John Calipari has noticed the change. Even after Camp Cal, Poythress still lacked intensity and has shown questionable effort at times. He didn’t start against Louisville. After the loss to the Cardinals, Cal said that Poythress was going to have to earn minutes from here on out. He was a good kid and all, but he didn’t go hard enough. He’s only 18 years old and he hasn’t figured it out yet.
Today in his press conference, John Calipari addressed the Poythress issue by informing everyone that he was taking Poythress under his wing and working with him in individual workouts:
Two days, yesterday and today. After today’s practice I told him, ‘I’m proud of you.’ It was a 27 minute workout. Yesterday that 27 minutes was about 38 minutes. Today, he cut it down because he just – the mental part of being … you can’t break down when you just feel that you’re tired. So, anytime he breaks down, he has to go again on the stuff that we’re doing. It’s all stuff relevant to him, that’s going to help him in the games.
He’s doing the same thing with Ryan (Harrow) and Archie (Goodwin) prior to practice. I’m doing it at a different time with them. We’re doing the stuff with Kyle (Wiltjer): got to get tougher, man. He’s doing some stuff. A lot of that is mental too. Toughness doesn’t mean you’re throwing elbows and tripping and biting. A lot of times it’s just that you’re mentally tough enough to see a loose ball with two minutes left in a close game and you will dive on that floor because you’re mentally tough. Or you can, like, back away. There’s thing that this team as individual players has to do.
Ryan Harrow had one on one workouts with Cal and said it did wonders for his confidence. Harrow is playing the best basketball on the team right now.
Calipari has a knack for encouraging players with optimism and positivism. He is the anti-Bobby Knight. Poythress does not have the personality that would respond to a drill sergeant. Cal is taking the right approach with him and we will hopefully see a more aggressive worker in SEC play.
Alex Poythress is a wonderful kid with unmatched ability. It’s up to Cal to add intensity and a sense of urgency.