Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats talks with Quade Green #0 against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the second half at the Rupp Arena in Lexington on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017.
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky freshman point guard Quade Green may be a trendsetter.
But he still has some work to do to get his head coach to latch onto the sunglasses movement.
“Because I kind of felt bad for him, I was going to wear sunglasses today, too,” UK coach John Calipari said after Kentucky’s 93-86 win over Virginia Tech. “I told the team I was going to. I thought, if he has to do it, I’ll do it with him, we’ll both have sunglasses. … It would have been a national story.”
Calipari’s wardrobe came under fire last season when a columnist for GoHeels.com, the University of North Carolina’s official website, took a shot at him for wearing jeans to the news conference after a game in Las Vegas.
“There he is, ‘He wears jeans on the plane, this bum, this guy. Who does he think he is? He thinks he’s at the beach. Who is this guy,’” Calipari said Saturday. “That’s why I didn’t do it.”
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Background: Why is UK basketball point guard Quade Green wearing glasses versus Virginia Tech?
Calipari may not be quite on board yet, but after Green’s performance against Virginia Tech no one could find fault with the sunglasses look.
Green suffered an eye injury last week when he was either poked in the eye or hit on the face — he’s still not sure which — by a Monmouth player in the second half of the Wildcats’ blowout win in New York City. He did not practice all week and was forced to wear shades to both protect his eye from another blow and from glaring light when he returned to the court Saturday.
After totaling 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting with five assists and one turnover, Green is not giving up the glasses anytime soon.
“All season,” Green said. “I need them because I can’t get poked in the eye anymore.”
Green was adamant he had no fear about the glasses affecting his shot or ability to see teammates in traffic, though he did admit the eye still pained him in postgame interviews.
Calipari brought Green off the bench for just the second time this season and the first time since the opener, but he went to his normal starting point guard just 92 seconds into the game.
“I like the rotation with him starting and Shai (Gilgeous-Alexander) coming off the bench,” Calipari said. “It’s just a better rotation for our team.
“He’s playing the way I want him to play, which is ‘Score baskets, kid. Score baskets, that’s what you do.’ But by doing that, he’s getting five assists and one turn. So instead of being like, ‘Watch me with the ball and bouncing it 12 times,’ he’s either trying to score it, and if you stop him from scoring it, he’ll give it to somebody because he’s a good enough passer.”
Green wasted no time proving the glasses were little hindrance to his game with a team-high 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting in the first half. He made 2 of 4 shots from 3-point range before intermission.
And looked cool doing it.
“He needs to leave the shades on,” freshman guard Hamidou Diallo said. “He shouldn’t take them off until we lose a game.”
Green remembered seeing former UK star Rajon Rondo wear sunglasses during warmups before a 2012 NBA game for the Boston Celtics, but Rondo did not actually wear them in the game. Officials checked to make sure Green’s glasses were not cosmetic before Saturday’s game, so it’s unlikely the look will spread to other players.
But maybe there’s still a chance Calipari will play along.
“I think he should have,” Diallo said. “That would have been funny. I think he should have, for a minute, to start the game or something.”
Jon Hale: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @JonHale_CJ. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/jonh.
Kentucky vs. UCLA
4 p.m. Saturday, New Orleans
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