Kentucky's Harrow ready to return to the court

jtipton@herald-leader.comNovember 28, 2012 

  • SEC/Big east challenge: kentucky at notre dame

    When: 7 p.m. Thursday | TV: ESPN2 | Radio: WLAP-AM 630, WBUL-FM 98.1 | Records: Kentucky 4-1, Notre Dame 6-1 | Series: Kentucky leads 42-18 | Last meeting: Kentucky won 72-58 on Dec. 8, 2010, in Louisville.

  • Thursday

    SEC/Big East Challenge:Kentucky at Notre Dame

    When: 7 p.m.

    TV: ESPN2

    Radio: WLAP-AM 630, WBUL-FM 98.1

    Records: Kentucky 4-1, Notre Dame 6-1

    Series: Kentucky leads 42-18

    Last meeting: Kentucky won 72-58 on Dec. 8, 2010, in Louisville.

With shorter hair and, perhaps, greater perspective, Ryan Harrow faced reporters Wednesday. Kentucky's presumptive point guard this season shed little light on what illness caused him to miss the last four games.

"Nobody knows," he said. "I still don't know."

Noting that he's gotten similarly ill this time of year since being a high school senior, Harrow pronounced himself ready to contribute in UK's game at Notre Dame on Thursday night. "If Coach (John Calipari) feels like he needs to play me, he'll play me," he said. "And I'll be ready."

But Calipari unequivocally labeled freshman Archie Goodwin the UK point guard going forward.

"He's our point guard," Calipari said. "He's earned the position. He's our point guard. Now, that doesn't mean he's our only point guard. Now we have three point guards, which is even better than having one point guard."

The third point guard is junior Jarrod Polson.

Calipari did not commit himself to playing Harrow at Notre Dame. But the UK coach suggested as much. "I may throw him in the Notre Dame game just to see where he is," he said. "We're still learning. It's November."

Calipari touted the importance of not revealing why Harrow had been sidelined.

"Whatever this young man was going through, I would hope you'd look at it and say, 'I wish he'd handle my son this way,'" the UK coach said. "That whatever's going on stays in-house. That '(Calipari's) whole goal was to help my son get back on that court with a smile on his face.'

"Pretty simple."

When asked if the pressure of playing for Kentucky contributed to his absence, Harrow said, "It might have played a role in me getting sick."

His high-top fade hairstyle tribute to teammate Nerlens Noel cut off, Harrow noted the tough acts he has to follow as Calipari's point guard. That would be Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans at Memphis, then John Wall, Brandon Knight and Marquis Teague at Kentucky. All first-round picks.

"It's no pressure," Harrow said before adding, "I've got to be me. Those guys who were here before me, they did well. They all struggled at the beginning of the year, too."

Harrow played 10 minutes in UK's opening-game against Maryland. He missed all four of his shots. Afterward, Calipari cited an energy-sapping illness had hindered Harrow.

Of following Rose-Evans-Wall-Knight-Teague, Harrow said, "That's just something we have to handle when we come to Kentucky or when you play for a person like Coach Cal."

Harrow noted dire consequences for players who cannot handle the inevitable comparisons.

"The media and fans will just eat you up," he said.

Calipari cautioned against Harrow or any UK player trying to live up to the standard of a predecessor. For instance, the UK coach has shied away from comparisons of Noel to last season's All-America big man, Anthony Davis, or Davis to Marcus Camby, who led Calipari-coached UMass to the 1996 Final Four.

"They're all different," Calipari said. "I told them all the same thing: It's all how you want to look at things. ... (Harrow) is not expected to be those guys. ...

"I coach them all to play to their strengths and try to help them be the best version of themselves. So that's never talked about within. Now maybe sometimes you think of that yourself. But that's not what we teach or what we want."

Earlier this fall, Harrow made no secret of the adjustment he had to make to Calipari's high-volume coaching. A national television audience watched Calipari's demanding style during ESPN's three-part All-Access Kentucky series.

"I didn't even watch the show after the first time," Harrow said, "because I knew how the second and third shows were going to go."

The All-Access Kentucky show presented a distorted view of his relationship with Calipari, Harrow said. The coach can be more encouraging than the series suggested.

Speaking of encouragement, Harrow said Calipari had been more positive since the player returned Sunday from dealing with what UK had termed a family issue.

"He tells me I'm doing better a lot more, now," Harrow said. "But he still yells at me and stuff like that. I'm kind of used to it, now."

Calipari denied making any change in his approach toward Harrow.

"He's just been gone so long, you start thinking everything I say is negative," the UK coach said. "I'm coaching him exactly the same way."

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

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