By LARRY VAUGHT
He’s been called a “beast” by Kentucky coach John Calipari. Now Northern Kentucky coach Dave Bezold has another term — “monster.”
“He is just physically so gifted and a special player. He is like all young kids, if he works really, really hard he is going to be special at this level and the next one, too. He is one guy that we really couldn’t physically matchup with right now,” said Bezold after Randle had 22 points, 14 rebounds and three assists in Sunday’s 93-63 victory.
Here’s part of what Randle had to say after Sunday’s win.
Question: What do you think of your statistics after two games in which you have had double-doubles both games?
Randle: “I’m still missing a lot of opportunities. A lot of balls I should come up with. I think I missed like four free throws today, so I’m still leaving a lot out there. I’ve just got to learn from it and improve.”
Question: What led to UK dominating the boards so much against Northern Kentucky?
Randle: “Coaches have just been really getting onto us about rebounding. I think we’re crashing the offensive glass a lot better and we’re just … the greatest teacher can be experience, so we have games under our belt and we’re improving every game.”
Question: What did Calipari say to you on the bench during the game when Alex Poythress scored on a follow basket?
Randle: “He was just challenging me saying that’s got to be me on the offensive glass like that. I’ve got to accept the challenge and keep going.”
Question: What does he think about the big stage for Tuesday night’s game in Chicago against Michigan State?
Randle: “I think people are going to look at that way as long as it’s a positive. I’m looking at in a way of people think we’re inexperienced, we’re young, they don’t know what to expect from us in that game. I look at it as a way to show that we are ready, that we came here to do what we said we were going to do. That game is going to be a big challenge for us, but guys are going to step up.”
Question: What about freshmen Andrew Wiggins of Kansas and Jabari Parker of Duke also playing in the Champions Classic?
Randle: “I’m not worried about that. I’m worried about getting the win. Coach puts me in great positions to showcase myself, but at the end of the day I want to win that game bad.”
Question: What about Wiggins, who is considered the best candidate to be the No. 1 draft pick next summer along with him?
Randle: “I honestly truly haven’t really thought about it, to be completely honest. I’m so focused on this team and what Coach expects of us, I haven’t even thought about it.”
Question: How eager is he to face a team as good as Michigan State?
Randle: “If you love competition, there is no bigger stage than that.”
Question: Does Calipari mean it when he says UK is not ready to play a team like Michigan State?
Randle: “You guys have known him longer than me, so you tell me.”
Question: Are you getting used to Calipari expecting more from you and has anyone ever coached you quite like him?
Randle: “I’m used to it, but he’s right though. I just got to keep getting better. Never in my life has anyone ever held me accountable like Coach, but he’s doing it for the right reasons and I really appreciate it.”
Question: How does he draw so many fouls?
Randle: “I’ve done it my whole life. It’s not anything new to me. I’ve just got to continue making free throws.”
Question: Will free throw shooting be an issue for this team?
Randle: “I think we’ll shoot a lot of free throws because we have guys who can shoot the ball as well as drive. We’ve just got to make them. I don’t think it will be an issue making free throws. Everybody can clearly shoot free throws on this team. We’ve just got to relax and knock them down.”
Question: Will the new rules emphasis result in more free throws all season?
Randle: “I don’t think so. I think as the season goes on everybody will adjust to it. Something similar happened like that in the NBA where there was a lot of fouls called early in the season, but the players adjusted to it I think. It’ll be alright.”