First it was Nerlens Noel (that might feel like so long ago that you don’t even remember). Then it was Ryan Harrow. Then it was Alex Poythress. Now? It’s Archie Goodwin. At various points during the season, John Calipari has seemingly taken a particular player on his team under his wing, focusing his attention on their individual progress and reassuring fans that they “will be fine.”
When Noel arrived on campus later than the rest of the team, with expectations abound for him to be the “next Anthony Davis,” Calipari spoke up on his behalf. He warned not to put more pressure than necessary on Noel to be someone else. Instead, he encouraged everyone to give Noel time to blossom because his potential was huge.
We probably all remember Ryan Harrow’s rough patch earlier this season. Harrow was battling illness and personal issues, even causing him to leave early for Thanksgiving break. His status was up in the air, causing a great stir among the fan base and national media as to what his future might hold. Calipari gave him time to figure things out for himself before returning to the team, and then he guided him along slowly– giving him extra attention at practice. Harrow seemingly began to trust Calipari and Calipari began to trust Harrow as well, finally making him the starting point guard after a long wait.
Alex Poythress has been the latest player to receive the bulk of Calipari’s attention. Calipari took to his website a few weeks ago to explain the progress of Poythress. Calipari has been trying to will the energy and effort from Poythress for the past month, even getting creative during practices to try to bring out the best in him. Poythress has slowly but surely started to turn the corner, and Calipari seems pleased with his new attitude toward practice. The results showed last night when Poythress had a huge game with 20 points and 12 rebounds.
Now, it seems to be Archie Goodwin’s turn. On his website today, CoachCal.com, Calipari discussed Archie Goodwin in detail. Perhaps feeling the growing frustration among the fan base when it comes to Archie’s play, Calipari took the opportunity to let everyone get to know Goodwin a little better:
“Archie is totally invested in this program. He is the first one to come to practice every day, the last one out, and oftentimes the guy who is in the gym late at night working on his game and his free-throw shooting. He’ll have a full blown workout before we even start practice. He is conscious about the areas he is weak in, so he spends a ton of time in the gym working on areas he needs to improve on. He is his own worst critic.”
Calipari then goes on to compare Goodwin’s play and the perception that he might be selfish to DeAndre Liggins’ play when Calipari first arrived at Kentucky. Calipari notes that due to his inconsistent shooting, Goodwin has always had to rely upon being more athletic than his man and taking him to the basket.
“What we’re doing to help him with that is that he’s not allowed to shoot lay-ups in practice. He must pull up in the lane and either shoot pull-up jumpers around the free-throw line or shoot runners. If he shoots a lay-up, it’s a turnover.”
Calipari goes on to discuss how he also wants Goodwin to become a better defender because he has the necessary tools. He also talks about how it’s hard for him to be mad at a player who wanted to come to play for him at Kentucky so bad, and so badly wants to improve. He says that the pressure does get to Goodwin at times, but that for any freshman playing at Kentucky– the task is not easy. According to Calipari, Goodwin is frustrated with the fact that some things he is not picking up as quickly.
“At the end of the day, he cares about his teammates and he’s frustrated he’s not picking things up quicker. Old habits are hard to break, but he’s doing everything he can to break them, so let’s get behind him.
I am totally with him, and you should be too. Our fans should be there to help encourage him knowing how hard he works, how invested he is and how much he’s there for his teammates.”