Cats just seem to lack mental and physical toughness it takes to win

Keion Brooks admits that UK gets "pushed around too much." (SEC Photo)

Kentucky continues to lose close games like the one at Georgia Wednesday night when it could not keep the Dogs from running an out of bounds play in the final three seconds to get an easy shot at the rim. Kentucky defenders were out of position and also not strong enough to prevent the play.

Kentucky coach John Calipari has talked all season about his team’s mental breakdowns as well.

So I asked sophomore Keion Brooks Jr. after Wednesday’s loss if the team was mentally and physically tough enough?

“I think we’re mentally tough. It’s just we have too many breakdowns at times,” Brooks said. “Physically, it’s just the other team seemed like they wanted the ball more than us. We can’t let that happen.”

Oops. Having the other team just want the ball more is probably even worse than not being physically tough. That brings into question UK’s intensity and motivation.

“We have to continue to fight and get the loose and 50-50 balls. We don’t get nearly as much of them as we should, and we got to come into the game with that on our mind, that being an emphasis,” Brooks said.

“We’re going to win the backboard, win the 50-50 balls and the rest will take care of itself. We got to be the aggressor. We kind of get pushed around a little too much. We get hit and react instead of being proactive and hitting them first.”

Bingo. Kentucky is not tough enough physically. He didn’t say that but he perfectly described a team that has got pushed around most of the season.

The difficult part for UK is that the hardest part of the schedule is coming up and the team is already 4-9. Brooks says not to worry about the team cashing it in and not fighting to win.

“We call upon our work that we put in every single day in the gym. Nobody on this team takes days off. Everybody on this team goes hard every day. We have great practices,” Brooks, who had 12 points at Georgia, said.

“Sometimes, the outcome doesn’t always go your way, but we’re going to keep believing and keep pushing through, because we have put in so much work that we would be doing ourselves a disfavor if we stopped believing in our talent and our abilities to win games.”

3 thoughts on “Cats just seem to lack mental and physical toughness it takes to win

  1. Mark Howard

    Blah Blah Blah – Hear this all the time from losing teams.

    Here are mental toughness rules:
    1. I am going to stay between my man and the basket and he is not going to get around me! I know my man’s tendencies when he has the ball and I am going to make him do what he is not comfortable doing.
    2. I am going to establish a habit of following my shot or a teammates shot at the basket on offense and keep my man from getting a rebound on the defensive end.
    3. On defense, I am at all times going to know where my man is and where the ball is and be in position to help if my teammate gets beat and not just watch him score a basket.
    4. I should get every rebound both offensively and defensively.
    5. A missed shot is not going to affect my defensive effort.

    Here are physical toughness rules:
    1. When I make a cut, I am going to go hard and not just waltz across the lane
    2. When I set a pick, I am going to get my legs spread apart and wide and take the contact
    3. When I am dribbling toward a pick, I am going to run my man into the pick
    4. I am going to meet the pass that is being thrown to me and when I get the ball get in triple threat position (ready to dribble, pass, or shoot)

    This is not all inclusive but I believe Cal should print something akin to this and give to every player. When the player violates one of these rules in a practice, the entire team runs – this builds unity! Violate one of these in a game , the player is taken out and told why he was taken out.

    A couple of other things: Since the players want to be unified
    1. We are all going to wear the same color and style of shoe. You want to show you are all for your teammates, then you are not going to stand out.
    2. Practice performance will determine the starting lineups and playing time in a game regardless of the stars you garnered from recruiting services or how high you currently stand in the NBA mock drafts.
    3. At the beginning of the game, we ARE going to stand for the playing of the National Anthem. At the conclusion of the game we ARE going to stand as one while My Old Kentucky Home is played.
    3. You play for the University of Kentucky. Probably none of you know the history of the basketball program here, so we are going to set aside time at each practice to explain the glorious tradition and the honor that you should feel every time you put on that jersey.

    Head Coaches Promise:
    1. I am not going to yell Go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! at the top of my lungs every time we get possession of the ball. You should already know that we want to push the ball up the court.
    2. I am going to explain offensive sets to you in practice so I don’t have to yell and wave like a maniac to get you where I want you on the offensive end when the game is in progress.
    3. This is my "tweak". Starting now, we are 0 and 0. This is a game, perform at your best and have fun.


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