“Two seconds” and “a dog.” That’s how Quade Green refers to two of his Kentucky point guard predecessors.
John Wall is the two seconds. That’s all the time, Green said, Wall needed to get to the rim.
Tyler Ulis, because of his dogged determination, is a dog, a designation Green immediately clarified. “A little dog,” he said. “I’m trying to be, too. I’m not the two seconds. I’m the dog. I’m not the two seconds, but I’ll get there, though. Don’t worry. I’ll get there.”
UK Coach John Calipari is not necessarily worried. But he’d like Green to get himself and/or the ball up the court ASAP. It’s faster than Green has been accustomed to.
“Quade is, I want to say, almost a walk-it-up kind of point guard,” Calipari said. “He runs the floor like Tyler ran the floor, and I’m not comparing him to Tyler because that wouldn’t be fair to him. But he runs the court like Tyler did.”
Maybe as much as the one-and-done player, Kentucky relies on speed.
“Pace matters here,” Calipari said. “Pace matters because we need more possessions. Why do we need more possessions? Because we’ve got more players. We have to get a minimum number of shots so everybody gets some shots. To be honest, that’s the bottom line.”
More possessions also mean more opportunities for Kentucky’s superior manpower to show itself. Conversely, many opponents want a slower pace to shorten the game and lessen the time for UK to impose its will.
Calipari said he did not see Green push the pace in high school games. But, the UK coach added, Green played noticeably faster in workouts this past summer.
This enabled Calipari to make a point to Green and his teammates. The setting was a team meeting.
“I said, ‘I didn’t know you were that fast,’” Calipari said in recalling the exchange. “You know what his comment was? ‘I didn’t know either.’ … Then I said, ‘Then, why are you playing like this?’ He said, ‘Because you told me and you told me if I didn’t, I wouldn’t play.’
“And it’s good for the other guys to hear.”
Green’s lack of size (he’s 6-foot tall) gave Calipari pause.
“Better than I thought he was, which is a good thing,” the UK coach said. “I knew he was good. There were some things, because of his size, that I was worried about. He’s fine.”
Green got used to questions and doubts a long time ago.
“It happens all the time, all the time,” he said. “Even before I came here, and now, it’s still going on. Still to this day. But it’s up to me that I overlook all of that.”
As with Ulis, Calipari spoke of Green using his lack of height to his advantage. Green can be a weapon as an on-ball defender. “Be more disruptive,” Calipari said.
The UK coach wondered aloud of defending pick-and-roll action. When there’s a defensive switch, one of UK’s big men must defend the opposition’s ball handler. That means Green would need to defend a big man in the low-post area.
Ulis seemed to concede nothing as he battled for position against a player taller by a foot or more.
The first impression is that Green welcomes challenges. He’s set a goal of being Calipari’s best point guard, a sky-high ambition considering how “two seconds” and “a dog” are among those who preceded him.
“He’s a tough guy,” Calipari said of Green. “But Tyler Ulis was ridiculous. … It’s a great thing for him to challenge himself with.”
Green, who described himself as a “pass-first point guard” and a leader, did not sound like someone who overanalyzes basketball.
“The open person gets the ball,” he said. “It’s as simple as that. You can’t get (any) smarter than that. That’s the whole key to the basketball game.”