UK Men's Basketball

Notes: Cats running on fumes after SEC tourney

On the first day, Kentucky rested.

UK Coach John Calipari gave his players Monday off as a less-is-more beginning to preparation for Thursday's NCAA Tournament first-round game against East Tennessee State.

"Just to get their legs and minds back," he said.

Calipari spoke on a Southeastern Conference coaches' teleconference Monday as the players ate breakfast at his home.

"We've got a tough road ahead of us," the UK coach said.

The Cats got off a tough road Sunday. They played three games in three days in winning the SEC Tournament in Nashville. Each game seemed taxing: Alabama extended UK athletically, Tennessee exacted an emotional toll and Mississippi State combined the two in an exhausting 45-minute overtime thriller on Sunday.

"I think this team is working on fumes right now," Calipari said after watching the Selection Sunday show. "There's adrenaline rolling for all of us, including me. I'm tired. But you've got three weeks to be tired after that. You've got three weeks to just keep going."

Patrick Patterson spoke of needing a rest.

"I'm the most tired I've ever been in my life, dating all the way back to when I first started playing basketball," he said. "I've never been this tired before. I'm extremely exhausted (and) my body's hurting. I feel like an old man."

Calipari suggested a lighter practice load this week.

"I can't beat their bodies up," he said. "We just had three fistfights. Friday. Saturday. Sunday. And we're playing Thursday. Think about that.

"I'm not so sure the SEC should be playing on Sunday, but that's another story."

Milwaukee closer

No. 1 seeds generally get the advantage of opening the NCAA Tournament close to home. Yet UK will play in New Orleans, which is 647 miles from Lexington, according to Google maps. Milwaukee, another first-round site, is 400 miles from Lexington.

"Well, you know, mileage isn't necessarily an absolute," said UCLA Athletics Director Dan Guerrero, the chairman of the Selection Committee. " ... I mean, when you're talking about a couple of hundred miles' difference or whatever the case may be, the committee may not have viewed that as a major issue."

Play-in opponent

Although Kansas is the overall No. 1 seed, the Jayhawks do not open the tournament against the winner of Tuesday's play-in game.

"There's no guarantee that the No. 1 seed will be locked in with the opening-round opponent," Guerrero said. "It's a policy that this particular game has to be at a Friday/Sunday site. Consequently, the committee placed it in the particular bracket that it did. But it's not necessarily because it's a true No. 1."

The Committee wants to give the winner of the play-in game an extra day of preparation and recovery time.

"And travel as well," Guerrero said.

'Double whammy'

Mississippi State Coach Rick Stansbury lamented the "double whammy" his team suffered Sunday. The Bulldogs lost a five-point lead in the final 90 seconds of regulation and lost to UK in the SEC Tournament championship game. Then State did not get a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Although Guerrero noted State's non-conference schedule as a key factor, Stansbury defended the schedule. He cited eight games away from home before SEC play.

"I don't know if another BCS school in America did that," he said. "It's not always fair. That's life. But no one can ever convince me or tell me that we're not one of the best 64 teams in the country."

Kidder Cal

During an appearance on Dan Patrick's radio show, Calipari suggested he had talked to John Wall about the player's wish to return to UK next season. Calipari was kidding.

"That's me teasing Dan Patrick because I know he wanted to talk about it," the UK coach said.

Calipari said he wanted the players to concentrate on the here and now.