Kentucky's Ryan Harrow finally getting the point

jtipton@herald-leader.comJanuary 8, 2013 

Kentucky guard Ryan Harrow drove for a first-half layup against Eastern Michigan on Wednesday. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff

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    When: 7 p.m. Saturday
    Where: LP Field in Nashville
    TV: ESPNews
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Kentucky Coach John Calipari saluted Ryan Harrow as a player who has blossomed into the point guard/floor leader the team needed.

Speaking on the Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference Monday, Calipari noted how Harrow had gained trust.

"His teammates trust him now," Calipari said.

The UK coach noted how Harrow spends extra time with teammates. For instance, he stays in the gym after completing his individual workouts.

"Talks to them, encourages them," Calipari said of Harrow's extra involvement. "He's become that guy we needed him to be."

Harrow has learned how leadership translates into service to others, Calipari said.

"You've got to be around (teammates)," the UK coach said. "They've got to know you're for them, and then they'll follow. Then you can lead.

"Leadership is not about walking on the floor and barking orders."

Calipari repeated recent observations that Harrow has progressed to where the UK coaches believed he could be at the beginning of the season. Now, the question becomes where to go from there.

When asked where Harrow can go, Calipari said, "Why not try to be the best point guard in the country? Why not? Why would you not chase that? Why do anything short of that?"

In the last three games, Harrow has made 21 of 40 shots (which includes four of five from three-point range against Eastern Michigan last week), handed out 15 assists and committed six turnovers.

"The way he's playing right now, assist-to-turnover, shooting percentage, (is) all the stuff we need him to do," Calipari said. "On top of that, defending pretty well."

Calipari saluted Harrow's defense on the ball and off the ball.

"All the things that guy needs to do to be able to lead, he's doing," the UK coach said.

Poythress progress

UK's game at Vanderbilt Thursday will be something of a homecoming for Alex Poythress, who grew up 49 miles away in Clarksville.

Calipari defended Poythress and how he's adjusting to the college level. The UK coach linked any perception of Poythress not progressing fast enough to the "warp speed" development associated with Kentucky freshmen.

Poythress is averaging a double-double "practically," Calipari said. Poythress' averages for points and rebounds total 20.3 (14.0 points, 6.3 rebounds).

The perception is "it's not good enough," Calipari said. "To be honest, it's not. Because it's not his best. But he's come a long way."

Hood still sidelined

Jon Hood has mononucleosis, Calipari said on his weekly radio show Monday night.

Hood hasn't practiced in about three weeks, the UK coach said. He's played in eight games this season. A former Kentucky Mr. Basketball, he's averaging 1.8 points and 4.8 minutes.

Calipari did not say how much longer he thought Hood would be sidelined.

Maymon out

Tennessee announced Sunday that forward Jeronne Maymon will sit out the season and seek redshirt status. Complications from off-season knee surgery have sidelined Maymon, who averaged 12.7 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds last season.

"What you lose is a level of toughness," Coach Cuonzo Martin said. "A guy who you ask, What do you think of Tennessee basketball? The first name you bring up is probably Jeronne Maymon even though you have other talented players.

"Just a physical, tough, hard-nosed guy who plays with a lot of energy and a lot of passion."

While Tennessee has had to adjust to Maymon's absence all season, Martin noted the change imposed on forward Jarnell Stokes. Stokes sees many more double-teams this season, the UT coach said.

SEC down?

To make the case for the SEC not necessarily being sub-par this season, Florida Coach Billy Donovan used last season's Tennessee team as an example.

The Vols won only three of their first nine games. With the addition of Stokes and the adjustment to Martin's coaching style further along, UT won eight of its final nine regular-season games.

Donovan's message: As the season unfolds, teams can get better.

"You can't argue the Tennessee of February-March wasn't totally different from the Tennessee of November and December," Donovan said. "And I think that's what you're going to see inside our league (this season)."

Knight time

Former Indiana Coach (and noted UK critic) Bob Knight will provide commentary on ESPN's telecast of the Kentucky-Vanderbilt game Thursday.

Rece Davis will do the play-by-play.

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

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