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.”