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December 1, 2012

Notes: Calipari challenges Cats; point guard unresolved

There's little time for John Calipari to make any quick fixes before Kentucky's game against Baylor on Saturday, but he wants to see two things out of his team.

"A competitive spirit and a will to win," Calipari said.

If his players do that, "I'll help them with all the other stuff," Calipari said.

But only if they do that.

"If you fall in love with practice, improvement, if you're in love with that, yeah, we're going to get better," Calipari said. "But if they don't, I don't have a magic wand."

That showed in Thursday's 64-50 loss at Notre Dame, a game Calipari said he expected to be a tough challenge but didn't expect his team to lack a sense of competitiveness.

Because of that, Calipari said it's more difficult for him to address some of his team's issues.

"It's hard for me to evaluate if you don't compete," Calipari said. "Because then I don't know, is our pick-and-roll defense bad, or did you just not compete?"

Calipari said he wasn't sure why his team didn't exert the desired effort against Notre Dame.

Could have been that Kentucky has a young team. Could have been playing on the road for the first time.

Whatever it was, Calipari wants to prevent it from happening again.

"I almost wanted them to stay out on the court and see (Notre Dame fans) storm the court, to say, 'Do you understand, every road game this is what will happen?'" Calipari said. "Because you're at Kentucky. Shouldn't have come here if you didn't know that."

Point problems
The point guard position remains unresolved for now.

Freshman Archie Goodwin started at the point guard against Notre Dame but "did not play well at that position," Calipari said. He scored three points on 1-of-7 shooting with five assists and two turnovers in 32 minutes.

"He was out of control most of the game," Calipari said. "But he's still learning. He got a little rattled by it."

Calipari said he wants to get Goodwin more time at shooting guard so he can get up the court in transition more often.

"Because if you throw it ahead to him, he makes something good happen," Calipari said. "He's kind of like how Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was."

But Goodwin can't do that if he's operating as a point guard.

"Which is the dilemma," Calipari said.

Calipari said he has a few options. He could have sophomore Ryan Harrow or junior Jarrod Polson play the point guard, allowing Goodwin to push up the court in transition. He could even slide Goodwin back to the point in half-court sets, a favorable option because "playing him in the pick-and-rolls and doing things has made us a better team," Calipari said.

But he's not sure if the other two players are ready yet. Harrow and Polson combined for four points on 2-of-7 shooting with one assist and one turnover in 25 minutes against the Fighting Irish.

Calipari has options. He just has to figure out which ones he wants to explore.

"We're still in flux," Calipari said.

Tough start
After Saturday's game, Kentucky will have played four quality opponents in its first seven games: Maryland and Duke at neutral sites, on the road at Notre Dame, and at home against Baylor.

Other than Duke - which has played (and beaten) UK, Louisville, Ohio State, Minnesota and Virginia Commonwealth in its first seven games - "I'd say we've had the toughest schedule" in the nation, Calipari said.

The challenging start has put his young Wildcats through a test they may not have been ready for.

"It's probably not fair for these young guys, but I'd rather learn right now what we have to do and get a clearer picture," Calipari said. "And you don't get those clear pictures against those bad teams."


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