Whether it be the core group of returning players, the super competitive freshmen or the head start in the Bahamas, there’s definitely a different feeling around this year’s Kentucky team. When asked about it, Sophomore Nick Richards said he’s simply having more fun than he did last season.
“I’m having more fun playing basketball with this group,” Richards told Michael Bennett. “It’s just more exciting. It’s more competitive. Guys actually get after each other. Off the court, we don’t really hate each other. We just gel together. That’s what most people are saying right now. They’re saying that we don’t hate each other.”
Well, then. Richards said another reason last year’s team struggled was they couldn’t move past things like a bad practice or a bad game; that’s something Richards has admitted to struggling with himself, so he’s doing his best to help the freshmen keep their heads up.
“When stuff gets hard in practice, you’ve just got to forget about it and move on to the next practice. That’s something that us as a team really didn’t get. Like last year, we would have horrible practices and the next practice, the next day, we were still thinking about that practice. Stuff like that, we didn’t really move on from.”
From listening to Richards rave about the freshmen, you can see why he’s having so much fun.
“We’ve got the best players, the best college freshmen in the country right now. EJ [Montgomery] is a 6-11 dude that can put the ball on the floor, shoot threes, beat anybody off the dribble. Keldon is one of the hardest working players you’ll ever see. Tyler, he can shoot the ball, he can shoot the lights out of the ball. Ashton, he does everything on defense. [Immanuel] Quick[ley], he’s a smart basketball player. He limits his mistakes, doesn’t really turn the ball over as much. Just little things like that. And they seem to be getting better and better at the little things in their game.”
And they don’t hate each other, which is a really good start.