Tiger basketball camp report
October 30, 2006
Coming into preseason practice, one of the Tigers' biggest questions was whether freshman Willie Kemp or junior Andre Allen would be the team's primary point guard.
Coach John Calipari, however, said Sunday he's now toying with the idea of using them on the court together at times. "It's perfect because they kind of play off one another," Calipari said. "One will shoot it a little better. One is a little longer and will defend in a different way, so you're talking about having two guys that, because of the way Willie's shooting the ball right now, I may play them both together. Willie's shooting the ball as well as anybody we've got on our team right now."
Allen's experience -- and Kemp's inexperience -- has been obvious in early scrimmages. But that doesn't necessarily mean Allen will start the Nov. 16 regular season opener against Jackson State.
Indeed, because freshmen like Doneal Mack and Pierre Niles are likely to come off the bench early in a game, it may make more sense to bring in a veteran like Allen along with them rather than a third freshman.
"(Allen) has a really good feel for how we play, and it just shows," Calipari said. "If you played a halfcourt game, an offense where he wouldn't be able to penetrate or push it, he's not going to be real effective because of his size, but this game for him is perfect. The other thing I told my team, he's really, really smart. He has a feel for what we want, but he can think quickly on the run, which has really helped him."
Niles, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Oct. 16, is jumping, jogging and progressing well enough to possibly return to practice in another week.
"It would be an incredible story because he's never been one with a high pain threshold," Calipari said. "It's a big step for him to have knee surgery and come back within the three weeks. He's walking, he's pushing it, and he's doing what he needed to do."
When Niles returns, Calipari said, he'll likely play center. The 6-foot-8, 280-pound Niles moves well enough to play power forward. But with all the practice time he's missed, center might be a more realistic option.
"The (center) position is rebounds, run like crazy, relocate under the basket," Calipari said. "If you rebound it and screen the ball, it's the easiest positionm, really. It's more of an effort position."
Calipari said there was no update on the status of sophomore center Kareem Cooper, who has been absent since last Thursday's practice because of "personal reasons."
-- Dan Wolken