UK on the road again, Jones needs to pass more, Calipari on MLK panel (w/ video)

UK is going on the road again after dropping its first SEC road game to Georgia. No. 12 UK (14-3, 2-1 SEC) is playing Alabama (10-7, 2-1 SEC), and the primary focus is on continuing to play well at the beginning of the game.

“From the start of the game, we can’t let them take it to us,” Josh Harrellson said. “We have to initiate everything. Be the first ones to score, be the first ones to throw the first punch.”

Whether or not UK is ready to do that after big wins at home against Auburn and LSU isn’t known just yet.

“Don’t know,” head coach John Calipari said on his player’s readiness. “Until we get out there and play. We’re seeming to start games better, seeming to play better defense. We haven’t sustained it.”

Calipari drew comparisons to Georgia’s inside men. Alabama is led by forwards JaMychal Green (15.4 points, 7.4 rebounds) and Tony Mitchell (14.4 points, 7.9 rebounds). Things Alabama does well: offensive rebounding (grabbing 36.5 percent of available offensive rebounds). Things Alabama does not do well: get to the free throw line (26.9 percent rate) and shoot threes (30.8 percent makes).

“I’m trying to find a tape that will boost my confidence,” Calipari said. “I haven’t found it yet.”

Terrence Jones is hiding the skill that Calipari liked best when he was recruiting the versatile forward.

“When I watched him in high school, what impressed me the most about Terrence Jones? Wasn’t his shooting, and wasn’t his rebounding, because he didn’t always go after the ball,” Calipari said. “It was his passing. Unbelievable passer. We’re just not seeing that right now.”

When Jones doesn’t pass, the offense slows down and stops, interrupting the flow of the offense. Calipari said he liked the ball movement better when Jones isn’t on the floor, which, coupled with slow starts, led the coach to bring Jones off the bench the last two games.

“I don’t know yet,” Calipari said on whether Jones would start or sit at the beginning of the Alabama game.

Calipari mentioned after the Auburn game that Jones was having to live up the the expectations he set for himself by playing splendidly at the start of the year. But Jones said that pressure hasn’t been affecting him.

“I wasn’t thinking of living up to anything, or making it tying to seem like I’m a star or anything,” Jones said. “I was just having fun and playing my game.”

Jones also discussed his three-point shooting, which Calipari said UK can’t win with if it’s excessive. While Calipari prefers Jones to be in the post, Jones said Calipari respected his shot enough to give him the green light if Jones is open.

In practices, UK runs a five-minute three-point shooting drill. Jones said he has to make 50 in order to go another round; if he doesn’t meet that mark, he has to go do post drills.

“It just depends on how hard the rebounders are working,” Jones said on whether he makes 50. “Shooting with Brandon and Darius, they usually get the balls before me.”

But he was just joking.

“Sometimes the balls hit shooting at the same rim, so it’s not that,” Jones said. “I love our managers.”

John Calipari participated in a panel discussing the image of black athletes on ESPN Friday. Calipari said he was stopped by a lot of people who had kind words, and his daughter told him it was a special thing for her.

“(The players) liked that I went up there and said it was absurd for me to say I understood what it would feel like to be African American or grow up in the 60s,” Calipari said. “Terrence (Jones) said, ‘I’m glad you said that.’ But it was from the heart.”

Jones said he watched the broadcast and complimented his coach.

“I told him he did a good job,” Jones said. “I loved the way he started it. It takes courage to go up there, not being African-American, to go and talk in front of people.”

Calipari said he was honored to be selected to participate along people such as Spike Lee, Marion Jones, Jalen Rose and Mike Wilbon. When he coached in Memphis, he got a better understanding of civil rights and the ideas Martin Luther King Jr. represented than he did growing up in the Northeast.

Calipari said race is something he has brought up with his players recently, and that “to say it doesn’t exist today is not being truthful.”

“Because they have uniforms on, you’re treated differently,” Calipari said. “They have to understand that there’s still a ways to go. Because they’re content in how they’re treated, there’s still reason to stand up and make sure if there’s anything unjust if you see out there, you say something. If you don’t say something, you’re agreeing with it.”

Video from media session:

A clip of a drill from UK’s practice. It looked like this was the pre-practice drills John Calipari has been talking about, working extra with Jon Hood, Stacey Poole and Jarrod Polson (Eloy Vargas was doing wall sits with Enes Kanter on the far side).

John Calipari on participating in an MLK panel discussion on the image of black athletes, televised on ESPN:

Calipari part 2:

Terrence Jones on coming off the bench and his play:

Jones part 2:

Josh Harrellson: