Cats wow media at open practice

A couple of weeks ago we released our first practice report of the season. As you usually do, you ate up every word of it because there’s nothing quite like the preseason anticipation of a really good team. Seriously, I get it.

But, what I wrote was just one person’s perspective in just one practice setting. There are plenty more practices to go, even before the Bahamas trip, so UK opened its doors to the media on Monday and let some of the local guys write their opinions and observations.

The general consensus of this team: These guys are really, really big and really, really good. Read for yourself.

Sneak peek at UK basketball practice (Kyle Tucker, Courier Journal)

Freshman center Karl-Anthony Towns is a giant human being. Aside from his height – although apparently he’s going to be listed at 6-11, not 7 feet, and that’s fair after seeing that Johnson is clearly taller than him – Towns is much more powerfully built than he was in high school. He looks like a full-grown man. He lumbers a bit running the floor – well, at least compared to an athletic freak like Cauley-Stein, anyway – but is very obviously a skilled big man, a good passer, who rebounds strong and dunks violently. He’s real good.

Basketball practice notes (Brett Dawson, Cats Illustrated)

I like Kentucky’s potential both as a dribble-drive team (especially with the Harrisons in the backcourt) and in the pick and roll (especially with Ulis on the floor). I have a feeling this will be a solid pick and roll team. One of the keys, obviously: you have to set good picks. I think this team will be able to do that.

Five impressions from UK’s basketball practice (John Clay, Lexington Herald-Leader)

2. Institutional knowledge. Without getting into specifics, at one point Calipari told one of his freshman to watch what a non-freshman was doing in a drill. There couldn’t have been much of that last year, when Kentucky was composed almost entirely of freshmen. This year, Calipari can focus his instruction on the new players and have his points reinforced by what older players are doing. This is because he has older players.

UK open practice basketball notes (Matt Jones, Kentucky Sports Radio)

If you were to only watch this practice, you would assume that the Harrison Twins are the stars of the team. They lead the practice, direct their teammates and are clearly in control. I was impressed with both their frames, and the decision making is much improved. Aaron had some eye-opening plays, further confirming my belief that he will be the leading scorer on the team this season. Andrew penetrated well (as last year), but also finished better, something I will be focusing on when in the Bahamas. While last year they shared the spotlight with Julius Randle and James Young, in my mind, after watching this practice, this will be the Harrison Twins’ team this season.

Inside UK basketball practice (Thomas Beisner, KSTV)

This team’s size is remarkable. And this is with Willie Cauley-Stein and Trey Lyles out. Much like Calipari’s teams in recent years, the focus is to play at the rim on both ends of the floor. The lob is going to be there a lot and not just because the forwards are so big, but because the guards are big and/or explosive enough to deliver them in traffic. At times, it looked like they were playing on a nine-foot rim

Calipari preps UK for Bahamas (Darrell Bird, The Cats’ Pause)

It doesn’t take long to realize that the bulk of Calipari’s teaching doesn’t involve being in the right place to run a play as much as it’s about reacting to situations and choosing the correct option. It’s a read-and-react.