Brown: John Calipari and Kentucky basketball have big problem until 7-footers return

LEXINGTON — Kentucky guard Robert Dillingham dropped his hand low for a “too small” gesture aimed at a Georgetown defender Friday in the Wildcats’ 92-69 exhibition win.

But it’s UK that has a glaring size issue and its lack of available big men that presents a big problem.

The Cats’ trio of 7-footers on the roster — Aaron Bradshaw, Ugonna Onyenso and Zvonimir Ivisic — sat and watched from the sidelines. Bradshaw and Onyenso, due to injuries, Ivisic while awaiting to be cleared by the NCAA.

UK coach John Calipari walked back his initial estimation that Bradshaw and Onyenso would be back by the end of November. And no one can ever truly guess the pace of the NCAA’s movements.

So for the foreseeable future, and possibly for the Cats’ marquee matchups in the first month against Kansas and Miami, they’ll be small.

Kentucky’s Adou Thiero tries to make a shot against Georgetown College’s Kyran Jones during Friday’s exhibition game.

The Cats played with some signatures of small ball teams. They picked up full court and pressured the Tigers. They ran offensive sets that sometimes utilized five out.

UK forward Tre Mitchell shined offensively in that setting, scoring a game-high 22 points while shooting 4-for-5 from 3-point range.

He’s also the one player UK can’t afford to get into foul trouble or get injured. Mitchell played 33 minutes not because the 6-foot-9 graduate needed the extra work. Calipari doesn’t have enough players who can replace him.

Defensively is where the absence of any real size showed the most. Georgetown actually led UK in points in the paint in the first half, 22-18. The Tigers did so, despite not using any player taller than 6-foot-7 in the rotation, and not having a true post player on the blocks.

Georgetown wasn’t suited to properly take advantage inside — the Cats finished the game with a 44-34 advantage in the paint — but UK will certainly face teams that can in the regular season.Calipari touted the 7-footers, especially noting Bradshaw, because of their ability to block shots and what that would do for the Cats defensively.

His four Final Four teams at UK all ranked in the top 15 nationally in block percentage, according to Last year’s team didn’t have a shot blocker and ranked 103.

This column will be updated.

Exhibition vs. Georgetown College: What UK’s uninspiring start taught us about Wildcats

Reach sports columnist C.L. Brown at, follow him on X at @CLBrownHoops and subscribe to his newsletter to make sure you never miss one of his columns.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Kentucky vs Georgetown College: John Calipari’s big problem on display

Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *