Since he joined the team a year ago, everyone wants to know when Tai Wynyard’s going to play. Well, he’s playing. Last night, Tai logged a career-high 12 minutes, and although he didn’t score any points, John Calipari was very pleased with the wood chopper’s toughness.
“I thought Tai Wynyard was good today. The one thing you get with Tai, he’s going to mix it up. He’s going to be physical. He’s going to push on people. The problem is he pushed on the one where we made the three and hadn’t even shot the ball and he’s pushing the guy out of bounds. But we need that on this team. We need a little more toughness.”
Calipari specifically wants more toughness from Bam Adebayo, who has requested to play against Tai in practice because he’s so physical. Last night, Bam praised Wynyard, who may be passing Isaac Humphries as his backup.
“I think Tai did well,” Bam said. “I love him to death. He played good. He played great and he gave us good minutes.”
This morning, ESPN’s Myron Medcalf posted a great profile of Wynyard’s journey from New Zealand to Lexington, in which Wynyard said he gets his toughness from his dad, a world champion lumberjack who once chopped his toe off during a relay chopping competition but kept going. Since he arrived in Lexington, we’ve joked that Wynyard needs to teach his teammates the famous Haka war dance, but he told Medcalf they don’t understand how serious it is.
“They always try to get me to do it, but you can’t really do it over here,” Wynyard said. “It’s just different. Some things they’re saying [in the haka] is ‘I’m going to rip your head off and eat it.’ It’s not just, like, a fun dance. It’s scary.”
Which is exactly why this group needs to learn it.