Kentucky getting extra conditioning help


Kentucky freshman forward PJ Washington celebrates after a dunk during the game against Virginia Tech on Saturday, December 16, 2017 in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 93-86. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Curtis Franklin

Conditioning is key to making it through a college basketball season, just ask P.J. Washington.

Washington, who lost 15 pounds in just 17 days earlier this month, said his game is getting better every day. Head coach John Calipari was the one who shared that information about Washington during a halftime interview in the game against Monmouth, a game in which Washington scored a career-high 20 points. Calipari cited running and conditioning as part of the reason for Washington’s transformation. 

In the following game against Harvard, Washington had played a season-low 18 minutes and scored three points, one point more than his lowest total on the season. He has since eclipsed 30 minutes in the two games afterwards, the first time Washington has done that since playing Vermont in early November.

One of the things that’s helped Washington be able to handle all those minutes is spending more time running for conditioning.

“Of course, I don’t like running at all. But it was good for me, and I’m happy I did that,” Washington said. 

Calipari, who did not mention Washington by name, also said that a few of his guys who needed running and conditioning help had worked with UK track and field coach Edrick Floréal.

That extra conditioning may be coming in handy for Calipari right now, whose team is playing with only an eight-man rotation. Despite this shorter rotation, Calipari says he still wants to press opposing teams, and is using the press to make the team better.

“Just to get us more aggressive,” Calipari said. “If we can make us the aggressor versus them and having us on our heels, I think it’s better for this team.”

The seventh-ranked Kentucky basketball team will be back on the road on Saturday to take on UCLA in New Orleans. It is only the team’s third road trip in 11 games. 

This game, just like the other two road games, will be played at a neutral venue that is the home of an NBA team, the New Orleans Pelicans. The game against Kansas was played in the Chicago Bulls’ United Center, and the Monmouth game was played in New York Knicks’ Madison Square Garden. 

Center Nick Richards says that getting to play on the courts where these NBA teams play is a fun experience.

“It’s actually like a dream come true, to be honest,” Richards said. 

It’ll be the Cats’ last away game that does not take place on an opposing team’s home court. The team’s next away match-up will be at LSU on Jan. 3rd.