UK team is selfless, cohesive



The composition of UK’s roster may not, at first glance — if you’re being stereotypical — seem like one that could develop cohesiveness. It’s full of all-star freshmen, sophomores who passed up potential NBA selections to improve their draft stock and a senior who could have demanded that it be his time to shine.

But, at the precipice of the postseason, cohesive is an easy label to attach to this team.

“They are going after something that’s bigger than their own individual statistics,” Florida head coach Billy Donovan said.

UK has a lot of unselfishness all over its roster. Anthony Davis doesn’t demand shots. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist fills up the stat sheet in all the little ways, even when he’s not scoring. Marquis Teague has shifted into running the team. Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb play within their roles.

Nobody embodies the selflessness more than Darius Miller. Other than a brief stretch in the middle of the season, Miller has come off the bench the entire year.

More importantly, he’s done so willingly.

“I’m sure Darius Miller wants to be out there 40 minutes a game, as any player does,” Donovan said, “but (he has) a better perspective of the big picture.”

That big picture includes a national championship. It’s been the common refrain from the start of the season, and the sincerity has only increased.

“They’ve got a bunch of guys on their team that are capable of getting 20 (points), but when they don’t get 20, you don’t see any of them pouting or upset or any of that stuff,” Donovan said. “That, to me, is the most impressive thing.”

UK head coach John Calipari, who possesses the ability to make a team gel in a short time frame, has stoked that mentality.

“I don’t think John gets enough credit for how hard those guys play and how he manages those egos,” LSU head coach Trent Johnson said.

The team’s unity could pay dividends in tournament time when players have to rely on each other more than ever, even with the pressure cranked up higher than ever.

“All this stuff starts with trust,” Calipari said.

The players have said they trust each other for months, and it certainly looks to be true on the court. Sharing the burden of producing is easier when it doesn’t all fall on one person.

“I think there is less pressure on every player,” Terrence Jones said last week. “Every player we have can step up and bring something to the table. Not everything is depending on one player because we have so many players on this team that do something for us.”

Ultimately, that’s the end goal — doing something for the bigger cause.

“They just seem consumed about winning,” Donovan said, “and that is it.”