BOZICH | Dumb? Afraid? No show? Why did Kentucky annoy Calipari - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Dumb? Afraid? No show? Why did Kentucky annoy Calipari Tuesday?

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John Calipari did not distribute many compliments after UK's win Tuesday. John Calipari did not distribute many compliments after UK's win Tuesday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – John Calipari used the words "no show," in his press conference after Kentucky defeated Mississippi State Tuesday night in Rupp Arena. He liked the term so much that the coach said it a second time.

He also used the word, "afraid." Another word that made the cut: "Dumb."

Those are not winning words. But Calipari did not talk like a coach whose team won during his post-game media session. It’s a good thing when a team can win without playing well.

Calipari’s criticism of his guys was constant but sometimes intentionally vague. I’ve gone back to the tape, trying to determine what Calipari meant instead in addition to what the coach said.

WHAT CAL SAID: "We need Dom back badly. We’re playing some guys that don’t deserve to be in there and then you end up playing them a lot of minutes."

WHAT CAL MEANT: Help me. Was Calipari talking about Dom Wilkins, Dom Hawkins or Dom Perignon?

Hawkins is a solid, determined player, but nobody has ever compared his value to John Wall, Eric Bledsoe or Brandon Knight.

Hawkins had a career afternoon in UK’s victory over Louisville Dec. 26. But if you subtract that game from his season numbers, Hawkins has averaged 7.1 minutes and 1.5 points per game.

The guys that this Kentucky team miss badly are Dakari Johnson or Trey Lyles.

But Johnson is averaging 12.3 points for the Oklahoma City Blue in the NBA Development League and Lyles is shooting 38 percent and averaging 3.6 points for the Utah Jazz. They’d be stars on this Kentucky team.

Those are the guys Kentucky could use – and the guys that could use Kentucky. But that’s another column.

WHAT CAL SAID: "See, people see a shot made and think, ‘Well, the guy’s OK.’ But when you watch the tape, it’s just like, ‘Oh, my God, you score six and you give up 12.'"

WHAT CAL MEANT: Guard your man.

Keep him out of the paint. Knock him away from the glass. Defend as if your spot in the 2016 NBA Draft depends upon it.

After the Mississippi State game, Kentucky dropped to 47th nationally in Ken Pomeroy’s defensive efficiency metric.

The 38-1 team ranked second last season. The 2012 NCAA champions ranked eighth.

According to Pomeroy, the last 14 NCAA champions ranked 21st or better in that statistic and 10 of that 14-team group ranked in the top dozen. You can forget a national title with a defensive efficiency ranking of 47.

Guard your man.

Here are the combined plus/minus stats for Kentucky’s top nine players after four SEC games:

Marcus Lee, plus 43. (The only guy without a negative game.)

Jamal Murray, plus 40.

Alex Poythress, plus 34.

Tyler Ulis, plus 28.

Isaiah Briscoe, plus 10.

Charles Matthews, plus 7.

Skal Labissiere, minus-2.

Mychal Mulder, minus-4.

Derek Willis, minus-8.

WHAT CAL SAID: "I thought Alex (Poythress) made the free throws down the stretch and showed a lot of courage. There were things that he did. But in the guts of that game, he was not a factor, and when you’re that good, you need to be a factor."

WHAT CAL MEANT: How can a guy built like LeBron James play like Mars Blackmon around the rim?

Sixteen games into his senior season Poythress has yet to deliver back-to-back-to-back double-figure scoring games. In fact, he’s scored 10 or more in six of Kentucky’s 16 games.

Poythress has been in the program four seasons. There was no reason for him to contribute one field goal in 31 minutes against a Mississippi State frontline that featured one starter taller than 6 feet 7.

But he did.

WHAT CAL SAID: "So then we put (Isaiah Briscoe) under the basket. That’s what the adjustment was. You dudes are afraid? We’ll go to him, and he got behind the basket and he scored."

WHAT CAL MEANT: Karl-Anthony Towns does not live here any more. Neither does Julius Randle. The Kentucky guards must attack the rim.

In each of the last two seasons Kentucky has been blessed by the presence of the most dependable low-post scorer in college basketball.

Towns could get you a basket or get to the foul line off a feed into the low post late in a game. Ditto for Randle.

When Kentucky needs a basket this season, chances are Jamal Murray or Tyler Ulis will be asked to deliver, often on a jump shot.

It’s not optimal. But it’s the way it is.

WHAT CAL SAID:  "So there were a lot of things that I look at and just shake my head."

WHAT CAL MEANT: Take another look at Ken Pomeroy’s computer projections for the Southeastern Conference. After Tuesday night, he has Texas A&M (14-4) finishing two games ahead of the Wildcats (12-6) in the SEC.

Winning another SEC title is going to be a grind.

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