Besides being point guard, scorer, thinker and defender, Kentucky point guard Tyler Ulis is a role model and leading man in films.
UK Coach John Calipari said Monday that he showed players video of Ulis expending energy in hopes of getting them to increase their effort, especially defensively.
“If we could get everybody to understand this is the energy you play with,” Calipari said Monday during a Southeastern Conference teleconference. “If you can only do that three or four minutes at a time, just do it three or four minutes.”
While Kentucky enters the NCAA Tournament on a five-game winning streak, Calipari cited effort, especially defensively, as an area that can improve.
“I talked to the team today,” Calipari said. “If you’re struggling, we’re OK because I am just not going to play you that much.”
Calipari put the onus on playing with more energy on the players, not the coaches or other staffers.
“It’s on you to get yourself ready to play,” the UK coach said. “It’s on you to be in the right frame of mind, being in a desperate frame of mind. Being in an excited frame of mind. Read to play.
“Not an anxious frame of mind. ... If you’re worried about playing and anxious about playing, it’s going to show. You’re going to wear out. You’re going to miss plays. You’re going to look like you’re lethargic. If you’re excited and desperate about playing, it shows something different.”
Kentucky’s last two opponents in the SEC Tournament did well at times against UK’s defense. Georgia made 49.1 percent of its shots. A&M swingman Danuel House scored a career-high 32 points.
“We broke down four times, maybe five,” Calipari said of the A&M game. Basically there were a couple guys who broke down. It was you again and you again and you again. Derek (Willis) was one of them, but he was only one of them.”
Calipari spoke of UK’s first-round opponent, Stony Brook, as a capable team. Stony Brook has a big man who “understands angles as well as anybody we’ve played this year,” Calipari said.
Stony Brook has a guard who Calipari said was “a lot like Tyler Ulis.”
Kentucky opens NCAA Tournament play Thursday against Stony Brook.
“This will not be a typical 4-13 game,” Calipari said in reference to the seeding. “We know that. We’ll have to have one of our better efforts to win the game.”
Kentucky’s tournament opener
KENTUCKY VS. STONY BROOK
East Regional at Des Moines, Iowa
When: Thursday, about 9:40 p.m.
Records: Kentucky 26-8, Stony Brook 26-6
ABOUT STONY BROOK
Location: Stony Brook, N.Y.
School colors: Red, Blue and Grey
Head coach: Steve Pikiell (192-155 in 11th season at Stony Brook and overall)
Conference: America East (Stony Brook won the regular season and tournament championships)
All-time series: Kentucky leads 1-0 (UK beat Stony Brook 62-52 on Nov. 27, 2007, in Lexington)
Common opponents with Kentucky: Stony Brook lost at Vanderbilt 79-72 in OT on Nov. 19 and won at NJIT 83-61 on Dec. 28. The Seawolves split games with Albany, winning 69-63 at home on Jan. 22 and losing 82-70 on the road Feb. 17.
Other notable games this season: Jameel Warney scored 43 points as Stony Brook beat Vermont 80-74 to win the America East Tournament championship Saturday. Stony Brook lost 67-66 at Western Kentucky on Nov. 21 and 86-61 at Notre Dame on Dec. 8.