Calipari: Time for Kentucky to put aside individual goals and make 'commitment to win'

Coach asks for 'commitment'

jtipton@herald-leader.comJanuary 14, 2011 

Coach John Calipari hopes bloodying a nose to get a loose ball and such selfless zealotry becomes habit-forming for his Kentucky team.

Toward that end, Calipari suggested a concept on Thursday few could have anticipated: Ramon Harris, basketball role model.

"Last year, Ramon shot 12 percent from three," Calipari said in a mild exaggeration (actually 16.1 percent), "and couldn't make a free throw. But I could keep him in the game because he'd defend and rebound."

Ditto for Perry Stevenson in "most games," Calipari added as reporters chuckled. "Not every game."

The UK coach has been hoping his extra pre-practice workouts with four reserves will develop such contributors. When asked if his work had borne fruit, Calipari said it was too early to tell.

"If it takes you two years (to form) habits, in a week it's not changing," Calipari said.

For example, the UK coach noted how backup big man Eloy Vargas continues to struggle to get his shot off quicker. Playing above defenders in high school, Vargas could take his time and score at will. At UK, he has to be readying himself to shoot before catching the pass.

Not that Vargas has a monopoly on bad habits. Calipari noted how the big man and junior Darius Miller shared a habit of not staying down in a defensive stance. To stand straight leads to reaching on defense and being called for fouls, the UK coach said.

Some players have eased quickly into the free-throw shooting form Calipari ordered. Others struggle to change.

"The issue for us now is a commitment to win," Calipari said of the over-arching change he's trying to install.

Instead of concerns about playing time or scoring points, Calipari said he wants all players concentrating on execution on offense and defense.

Calipari agreed with a reporter's suggestion that selfless play might be difficult to bring out of players who had been high school stars.

"They all think of themselves as point guards and scorers," he said. "I have (10) point guards on this team that I screwed up and put at different positions.

"We had guys fighting for the ball to get off a shot in the last game."

Calipari, who said he did not enjoy coaching the last two games, denied that he'd become frustrated.

"We just hope one of these guys or two of them step up and help us," he said of the season-long search for more depth. "We're playing six guys right now."

Jones off bench?

Calipari did not rule out the possibility of bringing Terrence Jones off the bench again on Saturday against LSU.

As a substitute against Auburn on Tuesday, Jones scored a UK freshman-record 35 points.

"I liked the way we started the last game," Calipari said when asked about Jones coming off the bench again. "There was energy. It only takes one guy to zap the energy of your practice and of your game.

"If two are standing around, you're behind every basket, every shot, every drive, every rebound. This team has been that way, too. I like the way we started the (Auburn) game. It wasn't that we made some shots. There was an energy level to what we were trying to do."

Cal on Cobb

When Kentucky football All-American Randall Cobb considered walking on the basketball team, he consulted with Coach John Calipari.

When asked Thursday his reaction to Cobb turning pro this year, Calipari smiled and said, "He did not come to me for advice."

More seriously, Calipari wished Cobb well and tried to turn this obvious negative into a potential positive for UK football.

"There's some good news," he said. "There's opportunity now. Who are the next guys?

"We need more from our man from Indianapolis (quarterback Morgan Newton)."

Calipari likened the challenge UK football coach Joker Phillips faces with the one he faced with the departure of DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson and Daniel Orton after last season.

"What an opportunity for Josh (Harrellson)," Calipari said.

'Transitive property'

LSU beat Auburn, which is on pace to be the worst team ever from a BCS conference. Auburn beat Florida State. Florida State beat No. 1 Duke.

This led Calipari to note that parity makes for no team untouchably better than another.

Or as LSU freshman Matt Derenbecker put it, "Transitive property is, we beat Duke."

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