Marquee freshman Nerlens Noel cited tendinitis in a knee as the reason he limped in Kentucky's 74-46 victory over Portland on Saturday.
"That just came up in the warmups," he said. "Just like soreness. I get it from time to time. Just through a lot of playing and stuff."
With UK Coach John Calipari adding early-morning conditioning, dubbed "Camp Cal," to the players' workload last week, a question arose about aggravating Noel's tendinitis.
A reporter noted that he would not have as much time to rest the knee. "Yeah, I'm not," he said.
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Discomfort usually comes after workouts, games or conditioning, he said.
The pain usually arises in his left knee, but sometimes both knees, Noel said. He described the pain as soreness.
"It was tough early on," he said of the Portland game. "But it started to loosen up and I was able to just play hard on it with less pain."
Despite the discomfort, Noel flirted with a triple-double. He scored seven points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked seven shots.
Calipari sounded unconcerned. "If you want to play, fake it," he said he told Noel. "Don't limp. Play."
When the pain arises, he uses ice treatments.
Said Noel: "I don't get it like that (regularly). Just through soreness, because it was a long week of conditioning and basketball. I get it just through soreness of playing a lot."
During his post-game radio show, Calipari scoffed at a question about the upcoming Southeastern Conference race.
"I'm not worrying about the league," he said. "We have to get better.
"If we had to play the league now, we'd finish last."
A moment later, Calipari advised against thinking a month ahead.
"Right now, Florida is about 35 points better than us," he said. "Maybe 40."
Calipari relished the idea of using the semester break to improve the Cats. "I cannot wait," he said of the next few weeks when there's no limit on practicing.
But isn't this the same Calipari who's often said he does not believe in early-morning workouts or heavy practice workloads?
"It's not practice," he said of the pre-dawn Camp Cal sessions begun last week. "It's conditioning. It's conditioning."
When asked to explain the difference, Calipari said, "There's a big difference. The reason I'm doing it, it's not how much we're killing them in the workouts. It's that you've got to get up at 7 and do it. ... Get their heart rate up. That means in a game when they don't feel like going, they know they have something in the tank."
All the practicing and conditioning takes time away from being a student, campus life and what one reporter playfully called the "tra la la" of being in college.
"I don't know what that is," Ryan Harrow said of tra la la. "It's just basketball, school (and) basketball-basketball-basketball."
Like Notre Dame?
On Friday, Calipari likened Portland to Notre Dame.
This led Portland spokesman Jason Brough to note a similarity between the Pilots and Irish: Both schools are part of the Holy Cross denomination of the Catholic church.
It seems safe to guess that Notre Dame never plans a four-day trip like Portland made to play one game. The Pilots came to Lexington on Thursday, not wanting to risk possible travel delays coming through Chicago on Friday. Presuming a Saturday evening tip-off, the Pilots made plans to return home Sunday. Word of the noon start came after the program made flight reservations.
There was a new name in the officiating crew: Vladimir Voyard-Tadal.
The exotic name belongs to a black man who lives in south Florida.
"He has been in our identification and development camps/program for several years," SEC Supervisor of Officials Gerald Boudreaux said in a text message. "He has worked in the (Atlantic Sun) and several Division II conferences."
Portland's 27.1-percent shooting was the poorest accuracy by a UK opponent since Radford made 26.2-percent of its shots on Nov. 23, 2011. ... UK improved to 6-0 when leading at halftime. The Cats are 0-3 when trailing at intermission. ... UK improved to 25-0 under Calipari when holding opponents to 55 or fewer points.