Three takeaways from Kentucky's 93-61 exhibition win over Rollie Massimino's NAIA Northwood program on Thursday night at Rupp Arena:
Motivation Success: We've moved well beyond the comparison phase when it comes to John Calipari and Rick Pitino, but this game reminded me of a classic page out of the former UK coach's book. Calipari spent all week bemoaning how bad the Wildcats' defense was in the Blue-White Scrimmage and subsequent practice sessions, even going so far as to use the term "awful" to describe it. He got the Cats' attention. Sure, they were only playing an NAIA program, but Northwood is the preseason favorite to win the championship at its level, and the Seahawks presented UK with a much better look than 95 percent of the other exhibition opponents I've seen over the years. While the Cats' defense wasn't perfect, Coach Cal admitted it was much better than he expected. Kentucky held Northwood to 36 percent shooting from the field and blocked 11 shots. Afterward, freshman center Nerlens Noel, who blocked four shots and altered many more, said he took Calipari's "awful" criticism as a personal challenge to work harder. Mission accomplished.
Sleeping On Archie: For one reason or another, Archie Goodwin has been the least talked-about member of UK's latest No. 1 recruiting class. The entire country knows about No. 1 prospect Nerlens Noel and his trademark high-top fade, and Calipari has stoked the flames of potential surrounding both Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress all summer long, but it's been Goodwin who has been the most exciting newcomer to date with 54 points in the Blue-White Scrimmage and this exhibition combined. Just like we saw from Goodwin on the elite AAU level, he has an ability to rack up points in a hurry without taking a disproportionate amount of shots or jacking up a lot of 3s. He's taken only five shots from beyond the arc, hitting three of them. Goodwin knows where his bread is buttered, and that's slashing into the lane off the bounce and drawing contact. He's 15 of 17 free throws so far, which always aids efficient scoring.
Wondering About Wiltjer: I thought Kyle Wiltjer had a nondescript showing on Thursday. He had 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting and hit two of his three attempts from long range – very Wiltjeresque, albeit no "3 Goggles" -- but I sensed that fans were expecting a bit more from the lone "veteran" of last year's championship squad. It's not that the sophomore forward played bad. He didn't. But I think he's going to have to provide more than one rebound and no assists in 23 minutes of action if he wants to hold off the more athletic newcomers on the roster.
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