Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari addresses Julius Randle's cramping

Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari addresses Julius Randle's cramping

January 14th, 2014 by David Paschall in Sports - College

John Calipari

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari likes what he sees in freshman forward Julius Randle.

He just wants to see more of him.

Randle leads the Wildcats with 16.7 points per game and 10.9 rebounds a game, but he is fourth on the team in minutes played. Cramping is the biggest reason for that, with the 6-foot-9, 250-pounder from Dallas having to leave the floor for key minutes against Louisville on Dec. 28 and again at Vanderbilt last Saturday.

"I really believe he's got to get to cramping in practice," Calipari said Monday on the SEC teleconference. "He's got to go that hard in practice. He's not cramping in practice, so that leads me to believe he's got to step on the gas there. The second thing is that we've probably got to get him a quicker rotation so that he's in and out instead of staying on the floor seven, eight, nine or 10 minutes.

"We need to let him go three or four minutes, come out, go back in, and play a little bit of a different rotation."

Randle is averaging 28.7 minutes per game but hasn't reached that in Kentucky's last three games against Louisville (21 minutes), Mississippi State (21) and Vanderbilt (25).

"We've blood-tested him and all those things," Calipari said, "but when you go at the pace he goes - because he puts out and he goes really, extremely hard - your body says, 'Hey, man, slow down.'"

Early showdown

Four SEC teams made it unscathed through the opening week of conference play: the expected duo of Florida and Kentucky and the unlikely pair of Georgia and Texas A&M.

Florida hosts Georgia tonight at 7 on ESPNU.

"They're doing an exceptional job of rebounding and getting to the free-throw line," Florida coach Billy Donovan said of the Bulldogs. "They are executing what they do, and this is a team right now that is playing outstanding."

Said Georgia's Mark Fox: "Billy Donovan again has done a terrific job of putting together a great team. They've got all those seniors on the floor."

Kentucky will put its 2-0 league mark on the line when the Wildcats visit Arkansas tonight at 9 on ESPN.

Gauging the 'Cats

Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings is in his 15th season in the SEC and has faced the Wildcats 32 times. Stallings suffered his 21st loss to the Wildcats on Saturday and was asked about them Monday.

"They're bigger on the perimeter, and I think that makes some of their drives more physical," Stallings said. "They may not be as fast or shoot as well as some of the other teams that they've had, but their guards are big and their wings are big, and they're physical when they take the ball at the basket. They're physical at almost every spot on the floor, and they're physical with size."

Odds and ends

Ole Miss senior guard Marshall Henderson, who leads the Rebels with 18.8 points per game, makes his league debut Wednesday against visiting LSU after serving a school-imposed, two-game suspension for bad behavior last season. ... Georgia sophomore guard Charles Mann is the SEC player of the week after averaging 20 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in wins last week over Missouri and Alabama. ... The league went from having four teams last week among the top 25 of the RPI to just two, with Florida (12th), Kentucky (20th), Tennessee (39th) and Missouri (56th) comprising the top four SEC teams.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.