By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky’s basketball practices have been “very hard” the last few days according to freshman forward EJ Montgomery.
“We’ve been doing wall-sits, everything from the beginning of basketball, charge drills and stuff like that,” Montgomery said Friday before practice to prepare for Sunday night’s game against VMI.
Montgomery said he wasn’t surprised that UK, a consensus top five team in preseason polls, was working on such simple things a month into the season.
“Some people haven’t got there yet. We’re just trying to get better as a team every day,” Montgomery said. “It’s definitely a hard thing (to play defense), but we work on it every day in practice now. We’ve got to stay low and continue to fight.”
Kentucky coach John Calipari said after Wednesday’s win over North Dakota that Montgomery needed more playing time.
“I’ve just been putting in work every day, just trying to be on the court,” the freshman said. “Just being a block shots guy, having energy and playing defense.”
But has anyone been willing to give up minutes so Calipari can play him more?
“I don’t think nobody is trying to give up some minutes. But we’re all trying to work and we all need each other to get the win,” Montgomery said.
Montgomery says he’s learning daily from Reid Travis, P.J. Washington and Nick Richards.
“Those guys compete. They’re physical guys. They show that physicality on the court. I’m just trying to learn every day from them,” Montgomery said. “I just want to do anything on the court to help my team win. Whatever coach needs me to do. I just want to go out there and do that. I’m pretty comfortable, but trying to get better every day. I’m learning every day from the coaching staff, trying to be the best player I can be.”
Calipari has told him to have “energy, talk and play defense” and just let the offense come to him. He felt UK played better defense against North Dakota Wednesday and hopes that continues Sunday night against VMI.
“Just trying to get a win. Trying to compete. Just go out there, have fun and get a ‘W,'” Montgomery said about Sunday night.