John Calipari provides simple reason Zvonimir Ivisic was left 'wide open' by Georgia
John Calipari and Kentucky got a front-row seat to Zvonimir Ivisic’s electric debut Saturday night.
The day began with Ivisic learning early that he was cleared by the NCAA. The head coach admitted Ivisic was all smiles and ecstatic to learn he was finally free to play with his teammates.
“He was ecstatic, and it was only a few of us there. The team had left, so we sent them a message and let him send it out, but he was all smiles,” said Calipari.
As for Ivisic’s debut, Calipari admitted part of the hot shooting stretch boiled down to Georgia not believing the big man could shoot. Ivisic delivered 11 points in short order, starting his career 4-for-4 from the field with 3 field goals from long range.
“He’s got a ways to go, but he’s — I told them: You know why he was wide open? Because they didn’t think he could shoot 3’s. They hadn’t seen him ever play,” Calipari admitted. “But it was a good start for him. It took a long, long time, but I appreciate the work everyone did to make it happen.”
Overall, Calipari knows Ivisic still needs to improve on some things, including the 7-foot-2 big man getting pushed around at times.
“He got pushed around, there’s things that he’s doing in practice the same way that we got to work on,” Calipari explained. “But he rebounded — he’s 7-foot-2.”
The good news is Kentucky was already up to No. 8 in the country prior to Ivisic’s clearing. It’s unlikely there will be a major upheaval for the Wildcats with Antonio Reeves, Rob Dillingham, Tre Mitchell and DJ Wagner all averaging 12+ points per game.
However, the addition of Ivisic and his skill set provides Calipari’s group with an intriguing X factor for the stretch part of the season. We’ll see how Kentucky continues to integrate the big man moving forward.