By LARRY VAUGHT
With senior center Reid Travis out indefinitely with a sprained knee, sophomore PJ Washington likely will have to spend more time playing closer to the basket and being even more physical starting with today’s game against Auburn.
“He’s a little more of the muscle game. He’s got to be ready. I told him he’s gonna be begging Reid to come back quicker because he’s going have to go down there and do stuff that the other two (Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery) cannot do,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said Friday.
“But I think he’ll be fine. He’s played there at times. He’s just in the best shape of his life. He’s winning every run. He’s leading. He’s getting guys to stand up. If a guy is on his knees he’s telling him, ‘Let’s go.’ He’s learning to play a full game.”
Calipari said Washington “bounced and moved” the first half of Tuesday’s win at Missouri but didn’t do that quite as much the second half. He told Washington he has to get to where he can bounce and move an entire game.
“That’s what’s nice about coaching guys two years. I would love coaching guys four years. Could you imagine having guys that know exactly what you’re talking about, and how you have to play? To have the freshmen try to do the stuff that we’re doing, even sophomores, it’s hard,” Calipari said.
Kentucky has practiced going with a small lineup against Auburn, a prolific 3-point shooting team, on Saturday if needed.
“If you can defend and rebound with it, you get another perimeter scorer,” Calipari said. “It spreads their defense. But, he’s (Keldon Johnson) gotta be able to defend and really he’s gotta be able to rebound. Go get balls.”