Calipari cools expectations for Canada trip

'I hope we look bad,' UK Coach says

jtipton@herald-leader.comAugust 6, 2010 

  • UK games in Canada

    At Windsor, Ontario

    (All games live on WKYT-27)

    Aug. 15: vs. Windsor, 7 p.m.

    Aug. 16: vs. Western Ontario, 7 p.m.

    Aug. 17: vs. Windsor, 11 a.m.

MAYSVILLE — Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari said Thursday that he doesn't feel any pressure for his young team to look good on its upcoming trip to Canada.

"To be honest, I don't. I hope we look bad," he said, "to take everything away from people thinking we win 35 games a year, because it just doesn't happen. ...

"Last year's team, I don't want this year's team to be judged by them. There's no reason to."

Calipari spoke about his team during a UK satellite camp that had about 60 kids, ages 5-9, participating.

The Cats, who lost nine players from last season's 35-3 team, play three exhibition games in Canada Aug. 15-17.

Calipari said veteran players DeAndre Liggins and Darius Miller are more mature and in better condition than before.

"The freshmen are going fine, but they are freshmen" and have to learn the dribble-drive system, how to play hard and play through tough contact.

"Brandon (Knight) did a good job running the team on Wednesday, and Doron (Lamb) is showing some Chris Douglas-ishness," he said. Chris Douglas-Roberts, who he said they called "Buckets," played for Calipari at Memphis and is now in the NBA with the Milwaukee Bucks. "He just got buckets," Calipari said of Douglas-Roberts. "This kid, Lamb, does it the same way."

He said the injured ankle of freshman forward Terrence Jones, who practiced live for the first time Wednesday, is at about 80 percent.

Jones is behind all the young kids because of the ankle, Calipari said. "He needed me shaping him more than the others."

Calipari expects Jones to be ready to play in Canada. "But if I think he's hurt at all, I won't play him," he said.

Freshman center Enes Kanter has still not been cleared to play by the NCAA. If he's cleared before the Canada trip, "he'll play," Calipari said.

Calipari said he had no idea if the NCAA would clear Kanter before the trip to Canada. Typically, the NCAA's Eligibility Center first works on cases involving athletes who play fall semester sports, suggesting Kanter would not be cleared in time to play.

Calipari dismissed the importance of playing in the games in Canada. "The most important thing is these practices and he's getting all that," he said.

When asked about the competition in Canada (the University of Windsor in two games and the University of Western Ontario in one), Calipari said he doesn't know or care who UK will play in Canada.

"I'm more worried about my team" than the competition, he said. Canada will "set the stage for how far we have to go."

It's too early to tell how good this team will be, Calipari said.

Calipari pointed out that he did not expect his 2008-09 Memphis team to win more than 15 games.

"We ended up winning 27 in a row, so you can't really tell how good they will be," he said of the Cats this coming season.

And Calipari isn't worried about having only 10 scholarship players.

"I've done it all kinds of ways," he said. "The best team I ever coached was the UMass team that beat Kentucky to open the season and we played six guys." That was the 1995-96 team that lost to Kentucky in the Final Four that season.

"All 10 can play," he said. "I think we will be all right."

Davis report 'ridiculous'

Calipari declined to talk about the controversial Chicago Sun-Times article posted briefly Wednesday afternoon about recruit Anthony Davis.

"No, no. I won't bother with ridiculous things," he said of the Internet report, which by Thursday morning had been removed from the newspaper's Web site.

Wednesday night, UK sent a letter to the Sun-Times threatening a lawsuit. The paper has been blasted by media around the country for "irresponsible reporting."

Canada games on TV

Kentucky fans will be able to watch the basketball exhibition games in Canada on the Big Blue Sports Network and listen to them on the school's radio network.

Stations planning to televise the Canada exhibition games include WKYT in Lexington; WTVW in Evansville; WYMT in Hazard; WSAZ in Huntington, W.Va.; WKAG in Hopkinsville; WMYO in Louisville; and WKKA in Paducah/Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Radio stations in Lexington (WLAP) and Louisville (WHAS) will head the radio coverage.

■ The game time for UK's Aug. 16 game vs. Western Ontario has been changed from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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