Kentucky men’s basketball head coach John Calipari returned for his weekly radio show Monday night, and there was plenty to talk about.
The Wildcats are coming off a shocking home loss Saturday evening to UNC Wilmington, which was UK’s first home defeat of the season.
That loss was the main reason why UK slipped from No. 12 to No. 16 in the new AP poll despite also recording a 22-point home win over a top-10 team, Miami, last week.
Calipari offered a postmortem on the loss to UNC Wilmington while also looking forward to Saturday’s game in Philadelphia against Penn.
The Kentucky coach also touched on the collegiate debut of freshman big man Aaron Bradshaw and offered some injury news on freshman guard D.J. Wagner, who missed the UNC Wilmington game with a left ankle injury.
Calipari recaps home loss to UNC Wilmington
Calipari began the radio show by addressing the elephant in the room: What happened in UK’s 80-73 loss to UNC Wilmington, and how will the Wildcats learn from it?
Front and center for Calipari was a lack of ball movement on the offensive end. Calipari said that UK watched an hour of film Monday highlighting what went wrong against the Seahawks.
Part of that involved 45 possessions (according to Calipari) on the offensive end that featured one or no passes by the Wildcats.
Additionally, Calipari lamented Kentucky’s inability to secure rebounds. UNC Wilmington held a slim 40-39 rebounding advantage, but the Seahawks had 14 second-chance points compared to just five for the Cats.
Part of what sounded like an intense Monday practice for the Wildcats included a few players in new positions as Calipari tinkered with ways in which the Wildcats can juice their rebounding proficiency.
This included 6-foot-8 freshman Jordan Burks spending time at the 3 spot.
Calipari wants Kentucky shooting more 3-pointers
In a talking point that was connected to his desire for Kentucky to have better offensive ball movement, Calipari said he wants his team to shoot more 3-pointers than it has in recent games.
Specifically, Calipari said he believes this UK team should be attempting between 25 to 30 3-pointers per game.
Kentucky has attempted the following amount of 3-pointers in each game so far this season:
▪ New Mexico State: 29.
▪ Texas A&M-Commerce: 23.
▪ Kansas: 38.
▪ Stonehill: 32.
▪ Saint Joseph’s: 25.
▪ Marshall: 27.
▪ Miami (Fla.): 21.
▪ UNC Wilmington: 17.
The 38 3-pointers Kentucky attempted against Kansas were the most in one game with Calipari as UK’s head coach.
Calipari discusses Aaron Bradshaw’s debut, gives update on D.J. Wagner
While there weren’t many positives to take away from the dismal defeat to UNC Wilmington, a bright spot for Kentucky was the college debut of 7-foot-1 freshman Aaron Bradshaw.
The versatile big man played 13 minutes off the bench against the Seahawks, scoring three points and grabbing two rebounds.
“He’s not ready yet, but we threw him in to try to get him ready,” Calipari said. “I also played him at the 4. Folks, we had one day of him practicing, maybe a day-and-a-half. That’s it. So I tried to put him at the easiest position. But, I want (Bradshaw) to be the 5, let Tre (Mitchell) be the 4. We can do some stuff, switch some stuff.”
Calipari previously said he wanted Mitchell to remain the 5, even when Bradshaw entered the UK rotation.
“There’s more decisions to make at the 4 than the 5,” Calipari explained.
Calipari also provided an injury update on freshman guard D.J. Wagner, who didn’t play on Saturday. During last week’s rousing home win over Miami (Fla.), Wagner exited the game in the first half with a left ankle injury and didn’t return in the second half.
Wagner was on the UK bench Saturday, but he was ruled out prior to tipoff.
After not providing an injury update on Wagner in his postgame news conference Saturday, Calipari said Wagner was in the gym watching UK practice Monday. But Calipari said it was still unclear whether or not Wagner will be able to suit up and play against Penn.
“I know he wants to play, but (his ankle) is black and blue,” Calipari said. “It’s not swollen anymore, but it’s black and blue. So, we’ll see.”
The game against Penn will be played at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center, which is the home of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers. The game is a homecoming for several Wildcats: Justin Edwards is from Philadelphia, and Bradshaw and Wagner played high school basketball in nearby Camden, New Jersey. Senior walk-on guard Kareem Watkins is also from Camden.
Adou Thiero and Tre Mitchell are both Pittsburgh-area natives from the opposite side of Pennsylvania.