Unlike the season we no longer speak of, depth will not be an issue in John Calipari’s Bounce Back year. If you watched the Blue-White game, you saw he has dudes at multiple positions, so many that managing rotations and playing time will be a difficult equation.
BBN Twitter brought up the P-word a couple of times during the Blue-White shootout, but already calling for a platoon system may be a bit of an overreaction to the intrasquad scrimmage. However, this team is deep with players competing for minutes at every opportunity and it’s not crystal clear how those minutes will be dispersed.
Rotations will get worked out over time. In the meantime, Calipari is excited about the competitiveness he sees in his roster on a daily basis.
“The best thing that’s happened is the competitiveness has raised the level and you can see–like if you don’t play hard in practice or fly up and down the court, you just look bad,” Calipari replied to a question about the team’s depth. “So they’re forcing each other to be uncomfortable. Instead of me having to do it, they’re doing it to each other. Now you start being comfortable being uncomfortable. Now you got it, now it’s a wrap.”
What’s not a wrap is two of the five starting positions. We know one is Oscar Tshiebwe’s, obviously, and Calipari admitted in his postgame press conference that Sahvir Wheeler and TyTy Washington are locked in as the starting backcourt.
“That third position, is it Kellan (Grady)?” Calipari wondered aloud. “Is it Bryce (Hopkins)? How are we doing this?”
What about the 4-position? What about four guards? To that, Calipari said, “If Bryce, Daimion (Collins), and Keion (Brooks) could be your 4, yet shoot the ball well and stretch the court, why do you need four guards?” he asked. “You’re fine.”
There is also fan-favorite Davion Mintz expecting meaningful minutes, plus CJ Fredrick and Jacob Toppin who were absent with injuries Friday night. Dontaie Allen and Lance Ware are also veterans eager to right last year’s wrongs.
Whatever happens with the roster makeup, Calipari likes his team.
“This will all play out,” he said. “I like them. I like this team. Every day I walk into practice, I know what I’m getting. There’s no confusion. ‘Here’s what we’re doing, let’s get after it’… Anytime it’s 5-on-5, they do not want to stop. They’re veterans and there’s 10 of them, really 12, but there’s 10 of them and they want to go at each other. It’s the best way to practice.”