UK notes: Calipari weighs in on gun control

jtipton@herald-leader.comDecember 22, 2012 

Ryan Harrow (12) bumped chests with Jarrod Polson. Coach John Calipari said Harrow has gained five pounds since the start of the season and is "talking more" and "looking a lot better."

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When asked about his reaction to the Connecticut elementary school shootings last week, Kentucky Coach John Calipari questioned the presence of assault weapons in the United States.

"I don't see a need for assault weapons," he said Friday. "I don't see the need at all."

Earlier this week, Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim called for a ban on assault weapons. And Winthrop Coach Pat Kelsey called for the country to address why such shootings occur.

Calipari voiced agreement with both his coaching colleagues.

"We don't need assault rifles," the UK coach said. "It's a problem."

While acknowledging that he did not know how to stop the incidents of mass killings, Calipari suggested such issues as mental health funding and video games could be part of a national discussion.

"It needs to be a dialogue of how do we come to grips with this," he said.

Mental illness should not be a source of embarrassment, he said. Reductions in government funding to deal with mental health issues should be re-examined, he said.

Calipari put the question of how to deal with shootings like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on a personal level.

"I think we've got a lot of bull-headed people," he said. "If it was their child, I think they'd act."

Calipari mentioned gun control as an alternative that could be discussed.

Then mimicking a gun enthusiast, the UK coach said, "'We don't need it. I need my assault rifle.'"

Then returning to the first person, Calipari added,

"What if it's your child in that (class) room? How would you feel right now? Would you feel the same way?

"I think if we took it and looked at it that way, I think people would deal with it differently, and we'd come to terms (with it).

"It's just happening too much now."

3.066

The UK men's basketball team had a grade-point average of 3.066 in the fall semester, the athletic department announced. That made the Cats among 17 of the 20 UK teams that had a GPA of 3.0 or better.

UK boasted an overall GPA for its scholarship athletes of 3.030. Counting non-scholarship players, the GPA was a 3.034.

That surpassed Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart's oft-stated goal of a 3.0.

"I see how hard our student-athletes work every day and this is the result," Barnhart said in a statement. "I am proud of the commitment our young people and coaches have made to academics. Education is one of the pillars of our program and I want to thank CATS and our entire support staff for taking that to heart."

The women's tennis team led all UK teams with a GPA of 3.842.

Of UK's 273 athletes, more than half had a GPA of 3.0 or better. Fifty-four had a 4.0 GPA, the school's athletic department said.

Harrow update

Calipari noted how point guard Ryan Harrow had gained five pounds and was improving as a player.

"Helping the team," the UK coach said. "Talking more. Being more active. Looking a lot better."

Pressure

Graduate student Julius Mays noted how many other programs look for player improvement over a season or two.

"Here, there's so much pressure for you to develop right now," he said.

Mays called for perspective on freshman forward Alex Poythress's play. "You've got to remember that he's right out of high school," he said.

Etc.

Junior college transfers D.D. Scarver (15.5 ppg) and Elijah Pittman (14.3) are Marshall's leading scorers. Guard DeAndre Kane, an all-Conference USA pick, averages 15.0 points, but he's sidelined because of a hand injury. ... Scarver has led Marshall in scoring in each of the last four games. ... Pittman, a native of Covington, is Marshall's most athletic player. He's also made a three-point shot in every game this season. ... Mark Jones and Kara Lawson will call the game for ESPN2.

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

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