Ryan Harrow figuring out way to take place in Calipari's point guard pantheon

jtipton@herald-leader.comJanuary 1, 2013 

Kentucky Wildcats guard Ryan Harrow (12) went in over Louisville Cardinals guard Russ Smith (2) as Louisville defeated Kentucky 80-77 on Saturday December 29, 2012 in Louisville, Ky. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff

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Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, John Wall, Brandon Knight, Marquis Teague ... Ryan Harrow?

As tough acts to follow go, Harrow found himself in an impossible situation this season. Being next in a line of John Calipari point guards can be the definition of a no-win proposition.

No one replaces John, Paul, George and Ringo. You don't try.

Instead, you follow your own muse and, if all goes well, you carve out your own musical niche.

Harrow seems on that path, which pleases CBS college basketball analyst Greg Anthony.

"(Calipari's previous point guards) might be better, individually," Anthony said before Kentucky played at Louisville Saturday. "But that's not the question. The question is, 'Can I make my team function better than they made theirs?' And that's what he's learning."

Anthony, who played point guard for a national championship team (UNLV, 1990), knows the position well. Comparing individual excellence is fun, but irrelevant.

"He's not a kid like John Wall or Derrick Rose — thought to be the best player in the country potentially, you know," said Anthony, who acknowledged that it's easy to make comparisons.

"When you're younger and you're all that ego, you might want to think that. Then reality sets in."

For Harrow, reality set in early this season when he took a de facto leave of absence. When he returned, he acknowledged that the idea of being next in line as a Calipari point guard was a reason he needed time away.

After returning, Harrow seemed more willing to make his own mark.

"He's getting more comfortable in his own skin," Anthony said. "'This is who I am. If I play my game, I can still allow my team to achieve all my goals.'"

In talking with reporters Monday, Harrow cited his absence from the Kentucky team as a reason he does not consider himself a team leader.

"I think that forfeited that right to be a leader," he said.

Harrow described an exchange with Calipari when player and coach discussed how best to move forward.

Calipari asked the player how he thought he could best help the team. Harrow said, as point guard, he should lead.

Calipari advised leading by example, first and foremost by playing with a high degree of energy.

"So that's my role," Harrow said. "I understand what Coach wants from me now. I think I've been doing that the last couple games. I just have to keep on doing that and keep on building on that."

Harrow described that next step as getting teammates more involved in the offense while maintaining his own scoring threat.

"If it means taking away from my scoring, then so be it," he said. "I didn't think I'd score much anyway because of all the talent I have around me."

Anthony defined Harrow as a scoring point guard.

"I don't look at him as a pure point guard," the CBS analyst said. "He's a point. He's probably more comfortable scoring than facilitating. That's just what I've seen. He's talented. He's getting better. His confidence is coming.

"When I say pure point, he's starting to make better decisions. I think he needs to score with his group."

Scoring or not, Harrow gives Kentucky a reliable ball handler. Anthony found Harrow's tiny turnover total a poor way to gauge ball handling.

"What I like is his overall decision making," he said of Harrow. "A lot of times, the decision making is not your ability to go make a play for somebody. Sometimes your ability to let somebody else make a play. Sometimes it's your ability to just be a quick ball mover.

"He had to take a few steps back to figure out the Kentucky way. Now he's starting to make some progress."

Anthony also noted how Harrow has become more aggressive. That gets tempered by a growing knowledge of what teammates can do and how they can be most effective.

Harrow's team-first approach has opened up new vistas.

"I've even started watching (game) film," he said. "I never used to watch film.

Before playing at Louisville, Harrow watched the Cardinals' games against Duke, Missouri and Memphis.

"I don't like watching basketball," he said. "I used to be so flashy. The stuff I used to do would excite me. Then watching other players (made him think) 'You all are boring.' "

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

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