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“We need Nick”: Richards is the key to UK’s next step

Nick Richards, your team demands your help. Your head coach, John Calipari, said so.

“We need Nick,” Calipari said Tuesday night, following Kentucky’s win over South Carolina, in which Richards played only 11 minutes due to foul trouble (and others playing so well). “Nick has to give us 15 to 20 minutes a game. He’s got to be playing.”

And when Cal says playing, he really means hustling, because Richards can do what no one else can when he is giving maximum effort.

Offensively, Kentucky is all set. If offense was the team’s only need for success, they could proceed on to March without Richards. But Kentucky needs a rim protector and Richards is built for it, more so than anyone else in college basketball.

Against South Carolina, Richards hit an impressive jump hook over the outstretched arms of a defender. It earned a loud roar from the Rupp Arena crowd and from his teammates on the bench. But UK doesn’t need that from him, Cal says.

“It has nothing to do with jump hooks or shots,” Cal told reporters. “I like that because it makes him smile, but get in there and fight like crazy and rebound and block shots and fly up and down this court. Let us throw you lobs. There’s no one in the game of college basketball like him, but he’s got to go perform.”

Calipari recently stopped a practice to call out Richards in front of his teammates, to remind him of how much he is needed for the team to hit another level. They’re constantly pushing him and he’s not far from finding it within himself.

“He’s close,” Cal said Tuesday night. “Just like E.J. I’m telling you, Nick is close. But we can’t do it for him. He’s got to do it for himself. He’s got to prove to himself. Demonstrative performance will build his own confidence.”

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

15 Comments for “We need Nick”: Richards is the key to UK’s next step

  1. Ridge Runner
    5:04 pm February 6, 2019 Permalink

    I like Nick obviously. But.. the dude has the most difficult time being engaged as any player I’ve seen in 2 years or more being with us. I mean if he was a 3 star coming or not as regarded, I could understand a little. But damn, big fella give us at least a few games strung together before you check out on one.

    • J. Did
      5:19 pm February 6, 2019 Permalink

      I completely agree. It’s as if he has trouble focussing. I don’t think it’s him being lazy. Perhaps he has other things on his mind besides the game and that’s limiting his potential.

    • Wade
      7:19 pm February 6, 2019 Permalink

      1 foul and he loses it. It’s not that big a deal just play hard and be focused. You get plenty of fouls. I don’t think 1 person has fouled out this yr.

    • J-Dub421
      5:39 pm February 6, 2019 Permalink

      Nick has only been playing basketball for a few years, so he’s still pretty raw and hasn’t developed basketball instincts yet. He has a ton of talent and potential, but is unsure of himself.

  2. bwise
    5:19 pm February 6, 2019 Permalink

    It’s about time you write a truthful article about nick. Proud of you. Cannot agree more with ridge ^^^. His give a f*** meter seems to be way to low. He also seems confused in what exactly to do most of the time. He’s taller and longer then anybody else on the floor so there is zero reason why he should be directly under the rim, yet most of the time that’s where he is, and that’s why he doesn’t grab 15+ boards a game. But at the end of the day, defensively, with Travis we will run into a center he’s not able to guard and it will end us.

  3. JMFATZ47
    6:00 pm February 6, 2019 Permalink

    It’s a mental block. He gets down on himself

    • Truth_Hurts
      6:04 pm February 6, 2019 Permalink

      It’s nothing mental and it’s not effort. He just focusing on the wrong parts of his game. Just like Cal said. We don’t need him to really score. Just worry about getting as many rebounds as he can and defend the rim.

    • dcforuk
      9:18 pm February 6, 2019 Permalink

      Confidence feeds focus and a lesser amount of confidence feeds less focus. So, I think you are both correct.

    • dcforuk
      9:55 pm February 6, 2019 Permalink

      But, as someone who previously struggled more with confidence, I wish Nick nothing but the best. It must come from the Inside Out and I agree with Cal that Nick is closer and is making strides!

    6:21 pm February 6, 2019 Permalink

    I think the grand scheme complicates matters for Nick. Cal needs to tell him simply run the floor and get the ball. He has elite timing for blocking shots and that timing should translate to rebounding as well. Maybe he’s too soft and gets pushed around when he blocks out…? Experience is the best teacher, but we are at a point in the season where we can no longer afford to play him so he can “learn as he goes”. Hopefully he will find his stride in an upcoming blowout like EJ did last night.

  5. bigbluebanana
    6:49 pm February 6, 2019 Permalink

    Nick will be fine, I believe in him and the team and Cal pushing him. I think he tries harder than he gets credit for, maybe too much sometimes. His 5 star rating was based off potential, and sometimes potential can’t be found within a year or two. I still feel confident he’s ultra close and at least once this postseason, he’s going to be the deciding factor in a close battle…watch.

    • Aar
      8:09 pm February 6, 2019 Permalink

      I agree. We see his brilliance in spurts. He has amazing natural athleticism, timing and talent. We’ve seen each of his skills in spurts. He has a pretty full toolbox. I’m confident that he’ll deliver more consistent output this season

  6. dieden39
    10:33 pm February 6, 2019 Permalink

    One thing he needs to learn the would make him great. Do the coaches work on this with him.WE DO HAVE THE GREATEST COACHES. HE NEEDS TO LEARN TO ROOT PEOPLE OUT WITH HIS HIPS AND SHOULDERS AND keep his hands off their back. He pushes them with his hands to get rebounding position. That is a definite no/no. Again, use hips, shoulders. Knees,shoulders, etc. this from someone who has been there.

  7. Underdog
    12:02 am February 7, 2019 Permalink

    It seems to me that he gets too emotional at times and that negatively impacts his game.

    He gets angry easily.

    I think he’s got elite talent, but he needs to understand there’s no reason to get upset when he fouls or does something stupid. Just go rebound and block shots. The coach is really simplifying it for him.

  8. kjd
    9:12 am February 7, 2019 Permalink

    How about writing about Nick Richards when he becomes the force everyone keeps saying he can be.
    This article is just beating a dead horse.