By LARRY VAUGHT
Going into the season the hope was that freshman Johnny Juzang would be a 3-point shooter that Kentucky needed.
Instead, he has not played the last three games due to a “virus” and has not had big minutes in any game since getting 22 on Dec. 7 in a win over Fairleigh Dickinson.
Kentucky assistant coach Kenny Payne said Tuesday that Juzang is “getting better” and is now at least back practicing.
“Got to work him back into the rotation and see where he helps us. It starts with defense. I know everybody wants to talk about his shooting and he’s known as a shooter, but we need guys that can defend and get us stops,” Payne said.
On his weekly radio show Monday, Kentucky coach John Calipari said he had “no intention” of playing Juzang in Saturday’s win over Alabama even though he was back on the bench.
“He had a virus and we had not seen him for a week (before the game),” Calipari said.
The UK coach joked the only way he was going to put Juzang in the game was to give the virus to Alabama.
“I don’t stick a guy in to try it. We are (not) 8 year olds. Everybody plays,” Calipari said. “I am coaching to win. He is going to do great. But this is hard.
“When you are not playing extended minutes and not getting 20 shots and you are used to playing that way, it’s a totally different … you could go 0-for-6 (from the field) but I doubt you get seven (shots).”
Calipari estimated no on on this year’s team is taking more than 13-14 shots per game. Actually, freshman Tyrese Maxey leads the team at just over 11 shots per game. No one else averages more than 8. 5 (Ashton Hagans).
“Most of theses guys to a man were used to shooting 25 times (a game in high school). They have to learn to share and be about one another,” Calipari said. “It’s not just me shooting balls. We have to do this together.
“Most of these kids professionally will be not volume shooters. You have to learn that or you don’t make it (in the NBA).”