On Monday, Kentucky Coach John Calipari defended his never-satisfied, give-me-more-more-more attitude in this season without defeat. Of his incessant correcting of inevitable mistakes, he said, "Those are the kind of mistakes that lose in March. If I accept them now, how do I not accept them in March?"
But that doesn't mean Calipari is above pampering his players.
Later Monday, Dakari Johnson and Dominique Hawkins gushed about the benefits of the UK players' once-a-week massages. Yes, in addition to the chef assigned to the Wildcat Coal Lodge, the players also get massages.
"Nobody passes on massages," Johnson said. "Everybody needs it."
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The massages last about 30 minutes. A masseur comes to the UK training room.
No, Johnson said, no lovely geisha girls do the massaging.
"Nah," he said. "It's a dude. He's good with his hands, I guess."
The massages alleviate muscle soreness, the players noted.
"Soreness goes away in about a day," Hawkins said. "Basically, the next day you feel 100 percent."
Assistant coach Barry "Slice" Rohrssen, who substituted for Calipari at the regular day-before-a-game news conference, touted how well UK's strength and training staff monitors what the players eat, whether they drink enough fluids, get sufficient rest and, now we learn, get the soreness worked out of their muscles.
"All key elements," he said. "There's only so much X-and-Os you can give them. But if the body's not feeling right, some things won't be up to speed. Got to keep those guys tuned up."
When asked how many massages he had as a player, Rohrssen said, "Zero. Goes to show my career, what happened."
When asked about Karl-Anthony Towns' uneven play recently (dominant first halves, dormant second halves), Rohrssen cited a not-always-appreciated factor: the other team.
"You can look at that as a credit to Karl," he said. Opposing coaches will plot at halftime to stifle a player who had a productive first half.
And as Calipari has noted, Towns is a freshman still learning basketball at the college level, Rohrssen said.
Towns needs to "understand positioning and angles more," the UK assistant said. "Especially in the post, you really have to learn angles.
"It's a foot fight in there when you're battling for space down there. People see very large guys, but what it really is is a foot fight."Towns is eager to learn, Rohrssen said.
"One of our harder workers," he said. "He's a sponge. He's always trying to pick your brain and learn something."
'That's my game'
Hawkins sounded ready, willing and able to keep defenses honest by taking open shots.
"I'm not hesitating at all no more," he said. "I definitely feel I can knock down an open shot."
And if defenders take away the perimeter shot by playing close to Hawkins?
"Coach Cal told me to drive the ball and shoot floaters," Hawkins said. "That's my game."
For a fourth straight week, the SEC named Devin Booker its Freshman of the Week.
Only two players — both for Kentucky — had ever done that: John Wall in 2009-10 and Nerlens Noel in 2012-13.
Barring a surprise, Booker figures to be the sixth straight UK player to be named SEC Freshman of the Year. The others are DeMarcus Cousins, Terrence Jones, Anthony Davis, Noel and Julius Randle.
Wilt the Stilt?
In making the point that Johnson should expect to dominant, Calipari said Johnson acted like the defender was "Wilt the Stilt."
When asked what that reference meant to him, Johnson smiled and said, "I'm not really sure what that means."
Of course, Calipari was referring to Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain. who averaged 50.4 points in the NBA's 1961-62 season.
■ Guard Charles Mann has shot 146 free throws for Georgia. UK's leader in free throws attempted is Johnson, with 107.
■ Brad Nessler, Sean Farnham and sideline reporter Shannon Spake will call the UK-Georgia game for ESPNU.