LEXINGTON — Kentucky coach John Calipari has no problem with the discrepancy in the number of charges called on the Wildcats versus the number of charges they have taken. Or at least he has rationalized the difference in his mind.
Kentucky has been called for 39 charges, including five Saturday at Tennessee, and drawn just nine charges. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has been called for charging 10 times and freshman Marquis Teague has charged eight times, including three at Tennessee.
“We are being aggressive. Teams right now are saying, ‘Look, when they are running to the rim, just throw a body in there and hope it is a charge and not a block.’ What is happening right now is that 98 percent of them are being called charges,” said Calipari, who indicated he intends to seek a block-charge clarification from the Southeastern Conference office. “I don’t know if we have had three blocks all year. Either these guys, when we leave our feet, are unbelievably quick to get into position, or some of them should be blocks.
“But either way you have to be more aware, whether you are Michael or Marquis Teague. That is how they are playing. So you either stop short or you truly have to move to a side so it is so obvious that they are moving that (the officials) have got to call it.
“But I am fine with that. If that is the turnovers we are getting aggressively attacking the rim and it is a charge-block call and they all seem to be charges right now, I am OK with that. I can deal with that. The worst thing would be if we were out there just jacking up 3-point shots.”
The coach says there’s an easy reason why Kentucky has drawn so few charges.
“We lead the nation in blocked shots, so instead of taking charges we are blocking shots, and I would rather have that because those lead to fast breaks,” Calipari said. “We have a couple of guys that are told, ‘You guys take charges and the rest of you block shots.’ So it is a little bit by design.”
Calipari doesn’t expect Arkansas to be any less hesitant trying to draw charges when Kentucky drives inside, and he expects the Razorbacks to try to be physical with his team as South Carolina, Auburn and Tennessee have done during the Cats’ 3-0 start in Southeastern Conference play.
“The games are physical. The MO is go in and throw your body in there on drives and hope they are calling charges. Block out extra hard. On drives, get up in bodies. Screen hard. Slide on ball screens. It is the MO everybody is looking at and saying, ‘This is how you play these guys.’ We have got to learn to negate it. I just keep saying it over and over. If you don’t negate it, that’s what they do,” Calipari said.
“It’s kind of like walking in a club on the beach and getting sand kicked in your face. Well, they only do that to the guy they know they can get. We have to start negating stuff, and we are getting better. Every team that does it to us. Sometimes there are going to be fouls and we will shoot 45 fouls. Other times guys just are not going to call it. What do you do? Well, we are not going to play the game. Well, you have to play the game. Learn to play.
“That is not what is going to get us beat. Physical play is not getting us beat. Now if another tough team comes in and makes 20 3s and plays better than us and is aggressive on steals and blocks, and that’s why we get beat, that’s fine. You are not going to win every game. But the other stuff is not acceptable to get beat like that if you want to be a special team.”