By LARRY VAUGHT
What’s the difference between Nick Richards that looked so dominant during Kentucky’s exhibition games in the Bahamas versus the Nick Richards that has been a no-show in all but one game this season?
“If we could figure that out …,” Kentucky associate coach Kenny Payne said Friday. “First, I think Nick showed what he was capable of in the Bahamas. Same player, different mindset. What Nick has to do is figure it out in his mind. We have not given up on Nick but we are not going to hand it to him.”
Kentucky coach John Calipari proved that in Wednesday’s game when Richards not only didn’t start, he didn’t play the first 16 minutes. He had just nine minutes total in a 90-44 win.
“Cal has put it on him to figure it out. We have tried multiple things hoping that turns a light on. But at the end of day, Nick has to take ownership,” Payne said.
The UK assistant said Richards can shoot, hit hooks with his right or left hands, run the floor, block shots and rebound. The coaches can’t teach him to do anything else. Richards just has to use the tools he has.
“He will figure it out and when he does we will become a much better team but we are not just going to hand it to him,” Payne said. “It’s hard for people to evaluate to non-confident athletes. It’s easy to say he does not quite have it. He has it. You just have not seen him at his best
“Nick is going to be fine. I am not worried about. He just has to fight for it. It’s just not going to be handed to him. Coach is saying it is time for him to be a man.”