Throughout this season, Kentucky has seen two sides of PJ Washington. Sometimes, he’s on fire, as he was throughout most of the UK vs. Mississippi State game – against the Bulldogs, he finished with 21 points, six rebounds and four blocks. But there are also plenty of other times, sometimes in critical moments, when Washington seemingly disappears.
And that’s what’s frustrating John Calipari.
“He’ll dunk on you; he’ll go get a rebound in traffic; he’ll go block, and when he doesn’t, he posts up and the guy runs around him and tips it away,” Calipari said of Washington’s skill set and potential. “He has that game, but he also has that other game and we’ve just got to tell him, it’s not acceptable.”
That “other” game, of course, happens when Washington does that disappearing thing. And although he finished with an impressive stat sheet against Mississippi State, Calipari says it wasn’t good enough.
“I still think he played without that motor parts of the game, and that’s what was making me angry,” Calipari said. “Come on, man – battle. But that’s how good I think he is.”
So, what does happen to turn Washington’s motor off during a game?
“I have no idea,” Washington said. “If I knew that, it wouldn’t slow down. I’m just trying to watch a lot of film with [assistant coach Kenny Payne].”
While he may not be able to pinpoint exactly how or why it turns off, he does know how it gets flipped back on: getting benched.
“Sometimes I’ll get lackadaisical and won’t get a rebound or something, and that’s when [Calipari] will take me out,” Washington said. “Then, when I come back in, I just try to get the flow going and try to get aggressive.”
That’s exactly what happened against the Bulldogs.
“I told P.J. today, ‘I let you out six minutes and, you know what, you came in and played as good as you played all year,'” Calipari said. “Maybe I should leave you out six minutes – maybe that gets you going; maybe you need to rest.”
But, of course, Washington doesn’t think so.
“I kinda get mad a little bit,” Washington laughed when asked about his reaction to being pulled from the action. “I always want to be in the game, so I’ve just got to make sure I’m always doing the right thing.”
If he’s trying to always do the right thing, recording 21 points and four blocks is certainly a step in the right direction. But it has to become more consistent – he just can’t let that motor turn off again, especially against Kansas.