As you might expect, how Kentucky will manage without Reid Travis was a big topic of today’s press conference. John Calipari said that between PJ Washington, Nick Richards, and EJ Montgomery, he’s confident Kentucky has plenty of ways to fill the void in the middle. Let’s run through his remarks.
PJ’s gonna have to get physical
Reid has been Kentucky’s bruiser in the middle, which has allowed PJ Washington to step out and expand his game. With Reid out and neither Nick nor EJ the bruising type, Caliapri said PJ must move back inside and get physical.
“He’s a little more of the muscle game. He’s got to be ready. I told him he’s gonna be begging Reid to come back quicker because he’s going have to go down there and do stuff that the other two cannot do. But I think he’ll be fine. He’s played there at times.”
Stay out of the mud, Nick
Part of growing up is accepting your limitations. At 6’11” 240 lbs., Nick Richards is a big dude, but Calipari doesn’t want him doing his best Reid impression in the middle because that’s not his style. As he did on his call-in show Wednesday night, Cal used the analogy of a mud-wrestling match.
“I want him to use his quickness, his length and his ability to go get balls vs. getting in mud-wrestling matches. So when the ball bounces to you, you’re not worried about pushing and the ball bounces right there, or a guy drives that you can block the shot, but you’re mud-wrestling. Quit it. Stop. You cannot mud wrestle Jonny David and win. So don’t try. [Laugher.]”
“Use your quickness, use your length, use what your strengths are. He’s trying. He’s such a great kid. He’s like a sweetheart of a kid and he wants to play so well, and he’s so hard on himself. Like I said, you’ve got to relax and go do what you do best. Don’t dribble the ball in the post just shoot it. Just catch it and shoot it. If you bounce it they’re coming after you.’”
To be fair, Jonny David does have a lower center of gravity.
“He’s got to survive”
Cal said Nick’s habit of resorting to mud-wrestling probably stems from going against Reid in practice all season. Hopefully these games will help him flip the switch and stick to his strengths.
“He’s trying to survive. He’s got to survive. Not mud wrestle him. ‘I’m just trying to keep him away from me.’ So, you end up mud-wrestling. When he moves those feet and bounces and runs and is active he’s really good. Well, why wouldn’t you play that way all the time? Because it’s really hard. It’s easy to just lean on somebody and mud wrestle. That’s easier than bounces and moving, alert, running, sprinting, sitting, bouncing.”
No room for pouting
Nick still has a tendency to let his mistakes get the best of him, a habit he has to move past with Reid on the sidelines. Instead of putting his head down and pouting, Calipari wants Nick to sub himself out to regroup.
“I just say, ‘Make easy plays. You try to do hard stuff, they steal the ball, and then your head goes down, your shoulders go down, and I got to take you out because you’re not going to rebound, you’re not going block a shot. I’ve coached you now for two years.’ When he’s back and shoulders are back and he’s running, leave him in. Now, what he’s got to do is sub himself when he’s tired, ‘Coach, get me. Can I come out? I want to go, but just get me for a minute.’ ‘Gotcha. Then you’re out a minute, You ready to go? OK, at the 12-minute mark go back in.’”
Do I need to worry about this quote?
On Wednesday night, UK announced that Reid will be out at least the next two weeks, but Calipari said he told the team to be prepared in case that timetable is even longer.
“What I said to my team yesterday was this, ‘Now I know he’s healthy, I’m happy. He may be out two weeks, you ready, three weeks, four weeks, seven weeks. It doesn’t matter. He’s going to be OK, so I’m good now. We’ll figure out how we play as a team.’ I think they got what I was saying. Don’t know how long he’s going to be out, but whatever it is I’m good.”
Let’s stick with two weeks, okay?