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John Calipari was “happy” for Nick Richards

Nick Richards (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

After urging sophomore center Nick Richards to back up the confident talk he had Friday before Kentucky played Wofford, UK coach John Calipari was happy with how Richards played in Saturday’s 62-56 win.

Richards had three points, three rebounds and one blocked shot in 25 minutes — and stayed out of foul trouble. He also did not have a turnover.

“I was happy for Nick. Every player you have, you know how hard they’re working. You know what a good person they are, so you want them to do well, but you can’t do it for them, and you can wish all you want, but at the end of the day, they’ve got to go in and perform,” Calipari said.

“I can’t build their confidence. They have to build their own confidence. Well, you take them out. Well, if they’re not playing hard and they’re not playing with great energy, then yeah, I will take them out. It’s not about missed shots. You’re going to have some turnovers, but if you’re not competing, if you don’t come up — .”

Calipari said he had to do that Saturday when freshman EJ Montgomery failed to get a key defensive rebound.

“That could have cost us the game. He let the guy run — you’re out. Well, you take me out. I’m trying to win the game. Get that ball, and we win this game. So there’s things like that that I’m not going to budge on,” Calipari said.

The coach also had high praise for freshman point guard Ashton Hagans. He had 12 points on 4-for-11 shooting from the field and 4-for-5 at the line along with five rebounds, four assists (all in the first half) and one steal that led to a layup.

“I thought Ashton just has a will to win, and I come back, you see him make every free throw, and then you say to yourself, he should probably shoot perimeter shots better. Again, it’s mental. Get in the gym more, build your own confidence, make a couple in the game, which he has this year,” Caliipari said.

“Last couple (games) he’s not made shots. He’s got to get in this week and get ready for this weekend.”

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  1. The game is still moving to fast for Nick for the most part. He didn’t hurt us yesterday, but he didn’t have a strong game. 3 points, 3 rebounds and one blocked shot is not enough going forward. He should be doing double that in the minutes he gets, but he is helping out as much as he can. He needs to talk less and produce more.

  2. If you can’t enjoy “the process” of development in Kentucky’s young players, and are focused solely on “winning”, you’re missing out on a lot of fun. This is one of Cal’s best “teams” when you look at how they have come together. It’s a real diamond cluster of various talents and when you throw in, “the will to win”, it’s
    shear delight. I sure hope it works out that PJ heals enough to make a come back, but regardless of whatever life serves up, it has been one hell of a ride-Go Cats.

    1. Hope for best, I agree with your statement this team is fun to watch. I love the way the whole team came together as a group to have that will to win.

  3. Nick and EJ have shown no visible signs of development or improvement during the year. Nick peaked with his 19 pt outing and fell from there. EJ never did catch on. Cal has to treat both very softly and carefully and uses the C word all the time, but you know that he and the entire coaching staff and team have to be disappointed with the lack of offensive contribution from these two. I think both would be better suited playing for smaller schools and out of the limelight.

    1. Mike I don’t know why you keep repeating your self about EJ and Nick on this post. Your wasting your time because they are doing little things to help the cats to win

  4. I said this yesterday Nick did the little things to hep us win against Wofford. He made a crucial block at end of the game that save the cats from losing

  5. You have to have game experience to gain confidence, and EJ and Nick are gaining it slowly. So far, it’s been enough to help us win.

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