Kentucky coach John Calipari is looking for the Wildcats to build off their convincing season-opening win over Morehead State when they host Richmond Sunday in the Bluegrass Showcase at Lexington, Ky.
The 10th-ranked Wildcats (1-0) are coming off an 81-45 win over Morehead State with 10 newcomers meshing together, but Calipari wants his team to improve its interior passing, rebounding and perimeter defense.
“We’re going to have to figure out, what if they have a really fast and quick point guard? Who is guarding that guy?” Calipari asked.
Richmond point guard Jacob Gilyard, who has 1,276 career points, will make Kentucky figure that out right away. He ranked 10th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio last season and topped the nation with 3.19 steals per game.
Gilyard, the Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year last season, is the leader of the Spiders (1-0), who are picked by coaches and media to win the conference title.
“He has the best instincts of anyone I’ve seen,” Richmond coach Chris Mooney said of Gilyard, a 5-foot-9, 160-pound sparkplug who had 13 points and three steals in the Spiders’ 82-64 win over Morehead State on Friday.
“Now, he’s extremely quick. He’s a great player who happens to be small. He’s not good because he’s small.”
Kentucky’s talented but inexperienced players will go against Richmond’s seasoned lineup.
The Wildcats start four freshmen and senior transfer Olivier Sarr of Wake Forest against Morehead State on Wednesday. They have seven freshmen and three transfers among their newcomers.
Richmond, coming off a 24-7 season, started two seniors and two graduate students against Morehead State.
One of the seniors, forward Nathan Cayo, led the Spiders with 23 points against Morehead State while making all 10 of his field goal attempts.
Calipari is leery going against Richmond’s veteran lineup that is accustomed to winning. He is particularly concerned about his young team maintaining its defensive intensity throughout.
Richmond plays a Princeton-style offense, spreading the floor and using player and ball movement to break down the defense. Mooney played for Princeton. Although the methodical half-court offense has a tendency to be low-scoring, Richmond averaged 75.3 points last season.
“If you play 15 seconds, you’re getting beat,” Calipari said. “You’ve got to play the whole possession.”
Freshman guard Brandon Boston Jr. had 15 points and seven rebounds and fellow freshmen Devin Askew and Terrence Clarke each added 12 points in Kentucky’s win over Morehead State.
“What I was encouraged about was we looked like an organized basketball team,” Calipari said. “Ten new guys, never played together, never played for me. … Can you imagine? We’ve been 40 days, 30 practices in 42 and this is what we look like. So I’m happy now.”
Boston, a 6-foot-7 guard, was 7 of 14 from the field in his debut, and Askew and Clarke each made 5 of 9 attempts. Graduate transfer Davion Mintz of Creighton added 10 points off the bench.
“We just played as a team,” Clarke said. “As organized as we looked, I think everybody was kind of anxious and just didn’t know what was going to happen. I think that we’re just going to keep on building.”
–Field Level Media
Published: 2020-11-28 18:13:55
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