A question Monday about Kentucky freshman Willie Cauley-Stein being unaware of the famous Christian Laettner shot prompted Morehead State Coach Sean Woods to note how present-day college players generally are not versed in basketball history. That jumping-off point led Woods, who played for Kentucky 20 years ago, to say that players should be more "appreciative" of the chance to represent UK and exhibit less of a "sense of entitlement."
Saying he was a "really, really blue blood" and a "Kentucky guy at heart," Woods said he disliked a "vibe" he felt when he worked with UK players at a recent telethon to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy.
"I'm just going to be honest with you," Woods said on a teleconference promoting Morehead State's game at Kentucky on Wednesday. "It's totally different now. And it's not anyone's fault. (It's) just the way society is now."
Apparently, Woods' observation of UK players at the telethon drove home the point.
"I didn't like the vibe," he said.
When asked to explain, Woods said, "There's just a certain way and certain look Kentucky basketball players should have, and not have such a sense of entitlement.
"I think today it's still an honor to wear that uniform."
Noting the "great thing" UK Coach John Calipari had done in making Kentucky synonymous with college basketball being a one-season waystation en route to the NBA, Woods said, "I think these kids should be more appreciative coming through here. ... You're going to be an instant millionaire. But, still, you went through there and it helped you become who you are in those six, seven to eight months."
Not long afterward, Woods tried to clarify his comments through three tweets.
"In no way were my comments meant to offend or insult the current players at UK," he tweeted. "Simply an observation of today's youth everywhere."
In another tweet, Woods saluted Calipari. "I greatly admire Coach Cal and what he has done for the University of Kentucky and college basketball," he tweeted.
Woods also tweeted how he felt proud to have played for UK.
If Woods has his way, a bit of Kentucky basketball history will be featured prominently in Wednesday's game.
Morehead State will try to beat Kentucky with the physical, pressing style used by the Cats when Woods played 20 years ago. Fans, if not current players, may recall that then UK Coach Rick Pitino called it mother-in-law defense: constant harassment.
The style Woods envisions for his Eagles is "very similar," he said. "I'm just a coach who doesn't like people to be comfortable. I don't like teams being able to run their sets. I'm going to put you in situations you better have better basketball players. You better be deep and you better be able to take this pressure for 40 minutes. ...
"We're going to come at you. If Kentucky is meant to be and they play a good game, then they beat us. If they play young and turn the ball over against our pressure, then we're going to have a chance."
Of course, UK's presumptive point guard, Ryan Harrow, has missed the last two games because of an unnamed energy-sapping illness. In his absence, freshman Archie Goodwin and lightly-used junior Jarrod Polson did a bulk of the ballhandling, creating what Woods called a "point guard situation" at UK.
When asked if Kentucky was vulnerable to pressure defense, Woods said, "I haven't seen them be pressured yet. We're going to see how they handle ours."
On his weekly radio show, Calipari said that Harrow had lost seven pounds because of his illness. The UK coach said Harrow might practice Tuesday, but he made it sound unlikely that the player would see action against Morehead State.
Tickets are available for this week's UK games against Morehead State and LIU-Brooklyn.
Fans can call 1-800-928-2287, go online at UKathletics.com or Ticketmaster.com or visit the UK Ticket Office. Lower level tickets are $50 each and upper level are $42.
Tickets for UK's games against Lipscomb (Dec. 15), Marshall (Dec. 22) and Eastern Michigan (Jan. 2) go on sale Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 6 p.m. ET.
eRUPPtion Zone tickets ($5 each) are also available to the public for the LIU-Brooklyn game. Those tickets are limited to one per person (must be present at time of purchase) and will go on sale 90 minutes prior to tip-off at Rupp Arena.
Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog: ukbasketball.bloginky.com