Most Recent Posts
- New hairstyle, same defensive dominance for Kentucky’s Willie Cauley-Stein against Boise State
- Kentucky “really needed this win” over Boise State
- Kentucky-Boise State postgame notes and numbers
- Live: UK TV delivers livestream of post-Boise State press conferences
- NBA scouts offer takes on what’s wrong with Calipari’s Cats
- Kentucky RB JoJo Kemp plans to keep “grinding” and keep “this ship moving”
- UK signee Devin Booker on Cats: “I feel like toward the end of the year, they’re going to be special”
- James Young: “We can play defense, it’s just we tend to stop sometimes”
By LARRY VAUGHT
So far this season, Kentucky has had more than its share of defensive pressure.
Can this be a good defensive team?
“We need to be. I don’t have any other thoughts. But we need to be a great defensive team. We don’t have team confidence right now. Team confidence. And the reason is because they’re not relying on each other, they’re not talking to each other and we’re not a great defensive team,” Calipari said Monday. “When you become a great defensive team and a rebounding team, and you take great pride in it – we’re not taking great pride in it. When you take great pride; like when we played Providence, Aaron (Harrison) took great pride and he guarded that kid and all the sudden the game changed.
“When you take great pride in your defense and your rebounding, you have confidence. You know, ‘We’re fine. They can make a couple crazy shots. We’re fine.’ We haven’t built that yet. And we’re just trying to get them to understand: That’s the only way you build it. They’ve never needed it before because, ‘I’m just going to do my thing and I’ll be fine.’ Now you have to change. So these are all habits they have to change.”
Does Kentucky have a stooper?
“Aaron has shown he can do it; James Young has shown he can do it. But you need a team full of guys who are guarding. I mean, it starts with your point guard,” Calipari said. “If he can’ t pressure the ball, then someone else has to be playing; that’s just how it is.
“It starts with your interior defense. Is Willie (Cauley-Stein) the only guy that’s going to block shots? Some guys just stand there: ‘I’m not involved in this.’ Well you can’t.
“Then the other thing is, as hard as we try to play offensively, then we gotta rebound the ball defensively the same way, because if we do run, we can get out and run. We’re not getting any easy baskets. When the other team gets that many offensive rebounds, why? Because they’re down ready to go and anxious to go get the ball and you’re like, ‘Well, I hope somebody grabs this.’ That’s all stuff we’re just learning.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach John Calipari said he didn’t “even know what you’re talking about” when asked about the bad weather forecast for the Dallas area that includes ice.
“Can we postpone the game a month? Because if it were postponed, we’d have to wait about a month and a half before we play a ranked team,” Calipari joked.
He did say that UK is scheduled to practice at Cowboys Stadium Thursday and probably would “shoot around” Friday, just like the UK women’s team will to prepare for its game against Baylor to start Friday’s doubleheader.
The UK coach is also not worried about Julius Randle or twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison pressing because they’ll have a lot of family members and friends at the game when they return to their home state to play.
“We haven’t talked about it yet. We’re so focused on us right now, we haven’t talked Baylor at all,” Calipari said.
Here is what Cleveland State coach Gary Waters, who praised UK’s clutch play, had to say after the game about hoping to force UK to shoot from outside and miss shots — as UK did by going 3-for-14 from 3-point range:
“Well we came in realizing they weren’t a great 3-point shooting team. We know that (James) Young can shoot the ball and we tried to stay with him as much as possible. He literally hit a big bucket, he hit that big 3, and then I think (Julius) Randle (actually Alex Poythress) hit another that we didn’t anticipate,” Waters said. “You can only go to that well so many times, eventually somebody is going to hit a shot, and I thought that went well.
“You know what I thought gave them the advantage? It wasn’t the missing free throws or anything like that, what I thought gave them the advantage was on the glass. I thought they got some rebounds that were key down the stretch, they turned it around. As I sit here and look, they got 18 offensive rebounds. They may be the best offensive rebounding team in the country.
“A close friend of mine, Tom Izzo, he works hard on rebounding the basketball, that’s one of his identities. I’m telling you, this team rebounds as good or better than Michigan State I thought when I watched them. It’s hard to keep them off it, and it’s more than one.”
Waters credited Andrew Harrison for knowing what it took to help UK win down the stretch.
