Can PJ Washington be like Draymond Green?
If PJ Washington needs a role model for how to play basketball, Kentucky Coach John Calipari has someone in mind.
“A great guy for him to watch and emulate is Draymond Green,” Calipari said after UK defeated Louisville on Friday.
Of course, Green’s versatility — and perhaps his volatility — as a forward keys the Golden State Warriors.
“Draymond is not a bully,” Calipari said. “But he can be. He will be. But that’s not what his game is. If he’s open, he’s shooting (the) three. He’s making free throws.”
Aside from filling up a box score, Green also brings an enthusiasm for the game, Calipari said.
“The entire time Draymond has a spirit about him that drags everybody else,” the UK coach said. “See, your body language screams. It screams. And you can drag people one way or do what Draymond does and drag them the other way to get them more inspired (and) wanting to play.
“I’m just telling PJ, ‘Be that guy.’”
Washington had 16 points, seven rebounds, two assists and a block against the Cardinals.
As for being UK’s Draymond Green, Washington said, “He’s a great player. I love the way he brings energy to the game.”
When asked if he was a fan, Washington said, “I watch him. I don’t really look up to him.”
Washington said he was unaware that Calipari saw Green as a fitting role model.
“I’ve never heard him compare me to him,” he said. “I don’t even know what to say about that.”
Quade Green suggested that Washington is well on the way to being like Draymond Green.
“He’s like that now,” Quade Green said. “He can dribble, pass, shoot, get to the foul line. He demands. He’s aggressive. I see the same potential in him.”
Statistically, Washington is ahead of Draymond Green. As a freshman for Michigan State, Green averaged 3.3 points and 3.3 rebounds.
After the Louisville game, Washington is averaging 10.3 points and 5.5 rebounds.
Calipari said he liked the smaller lineup that included Hamidou Diallo, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Green on the perimeter.
Green liked it, too.
“Playing with three guards (is) unstoppable,” he said. “I can go on the wing and hit some shots. (Gilgeous-Alexander) can drive. I can drive. Hami can drive.
“Kevin (Knox) at ‘four,’ that’s a mismatch for the (opposing) big man because no one can guard Kevin.”
Green played without the protective glasses he had worn since getting poked in the eye against Monmouth. He said he was glad to no longer need them.
“They were cool at the time,” he said. “Now, it’s grind time. Everything is good now.”
Earlier this month, Green said Kentucky would give its fans a Christmas present by beating Louisville. After UK won, he said this caught the attention of Calipari, who challenged Green to back up the words with action.
“‘You better play your game; we better win,’” Green recalled Calipari saying. “‘If not, you’re going to get all this hell.’”
Green made no secret of the relief that came with this victory.
“We had to win …,” he said. “If we had lost, I would have gotten a lot of heat.”
‘We stopped them’
Louisville brought a six-game winning streak to Rupp Arena. In those games, U of L made 47 percent of its shots ( 38.7 percent from three-point range).
U of L’s 34.8-percent shooting against UK was its second-worst accuracy of the season (31.7 percent against Purdue).
“We stopped them,” Washington said. “They couldn’t really score toward the end of the game.”
Rick who? Part II
On Thursday, Calipari said his players probably would not notice the absence of longtime Louisville coach Rick Pitino.
When asked after the game how it felt not to see Pitino on the opposing bench, Calipari said, “I’m going to be honest with you. I was so worried about the game … that never entered my mind.”
How quickly they forget. UK’s game notes said it was the third-largest margin of victory in series history. Only UK’s 91-57 victory in 1947-48 and 76-46 victory in 1999-2000 had a larger margin of victory.
UK forgot about the Big Brother-Little Brother game on Dec. 27, 1986. With freshman Rex Chapman leading the way, UK beat U of L 85-51 in Freedom Hall.
UK had not scored as many as 90 points against U of L since a 103-89 victory on Dec. 28, 1991. … Quentin Snider, whose 22 points led Louisville to victory over Kentucky last season, scored only seven points. That snapped a streak of scoring double-digit points in seven straight games. He needs 62 points to reach 1,000 in his career. … Calipari improved his record against Louisville as UK coach to 9-2.
Georgia at No. 16 Kentucky
6 p.m. Sunday (ESPN)