UK Men's Basketball

Gillispie, Cats pressure Liggins

Kentucky basketball pulled back the curtain and let the media watch the first hour of practice on Thursday. Reporters watched — and heard — the continuing education of freshman point guard DeAndre Liggins.

UK Coach Billy Gillispie again and again directed instruction toward Liggins, which perhaps reflects the freshman's importance to a successful season.

After guard Michael Porter took an open three-pointer, Gillispie turned to Liggins and said, "Not good enough." It seemed to be a comment about defensive intensity.

When a later sequence ended, the UK coach could be heard telling Liggins, "You play one play. You lay down the next. You can't play like that."

When walk-on Dwight Perry's defense harassed Liggins, Gillispie encouraged more of the same. "Get after him, Dwight," the UK coach said. "Take it away from him again, Dwight."

Perry kept the pressure on, but Liggins kept possession of the ball.

The practice in UK's Joe Craft Center marked the first time the media had been allowed to watch such a lengthy portion of practice since the mid-1990s. Only Ramon Harris, who has a sprained knee, did not practice. He shot on a side basket and worked with a trainer. Spokesman DeWayne Peevy said Harris' status was day-to-day.

The practice mirrored the high level of enthusiasm displayed at Big Blue Madness. Claps and shouts of encouragement from coaches and other basketball office staffers maintained a low-level hum.

The switch from drill to drill did not take long. The players needed only six seconds to make the first switch and 13 seconds for the second.

The players' practice clothing did not mimic the high-tech, tight-fitting game uniforms. They wore bluer, sleeveless shirts and blue shorts.

After Darius Miller and Porter missed three-point shots in one drill, Gillispie asked for the ball to be passed inside the lane.

When a player did not follow instructions, Gillispie ordered him to run lines on the sideline. During the time reporters watched, the players running lines included Perry Stevenson, A.J. Stewart and Jared Carter.

After 45 minutes, the players took a water break. Before sipping water, they lined up the eight balls in use in rows of two at center court.

The break didn't last long. Shortly thereafter, Josh Harrellson and walk-on Jarvis Walker went sliding 10 feet off the court for a loose ball. After Harrellson got to it first and tossed it to a teammate, the pair got up and rejoined the drill. Managers rushed over with towels to wipe up the sweat.

Besides reporters, those watching practice included former UK players Kyle Macy, Jack Givens and Adrian Smith. Pro scout Wayne Chapman, the father of former UK star Rex Chapman, also watched practice.

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