Against Arizona State on Nov. 28, freshman De’Aaron Fox achieved the second triple-double in the history of Kentucky’s basketball program. He had 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
Or did he?
One of the assists was questioned, in part, because Fox did not make a direct pass to the scorer, Malik Monk. Plus Monk dribbled twice and stutter-stepped before shooting.
After reviewing the play, it was announced that the assist would not be removed, therefore allowing Fox to keep his place in program history.
“I didn’t care,” Fox said of the questioning. “I’m not playing for stats.”
Fox said he was aware after the game that one of his assists was being questioned.
Fox said he watched a replay of the play and wondered, “How is this controversial?”
When asked if he meant it was obvious his pass was or was not an assist, Fox said, “Clearly wasn’t. But I’m not going to tell them to change it.”
Intensified practices during the semester break is as part of college basketball as preseason hype and postseason Madness.
UK has touted its workouts between semesters for decades. The only change from yesteryear is that having John Calipari as coach lends itself to giving the workouts an alliterative name: Camp Cal.
As is customary, UK sees the workouts after final exams as a time to make big improvement.
“This time coming up is very important because we only have to worry about one thing, and that is basketball,” Isaiah Briscoe said. “And if that’s what you want to do for the rest of your life, this Camp Cal — or whatever you all call it — it should be fun.
“Last year, it was fun for me. Just all basketball. That’s the thing that I live for.”
Calipari has talked about as many as three practices per day. That can seem excessive.
“I really don’t know what to expect,” Fox said. “I haven’t asked anyone, but I’m pretty sure no one likes three practices in a day.”
Assistant Coach Joel Justus saluted Bam Adebayo’s eagerness to improve. The freshman is regularly among the first to arrive for practice.
“He asks questions,” Justus said. “He’s inquisitive. He is a guy wanting to engage you in any way so you can help him get better.”
Calipari and associate coach Kenny Payne work regularly with Adebayo.
“He comes by the office,” Justus said. “He just wants to be around. I think for someone that age, it shows tremendous maturity on his part.
“If he keeps that up, he’s going to go further than any of us can limit him. . . . I think he’s going to be that guy like some of the guys we have here, that do things beyond here that you just go, holy cow.”
The forward spot shared by Derek Willis and Wenyen Gabriel has been singled out as needing to improve defensively. Improvement is being made, Justus said.
When asked if opposing teams are targeting Willis and Gabriel, Justus said that any player can be part of an unfavorable matchup.
“I don’t know if you can pick on one guy on this team because we do such a good job of helping,” Justus said. “Help defense is something we talk a lot about that we’re not going to let somebody get picked on.”
Valparaiso’s Alec Peters was the nation’s No. 2 scorer (25.4 ppg). Hofstra has the nation’s leading rebounder in 6-foot-9 (and 260 pounds) Rokas Gustys (13.5 rpg).
“Gets our guys’ attention when you can throw those numbers out,” Justus said.
Calipari won’t be putting out any more books, he said at an appearance Friday morning that ended with the selling and signing of his new book.
“I told my wife, you slap me if I even think about another book,” Calipari said at a Good Morning Bluegrass breakfast sponsored by Commerce Lexington, Inc.
After listening to Calipari and Kentucky Sports Radio’s Matt Jones banter for about 40 minutes, an audience of about 150 had a chance to buy the UK coach’s new book, “Success is the Only Option: The Art of Coaching Extreme Talent” and have it signed.
Willis is more committed than ever to excelling as a player, Calipari said.
“Derek’s just got to get more consistent,” Calipari said. “We’ve got to know when we put you in our range of what we’re getting. . . . You can’t have a fluctuation that’s crazy.”
Tom Hart, Kara Lawson and Joe Lunardi will call the UK-Hofstra game for ESPN on Sunday.