John Calipari: Skinny guys "need to battle" in Kentucky's frontcourt

12/08/2015 06:40 PM

LEXINGTON — Frontcourt players are usually the largest athletes out on the basketball court, but for the No. 4 Kentucky Wildcats, some extra bulk is needed down in the paint.

UK does boast five different players who are listed at 6-foot-8 or taller, including forwards Isaac Humphries (7-foot), Skal Labissiere (6-11), Marcus Lee (6-foot-9), Derek Willis (6-foot-9), and Alex Poythress (6-foot-8). But with that height does not come very much weight for the Wildcats as Humphries is the only Kentucky player who weighs over 230 pounds (a trim 260 for Isaac).

Kentucky head coach John Calipari was asked about his “skinny” frontcourt during Wednesday’s press conference, explaining that being slim is no excuse to not be aggressive:

  • “What I will tell you is I’ve seen skinny guys battle,” Calipari told the media members in attendance. “Just because you are skinny doesn’t mean you don’t battle. I’ve seen [my players] battle. You just have to have that mentality.”

Coach Cal explained it’s not the size but the mentality and mindset of the players that matters when playing down in the paint, explaining his players need to toughen up and battle on every possession:

  • “Some of it has to be your inner dialogue. What are you exactly saying to yourself when a shot goes up? What are you saying when it’s transition and you’re flying? What are you saying to yourself when another team is starting to beat you to balls? What’s your inner dialogue? And this is all new to these guys. You talk in terms of that to them, they look at you like, what? Well, you’re saying something to yourself right now. Whatever you’re saying, we need to change that. We need to get you in a different mentality. I’ll say it again: We have great kids. We have good players. It’s what I’ve said from day one; grit, battle, fight. They can all do that. It’s just hard. It’s really hard when the other guy comes in playing for their lives and you know they are going to play well.”

The Wildcats will get their next chance to battle on Wednesday night with a home tilt against in-state opponent Eastern Kentucky. The Colonels are 7-2 on the season, and tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET at Rupp Arena.

KSTV discussed Kentucky’s “skinny” frontcourt on Wednesday’s show, explaining what the Cats must do to toughen up down in the paint:


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