Join us tonight on KentuckyScout as we discuss the Wildcats' Blue-White Scrimmage live from Rupp…
Calipari: Scrimmage shows Cats need work
"Do you now see why I said whoever voted us in the top five should be drug tested?" the UK boss asked.
A lively chorus of "Yeahs" rained down from the stands at Rupp Arena.
In a showing that reminded the crowd of 12,016 that this is a brand new year and a brand new team, the Blue squad edged the White team 89-88 with defense taking a back seat for most of the night.
"We really have a long way to go," said Calipari, who lamented the number of easy baskets that were converted in the high-scoring scrimmage. "... We don't rotate. We don't scramble. Just an OK rebounding team. Other than that, I guess we played pretty good defense."
The biggest beneficiary of the defensive breakdowns was freshman guard Archie Goodwin, who scored a game-high 32 points on 11-of-22 shooting from the field and 8-of-9 shooting at the line. But the five-star Arkansas native also provided a couple of the night's biggest teaching moments for a coach trying to establish good habits. The first occurred when he was adjusting his shorts while the ball was in play. The second, and perhaps more egregious to Calipari, was keeping the ball on a run-out dunk instead of passing ahead to an open Julius Mays.
"Julius was out ahead of him, and he drove it by and shot it. And that's unacceptable here, and I let him know it. He wasn't real happy, but that's not my deal. I let him know." Calipari said. "After the game I said, 'You just took 22 shots, more than anybody on the team. You understand you don't ever pass anyone up if you're gonna get shots. Ever.' And I told him the reason is, I'm making people throw it to you when you're ahead, so you better throw it to them when they're ahead. He understood.
"Offensively, we still haven't figured it out yet," Calipari added. "But I'm trying to get guys to play a certain way. They're trying, but it's the first time out. We've scrimmaged this year (only) 12 minutes before that scrimmage. We had so much to do to create habits, we really haven't been able to scrimmage, and it kind of showed. But I'm not worried about it. There were some lessons and there will be some stuff I'll be able to show them to make a point of what we're trying to do."
Several players spent time on both teams during the scrimmage as Calipari shuffled his lineups. Sophomore forward Kyle Wiljter scored 28 points on 11-of-18 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds. Sophomore point guard Ryan Harrow, eligible this season after sitting out as a transfer from N.C. State a year ago, scored 20 points and dished out six assists split between both the Blues and the Whites.
Senior Julius Mays, a graduate student transfer from Wright State, played for both squads, but scored all of his 13 points for the Blue. He and Goodwin were the lone Cats to make more than one 3-point shot, each connecting on two.
Asked how he felt about Mays' play, Calipari said he liked it and suggested the newcomer could be a smaller version of a key player on last year's national championship squad. "What Darius (Miller) brought us. He'll make an open shot... Darius was bigger, but he brings the same type of stuff."
Freshman forward Alex Poythress tallied 25 points exclusively for the White squad. Fellow freshmen Willie Cauley-Stein and Nerlens Noel added 14 and nine points, respectively, splitting time on both squads. The big men also combined for 12 blocked shots with Noel rejecting seven. Cauley-Stein had a game-high 12 rebounds; Noel pulled down eight boards.
Jon Hood, bouncing back from knee surgery that kept him out of action last season, scored 17 points for the Blue squad. The junior from Madisonville also dished out five assists.
"Jon Hood, that's the best he's played," Calipari said, "because he only did what he can do. He's not listening to someone telling him how to play. He knows what his game is now. He'll take that 7-footer, run and do things that he can do. He's getting his legs back. I was happy for him."
Walk-on guard Jarrod Polson added 13 points, all for the Blues, and drew praise from Calipari for the way the offense ran when the junior was at the point. "Played good. Played hard. Played confident. Talked, verbalized with his team."
When the game began, it appeared that Calipari had stacked his expected starters (Harrow, Goodwin, Poythress, Wiltjer and Noel) on the White squad against his backups (Polson, Mays, Hood, Cauley-Stein and Twany Beckham) on the Blue team. But it was the Blues who raced to a stunning 25-8 lead in the first 10 minutes of action.
"If you asked me at halftime, Julius would start and Willie would start," Calipari said. "Archie played better in the second half.
"We're still trying to figure out who we are, so we really don't have starters."
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