"I can't wait to go back and play in the Garden.?I've only played one real game there, but this is a real, real game," he said. "I can't wait to play in front of family and friends. There will probably be too many of them there that night against Kansas, but it will be fun." "We told all our friends when tickets went on sale. We sent emails to all our friends even to make sure people loaded up on tickets. We are totally aware of having as many people as possible being there to support him when he comes home," Rivera said.
Some thought Lamb might test his NBA marketability after his freshman season and go to the NBA as former teammates Brandon Knight, DeAndre Liggins, Josh Harrellson and Enes Kanter did. However, both Lamb and Terrence Jones came back to UK — ?coach John Calipari said Lamb likely would have been a late first-round draft pick at best — and that didn't surprise Rivera.
"I expected him to stay, based on talking to his dad. I thought he needed to stay," Rivera said. "He had a really good season, but he still needs to mature physically and mentally. That will only enhance his value. If he does decide to come out this year, he will be glad he stayed. "I am glad it turned out the way it did because I think he will have a monster year for Kentucky. Just watching him develop with this class that is coming in is going to be ridiculous. I just wish I could come to Kentucky to watch a game. Talk about fun."
Lamb spent an active offseason preparing for his sophomore year based on things he learned during his first season at Kentucky. "I have been working on my strength and getting my weight up and just getting confident and staying in shape. I have worked on my ballhandling and my shot a lot," he said. "This year my role is to be a leader on the court, pick the freshmen up when they are down and need it, and just score and get my teammates involved. When Marquis (Teague) is tired, I will be the backup point guard and run the team." He might also need to develop into a defensive stopper on the perimeter with Liggins, last year's stopper, gone to the NBA.
"I am OK with that role. I like playing defense now. Coach Cal got everybody playing defense last year, and the harder you play defense, the more points you can get picking people up full court," Lamb said.
"I have to work hard and just get better. I?played defense in high school, but I wasn't guarding the best player every game because we had a great defender on my team in high school. Last year, I?had to guard the best player almost every game after DeAndre, but this year we have to see what happens and what Coach says we will do."
He says the biggest thing he learned last year was "just to compete" all the time. "Take every game like it is your last and work hard in practice every day to get better. I learned the value of that last year, especially early when I didn't always do that,"?Lamb said.