Blue-White Game: Calipari sees a lot to work on in annual UK basketball tuneup

broberts@herald-leader.comOctober 24, 2012 Updated 18 hours ago

  • Next game

    Northwood (Fla.) at Kentucky

    What: Pre-season exhibition

    When: Nov. 1 at 7 p.m.

    Where: Rupp Arena

    TV: Fox Sports South

In his first full 40 minutes of basketball in Rupp Arena, Kentucky freshman Archie Goodwin led everybody on the court with 32 points.

At any other time in his young career, that would have been cause for celebration.

Not Wednesday night.

Goodwin's team lost the Blue-White Game 89-88, but it wasn't the defeat that earned his coach's ire.

John Calipari, never one to be satisfied this early in the season, got into his star freshman for passing up teammate Julius Mays on a fast break while Goodwin himself attempted a game-high 22 field goals.

"Julius was out ahead of him and he drove by him and shot it," Calipari said. "And that's unacceptable here. And I let him know that."

Goodwin was remorseful for the snub after the game, saying it wasn't intentional and just happened to be how the play unfolded.

He also said he understood that Calipari was on his case "for all the right reasons."

But he clearly wasn't accustomed to that kind of criticism after scoring 32 points in a game.

"No, I've never been chewed out after that," he said with a grin. "But when you get to college a lot of things happen that have never happened before. I'll take it as it comes."

The surprises came early, with UK's presumed starting five getting run off the floor by a group of Wildcats expected to come off the bench.

Freshman Willie Cauley-Stein had his way, for the most part, with No. 1 recruit Nerlens Noel. Julius Mays led the Blue team with 13 first-half points. Kentuckians Jon Hood and Jarrod Polson combined to score 19.

Even new practice player Tod Lanter got in on the action, hitting a three from the corner that finally fell after several bounces on the rim.

A Blue team full of reserves led 46-38 at the break.

On the other side, with a group that included Noel, Kyle Wiltjer, Alex Poythress and Ryan Harrow, only Goodwin scored in double figures.

Calipari switched things up for the second half by mixing his starters and bench players, rendering the final score pretty much meaningless.

The UK coach said afterward that everyone assumes Noel, Wiltjer, Poythress, Harrow and Goodwin are the starting five, but nothing's set in stone.

"At halftime, if you (asked) me, Willie would start and Julius would start. I don't know who else would start.," he said.

"If you asked me, I thought Jarrod Polson played the best point guard in the first half. We're still trying to figure out who we are. So we don't really have starters."

But Calipari's stars had a better showing in the second half.

Goodwin got his 32 points, the second most by a freshman in the Blue-White Game since Calipari arrived in 2009 (Brandon Knight scored 37 two years ago). The 6-foot-5 guard from Little Rock, Ark., added nine rebounds and made eight of nine free throws.

Poythress, another McDonald's All-American, was next with 25 points — 18 of them coming in the second half. He had maybe the play of the night, driving baseline on Cauley-Stein and throwing down a one-handed jam as his fellow freshman went down in a heap.

"Alex is a beast," Cauley-Stein said. "He's so strong. If he dunks on somebody, it's going to hurt him. ... I don't think he realizes how big he is yet."

Noel, regarded as the No. 1 recruit in the country, had a tough time for much of the night with Cauley-Stein, but still turned in a respectable line of nine points, eight rebounds and seven blocked shots.

Calipari said Noel hurt his back early in the scrimmage, which kept him from contesting some shots in the lane.

It was Cauley-Stein, the least-heralded of UK's four freshmen, that stole the show early. He had 11 points and three blocks in the first half, and showed off some nice post moves against Noel, who's expected to be among the country's best defenders.

The 7-footer from Olathe, Kan., wasn't surprised by the fast start he and his fellow "reserves" got out to. He also doesn't mind being looked at as a bench player.

"I just want minutes," he said. "I don't care if I start. I don't even have to start. I just want to finish the game."

But Cauley-Stein said he was extremely tired by the end of the scrimmage.

And Calipari said his entire team has a long way to go before they can play a full game the way he wants to see it played.

"What happens with young kids — they stop playing all the time," he said. "One time I looked over and Archie's grabbing his shorts. The ball's in play. The ball is in play. And that's just freshmen.

"We have a lot of freshmen issues right now that we're going to have to deal with, but that's part of what happens when you lose your entire team."

Wiltjer is the top returner from last season's national title squad, and he managed 28 points and nine rebounds while going 11-for-18 from the floor.

But Calipari lamented his defense.

"Kyle's going to have to defend better," he said. "Jon Hood just had his way with Kyle."

Seemingly no one was safe from the UK coach's criticism on Wednesday night.

"It's all freshmen," he said. "They just don't know. ... But they're trying."

Ben Roberts: (859) 231-3216.Twitter: @NextCats.Blog: UKrecruiting.bloginky.com.

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service