LEXINGTON - He knows the naysayers are out there and that even some Kentucky fans have not been happy with his play. However, Kentucky freshman Archie Goodwin continues to insist only one thing - winning - matters to him.
“I don’t pay attention to that (criticism). As long as we get the win, that’s the most important thing out of everything,” said Goodwin Saturday after UK held off LSU 75-70. “The rest will take care of itself. You are always going to have those negative people, but I don’t pay attention to them and I just continue to focus on the inner core of our team and make sure that we get better.”
He is averaging a team-high 14.6 points per game and has a team-high 15 games in double figures. He also adding 5.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game while shooting 43 percent from the field. He’s taken 214 shots — 45 more than anyone else — but has also shot 125 free throws — 35 more than any other Wildcat.
Calipari wrote on www.coachcal.com Sunday that Goodwin is “totally invested in this program” and is the first one to arrive for practice and last to leave and is his own worst critic. Calipari compared him to DeAndre Liggins, another player who had a habit of putting his head down, not passing and trying to drive. “What he’s always relied on is putting his head down, being more athletic than the other guy and being a little longer, which allowed him to get layups. That’s what he reverts to when the game gets hairy,” Calipari said on the website.
Calipari said Goodwin is not allowed to shoot layups in practice and is also being pushed to use his skills to become a better defender. However, the coach wishes fans were not being as hard on Goodwin as some have been.
“Do you understand that he may be the youngest freshman in the country? He just turned 18,” Calipari said on coachcal.com “It’s hard for me to get upset with a player who absolutely wanted to play for me and Kentucky, and who has a focus to get better ... At the end of the day, he cares about his teammates and he’s frustrated he’s not picking things up quicker. Old habits are hard to break, but he’s doing everything he can to break them, so let’s get behind him.”
Goodwin insisted the fan/media criticism is not bothering him because he doesn’t let it.
“I am listening to what coach Cal says and the team. As far as what the fans or people around here say or people (in the media) who are being negative towards us, that doesn’t bother me because they are not out there playing with us. They are just spectators and want to always down people, especially at a place like this. They want to see us fail. So, I don’t pay attention to that, don’t care for it and don’t listen to it,” Goodwin said.
Here’s what else the freshman had to say after Saturday’s win.
Question: What did you think of the way Alex Poythress played?
Goodwin: “That’s Alex at his best when he is a beast. He played so efficient. It is hard for us to lose when he plays like that, 20 (points) and 12 (rebounds). Coach has been really hard on him about playing better. It’s not that he hasn’t been playing good, it’s just effort and you see what happened when he gives it on a night like this when he has a very good game. He rebounded great and was very efficient and helped us a lot. He was the reason we won.”
Question: Is John Calipari accurate when he says Poythress feels tortured because of how hard he has been on him in practice?
Goodwin: “He gets into Alex. Every day in practice he has to do a lot. It has just been building up to a situation like this to get him to come out and excel like he did. I am very happy for him. I know what he has been through. It’s like sometimes you feel sorry for the things he has to do in practice because we all work hard and we know he wants it just as much as we do even if sometimes it might not look like it. To see him come out and play this way makes everybody’s day better. We all want it so bad for him and obviously he wants it for himself. He gets it worse (from Calipari) than anybody else. Not even close.”
Question: Was it nice to see Poythress actually smiling and pumping his fist on the court?
Goodwin: “The old Alex no matter if he makes the most spectacular play in the world, his head is going down. So it is just does something to us to see him have his head up. It just makes our energy go a lot higher than what it is. But like coach Cal says, seeing him with his head down can drain energy from the team no matter how good we are doing. Just him being part of us yelling and smiling and doing things like that lets us know he is having a good time and makes it even more fun for us.”
Question: How do you feel that you played?
Goodwin: “I think I did alright. I missed a few free throws that I should have made and I could have made a couple more plays, but as long as we ge the win that is all that really matters.”
Question: Were you looking to pass more?
Goodwin: “Yeah, I was just trying to get my teammates more involved. I know the way I play and attack that they are going to pack the lanes in and leave my guys open for open shots. Just get it to them so they can knock them down.”
Question: Does it help that Calipari is willing to take blame for losses and tells the team just to go play?
Goodwin: “It just lets us play ball. Of course, he is not taking credit (for wins) because that is just the kind of guy he is. But at the end of the day, people are not going to try and hear that. Just for him to try and do the things he does by taking the credit for us losing shows the type of character he is. He is all for his players. When losses happen, he doesn’t want us to feel ashame of them because he feels like it is his fault. But in reality we know it is our fault.
“It helps take the pressure off. When he says things like that, some people will go with it and some don’t and still blame the players. It is at the end our fault because we were the ones playing. It can go either way. It just depends on how much you look into the things people say. Are you focusing on the team? Like a guy like me, I don’t care what nobody else says.
Question: Are there players who struggle with that?
Goodwin: “If there was I wouldn’t know about because our guys don’t play much into the media. In season we are just trying to focus on ourselves and our team and getting better.”
Question: Did you ever feel tortured by what Calipari is putting you through daily?
Goodwin: “No, because I know eventually things will work out for me the way I want them to because I am going to continue to listen to him and I am a hard worker. I will let that take care of itself. As far as feeling tortured, no I don’t feel tortured because I know he is doing it all in the best interest of trying to help me out.”
Question: Has this whole process been tougher than you thought it would be this year?
Goodwin: “It is a lot tougher than what I thought it would. I thought it would be tough coming in, but it has exceeded those expectations of how hard I thought it would be. It is something I am glad he (Calipari) is doing for us because it won’t do anything but help us in the long run.”
Question: How close is this team to reaching its potential?
Goodwin: “I don’t know. I think we still have a little ways to go, especially with one of our guys (Willie Cauley-Stein) out right now. But once we get him back and get him back in the groove of things, we have to continue to communicate on the court and continue to figure guys out it is going to be something special.”
Question: Does this team sometimes play not to lose?
Goodwin: “I would say somewhat, but it is just a matter of us executing and knowing we have each other’s back no matter what happens. As soon as we figure out that no matter what happens we have each other’s back, then I think that will go away.”
Question: What kind of instructions do Calipari give you to make that last foul with under three seconds to play and UK leading 73-70?
Goodwin: “He just said to make sure they are not shooting. That’s pretty much common sense. I just wanted to make sure I wouldn’t let them get a shot off. As soon as he took the dribble, I fouled him.”
Question: What is causing this team to let big leads slip away?
Goodwin: “Just us not executing and letting them get easy buckets on the other end. That is something we have to continue to do. We have to learn to play a whole 40 minutes. The last five minutes we seem to let loose and loosen up. That is something we have to continue to work on and stay focused the entire game.”
Question: What did you think when you were not in the game once in the final minute on offense?
Goodwin: “It was just me subbing in and out. Just to get Kyle (Wiltjer) in there, another knockdown free throw shooter. I guess that is what he was doing subbing offense and defense.”
Question: Have you made the progress you expected this season?
Goodwin: “I think I am a better player. Just trying to play under control, I think I am doing a better job of that. Just trying to look for my teammates more and being the guy that can attack and help this team as well.”
Question: How much do you expect to guard the opposing team’s best perimeter scorer?
Goodwin: “It is something I take on and I will continue to want to take on and hopefully I can continue to get better at it and just continue to make things tougher for the opposing player that I am guarding. Not trying to steal balls, but just making him take tough shots.”
Question: What could getting a marquee-type win at Mississippi Tuesday mean?
Goodwin: “We just have to go out guard and compete. Listen to the game plan and execute and the rest will take care of itself.”