By LARRY VAUGHT
During John Calipari’s weekly radio show Wednesday night, assistant coach Kenny Payne had an interesting take on Tyrese Maxey’s 25-point performance in Tuesday’s win at Vanderbilt.
“He made winning basketball plays,” said Payne. “Before he was just making basketball plays. But there is a difference in making winning plays and he did that at Vandy.”
Calipari has pushed Maxey harder than any player this season — something both the coach and player freely and quickly admit. The UK coach, though, really liked what he saw from Maxey who had four rebounds, two blocks and two steals and just two turnovers in 38 minutes.
“He played through bumps today for the first time in his college career. That means you get hit and you keep going, versus you get hit and throw the one-handed fade. It may go, really if it goes you look crazy and if it doesn’t we lose,” Calipari said about Maxey after the Vanderbilt win.
“But this one, playing through the bump you make it and it’s an and-one. And you show toughness, and it feeds on the other team. They’re like ‘holy cow.’ But his instinct is to get hit and throw a fade. Not play through bumps. He’s learning.”
Wait. There’s more the coach liked.
“Another thing he did, he had six deflections in the second half with 10 minutes to go. Where’s that guy been? He told on himself. You mean you can play that way? ‘Yeah, but it’s really hard. Can I just get more shots?’” Calipari said.
“Trying to get these guys to do what the hardest thing is has been the challenge this year.”