By LARRY VAUGHT
Two players not worried at all about not being in John Calipari’s starting lineup are Reed Sheppard and Rob Dillingham. Sheppard has the best overall statistics of anyone on the team while Dillingham leads the team in assists and is second in 3-point percentage.
However, while some UK fans are clamoring for one or both to be in the starting lineup, the two freshmen are fine with their roles even though Sheppard did start against UNC-Wilmington last week when UK lost because D.J. Wagner was injured and could not play.
“I think it’s solid,” Dillingham said about coming off the bench. “I like playing with Reed. I like playing with all the guys. I feel like it helps our team, because their starters are still in, and we got me and Reed coming in, so we push the tempo.
“And then we get D.J. (Wagner) right back in the rotation, or leave him in with three guards. So I feel like either way it works out because we got so many good players.”
Dillingham and Sheppard usually enter the game after four or five minutes and Dillingham said time on the bench allows them to focus on what opponents are doing.
“We go in and we both have the mindset of, ‘We’re gonna do whatever we need to do to win,’” Sheppard said. “We’re gonna go in and make the right passes, the right plays, and just try and bring energy off the bench.”
UK assistant coach Chuck Martin likes the way the two freshmen feed off each other.
“They’ve got a tremendous chemistry,” Martin said. “Those two really are fun to watch. They’ve got something going on. I think it started in Toronto (in July), and it’s grown over the last few months.
“It puts pressure on the opposing team, for sure. They’re two kids who are unselfish. They’re looking for one another. They’re capable 3-point shooters. They can beat you off the bounce and get to the rim. It does put pressure on opposing teams, knowing that — within four minutes — D.J. and Justin (Edwards) are coming back.”