Kentucky Coach John Calipari shared with reporters Monday some advice he'd given Alex Poythress and Derek Willis: Less is more. This minimalist approach also might apply to the team.
Instead of working on (and fretting about) many facets of their games, Poythress and Willis should seek to master one specific skill. Then, each can move to another skill, he said.
For Poythress, who expects to play in Tuesday night's Blue-White Game, the skill to try to improve is rebounding, Calipari said.
"Lead the nation in rebounding," the UK coach said as if speaking to Poythress. "Be a beast. ... Focus on one thing.
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"Then we rebuild the rest of the stuff."
Of course, Poythress is continuing a comeback from surgery last December to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament. He declined to put a percentage on how close to 100 percent he is in the recovery.
Poythress defined "beast" for reporters.
"I know, by far, I am the strongest on the team," he said. "Just use my strength to my advantage."
Calipari suggested that there was no need for concern about Poythress's rehabilitation. Poythress missed three or four recent days of practice because of a bruised knee.
"He's doing fine," Calipari said. "He's got to get back in there. Demonstrated performance is going to build his confidence, build his self-esteem and all that stuff."
The skill to concentrate on for Willis is shooting, Calipari said. Willis and Calipari said the player's shooting is much improved.
"When he lets it go, you think it's going in now," Calipari said.
Willis injured a finger this pre-season. He said he has returned to practice. "It still hurts, but it's all good," he said. Willis said he hoped to be 100 percent in a week or so.
Calipari applied the less-is-more philosophy to this interim period for Willis.
"A lot of times, when you're trying to get back on the floor and trying to get your feet back underneath you, don't do a thousand things," Calipari said. "I know I want him to be doing these two or three things, and that's all I'm telling him. Shoot the ball. One-dribble pull-ups. Defend and rebound. Block some shots. Fly up and down the court. Don't show us your whole repertoire. ... Build from there and try to expand your game."
Calipari expanded the less-is-more theme to the team. He said Kentucky players should concentrate on two main areas:
■ Playing with more competitive fire. "Gotta fight," he said. "Doesn't mean punch and swing and grab. Fight means 50-50 balls. Fight means you're not afraid to dive on the floor and do extra things. Take charges."
■ Improving the assist-to-turnover ratio.
"That's all we're working on right now," Calipari said.
Kentucky's foundation of one-and-done freshmen enhances the importance of the Blue-White Game as a much-needed dress rehearsal, Calipari said.
"I just want them to get out in front of people and see who plays well in front of people," he said.
Calipari said he might experiment with various lineups and strategies in the annual scrimmage. But the main idea will be to get the players some quasi-game experience.
After saying Kentucky was the most inexperienced team in the country, Calipari said, "We need to just play a game in front of people. That's what we need."
Rupp's new look
With so-called ribbon advertising in place, UK fans will start seeing more changes in Rupp Arena next month.
New video screens for the arena's four corners arrived Monday, Lexington Center Corp. CEO Bill Owen said. The first video board is expected to be installed after UK plays an exhibition game against Kentucky State on Nov. 6, he said.
Owen said the plan calls for all four of the new video screens to be in place when Kentucky plays Louisville on Dec. 26.
"Fans will actually see the contrast between the old and new as it is happening," Owen wrote in an email. "I think this is unprecedented."