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Calipari: “Dudes that are out there playing the most minutes are the toughest guys we have.”

Jarred Vanderbilt (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

For the first time I can remember this season, an opposing coach praised Kentucky’s toughness.

Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin said Kentucky was “too tough” for his team after the Wildcats won 87-66 Saturday.

“Sometimes you’ve got to put different guys on the floor. Dudes that are out there playing the most minutes are the toughest guys we have,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said.

“They told me after Arkansas your bench scored 36 points, yeah, because three of my best players are coming off the bench. We’re going to score a lot of points.

“So, again, this team, I love the fact — PJ didn’t care that he’s not starting. Hasn’t said one word, and he’s playing his best right now. I didn’t start Wenyen in the second half, he didn’t say anything.

“These guys are all right now bought into what we have to do. We’ve got a couple guys thinking they should play more. But look at the guy in front of you. If I really think that, I’ll say who do you think you should be playing in front of? Tell him to his face, and that dude would probably laugh at him. You’re out of your mind. Lucky you played at all.

‘That’s how — this is the competitiveness. But we’re all for you. Be ready for your opportunity. We need you. This team, we’ve only got 10 guys.”

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  1. I love it!!! In my opinion, when players hold each other accountable for their play both offensively and defensively instead of the coach. That speaks volumes and could be instrumental in bringing the other players level of play up.

  2. I do not recall a situation in which UK added a player mid season who had a material positive impact on the direction of the team, until this season with Vanderbilt. It is taking him a few games to get his game legs, and for the game to slow down for him, but it is happening, and he had made a huge difference for this team.

    Not only is he leading by setting the example of hard play, his presence on the court allows other players to play more within their own abilities, which also helps the team.

    I know I am a johnny come lately about this team, but I am so pleased to see its transformation.

  3. Not just Vanderbilt, but the growth and decision making of Shai coupled with Quade, PJ and Knox has been crucial.

    I agree the energy and toughness of Vanderbilt is infectious, and his leading by example speaks more volume than words spoken, and hopefully has a lasting effect on this team. Which I think it will.

    I too am guilty of being a johnny come lately because I saw so much untapped potential that it was driving me crazy to watch them play, but like you, and the rest of BBN WE never gave up!! Go BBN!!

  4. Don’t apologize for being a Johnny come lately with this team. They had attitude issues that needed to be called out. The play of Vanderbilt and the return of Green have been pivotal. Know and Washington are engaging more on both ends of the court and SGA is making better decisions. If Gabriel and Hami come around, they will be a hard out in both tournaments. The wildcard is Richards. If they can get just 6 points/6 rebounds/2 blocks and fewer than 2 turnovers in 20 minutes of play, that would be huge. The Ole Miss game tomorrow isn’t a given W, but it should be. Saturday’s game at Florida will tell if this team has grown up, and if they have…NCAA look out!

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