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Nick Richards Must Be Better

Nick Richards cannot be this bad any longer.

For the last month, fans questioned why the seven-footer remained in the starting lineup.  Richards responded to the complaints by validating them.

In the last four games, Richards has only attempted three shots.  He made one today to increase his four-game point total to three.  In that time has hauled in ten rebounds, a contribution feels insignificant.

Calipari has kept Richards in the starting lineup because he does not want to “lose” him for the year.  Today is the reason why Calipari must continue to play Richards.

In the previous three games, Calipari tightened the leash and played Richards fewer than ten minutes.  As usual, the freshman started today at Florida, but unusually, Richards was forced to stay in the game.  The forwards who emerged as Kentucky’s primary frontcourt options, Jarred Vanderbilt and P.J. Washington, were forced to the sideline with foul trouble and finished the game with four fouls.  Cal briefly turned to Sacha Killeya-Jones, but Richards was really the only option.

Providing relief for 19 minutes, the best thing Richards did was aggravate Kentucky fans.

Vanderbilt is proof you don’t have to score to be effective, but you can’t be a liability on the court.  Richards dropped passes.  Rebounds slipped through his fingertips.  Opponents beat him backdoor.  To make matters more frustrating, the 75 percent free throw shooter missed his only two free throw attempts.

In most cases, a coach would just bench a guy who is not producing, but Calipari has backed himself into a corner.  Unwilling to play Killeya-Jones, if UK is faced with frontcourt foul trouble there are only two options, play small-ball or play Richards.

There’s only one solution: Richards must be better.  He does not have to be great.  He does not even have to be good.  He just can’t continue to play this poorly.


Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

52 Comments for Nick Richards Must Be Better

  1. Smyrna_Cat
    7:09 pm March 3, 2018 Permalink

    And how do you suggest he do that?

    • syrin23
      7:49 pm March 3, 2018 Permalink

      Exactly. If he doesn’t get it by now, he needs to watch from the sidelines. I have seen no improvement, and in fact I think he’s regressed. Cal needs to start understanding he’s paid to win, not develop players for the draft. I really wonder if he truly gets that.

    • EdC
      7:53 pm March 3, 2018 Permalink

      syrin, it’s pretty clear he doesn’t get that. Maybe you and I are the ones who don’t get it. His boss doesn’t care and a huge number of fans are very happy with final four banners.

    • jahanc2uky
      8:09 pm March 3, 2018 Permalink

      I suggest another B word instead of Better…. BENCHED

    • callitlikeiseeit
      9:18 pm March 3, 2018 Permalink

      Cause he plays for Cal and Cal is the reason all those other guys were lottery picks. Hope people now understand it is not what Cal did in 8 months with those guys, it was those guys ability. Cal sure aint making Diallo, Richards, Washington, SKJ, Gabriel, POY, Green, Knox Bricksoe, I could go on and on, lottery picks now is he. Those that were lotery picks, for the most part, were the same projected lottery pick right from High School if they would have been allowed.

    • syrin23
      9:28 pm March 3, 2018 Permalink

      That is a good point, but his players who did go pro constantly say Cal really prepared them for the NBA. His players do well in the league. All the Duke lottery picks have been disappointments so far.

    • jahanc2uky
      9:56 pm March 3, 2018 Permalink

      The getting drafted part is not Cal. But Liggins, Harrelson, Miller, Willis, Ullis, Willie, are all not playing pro basketball without Cal.

  2. JTHinton
    7:11 pm March 3, 2018 Permalink


  3. Kat4Life
    7:15 pm March 3, 2018 Permalink

    I was hoping he was just a notch below Ayton and Bagley……….sadly, more than a notch I’m afraid……..I’d play SKJ…….he’s a better option in my opinion. But when you are still trying to find your rotation in March, you got problems…….but hey, these guys are talented enough to beat about anyone, so you can’t give up on them. They may shock us.

    • syrin23
      7:51 pm March 3, 2018 Permalink

      SKJ is better in EVERY aspect.

      Energy level – absolutely
      Shooting ability – equal
      Rebounding- better
      Defense – better

      How in the hell does Richards gets PT over SKJ?

    • T-wah
      11:23 pm March 3, 2018 Permalink

      I 100% agree with this. I don’t get it.

    • EdC
      7:54 pm March 3, 2018 Permalink

      Simple because the NBA drafts on upside. The NBA draft is the most important thing to Calipari. Calipari perceive’s Young’s upside to be higher than SKJ.

    • TBW3011
      9:53 am March 4, 2018 Permalink

      This is correct. You’ll probably get blasted for saying it, but you’re right. Draft status comes first. Wins are next.

    • Bobbum Man
      8:06 pm March 3, 2018 Permalink

      Which Young would you be referring to?

  4. makeitstop
    7:18 pm March 3, 2018 Permalink

    He will play better when he gets a year older. He’s got good tools he’s just raw. Needs strength, needs pounds, needs footwork, his hands aren’t strong enough as gets strippers of the ball by smaller guys. Until then Cal needs a 7 man lineup with Richards giving him 5 fouls age a few rebounds. He just can’t stay out there w that D.

