When Louisville players come to Lexington



Edgar Sosa played for Louisville, but that doesn’t preclude him from liking the new Dominican Republic coach with UK ties.

“You have those fans that understand the game and know this is a great opportunity. And then you have those fans who get on the blogs who say he’s a traitor,” Sosa said. “At this point in my life, I no longer go to Louisville. And I’m not going to lie. I love playing for Coach (John) Calipari. He’s given me a lot of freedom to play my game.”

That’s not the only part of his perception of Lexington that has changed.

“While I was at Louisville, I never came down here,” Sosa said. “And you hear all these stories about how UK fans are a bunch of rude guys. But they’re nice. I don’t get treated any different because I’m from Louisville.”

He is getting treated the same as every Calipari point guard. As the lead man in the Dribble-Drive Motion offense Calipari is rapidly installing, Sosa is being trusted with a lot and being asked to learn a lot more. He’s focusing on creating off the drive. For himself, yes, but mainly for the “three main guys” in Al Horford, Charlie Villanueva and Francisco Garcia.

Everybody who talked about Sosa had nothing but compliments. Horford said he looked “great,” and ahead of everyone else in understanding the offense. Villanueva said he’s been “tremendous,” and the key to the team’s success. Garcia called him the “head of the snake.” Calipari said his skill set — quick, athletic, good ball handling — has enabled him to be a natural fit, although that also applies to the negative, as well.

“He’s not used to doing it, so he’s missed a lot of layups,” Calipari said. “Like, a lot of layups. But that’s what all of my point guards do.”

Calipari is the one controlling this team. It’s his offense, and he’s running practices the way he usually does. He stops it when the defense misses an assignment, or when the offense falters. Both Horford and Villanueva said they didn’t know much about Calipari coming into the national team experience with him, but both had positive things to say — as did both former Louisville players.

“He’s real,” said Garcia, who also played at U of L. “He tells you what it is. Doesn’t matter if you’re an NBA player, if you’re a college player, if you play overseas, he tells you what he feels.”

Calipari said the players have been receptive to his style, both on the court and off. Calipari’s three goals for the team right now are: get in shape, get in attacking mode and get the team playing together.

“I appreciate they let me coach them,” Calipari said. “And I do coach them, now. I told them my goal every day is to make your uncomfortable. I’m trying to push them to the limit.”