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November 6, 2011

Calipari will get creative with Davis' offensive game

Ask Anthony Davis to assess his exhibition opener as a Kentucky basketball player, and the freshman forward will tell you he's pretty pleased with his defensive effort.

Offense is another story, and Davis is working to give that one a happier ending.

The Wildcats will play their second exhibition game Monday at Rupp Arena against Morehouse, and Davis - who had eight blocks and eight rebounds but only six points in last Wednesday's win against Transylvania - has focused on shoring up his offensive game.

"On the offensive end, I think I struggled a little bit (against Transy)," Davis said. "I was kind of nervous for my first game."

He also was a little unprepared for a new level of basketball.

In reviewing the game, UK coach John Calipari said he found that Davis spent most of his time in the post standing straight up, a bad habit he formed in high school and will have to correct in college.

"You gotta bend your legs," Calipari said. "If you stand straight up and down, you're going to get pushed by everybody. We worked on it this week. You've got to bend over. You've got to get lower. And the smaller that other player is - watch this - the lower you have to get. If that dude's 6-3, you better get your hips down to that level that his are."

That was a problem for the 6-foot-10 Davis against Transylvania, which often guarded him with players five or more inches shorter.

"I've been trying to work on a lot of post moves," Davis said. "I know (Calipari's) going to have me playing the post a lot, or running some plays that puts me in the post, so that's what I've been trying to work on the most.

But while Davis has work to do in the paint, posting up won't be his only role in Kentucky's offense.

It might not even be his primary one.

Davis grew from 6-3 to 6-10 in high school, and the wiry 220-pounder still has the guard skills he honed as a shorter player. Calipari intends to let Davis dribble, drive and spot up for jumpers.

"I don't know that we'll do much of that with him," Calipari said. "I didn't do much of that with Marcus Camby (at Massachusetts), and I think my team - if I remember way back then - did OK, played all right without posting him up."

Instead, Calipari said he might look to post other players - Terrence Jones, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Darius Miller, Kyle Wiltjer - and use Davis in other ways.

"You throw lobs (to Davis)," Calipari said. "You run him to the rim, you make them guard that. You let him be a secondary rebounder or off-side rebounder, and you fly him up and down the court where their big guy can't stay with him because (Davis) runs too fast. You use the things that he does well instead of trying to force him."

That doesn't mean Calipari will abandon Davis' post game.

"We're not going to come down and post him 22 times in a game," Calipari said. "Now, other teams have guys they'll try to do that - every single time down, we're trying to throw him the ball in the post, and if not, we'll go high-low. One, we don't play that way anyway. There will be players that he should be able to post up and score on. But they better be real skinny."

Notes:
Sophomore Stacey Poole Jr. still is deciding whether he wants to remain with the Wildcats, Calipari said Sunday.

Poole did not dress or sit on the bench for the Transylvania exhibition and has not been practicing with his teammates. He was scheduled to discuss his future with his father - a former star player at Florida - this weekend.

Poole remains on the UK roster, Calipari said.

"You want them to reach their dreams here," Calipari said. "They've got to believe they can do that, and we're going to let him make his decision. I'm for the kids. If he needs some time to make a decision about being in this program, I'm fine with that. Big-time decision, so why (say), 'If you don't do it right now, you're out." Come on, now. This is a big-time decision. We all love the kid. It's been hard. He wants to play. I don't blame him."

-Kidd-Gilchrist will start in Monday's exhibition game against Morehouse, Calipari said, though the coach said he's not sure who will come out of the lineup.

Jones, Miller, Davis, Marquis Teague and Doron Lamb started in the exhibition opener. Kidd-Gilchrist had 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists off the bench. He started the second half in place of Miller.

"He's gonna start," Calipari said. "I don't know how else we'll go, but it's obvious. What happened is, everybody saw it. Like, 'OK, he's starting. Now who are you going to bring off the bench?' There was no question (from) anybody in the building or the nine states who watched it."

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