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Why Reid Travis being out for a few weeks will make Kentucky stronger in March

To the common fan, yesterday’s news that Reid Travis will have to miss at least two weeks with a sprained right knee would seem like a blow for Kentucky; however, you’re not the common fan. You’re a Kentucky fan, which means you know the game better than most, so you realize that this could be a blessing in disguise for the Cats as we get closer to March.

Will Reid being out affect the Cats in the short term? Obviously. The two-week time frame includes games vs. Auburn, Arkansas, Tennessee, Ole Miss, and potentially Florida. Not having Reid will hurt in some cases more than others. Auburn and Ole Miss are both guard-oriented teams, so Kentucky can afford to play a smaller lineup. Reid had a huge impact on the Tennessee game because he took care of Grant Williams down low, allowing PJ Washington to shine. Having Reid would certainly help Kentucky contain Arkansas’ Daniel Gafford; however, not having him will force Kentucky’s three other bigs, namely Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery to step up.

How many times have we heard John Calipari say that Nick Richards is the key to Kentucky winning a national championship? Countless. Throughout the season, Richards has made baby steps of progress here or there, but continues to be inconsistent. Same thing for EJ Montgomery, who, at times, has shown glimpses of being a transformational player for the Cats. Remember his 11-point, 13-rebound performance vs. South Carolina?  Nick and EJ are averaging 10.7 and 13.9 minutes per game, respectively; those numbers will most certainly go up in Reid’s absence. With the brass ring of minutes in front of them, the hope is both will elevate their games and build their confidence.

“One guy’s misery is another guy’s opportunity,” Cal said on last night’s call-in show. “So now you have Nick and EJ, now you have that opportunity to get extended minutes. Now, any clutter you were hearing — you should be playing more, etc. — alright, now there it is.”

A better Nick and EJ will lead to a better Kentucky. The most obvious area in which they can contribute is rim protection. Kentucky’s 24th in the country in blocks, with 4.85 per game. Nick leads the team with 1.3 blocks per game, followed by PJ Washington with 1.1 and EJ with 1.0. On offense, that jump hook Nick showed off in the Tennessee game could become a deadly weapon.

“That jump hook he has, unstoppable,” Cal said. “His ability to block shots, his ability to go get rebounds that other players can’t get because he’s seven foot tall.”

On the flip side, if EJ can hone that jump shot he’s shown us on occasion, he could be a matchup nightmare, but with Reid out, Calipari just wants him to focus on the glass.

“At the end of the Missouri game I thought EJ was fabulous against [Jeremiah] Tilmon. He sat him down, he used his quickness, he used his length and he stopped trying to mud wrestle. In EJ’s case, be that active guy, be that secondary scorer. Put yourself in position to go get rebounds, make us different. Reid gave us that. Well, guess what EJ, you’re going to have to give us some of that now.”

With Reid in the middle, PJ Washington’s been able to showcase other parts of his games, such as his three-point shot, but with Reid out, he’s going to have to move back inside.

“I told PJ, now you’ve got to be that guy. We have no one else to go roughhouse. You have to be that guy. And that’s what’s going to make it hard for PJ but let’s just hope he has to hold the fort down for a couple of weeks and we get Reid back and go.”

Maybe even further than we would have gone before.


Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

31 Comments for Why Reid Travis being out for a few weeks will make Kentucky stronger in March

  1. bigbluebanana
    5:40 pm February 21, 2019 Permalink

    Yep! 100% agree. May be equal to the change Quade’s transfer made, which was very positive.

    • Ridge Runner
      6:35 pm February 21, 2019 Permalink

      Yes BBB and you made this point here in another thread before many. Tip of the hat sir.

  2. Ridge Runner
    6:36 pm February 21, 2019 Permalink

    Nick, I love ya bud. Make my worries disappear.

  3. BBNnCLE
    6:49 pm February 21, 2019 Permalink

    Reid Travis sprains knee; out at least 2 weeks. Zion day-to-day. Count me as skeptical. Now watch K do everything in his power to destroy Zion’s NBA career before it even starts. He doesn’t give a damn about Zions knee it’s all about winning. Remember him saying he doesn’t coach losers? He’ll say the same thing to Zion if he wises up and decides he wants to sit out.

    • 4everUKblue
      7:36 pm February 21, 2019 Permalink

      Well said BBNnCLE. I think maybe 20 or so yrs ago K had a sliver of integrity but he let all the praise go to his head and now he’s had the best roster top to bottom the 3 yrs (not counting this yr) and we all know how those three seasons turned out. He is all about winning at any cost regardless if it is in the best interest of the players or not and even at their expense, he has zero integrity.

  4. Kat4Life
    6:54 pm February 21, 2019 Permalink

    First of all, glad Reid is fine. But I love the added playing time for EJ and Nick, and the high expectations we have of them at this time of the year is just part of playing at UK. If we intend to make a deep run in the NCAA tourney (we do) then we’ll need both of them on the court 8-12 mins a game, for their fouls if nothing else, and that time could be wildly productive (ie Devin Booker, Tyler Ulis). These upcoming games will be extremely valuable in the long run.

  5. J. Did
    6:57 pm February 21, 2019 Permalink

    Perhaps ….the tweak….

  6. catsarerunnin
    7:03 pm February 21, 2019 Permalink

    I still LOVE my team!

  7. Ridge Runner
    7:05 pm February 21, 2019 Permalink

    Just a thought but ummm,…
    Kentucky recently partnered with Nike for an exclusive PG 2.5 team colorway. Can we like shelve these for awhile?