    • makeitstop
      7:19 pm March 3, 2018 Permalink

      lol okay that’s “stripped” of the ball – leave the strippers to University 6!

  5. BigBlueNationDude
    7:18 pm March 3, 2018 Permalink

    Not gonna happen. Smyrna shut it

    • Jpcat15
      7:30 pm March 3, 2018 Permalink

      SKJ is way better than Richards, but Cal doesn’t like him for some reason. Richards brings nothing to the table at this point. No energy, no hustle and bad hands. Plus, he bites on every ball fake. I hope he finds it over the summer but I believe Jones has more skill, better hands and hustles way more.

    • WatchutalkinboutWillis
      7:46 pm March 3, 2018 Permalink

      SKJ is NOT way better than Richards. SKJ is clearly lost on defense and there must be a reason why he isn’t playing, I suspect it has something to do with practice and extra work put in. SKJ looks decently skilled on offense but so does Richards. Both are terrible rebounders for their size and neither hustles.

    • T-wah
      11:25 pm March 3, 2018 Permalink

      If you think SKJ doesn’t hustle, I’m not sure you’re even watching the games. He’s certainly doesn’t hustle like Vanderbilt, but he ALWAYS outhustles Richards. Always.

    • Smyrna_Cat
      8:32 pm March 3, 2018 Permalink

      Aren’t you banned yet, UL Troll?

  6. Bull Filmer
    7:23 pm March 3, 2018 Permalink

    Coaches call this out. Poor play – of an individual player – by a ‘writer’ is not beneficial. It is unhealthy for the player and team.

    Now, while we are all feeling better that the good doctor diagnosed: We all agree; he is not the only one that bears the burden of self-improvement.

    • Smyrna_Cat
      8:35 pm March 3, 2018 Permalink

      It is not. This is not appropriate for a writer, especially just saying “get better”. I expect if you could he would do that, don’t you?

      If Richards were going to get it, he would have by now. Hopefully he spends the summer working on getting better.

  7. Alleykat16
    7:26 pm March 3, 2018 Permalink

    I agree with you, but I have not seen any improvement from the start of the season. I believe he has 2 games in which he’s played like a big man should. What is the answer I have no clue. First I thought it was because he started playing the game later than most, but his game has not improved as the year went along

  8. I just checked the weather forecast, and yep, the sun is going to come out tomorrow.

  9. KYJelly
    8:36 pm March 3, 2018 Permalink

    SKJ > Richards. I’m not saying he’s better, but he tries harder

    • jahanc2uky
      8:59 pm March 3, 2018 Permalink

      SKJ > Zone D, Effort, Finishing, FT, Shooting. Richards > Man D, Rebound (both suck give nod to Richards), Offensively not getting in the way, attitude towards coach.

    • WatchutalkinboutWillis
      2:14 pm March 4, 2018 Permalink

      If nothing else the attitude is a huge factor. SKJ has shown very poor body language and Cal has said he is not letting his program get hijacked again.

  10. UKfan4TwoDecades
    8:37 pm March 3, 2018 Permalink

    Besides the few minutes of spark, and good plays, UK was beaten in every aspect by Florida.

    Cal will, as he has done every year, minimize the importance of the SEC Tournament which is contrary to fundamental basketball – sends the wrong message to each player – lets the fans down – and I have great disdain for. This team is not like a light switch where they can turn it (hustle, rebounding, defense, passing, talking to one another on the court, turnovers, execute a game plan, winning basketball, etc.)or off at their will.

    For a plethora of reasons this team, and this applies to each player, instills NO fear into opponents. That UK is susceptible to giving up big leads from the get go. And there is little, or no, communication/holding players accountable by other players, etc.

    I will root for UK as I have these six decades now and I hope that each player starts to understand right this moment through every game and every tournament and ball out. For each of them to be their best, to make the fans/family/friends/coaches proud, to hustle for 40 minutes. to rebound. etc. because once the NCAA Tournament begins one loss and your season is over and you can bet there are many coaches, scouts, etc closely looking at each player and where they could fit in the NBA.

    Take care and thanks again KSR for your coverage, articles, videos, and allowing comments.

  11. rainman
    8:45 pm March 3, 2018 Permalink

    There is a second option, we encounter a
    whole new type of ONE and DONE!

  12. IamSoulfunky
    9:07 pm March 3, 2018 Permalink

    syrin23 March 3, 2018 at 7:51 pm | Permalink
    SKJ is better in EVERY aspect.

    Energy level – absolutely
    Shooting ability – equal (most every aspect lol)
    Rebounding- better
    Defense – better

    How in the hell does Richards gets PT over SKJ?

    Absolutely Right!! And so was the post immediately below EdC. It’s frustrating to watch but yet we root on! Go Big Blue!!

