By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky has plenty of weapons this year but coach John Calipari wants to see if he can’t add one more — guard Mychal Mulder.
He gave the senior guard an extended look during Sunday night’s 93-59 win over Duquesne and Mulder responded with a career-high 13 points, four rebounds, one assist and one blocked shot in 20 minutes. He was 5-for-11 overall from the field and 3-for-8 from 3-point range. The rest of the Cats were 4-for-18 from 3-point range.
“He did fine. He had four rebounds in the minutes he had in the first half. He still puts his body up on people, he still gets turned down and he’ll get beat baseline at times. But, like I said, because he made big strides today. He made a shot or two. Then he missed two shots. Now normally we have all watched, he would never go make another shot until maybe the next game. He made one,” Calipari said.
“He came off of a side screen and he made a shot. That was a big step for him. I’ve got to feel comfortable and he’s got to feel comfortable. If I miss a shot, you can leave me in the game, I’m going to make the next one. It can’t be OK, he missed two, he’s done. Might as well take him out, stick a fork in him. He, today, made that shot. It was a big, big step for him.
“I told him this week I was going to give him an opportunity because he’s been here now a year and a couple months, and he’s the one guy that hasn’t been on that court to give a chance to go play. The guys in front of him have always been better than him. But now, alright, let him get that chance to play and that’s why we did it. ”
Because he had played well in practice and Calipari had indicated he might get in earlier, Mulder was ready when he had a chance to get into the game.
“I had a good idea what was going on. I was productive in my minutes. I could have rebounded a little better in the second half. I was thinking about that. But defense is still an area I am working on. I am just looking to improve,” Mulder said.
He knows his defense has to improve even if he makes 3-point shots or he won’t play.
“He just wants me to be tough, to be defensively confident. He just wants us to focus on offense and defense and just keep rebounding the ball,” Mulder said.
Mulder says it’s not pressure when Calipari gives him an opportunity to play.
“I’ve been here awhile. Just been patient, just kind of trying to work my way into the rotation for awhile now. I appreciate him trying to give me an opportunity,” Mulder said.
Teammates believe in Mulder, a junior college transfer last year.
“We have a lot of confidence in him because he’s been making a lot of shots in practice, and we know he can make shots in the game. We have a lot of confidence in him. We know he’s going to work hard every time he gets in,” freshman Malik Monk said.