  8. shelby
    7:10 pm February 21, 2019 Permalink

    Disagree, especially if his absence costs us just one game b4 he comes back. In this instance we drop a seed line or possibly lose the yum regional. Not to mention his missing 4 games will upset the chemistry and continuity we’ve built. Also, every game and practice he misses sets back his conditioning and timing. There is ZERO positive to Reid’s injury.

    • John Capilari
      7:31 pm February 21, 2019 Permalink

      Totally agree. Only silver lining is IF it doesn’t cost us games/seed and nick/EJ get better with more PT.

    • syrin23
      7:39 pm February 21, 2019 Permalink

      I don’t see how two games turn EJ and Nick into better players. They need 30 games playing 25 minutes per game with a bunch of practice in between.

  9. kyinsider
    8:35 pm February 21, 2019 Permalink

    Hmmm… think I wrote the same thing earlier on

    • KayutsBy90
      8:43 pm February 21, 2019 Permalink

      I’ve seen many people with this take since Reid went down. Also I always see you on this website, I haven’t seen them on yours….

    • CATandMONKEY
      3:07 am February 22, 2019 Permalink

      Yeah… not impressed. A random poster mentioned it on here within one hour of the game finishing Tuesday night. Not really that much of a hot take.

  10. KYjellyRoll
    9:15 pm February 21, 2019 Permalink

    Gotta think positive. Reid is out for 2 weeks, he will still be with the team in practice and games

  11. Brad
    3:28 am February 22, 2019 Permalink

    Reid is a kid you can plug in because he still going to carve his space. He still going to be in the right place. Chemistry wont get upset in 2 weeks. Come on now lol

    • IrishCat
      8:34 am February 22, 2019 Permalink

      For real.

  12. ScoggDog
    4:05 am February 22, 2019 Permalink

    Its amazing that more coaches don’t elect to take a key piece out of the starting lineup … five games before the end of the regular season … given all this positive growth that’s bound to happen.

  13. cincinnaticat
    5:05 am February 22, 2019 Permalink

    it ain’t good folks….they lost a leader, a tough guy, a rebounder and a secondary scorer in one fell swoop. NR has never shown the consistency to do it every game, and EJ is still finding his way. The two of them for 40 minutes does not equal 30 minutes of RT….They lose a one seed but it doesn’t matter really cuz they are still good enough to win #9.

  14. RealCatsFan
    7:59 am February 22, 2019 Permalink

    We will just have to see, won’t we? Pro’s and con’s either way. I prefer to be positive instead of negative. I remember a lot of chicken little talk when Quade left, and I have to confess I was one of them to a degree. But the change in Ashton’s game was almost immediate. I am a bit worried about Auburn having their big boy back – remember, he was out when we played them earlier. GO CATS!

    • secrick
      8:57 am February 22, 2019 Permalink

      Your right RCF it could go either way. Me, I would rather have Reid healthy and ready to go, he takes lots of pressure of PJ but you have got to think positive.

  15. KYjellyRoll
    8:49 am February 22, 2019 Permalink

    I’m not worried. Reid is fine and ej has the will to step up. Most of his problem has been getting taken out of the game too often to really get going.

  16. hohum
    9:00 am February 22, 2019 Permalink

    Nick Richards needs to learn how to be strong with the ball when it is in his hands – he loses it too many times (butterfingers); and he needs to stop falling for the ball fakes, head fakes and pump fakes; and play better position defense without fouling. If he improves in the aforementioned areas then I like our chances for a National Title!

    • ClutchCargo
      9:04 am February 22, 2019 Permalink

      Agree. That one small tweak (staying on the floor in defensive position instead of going for the block on his man) would make all the difference for him.

  17. ClutchCargo
    9:01 am February 22, 2019 Permalink

    I think it’s a bit of a stretch to declare this a good thing. But it could definitely prove to be not as much of a bad thing if EJ and Nick step up. If getting those guys going with extended playing time is the key, that option has always been there.

  18. cking
    9:18 am February 22, 2019 Permalink

    EJ & Nick will be fine…

    I believe if they are going to hold the line while Reid is out, Teams tgen make a run then look no farther them Keldon. He has to be more engaged than he was against Missouri if we have a chance at Tenn or Ole miss.

  19. Swizzle
    9:39 am February 22, 2019 Permalink

    He’ll be back for Tennessee, and itll help some.

  20. makeitstop
    12:26 pm February 22, 2019 Permalink

    I like the “there must be a pony in here somewhere” storyline but 2 weeks is a long time, so the sooner he gets back the better. It can’t help but effect chemistry. They are just learning each other’s tendencies and moves and re-assembling that during the SEC tourney will be a challenge. It’s a different team without him, and whoever said Keldon is the key to how well we weatger it is right. The team changes, it will have to move the ball faster and establish more tempo to get the ball to PJ. Nick can’t clear a space like Reid, it’s not as simple as “center out/center in, new guy just has to play like old guy.” Not going to happen. They hv to make the best of a bad situation, but don’t be upset when it looks like they have no idea how to run a half court offense for a half, and get outworked on the glass at the other end for awhile.

    • makeitstop
      12:31 pm February 22, 2019 Permalink

      Btw – I like our chances without Reid better than Duke without Zion, bc as good as RJ is, they are not deep and there’s no backup for a monster like Zion, so that’s my pony in here perspective. Boeheim had a terrible day yesterday it would be nice to cheer him up w an effective 2:3 zone and an upset.