UK basketball notes: Calipari says Davis' unselfishness and production make him Player of the Year

jtipton@herald-leader.comFebruary 29, 2012 

Kentucky Wildcats forward Anthony Davis (23) was all smiles as he came to a the bench greeted by Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari as #1 Kentucky defeated #7 Florida 78-58 on Tuesday February 7, 2012 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff

MARK CORNELISON — Herald-Leader Buy Photo

In promoting freshman Anthony Davis as national Player of the Year, Kentucky Coach John Calipari suggested that less should be considered more.

"I think there are some other worthy candidates, too," Calipari said Wednesday. "But, obviously, I'm going to be biased. At the end of the year, he's going to end up taking 200 less shots than all those guys they're considering. Two hundred less.

"Yet, (Davis) probably has as big an impact in any of these games."

Going into the Georgia game Thursday night, Davis has taken 240 shots (or an average of 8.3). The player considered his main rival for national awards, Thomas Robinson of Kansas, has taken 382 shots (or 12.7 per game).

"That's not taking anything away from anyone else," Calipari said of his less-is-more argument. "But he's had a special year. What he's done for us defensively. What he's done for us offensively. And he's done it in a way (that) he's not selfish in any way."

Calipari, who more than once has scoffed at the notion that any evaluation be based primarily on statistics, suggested that Davis' scoring average could be "five or six points" greater than his 14.3 if he looked more to shoot.

"He's like, 'The best thing for my team is for me to pass it more or get it less,' " Calipari said. "And he's fine with that."

Georgia trying

Though mired in next-to-last place, Georgia beat then-No. 11 Florida 76-62 in its last game. Afterward, Florida Coach Billy Donovan noted the Dawgs' effort.

"The Georgia team continues to improve, and they continue to play very, very hard," Donovan said on Monday's SEC teleconference. "And they play with very good passion and energy. I have great respect for that."

Donovan saluted Georgia players for not being adversely affected by a poor record (13-15 overall, 4-10 in the SEC).

"For him to say that means a great deal to us," Georgia Coach Mark Fox said of Donovan's compliment. Losing Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie to early entry into the NBA made all aware that this season would be a challenge, Fox said. His players have stayed attuned to playing the game correctly and competitively.

Noticeable hustle

Former Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio, who worked the Georgia-Florida game as an analyst for the SEC network, said he noticed the Dawgs' heart in practice the day before the game.

"When Mark says, 'Let's go, we're down at the other end,' they're hustling down to the other end," Gaudio said. "There's enthusiasm in practice. Guys are clapping it up. Guys are talking to one another. They have good body language. They showed all those things."

Deflating experience

Eloy Vargas acknowledged that he arrived at UK with an inflated opinion of what he could accomplish.

"My head was kind of big when I got here because everybody had left," he said.

Vargas said he's learned the value of hard work since joining the Kentucky team.

40 teammates

Darius Miller laughed when a reporter noted that he'd had 40 teammates in his four Kentucky seasons.

"I still talk to everybody, to this day," he said. "I feel they're brothers. ... That's a lot of teammates, a whole lot of teammates."

Noted Calipari of Miller: "There's no college player that's played with more NBA players than him."

Father cheers best

Miller's father, Brian, serves as a one-man cheering section. He can be heard at every home game imploring his son to contribute more to UK's cause. This continues a practice begun when Miller played for Mason County.

"My father always wanted me to score 100," Miller said with a smile. "Get 100 rebounds (and make) 100 assists.

"He has very high expectations. Whose dad doesn't?"

Consistent Cats

Calipari noted how consistent the Cats have been this season. He said he turned to assistant John Robic recently and asked, "How many bad practice days have we had?"

Then recalling his answer, Calipari told reporters, "Maybe one or two. And it's hard for me to remember."

UK has practiced probably more than 100 times, he said.

"How many games did we just play flat?" he added. "I don't really remember any."

Etc.

Rece Davis, Hubert Davis and Jay Bilas will call the game for ESPN. Bilas' role will be "twitter analyst."

Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Email: jtipton@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog: ukbasketball.bloginky.com

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