All-America candidate. Willing to defer to younger teammates at the expense of his personal statistics.
That unusual combination describes Patrick Patterson a little too well to suit Kentucky Coach John Calipari.
When asked Friday about Patterson's rebounding average being down this season (from 9.3 to 8.3 per game), Calipari cited two factors:
■ There are fewer rebounds to get with UK ranked sixth nationally in field-goal accuracy (50.2 percent).
■ "He has a monster on the court with him," meaning freshman DeMarcus Cousins, "and that kid is grabbing the rebounds."
Cousins leads UK with a rebound average of 9.6 per game.
"My thing is you're almost deferring to him," Calipari said of his do-better talks with Patterson. "Go get a couple tie-ups where you two walk. Don't just accept he's going to get balls."
The bottom line, Calipari said, was "Patrick's better than he's playing off that backboard."
That said, Calipari acknowledged that Patterson has a sharing personality and doesn't care if others shine.
"He's not a kid who's going to punch somebody in the mouth and say this is my game," Calipari said. "... He's very comfortable in his own skin. ... He's very, very comfortable in who he is and what he's about and what he stands for as a player. So your success doesn't bother him."
With the multiple practices each day that come with semester break about over, UK expressed satisfaction with the progress made.
"It made the chemistry a lot better," forward Perry Stevenson said. "You know better how to put your teammates in good positions to score."
Besides bonding, Calipari had another objective.
"A lot of what we're trying to do is to stretch them mentally," he said. "Get them to understand there are things they don't think they can do that they can do. 'Wow. I'm better than I thought. I'm stronger than I thought.'"
Calipari suggested the Cats are not at the point of their development to squish quality opponents.
"We're not experienced enough to know how to put people away," he said. "In most cases, they break down defensively and let up. Offensively, they get lazy and try to make hero plays."
At the Southeastern Conference Media Day in October, Georgia first-year coach Mark Fox preached discipline. He had already ordered players to run the steps at the school's football stadium.
"We're not going to create a culture where there's a lack of discipline," he said. "I'm not going to function that way. I'm not going to spend all my energy potty-training 20-year-old men."
A native of Salina, Kan., Fox is not a humorless drill sergeant. His wit recently caused Fox to be named "SEC Twitterer of the Year" by blogger Andy Pawlowski's DigitalHoopsBlast.com Web site.
Sample tweet: "Play @ KY on Sat — former Cat Mark Pope on my staff. He left med school 2 join us & now I know why. I've been sick for a week & he can't help me."
The Web site NBAdraft.net projects UK guard John Wall and Georgia Tech forward Derrick Favors as the first picks in the 2010 draft.
"We've got both of them on the same week," Fox said. Georgia limited Favors to eight points and eight rebounds on Tuesday.
"He was in foul trouble," Fox said of Favors, who picked up four fouls and played 21 minutes. "We matched up pretty well with him. Then he got in foul trouble."
When it was suggested Wall's all-court play would be a greater challenge to contain, Fox said in a deadpan voice, "Maybe just a little."
Calipari lauded the Sports Illustrated cover showing Wall soaring toward a would-be dunk as "incredible." The photograph was taken in UK's Memorial Hall.
The UK coach said he usually doesn't read stories, but he made an exception.
"I wanted to see how it was projected," he said, "because I have to deal with all this stuff with my team."
■ Of the two movies the UK team saw, Stevenson favored Sherlock Holmes over Invictus. "He really knows how to kick people's butts," he said of Holmes.
■ Eric Collins and former Alabama coach Mark Gottfried will call the game for the SEC Network and ESPN Full Court.