By LARRY VAUGHT
Don’t look for sophomore EJ Montgomery to play Monday night when Kentucky hosts Utah Valley State in its first game since last week’s stunning upset loss to Evansville.
Montgomery injured his ankle during UK’s season-opening win over Michigan State and did not play against Evansville. He was seen by media members in a walking boot Sunday before coach John Calipari’s media conference to talk about the game and more.
“He’s not on the court with us but he’s doing some stuff. My guess is a week away. I don’t know. Maybe longer,” Calipari said when asked about Montgomery. “It’d be nice to get him back and have a roster.”
Calipari said practicing with seven or eight healthy players has been difficult. Freshman Dontaie Allen has yet to be cleared for full workouts after his knee surgery last December. Center Nick Richards missed time with an ankle injury. Point guard Ashton Hagans has been slowed by a leg injury.
“How do you really scrimmage to get after each other the way you need to? So we’ve been dealing with that,” Calipari said. “I think there’s probably 250 coaches in the country who’d like my problem.”
He’s probably right. When his roster is healthy, he has a team almost any coach would like to have.
Kentucky baseball pitcher Ben Jordan, who joined the team a few weeks ago as a walk-on, has been a “great” addition for Calipari.
“We’ve needed him out on the court. We need him just pushing and shoving and being big. It’s been good. The guys have enjoyed him,” Calipari said.
The Kentucky coach has not lost of sense of humor because of the loss to Evansville a week ago.
“We’ve got walk-ons. I was in (practicing) the other day. I made four 3s and I was so embarrassed that I stopped,” Calipari joked. “We’re doing a lot of four-on-four stuff, which we can get by with.”
Calipari has reminded himself to be “grateful for stuff that happens” no matter what.
“I was really grateful for what happened up in New York (when UK beat Michigan State). But if you’re going to do that, you’ve gotta be grateful for what Evansville should do for us. You’ve gotta be grateful about it. Let’s be grateful,” Calipari said.
“I know everybody out there – ‘Oh my gosh, he’s grateful we lost a game.’ But if you’re going to be grateful for stuff that happens that’s good, you better also be thankful for the bad stuff and grateful for what it does for you and then you look at it.
“Now it took me 24 hours to do that and to think in those terms, but I’m looking at this and saying: ‘Hey, I’m grateful. Let’s go and use it. Let’s benefit by it.’ We’ll go from here.”