By LARRY VAUGHT
During Kentucky’s loss to UCLA on Saturday, senior Mychal Mulder did not play. All 40 minutes, he sat and watched.
On Wednesday night against Valparaiso, he got in for 16 minutes and made the most of it. He went 4-for-10 from the field and had nine points, seven rebounds, two assists, one blocked shot and no turnovers.
“It was fun. That was a really good team. We were looking forward to the competition, and an opportunity to bounce back. We’ve been waiting to get back to competition and we’ve been working real hard in practice. We were happy with the results,” Mudler said after the game.
He said not playing against UCLA did not provide any extra motivation — but I’m not sure about that.
“I go into every game motivated, regardless of the (opponent). I was motivated in practice, kept working hard. I didn’t really let that bother me at all,” Mulder said. “If he (Calipari) thought the matchup just wasn’t good or whatever his thought process was on that, that’s his choice to make and I respect that.
“I was just ready for my opportunity, and when that came today I tried to make the most of it, as I do every time I get an opportunity on the court. Just moving forward, continuing to work hard in practice and prove myself of why I should play.”
Calipari said he had a playing rotation in mind going into the game that included Mulder being on the court at the same time as Isaiah Briscoe.
“Isaiah makes Mychal comfortable. Isaiah figures out ways of getting him shots he can make and Isaiah will talk to him through defense and help him. He just makes him more comfortable on the court. As we sub, when Isaiah Briscoe comes out, the next time he goes back in, I’ll usually put Mike with him,” Calipari said.
“Mychal was good, too. Mychal walked in the game and tipped a ball so that we could rebound and get a play. Then there’s not pressure on you. If you’ll defend, scramble, hustle and dive on the floor, you don’t have to make shots all the time.You can stay in the game. If you’re not going after balls, you’re getting beat on defense and you miss two shots, you won’t believe this. We’re trying to win. Then you can’t stay in the game.”