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.
Derek Willis or Dominique Hawkins could get a chance to become the 10th man in the platoon, beginning with Saturday’s game against UCLA in the CBS Sports Classic.
“Well, what we’ve done is we’re still platooning,” Calipari said Thursday on a conference call. “And what I’m doing is we’ll platoon nine, and we’re going to have time to see if Derek Willis or Dom Hawkins deserve to be in the rotation of 10. I’m not going to take minutes away from any player just to platoon. That’s not the idea. We were platooning for one reason: to try to take care of 10 players.”
Calipari opted to keep at least one member of the first platoon in longer with the second platoon.
“When I went to nine, I told either Andrew [Harrison], Aaron [Harrison] or Trey [Lyles], ‘Whichever one of you is playing the best will stay in,'” he said. “And then whoever’s playing the second best, if that guy needs a sub, he’ll go in. So play well and you’ll play more. So we reward the guys that are playing well and give them some extra minutes.”
Calpari conceded he could abandon the platoon system going forward and just work with a smaller rotation.
“We did talk in terms of, ‘Hey, if we get to the point where eight of those guys or seven have separated from the rest, it’ll be pretty cut-and-dried that it’s done on the court and it’s proven on the court and those guys will play,'” he said. “So I’m not married to anything. My whole thing is, what’s the best way for these kids to play, to put them in the best chance to win and put them in the best system or style that they all are the best version of themselves?”
Meantime, Calipari said Poythress was still deciding when to have ACL surgery and would likely not make the trip to Chicago with the No. 1-ranked Wildcats.
“The swelling has to go down before he does the surgery,” he said. “So he’s still probably 10 days away from that. I was going to meet with him today to see what he and his family have decided as far as surgery and when and where and all those things. But that’ll be going forward. I don’t think he’ll go to Chicago with us. I haven’t talked to him, but I doubt he does. And he’ll go through the Christmas break with his family.”
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
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.