If you happened to be in the Imperial Ballroom at the Atlantis resort at 2 a.m. Thursday, you would not have been alone.
Quade Green was there, alone except for his sound system. The music was a soundtrack for his shooting shot after shot for about two and a half hours.
Not so coincidentally, Green made only one of 11 shots in Kentucky’s exhibition victory Wednesday.
“Hey, I was ready to work,” Green said. “Kentucky basketball, you got to work.”
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Maybe also not so coincidentally, the extra shooting preceded a revival. Green made four of four shots, including three of three from three-point range, in Kentucky’s victory over San Lorenzo de Almagro on Thursday night.
Rather than solely crediting the extra shooting, Green cited his first shot as significant.
“When I hit the first shot, I think it got everybody hyped,” he said.
Green took UK’s first shot: A three-pointer from the top of the key. It wasn’t a set play, assistant coach Tony Barbee said, but rather a reaction to the expectation that the defender would go under the screen.
When asked if Green’s can-do attitude contributed to him taking the shot, Barbee said, “It was part of that, too. Big part of it.”
A reporter asked Green how he got in the ballroom at 11:45 p.m. Wednesday. “It was open,” he said.
More such candor came when he was asked how he got to the ballroom from the Royal Tower, where UK players were housed.
“I walked,” Green said. “I walked 15 minutes over here. Walked through the casino and came right here.”
Green said he worked to correct a mechanical flaw in his shooting motion.
Barbee saluted Green’s willingness to do extra shooting.
“He struggled yesterday for whatever reason,” Barbee said. “First game out this year. Surroundings are a little different, and nothing could go in. Then next thing you know it pops up on social media Quade was in the gym last night at midnight getting some shots up.
“These guys have learned by example and through the coaching that there’s only one way, and that’s through hard work. And they’re all cut that way. That’s what makes the difference.”
Freshmen Keldon Johnson, Tyler Herro and Immanuel Quickley joined PJ Washington and Green in returning to the Imperial ballroom Thursday night for extra shooting as the midnight hour neared. Jemarl Baker served as one of the rebounders.
After Wednesday’s game, Tyler Herro shied from the label of fan favorite.
“Nah,” he said. “I think we’re all their favorite. What we bring as a team, I think that’s why the Big Blue Nation is going to love us.”
After scoring a team-high 22 points on Thursday, Herro seemed a bit more willing to accept the idea of being a fan favorite.
“I hope I’m a fan favorite,” he said. “I’m just going to continue to play my game and have fun with my teammates.”
Said Barbee of Herro’s reaction to being a fan favorite: “He’s a confident kid. He believes in himself. The thing is he backs it up with his hard work. When you get someone like that you let him go.
“He’s not a real talkative kid. He lets his game do the talking. He’s got a great personality. He’s a funny kid. But he’s growing up in the spotlight. He’ll get more comfortable with it.”
Nick Richards, who struggled through his freshman season, backed up his 19-point game on Wednesday with a 10-point performance Thursday.
“He’s a kid who relies on his confidence,” Barbee said. “When he doesn’t have it, he hasn’t been very good. These first two games, he’s had it. But it’s born out of hard work.
“He’s such a good kid, you can do nothing but cheer him on.”
Setting a tone
When asked which player set the tone for the players’ competitive spirit, Barbee said, “They’re all that way. They’re all cut that way.”
Deb Moore, the associate director of athletics communications and public relations for UK, did double duty. When the public address announcer was late arriving, she announced the playing of the Bahamian national anthem.