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By LARRY VAUGHT
This could be the game Saturday at Tennessee where Jon Hood gets the chance he’s been waiting for since he got to Kentucky to make a dramatic impact on the game.
With Nerlens Noel out for the season, Kentucky coach John Calipari said again Friday that it “gives Jon Hood a chance” to play more.
“What we’ll do is we’ll watch the game and if there’s a noncompetitive guy out there, he’s coming out. Now you’ll have, ‘If I don’t compete he takes me out every time.’ You just say it. It ain’t about missed shots, it’s not about turnovers. It’s about competing. So Jon Hood in practice yesterday, he’s competing his butt off. So I can see him going in,” Calipari said.
“I said, ‘It’s not us believing in Jon, it’s Jon believing in Jon.’ But you’ve got to go on that court, demonstrated performance is the only way to build self esteem, self confidence. It’s not what I say. It’s not what we’re all saying to him in there. He’s got to go in the game and do it.”
Here is part of what Hood had to say before today’s practice:
On his thoughts about getting more minutes of playing time now …
“I will be ready to play just like I have always have been. I will come in and do what I am supposed to do, whatever that may be; defense, rebound, shoot an open shot. Whatever it is.”
On what he has told Noel after his injury and if he has seen him yet …
“Well, he met with Derek Anderson the other day and DA knows about as much as I do, if not more, about coming back really quick. I haven’t spoken to Nerlens. I have texted him saying I am thinking about you if you need anything, let me know. As far as going up to see him, I didn’t want anybody to come see me, so I haven’t gone and actually seen him yet. I saw him after the game.”
On why he didn’t want someone to come see him after his ACL injury …
“I don’t know. I think it was you don’t want that pity from somebody. The biggest thing is, yeah it happened, but now let’s not remember it. Don’t make me remember it again because it hurts. I saw the footage of him going down and my knee hurts.”
On what the team is thinking about going forward with the rest of the season without Noel …
“We still believe that this team can do very special things. There is still a whole lot of talent on this team. We just need to come together. That is all.”