PJ Washington is playing the best basketball of his life right now; however, John Calipari isn’t willing to give his star any slack. All season, Cal’s been hard on PJ, and as the sophomore’s play has improved, his coach’s critiques have just gotten louder, which associate head coach Kenny Payne says of Cal’s way of pushing PJ to new heights.
“So proud of PJ and what he’s done,” Payne told reporters today. “Love the way that he’s approaching the game. And you’re right, Coach has been really, really focused on him playing to a certain standard. Last six games, he was unbelievable to finish games and Coach said, ‘You’re going to get rebounds — attempts — 60 percent of the time. That’s not who you are. You have to be a 90 percent attempt rebounder. Don’t mean you get them, but you attempt 90 percent of the time.’ So, as the world is giving him all this praise, Coach Cal is saying, ‘I need more.’ And that’s what this is about. You can see it in his play.”
After PJ scored 23 points at Mississippi State last week, Calipari reminded the team that he only had three rebounds. PJ’s face afterwards was priceless:
In Tuesday night’s loss to LSU, PJ tied Reid Travis for a team-high nine rebounds, but only had five on Saturday vs. Tennessee. Afterwards, Calipari said the staff is keeping track of those rebound attempts.
“We keep attempts, focus — at the end of every game that’s the first thing I look at is what were their attempts. And I told you, PJ started going down, down, down, as he started scoring more thinking, I’m a scorer, I’m not a rebounder.”
So, what happens if PJ does become a 90-percent attempt rebounder like Cal wants?
“If he gets to 100, it’s going to be 105,” Payne quipped.