Young players mean UK, Vandy battle could be a wild ride
As a precaution, Saturday night’s Kentucky-Vanderbilt game should remind fans with weak stomachs to take their anti-nausea medicine. Because youth will be served.
Youthful impulse (served with a side of inattention to game plans) could be all over the menu, er, Rupp Arena floor. Ken Pomeroy’s rating of No. 304 in terms of experience makes Vandy the greybeard in the game. He has Kentucky rated No. 350
PJ Washington, a relative old-timer as a sophomore, put into perspective the “process” that UK coaches talk about each year, about meshing a group of heralded recruits into an effective team.
“As young players coming to a school like this, you only think of yourself and what you can do in the future,” he said Friday. “But you’ve got to think about everybody else because everybody else has the same goals as you. And everybody else is going through everything you’re going through.
“You’ve got to come out as one, and everything elevates from there.”
To put it mildly, UK’s victory over Texas A&M on Tuesday was not uplifting. Afterward, UK Coach John Calipari offered a list of laments. A player not doing his job in a play called moments earlier during a timeout. Players going under screens, thus giving a three-point shooter the comfort to launch.
Maybe most damning, Calipari said he saw UK players thinking it was all right to be outworked by an opponent. “Like ‘What’s the big deal?’” he said in his postgame news conference. “‘You know who I am?’
“We’re breaking down execution right now and it’s driving me crazy . . . . That’s the kind of stuff that we’ve got to clean up, and it’s just not acceptable if we are going to be any good.”
A reporter asked assistant coach Joel Justus, who substituted for Calipari at Friday’s news conference, if youthful indiscretion explained UK’s stumbles.
“I think a ton of it is youth,” Justus said.
Vanderbilt 9-5 overall and 0-2 in the Southeastern Conference, strains under the weight of similar tonnage.
“The eight-minute mark
John Calipari has lamented his team’s youthful on-court mistakes and inattention to game plans. “It’s just not acceptable if we are going to be any good,” the UK coach said.