Kidd-Gilchrist compares himself to Tim Tebow, and more notes


Michael Kidd-Gilchrist drives to the basket against Portland at Rupp Arena on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011. Photo by Scott Hannigan

Notes from Tuesday’s media session

  • Quick injury update: Terrence Jones, who missed the last two games with a finger injury, practiced yesterday, but “no one was really allowed to touch him,” coach John Calipari said. He will practice twice Tuesday and be re-evaluated on his status for Wednesday’s game against Lamar.
  • Kyle Wiltjer, who sat out Monday’s practice with an illness, is back today and said he’s fine.
  • Speaking on Wiltjer, he continues to work on being tougher so he can guard bigger players, but he’s also getting help on defense. “Coach Cal continues to emphasize playing team defense, having each other’s backs,” Wiltjer said. “I’m trying my best to get better so I can defend those guys.”
  • Although he knows he’s not the strongest player on the team — which hurts his post defense — he feels he can compensate in other ways. “Just knowing angles and how to defend a guy when he doesn’t have the ball can go a long way,” Wiltjer said.
  • The “Breakfast Club” is up to four meetings and eight members, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist said. “A lot of chemistry is building up,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “It’s like a brotherhood now.”
  • Calipari said Kidd-Gilchrist was initially hesitant to be a leader because he’s a freshman. “But there comes a point where you step up and start dragging the team, even as a young player,” Calipari said. “And he’s begun to do it.”
  • Said Kidd-Gilchrist, “I’m ready to lead. I’m a freshman, but so what?”
  • Part of that is putting in the work, and Kidd-Gilchrist does just that. When asked why he gets up early to work out, Kidd-Gilchrist drew a sports comparison. “You know, I’m like a Tim Tebow. I just want to win the games, however it takes,” Kidd-Gilchrist said.
  • But he won’t be “Tebowing” any time soon. “I’m not doing all that. I just like his mindset.”
  • Kidd-Gilchrist probably had a better break than most, as his mother recovered from an illness that hospitalized her on the day of UK’s last game. Kidd-Gilchrist said he talked to Calipari for what seemed like “hours” that day. “It was on my mind,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “I considered not playing. I tried to fight through it, so that’s what I did.”
  • Saturday’s rivalry game against No. 4 Louisville may be looming, but players and coaches don’t think they’re overlooking Wednesday’s game against Lamar. “We haven’t talked about this weekend at all,” Calipari said. “They may be looking at it or thinking about it, but I don’t think so.” Wiltjer said the team was only focused on Lamar.
  • Kentucky has sent nine players to the NBA, seven of them first-round picks, in the past two years. So Calipari made sure he caught the opening nights over Christmas break. “[That] is what’s great for me as a coach,” Calipari said, pointing out Josh Harrellson getting minutes for the New York Knicks, DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans playing well for the Sacremento Kings and Brandon Knight seeing action with the Detroit Pistons. “It just makes you proud.”
  • Calipari again pointed out what he perceives as a slight in the media toward his team’s academic performances. Calipari thinks the media underplays his team’s GPA when they do well and overplays it when they do poorly. “Are you trying to prove if you’re one-and-done you don’t care about academics?” Calipari said. “That’s out there, but it’s not true.”
  • For the record, it certainly seems like Calipari is pointing out the Herald-Leader’s work. Here’s what they had in the spring, when UK got a 3.14. And here’s what they had when UK got a 2.7 this fall. I’ll let you decide if it’s fair coverage. (UPDATE: I received an email with a link to a story on the GPA from Calipari’s first semester, so I’ll put all five in order: Fall 2009’s 2.025, Spring 2010’s 2.18, Fall 2010’s 2.824, Spring 2011’s 3.14, Fall 2011’s 2.7)