UK Basketball: Point guard Harrow knows Calipari is not going to let up on him
Kentucky guard Ryan Harrow said individual workouts with coach John Calipari have helped him develop into a better player, even though he sometimes reverts back to his ¿cool" playing style. (Victoria Graff / January 4, 2013)
“I have been working with coach Cal and he says he is not going to let up on me, so we have just been working extra hard to make me even better than I am now,” said Harrow after Wednesday’s 90-38 victory over Eastern Michigan.
Harrow had a season-high eight assists and 15 points, including a career-high four 3-pointers, to help offset his career-high four turnovers. In the last four games, the sophomore is averaging 16.7 points and 4.2 assists per game and has gone 27-for-53 from the field. He has 29 assists and seven turnovers in the last seven games.
“I thought Ryan was good again today. Had a few turnovers he didn't need to have,” Calipari said. “He had two of them. Really, he had two turnovers. Two of them were the late half cool throw to Archie (Goodwin) that was, why did you do that? And then go between the legs. That's the old kid that used to play but wasn't very good. The new one is not turning it over. He's strong with the ball. He's aggressive. He's making plays.”
Calipari expected this type of play out of Harrow when the season started. Instead, he was sick when UK¿opened the season against Maryland and didn’t score in only 10 minutes of play. He missed the next four games for “personal reasons” and had just 14 points and in his first four games back before his impressive play the last four games.
“But the question is, this is where I thought he'd be at the beginning of this year. Now where do we go from here? He's got to continue to grow,” the Kentucky coach said. “He's got to continue to get better. No lapses. When we're in our league, we're going to be playing games. We can't afford lapses, especially by our point guard.”
Harrow talked about a variety of things from his play to Alex Poythress to the start of SEC play to UK’s big lineup after Wednesday’s game:
Question: What did your week of individual workouts with Calipari do for your game?
Harrow: “Just working hard and it shows. He’s doing the same with Alex (Poythress) now. He played real good today. Getting on the boards, dunking the ball and everything. That just comes from working hard.”
Question: What do you think made the difference in Poythress’ play against Eastern Michigan where he was more active and intense?
Harrow: “Just he had a real good practice yesterday, going hard and nobody had to tell him to go hard. We just told him to continue with that practice from yesterday and keep on playing hard no matter who we are playing. He just was going real hard and running the floor. When he got the ball, he was able to get into the paint and do all that type of stuff.”
Question: What was it like to see Poythress showing a bit more emotion as well?
Harrow: “It was good to see him smile because he is always so down on himself even when he is doing good things. But we are all just out there having fun basically.”
Question: Why do you think Poythress stays down on himself so much considering his talent?
Harrow: “That’s just his persona. He is just a laid-back type of guy and doesn’t get excited about too much. I don’t know if I¿meant down on himself. He is just more even keeled all the time.”
Question: What does it do for you to hit four 3-pointers in a game for the first time at UK?
Harrow: “I was just playing basketball. Coach told me if I am open, shoot it. We do like a five-minute shooting drill where we shoot 3-pointers and if you make over 50 in the five minutes, then you have the green light (to shoot in games). I have been making over 50 in the drills.¿He told me if I get open just shoot it.”
Question: But did you worry at all about your 3-point shot since you had only made three in the previous eight games?
Harrow: “Just being confident and putting in the extra work. Coach works with Alex and then he works with me and Archie afterwards and those are the types of things we work on. Shooting 3’s, coming off screens and shooting, just doing things that do in the game.”
Question: Do you keep the green light now or do you have to earn it back in practice?
Harrow: “I am going to keep the green light.”
Question: How difficult is it to keep playing hard when the score gets lopsided like it did?
Harrow: “Yeah. You tend to slack off, but Coach said it was not about the score.¿It was about the team and us getting better. It’s hard to not focus on the score when we get up big on teams not to slack off, but he does not want us to go backwards.”
Question: How do you respond to Calipari saying you reverted back to the “cool Ryan” with the behind the back dribble and stuff?
Harrow: “When I did the behind the back dribble, he took me out and he said, ‘If you want to be cool, you can sit over here.’ I said, ‘Okay, I am not cool any more. Let me get back in the game.’ And he put me right back in. I was able to finish the game off, so everything was good.”
Question: Since you know Calipari does not want you to be “cool”, what impulse makes you to be fancy?
Harrow: “It’s just a habit. There are moves — like when I put it between my legs and behind my back — it is like my body did it itself. I was like, ‘Oh, what am I doing?’ I picked the ball right up and tried to throw it and happened to throw it away, but it is just an impulse. That is what I have always been able to do.”
Question: Does that impulse come from maybe summer play against a player like John Wall?
Harrow: “When we were playing against each other, you saw that stuff. You can’t do that here, though.”
Question: Why was the defense so disruptive against Eastern Michigan (19 turnovers, 24.2 percent field goal shooting)?
Harrow: “He (Calipari) just told us that if we put pressure on the ball they would turn it over and that’s what I was focusing on, just making sure I¿put pressure on the ball. Even if I didn’t make a steal, it would somebody else an opportunity to get the ball. We are doing better defensively. Everybody is getting over ball screens.¿I think the biggest thing is that we are talking more on defense and if we talk more, if somebody does get beat off the dribble or misses an assignment, somebody is abel to step up and help.”
Question: Is that talking real basketball talk or still nonsense like you said you have done at times on the court?
Harrow: “It is talking real stuff now. I know they kept running the weave today and every time they called it, I just screamed it out for the team to know it and we played it pretty good.”
Question: Does it make you feel good to scream it out and know you are right and players are listening to you?
Harrow: “Yeah. We are right on cue for the defense that we need to play.”
Question: Is it good to have an eight-day break before the start of Southeastern Conference play at Vanderbilt?
Harrow: “It is good because we get all that time to practice again and work on individual things and get ready for the first game.”
Question: How much do the players like using the full-court press that Calipari is using more recently?
Harrow: “It is real good, especially with the big team that we played today. Willie (Cauley-Stein) can guard anybody on the perimeter, so if Willie and us are trapping, it’s hard for anybody to pass the ball. Then you have somebody like Archie (Goodwin) anticipating the steal, it is real good.”
Question: How do you like it with both Cauley-Stein and Nerlens Noel on the floor together on the offensive end?
Harrow: “It’s good. You saw I could easily pass the ball over it (Eastern Michigan’s zone). Willie could go catch it or Alex could go catch it and they have to sink down on them and it opens the 3 for me and I can knock that shot down.”
UK-Vandy on ESPN Thursday
The Kentucky-Vanderbilt men’s basketball game on Thursday, has been designated for ESPN at 9 p.m.
The game marks the Southeastern Conference opener for both schools and the first contest for both schools in eight days.
The Wildcats enter conference play with a 9-4 mark, including a 90-38 win over Eastern Michigan on Wednesday. The Commodores are 6-6 entering league play, including a 64-50 win over William & Mary, in their most last outing.
Kentucky swept Vanderbilt in the regular season last year, but the Commodores beat the Wildcats in the SEC Tournament championship game, one of only two losses the Cats suffered last season.