After noting the benefits of fear a week ago, Kentucky Coach John Calipari unleashed another f-word Friday: Frustration.
He spoke of the annoyance that comes with trying to instill the most basic elements of competition rather than the fun that comes with strategy.
"When you don't have fun in coaching, instead of coaching X-and-O's and situations and really teaching, what are you doing?" Calipari said before answering his own rhetorical question. "Effort. Intensity. Focus. And concentration. I should coach that? That's what my coaching should be? Well, that's what my coaching is right now.
"That is a frustrating thing for a coach. I should never have to coach energy, effort, passion and enthusiasm and be vocal. They can do all that."
Kentucky (6-3) plays Lipscomb (4-4) Saturday at the end of final exams and at the start of a semester break that Calipari hopes is consumed with basketball. In addition to the pre-dawn conditioning, dubbed Camp Cal, and multiple daily practices, Calipari called for voluntary time in the gym.
"Nothing is going on," he said. "Why wouldn't you be in the gym five times a day? We go three (practices). You go two more."
Then Calipari (playfully?) suggested possible diversions that a player might cite to explain his absence from the gym.
■ Playing video games.
■ "Reruns of 'Square-Pants,'" a reference to the cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants. Calipari said he watched the show with his now-teenage son Brad several years ago. "It was the one time I could sit with him," the UK coach said.
As for UK players, Calipari said, "Our skill set is not where it needs to be. And there's only one way to improve it. That's get on the court and practice. Be a gym rat."
Apparently, Jarrod Polson has gotten the message. Calipari cited Polson, "who did not step in the gym (for anything extra) since the beginning of the year," as a player who is putting in time.
"He's not the same player," Calipari said. "It's not what I'm saying or not saying. It's what he's doing to build his own self-esteem."
Calipari acknowledged that a freshman-oriented team might require attention to effort and intensity. Of his now four UK teams, he said, "They've all been in the same mode."
But the Kentucky team last season benefited from the intensity that players like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis brought to Lexington. Previous Calipari-coached UK teams had a veteran presence (Patrick Patterson the first season, DeAndre Liggins and Darius Miller the second, Miller-Terrence Jones-Doron Lamb the third).
The current Cats make for a quiet practice setting. Too quiet to suit Calipari, who claimed a visitor to Thursday's practice referred to UK as "the quietest team he'd ever seen."
Not for the first time, Calipari called for more player-to-player communication. Not just idle chatter or congratulatory attaboys, but the kind of vocalizing that helps five individual players coordinate their play. Silence is not golden.
To explain his team's relative lack of communication, Calipari said, "You're more concerned about yourself than anybody else on the floor. 'I'm just making sure I'm where I was supposed to be.'
"They don't understand that's being selfish. 'I passed the ball.' It's not about that. You're into your own thing if you're not communicating with your team."
To foster communication and effort and all the aforementioned intangibles, Calipari has toughened practice. To make players feel a sense of responsibility for each other, the Cats run sprints as a group whenever any individual player makes a mistake or fails to hustle.
This saves Calipari's voice. "I don't have to scream and yell and go nuts," he said. Instead, he simply orders sprints.
This also draws players' attention to teammates.
The sound of players chastising teammates does sound golden to Calipari, who said he'd heard such comments as "'What are you doing?'" and "'Would you just listen?'
"Well, we need that.
"Quit looking at us and start coaching each other."
Calipari expressed regret that he hadn't instituted tougher practices from the beginning of pre-season. Camp Cal, the tougher practices and the emphasis on stay-in-the-gym volunteerism comes with learning about the team in early-season games, he said.
Although he acknowledged improvement, Calipari made no promises about the zeal fans will see when Kentucky plays Lipscomb.
"This is our saying we're going to be tougher," he said of the tougher practices. "Doesn't mean we'll be better. But we're going to be tougher. We're going to be mentally tougher. We're going to be held accountable. We're going to play through possessions."
Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog: ukbasketball.bloginky.com