2013 UK Basketball Women's Clinic Recap
10/14/2013 10:38 AM
Over 600 women came out to the 2013 UK Basketball Women’s Clinic from all over the world, and I was one of the lucky ones to get an inside look at the Kentucky basketball program.
This was one of the changes from last year. The women got a chance to watch a full UK basketball practice, and they got a good look at the newest Wildcats as well as a few of the veteran guys.
Sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein is still out with a hand injury that required stitches, but his presence was missed only by the fans. Sophomore Alex Poythress was much more comfortable with contact in the paint, once taking on big man Dakari Johnson and getting the layup. Aaron Harrison’s speed on the fast break drills was amazing. If he sees space ahead of him, no one can outrun him, and both he and Andrew always know where the basket is and are trying to score. But it was Marcus Lee who made the biggest impression on me. With Cauley-Stein out, he’s getting more time on court and it’s showing. Once, he got Johnson to bite on a nice fake and scored an easy basketball in the paint. We only got to see a few blocked shots, but Lee’s arms were always up. I would be watching the ball head toward the basket and see Lee’s arms before I realized he was even close to the action on the court. Opponents will overlook him, but the pogo-stick with arms (7’1.5” wing span at the 2012 Amare Stoudemire Skills Academy) will pop up unexpectedly to contest a shot.
Also, the Harrison Twins could not stop playing basketball even if they tried. After practice, Aaron and Andrew were shooting exercise balls at the basketball hoop and got a few stuck up there.
After practice ended, the 600 women were divided into three groups to learn about basketball drills. Assistant coach Orlando Antigua and Kenny Payne taught the women about footwork drills that keep players fluid and mobile while dribbling. John Robic put the women through passing and shooting drills, while adding plenty of humorous moments. He took one woman’s blue scarf off her (for safety reasons, of course) and wore it throughout the session. Finally, director of strength and conditioning Rock Oliver came in to put the women through some of the warm up exercises.
Overall, the women didn’t miss a beat during the Rock Oliver’s section. Oliver warned the women about paying attention because he would pull participants out of the crowd, but for the most park, he barked at the basketball players who were there to demonstrate the exercises. Robic, Antigua, and Payne didn’t give the women much of a break on the drills. All three made participants start over if they messed up, but overall everyone was a good sport. Two women sitting next to me volunteered during Robic’s session, and when they came back, they said the most difficult part was doing that with 200 women watching. Imagine trying to do that in front of 24,000 screaming fans.
Senior Jon Hood’s mom and grandma were in my session. When he came into the gym after practice, he walked across the sideline looking through the crowd until he spotted them and then went to sit with them for a bit. His mom and grandma, who reportedly never miss a game, wouldn’t miss this clinic either.
Crazy Fan Awards
After group sessions, everyone gathered in the main gym, so the UK coaching staff could give out awards. These awards went to the early bird who signed up for the clinic a mere 10 seconds after registration opened. Another woman drove from Florida to attend the clinic, and yet another woman flew over 3,000 miles from the United Kingdom to learn from the UK basketball staff and get a look at this year’s team.
But the best part was the stories the women put on the application to show how dedicated a fan they were. One woman made sure her newborn daughter’s initials were M-K-G for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Another pregnant UK fan moved her inducement date early so she wouldn’t miss watching a Kentucky basketball game on television. Finally, one woman said she backed out of a friend’s wedding to go see UK win a championship, but it was OK because the friend was a Duke fan.
John Calipari’s Closing Statement
Finally, John Calipari spoke to the women. He talked about his players-first program, and how even though last year was a down year, there were still a lot of positives. The basketball team posted an average 3.4 GPA for the spring semester, Nerlens Noel was drafted 6th even with an injured knee, and Archie Goodwin drafted in the first round as well. He talked about shared sacrifice. He said his goal this year is for a different player to be their best each month. He wants each player to step up when needed and every player to sacrifice for the common good of the team. Coach Cal said, “It’s us against the world. Everyone wants to beat us or wants the other team to beat us.” Kentucky is everybody’s Super Bowl, especially this year with a roster loaded with talent.
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