Dennis Rodman in May 1997 (Getty Images) and Willie Cauley-Stein last night (USATSI)
If Willie Cauley-Stein plans to keep the new blonde dye job he unveiled during Tuesday night's victory over Boise State, Kentucky coach John Calipari has only one request of his sophomore center.
Calipari wants Cauley-Stein to play with the same energy and intensity that another famous peroxide-blonde basketball star once did.
"Looking like that, you better play, Willie," Calipari told reporters in Lexington on Tuesday night. "There was a guy that used to do that to his hair. He also wore wedding dresses. But he killed you. He would shut you out and get every rebound, play 40 minutes. Then I saw him on the treadmill after the game in our building [coaching the Nets]. Who is on the treadmill in there? It was [Dennis] Rodman. You can paint your hair all you want; just be like him."
Cauley-Stein isn't as adept at rebounding positioning as Rodman, but his shot-blocking prowess was the biggest reason Kentucky was able to bounce back from its loss to Baylor and secure a comfortable 15-point win over previously unbeaten Boise State. The 7-footer swatted away nine shots and altered countless more, disrupting a Broncos offense that relies on drives and kick-out passes to shooters.
In 25 minutes, Cauley-Stein finished with six points, seven rebounds and nine blocks, leaving him just one off the 2011-12 pace of Anthony Davis through 10 games. Informed of Calipari's Rodman comparison after the game, Cauley-Stein told the Louisville Courier-Journal he is embracing the idea.
“One thing I take from Dennis Rodman is he played a kind of smart, psychological warfare on the basketball court, did a lot of crazy, weird things," Cauley-Stein said.
So should we expect Cauley-Stein to emulate all of Rodman's antics? Apparently not.
Said the Kentucky center, "Maybe dye my hair, but I ain’t wearing no wedding dress."
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- Dennis Rodman