By LARRY VAUGHT
During his three-game slump, Willie Cauley-Stein got an unexpected boost from University of Kentucky fans. Rather than second-guessing and criticizing his play, the sophomore center said UK fans offered support.
“I heard a lot of positive things. I was touched by it because last year, that was happening, you’re getting murdered for one because you’re losing,” said Cauley-Stein. “So this year I was kind of like, I’ll just stay off Twitter, but then I was on there and it was real positive. It was good that our fans are here to pick us up.”
Cauley-Stein knows if the team wins, fans will normally be positive.
“It comes with the territory. If you win it’s good. If you lose, then you’re looked at different,” Cauley-Stein said after Saturday’s win over Georgia when he had six blocks, six steals, eight points and three rebounds. “If you’re winning and you play bad then it’s like (it) doesn’t matter because you won. If you’re losing and you play bad then you’re just, you’re terrible. You look like you don’t belong on the floor.
“I think my teammates knew I was going to come out of it, it was just a matter of time of when. I’ve had a really good couple days of practice and I felt like my normal self. Other times in practice I was just kind of out there going through the motions. And this time I was actually juiced and ready to get back to producing.”
He was also happy to see how well other players played when he struggled.
“That’s one thing that I did do when I was in that slump, I wasn’t down on the team, like, ‘Ah the team is playing good and I’m playing bad. This sucks.’ But I was like, ‘Shoot, if I’m not playing good, don’t play me. Give the other guys a chance. If they’re playing good, keep them in there. Don’t even put me back in because clearly, we’ve got a lot of talent so it doesn’t matter who’s on the floor because you’re still going to produce,’” Cauley-Stein said.
“We still got a lot of guys that can do some things so it was real nice to me that I still cheer on the team if I’m playing bad. That’s what we do, be your brother’s keeper. If I’m playing bad and Dakari (Johnson) is playing good, I’m (going to) tell Coach, ‘You got to play him, he’s balling right now.’ And the last couple of games, he’s been balling. I’m happy for him.
“After the game in past games it was like they (teammates) would look at you and didn’t know if they could approach you or not because you had a bad game. Most of the times when you have a bad game, you’re not really approachable. But I took it to heart and my teammates are still out here balling. I’m going to still support them even if I’m playing bad.”