UK Men's Basketball

‘It’s just not happening overnight.’ Travis’ example can bolster fans’ faith in Cats

No tinted shades for Kentucky’s Reid Travis

Kentucky basketball senior Reid Travis was poked in the eye during the win over VMI on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. Travis confirmed Tuesday he will wear glasses in UK's next game, but said he won't use Quade Green's tinted shades from last season.
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Kentucky basketball senior Reid Travis was poked in the eye during the win over VMI on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. Travis confirmed Tuesday he will wear glasses in UK's next game, but said he won't use Quade Green's tinted shades from last season.

In lobbying for patience from fans, coaches frequently talk about “process.” Given time and work ethic, a problem facing a player or team can be overcome.

John Calipari did just that Tuesday. Kentucky can restore its fans’ faith, he said.

“It’s just not happening overnight,” the UK coach said.

Exhibit A might be graduate transfer Reid Travis. His diligence over time has made him a greatly improved free-throw shooter.

In his first four games for Kentucky, Travis has made 75.8 percent of his free throws (25 of 33). That’s a marked improvement from his time at Stanford, where he didn’t even make half his free throws as a freshman (45.9 percent) and sophomore (48 percent).

Travis credited studying his form on film and working with a Stanford assistant during the summer between his freshman and sophomore years.

“It took two or three years till I felt comfortable with my form,” he said. “Now, it’s a part of my game to where I feel I’m hunting to get to the line. Like those are points I can pick up.”

Sixth man?

Travis, a graduate transfer expected to be a team leader and wise counselor, dismissed any notion that coming off the bench against VMI was a problem.

“I didn’t mind it,” he said. “That’s something with this team. There’s a lot of unselfish guys. The rotation is going to be different all year.”

Travis chuckled while responding to a question about how Coach John Calipari broke the news to him about coming off the bench.

“He didn’t need to pull me aside,” Travis said. “I didn’t need that. It wasn’t like the world was stopping for me. At the end of the day, I know I’m going to get my opportunities.”

Travis played 24 minutes against VMI. That increased his season’s average to 22.3 minutes.

Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari talks to the media on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018, about recruiting. UK lost out on James Wiseman, the top recruit for the class of 2019, who announced Tuesday he will attend Memphis.

Wearing glasses

Kentucky fans should expect Travis to wear protective glasses again in Wednesday’s game against Winthrop. He wore the glasses in the second half of last weekend’s game against VMI after being poked in the eye in the first half.

“It’s feeling a lot better,” Travis said before adding, “I’ll be wearing the glasses the next couple days and games. I’m just kind of protecting that eye as it continues to heal.”

Teammate Quade Green wore protective glasses with shaded lenses for a few games last season. A smiling Travis said he did not need tinted lenses.

VMI made a record 19 of 38 three-point shots in Kentucky's 92-82 win over the Keydets on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, in Rupp Arena. On Tuesday, UK guard Tyler Herro talked what the Cats can do to improve their three-point defense.

Winthrop

To say Winthrop plays at a fast pace might be an understatement. The Eagles come to Rupp Arena averaging 95.2 points.

A 134-99 victory over Division III Pfeiffer had an unworldly 94 three-point shots. That’s one every 40 seconds. Pfeiffer made 20 of 60. Winthrop made 15 of 34.

Travis welcomed the prospect of an up-tempo game. “We’ve got the athletes and the talent to do it,” he said. “As far as getting the ball up the court, running, trying to sprint and get easy lobs. ...

“I don’t know if it favors us. But it’s the way we want to play. So if the other team is doing that, it’s also going to put pressure on us to get back (on defense). So it comes with challenges as well.”

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Black Friday

For a third straight year, UK will be part of Black Friday shopping at Fayette Mall. Tickets for men’s basketball games against Tennessee State (Friday night), Monmouth (Nov. 28) and UNC Greensboro (Dec. 1) will be on sale at the mall’s guest services location from 6 a.m. until 10 a.m. (or while supplies last) on the day after Thanksgiving.

Only cash will be accepted. The tickets, which are for seats on the 200 level, cost $25 each.

Guy Ramsey, the Director of Strategic Communications for UK athletics, acknowledged that the relative lack of ticket sales was a factor in the Black Friday option.

“It’s clearly an industry-wide trend,” he said. “We have to be as pro-active as possible.”

Rupp Arena, which has a listed capacity of 23,000, has not been close to filled for Kentucky’s first three home games. The announced attendances for games against Southern Illinois, North Dakota and VMI averaged 19,680.

But according to Open Records requests, the count of people going through turnstiles for those games averaged 13,107.

Other UK tickets available on Black Friday include volleyball (Saturday’s Senior Day match against Auburn), gymnastics (Excite Night competition against Arkansas on Jan. 18 in Rupp Arena) and women’s basketball (Feb. 3 against Florida in Rupp Arena).

Those tickets are $2 each.

Etc.

UK will continue its practice of serving a Thanksgiving meal on Thursday. Teaching humility and perspective was a reason, Calipari said. “I talk to them a lot about thinking about where you’ve come from. Think about what door you could have walked out of, and that could be you. And only by the grace of God that’s not me.” ... Kevin Fitzgerald and Mark Wise will call the game for the SEC Network.

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