University of Kentucky freshman Kyle Wiltjer sported a bruise near his right eye as he spoke with reporters Tuesday.
"Every day we bring it, 100 percent," Wiltjer said. "There are no days off here."
Perhaps not so coincidentally, UK Coach John Calipari promoted the idea of physical and mental zeal going into Wednesday's basketball exhibition game against Transylvania ... and beyond.
"We've got to get more physical," said Calipari, who noted how that idea applied in particular to freshmen Anthony Davis and Wiltjer.
Wiltjer got the black eye in UK's Blue-White Scrimmage last week. That might have been one of the few bright spots — or is that dark spot? — to come out of that you-score, I-score, we-all-score swish-fest. Calipari said he wanted more defense and physical play.
"Not even about tomorrow," he said of the exhibition with Transy. "We've got to start getting better (defensively). We still have the same issues we had before the Blue-White game."
Calipari called for better defense against pick-and-roll plays and low-post scoring opportunities, plus, perhaps most glaringly, more efficient rebounding on the defensive end. In the Blue-White Scrimmage, there were 38 offensive rebounds.
"Against each other, the rebound attempts on defense were just awful," Calipari said. "Guys didn't even try to rebound defensively."
UK players noted Calipari emphasized defense in recent practices.
"You can be a good team if you're a good offensive team," Wiljter said. "If you're good defensively, then that's how you win championships."
Of course, UK aspires to championships. For the game against Transy, the UK players suggested Calipari wants to see sustained effort.
"Just playing hard," Wiltjer said, "and you're working on defense. That's all he wants."
Added fellow freshman Marquis Teague: "He just wants us to come out and play hard and play together (and) work on our team chemistry."
Echoing his comments of earlier this fall, Calipari noted how another freshman, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, brings exemplary effort. The UK coach mentioned how "ridiculous" Kidd-Gilchrist's effort was in a Sunday practice.
"As good as any practice I've seen from any player I've coached," Calipari said.
Calipari described a play in which Kidd-Gilchrist kept battling despite having one, then two, then three shots blocked before laying in a fourth attempt.
"If you're going in with him, you better be kicking (and) biting, doing whatever. He's coming back at you."
Calipari sounded and almost looked delighted in the retelling of the moment.
"That kind of viciousness you want guys to play with," he said, "and that's what he plays with."
Kidd-Gilchrist acknowledged how he can set a tone defensively.
"That starts with me," he said. "I've got to bring it."
Apparently, Calipari has instilled or reinforced a defense-first mentality in Kidd-Gilchrist.
"That's all he talks about," the freshman said.
Not that Kidd-Gilchrist is incapable of contributing offensively. The freshman's ability in transition led Calipari to adopt a new "policy" for the fast break.
"If he's ahead of you and you don't give him the ball, you must come out," the UK coach said. "Just walk to the bench and sit down."
When asked about his standout Sunday practice, Kidd-Gilchrist noted that scoring was a part of it."I was just feeling it, I think," he said. "I was feeling it and my teammates got me the ball. I shot the ball really well that day."
But first and foremost, Kidd-Gilchrist suggested, he must concentrate on preventing the opposition from scoring and getting his teammates to think likewise.
"I'm just defense, yeah," he said in agreeing with the premise of a reporter's question. "Just defense."