UK Men's Basketball

UK basketball notebook: Refs expect coaches to work all the angles

The need for freshman Alex Poythress to develop quickly is a product of UK's one-and-done, players-first approach, Coach John Calipari said. "This is the process you accept coming in."
The need for freshman Alex Poythress to develop quickly is a product of UK's one-and-done, players-first approach, Coach John Calipari said. "This is the process you accept coming in." Herald-Leader

In denying that Kentucky pulled a free-throw scam at Louisville last weekend, Coach John Calipari said he normally took honesty to the other extreme.

If he saw the wrong player from his team preparing to shoot free throws, he said that he'd point out the mistake in order to get the proper shooter to the line. If a referee mistakenly gave his team possession on an out-of-bounds call, he said he'd point out that the opposition should be awarded the ball.

Longtime referee John Clougherty, now supervisor of Atlantic Coast Conference officials, had heard about Calipari's remarks.

"There's a lot of people who looked at that comment and had a good laugh," Clougherty said in a telephone conversation.

That's not to accuse Calipari and/or Kentucky with resorting to dishonest means to try to gain a much-needed victory against their archrival.

Nor, Clougherty added, did he mean to question the truthfulness of Calipari's response to suspicions of slipping in a better shooter (Alex Poythress) in place of a poorer shooter (Nerlens Noel) late in the first half when U of L was riding a bit of momentum.

It's just that the scenarios that Calipari used to vouch for his own honesty sounded, well, laughable.

When asked if he ever encountered such a selflessly high-minded coach, Clougherty said, "That never happened in my 30 years of officiating. That a coach said, 'John, you got that backwards. It belongs to the other team.'

"That's me. It may have happened to other officials, but not me."

So, the obvious follow-up question: Had Clougherty ever heard any referee talk about any coach trying to correct a call that would benefit his team?

"No, no, no," Clougherty said. "Nope."

Neither had Gerald Boudreaux, the supervisor of officials in the Southeastern Conference. Noting his 28 years as a referee on the Division I level, Boudreaux said in an email message, "I can't recall that situation happening."

Yet in vouching for his own honesty, Calipari said, "I've done that."

As for the free throws taken by Poythress rather than Noel, Boudreaux said that he had received no feedback. Nor had he heard of any action contemplated by the SEC office. The Big East Conference assigned the referees for the UK-U of L game, he said.

Not to suggest any action should be taken. Free-throw scams happen from time to time. Fans of a certain age will recall UK guard Travis Ford helping orchestrate such a switcheroo at Vanderbilt in 1994. Unlike for last weekend's UK-U of L game, the video evidence was conclusive. Then-UK Coach Rick Pitino handed out one-game suspensions to the players who participated in the deceit — Ford, Jared Prickett and Gimel Martinez.

Go back to the 1970s, and Tennessee switched shooters at Kentucky.

But getting back to Calipari's response to the UK-U of L free throw incident, it raises a basic question about whether the typical coach wants justice rendered or any advantage he can get.

Clougherty recalled something he heard longtime referee Hank Nichols once say.

"Coaches, if you lined them up and ask this question: Do you want the edge or do you want the game called fairly? They want the edge," Nichols said.

"And," Clougherty added, "I don't fault them for that."

Cutting edge

In last week's website post about enhancing player productivity by measuring heart rates and caloric intake/expenditure, Coach John Calipari trumpeted UK's cutting-edge spirit.

"We're a non-traditional program," he said. "We're doing things that we have to do that have never been done."

Not exactly.

Georgia Tech is in its second year of using similar systems. Tech's strength and conditioning coach, Mike Bewley, said that he and Coach Brian Gregory used the same approach at Dayton for four years before going to Tech in 2011.

A certified nutritionist as well as strength coach, Bewley said that what he read of the UK program "obviously resonated with me." He called it "very similar to what we're doing."

A 2011 story about Georgia Tech's approach used the same language as UK's post to describe the use of heart rates, calories and effort rates. Each noted that the technology removed a hiding place for players not working hard. The 2011 story, which appeared in a Georgia Tech Athletics newsletter called Sting Daily, noted that Tech's approach was "not a new idea."

Data information UK posted last week "looks similar to the same software system that we're using," Bewley said. " ... A lot of schools have made that attempt or tried to do it."

Virginia Commonwealth's basketball team uses similar technology this season, spokesman Scott Day said. The NBA's Orlando Magic has charted heart rates and calories in past seasons, spokesman Joel Glass said.

The original reason Bewley, a native of Louisville and a 1998 graduate of Eastern Kentucky University, wanted to measure heart rates and count calories could be considered ironic. The aim was to prove scientifically that the Dayton players were being overworked. Dayton averaged two stress fractures per year, he said.

