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Can EJ Montgomery handle getting “roughed up” by Kansas tonight?

EJ Montgomery (Vicky Graff Photo)

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.”

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  1. EJ didn’t become a wuss after arriving at UK…he has been a wuss all along. He could get away with that in high school but rough play is the norm in college. Why does Cal keep going after these finesse players? He needs to focus on Grant Williams/Admiral Schofield type players. PJ can be that kind of player, but he also can shy away all too often. I don’t know if EJ will ever toughen up. Maybe next year.

    1. Calipari ought not berate the young man for his play like this publicly IMO. Coach him up hard behind the scenes and encourage him to toughen up or else. I don’t care for a coach being critical of a young player before the media. That to me is cowardly, and covering your own A$$. E. J. will be ok That is what Calipari should be saying to the media. The best way to get him playing tough is a long seat on the pine when he gets timid. I wouldn’t call him a wuss either.

  2. OMG….I couldn’t wait to jump in here. The statement that UK’s frosh will always need to be roughed up is totally bogus. This is because Cal looks at stars more than hearts, length over toughness, and apparently passivity over fight. This is and has been Cal’s biggest stumbling block last few years and never more visible than this year. All of the bigs with toughness and mindset have gone elsewhere and it appears couple more to follow. Then when these charmins get here the coaching staff seems unable to coach them up. Yes, I do agree with calling these guys out in public and keep the boot on their A$$es. There is no reason for Nick and EJ to be this intimidated after their journey getting here. This is all on Cal/

    1. Maybe so Mike, but last time I checked UK is winning now. On the road and at home. I don’t dwell on individuals, this is a team sport. The SEC is a tough row to hoe this year too.

  3. No points, 2 rebounds against a team that played 4 guards…looked wussy to me.

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