By LARRY VAUGHT
There is not a player taller than 6-9 on the Wofford roster and that would seem to give Kentucky a “big” edge going into this afternoon’s NCAA Tournament second round game.
“It’s a really good advantage for us,” Kentucky sophomore backup center Nick Richards said Friday. “They’re not really as athletic as all three of us. Their bigs are really skilled around the basket, they know how to move on the floor, but we’re just better than them overall, I think, so the advantage is our way, in my opinion.”
Kentucky coach John Calipari has pleaded almost all season for Richards to give the team more and become the difference maker UK needs, especially with sophomore forward PJ Washington apparently out of today’s game with a foot injury that also forced him to miss Thursday’s win over Abilene Christian. He says Wofford has improved dramatically and he hopes Richards is ready to back up his “we’re just better than them overall” comments made Friday.
“They said Nick (Richards) was in there (at the press conference) saying that our bigs are quicker — what are you doing, Nick? But that’s okay, because like if you speak, now what? You back it up. So I love his confidence,” Calipari said.
“Now I want to watch you do it. Now get out there and do it, if you think that. And I want Nick to be more confident. Not like that, but on the court, more confident.”
Richards had eight points and four rebounds in Thursday’s win. Freshman EJ Montgomery, who started in Washington’s place, had 11 rebounds Thursday.
“But look, they’ve got athletes at the 4 position, and that’s if I’m calling (Cameron) Jackson a 5, which I don’t know if he is, that really are long and active and go after it.,” Calipari said. “They’ve got their four or five guards who are 1s, 2s and 3s and they’ve got five of them that score, a couple of them drive a little bit better, a couple of them shoot.
“But they’re going to take 25, 26 3’s in this game. Now, the one thing that we do have is we’re long, so we can contest without fouling because of our length. But again, the year — I called this, I knew we’d be playing this team, and my team knew, because I told them before, we would be playing Wofford because you and I know how hard this game will be.”
Wofford players certainly heard what Richards had to say about UK’s advantage.
“I think we just take care of what we can take care of. It’s not really about proving them wrong,” Jackson said. “It’s about doing what we’re comfortable doing and making the impact on the game that we can, the way that we impact the game on a daily basis, getting the ball to the shooters, rebounding.
“But it’s not really about proving them wrong, it’s about taking care of what we can take care of.”