“He got his team into what they needed to get. They realized they weren’t hitting from the outside, so they were trying to get to the basket. One of our plans coming into this game was to tighten it in on the inside and make them kick it out. Down the stretch we did not do that as well,” Waters said.
By LARRY VAUGHT
LEXINGTON — After being criticized for everything from their body language to porous defense to bad decision making, twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison never faltered.
And when Kentucky needed the freshman guards most, they were there Tuesday night to help No. 3 UK beat 68-61 Cleveland State after traling most of the game.
Point guard Andrew Harrison took charge when UK looked leaderless — and beaten — trailing 54-44 with just over seven minutes to play. But he drove inside and lobbed a pass that Willie Cauley-Stein stuffed. Two possessions later, he did the same thing to make it 54-51. Next, he drove, took the contact and foul, made the shot and hit the free throw to tie the game 54-54 with 3 minutes, 55 secons left.
But he wasn’t through. After another UK stop, he drove inside, passed back outside and James Young hit a jump shot for a 56-54 lead. Then with the game tied 57-57, he drove left, took the contact again and finished a three-point play for a 60-57 lead with 2:08 left.
No one enjoyed those heroics more than Aaron Harrison, who often watched his brother do similar things in high school and AAU play. But then it was Aaron Harrison hitting a 3-point bomb from the corner with 1:15 left to give UK needed breathing room at 63-57.
“That 3 in corner Aaron made kind of ended the game,” UK coach John Calipari said.
Cleveland State coach Gary Waters knew how important this win was for Kentucky, and even told Calipari that “he needed the win more” than Cleveland State did.
“It doesn’t look good for us to beat Kentucky. I know these young kids, he’s trying to get their attention,” Waters said. “I am a true believe you do not have to lose to learn. He’s trying to teach things and does not want to lose games to get that done.”
“I would rather it be a close win, but sometimes you have to take a L (loss),” Calipari said. “I just hope they understand you can’t come out of the gate like we are. We still are not a good team. We just aren’t. They are all into their own thing. And when you are into your own thing, it’s hard to play basketball. I don’t want to lose any games. But you can’t let a team come out and have way more emotion than you.”
Calipari admitted that Cleveland State, which led most of the game, deserved to win before UK found the will to win the final seven minutes to pull out the victory.
“We showed the will to win and made plays down the stretch,” Calipari said. “Andrew made plays. It’s nice to now we have two or three guys to go when the game is in the balance. But this is a game we needed. I was calm. If we lost, we lost. That’s where it is.”
But Andrew Harrison wasn’t about to let this team lose. Not this game.
“Who can make plays? Who is not afraid to make plays? Who is not going to panic?” Calipari said.
The coach said both twins needed to learn to be “in position to play” when they don’t have the ball, especially Andrew Harrison at point guard.
“He is catching the ball and I am screaming, ‘Drive it.’ He drives and makes a play. That can’t be how it is. He catches and knows he is a playmaker, get in there,” Calipari said.
Andrew Harrison, who had 12 points, five assists and just one turnover in 21 minutes, was a non-factor the first half after picking up two quick fouls and playing just six minutes.
“I feel like I was letting my teammates down pretty much, getting those fouls in the first half and not being as aggressive as I should be,” he said. “This is definitely, hopefully, a turning point.”
He said he “never wants to lose no matter who you play” even though he knew UK — 19-for-53 from the field and 3-for-14 from 3-point range — could have played better, especially the first 30 minutes. But when it counted most, he came up big — something he could not do in UK’s loss to Michigan State two weeks earlier.
“I was just attacking, just making plays for my teammates, getting them in the right spots,” he said. “I knew I had no choice but to do that because things were not looking too good.”
However, he didn’t want credit for the win going to him. Like a veteran leader would, he passed out the credit.
“James Young was great late. Julius (Randle) in the paint, nobody was getting a rebound at that point but him. So it wasn’t all me. It as (the team) and I was just getting them the ball,” Andrew Harrison said. “They were just all making me look good.”
What about the shot his brother, who had 11 points, hit?
“It was like, ‘No, Aaron,’” he laughed and said. “But he always takes that shot. He’s not afraid.”
