By LARRY VAUGHT
Freshman E.J. Montgomery has been getting better for Kentucky, but today’s game with Kansas might not be the one to let him keep showing that improvement.
“This game will be a rough-house game. It’s the only thing between him and breaking through and people saying, ‘Oh my gosh.’ Like, you can’t get knocked down. You can’t. It’s a dog fight and you’ve got to grab it. You can’t fumble a rebound because it got rough,” said Kentucky coach John Calipari Friday.
“Bring them in because our whole team – I said, ‘Well, how are your skills?’ Off the charts. So it has nothing to do with your skill. How is he defensively guarding the ball? Pretty good. Blocking shots. So what’s the difference? What’s keeping him where he is? What’s taking away his confidence? He’s getting roughed up.”
Getting “roughed up” has happened to a lot of UK freshmen under Calipari. Always has, always will. The coach knows it, too.
“Every team we’ve played for the last 10 years has said the same thing. ‘They’ve got young players, rough them up, be physical,'” Calipari said. “So our guys over a period of time have had to learn to play that way because they’re coming in with that idea.”