Before the season started, Coach Pitino made a bold statement at media day. Coach said, "He will be the key to this team" when referring the 6'9 freshman with a world of potential, Terrence Jennings.
In two exhibitions and 2 regular season games, Jennings has failed to play. I ask, why is someone who supposed to be a key to the team riding the pine and not even taking off his warmups? Pitino is saying it is the coach's decision, but something seems fishy. There are rumors that Jennings is in the middle (or end) of a suspension for violating team rules with it more than likely due to a curfew violation. The rumor continues to say the suspension has been shortened due to good behavior.
This rumor, I repeat rumor, is nothing more than that as of now and hasn't been confirmed by anyone within the athletic department or coaching staff to my knowledge. I hope its not true, never looks good for the program. Also, Jennings is eligible to play, so academic status problems can be ruled out. However, such a highly-touted player not seeing the court even in blowout wins, begs for more explaination than just a plain - DNP Coach's Decision.
Pitino has compared his maturation process to that of Earl Clark, so this tough love is just another example of Coach P's ability to get the players to buy in to his system. If him not playing now turns him into a major contributor in a month, it all works out.
I expect Jennings to play sooner than later. I hate using player comparisons, but TJ has been compared to Amare Stoudamire, the freakishly athletic All-NBA power forward, on multiple occasions by multiple analysts. Pitino is trying to whip him into shape and get the most out of him. Jennings will play soon. How soon? I don't know.
All I know is the two times I have seen Jennings practice he was the only player that can give Samardo any sort of matchup on defense and he even has boatloads of trouble. Pitino has said so much at a Yum! Center (Cards new practice facility) practice saying, "This isn't a very old building, but you have let [Samardo] set the new record for most point at 10000" Pitino is tough on Jennings because he expects a certain attitude and work ethic from his players and he's not getting it from Jennings. To me, TJ looks a little confused with some of the schemes and subtlties of the Pitino playbook. Until he gets a good grasp of the offensive and defensive sets, I don't see Pitino budging. Good news is, Lee Steiden has a new best friend.
I'm with Pitino on this one. It worked with Ellis Myles and Earl Clark. Will it work for Terrence Jennings? It remains to be seen.