When Doron Lamb found out in November he
would be coming off the bench to start his career at Kentucky, he
didn't make a fuss about it.
Coach John Calipari said he wouldn't have blamed Lamb if he did,
though, because Calipari knows how explosive Lamb can be once he
And it doesn't take much to get him going.
Lamb scored 32 points Wednesday against Winthrop, breaking Jamal Mashburn's 1991 school record for points in a game by a freshman.
He shot 11 of 12 from the field, including 7 for 8 on 3-point
attempts in 29 minutes.
All that while spending the first few minutes watching from the
"That means nothing to me," Lamb said of starting. "As long
as you're out there and producing, that's what means the most."
Against Winthrop, Lamb was Calipari's first substitute, coming
in for Brandon Knight with 15:50 left in the first half. He hit his
first 3-pointer just 11 seconds later.
Lamb said he knew he was hot when he hit a 3-pointer from the
left corner. He had already made a few shots from deep but this one
"I didn't even see the basket, I just threw it up," Lamb said.
"I just shot it up and it went in. After that, I knew every time
I'd shoot the ball, it would go in."
Calipari assigned Lamb to the bench because of his team's lack
of depth. The 11th-ranked Wildcats (9-2), who host Coppin State
(4-5) on Tuesday, use only a seven-player rotation and even that
may be stretching it considering reserve center Eloy Vargas
averages just 12.4 minutes per game.
With few options off the bench, Calipari uses Lamb as his
security blanket if one of the starters comes out stale or gets in
early foul trouble.
Last year, Calipari's security blanket was DeAndre Liggins. Lamb
sparks the Wildcats off the bench with his offense; Liggins jumped
the Wildcats with his relentless defense, scrambling and diving all
over the floor with his 6-foot-6 frame.
Liggins, now a full-time starter, said Lamb hasn't approached
him about advice for coming off the bench. Some people just get it,
"It's easier to me to come off the bench but for some people,
it's harder because you have to get loose and all that," Liggins
said. "But you just have to have that mindset, watching the game
as it begins so you know what to do when you come in. It's
different when you get plugged in all of a sudden but some guys are
just better at it.
"He could start for any one of us but we need him off the bench
since we don't have that depth. We just need more guys coming off
the bench to help us," Liggins added.
Since Calipari told him he'd be coming off the bench, Lamb
hasn't publicly questioned the coach's decision, although he said
he initially struggled accepting the assignment. The last team that
kept Lamb out of the starting lineup, he said, was his AAU team in
But the performance against Winthrop went a long way toward
convincing the freshman he can produce considerably given 30
minutes a game, even if he's not out there for the opening tip.
Calipari said there's not a player on his team with less pressure
than Lamb, and there's also not a player whose stock as a pro
prospect is rising faster.
"He just goes in and lets it fly," Calipari said.
One of the reasons Lamb chose Kentucky, he said, was because he
trusts Calipari. So when he learned he'd be coming off the bench,
he decided to just keep quiet.
"It was tough at first but I realized I'm doing good off the
bench, doing better than I probably would have if I was starting,"
Lamb said. "I'm playing really good right now so I'll keep doing
it as long as coach wants me to."