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Why can’t Nick Richards rebound?


For yet another game, Nick Richards was nowhere to be found. After a decent start, the freshman big man reverted to bad habits, forcing John Calipari to pull him from the game.

“I told him after the game, guys, if I stick you in and tell you to rebound, and the first play [you don’t], walk to the bench. Walk to the bench. You don’t have to look to see if I’m taking you out. You know why I’m taking you out. You have to rebound.”

Richards was 2-2 from the floor for four points and only three rebounds. Three rebounds from a player who is almost seven-feet tall. As a result, he played only 12 minutes. Richards has only pulled down more than ten rebounds once this season, against Fort Wayne back on November 22.

So what’s the problem? Kevin Knox said Richards is putting in the work in practice, but for some reason or another, it hasn’t translated to the game yet.

“Nick’s one of the hardest workers on the team. If you come to our practices, you see he’s always the first one in the gym and the last one to leave. He’s been putting in the work, we’ve just go to get him to translate it to a game. What Cal wants him to do is rebound, defend, and block shots and just run to the basket. He’s got one of the easiest jobs on the team, we’ve just to get him through it. I think one of his biggest problems is, he’s not getting as many rebounds as Cal wants him to. If he can just get 10 to 12 rebounds a game, I think he’ll be fine. That’s all Cal wants him to do, he’s just not getting it done. He’s going to keep working and he’ll get there soon.”

Richards’ defense hasn’t been much better, which Calipari chalked up to a bad stance.

“You can’t stand stiff-legged and think you’re going to guard somebody. Are you doing that because you’re tired? I don’t know but you’re doing it, and every time, they drive right around you. Why are you doing it? Just bend your legs. You do it every day.”

All of that being said, Calipari said he’s far from giving up on Richards; in fact, he told reporters he woke up today with the game plan to get him the ball early and often.

“I even woke up this morning thinking, we should start the game going right at Nick. That was my thought when I woke up this morning. So, I haven’t lost any confidence in him but he’s got to perform. This is about winning. You leave him in the game and lose? Nope. Not doing it. Nooo. Not happening.”

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

17 responses to “Why can’t Nick Richards rebound?”

  1. BBNDan7

    Dakari Johnson 2.0

    1. bbnZach

      Impeccable comparison. I was thinking the exact same thing.

    2. Luether

      Dakari was way tougher, and a way better rebounder and screener…

    3. BigBlueMeade

      Richards is way more athletic and higher ceiling. Get real.

    4. Rembrandt

      I agree, Nick Richards is a high ceiling player. Some of our fans think a freshman is a “bad player” if he doesn’t play like Anthony Davis.

      Richards has only been playing basketball for a couple years. He is long and athletic, but hasn’t figured out defensive fundamentals yet. People criticizing his “effort” today may not understand that Richards was limited to 12 minutes against Vandy because he couldn’t defend. A player can’t show much in 12 minutes.

      Richards is becoming a foul magnet because opposing coaches have watched film and learned that he is a defensive liability. So they are going right at him. Defensively, Richards is where SKJ was a year ago. Richards may temporarily lose his starting job to SKJ. But in the long run, Richards has one of the highest ceilings in the SEC. He needs another year of development under Cal and Kenny, but he will eventually be a very good college baseline player and a first round draft choice.

  2. RexRox

    To me, he is the most disappointing player on the team, expectations vs. productivity. Consistently underachieving on defense and rebounding. Not giving up on him. Just nowhere near being ready to go to the league. Silver lining from this season is next year’s Cats could be awesome!

  3. scwhite9

    He is young. I have faith that he will be much better. It usually takes big men a little longer.

    1. Peas and Carrots

      He’ll be fine eventually. He’s a raw player that wouldn’t be forced to start in most years. We’re thin in the frontcourt and Richards was thrust into the position whether he was ready or not.

  4. EdC

    With his height is is mostly about wanting it, effort. If he decides it’s important and works for it then getting position, etc. will come naturally. He’s probably had it way too easy up until now, playing against AAU style basketball. Now it is a grind and it hasn’t clicked yet.

  5. Aar

    We all knew Richards was a relative late-comer to basketball, with raw talent, a tremendous upside and that his feel for the game needed development. So far, he seems to be on the WCS development path. Due to his ability to jump center, I suspect he’ll continue to get starts and 10 minutes until he finds a way to help his team. Personally, I hope his help defense improves first.

  6. plumloopy

    Interesting that K-Jones had almost identical numbers, slightly worse, with three more minutes of playing time. He was praised while Richards was considered non-effective. Expectations, I guess.

    1. Booby Petrino

      Typically you expect more from a starter than a bench player. Yes, bench players can outplay starters, but shouldn’t expectations be higher for a starter than a bench player?

    2. BigBlueMeade

      Also effort, not measured in box score, matter.

  7. Rembrandt

    This writer generally posts good material, but this column’s headline is misleading.

    Against Vandy, Richards had 3 rebounds and 2 blocks – plus 3 personal fouls – in 12 minutes of play. Richards’ playing time was limited against Vandy because he couldn’t defend.

    On the season, Richards is averaging 17 minutes/game and 5.5 rebounds/game. Statistically, Richards has been the team’s most effective rebounder with respect to actual minutes played.

    Because Richards has one of our highest upside players, I often focus on him. For the most part, Richards plays hard and shows effort. He gets shoved around in the paint by stronger, more experienced players, but not for lack of effort. Richards is fundamentally a poor defender, especially on the back line of a 2-3 zone. Other SEC coaches have learned they can attack Richards and he will foul. Vandy did a good job of this yesterday, which is why Richards accumulated 3 personal fouls in 12 minutes and had to sit.

    Cal has tried to hide Richards defensively, but other coaches see the problem and are going straight at Richards. Until his defensive fundamentals improve, he will have to sit a lot. Basically, SKJ 2.0, but with more length and a much higher ceiling eventually.

  8. spincr4hire72

    To his credit, Baptiste was either pushing off or over his back all night.

    1. Rembrandt

      Correct. Baptiste is a stronger, more physical player than Richards is at this at this point in his career. Richards has only been playing the game of basketball for a couple years. He is a work in progress, but he will be a very good player when everything comes together for him. To his credit, he picked the right program. Kenny Payne is the right guy for Richards to learn from.

  9. satcheluk

    Right now he is a waste of a scholarship. How can someone who’s played their whole life be so ignorant of the fundamentals of the game?