By LARRY VAUGHT
Don’t worry about Nick Richards getting complacent because of all the success he’s had this season.
“He’s good. He’s building his own confidence through demonstrated performance. He’s not delusional on the court. Anytime he starts to slip he’s got a whole staff all over him,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said Friday. “Like, I may walk in the gym and he’s on the treadmill and I’m thinking, ‘Wow, isn’t that great, he’s out there conditioning.’
“No. He came in half speed and Kenny (Payne) put him on the treadmill. ‘Alright, you don’t want to do this? Get on this treadmill.’ We’re not letting up on him.”
But it’s not just Richards that Calipari and his staff are keeping the heat on to make improvements. Calipari said they were “not letting up” on Tyrese Maxey and trying to hold Ashton Hagans “accountable” daily.
“They’re all responding. We’ve got a great group of kids. My message yesterday: I showed them a place late in the game where Ashton went over and he and EJ (Montgomery) were laughing and Ashton kind of grabbed EJ by the head and they were laughing with each other,” Calipari said.
“I said look, ‘This is a team that you care about one another. Play for your brother more than your playing for you. Play for each other. You should feel a sense of responsibility in how you play, not for you, (but) for them. Because, when you leave us and you think every team is this way, good luck. They’re not all this way. You have a team full of guys.’”
That wasn’t all he told the players.
“I said, ‘Last game we were at Tennessee, every one of you in this room were happy for Keion (Brooks Jr.) and for Johnny (Juzang). Do you understand that it’s not always like that? And so, play for each other. Don’t worry about you. Just know I need to be respectful of all this stuff, and I have to make sure I understand I’m playing for my teammates as more than I’m even playing for me.,'” Calipari said.