Calipari advises against comparing this year's Cats to last year's

jtipton@herald-leader.comOctober 11, 2012 

While conceding the comparison comes naturally, Kentucky Coach John Calipari discouraged the likening of freshman Nerlens Noel to Anthony Davis.

"I worry about it," Calipari acknowledged, "because he's not Anthony Davis. Anthony Davis was once every 10 years."

Speaking at UK's Media Day Thursday, Calipari indulged in a bit of Noel-Davis comparison. He said Noel was "way more bouncy" and a bit taller.

But the UK coach cautioned against the comparison of Noel early this season with the Davis that dominated as last season unfolded and led UK to the national championship. He also counseled everyone not to compare the upcoming Kentucky team to the unit that beat Louisville and Kansas in the Final Four.

"Not fair," Calipari said.

Noel all but shrugged at a comparison to Davis.

"I'm not putting too much pressure on myself," he said. "I think I have good self control over something like that."

NCAA update?

When asked about the pending NCAA review of Noel's eligibility, Calipari deferred to UK spokesman DeWayne Peevy. The latter noted that no comment would be made until the first competition against an outside opponent.

To which, Calipari added, "He will practice. And if we play tomorrow, he will play."

More worries

Calipari on the 2012-13 team: "We were worried about our toughness a year ago, and I would tell you I'm a little worried about the toughness of this team ... I'm probably more worried about it this year."

Practice plan

To accent the questions surrounding the team, Calipari said he usually had the first four or five practice plans set. This year? "I've got two, but they are in pencil."

The early practices will emphasize defense, transition play and the Dribble-Drive offense's drives to the basket.

"We're really going to zero in on rebounding," he said, "because I think that's one thing this team should be good at and needs to be good at."

Cal-dashian exposure

Calipari said he initially resisted ESPN's request for an All-Access Kentucky show. "Do we really need more exposure?" he said.

When ESPN tried to sell him on the idea of providing a boost to recruiting, Calipari said he replied, "I don't think we need any help. I think we're OK."

Ultimately, UK agreed to a three-part series that ESPN has said will be Cinema verite style.

"I'm not embarrassed about how we do our job," Calipari said. "I'm not embarrassed about our kids."

More Madness

Jon Hood will be attending his sixth Big Blue Madness when Kentucky celebrates the official return of basketball season Friday night.

A record?

"I think so," Hood said.

There may be no love like a first love, but Hood insisted that Madness remains evergreen, er, ever-Blue.

"It's never routine or boring," he said. "It's always fun."

Volleyball

To begin Madness, UK will play Mississippi State in volleyball beginning at 5 p.m.

The volleyball program is looking to piggyback off Madness to attract a record crowd. The UK record is 9,475 (for a match against LSU in 1993) and the national record is 17,430 (the 2008 Final Four in Omaha, Neb.).

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

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