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Three-Point Arc: Takeaways from Calipari presser before Kentucky Wildcats' final preseason tune-up

Kentucky is wrapping up preparation for its second and final exhibition game on Sunday against Asbury. On Friday, UK head coach John Calipari met with the media to discuss the Wildcats' progress. We focus on three takeaways from that press conference in this AW feature.

1. Lineup, Rotations A Work In Progress

Kentucky's lineup for last week's exhibition game against Clarion was a bit of a surprise as freshman forward Wenyen Gabriel started at the 3 spot alongside De'Aaron Fox, Isaiah Briscoe, Derek Willis and Bam Adebayo, while freshman guard Malik Monk came off the bench. Monk was stellar in UK's annual Blue-White Scrimmage, so most observers believed that Calipari would utilize a three-guard lineup. Judging by Calipari's comments today, don't read too much into the lineups at this stage. "We’re still trying to figure out combinations," he said. "I’ll do the same thing that I did last game, play a lot of combinations." Calipari has also mulled starting a lineup built around center Isaac Humphries. He added that practices have been extremely competitive, giving several different players an opportunity to show they deserve to start. The one thing Calipari has determined about the rotation is that Fox or Briscoe must be on the court at all times, and possibly both.

2. All Bam, All The Time

One sure way to earn a spot in Calipari's starting lineup is to bring maximum effort on defense and the glass in practice, something that Adebayo has done on a daily basis. “I do it by analytics. I look at numbers," the UK boss said. "The greatest thing, the rebound attempts on offense and defense, who do you think was by far the reader in rebound attempts? (Media responds, Bam Adebayo). Yeah, it wasn’t close. That’s why he will play. So, he goes 100 percent of the time, which is an outrageous number."  What else does Coach Cal look for? "Assist-to-turnover ratio, deflections – those things, we keep track of all that."  He's also keeping an eye on who might have the tough mindset to come up with a big play under pressure. Calipari borrowed from this week's classic Game 7 at the World Series, an eighth-inning home run by Cleveland's Rajai Davis, as an example. "That’s a significant game where, OK, can you make a play now? Yeah, you’re great all year. Let me see you make that play now. The one pitcher (Aroldis Chapman) was throwing 100 miles per hour... Guy hit a home run on a 100 mile-per-hour pitch – and he got around on it. How in the world did you get around on it? So, I want to know when we hit big games, who are the guys that are going to make those free throws? Who’s going to make plays? That will all shakeout when we move forward.”

3. Nothing Fancy... Yet

According to Calipari, don't expect to see the Cats running too many offensive and defensive sets on Sunday at Rupp Arena. Or maybe even the first few games of the regular season, which includes a Nov. 15 matchup against Michigan State at Madison Square Garden. "We’ve got some ways to go," he said. "My thought is that the first week of the season, probably the first two weeks, it’ll be a limited package of what we’ll do. Limited baseline. Limited sideline. Limited what we’ll do versus zone. Limited man offense. We’re just trying to get good at some things right now. I just put a press in. Just put it in. Which means I just put a press attack in, so I’m trying to go at the pace that these guys go. I don’t want to throw too much (at the players); I want them to worry about competing at a high level versus worried about ‘What am I supposed to be doing out here?’ Compete.”


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