Preparing for tourney time

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Preparing for tourney time

Post  BestdamnUKfanperiod on Thu Mar 10, 2011 5:44 am

Preparing for tourney time

UK head coach John Calipari isn’t all that concerned with winning the Southeastern Conference Tournament, at least not in the literal way.

He’s not worried about lifting the trophy at the end, or being crowned champions, or raising a banner proclaiming UK’s conference conquering.

There’s really one thing Calipari cares about: helping out the NCAA seed.

Of course, these two things are not mutually exclusive. A good tournament showing increases the chances of earning a higher seed. So that, really, is why he wants to win.

“If it helps us get a better seed, then let’s go for it,” Calipari said. “We’d like to win it, but it’s for seed more than anything else. This tournament is to prepare us to play well that following week.”

Calipari said after the Tennessee game UK might be able to move up to a three seed. Right now, most analysts project UK as a four or five seed. Regardless, there’s no one set of circumstances that dictates what will happen.

“Depends on how we play here,” Calipari said. “Depends on what happens around there. I don’t know what we’re seeded right now, but from 10 days ago it’s gone up a line, maybe two. … Maybe you don’t move up the line, but within that line.”

For senior Josh Harrellson, who is trying to go back-to-back after being on the SEC championship-winning team, a weight has been lifted after winning three games in a row and dispelling some of the doubts about the team’s ability to win when it matters.

“We’re on a hot streak right now,” Harrellson said. “Hopefully we can carry that over.”

Calipari said that because of the youth on the team in terms of tournament inexperience, he was going to talk with them about his past teams and what made them successful.

Still, they haven’t faced the lose-and-go-home mentality. Calipari is trying to get his team into a tournament mindset. It’s been more of an issue this year. Players would look at the scoreboard. They would be afraid to lose. To combat that, Calipari said they need to be narrow-minded

“You have to have more fun than everybody else, and you really have to stay in the moment,” Calipari said. “You can’t worry about anything else.”

One of the biggest concerns is the potential of playing three games in three days if UK makes the finals. Junior DeAndre Liggins said the biggest thing players need to focus on is getting rest and taking care of their bodies during the hours off between games.

“It’s going to be tough,” Harrellson said.

Harrellson also pointed at UK’s experience in the Maui Tournament as a benefit. UK played three games in three days before falling to Connecticut in the champiosnhip.

Along with the inexperience is the short rotation. Doron Lamb said having only six players earning significant and constant playing time was his biggest surprise of this season.

The drawback for Calipari is that there is less room for error.

“Error becomes foul trouble,” Calipari said. “Error also becomes poor play like against Tennessee in the first half. We had three guys who were just playing awful. Well, that means you’re trying to play with just three or four guys.”

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