Seth Greenberg and Dan Dakich had front row seats to Kentucky’s 4-0 run in the Bahamas and spent the first 15 minutes of their latest podcast raving about John Calipari’s squad, specifically their character and competitiveness. I shared Dakich’s comments about Kentucky’s performance vs. Mega Bemax with you in the post before this one, but here’s more from their conversation.
“The thing that impressed me was the character of the kids,” Greenberg said. “That’s what impressed me. Here’s the deal: the kids take this trip to the Bahamas, they had ten days to practice. They’re playing good competition. Like I said, they didn’t play the Little Sisters of the Poor. They played good teams — not great teams, one team had a chance to get a guy drafted in the NBA — but those kids are lost in the game and they’re lost in each other. That’s what impressed me most. I thought they played really hard for a young group of kids. The hardest thing to do for a young team is to get them to play hard, to redefine playing hard. I thought they played hard.
“The second thing is to get a bunch of guys to play for each other. I can count on a hand how many bad shots I saw them making over those four games. You could see guys really appreciate each other’s success, and finally, this is a talented group. It’s a talented group that plays hard, plays together and some guys emerge. I’m not sure everyone knew that Tyler Herro could make shots, but he showed a floor game. Keldon Johnson was — you called him Miles Bridges, I think he’s more of a wing at this moment in time, but he played really, really hard. You could see how much these kids like ball because when they weren’t practicing or doing walk-throughs, two and a half hours before games, a good majority of those guys were in the gym. Not just in the gym getting up shots. Those dudes were in the gym working on their games, and to me, that said something about them understanding the responsibility of playing at Kentucky and also their passion about getting better.”
Like all of us, Greenberg and Dakich were floored by Sophomore Nick Richards, who averaged 12 points per game and looked like a totally different player than the one we saw last season.
“You fell in love with Nick Richards,” Greenberg said.
“I did!” Dakich said.
“First game, he’s blocking shots, knocking down baseline jumpers, dunking, demanding the ball. Nick Richards looked more comfortable. Like you said, not chin on the rim, but he played with his head up and he believed in himself and he had some success. I think, of any player on that team to have success, I thought Nick Richards was the most important player on Kentucky’s team to walk out of there feeling good about himself.”
“I thought he was really as good a player as Kentucky has on both ends of the court,” Dakich concurred.
Greenberg also praised Kentucky’s other sophomores, PJ Washington and Quade Green, who he said will play a crucial role.
“He struggled,” Greenberg said of Quade. “He was 1-11 the first game. He actually came back after that first game at midnight and got up shots, which is pretty incredible in terms of holding himself accountable. I thought his play, his leadership, his feel, his shot-making, he picked his spots, he made good decisions. And, I thought, as the week went along, PJ Washington did a lot of good things.”
To listen to the podcast yourself, visit ESPN or simply listen below.