CRAWFORD | Richards leads Kentucky in Bahamas opener
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – One of my favorite sayings recently (and I’ll admit, the desire to be polite prevents me from using it as much as I’d like) is this: “Let me stop you right there.”
It’s not that I don’t want to hear what people think. It’s that I’m tired of people jumping the gun. I’m tired of every performance, every event, and in a sports landscape, every little thing, being an indicator of what is to come.
Sometimes it is. It’s worthwhile to break down, for instance, Lamar Jackson’s first game against NFL competition, even if it’s a preseason game. It’s a valid comparison from which some observations can be gleaned.
But when we’re talking about University of Kentucky basketball games in the Bahamas, I’m going to suggest viewing results with a grain of salt.
For instance, the Wildcats went 2-for-20 from three-point range in a glorified ballroom at the Atlantis Resort Wednesday night. Maybe it means there’s work to do on perimeter shooting. My guess is that it was a strange environment, a first time out with a lot of adrenaline, and that we should lay that performance aside until we watch these guys more. A lot more.
That’s pretty much the case for everything.
This is an August exhibition opener. There were people lining up outside the arena three hours before tipoff. The arena was packed – 1,000 miles from Lexington. The game was on national television.
If that’s not an introduction to playing at Kentucky, I don’t know what is.
John Calipari called this trip a “fact-finding” mission and he’ll no doubt find some. But I’m of the belief that trips like this one – especially for a team like Kentucky, that we already know is a very talented group – is what happens off the field, in the hotel rooms and restaurants and on the beaches.
The main thing a team can bring back from a trip like this is chemistry.
But there are a couple of cautious observations that jumped out at just about everybody from Kentucky’s 85-61 victory over the Bahamas National Team Wednesday night.
The first is that Nick Richards looks a ton more comfortable, and has put in some work on his offensive game. Granted, we need to see him against really good competition, but those are things you could observe from practice, where he has been facing pretty stiff competition. On Wednesday, he led the Wildcats with 19 points, went 6-7 from the field and 7-8 from the free-throw line.
“Oh wow,” Calipari said after the game. “Like all the kids, there’s a lot of stuff to grow, but he’s not the same player. I even said, if you made free throws like that, get fouled. Ball fake, don’t fade away. Go to the rim and shoot through people. He played well, blocked some shots.”
P.J. Washington does what he does, despite a bit of an off shooting night (3-9). Freshman Tyler Herro drew raves with his 16 point performance, but Calipari says he’s got a lot of improving to do.
Quade Green went 1-of-11 from the field, 0-6 from three-point range. In the second half, Calipari stuck his head into a timeout huddle.
“I walked down to the huddle for one reason, to tell Quade you better keep shooting the ball,” Calipari said. “ . . . Stay the course. You missed every, single one of them. Now get in the gym. I don’t know what else to tell you.”
With the entire team, Calipari said, “They lost their legs. The game was rough, fast. I’m really happy their national team came at us and didn’t go away and made a run to start the second half so we could see what would happen. They need to learn. I saw some good stuff. I saw some stuff where, wow, we’re going to have to shore this up. . . . But it’s a first game.”
The freshmen got tired, but they’ll get better. It didn’t take a game in the Bahamas to confirm that the raw talent is there.
On this trip, the Wildcats just need to stay healthy and have fun together. The real-life basketball will begin soon enough.
Copyright 2018 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.