  13. jim tom
    9:44 pm March 3, 2018 Permalink

    Upside my ass he sucks right now

  14. Megan
    10:12 pm March 3, 2018 Permalink

    I think this kind of commentary is harsh. And not undeserved. I don’t like to see the fanbase dump on players. And what we’re reading now about Richards is our frustration pouring out at the end of the season.

    Don’t you think he’s just as frustrated as we are? He is what he is at this point. I wish he’d play better, especially reacting more quickly (or at all) to give weak-side help, something that requires knowing where the ball is. He’s just so unaware at times. But then again, I wish they had all played better today.

    • Smyrna_Cat
      10:17 pm March 3, 2018 Permalink

      To clarify, this isn’t the fanbase dumping on players. This is KSR writers … and a few Trolls … dumping on a player.

  15. Bleednblu
    12:50 am March 4, 2018 Permalink

    I understand the argument. I understand that most of you replying seem to be ESPN analysts, so I’m way out of my league obviously. I agree that there needs to be major improvement. However think of a couple guys when saying Cal doesn’t improve players and when dogging Richards and or SKJ. How about Josh Harrelson and Willie Cauley-Stein…neither of which were big contributors for the large first part of their college careers. WCS showed flashes yet didn’t really blossom until he had some time under his belt. Harrelson went from being a non factor to being drafted. Some guys take longer, they get ranked too highly by scouts out of high school, what have you. Richards has raw potential but he is going to be a work in progress…hopefully he is able to put the work in and gets the chance to see his full potential. Same goes for SKJ..of course I could be completely wrong. We’ll have to wait and see I guess.

    • BamaBlue
      1:10 am March 4, 2018 Permalink

      I agree 100%. I think there is a fine line between bashing and criticism. Some guys may have been a little overrated coming out of high school. That does not mean the potential is not there. I for one would like to see some guys stick around a few years. This team could use some veteran leadership. Go Big Blue !!

  16. BamaBlue
    12:58 am March 4, 2018 Permalink

    I think this late in the season it’s ok to criticize the performance of a few of these guys. Some are simply not playing up to their ability. This year we have watched a team that could beat anyone in the nation and we have watched a team that almost anyone could beat. Hopefully that great Kentucky team shows up the rest of season. Win or lose, I will always bleed Blue.

  17. TBW3011
    9:50 am March 4, 2018 Permalink

    Sascha should play more, but he wasn’t ranked as high as Nick and Cal has to keep his reputation up. That’s what comes first.

  18. Rembrandt
    10:13 am March 4, 2018 Permalink

    Our fans always overreact in mass after a loss. The level of ignorance on this thread is astounding. Most of you spoiled children pass judgment on freshmen as if their careers are over, when in fact their careers are just getting started. But Cal understands this. Richards has only been playing the game of basketball for three years, but most of you don’t know that. While many of you are still complaining about Richards’ playing time, Cal already reduced Nick’s playing time last month. Cal knows Nick has huge future upside, and Cal is exercising the patience and teaching skills a good coach must apply. SKJ isn’t playing this year for exactly the same reason SKJ didn’t play last year. He can’t defend. Cal is a players’ coach, but some of you insist Cal dislikes some of his players. The guy can only play 5 players at a time. Some of you wouldn’t know snow if you saw it at the South Pole.

  19. makeitstop
    11:07 am March 4, 2018 Permalink

    You could insert almost any name in that headline. For Richards, or SKJ or for that matter WG, at least one of them has to actually emerge either as a rim protector (Richards) or a guy who can guard the perimeter on a switch without getting abused every time, and as a 4th scoring option at the elbow, in the paint, or on the baseline 8-12 feet, that shot is there. It doesn’t have to be Richards but it needs to be someone, bc the 7-8 man rotation Cal can count on right now is 6 and that’s counting Diallo. A year will make a big difference but they are bringing in a hell of a forward in Johnson, so if they don’t show it now they may be showing it as a transfer a year and a half from now somewhere else bc none of them can compete in the G League right now

  20. ballplayerstu
    1:22 pm March 4, 2018 Permalink

    What’s sad is he will be a 1st round pick because of his “potential” with his height. Basically, another Orton. The kid needs to stay. Knox really needs to stay but he is forsure gone!! Go Cats!

  21. chrisg18
    8:57 am March 5, 2018 Permalink

    This article seems unnecessary, but I will add my two cents. Cal has backed himself into a corner only by not playing SKJ more. Sacha gets lost on defense a lot, and I am guessing this is why he doesn’t get more minutes, but that’s not going to get any better sitting on the bench. I am sure that would improve with more experience. I am of the camp that believes SKJ does just about everything else better than Richards. He definitely plays harder and hustles more, and he is much more of a threat to score than Nick. I think that if SKJ would have been given the same opportunities that Richards was given throughout the season, he would be a bit further along than Nick is right now. Unfortunately neither is anywhere close to where the team needs them for the postseason and that will be too tough to overcome for a deep run.