Kentucky Coach John Calipari continued to welcome the emphasis on returning finesse to college basketball this season. But if the referees forget to call the fouls, he suggested Thursday that his team was better equipped to take on any would-be bullies.
"Who are you slugging?" he said. "Julius (Randle)? You going to slug one of the twins? The trouble is if you slug one, two are coming at you."
After recalling his feeling during pre-game warm-ups that his UK team might be physically intimidated at Robert Morris last March, Calipari wished aloud for opponents to look at the Cats with wariness this season.
Of course, much has been made of the referees limiting physical play this season. The Blue-White Game this week suggested that Kentucky is prepared to play without excessive contact, which is part of the Calipari style that relies on shot blockers.
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"I was proud ... we ended the game with 10 fouls on each side," he said, "where everyone else is scrimmaging and writing about 80 fouls called, 90 fouls called, 60 fouls called. . . .
"It's not football. And I'm glad it's not football with us having to be in the SEC playing football."
Calipari suggested that teams must adjust to a less physical style or pay the consequences in fouls called.
"I think scoring will go up," he said "I think early there will be a lot of fouls by coaches that weren't adjusting. Compared to coaches that have adjusted, maybe there will be 50 fouls on one team and 12 on another. One coach did what he was supposed to, one didn't. Should be fun though."
Point guard Andrew Harrison is nursing a bone bruise on his right knee and will not play against Transylvania on Friday night. His twin brother, Aaron, will play point guard.
"He's doing great," Calipari said of Aaron Harrison. "The only thing that's hard is you have to attack and keep your teammates involved."
That means making a mental note of how often each teammate touches the ball and shoots while also pressing the attack.
"He's leaving the gym thinking my brother's position is a lot harder than I thought," Calipari said of Aaron.
Calipari designated James Young as the likely successor to DeAndre Liggins and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist as UK's defensive stopper. That means containing the opponent's main scoring or play-making threat from the perimeter.
Such a role might affect Young's scoring and minutes. "Now, are you willing to sacrifice?" the UK coach said. "Are you willing to get in the best shape of your life to play this way?"
UK players shrugged at being voted No. 1 in the media and coaches' pre-season polls.
"It's a blessing," Dakari Johnson said. "It just says we have a (target) on our back now."
Johnson acknowledged the pressure that goes with being No. 1. "A little bit," he said, "but I think with this team, we have so many players and the chemistry as well, we hold each other accountable. There is a little pressure but we have each other's backs."
Dunk you very much
UK beat Transylvania 74-28 in an exhibition game last year. Transy scored 10 points in the second half.
Still, Transy had an offensive highlight to savor: Brandon Rash's dunk over Willie Cauley-Stein.
"Most famous dunk in the history of Transylvania basketball," Coach Brian Lane said. "I tend to show that to just about every recruit that comes in."
Lane said he was most impressed by Cauley-Stein's reaction.
"No excuses," the Transy coach said. "Not ashamed. He put out a Twitter shout out 'to my friend Rash for a good dunk.' "
With 13 freshmen, Transylvania has almost no experience playing in Rupp Arena. Key word: almost.
Two of Transy's freshmen played in the Sweet Sixteen championship game last March: Daniel Parke for Madison Central and Zach Caggins for Ballard.
■ The Blue starters provided an early look at a possible starting lineup: Young, Harrison twins, Randle and Willie Cauley-Stein. Calipari said he wanted to look at alternatives against Transy that might include a pressing lineup.
■ Johnson and Cauley-Stein will both play, perhaps together in a Twin Towers alignment.