a couple guys playing like they're afraid to lose," said Calipari, again not naming names. "You can't play like that and play for me. When you're open to make a play, you make it. You're not flatfooted."

Calipari almost bristled at the possibility of tentative play resulting from the fear of the coach benching a player for a mistake.

"Don't say it's me taking you out," the UK coach said. "I'm telling you before you walk in. If you don't dive on the floor, if you don't mix it up, if you get pushed around and knocked into the cheerleaders, you're out."

Calipari noted that the thousands of fans who stayed in Rupp Arena for his post-game radio show identified another wing, DeAndre Liggins, as the reserve who fought back against Georgia on Saturday.

"They said in unison, Liggins," Calipari said.

"... If you hold them accountable, guess what? The guy who will never dive or come up with the loose ball, who plays a soft game will either change or he'll never play. He'll keep making excuses."

'Personal interest'

Calipari said he would take a "personal interest" in freshman Daniel Orton. The two will spend time reviewing tape of the big man's play, the UK coach said.

Orton said his surgically repaired knee still presents a problem.

"I'm not mentally back from it," he said. "I don't jump off it like I should."

His role is as a defensive player, Orton said. Meanwhile, he's working to improve offensively.

"Coach Cal says they lack confidence in me in the low post," Orton said of his teammates. "I'm trying to gain their confidence and show I can score the ball in the low post."

Q&A

Florida freshman Kenny Boynton spoke to the Florida press corps about John Wall.

Q: Did you play against him on the high school or AAU level?

A: "I played John Wall about four times. He's a great player, but we've got to go out there and get the win tomorrow."

Q: What makes Wall a difficult challenge?

A: "When he gets the ball in the open court, he's a different player. I think if we can get back on defense and make him settle for a halfcourt game, we'll stop him a lot. But I think after the team misses (and) he catches the ball really far out, he pushes the ball."

Q: How fast is Wall?

A: "He's faster than anybody I've ever guarded. He's very fast with the ball."

Q: Did you guard him in AAU games?

A: "I guarded him all four games. The main key is to stop him before the play starts. If he gets the ball and gets going on the fast break, he's going to go right around. You have to stop him before he gets it."

Q: Were you friends with Wall off the court?

A: "We were friends. I talked to him in the recruiting process a lot. He was thinking about coming here, but he decided to come to Kentucky."

Liggins starts?

After Liggins played well against Georgia, Calipari suggested he might start the sophomore, no doubt in place of Miller.

"I'm not going to do it because I think we need him off the bench," Calipari said. "He and Daniel (Orton) will be the first subs. So when you talk of seven (players in a rotation), he's worked his way into that seven. Then I'll go from there."

No. 2

With Kansas losing to Tennessee on Sunday, UK moved from No. 3 to No. 2 in The Associated Press poll this week.

That marks the highest UK has been in The AP poll since reaching No. 2 in the final poll of the 2003-04 season.

Kentucky has not been No. 1 since the final poll of the 2002-03 season.

The move up one spot in the poll led Calipari to wax nostalgic. He noted how he and Texas Coach Rick Barnes crossed paths in 1977 at a University of Pittsburgh camp. Calipari was a camper. Barnes was a long-haired coach who drove a Volkswagen "beetle" and used a toss-back machine in his demonstrations.

When he spoke to Barnes after Sunday's games, Calipari said he asked him, "Can you imagine you're No. 1 and the dude sleeping in the training room (Calipari) is No. 2."

Staring at 0-2

Florida has never started 0-2 in SEC play in Donovan's 14 seasons.

Last time the Gators started 0-2 in the SEC was 1995-96, Lon Kruger's last season as coach.

Etc.

Brad Nessler, Dick Vitale and Erin Andrews will call the game for ESPN. ... No. 2 UK is the highest-ranked opponent for a Florida home game since UK came in as No. 2 on March 8, 2003. UK won that game 69-67.

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