Live chat with Jimmy Heggins
Posted at 6:40 p.m. EDT - Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations
Join Cat Scratches on Thursday for a live chat with offensive line coach Jimmy Heggins.
As a part of UK's ongoing spring football coverage, Cat Scratches will be hosting live chats with three position coaches over the next three weeks. On Thursday, Heggins will join the chat at noon to answer fans' questions about the offensive line and much more.
Also, to check out a depth chart preview of the offensive line, click here.
Practice report: men’s basketball
Posted at 5:04 p.m. EDT – Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations
I had the privilege, along with about 20 other media members, of watching the men’s basketball team practice again under Coach John Calipari. Based on the positive feedback I got last time, I’ll keep them in note-style and offer some observations of what I saw:
The entire 2008-09 roster, minus guard Michael Porter, who announced his intentions of leaving the program on Wednesday, was at practice. That includes departing senior Jared Carter and junior Jodie Meeks, who declared for the NBA Draft earlier in the week, but will not hire an agent. Matt Pilgrim tweaked his hamstring in Tuesday’s session and did not practice Wednesday.
Much like the first practice I watched, the drills were once again very dribble-drive oriented. It’s no secret that Calipari runs the Dribble Drive Motion Offense, and he’s wasting no time implementing it. I could already tell a vast improvement from the first practice. The drills were much smoother, guys were playing faster and the ball handling, which was extremely sloppy the first practice, was considerably better.
Layups continue to be a theme as well as a problem. Too many easy layups are being missed, much to the dismay of Calipari. He said he doesn’t want to hear excuses about getting bumped or getting fouled if they miss a layup. “If you can’t play through bumps, it’s going to be hard for me to play you on the court,” he said.
Calipari said the goal is to make 50 layups a game. While maybe a bit unattainable, the message is pretty clear. “We’re looking to shoot layups,” he said. He doesn’t want to settle for jumpers and he doesn’t want his players looking to pass. He wants their first instinct to go straight to the basket as hard as they can.
A strong emphasis continues to be on speed. When a UK player has the ball, he wants them to dribble straight at the defender as hard and as fast as they can. Calipari doesn’t want his players going around them, and he stopped play repeatedly when he saw guys making small stutter steps or slowing down.
One last note on layups: After a five-minute segment in which there were about eight or nine blocked shots, Calipari pointed out that the layups have to be higher off the glass. That seems to be a problem for Meeks so far and Calipari had him stop and go back and do a play over again so he would bank it at the top of the square. Meeks looked a little awkward doing it, but Meeks will need to adjust to cut down on the blocked shots.
Having said that, Meeks and Darius Miller continue to impress me in Calipari’s system. Their speed and athleticism seem to fit perfectly into the dribble-drive system. During the final 3-on-3 drill, which was probably the highlight of the practice in terms of execution, Meeks and Miller gave a great glimpse of what the UK offense could look like in just a few short months. On one drive, Meeks blew past the man at half-court, drew two defenders in the paint and then kicked it to Patrick Patterson for a wide open jump shot. The next time, he beat his defender again and took it straight to the rack for a layup. Miller then followed with two lightning-quick drives that ended in a pair of floaters. “I love that shot, Darius,” Calipari said. Miller has all the makings of becoming a stud in Calipari's system.
I’m starting to believe that DeAndre Liggins is going to be one of Calipari’s projects. At times, Liggins looks like he’s completely lost on the court, and at others, he looks like he could be the starting point guard. His biggest problem so far is his lack of speed and aggressiveness. Calipari wants him to play faster and take it straight to the basket instead of slowing down and looking to pass. He told Liggins that if he keeps playing how he wants him to, people won’t even recognize him next year because of how improved he’ll be.
Porter to forgo his final season
Posted at 12:43 p.m. EDT - Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations
The University of Kentucky has confirmed that guard Michael Porter has decided to give up his final season of eligibility to focus on personal matters.
As was originally reported by Matt May of the Cats Pause, Porter will forgo his final year at UK as he gets ready to welcome the upcoming birth of his first child with his wife, Bryana.
"This has been a decision weighing on my shoulders for awhile," Porter said. "Being married and now with my little girl on the way, my priorities have simply changed. I love basketball and will miss it a lot, but I think it's the best thing for me and my family at this stage of my life."
Porter's decision comes a week after UK hired Coach John Calipari to take over the reins of the program. Calipari is expected to implement the Dribble Drive Motion Offense, a style of offense that probably doesn't suit Porter very well, but Porter stressed that had nothing to do with his decision.
Porter, who will graduate in May with a business degree, said it was based solely on personal matters.
"This wasn't an easy decision to come to, but with a lot of thought and prayer, I have come to peace and am looking forward to the next phase of my life," he said.
Porter, a native of Modesto, Calif., averaged 2.4 points in his three seasons at UK, including 4.1 points and 2.5 assists per game in his final season as a Wildcat.
Wednesday's spring practice notes
Posted at 12:21 p.m. EDT - Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations
A few notes from today's spring practice:
The defensive line manhandled the offensive line in the 11-on-11 scrimmage at the end of practice. In a matter of about 15 minutes, the defensive line sacked the quarterbacks six or seven times. UK Coach Rich Brooks said he had been very upset with his defensive line up until today. "I've been on them for three or four days about getting off on the ball. Finally they did today, and obviously our offensive line wasn't quite ready for that."
Redshirt freshman DeAunte Mason is moving from quarterback to tight end, Brooks said after practice. Brooks said Mason's arm strength wasn't what it needed to be to compete in the Southeastern Conference. Although Mason was hoping to get a shot at quarterback, Brooks recruited him as an athlete that could fill several roles. "We just need to try to get him in a position where he can try to be successful."