With the uncertainity still centered around the eligibility Enes Kanter, UK is trying to add quality depth to it's center position. The play of senior big man Josh Harrellson has been remarkable. Yet, Coach Cal and staff are trying to provide suitable backups for Harrellson.
The only and obvious choice to step up is Eloy Vargas. Eloy has shown flashes this season, but still has a way to go. Coach Cal and staff have been pushing Vargas to step up his play and productivity. An article at The Advocate Messenger tells how the staff tried to get Vargas some more time in Monday's game against Pitt. Here are a few excerpts.
LEXINGTON — Kentucky coach John Calipari wanted to play Eloy Vargas as much as he could Monday to get the backup center ready for the start of Southeastern Conference play because he knows that even as well as Josh Harrellson has played, UK needs more depth.
“Eloy went over in the first half and played pretty well. Did some good things. Second half, I put him in, the first ball that comes out, there's no one near him and he one-hands it. That's what we are talking about — one hand, unacceptable, you're out,” said Calipari.
“That's an error that we talk about a 1,000 times a practice. We do everything with two hands. If your habit is that bad, you'd better change it or you're coming out.
“But again, you look at Josh. He's going after every ball with two hands. Look at him. Every ball with two hands, and he's leading our league in rebounding. Josh Harrellson is leading our league in rebounding, because he's changed his habit and he's going after every ball with two hands. I've got to get Eloy doing the same, just got to get him doing the same thing.”
Freshman Brandon Knight tried when Vargas, who had four points and only two rebounds in 10 minutes, didn’t go aggressively after the ball in the second half. Knight yelled at Vargas to grab the ball with two hands.
“And Eloy argued and that's why I took him out. These guys have got to understand what I want, and what's happened. Brandon is really running our team and playing for his teammates. He's not playing for himself anymore. He's playing for them,” Calipari said.
Harrellson says he has benefited from practicing against Enes Kanter daily and Vargas has, too.
“Eloy is getting better. You can see it in practice,” Harrellson said. “He just has to put it all together in a game the way that coach Cal wants. There’s no doubt he can do a lot of things to help this team. He just has to believe that he can do them and then do them the way that Coach wants.”
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