UK not looking forward to UL, Lamb not complaining about bench role (with video)

Notes and Quotes (and video) from today’s media session, including some Louisville stuff, Doron Lamb’s improving game and his role off the bench, and coming back from the holiday break.

Yes, UK is playing Coppin State Tuesday. But it’s the game Friday — the one against Louisville — that everybody knows is coming up. Except, apparently, the team itself.

“I don’t even think they know who the next game is,” head coach John Calipari said. “I mean, we haven’t talked about it. What I’m talking of in terms of teaching is, the next three games, they kind of play the same way.”

Doron Lamb said the team is entirely focused on Coppin State, and will worry about shifting toward Louisville after that game. Besides, the team has to shake a little rust off from the holiday break to make sure they aren’t upset. Calipari said the team had one of its best practices yesterday, the first day the team was back.

“The guys that came in sniffling, like trying to tell me, I’m a little sick. Hmm. You’re going to be sick in two and half hours, not now,” Calipari said. “You start coughing when when we’re done. I don’t want to hear one sniffle, one cough, nothing. And they went from the time they went to the end.”

Lamb only started following UK last year, but is still aware of the weight the rivalry game carries in the state.

“I don’t know a lot, but I know they hate each other,” Lamb said. “That’s all I know.”

As the lights go down before a game, with Rupp Arena swelling with noise, players chest bumping each other as the starter’s names get called, Doron Lamb’s name is not one of those.

“It doesn’t mean anything to me,” Lamb said of not being part of the pregame festivites. “As long as you’re out there producing, that’s what means the most.”

Lamb is producing. He usually is the first player to check in, and he plays starter minutes — 28.1 per game, scoring an average of 14.2 points per game. It was an adjustment for him to make at first — Lamb, a high school star, couldn’t remember the last time he wasn’t part of a starting lineup — and his production could have led to him wondering why he wasn’t a starter.

“He could be in my office saying, I want to start,” Calipari said. “I need to be starting. And I would have to deal with it.”

But Lamb never raised any complaints to his coach.

“No,” Calipari said on whether Lamb ever made anything suggesting disappointment. “I just sat him down and said, we need you to do this. You may end up playing the most minutes.”

Being a substitute does have its benefits. While the starting five begins the game, Lamb said he watches the defense for what they are doing, and seeing how he can exploit that. And when he does come in, well:

“There’s less pressure on him than any player on the team, and he just goes in and lets it fly,” Calipari said.

Regardless of whether he starts or not, Calipari said his NBA “stock” is climbing.

“The biggest thing about him, is his feel for the game is beyond the normal player,” Calipari said. “The second thing is his motor, which wasn’t moving early, and now you see a player playing more aggressive, playing faster, without losing feel for the game. When the ball is thrown up, he goes.”

Lamb’s stock will continue to rise, especially is he has more games like the one he had against Winthrop. He missed one shot on the night in scoring 32 points, a UK freshman record that had been held since 1991. He knew it was going to be one of those nights where “everything seems like it’s going to go in” when he took a corner three that went in, despite not being able to see a basket because of a defender in his face.

“I had (that feeling) a lot in high school,” Lamb said. “I just got it this year in college, that’s my first time.”

Brandon Knight will run back to Calipari on the sidelines, sometimes, even though Calipari has nothing to say. And that’s a good thing.

“Come over to me every chance you can, even if I don’t have anything to say, so they see you’re getting direction from me,” Calipari said.

The ongoing evolution of Knight’s leadership is evident to Calipari when Knight comes to him or huddles the team up to let them know what the team needs to be doing. Knight has increased being vocal since high school.

“Brandon did not speak (in high school),” Calipari said. “I never saw him say a word in high school In practice or in a game. Not like, ‘ball!’ Not one word. Now when you walk in it’s either my voice or his voice you’re hearing.”

Knight’s increased talking hasn’t turned off his teammates, though, because they respect him.

“They will not follow a leader who thinks it’s all about them,” Calipari said. “It’s about, he’s for me, I’ll follow him anywhere he takes me.”

Knight, who Calipari said everyone pointed to as the most conscientious player on the team, has his coach’s trust to figure it out.

“He’s the least of my worries,” Calipari said.


Video from today’s media session, regarding Coppin State and a little bit of Louisville

Head coach John Calipari on not looking ahead to Louisville:

Freshman Jarrod Polson on his first basket at UK:

Freshman Doron Lamb on setting a scoring record with 32 points last game: