Calipari challenged his top-ranked team: ‘We’re going to be the aggressor’

CLEVELAND, Ohio — John Calipari opted to negate the aggression of West Virginia’s press by deploying one himself.

That strategy worked, as did everything else top-seeded Kentucky pitched Thursday night, generating a 78-39 runaway that seemed more suited to a nonconference tuneup than a Sweet 16 game.

“An old friend of mine says you press a pressing team,” Calipari said. “That’s why we put in the diamond press and that’s why we did some of the stuff we did, just to press them. To go ‘You’re not going to be the aggressor, we’re going to be the aggressor.'”

Kentucky’s pressure created a couple deflections and led to one West Virginia pass being tossed out of bounds. Perhaps it was more symbolic than decisive, meant to roust the Wildcats into attack-mode.

West Virginia came in forcing nearly 20 turnovers per game, tops in the nation, routinely pressuring opponents into carelessness. But Kentucky wasn’t rattled and committed only 10 turnovers, right on its season average, which also ranks among the best in the nation.

“When you have to prepare to play the teams we play—that press and trap and play physical—you have a little head start,” Calipari said. “At the beginning of the year, it’s one of the things that we’ll say let’s make sure we’re good against a press, that we have great spacing, that we understand what you’re trying to do and playing off one another.”

By the time the Mountaineers’ press registered a few steals in the second half, the lead was 30 and the game was long decided. Because West Virginia matched its season low with 13 baskets, the press rarely afforded opportunities for backcourt traps.

“They played great defense on us, which made it hard for us to even set up our defense, because we’ve got to score in order to get in our defense,” said West Virginia point guard Juwan Staten.

Kentucky’s stingiest defensive efforts included Kansas (40 points), Providence (38). Missouri (37) and Montana State (28). West Virginia reluctantly joined that list, making only 19 percent of its first-half shots and 24 percent overall.

“As far as getting shots off, I mean, they’re the biggest team in the country,” Staten said. “No team all year has been able to get easy shots on them. They played hard, they protected the rim, they guarded.”

More Uncategorized

Two fired, one demoted over complaints in Randolph County Office of Emergency Management
An ivestigation into serious allegations by employees leads to the dismissals and one demotion in Randolph County emergency services and 9/11
October 12, 2021 - 1:16 pm
The Game Within The Game (Episode 86)
Brad Howe and Julian Edlow from DraftKings give their best bets for Thursday night football (Rams at Seahawks), NFL week 5, college football and the MLB playoffs.
October 7, 2021 - 5:07 pm
The Game Within The Game (Episode 84)
Julian Edlow from DraftKings joins Brad Howe to discuss best bets for NFL Thursday Night Football, this week's NFL teaser plays (there are a bunch) and three college football unders.
September 30, 2021 - 4:48 pm
The Game Within The Game (Episode 82)
Brad Howe and Julian Edlow from DraftKings get you ready for week 3 of the NFL with their favorite plays, including sides, totals and prop plays. They also preview nine college football plays for the upcoming weekend.
September 23, 2021 - 4:26 pm