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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Thursday / May 25.
  • At Kentucky, ‘Worried’ Calipari Anxious to Get Camp Cal Going

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    NEW YORK — Kentucky blew out Hofstra by 23 points on Sunday afternoon at Barclays Center, but Wildcats coach John Calipari isn’t thrilled with the way his team is playing.

    “I’m worried and we’ve got a long way to go,” Calipari said after the 96-73 rout that was sparked by sophomore guard Isaiah Briscoe. “We still have some players that are not playing with the confidence they have to play with. I’m not sure what it is.”

    The good news is that Camp Cal is coming.

    Beginning Thursday — after finals end at Kentucky — Calipari’s boot camp will start and he plans to address his concerns.

    “I am so happy because Wednesday will be our last finals and I don’t have to worry about anything academically,” he said. “We’ll go 29 straight days, four-a-days. I’ve got nothing to worry about except basketball. Right now we’ve got to get through Wednesday.”

    Kentucky’s next game is against No. 7 North Carolina on Saturday in Las Vegas. After that comes No. 11 Louisville on Dec. 21.

    “We have a lot of work to do,” Calipari said. “We need to get in the gym and we need to get to the camp part of our season, which is 2- and 3-a-days. They get time to sleep, to eat, you can give them video time, give them phone time. They gotta have that or they’ll climb walls.

    “The reality of it is, let’s get down to getting better. These guys, every one of them they’ve gotten better. Now it’s you gotta do this with confidence. There’s nothing on our shoulder now. We’re not undefeated, we’re not No. 1 in the country, it’s just, ‘Come on, worry about getting better.'”

    For freshmen like Malik Monk, De’Aaron Fox and Bam Adebayo, this will be their first encounter with Camp Cal. But for veterans like Briscoe, they know the camp can help the team bond and jell going forward.

    “We’re still in the beginning of the season, guys are still getting better, we’re still jelling as a team,” Briscoe said. “And we’re just focused on getting better every day, collectively and as a team. When March come around we’ll focus on March, but right now we’re just focused on the next game and getting better.”

    Meantime, Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich praised Calipari’s abilities to get the most out of his team. Those critics who think Calipari just rolls the balls out to his legion of one-and-ones would be wise to listen.

    “The story of that team is not their talent, it’s their coach and how he gets them to play so hard,” Mihalich said.

    Considering Calipari will now have a month to do nothing with his players but focus on basketball, they could look like a different team after Camp Cal.

    “At the end of the year they might be cutting down the nets,” Mihalich said.

     

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    Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.