Despite win, Cats need improvement


Head coach John Calipari talks with Kevin Knox and Sacha Killeya-Jones during the game against Centre College on Friday, November 3, 2017 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky won 106-63. Photo by Chase Phillips | Staff

The UK men’s basketball team might’ve had their best preseason performance in the 43-point victory over Centre College Friday evening, but head coach John Calipari said the team still has far to go.

The Cats have continually improved in their three exhibition games, holding all their opponents under 67 points while improving offensively at times, but Calipari knows his team is still vulnerable as the regular season is just a week away. 

“We just have so far to go, I didn’t think we passed the ball to each other enough in the first half, everybody was trying to get theirs a little bit, it just looked bad,” Calipari said.

Read: Cats defeat Centre College 106-63

Calipari has stressed many times this year that the fan base will need to be patient while the youth on this team develops. The Cats have looked good in certain stretches, but Calipari is right when he says this team has a long way to go.

In the Blue-White scrimmage, conditioning was the biggest issue as many players went down in cramps. Conditioning has improved since then, but Calipari said the team struggles to execute as their heart rates get higher. 

Calipari also wasn’t pleased with how the offense has played despite the improvements. Due to the inexperienced players on the court, Calipari might be forced to call plays more often than he wants 

“I don’t want to have to call stuff every time down, but I will,” Calipari said. “We play our best when we’re in running in a set, which I don’t want to play that way but we’ll play how we have to play.”

Calipari said one way he might change the offense is add multiple four to five minute segments where the Cats play a certain way, and whichever segment works the best each night is the segment they’ll play at the end of the game. It’s a challenge Calipari hasn’t gone through in his time at UK, but with the roster full of young players, the adjustments are needed if the Cats want to win.

Despite all the cons that came from the three exhibition games, the players feel the preseason benefitted them, as it pointed out what’s good and bad for the Cats. Even in the sloppy play, Sacha Killeya-Jones sees the light at the end of the tunnel Calipari is aiming for.

“I think we can also see strides from where we’ve come, we’re a really young team so we expected this coming into the season,” Killeya-Jones “We’re still growing, every game we’ve gotten better, and every practice has been better.”

Watch: Killeya-Jones full postgame interview

The season will certainly be full of highs and lows, probably more lows than fans want, but in the end, the team gets the message that there’s work to be done before this year’s team is a finished product.

The preseason pointed out what it’s going to take to make this team great, now it’s time for Calipari and the Cats to make the necessary changes as the next basketball game counts.