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Why Richards and Montgomery are more important than people realize

John Calipari has had great success in his tenure at Kentucky: a record of 305-71 and appearances in seven Elite Eights, four Final Fours and two championship games with one tournament championship. Through it all, there has been one common factor: strong post play.

Since Calipari took the helm for the Cats, they have been top-10 in the nation in total rebounds all but two times – years in which they failed to make the Sweet Sixteen (2015-16) and lost in the first round of the NIT (2013-14). Furthermore, Kentucky has been a top-10 team in blocked shots in all but the 2017-18 season (in which they were ranked 20th) and lost in the Sweet Sixteen. Because of this, getting quality big men is a must for the Cats next year—especially after losing Jaden McDaniels to Washington. As such, having Nick Richards and E.J. Montgomery return should be the priority for the Cats.

Bucknell graduate transfer Nate Sestina will help UK next year, but his impact will be greater as a stretch big (36.4 percent career three-point percentage) than as an enforcer down low (0.7 career blocks per game). Virginia Tech forward Kerry Blackshear (who may join the cats as a transfer or enter the NBA draft) has more versatility than Sestina and is more proven at the Power-5 level. However, Richards and Montgomery not only have more experience running Cal’s system, they have physical tools that can’t be taught.

While neither Montgomery nor Richards saw major action last year, both have better rebounding and block totals per 40 minutes than Blackshear, P.J. Washington or Reid Travis. Richards, in two years alone, has more career blocks (80) than Sestina (70) and Blackshear (73) who have four- and three-years’ experience, respectively.

Furthermore, Richards and Montgomery were first and third on the team in blocks, respectively, despite playing fewer minutes combined than Washington, who was second on the team in that category. Lastly, the duo, though raw, have displayed flashes of shooting ability, with Montgomery hitting two three-pointers last season and Richards shooting better that 70% from the free throw line over his two years.

Sestina will most certainly help the Cats next year, and getting Blackshear would be monumental. However, their styles are not as conducive to success in Calipari’s system as Richard’s and Montgomery’s could be. Of course, both of them need to make improvements and get closer to their potential, but neither has to put up huge numbers—Anthony Davis scored only six points in the national championship but posted 16 boards, five assists, five blocks and three steals.

Because of the way Calipari runs his team, and with the talent he has at the guard spots, Montgomery and Richards are the necessary pieces for a strong interior presence. Blackshear would be a welcome addition, but what Cal really needs are quality rebounders and rim protectors. First and foremost, though, UK has to get them back.

Article written by Hayden Adams

8 Comments for Why Richards and Montgomery are more important than people realize

  1. Bobbum Man
    8:00 pm May 26, 2019 Permalink

    Hopefully everyone knows this cause we’d have nobody over 6’8 without them

  2. krisken63
    8:10 pm May 26, 2019 Permalink

    I think people (fans) do realize how important it is that they come back. The fan base has gotten somewhat numb about it through the past years. We love our team, but never know our lineup. Understandable in the current environment. What is Cal to do?

    8:26 pm May 26, 2019 Permalink

    I don’t KSR is covering the EJ and Nick decisions from enough angles….

  4. kuhlkat
    8:34 pm May 26, 2019 Permalink

    If anyone thinks these guys are more valuable than Blackshear you are nuts. Blackshear makes us a final four favorite. Without him we are a sweet 16 team IMO

    9:58 pm May 26, 2019 Permalink

    If Blackshear does not go to the NBA there is no convincing evidence that he would definitely come to UK.

    But this post definitely implies such.
    (“who may join the Cats as a transfer or join the NBA draft”)

    Except that isn’t the case. ” May transfer to one of the many schools that has shown interest in him or join the NBA draft…”

    Would love Blackshear here but acting like it is a given is incorrect and basically less-than-optimal journalism.

    Then again: Facts are optional.

  6. imabucket
    10:43 pm May 26, 2019 Permalink

    I’m so tired of you crybaby’s botchin about every dam post that you don’t like . I mean don’t read the shiz if that’s the case . And Catandmonkey you do realize he said he MAY join the cats or enter the NBA draft . I always though may was more like a maybe and not a sure thing. Gets your panties out of a wad and move on to a different site . rant over .

    • CATandMONKEY
      12:55 am May 27, 2019 Permalink

      Yes he said MAY and as written it appears that those are the ONLY two choices when utilizing the conjunction OR.
      Good writing is difficult to find. English is difficult for some. Usually the worst writing on this site comes from UK journalism majors.

      I am usually a fan of most things KSR. And have been supporting the majority of their material since day ONE.

      Feel free to stuff your panties up you backside.
      rant over.

  7. UKantholdme
    11:49 pm May 26, 2019 Permalink

    Why do you’ll say such nonsense
    …….. who doesn’t think these two are important???