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November 16, 2009

Calipari warns 'old school' Miami will be challenge

Kentucky's rapid-fire opening to the 2009-10 basketball season continues at 7 p.m. Monday when the Cats face Miami of Ohio at Rupp Arena. And while Cat fans might not be familiar with the RedHawks, they need only look to arch rival Florida for comparisons.

"They have a nice little scheme that they are running. It looks a lot like a Florida team," UK coach John Calipari said Sunday. "If you try to go under, they roll. They'll slip the screen. A lot of the stuff is the same as the way Florida plays."

As with Morehead State, which made the NCAA Tournament last year, Calipari warned this team is good.

"It's another good team where the team can beat us. It's not a game where you show up and you win anyway," the coach said. "Charlie Coles is one of the great coaches. Charlie has been doing it defensively and they give you no gaps, no inches; they play old school, and chase screens. You can catch the ball, but when you catch it, someone is all over you. They fight in the post, they double-team and trap in the post, they trap the big men in the post, and offensively, they grind it.

"This year, they are playing faster and they are running tons of ball screens," Calipari added. "They run them all over the floor, at half court, side, and middle. I just watched the tape for 40 ball screens, and I'm not sure we're ready for that."

On the flipside, Miami of Ohio might not be ready for the long anticipated debuted of freshmen point guards John Wall and Eric Bledsoe on the court together. Between NCAA rulings and an ankle injury, they've yet to play together through two exhibitions and the season opener.

"If you have your two guys, who are your best two players, you figure out how to play them together. That is what we'll try to do," Calipari said. "The greatest thing is they'll have to figure out more than I do. They were out there yesterday talking to one another saying, you take it here and I'll take it there, throw it ahead to me, I'll throw it ahead to you. They are like two brothers and they really like each other."

When it comes to defending Wall, Calipari expects Miami to attempt to use Wall's speed against him.

"I would imagine they are going to try to get him to run somebody over," Calipari said. "They are probably going to take about 15 charges in the first eight minutes of the game. Some of them may be flops; some of them will be real. We haven't played a team that is going to lead the center and try to take charges, and we haven't played the team that is going to fake and take a charge, so if you pass on the run, you run people over. We're going to talk about it, but it's hard if you play at a fast pace."

Tipoff is 7 p.m. Monday. It's the second of four games in a nine-day span.

"I get butterflies every game I coach," Calipari said. "I need to make sure we are thorough in our preparation the day before in practice and in game day shoot around."


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