UK Men's Basketball

UK basketball notes: Knight has look of a leader

Kentucky Wildcats guard Brandon Knight (12) reacted to a Kentucky run and hitting  a three pointer as Kentucky defeated  Indiana 81-62  on Saturday December 11, 2010 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff
Kentucky Wildcats guard Brandon Knight (12) reacted to a Kentucky run and hitting a three pointer as Kentucky defeated Indiana 81-62 on Saturday December 11, 2010 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff

Talking more. Leading more. Kentucky Coach John Calipari sees those trends in Brandon Knight.

"You're seeing a point guard, right before your eyes, starting to mature," Calipari said of Knight on Monday.

Throughout the early season, Calipari has sought more vocal leadership from Knight, a quiet, thoughtful player not given to histrionics.

"I never saw him say a word in high school, in practices or in games or in AAU games," the UK coach said. "Now you walk in (to a Kentucky practice), it's either his voice or my voice you hear."

UK players also sense that Knight thinks of the team rather than individual glory.

"They're not going to follow a leader who they think it's all about (the ego-centric player)," Calipari said. But if the players feel the leader is thinking of a team? " 'I'll follow him anywhere he wants to take me,' " the UK coach said in mimicking a player's response.

Besides being more vocal, Calipari called for Knight to send a signal that the point guard serves as a conduit from coach to players.

"Come over to me every chance you can," Calipari said. "Even if I don't have anything to say because they see you getting direction from me."

Knight's development as a leader is not high on the coach's list of concerns, Calipari said. "He'll be fine," the UK coach said. "He's the least of my worries."

'Three-game' plan

Rather than make an issue of the good-versus-evil competition with archrival Louisville on Friday, Calipari said he asked the players to concentrate on improving in the last three non-conference games.

He identified the areas needing improvement as pick-and-roll defense, gang rebounding and communication.

When asked about looking past Coppin State on Tuesday night and ahead to Friday's game against Louisville, Calipari said, "I don't even think they know who the game game is. We haven't talked about it."

If Doron Lamb is a good gauge, the UK players know the U of L game looms.

"I don't know a lot," Lamb said when asked about the UK-U of L rivalry. "But I know they hate each other."

'Fang'-led Coppin

Coppin State Coach Ron "Fang" Mitchell and Calipari have been coaching colleagues for years. Calipari hired James "Bruiser" Flint from Mitchell's staff.

Coppin State will run plenty of pick-and-roll action on offense and zone defense, Calipari said.

A high school teammate gave Mitchell the nickname "Fang." The teammate thought Mitchell's deep, scratchy voice sounded like the character named "White Fang" on The Soupy Sales Show for children.

White Fang was a giant dog who stayed off camera except for a paw that touched Sales' face."Over the years, the 'White' was dropped for obvious reasons," Mitchell was quoted as saying in the Coppin State notes for the game.

Etc.

Kentucky doubled up on Southeastern Conference honors with Doron Lamb (player of the week) and Brandon Knight (freshman of the week). It's the first time since November of last season — when UK's Patrick Patterson and John Wall won the awards — that a school has taken both honors in the same week. ... Coppin State is 4-0 at home and 0-5 on the road. The Eagles are in the midst of four straight road games at Connecticut, Wisconsin, UK and Texas. Calipari noted that Coppin State played UConn more competitively (76-64) than UK (84-67). ... Tickets are available for the Coppin State and Penn games. Those tickets include E-Rupp-tion Zone tickets, which must be bought no sooner than 90 minutes before tip-off. The E-Rupp-tion Zone tickets are $5 and must be bought with cash, UK said. ... Dave Neal and Rupp's Runt Larry Conley will call the game for Fox Sports South.

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