His call to scale back workouts was met with "fierce opposition," Bewley said. " ... Coach looked at me like I had a third eye."

Ultimately, science prevailed and Dayton became more strategic in its practice workloads.

Calipari talked about the technology fostering greater effort.

Even if Calipari overhyped the program's innovative spirit, Bewley said the UK coach deserved to take a bow for using the science.

"I think it speaks to how great a coach he is and how open-minded he is," Bewley said. "In terms of being able to receive brand-new information. More importantly, in the midst of a season, in an effort to make his team better."

2,500 calories

After an exercise professional questioned whether a basketball player could expend 2,500 calories in a practice, UK Coach John Calipari insisted (via tweets) that some of his players had done just that.

Calipari noted that a 225-pound player burned calories at a faster rate than a 150-pound person.

The UK coach got support from Mike Bewley, the Georgia Tech strength and conditioning coach. Bewley, who monitors a fitness system similar to the one used by Kentucky, said that Tech players expend anywhere from 2,000 to 2,500 calories per practice. That's 2,000 for front-court players and 2,500 for backcourt players, he said.

Dr. Steve Farrell of the Dallas-based Cooper Institute remained skeptical. When told of UK players burning 2,500 calories in a 21/2-hour practice, he wrote in an email:

"Unless they are going full-tilt (i.e. non-stop running) for the entire practice, it is very unlikely that they are burning 2,500 calories in 2.5 hours. This would average out to about 17 calories per minute! At some point during a practice, players are standing in layup lines, practicing free throws, taking water breaks, and being talked to (or yelled at) by the coaches. During these time periods, as well as the time spent 'shooting around,' calorie burn would not be very high. At other times during the practice (full-court scrimmage with up-tempo style) calorie burn would be very high (i.e. — 17 calories per minute)."

The American College of Sports Medicine estimates caloric expenditure while playing full-court basketball as about 16 calories per minute for someone weighing 220 pounds, Farrell said.

As Calipari suggested, more calories would be burned by a player who weighs more, Farrell confirmed.

"Of course, the calorie burn would drop dramatically during periods of relative inactivity (timeouts, free throws, etc.)," Farrell wrote.


Anagrams are a form of word play in which the letters of a word or name can be used to form another word, name or phrase.

Here are a few stumbled upon while cruising the Internet:

Terrence Jones: Jeers no center

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: Magic's childlike third

Keith Bogans: Be a shot king

LeBron James: Be real MJ son

Yao Ming: May go in

Tayshaun Prince: I hunt any Pacers

Los Angeles Lakers: Seek all large sons

Delicate balance

More than once, UK Coach John Calipari noted how players should take themselves out of games when tired. Yet, the players must also not surrender to fatigue.

How does a player navigate that tricky course?

"You just know you can't go (any longer)," Julius Mays said of a call-for-a-substitute option.

The push-through option might entail the feeling of simply breathing hard, he said. The fatigue "might be more mental than physical."

One-and-done fallout

John Calipari linked the frustration with the speed of Alex Poythress's development to the one-and-done player phenomenon. In the past, fans, coaches and reporters could content themselves with the idea of players developing over several seasons.

Of course, the developmental phase can only cover one season now.

"This stuff is on steroids," Calipari said of players generally staying one season at UK. "This is the process you accept coming in."

Parental guidance

For the first time, the parents of Louisville center Gorgui Dieng watched him play last weekend. Dieng had missed several weeks this season because of a broken wrist.

"I didn't see them, to be honest with you," Dieng said. "I was totally focused on this game. I lost to Kentucky three times in a row. I hate losing."

When asked if he looked for his parents in the Yum Center seats, Dieng said, "No. Not at all."

Memorable birthday

Joe Dean Jr. worked as color commentator on the telecast of the UK-Eastern Michigan game.

Before the game, he noted that his son, Scott, had been born 33 years ago to the day at Lexington's Good Samaritan Hospital.

After his son's birth, Dean went to Rupp Arena to work as an assistant coach in UK's game against Auburn. Wrapping up Dean's joyous day, Kyle Macy hit a shot at the buzzer to give the Cats a 67-65 victory over Auburn.

The work assignment in Lexington last week caused Dean to visit Good Sam Hospital and remember his son's birth.

Happy birthday

To Larry Stamper. He turns 63 Sunday. ... To Bobby Perry. He turns 28 Monday. ... To former Mississippi player and coach Rod Barnes. He turns 47 on Tuesday. ... To Kirk Chiles. He turns 64 on Tuesday. ... To Terrence Jones. He turns 21 on Wednesday.