UK basketball

'Terrence can take it,' Jones' aunt says of Calipari's profanity

UK star's family sees Cal's colorful scolding as soundtrack for success

jtipton@herald-leader.comJanuary 20, 2011 

Kentucky Wildcats forward Terrence Jones (3) put in a shot over Alabama Crimson Tide forward JaMychal Green (1) and Alabama Crimson Tide forward Tony Mitchell (5) in the first half as Kentucky played Alabama on Tuesday January 18, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, AL. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff

MARK CORNELISON | STAFF — ALL

The woman who introduced Terrence Jones to sports said Wednesday that Kentucky Coach John Calipari need not apologize for the profane scolding he gave the freshman near the end of the Alabama game.

"I don't have any worries about it," said Ava Mashia, Jones' aunt. "Terrence can take it."

Her nephew came to Kentucky to be pushed, she said. Calipari cursing is part of getting pushed.

"(Jones) sees him as a person who's trying to help him," Mashia said. "That's (Calipari's) method. That's the way he talks to everybody on the team."

ESPN, which televised Tuesday's game, showed Calipari drop a four-syllable 'F bomb' on Jones and seemingly call the freshman selfish late in the second half.

Later Tuesday night, Calipari posted an apology on his Twitter account.

"I want to apologize for my language at the end of the game," he tweeted. "I got caught up in the emotion of the game, but that's no excuse.

"Sometimes you don't realize in the moment that what you're saying is on national TV. The BBN (Big Blue Nation) deserves better, and so do my players."

On his weekly radio call-in show Wednesday night, Calipari again apologized. He called the F bombs "uncalled for," although he stuck by the description of "selfish" as "fine."

Calipari said a call of disapproval from his wife, Ellen, prompted the tweet of apology.

Mashia, whom Jones credits with teaching him about athletics, was a high school basketball player in the Portland, Ore., area and later walked on the University of Washington's women's team. She knows athletics. She put Calipari's profanity in the context of a competitive coach trying to get the most out of a player.

"It looks like he's picking on Terrence," she said. "But I think it's because he knows Terrence has a skill-set he can probably bring to the table that the coach isn't seeing. ...

"Coach is competitive. He wants his team to win. Terrence wants the same thing. I'm sure they're on the same page today. Everybody gets overheated in the heat of the moment."

While understanding what might have motivated Calipari's vulgarity, the player's family recoiled at the sight of it being directed at one of their loved ones.

"We hate to see it happen," Mashia said. "But we see what Coach Cal is saying, as well. Yes, there are some things Terrence needs to work on. I'm sure Terrence sees it, as well. He's trying to make him a better player. I don't think he's doing it to embarrass him."

Mashia noted that Jones was adjusting to a new, more muscled body and a new role of inside presence. At Jefferson High in Portland, Jones played mostly on the perimeter, she said.

"Being the only 'big,' that's a lot of pressure on him," she said. "He's not used to playing that position."

In high school, Jones weighed about 215 pounds, Mashia said. For the Alabama game, UK listed his weight at 244.

"He's big!" Mashia said with a laugh. "I don't think even he realizes how much muscle he has."

That Alabama used its muscle to push Kentucky around irritated Calipari. That made Kentucky 2-for-2 in terms of getting outmuscled on the road in Southeastern Conference play this season. Pretty much the same thing happened at Georgia in the conference opener.

The physical nature of the game was too much for some UK players. "We had some guys that couldn't play in this game," he said, presumably meaning, among others, big men Josh Harrellson and Eloy Vargas.

Afterward, Calipari sounded fed up.

"You accept it and are content," the UK coach said. "Or you say, this is not happening."

Calipari clearly preferred the latter course, saying after the game that the Cats would have a "brutal" practice on Wednesday. However, on his radio show, Calipari suggested he had backed off.

Calipari also lamented the lack of execution, especially at crunch time of a close game.

"We called a zone play, and one guy says, 'I didn't know we were running that,' " Calipari said. "I mean, that's young, inexperienced guys."

As Calipari saw it, Kentucky has no choice but to acknowledge the need to improve its execution.

Of the mistakes made down the stretch, Calipari said, "Those are the plays we will show on the tape and say, this is why you lose ball games when they are close. And we are going to be in a lot of close games. This is what we are."

UK adds Beckham

UK made it official Wednesday and announced that former Mississippi State player Twany Beckham would join the team as a walk-on.

Beckham, who played high school basketball for Ballard, can practice with the team, UK said. He will not be able to play in a game until after the end of the 2011 fall semester. His eligibility will end after the 2012-13 season.

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