UK Basketball: Cauley-Stein says Cats feeling sense of urgency
Willie Cauley-Stein thinks Kentucky will start turning the corner following a loss to Texas A&M last weekend. (Sun photo by Bill Thiry / January 15, 2013)
The Wildcats (10-5, 1-1 Southeastern Conference), went unbeaten at home in John Calipari’s first three seasons, but have lost two at Rupp¿Arena this year, including an 83-71 loss to Texas A&M last Saturday, in his fourth tour of duty as coach at Kentucky. Despite single-digit losses to top-ranked Louisville and No. 3 Duke, the team has yet to record a signature victory this season and a sure spot in the NCAA¿Tournament remains an uncertainty. The rest of the team’s schedule includes an ESPN GameDay contest against 17th-ranked Missouri on Feb. 23 and a home and away with Florida, ranked No. 10 in the latest Associated Press poll.
Cauley-Stein said there should be a sense of urgency starting with tonight’s contest against Tennessee set for 7 p.m. at Rupp¿Arena.
“There should be (a sense of urgency),” the Kentucky freshman said. “We’ll find out today. I felt like guys were focused in the film session. There should definitely be more sense of urgency.”
Calipari said a main concern has been his team’s inability to “buy in” to his philosophy and move beyond making excuses for being a “young team.” Cauley-Stein said “that’s always been an issue” since the beginning of the season.
“We just haven’t changed yet,” he said. “That’s the big emphasis. We are a little late on the change. He says he has been doing this for a long time and he sees it all the time.”
One of the main issues has been a lack of discipline on the defensive end and rebounding.
“It’s like gambling on defense and not getting key rebounds,” Cauley-Stein said. “You don’t have those little mistakes when you are a junior or a senior. How sped up the process is makes us freshmen and sophomores have to play like juniors and seniors. We haven’t bought into the system yet.”
Cauley-Stein added that the lack of experience showed in the last four minutes last week against the Aggies. A¿collapse in the final four minutes of the game resulted in a double-digit setback. He added that the team is making strides toward getting on the same page with Calipari.
“I think we have (bought in), but it’s been a slow process,” Cauley-Stein said. “We are not all the way there, that’s why you get those mistakes in the last four minutes of the game where you can’t close it out. We aren’t all the way there yet.”
With five losses already, Cauley-Stein said the setbacks have been “very” frustrating.
“Nobody likes to lose,” he said. “When you are up by four and make mental breakdowns on defense and don’t execute our offense, it’s really frustrating.”
Despite the team’s shortcomings, Cauley-Stein said the team is meshing and the five losses will bring the Cats closer together.
“There are going to be people out there saying we are not good enough,” he said. “Then you have people who say this is going to be a slow process and there are still a lot of gains to be made. I think now we are going to be the only ones who have our back through the whole thing. We just have to stick with each other.”