Calipari wants Anthony Davis, Cats to get tougher

Coach suggests low-post scorer by committee

jtipton@herald-leader.comNovember 7, 2011 

Anthony Davis dunked during an exhibition victory against Transylvania in which he almost had a triple-double.

MARK CORNELISON | STAFF

  • Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky

    When: 7 p.m. Saturday
    Where: LP Field in Nashville
    TV: ESPNews
    Radio: WBUL-FM 98.1; WLAP-AM 630; WWRW-FM 105.5

Kentucky Coach John Calipari ordered a lid put on the basket in recent practices. He also had a treadmill returned to courtside.

His objective? To begin toughening up the Cats.

"We felt like, against Transylvania, they out-toughed us a little bit," sophomore guard Jarrod Polson said Sunday.

So in the vein of seeing a problem and working to lessen it, Calipari wanted a lid on the basket in order to ensure plenty of rebound competitions. The treadmill again looms as a 14-mph incentive to execute properly.

The UK coach now hopes to see improvement in the second exhibition game, which comes Monday night against Morehouse College.

When discussing getting muscled a bit by Transy, Calipari noted UK's inability to establish a low-post presence.

"We were not able to hold a position," he said. "They pushed us out to 12 feet (from the basket). We started at 7 feet and caught it at 12."

Freshman Anthony Davis flirted with a triple-double against Transy. Not that he's a finished product. "He's got to be a stronger player and a tougher player," Calipari said.

Davis has been working since that exhibition to become more of a low-post threat.

"I know I'm going to have to stay in the post a lot," he said in a tone that suggested it was a chore rather than an enticing idea. "I feel comfortable (in the post). I need to learn more moves."

Davis acknowledged that he needs to crouch more and spread out when he posts up.

"He says the lower I get, the better I am," Davis said in reference to Calipari. "That game, I wasn't very low."

After the exhibition, Calipari lamented how Davis struggled to score over Transy defenders no taller than 6-foot-4 or 6-5.

"The smaller the other guy is — watch this! — the lower you've got to get," Calipari said. "One kid pushed him out of bounds. They called a foul. In reality, the kid probably just nudged him, and he fell out of bounds."

Davis stands too erect on offense and defense, Calipari said. The freshman big man also tends to shoot fadeaways rather than move assertively toward the basket on attempts.

"He tries to fade away from contact," the UK coach said. "You can't (do that). You create contact."

Calipari cautioned reporters not to rush to a conclusion that Kentucky wants to make Davis Moses Malone reincarnate.

"That's not how we're going to win," the UK coach said of Davis as low-post scorer exclusively. "We're not going to come down and post him 22 times a game."

Calipari said he would not try to fit a slender peg into what Al McGuire used to call an aircraft-carrier-size hole.

Terrence Jones, Kyle Wiltjer and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist can give UK some low-post action. So can Davis.

"There will be players he should be able to post up and score (against)," the UK coach said before adding, "They better be real skinny."

Calipari envisioned playing to Davis' strengths: Throw him lob passes, let him make putbacks as a secondary or off-side rebounder, use his speed and versatility.

"You fly him up and down the court because their big guy can't stay with him because he moves so well," Calipari said. "Do things he does well instead of force him (to fit a role)."

Davis said he did not play a traditional low-post role on offense in high school. "A fair amount," he said before adding, "Not that much."

As he works to develop more low-post moves, Davis said that Calipari does not suggest NBA role models as a means of giving the player a mental image of what's desired.

"He tells you what to do and how to do it," Davis said. "(Then Calipari) expects you to do it."

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