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By LARRY VAUGHT
When Kentucky freshman Archie Goodwin is good, he’s very good. When he’s not good, he can sometimes frustrate UK fans perhaps more than any current player.
“He struggled today. He was a little bit out of control, playing too fast,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said after Tuesday’s win over Tennessee. “We are trying to get him to shoot the runner, which when he did, he made it; the one he missed, we rebounded and made.
“So it’s what we have been working on, but we have been working on him to jump, stop; jump stop. So he goes driving down the lane, left his feet and threw a wide-open pass to the corner, I think it was to Julius, I believe it was, for a three, but he left his feet. But we work every day on jump stops, so there are things that, you know, these guys are growing with.”
What do teammates think of his play?
“Archie has been consistent for the most part. He’s scoring when he needs to. He is making jump shots. He is looking for players. He is making more basketball plays. He is playing well for the most part right now,” freshman Alex Poythress said.
Still, he’s being called selfish by some because of his propensity to sometimes force difficult shots and try to finish plays. But remember he is UK’s best playmaker and Calipari has encouraged him to be an aggressive scorer.
I asked ESPN analyst Bruce Pearl, who recruited Goodwin when he was coaching at Tennessee, if he thought Goodwin was selfish.
“There’s not a selfish bone in his body,” Pearl said. “I just think he’s struggling to learn some things, but he’s such an intense competitor and wants his team to win so much that at times he can maybe do too much. But I believe he values winning way over individual numbers.”
So do I and that’s why Goodwin is so important to UK. He’s the team’s best perimeter defense, has shown he can pass the ball and has shown he can hit big-time shots. Has he made mistakes? Absolutely. But so has every other UK player this season.