John Clay: UK needs Harrow and Goodwin to shine against Cardinals

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistDecember 22, 2012 

One sparkled, the other struggled.

Ryan Harrow continued his upward trend. The sophomore turned in his best game of the season on Saturday as Kentucky mashed Marshall 82-54 at Rupp Arena. He hit 10 of 17 shots, scored a career-high 23 points, and earned the holiday praise of his head coach.

"When he's playing the right way, with aggressiveness, talking to his teammates, that look in his eye," said John Calipari, "he's as good as anybody in the country right now."

Archie Goodwin went every which way. The freshman also took 17 shots, but made only four. He managed to score 18 points, thanks to a 10-of-11 effort from the foul line, but he also turned it over four times.

"I was disappointed," Calipari said. "He missed four layups."

Such is the up-and-down life with young, inexperienced, albeit talented guards. Trouble is, next Saturday at the KFC Yum Center, life gets very real. And tough. See you Samford, Portland, Lipscomb and Marshall.

Kentucky plays fifth-ranked Louisville. Rick Pitino's Louisville. A Louisville that plays to an impressive, experienced, versatile strength: Its guards.

Peyton Siva is a senior and the pre-season Big East Player of the Year. Russ Smith is a junior, has a horse named after him (Russdiculous) and is the subject of a lengthy feature in this week's Sports Illustrated.

Thanks in large part to that backcourt tandem, Louisville boasts the highest turnover margin in the country. Heading into Saturday's night's game against Western Kentucky, the accomplished thieves were turning opponents over nearly once every three trips down the floor.

"Who are we playing next week?" asked Calipari as if he had no clue. "We're playing Louisville? Whoa, that's going to be a hard game. I'm just worried about my team right now."

With perhaps an eye on next Saturday, Calipari's post-game intent as far as his team was concerned appeared to be confidence-building. After a tearing-down process and an intense week of "Camp Cal" full of non-stop practicing and eating, apparently, the coach was in full build-them-back-up mode.

"They all made strides," he proclaimed before sending his players home for the Christmas break with instructions for a Wednesday return.

Harrow has made strides by leaps and bounds. His minutes and production have grown with each game since his return to the team in late November. The minutes-played column reads 9, 18, 21, 25, 31 to 33 on Saturday. The points column reads 2, 2, 2, 8, 12 and 23.

He of the soft voice may not be his team's yell leader, but he's talking more, trying to lead. Along the way, said Calipari, Harrow has traded being "cool" for being "good."

"Coach Cal says the 'good guy' is one of the best point guards in the nation," Harrow said. "The 'cool guy' sucks. I don't want to be a sucky player, so I have to play aggressively."

Louisville feasts off the non-aggressive. Timidity against the Cards is a turnover waiting to happen. But you have to play smart, too, which leads us to Goodwin.

The Arkansas native is aggressive on the offensive end, we know that. It's his calling card. Goodwin does not turn down many shots or drives to the basket.

But most hoops gurus will tell you a bad shot is just an uncounted turnover, especially against transition teams adept at turning them into points.

To be fair, for the most part, Goodwin has shot the ball fairly well this season before Saturday. He was 22-for-43 in his previous four games. But he can't miss 13 of 17 shots next Saturday if UK expects to pull the upset.

"Believe me when I tell you, I'm not worried about anybody we're playing," Calipari contended. "I'm worried about my team. If we go in and Louisville is way better than us, we move on to the next game. We're going to go in, we're going to play our game. We've gotten better. Is that good enough? I don't know."

To be "good enough" next Saturday, both Kentucky guards will have to sparkle.

John Clay: (859) 231-3226. Email: jclay@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @johnclayiv. Blog: johnclay.bloginky.com

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