Kentucky basketball notes: Calipari says revenge is not the motive against Indiana

jtipton@herald-leader.comMarch 20, 2012 

John Calipari distanced himself from revenge as a motivation when Kentucky plays Indiana on Friday.

"I don't ever teach anger," the UK coach told reporters Tuesday. "Because the physiology of that is really close to fear.

"So if you try to make your team angry, and things don't go right, it turns to fear within their bodies. So I don't do it."

In the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16, Kentucky will try to avenge, er, make amends, er, beat an Indiana team that won 73-72 over UK in December.

"That was like a season ago," the UK coach said. "Literally four months (ago). That's so long ago, I had to watch the tape again to remember anything."

Calipari said that he wants UK players to concentrate on playing well, not avenging their only regular-season defeat.

"Let's not worry about four months ago," he said. "It doesn't matter now. We haven't talked about it in any of the meetings. It's not like, 'OK, we've got another shot at these (guys).' It's none of that. ...

"We've got a team in front of us. They can beat us. We know that. They've already beaten us. So we'll have to play a terrific ball game."

After Kentucky beat Iowa State on Saturday, freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist spoke viscerally of how ESPN uses footage of Christian Watford's game-winning three-pointer to promote its coverage of the NCAA Tournament. "I hate that commercial," he said. "We're going to get them back."

Calipari noted Kidd-Gilchrist's youth. The player does not turn 19 until September.

"Youngest freshman in the country," the UK coach said. "They say stupid things."

No easy task

Calipari dismissed the perception, voiced as recently as Monday by ESPN analyst Dick Vitale, that Kentucky can breeze past Indiana.

"Billboard action," he said, presumably meaning bulletin-board material. "C'mon, now. This is going to be a war. There are 16 teams left, and every one of them can play. If you're still playing now, you're fortunate. ... If you expect it's going to be easy, you'll get beat."

Then and now

Terrence Jones' desultory performance at Indiana was well-chronicled.

"We had a couple guys literally no-show in the game," Calipari said. "You guys got one. But if you watch the tape, there was more like two or three."

Calipari did not identify the others. He saluted the efforts of Kidd-Gilchrist as "a man" at Indiana and Marquis Teague's second-half impact.

Meanwhile, Jones is riding his most productive stretch of the season.

"I hope he keeps doing what he's been doing," Calipari said when asked about what's triggered Jones' revival. "What you're eating, what you're reading, tell the rest of the guys."

Injury retort

Indiana lost senior guard Verdell Jones to a season-ending knee injury in the Big Ten Tournament. His absence won't be decisive, Calipari said.

"They'll shorten their rotation," the UK coach said. "This time of year, you can get by with five guys if they stay out of foul trouble."

Keep your feet

Foul trouble limited Anthony Davis to 24 minutes at Indiana.

"He left his feet twice," Calipari said, "and he didn't need to either time."

K.I.S.S.

Calipari spoke of a strategy that mimics the famous design plan to "Keep it simple, stupid."

"How do we play (our) best," the UK coach said. "Let's not get too fancy. Let's not get too crazy. It isn't like the trick 'em time. If you end up trying to trick at this time of the season, you know who you trick? Yourself."

Calipari emphasized execution in limiting Indiana's fast-break opportunities, especially by the IU big men outrunning UK's "bigs," and containing the Hoosiers' three-point shooting.

Physical exam

Sounding like Phil Jackson trying to put a thought in the officials' minds, Calipari noted the physical nature of play in the NCAA Tournament.

"I watch all these games, I don't know where all this physical play (is coming from)," he said. "We're supposed to be calling (fouls). I swear, one team had lacrosse equipment on."

UK responded by making sure there's a physical element to practices, he said.

Calipari noted what he called "fish hook" maneuvers in which a defender steered a driver toward a teammate attempting to take a charge.

"Be aware of flopping," Calipari said he advised the Cats (and, by implication, the referees).

Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog: ukbasketball.bloginky.com

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