John Calipari, players talk Vanderbilt



Some notes and quotes as UK prepares for Vanderbilt:

  • The first meeting: UK came from behind to beat Vanderbilt by six in their gym. Anthony Davis, for one, is expecting much of the same.”The same way we played down there is going to happen here. Except it will be our crowd instead of theirs.”
  • Davis’ matchup with Vanderbilt Festus Ezeli will be key. Davis called him a legit post man and one of the “top three” big men he’s faced this season. Ezeli went for 13 points and six rebounds in the first matchup.
  • UK head coach John Calipari showed the entire team tape of Terrence Jones playing at his best — aggressive, clapping, asserting himself physically. It’s how Calipari wants Jones playing all the time, not just some of the time. “When (teammates) see him that way they’re like, ‘You know how good you are? You’re as good as anybody in the country. Just play like that.”
  • In UK’s win over Vanderbilt earlier this year, the Wildcats held Vanderbilt to 35.7 percent shooting on 2-pointers. The Commodores will get points from the outside, shooting 39.8 percent on 3-pointers for the year. Davis and Jones will have to control the paint again in this game.
  • Talk of Darius Miller’s NBA chances will start picking up about now. He’s currently ranked in the mid-90s by, but Calipari thinks he’s better than that — when he plays a certain way: “I think he is an NBA player when he plays with aggressiveness and he dunks balls and he plays hard and he gets in there and rebounds in traffic. When he plays that way, that guy is an NBA player. The other guy is not. He’s just not. He’s capable. He’s shown us he can do that, it just harder to do that. It’s rougher. It’s more taxing. You got to focus and concentrate every possession. It’s harder for players to play that way.”
  • Miller is also still working on having no fear to shoot when he gets an open look. Calipari said that he passed up a clean look against Mississippi State and took him out because of it. He also thinks Miller is getting better at it. “I think now he understands, ‘If I don’t shoot the ball, I’m going to get my head ripped off,” Calipari said. “I may as well shoot it, and if I miss it, I miss it.” Miller is a valuable outside threat, making 38.7 percent of his 3-pointers. Hitting open shots will be crucial for UK in the postseason.
  • Miller has been able to make clutch shots recently. An example of veteran experience? Possibly. “I think he’s probably more calm than anybody else out there,” Calipari said.
  • This will be a hot topic once tournament time rolls around: whether a youth-oriented team can possess the right mentality to win six games in a row when the pressure of a one-and-done environment is on. “It’s amazing our freshmen are reacting the way they are (so far),” Calipari said. “But we still don’t know in tournament play how they are going to react; when you lose it’s over. I mean we don’t. We think we know, but we really don’t.” He, and the rest of us, will find out soon enough.