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John Calipari, Hamidou Diallo, Nick Richards preview MSG matchup with Monmouth

Hami returns to New York, while Nick faces a former teammate.

NCAA Basketball: Harvard at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

John Calipari, followed by Hamidou Diallo and Nick Richards, met with media Thursday before their departure for New York City. The Kentucky Wildcats will face the Monmouth Hawks Saturday at noon in the Citi Hoops Classic. Here’s what Calipari & his two freshmen had to say about the game.

Over the past two weeks, the Wildcats have had extensive days to practice. They’ve avoided playing during the week and instead used that time to execute game plans and build chemistry with what is the youngest team in the Calipari era.

“As everyone buys in, this team will start taking off. But we all gotta buy in.” Calipari said.

Calipari added by saying his team has been working on how they play together and what they’re doing. The coach then followed by addressing the team’s travel to New York City this weekend with finals coming up next week.

“I wish it was a later game so we could maybe stay overnight, but it’s a noon game so we’ll probably leave right after to come back. They do have finals next week, so most of the rest of Saturday and Sunday will be—and they’re all loaded up. They all have one or two finals on Monday,” Calipari said.

When the topic of his best player, Kevin Knox, playing 35 minutes per game arose, Calipari was clear on how he felt about the situation.

“Too many. Too many. He’s in the one position that’s kind of we don’t have enough,” Calipari said. “I can go smaller with Hami, but we haven’t done it in practice right now,” he added. “Whatever happens, happens. But yeah, he’s playing too many minutes,” Calipari said.

During their trip to Manhattan, freshmen Hamidou Diallo & Nick Richards will be seeing some familiar faces.

Here’s Diallo on going back home:

“It’s going to be great. I haven’t played there in a long time. It’s just going to be a great experience to see all who’s coming out. I’ve got a lot of family coming that haven’t seen me play in person in a long time. It’s going to be a great atmosphere because Monmouth has a couple of New York guys on their team as well. It’s just going to be a great atmosphere and I’m going to enjoy it,” Diallo said.

His teammate, and fellow freshman, Nick Richards, had this to say about playing against his former high school teammate (Marcus McClary).

“It’s going to be the same as when I played against Harvard when I played against Bryce Aiken. You’re friends off the court and after the game and right before the game, but we’re going to compete as basketball players during the game,” said Richards.

This is a promising quote from Richards, as he looked lost and uninterested to start the season. However, his play & quality minutes of late correlate with his intensity in interviews.

Kentucky tips off with Monmouth Saturday at 12 P.M. EDT, with the game being aired on ESPNU.

For more updates on the Wildcats, check back at and on Twitter with @ASeaOfBlue & @MonJorgan.