UK basketball

No shot appears safe from Kentucky big man Davis

Block radius extends to arc

jtipton@herald-leader.comNovember 4, 2011 

In what must be a record of some sort, University of Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis ventured more than 20 feet from the basket to record the majority of his eight blocks against Transylvania on Wednesday night.

Shot-blocking, especially for a big man, usually occurs in or near the new block-charge arc, not out by the not-so-new three-point line. Davis stunned Transy by rejecting several long-range attempts.

"It was difficult to gauge how long he was," Transy forward Ethan Spurlin said after UK's 97-53 exhibition victory. "I'd never played against anyone that tall and long."

Davis' dimensions — 6-foot-10, 223 pounds — were well known. The surprise was to see him stand in the lane, seemingly out of the play, and then spring out like a Venus Flytrap and make a three-point shot disappear.

Shot gone. Shooter's mind blown.

"For the next shot, it really makes you second-guess yourself," Spurlin said.

UK players shrugged.

"I'm used to that," Doron Lamb said. "I see that in practice all the time."

When asked if Davis had blocked any of his perimeter shots, Lamb said, "He caught me a couple times, I won't lie."

To hear UK players, shooters should interpret Davis in the vicinity as a stop sign. Lamb suggested that was especially true for Transy, which started no one taller than 6-4.

"If you're that small and try to shoot one, that's guaranteed to be a block," he said.

Another freshman, Marquis Teague, echoed the sentiment.

"Most of the time, you're going to lose that battle," Teague said of trying to shoot a jump shot over Davis. "It's better to swing it (pass to the other side), honestly."

Teague agreed that such a block can inflict a psychological wound.

"It messes with your mind a lot," he said. "If he can block your shot from there, you can't shoot it."

Terrence Jones, who regularly competes against Davis in practice, suggested a shooter pull the trigger faster in order to get the attempt off before the defender arrives.

Then Jones amended his advice.

"You can't shoot it, really," he said. "It's real hard to judge his length when he's so far back and you think a guy is open."

Transy Coach Brian Lane acknowledged his surprise.

"The first half was a perfect scenario of what we wanted to do," he said, "but I had to keep yelling out, 'Quit trying to shoot three-point shots over Anthony Davis.' The guy is 6-foot-15.

"I simulated it in practice in layups, but I had no clue I should have done it for three-pointers. I made them shoot over a broom for two days inside. I would have never dreamed we'd have that many shots blow up in our hands from the three-point line."

UK Coach John Calipari, entrenched in demand-more mode at this early stage of the season, conceded that eight blocks were "pretty good stuff." But Calipari emphasized how Davis needed to get in better condition.

Cramps caused the freshman to limp off the court late in the second half.

"He's not used to running hard," Calipari said. "That's why I was laughing when we carried him off."

Calipari also said that Davis needed to get stronger and develop an offensive presence around the basket.

"(Davis) made one play where he went back to his left hand," the UK coach said. "It looked pretty good. There were others he couldn't get the shot off. The guy was 6-5, 6-4 guarding him."

UK coaches must determine how best to use Davis.

"Just throwing him (the ball) in the post and say, 'Here, post up, Shaq,' that's not who he is," Calipari said. "He couldn't do it today."

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