Tomorrow’s game will be a homecoming for Archie Goodwin, the 2012 Gatorade Arkansas Boys Basketball Player of the Year. Goodwin, who grew up less than three hours away from Bud Walton Arena and led his team to the Class 5A Arkansas state title last year, will be returning to the state he proudly reps on his chest for a pivotal SEC game for his Kentucky Wildcats.
For Archie, it’s a chance to show his home state why he chose to leave, despite so much pressure and so many expectations for him to be the star at Arkansas. It’s also an opportunity for him to build off two consecutive great games in Rupp Arena, while working to improve Kentucky’s NCAA tournament resume.
For Razorback fans, it’s the day they have waited for since the fall of 2011, when Goodwin committed to UK over the home state school. It’ll be a hostile environment in Bud Walton with no shortage of taunting towards Goodwin, to remind him of the frustration and disappointment he caused by leaving the state that made him a star.
“It’s going to be a hard deal for him but I think he’ll be fine,” Calipari said of his young shooting guard’s return home. He just hopes Goodwin can keep his “Oh-My-Gosh” moments to a minimum.
That won’t be easy.
With so much pressure to have a big game in front of all the people he shunned for UK, keeping Archie Goodwin under control will be Objective #1 for Kentucky. He’s going to want to score. And he’s going to want to score a lot.
Calipari said Archie still has two or three of those moments — we call them “WTF Archie?” moments — per game, which is the maximum he allows, for now. It’s important to keep him from going over his WTF-limit against the Razorbacks.
“I told him, ‘You’ve got to keep your head with the team’,” Cal said.
There’s no doubt Archie needs to get buckets tomorrow, but only within the flow of the offense. It could be a disaster if he reverts to the 1-on-3 Archie we used to know. It’s difficult for Kentucky to win games win that Archie is on the court.
Now’s the time for him to be the hero, without trying too hard to be the hero.