By LARRY VAUGHT
Craig Brownson has kept a close eye on the way twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison have played at Kentucky this season, but the high school coach admits hearing and seeing the criticism the two have taken at times has been difficult even for him.
“It has definitely been an enjoyment getting to watch them, but then you hear the stuff on media if they have a bad game and you kind of take it personal because you know the expectations of this whole team even though the majority are freshmen can sometimes be unfair,” said Brownson, who came from Texas to Lexington last week to watch the Harrisons play. “So if you see them have a great game, you are real proud of them. If you see them struggle, you just try to send text message to tell them to keep their heads up, keep working.”
Brownson says the “body language” issues with both players were at times misunderstood by fans and at times created by his former players.
“They are such competitors. I think at a certain point it is misunderstood, but it’s also something that we also talked about in high school to always have a winning face because it projects a positive image,” Brownson said. “I think it is something they have worked on for a number of years and they are getting better at it. Again, they are 19. They are still learning. As long as they continue to learn and get better, that’s all that matters. But no matter their body language, they want to win. Never doubt that.”
While UK fans had huge expectations for the twins and UK, so did fans who know the Harrisons back in Texas.
“You hear people say even around our school that they are not having that great a year. Wait. They are starting for one of the top teams in the country as freshmen,” Brownson said. “People don’t understand how hard that is and the adjustment from high school to college. They expect them to be able to do things they did in high school, but they are playing against grown men out here now. Not boys and high school kids. It is a lot different.”
What does he think they have done best this year?
“Aaron has been very consistent. He has really impressed me with his consistency and double figure scoring about every game. He doesn’t force things. Sometimes he passes up shots I think he should take because he is open but I am sure that is what coach Cal has told him to do,” the Texas high school coach said.
“Andrew has been consistent in trying to run the team and getting the ball to people. I think he struggled early trying to find his niche and aggressiveness versus getting everyone involved. But again, they have both gotten better as the season has gone on and that’s what you want for your players even if some don’t want to see the improvement and growth they have made.”
He says they both have to learn to forget mistakes — “a turnover, not boxing out, missing a shot” — and play on.
“Effort-wise, they are always competing. I don’t see a game where they are not busting their butt to get a loose ball or getting on the floor. Watching Aaron hit his head the other day (against LSU) and then come back out and dive on the floor on the other end. I was watching that and you get scared for him but that’s how he plays,” Brownson said. “I just think because it is big-time college sports, I just think the expectations are way too much for a bunch of 18-year-old kids, including them.”