Kentucky Coach John Calipari said that only one person can get wing Darius Miller playing better: Darius Miller.
"There's only one way to build confidence and self-esteem: demonstrated performance," Calipari said on Sunday. "That's it.
"It's not me pumping you up and giving you shots. It's demonstrated performance. It doesn't matter what I say."
Miller said he couldn't explain his slow start to the season: averaging 7.5 points in two exhibition games and then going scoreless (and taking only four shots) in 32 minutes against Morehead State.
Never miss a local story.
Miller acknowledged that he's still trying to settle into a role in the new offense. "I'm still trying to figure it out," he said. But Miller dismissed that adjustment as a factor.
Meanwhile, teammate John Wall joined Patrick Patterson in saying Miller needed to clear a mental hurdle.
"Everybody's trying to get him involved," Wall said. "He's not making shots he normally makes. It's just about him getting his confidence up."
Miller acknowledged that his confidence isn't strong at the moment. He expressed his hope for a better performance against Miami (Ohio).
Meanwhile, Calipari said it would take good play — not words of wisdom from the coach — to jump-start Miller.
"The way they do it is through demonstrated performance," Calipari said. "And that's what he's going to have to get out there and do. In other words, go perform and demonstrate to yourself and everyone else what you are and build your self-esteem and confidence."
Liggins to return?
Like a good poker player, Calipari did not reveal his cards. He declined to say who might start Monday against Miami (Ohio). He also declined to say if DeAndre Liggins would see his first action.
After not being happy with UK's performance in beating Morehead State on Friday, Calipari said he could be confident in penciling in only three of five starters: John Wall, Eric Bledsoe and Patrick Patterson.
When asked Sunday about the other two spots, Calipari said he would wait until after Sunday's practice — or perhaps later — to decide.
As for Liggins, he didn't play in either exhibition game or in the opener against Morehead State. Calipari has declined to say why he hasn't played Liggins despite earlier praising the sophomore guard's transition to a new system.
Talk among reporters Sunday was that Liggins would play on Monday. But when asked about Liggins on Sunday, Calipari said, "I don't know yet. We'll see. He's doing good things."
Going strong at 67
Miami (Ohio) Coach Charlie Coles has undergone four surgeries, including one to reshape his heart, in recent years.
"I just go day-to-day," Coles said. "If I wake up and my eyes open and I breathe in and out, that's going to be a good day."
Coles, who turns 68 on Feb. 6, signed a three-year contract extension after last season.
"I love the game more than I ever have," he said. "The game of basketball is fascinating."
Coles will become the Mid-American Conference's winningest coach with two more conference victories. He likened himself to former Cincinnati Bengals running back Boobie Clark, who scored a lot of touchdowns in short-yardage situations.
"I'm the coaching Boobie Clark," Coles said. "I've got some victories. I've got a helluva lot of losses, too."
Coles' record in 20 seasons of coaching is 316-253. In 14 seasons at Miami (Ohio), he's 224-169.
If a player gets two first-half fouls, he'll sit the rest of the half, Calipari said. The UK coach left DeMarcus Cousins in the Morehead State game and the big man picked up a third foul. ... Calipari said he's still trying to determine the best way to use each player. Better competition will make for better judgments. ... Calipari lauded Miami (Ohio) point guard Kenny Hayes, a candidate for Mid-American Conference Player of the Year. The UK coach noted how Miami will use a lot of pick-and-rolls a la Florida.