Calipari: ‘I’m happy,’ but ‘I’m not intoxicated’ by UK’s play in Bahamas
By defeating Team Toronto 93-60 Sunday, Kentucky completed a four-game exhibition series here with an average margin of victory of 26.5 points.
Afterward, neither UK guard Quade Green nor Coach John Calipari were inclined to take a bow.
“This is preseason games, that’s what it is,” Green said. “This is really nothing, really.”
Green acknowledged that this echoed what Calipari told the team after the game.
“Don’t get ahead of yourself,” Green said of Calipari’s advice. “This is really nothing compared to the season.”
No surprise that Calipari repeated that sentiment when he spoke to reporters a few minutes later.
“I told the guys I’m not intoxicated by this,” he said.
Kentucky must work to become “a monster defensive team,” Calipari said. And a “great rebounding team” and a team applies constant pressure by flying up the down the court.
When asked what could have transpired in the Bahamas games to give him a feeling of intoxication, Calipari said, “It’s August. I’ve been doing this too long.”
Green dismissed the possibility that the victories here will lead to overconfidence.
“Nah, nah, nah,” he said. “The freshmen might think that. But the veterans don’t. We don’t think like that at all. It might flip on you in the season. That’s when the real stuff starts.”
Talk of advancement to the Final Four could be heard into the Imperial Ballroom at Atlantis. Calipari dismissed that out of hand.
“I’m just happy this is over,” he said. “This has been a long eight days. Believe me, I’m not worried about anything except when does the plane leave?”
There was a sequence in the second half that seemed to show how relentless Ashton Hagans plays.
Kentucky led 68-42 with about eight minutes left. When a teammate missed a shot, Hagans refused to concede the rebound even though a Team Toronto player had position.
After losing the tussle for the ball, Hagans still refused to surrender. He darted into position to steal the outlet pass. He arrived a split-second late and was able to only deflect the ball out of bounds.
“I think plays like that are something everyone is going to get accustomed to the more you watch us play,” Reid Travis said. “That just goes back to our practices.”
With two capable players at every position, the competition for playing time is keen, Travis said.
“You’re literally fighting for your life,” Travis said. “You’re fighting for minutes and you’re fighting to be on the court. ... No one is going to take a second off.”
Calipari said he saluted Hagans after UK beat Mega Bemax on Saturday night even though six other UK players scored in double digits. Hagans made only one of four shots and finished with three points.
“You had only three points, Ashton,” Calipari said he told Hagans afterward, “but you had as much of an impact on the game as anybody. Maybe more.”
First in line
Michael and Jordan Stephens were first in line for entry into Sunday’s game. They and their grandparents were also first in line on Saturday.
The brothers from Lexington said they arrived at the door at 9 a.m. Tip-off was scheduled for 4 p.m.
Next to arrive was Karen Ide and her son, Ethan Ide. They came from Los Angeles. Karen said she grew up in Owensboro.