Over the past few weeks, John Calipari has insisted that Nick Richards is the key to Kentucky becoming a championship caliber squad; tonight, we saw why.
The sophomore big man finished with four points, seven rebounds and three blocks in 15 minutes, which may not sound like the best stat line in the world, but his impact went beyond the box score. After Kentucky’s starters allowed Georgia to own the middle with five dunks in the first six minutes, Nick came in and helped reestablish Kentucky’s post presence, blocking three shots and drawing two charges. Calipari was pleased…mostly.
“The only thing he did one time, he left the basket to go block a shot he had no chance of getting that opened up the rim for a tip in. We don’t want him doing that. We want him around the goal, and if the guy puts his head down and keeps coming, take the charge. But, we’ve been working on charging and loose balls every day for the last ten days because three games prior to this, I don’t think we took a charge.”
As has been the case his entire career, Nick’s issue is confidence. Performances like this one will go a long way to helping him bust out of his shell.
“I’ve got — I’ll give you an example. Nick Richards, who was unbelievable today. We’ve got guys who are too — there’s some anxiety, they’re pressing personally. ‘I’ve gotta have, I’ve gotta play, if I don’t take –‘ Well, then you can’t play. Nick led the troops with that, that anxiety, that pressure. Pressing himself. He just played today. Now, he scored four points but it doesn’t matter. Anybody would want him on their team.”
Maybe he should start. Just saying.