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November 6, 2012

Notes: Cats have work to do; Cauley-Stein reacts to dunk

Superstorm Sandy already canceled the New York City marathon.
Given how his team has looked in the early stages of this season, coach John Calipari joked he wouldn't mind if the storm canceled his team's regular-season opener against Maryland on Friday.

Instead, the game will tip-off as scheduled.

"I guess we're going to have to go up there and play it," Calipari said Monday after his Wildcats trounced Transylvania 74-28 at Rupp Arena.

Calipari may be hesitant to see his team face an opponent in a regular-season matchup because he hasn't been too impressed with his team through two exhibitions, despite lopsided wins against Northwood and Transy.

"We are what we are," Calipari said. "I keep saying it. We're a November 5th team."

Calipari's list of needed improvements is long. Take care of the ball (UK had 14 turnovers on Monday). Figure out how to play on offense (he felt UK, which attempted more three-pointers than two-pointers in the first half, didn't go to the post enough). Rotate better on defense (UK left too many corner shooters open).

"That comes with youth," Transylvania coach Brian Lane said of Calipari's current issues with his team. "They are just going to continue to get better and better as the season goes along."

As the season progresses, it will be more about results. But at this point in the season, Calipari said, "it's winning or learning, not winning or losing."

Highlight lowlight
Willie Cauley-Stein thought he blocked it.

Transylvania's 6-foot-4 Brandon Rash had gone up for a dunk, going right over Cauley-Stein, but UK's 7-foot center thought he got it.

He didn't.

"I thought, 'Oh, this is not going to be good," Cauley-Stein said. "This will be all over my Twitter."

It soon made the Internet rounds, appearing on websites such as Deadspin.com.

"I mean, it's part of the game," Cauley-Stein said. "Shoot, I can't say that I wouldn't be hyped if a D-III dude dunked on a 7-foot D-I guy."

Transylvania coach Brian Lane was.

"That was something special," he said. "That will be something (Rash) can remember."

And if the dunk goes even more viral and ends up on TV, Cauley-Stein won't be afraid to tune in.

"At least I made it," Cauley-Stein said. "I'm on SportsCenter, good or bad."

Nerlens Noel said the team was talking about the dunk after the game in the locker room.

"(Cauley-Stein) was just talking about how it was unexpected for him," Noel said. "He didn't know (Rash) could get up like that."

Noel and Cauley-Stein brushed it off as being part of the game. Noel pointed out that, in the long run, Cauley-Stein's "blocks to getting-dunked-on ratio" will favor the blocks side of the spectrum.

And it may help that he got posterized, at least for this one night.

"I'm glad it happened," Cauley-Stein said. "Now I'm not going to let it happen any more."


Special visitor
Kentucky had a special addition to the coaching staff Monday.

George Goodwin, father of Lane Goodwin, was an honorary assistant coach for Kentucky. He spent the day with the team, attending practice, eating the pregame meal and sitting on the bench during the game.

Lane Goodwin died last month at age 13 after a fight with cancer that lasted more than 2 years and swept the Internet.

George Goodwin was introduced to Rupp Arena during a break in the action and gave a thumbs-up to the supportive crowd.

"Being part of the Big Blue Nation has been awesome to me and my family, in terms of prayers and awareness," George said. "It's just awe-inspiring and wonderful."

Lane's story has become well-known for Kentuky fans. The "Thumbs Up For Lane" campaign went viral, and the Kentucky basketball team was one of many groups to support his fight with cancer. For Lane, they were a special group. George recounted a story of Lane being asked who his favorite NBA team was. Lane's response: the Wildcats.

"He doesn't know anything other than UK basketball," George said.

Having his father become part of the team for a day was the least the team could do.

"Probably wasn't fun in the first half. He had to sit there (on the bench) near me," Calipari said. "May have been fun for him after."

Goodwin said he would remember being introduced to Rupp Arena for the rest of his life.

"I know that I have one son in heaven," George said, "but all in all we're still a family."


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