ESPN Photo/Phil Ellsworth
By LARRY VAUGHT
One knock against Olivier Sarr at Wake Forest was that he was foul prone. So far that’s proving to be true at Kentucky.
The 7-foot center has a team-high 10 fouls after three games. He’s being called for a foul every 7.3 minutes he plays and he got in foul trouble in Tuesday’s loss to Kansas thanks to two careless fouls.
His third foul came early in the second half about 70 feet from the basket.
“There’s no reason for that,” ESPN analyst Dick Vitale said. “He’s too smart, too cerebral for that. He’s too good for that.”
Then with 12:46 to play in the game, Sarr got his fourth foul in transition defense and Kentucky coach John Calipari did not mince words after the game about the play.
“That was the dumbest foul I’ve ever seen. Let the guy shoot a layup. Who gives a shit? It’s nothing. Again, this isn’t a touchdown where we get a kickoff and march it back. We’ll score in five seconds. So, who cares?” Calipari said.
“I mean we’ve got to be smarter. But, I’ll say it again, you have to know what keeps you from losing before you can win. And we don’t know it yet because I’m not sure – we’re still not playing for ourselves.”
Sarr was not the only player that had Calipari upset? Freshman Isaiah Jackson had seven points, eight blocks and 12 rebounds. It was the most blocked shot by a UK player against a top 10 opponent. What set Calipari off, though, was a 3-point shot Jackson missed late in the game.
“How about Isaiah (Jackson) who played his heart out shoots a 3? It’s a tie game. Why did you do that? ‘Well, I was open.’ ‘You were open because they left you open,’” Calipari said. “I mean there was a lot of –- but you know what? We’re 10 new guys playing on national television and playing Kansas who had a chance to be in the game and did well against Gonzaga.”
Jackson also got beat for a rebound when Kansas missed a free throw with 25 seconds to play with UK trailing 72-69.
“You understand that we didn’t rebound on free throws? The biggest one of the game. The guy didn’t block out. A guy ran right around him and grabbed the ball. It’s embarrassing,” the Kentucky coach said.
Jackson admitted he tried to box out but got pushed under the rim and didn’t get the ball.
“I told the team that was my mistake. Everybody knows that was my mistake,” Jackson said.
What about freshman Terrence Clarke, the player many thought would be UK’s best player?
“We are ready to break the game open. Terrence came down and charged. Why not pull up and shoot a runner?” Calipari said. “You are not a good lay-up shooter. He’s not. This is all stuff that it is on me to get these kids to play right.”
Senior point guard Davion Mintz made two of the three 3-pointers Kentucky hit. But he made a big mistake, too.
“In crunch time, you drove in and just threw a ball. We were going to win the game. What did you do that for? ‘I just had the shot. I really had that.’ ‘You just threw it at the rim,’” Calipari said.
The UK coach said he had “really good kids” who are just immature.
“They have never been challenged and coached this way and never played in an environment like Kentucky,” Calipari said.