Although he's played only one minute of one game so far, Kentucky junior Jon Hood cautioned reporters Thursday not to wonder if he's discouraged.
"I haven't gone down," he said. "If anything, I've gotten better. So I'm in a good spot."
Hood, Kentucky's 2009 Mr. Basketball, missed last season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament. UK Coach John Calipari has noted Hood's improvement. More recently, Calipari has noted the need to add a player to UK's rotation.
Calipari suggested the Friday game against Lafayette might be the time for Hood to show everyone his improvement.
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"It wouldn't have been fair for me to stick Jon Hood into a game like this," Calipari said in post-game remarks after Kentucky lost to Duke. "We have some games coming up I can stick Jon Hood in there and give him a chance."
All in/all out
Calipari again emphasized the need to play with effort throughout a 40-minute game. As his UK predecessor, Billy Gillispie, often noted, a lapse here and there can make the difference between winning and losing.
"Let's see if we can play the whole possession against a (Lafayette) team that's going to hold the ball," Calipari said. "Let's see if we take off a minute and a half against this team, and we have to call timeout. We'll have to see if they're learning."Calipari attributed the loss to Duke to a few 90-second lapses.
"In a minute and a half, we go from three to 10," Calipari said of the deficit against Duke. Midway through the second half, UK's deficit went from 43-39 to 52-42 in 2:25. Down the stretch, UK's deficit grew from 66-63 to 75-66 in 90 seconds.
"Now you're fighting," Calipari said.
The game won't be the first time Lafayette Coach Fran O'Hanlon has been in Rupp Arena. He was an assistant for Penn when the Quakers got drilled 85-62 in the 1990-91 season opener.
When told that the Penn game prompted one observer to quip about UK merely beating "a bunch of college students," O'Hanlon laughed and said, "Our guys are going to look like a bunch of college students this year, too. Which they are."
Sophomore guard Joey Prasinski wants to be a doctor. "A real doctor," O'Hanlon said. "A real Dr. J."
Senior forward Levi Giese majors in engineering.
"I've got to try to get guys out of the library and labs," O'Hanlon said.
Lafayette plays in the Patriot League, which was the subject of a John Feinstein book, The Last Amateurs.
Because of its participation in the Barclays Classic, Lafayette is beginning a rare three-game, five-day road trip that continues with games at Morehead State on Sunday and Maryland on Tuesday.
The school is in Easton, Pa., and has an enrollment of 2,406.
The Leopards opened with a 76-65 loss to St. Francis (N.Y.) before beating Long Island in overtime 98-94.
O'Hanlon noted senior point guard Tony Johnson, who is averaging 16.5 points and 5.5 assists. Back and foot injuries limited him to 12 games last season. He's overcome a dislocated finger and sprained ankle since practice began for this season.
Johnson represents a bit of security. "Against Kentucky, you feel you can get the ball up the court," O'Hanlon said.
Big man Dan Trist has made 21 of 25 shots so far. "I don't think he's going to do that throughout the season," O'Hanlon said in a deadpan voice.
Like UK, but ...
Nine of Lafayette's 13 players are freshmen or sophomores.
"We're young," O'Hanlon said before adding, "but we don't have McDonald's All-Americans."
Lafayette's roster suggests a UK-sized recruiting budget. Trist and freshman Nathaniel Musters are from Australia. Johnson is one of four players from California. There also are players from Minnesota, Colorado and Oklahoma.
O'Hanlon cited "the AAU stuff" and contacts he's made in 18 years as Lafayette coach.
Of his recruiting budget, O'Hanlon said, "It's OK. It's certainly not Kentucky's. We don't have a private jet."
■ As scheduled, UK is expected to use its new 6,000-square foot locker room for this game.
■ Dave Baker and Kyle Macy will call the game for Fox Sports South.