UT Arlington-UK notes: Calipari not happy with rebounding

jtipton@herald-leader.comNovember 19, 2013 

To explain how Kentucky "mashed" his team on the boards in the second half, UT Arlington Coach Scott Cross assumed a John Calipari tongue-lashing at halftime. "Threatened them," he said.

Cross was correct. UK getting out-rebounded by four in the first half made Calipari cross.

The Cats' 29-13 second-half domination of the rebounding hardly mollified Calipari.

"It's all effort," the UK coach said after a 105-76 victory. "It's nothing else. Sprint the floor. Stay in a (defensive) stance. Check out and rebound. Don't let his effort be (greater)."

UT Arlington's Brandon Edwards, who entered the game averaging a double-double, scored a career-high 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. His offensive rebounds numbered seven, meaning that he almost single-handedly grabbed the "nine or 10" limit Calipari sets for opponents.

Calipari saluted Edwards for "smashing the boards and just taking the ball from our hands.

"You can't have that," the UK coach added.

Cross and Edwards unwittingly endorsed Calipari's contention that Kentucky got out-worked.

"We came out with a lot of energy," said Edwards, a 6-foot-6, 224-pound senior.

Choosing his words carefully, Cross said of the first half rebounding, "Kentucky's guys probably weren't as aggressive. ... Rebounding is a funny thing. Sometimes the ball goes your way. Sometimes it doesn't."

He meant funny as in odd, not humorous. Calipari was not amused. "They out-worked us for a bunch," he said.

Calipari lamented how UT Arlington players repeatedly drove past defenders. "We stopped playing," he said. "Guys stood straight up and down."

Calipari closed his post-game news conference by expressing what sounded like a threat or a promise, or both.

"I'm not changing," he said of his demands for greater effort. The players must give him what he wants or sit and/or stew.

"I don't care," Calipari said. "Be mad. Be sad. I don't get on you except for effort."

Conference calls

Surely, no school knows the temporary nature of conference affiliation these days better than UT Arlington.

The Mavericks are in the Sun Belt Conference. Last season, they were in the Western Athletic Conference. The year before that, they were in the Southland Conference.

Putting a positive spin on this nomadic existence, Coach Scott Cross said, "I think it's a good thing for us because our guys have been able to see different places."

Cross acknowledged that he's been at a disadvantage having to learn about referees and opposing coaches.

UT Arlington officials saw the move from the Southland to the WAC as simply a matter of joining a better conference. The school had been in the Southland Conference for 46 years.

Then several schools with the better football conferences chose to leave the WAC. That led UT Arlington officials to decide to join the Sun Belt.

"To get a little bit more stable conference," Cross said.

'Big Blue Triathlon'

UK officials are promoting a "Big Blue Triathlon" for Nov. 27.

Fans will have the chance to attend three UK sporting events that day/night. The women's basketball team plays Bradley at noon in Memorial Coliseum.

Then the men's team plays Eastern Michigan in Rupp Arena beginning at 4 p.m. To end the triathlon, UK's volleyball team plays Florida in the Coliseum beginning at 8 p.m.

All fans who attend the three games will receive a commemorative Big Blue Triathlon t-shirt, UK said.

One grand champion (random drawing) will receive prizes that include a Nike gift pack, two lower level tickets to the men's basketball game against Louisville, VIP access to ESPN College GameDay on Feb. 15, two lower-level tickets to men's basketball against Florida, and two lower-level tickets to men's basketball against Alabama (senior day).

The winning "triathlete" will also get to shoot baskets on the Rupp Arena floor before one of the games and get his or her picture taken at mid-court.

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

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