UK basketball: TV dictated Wildcats' gantlet of games

jtipton@herald-leader.comAugust 17, 2014 Updated 15 hours ago

NASSAU, Bahamas — Kentucky Coach John Calipari actually lost twice in the Bahamas. Besides Sunday's 63-62 loss to the Dominican Republic National Team, he also lost to the television masters who dictate so much of college sports.

Kentucky played back-to-back-to-back games twice here. That's not what Calipari preferred.

"What I wanted to do is two games, a day off, two games, a day off, two games and leave," the UK coach said. " But TV forced it to three and three, which I knew would be difficult. So we just left it and said, 'OK, we'll do that.'"

The games Sunday, Monday and Tuesday (Aug. 10-12) were televised by ESPNU. The games Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Aug. 15-17) helped launch the SEC Network, a subsidiary of ESPN.

"Against grown men, which was a great challenge for us," Calipari said of the schedule here. "... I needed professional-level teams. I needed men. I needed experienced, physical guys that knew how to play. That's what this team needed, which is different. That's why most teams don't do what we've just done. They wouldn't do it this way."

By comparison, North Carolina and Ohio State each played two games here. Mississippi and Cincinnati played one game.

Don't forget Harrisons

More than once, a post-game question about Tyler Ulis evolved into Calipari complimenting Andrew Harrison.

Ulis' on-ball pressure defense and nine-of-15 three-point shooting created a buzz. The new toy, Buzz Lightyear, overshadowed Sheriff Woody.

"You want him to make every play," Calipari said when asked about Ulis. "But Andrew was terrific. Andrew's game (Saturday) was unbelievable (11 points, seven assists). I mean, what he did (Saturday). So you've got two guys."

When asked about Ulis' shooting here, Calipari said, "It's good that (Ulis) had that kind of start. I'm glad Aaron (Harrison) and Andrew looked better.

Calipari said he could not say why assistant John Robic, who directed the team, had Ulis at the point and the Harrisons on the wings in the final minutes.

August team

Calipari likes to say he does not want a January team in November, which sounds like trying to avoid peaking too soon.

Of the current Cats, who won five of six games here and looked good doing it, he said, "It's an August team that's in good condition. You saw when we had to execute, we weren't able to. When we had to get ball movement, we don't have enough in. When we needed out-of-bounds plays to score, we don't have anything in. So we're an August team that's in good shape, physically."

Calipari said the Cats were ahead of schedule in some areas.

"I think they share the ball," he said. "They've figured out how to share the ball more than any team I've had this early. Where most guys, you got ball stoppers trying to do their thing, trying to figure out who they are, versus move it, get it and make plays for each other. When we do that, we're real good. When we don't do that, we're like everybody else. So this team has picked it up pretty good."

UNC wins

After losing to the Bahamas-based Providence Storms Friday, North Carolina routed the Bahamas All-Stars 109-52 on Saturday. The Tar Heels outrebounded the All-Stars 53-19. In terms of defensive rebounds, the margin was 34-6 in UNC's favor.

But North Carolina's free-throw woes continued. The Heels made only six of 12 free throws against the All-Stars, making them 14 of 31 from the line in two games here.

Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Email: Twitter: @JerryTipton.Blog:

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