Both Harrisons showed a lot of emotion during UK’s game-winning run, too. And it was the kind of emotion Calipari and UK fans liked.
“That’s just our competitive spirit,” Andrew Harrison said.
Randle has played against the Harrison for years, and was not the least bit surprised by how they finished the game.
“That’s what they do. They’ve done it all their lives,” Randle said. “I’ve seen Andrew take over games at the end like that and just make plays. Nothing unusual for him.”
But it was something UK fans and other teammates had not seen him do and now maybe the worries/rumors about his attitude/body language can ease up as he tries to concentrate on getting on the “same page” as Calipari.
“We do not have one selfish player on the team. We all want to play good,” Andrew Harrison said. “We love each other. We are like brothers. We just all want to win.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach John Calipari said freshman Aaron and Andrew Harrison “are trying” to do what he wants but still have a “ways to go” with their execution and body language.
“But it’s not just those two. Julius (Randle) has got a ways to go. When you rebound, stick, rebound, bang, and then they say, ‘Man, he played hard,’ but then you’ve got to watch defensively, you’ve got to watch running the floor,” Calipari said. “Alex (Poythress) has gotten better, but got a ways to go. I mean, we’re a team that is behind – Dominique (Hawkins) is probably closest to what we’re looking for of anybody on the team, but it’s not where we need to be right now.”
Calipari said players have to know where other players are on the court to become a special team.
“If you don’t know where everybody is and if people aren’t talking, you’re not comfortable, you kind of get … you go back because you’re afraid to go out, because you don’t know if people have your back,” the UK coach said. “That’s where we are a little bit right now to. So, look, there’s a lot of fronts that we’ve got to work on. We’ve got to work more on the press. But the whole point comes back to your effort, if you want to know, again, what’s success, it’s just ‘I’m giving my best, I’m doing my best.’
“You have to feel good about that. If you’re not doing your best, if you’re standing around, if you stop playing … for most of these kids, they were always bigger and stronger and longer and faster, you didn’t have to outwork the other guy. If a team’s effort level is far beyond yours, it will smash a talented group. Just will. A less talented team that just fights like crazy will beat the talented team. So we just – my job right now is to get these guys to understand how hard they gotta play, what it’s gotta look like, and we’re just not there.”
Three University of Kentucky freshmen were among 50 players tabbed to the Naismith Trophy Watch List for the National Player of the Year award the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Thursday afternoon.
Andrew Harrison, Julius Randle and James Young were represented on the list of 50 players across the country considered candidates for the Naismith Trophy.
Each year, the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors chooses the 50 pre-season “Naismith Watch” list as well as the mid-season team of 30 candidates. The Naismith voting academy narrows that group down to four finalists who will make up the final ballot. The voting academy, comprised of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from around the country, base its criteria on player performance throughout the season.
The trio has started all five games for the Wildcats this season.
Harrison has averaged 11.0 points per game while dishing out a team-high 18 assists, including six against UT Arlington. He leads the squad with a .786 free throw percentage after connecting on 22-of-28 from the charity stripe thus far.
Randle is the fourth Wildcat in program history to open the season with five-straight double-double efforts and the first freshmen. He’s reached the 20-point plateau in four of five contests, while hauling in 13 or more rebounds in four contests. Randle is averaging team-highs in points (20.8) and rebounds (13.6) in the early going.
Young ranks second on the team with an average of 14.2 points per game, while leading the team in assists (7) and made 3-pointers (12). The sharp-shooter has drained at least one 3-pointer in all five games this season and is the only player to achieve that feat. He knocked down a career-high five en route to a career-high 26-point performance against UT Arlington.
Named in honor of Dr. James Naismith, creator of the game of basketball, the first trophy was awarded to UCLA’s Lew Alcindor, later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, in 1969. Anthony Davis became UK’s first winner of the award in 2012 after guiding the Cats to their eighth national title. Other winners include: Blake Griffin, Kevin Durant, Tim Duncan, Marcus Camby, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing and Michael Jordan
By LARRY VAUGHT
Texas-Arlington coach Scott Cross got to see Kentucky freshmen Julius Randle, Aaron Harrison and Andrew Harrison play during their prep careers and knew all threw would be special players in college.
