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Nate Sestina a talker and a leader

Nate Sestina (Vicky Graff Photo)

By KEITH TAYLOR, Kentucky Today

LEXINGTON — Nate Sestina likes to talk and John Calipari doesn’t mind have another voice on the court.

“It’s nice having a veteran that talks,” the Kentucky coach said. “I mean he over talks, he tries to get the guys to talk.”

Sestina is used to being a vocal leader and said playing four years at Bucknell “has really helped me out.”

“Just talking through everything you do, even if you’re on the sidelines — talk through and help the other guys so they can see what it’s like to communicate,” he said. “(I’m) showing the difference between communicating and not communicating and the difference between if you communicate if the drill is great, and if you don’t, the drill is terrible.”

For Sestina, he doesn’t mind being a team leader and guiding his new teammates — both newcomers and veterans along. Sestina spent the past four seasons at Bucknell, where he was the team’s second-leading scorer last season, averaging 15.8 points per game. He also led the team and the Patriot League with 8.5 rebounds per game.

“I’m coming in with a smaller spotlight, but with more of a pressure to lead,” he said. “The pressure for me doesn’t bother me. I’ve been a leader on a team for the last two to three years and I think I did a pretty good job of doing that at Bucknell. I’m trying to keep these guys on the right path and get to where we need to get to.”

Although a veteran, Sestina, who is coming off a foot injury, says he is in the best shape of his life and has trimmed down to 234 pounds. He is also eating better, which he also said his attributed to his current conditioning level.

“Once I was able to start running I was able to lose a lot of weight, and I feel good,” he said. “It’s not like I feel light or I feel weak. I feel the best I’ve ever felt, and I played college basketball for four years, and I haven’t felt this good, so I’m feeling pretty confident.”

Sestina has noticed a difference since recovering from the injury and eating better, especially on the court.

“I’m able to stay with guys that are smaller than me,” he said. “I’m not able to stay in front of them by any means, but I’m able to stay with quicker guards and contest shots instead of letting them go in for layups and things like that. In July, they were blowing by me and now I am able to stay with them a little bit and I’m continuing to work on that.”

Although a veteran, the move to Kentucky has required a few adjustments when it comes to practice and getting used to the speed of the game.

“You have to be ready to go every day,” Sestina said. “We have practice on the weekends and they’re hard. You fight in every minute of practice and for me, I mentally prepare myself a week in advance, they’re going to be hard, they’re going to be long and that’s something I have carried over into what I have been doing.

“You have to be ready to go at all times. Even when you’re on the sideline catching a break. You never know what could happen. A guy gets tired, you have to be ready to go.”

Calipari said Sestina “can play some 5, but if you play him at 5 you’re going to stretch the court with him as a 5” and said the Kentucky coach has been pleased with Sestina during preseason workouts.”

“He’s good in the post,” Calipari said. “Reid (Travis) was just a physical (presence) — Nate lost 25 pounds. So he’s at, what, 235 right now and physically in great shape and running and he’s really been a great addition to this group.”

Because of his size and versatility, Sestina said he’s “able to stretch the floor out and see stuff before it happens.”

“I feel like as a big man, I am a pretty good passer and I’m an unselfish teammate,” he said. “I’ll catch it on a pick-and-roll and may not have an open shot but I will see someone (open) and find the open guy.”

Sestina added he has been impressed with his teammates and he’s part of a squad that he said is capable of doing “something really, really special.”

“We have a group of guys that are hard-working and diligent in what they do,” he said. “We have guys that are laser-focused every day and I had that at Bucknell and two years in a row we won back-to-back championships and I am really hoping we can do the same thing here.”

Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com or twitter @keithtaylor21.

9 comments

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  1. It is very easy to like what this kid brings to the table with his experience, maturity and leadership qualities. It seems like this team has a lot of good chemistry, and I can’t wait for the season to start.

  2. I wish Calipari saw him that way, Mike. My guess is he comes off the bench and averages about 10 minutes a game. He should start, but I don’t see that in the cards.

  3. Guys this blog is yours tell March for your negative comments. Then when the cats win that 25 th game. Bye bye that’s is if you mark your word but I’m not counting on it.

  4. Cats, you must read on a second grade level. Go back and re-read our bet. It is very possible for us to win 25 games, have 10 or more losses, and not win any titles of any type or make it to a Final 4…and then you will be gone!

    1. I have an archived copy of the bet on file if anyone desires to read it.
      It will be available throughout the season.

      1. Hornet in so many words, what is this bet?

  5. · The following is an exact copy of the bet proposed by Catmandoo1000 on September 22, 2019 at 12:57 am and called by me on that date:

    This (UK ’19-’20) team will win 20 or so games, but will lose 10 or so. It will not win an SEC reg. season crown nor the SEC tournament. It will win 2, maybe 3 games in the big dance. Lets make a wager. If my vision of the upcoming season is right, all of you Rah Rahs will agree to leave this site forever, never again to nauseate me with your know nothing rah rahhing. If we do no lose at least 10 games, or if we win either the reg. season crown or SEC tournament, or if we make it to the Final 4 regardless of that outcome, I will leave this site forever, never again to infuriate you rah rahs with my take on Calipari or KY basketball.
    Let’s see how many Rah Rahs step up to this winner take all proposal. Let’s put it on the record right here for everyone to see and then honor the outcome at the season’s end. This should be an easy bet if any of you Rah Rahs really believe the shit you shovel here. My guess is none of them have the stones to agree to this.

  6. You got him Hornet, the Catman could be history. Wow!!!! He really does have Calipari syndrome. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Catman’s already been wrong about one thing…
      I “agreed” to his bet and I called him on it.
      I think my chances of winning that bet are pretty darn good.

      It’s too bad that Mike didn’t take the bait.
      Perhaps he’s a little smarter than I had thought he was.

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