For Kentucky to reach its potential, the Cats need Second Semester Nick Richards.
As John Calipari’s team hits midseason speed bumps, the head coach is unconcerned by the temporary struggles. However, there’s one thing this team is still missing: a rim protector.
“Coach is basically emphasizing that if I’m a rim protector, we’re probably going to win a national championship,” Richards said this afternoon. “That’s one of the key things we need to win a national championship, is a rim protector.
Richards has shown at times that the can fill that void. Against North Carolina Richards had two blocks and six rebounds, and last Tuesday he recorded a pair of blocks against Texas A&M.
“When Nick plays and he competes and battles inside and fights for position, he blocks shots and rebounds above the rim, he is a disruptor defensively. He disrupts them,” said Calipari. “They can’t come flying in there. They can’t shoot anything near the basket because he’s going to block it. We need to have him on the floor more, and EJ (Montgomery) is the same. We’re still trying to figure it out.”
Richards and Montgomery are trying to figure it out in limited minutes. In SEC play the two combine to average just over 20 minutes a game. After Calipari’s pre-Georgia press conference, it sounds like that will no longer be par for the course.
“The advantage we have with the number we have (in the frontcourt), you’re not pressured to play great because if you just don’t play great, we’ll play somebody else and we’ll be fine. So whether it’s Nick playing instead of Reid (Travis), whether it’s EJ playing in front of PJ (Washington). But those two have to perform when they get their minutes and they get in.” Cal added: “OK, it’s not your game, not that big a deal. Let’s go to the next game and see what happens.”
What exactly will happen? If Second Semester Nick Richards lives up to Drew Franklin’s expectations and becomes Kentucky’s rim protector, Calipari believes another banner is in UK’s future.