“I remember watching the Harrison twins play in AAU when they were juniors. I felt they were NBA guys as I was watching them. Very few times would I say that as I am watching high school kids. But they are extremely talented,” said Cross after Kentucky beat his team Tuesday night.
“Julius Randle is just a man-child. The first half he was a little quiet, but he woke up. He’s tough to deal with on the glass. I don’t see many people in the country stopping him.”
The Mavericks tried collapsing inside often on Randle to try and stop him. That left outside shots open for James Young and the Harrisons.
“We tried to double him when he got the ball and tried to stay somewhat attached to Young, but all their guards shoot fairly well. Young is an outstanding 3-point shooter. You have to pick your poison. I would rather get beat from the outside than just let him score on the block,” Cross said.
The Mavericks also hoped to have some success with transition offense like Michigan State did when it beat UK.
“Michigan State is probably the best in the country in transition offense. What Michigan State does, very few teams do,” Cross said.
Kentucky did get outrebounded the first half, a situation it quickly remedied in the second half.
“Kentucky responded really well in the second half and absolutely mashed us on the boards. I thought that was the difference in the second half,” Cross said.
Texas-Arlington’s quickness on the perimeter also bothered UK at times.
“I feel like this is the quickest team that I have ever coached. Our one advantage that we may have had was some quickness at a couple of different positions,” Cross said. “We knew their big guys were rotating to help and it was just a block party in there. The only area I thought we could attack them is off the dribble drive.”
By KEITH TAYLOR, Winchester Sun
Andrew Harrison wants to be a better player. That’s why he isn’t taking things personally when John Calipari make a point to his freshman point guard during a public or private setting. Sometimes those teaching lessons can get pretty loud especially when Calipari isn’t happy with Harrison’s play in practice or during a game.
“Every possession matters so much,” Harrison said after Kentucky’s 105-76 rout of Texas-Arlington earlier this week at Rupp Arena. “Coach Calipari is just trying to make me a better player and that’s what I want to become. You just have to be prepared for this type of coaching and you’ll be good. It’s always tough from the beginning, but I feel like I’m getting better and I want to keep getting better every day.”
Harrison missed Kentucky’s two exhibition games and most of the blue-white game, but has started the first five games, tallying double figures in three of those contests. Harrison, averages 11 points per game and scored a career-high 15 points in the win over the Mavericks Tuesday night. A sign he’s settling in at point guard, Harrison dished out six assists in his last game, also a career high. Harrison is steadily making the transition from high school to college.
“We’re definitely getting back to having fun and it’s a growing process,” Harrison said. “Everybody knows how tough it is. That’s what we signed up for. We just have to make sure we’re always on top of our game and practice hard every day. I’m having fun and I’m still learning. The game we lost (against Michigan State), I almost cried myself to sleep, (but) I’m just getting better every day, That’s the only thing that matters. “
Harrison’s twin brother Aaron Harrison and classmate James Young give the Cats a one-two punch on the perimeter. Aaron tallied 28 points in a win over Robert Morris last Sunday, while Young netted 26 against Texas-Arlington. Andrew Harrison said getting the two players hot on the same night will require “consistency.”
“Both of them are great players — probably one of the best at their position in the country,” Harrison said. “My job is to make sure they’re playing defense and stuff like that because scoring points comes easy to them two. That’s what makes it fun.”
When he’s not sharing the ball with his brother or Young, he has more options in the paint.
“We have a great post up team with Dakari (Johnson), Willie (Cauley-Stein) and Julius (Randle) and even our bigger guards can post up as well,” he said. ‘We definitely need to work on that and get (the ball) into the post a lot more.”
Harrison likes depending on Johnson, Cauley-Stein and Randle in the post in case of a defensive letdown, but added the Cats can’t rely on help defense from the post players on a consistent basis.
“We just have to work on our communication,” Harrison said. “It comes down to me, Aaron (Harrison) and James (Young) — the guards — just taking on the challenge. We need to stop our men one-on-one, so that’s what we need to work on.”
Calipari wants his team, especially Harrison, to become louder on both ends of the floor and Harrison said it starts with his vocal chords.
“It’s different every play, but I definitely feel like I can talk louder,” Harrison said. “We just have to talk more. That’s what coach was talking about. We have to talk more and communicate more as a team. We’ll be fine.”
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