Turning negatives into positives (a bedrock platitude voiced by many a coach) has become a way of life for Kentucky reserve Kevin Galloway.
He came to UK this year after star turns on the high school and junior-college levels. So far this season, he's mostly sat and watched.
That's a good thing, Galloway said after Kentucky's victory over Mississippi Valley State on Sunday.
"Because of that, I feel I've worked harder," he said of the bench time. "I feel I've become a better player from not playing as much."
At Sacramento (Calif.) High, Galloway led his team to a top-20 ranking in the state. He was the top scorer, rebounder, three-point shooter and shot-blocker. He also led the Dragons in assists and steals.
After a stopover at Southern Cal, he helped lead the College of Southern Idaho to a 30-2 record. His average of 8.6 assists ranked fourth nationally.
So far for Kentucky, Galloway is learning. One lesson came in how to approach practice.
"I didn't have the right mind-set," he said. "I was focusing on thinking it was practice and it didn't really mean much."
As a result, Galloway practiced with a free-and-breezy attitude. Too free and breezy to suit UK Coach Billy Gillispie, who sees practice habits setting the stage for what happens in games.
"I try to make too many home run plays," Galloway said. "Now I try to focus on the simple plays."
When asked about Galloway's lack of playing time earlier this season, Gillispie noted how the player had to reduce his practice turnovers.
"Not thinking through a play," Galloway said. "Just seeing an opening and just going for it. I haven't been poised enough to try to get it on the second time through or try to make that play later."
With Ramon Harris injured and freshman Darius Miller learning to be more assertive, Galloway got the start at the wing against Mississippi Valley State.
"It was great," he said. "I never had a feeling like it."
Galloway learned he was starting only moments before the game. "I didn't have enough time to react, really," he said. "Just run out to the court."
Going forward, Gillispie saw Galloway playing better if UK can be an up-tempo team "where he can slash in the lane."
Gillispie envisioned Galloway as a defensive stopper.
When asked how such a role differed from his days as a high school and junior-college star, Galloway laughed. "I always played defense wherever I was at," he said before adding, "that hasn't been my main focus."
Junior-college transfers typically need a semester or more to adjust and thrive. As an impatient coach, Gillispie facetiously (?) suggested that the transition could be completed in two weeks.
Yet Galloway noted how complicated the transition can be.
"Trying to fit in and find a chemistry and expectation level," he said. "What you want to do on that team and what your role is."