Kentucky invited media members to watch Tuesday’s practice at the Joe Craft Center. Here are observations, random thoughts and guesswork from the two-and-one-half-hour workout:
▪ The quality of a UK player’s high school team can impact the transition to college basketball.
Freshman Wenyen Gabriel’s adjustment to the concept of team defense led UK Coach John Calipari to inject perspective into his coaching.
Calipari linked the adjustment to talented teammates to Gabriel’s high school team, Wilbraham & Monson Academy in Manchester, N.H.
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Gabriel, a highly regarded prospect, played on one of the worst high school teams he’d seen, Calipari said.
“He doesn’t trust anybody,” Calipari told the players. “If you played on that team, you wouldn’t trust anybody.”
It’s mid-October. Plenty of time to develop trust.
▪ Malik Monk and Dominique Hawkins shot smoothly and confidently.
The shot of the day might have been taken by De’Aaron Fox: a high-arcing left-handed jumper from the elbow over Derek Willis.
It settled into the basket softly.
▪ Monk’s perimeter shooting presented an unusual challenge in a drill.
“Malik is harder to guard in this. Why?” Calipari asked the players before answering his own question. “Because he can jump.”
Calipari held a hand about four feet off the floor.
▪ Calipari stopped practice to praise Bam Adebayo’s effort to get offensive rebounds.
“Great job, Bam!”
▪ Mychal Mulder looked leaner, fitter than last season. He also appeared lighter on his feet and more athletic.
▪ Calipari set the priority for perimeter defenders. Preventing “straight-line drives” to the basket more important than blocking a jump shot. Stay down!
▪ Calipari set the priority for drives to the basket. Don’t get the shot blocked. Don’t turn it over. A miss is no biggie as long as the ball is around the basket and inviting to offensive rebounders.
▪ Isaac Humphries and Tai Wynyard did not participate in practice. They rode stationary bicycles in the corner of the gym during the first hour or so. Then they departed.
Soreness in his right knee sidelined Humphries, UK said. Wynyard suffered a facial fracture in the Oct. 9 practice. UK lists the status of both as day to day.
▪ Dillon Pulliam arrived about 30 minutes after practice began because of a conflict with a class.
▪ During a perimeter shooting drill, Willis made six straight three-point shots in one stretch.
In a five-minute span, he made 54 three-point shots — all from the left wing. Monk made 58. Brad Calipari made 55. Isaiah Briscoe made 61. He has made 60 or more in the drill on several occasions, UK said.
7 p.m. (SEC Network)