UK-Arkansas notes: Saturday will be homecoming for Archie Goodwin

jtipton@herald-leader.comMarch 1, 2013 

Given the possible anxiety associated with a return to his home state, Kentucky freshman Archie Goodwin figures to have a few out-of-control plays at Arkansas on Saturday.

Then again, how could you tell?

UK Coach John Calipari made that point Friday.

"He may have a couple moments," Calipari said. "But he's had them without going home. Where he does some things (and the coach reacts by saying) 'Oh, my gosh.'

"So I don't think it'll affect him."

Goodwin figures to get a rude welcoming. A native of Little Rock, he signed with Kentucky despite Arkansas' recruiting effort to keep him home.

Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson did not stoke that fire.

"He was a good kid," he said of Goodwin on Thursday. "A good kid. He's a good player. One of the best players in the state, and one of the best players in the country."

Goodwin's high school coach, Kevin Davis, vouched for the idea that this will not be just another game.

"I think it's a big game for Archie and an exciting time, because the state means so much to him," Davis told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. "He's such a family guy, and his family is so good. His family means so much to him, and Arkansas does, too. He's got a lot of passion for the state. I know he wants to come back home and do well, and I'm sure he's excited to see his family and friends."

Calipari said he had spoken with Goodwin about handling the emotions that come with such a game. The UK coach noted that Goodwin is still liable to make questionable decisions on the court like shooting "with three guys on you and two guys wide open." Or "leave your feet and spin in the air and shoot a left-handed hook."

Said the UK coach, "He's trying."

Davis, who coached Goodwin at Sylvan Hills High, said he could not predict how the player will react to the game's dynamics.

"In games where there are a lot of emotions, you just never know which side that thing's going to go," he said. "Sometimes it can cause you to struggle, and sometimes it can cause you to play off the charts. ... Knowing Archie like I do, I think the experience he's gotten at Kentucky will help him channel it in the right way."

Davis suggested that the goal of reaching the NBA played a part in the decision to sign with Kentucky.

"Archie is such a driven young man to his passion for being an NBA player, and being the very best at basketball," the high school coach said.

As to whether Goodwin will enter this year's NBA Draft, Davis said, "Just speculating, I know how driven he is to achieve at the highest level. ... But Archie is going to take it a day at a time."

New offense

Julius Mays, who can claim the third-best three-point shooting accuracy in Southeastern Conference play (46.3 percent), noted that UK's offense in the post-Nerlens Noel portion of the season puts the onus on guards to make plays.

"All in our hands," he said. The exception is late-game situations where time and score must be considered.

"Other than that, (Calipari) just wants us to get up and down and play."

Mays voiced his expectation that the Arkansas game will come down to a test of execution in the final minutes. "Who's going to make the toughness plays?" he said.

Calipari acknowledged the reliance on players making plays rather than running plays. He singled out Mays' comfort in shouldering responsibility.

"He's not afraid to miss tough shots," the UK coach said.

Young struggles

Arkansas' leading scorer, BJ Young (15.3 points per game), has made only two of 19 shots in the last two games. In that time, he's committed nine turnovers.

"I think BJ puts a lot of pressure on himself to try to make plays," Anderson said. "He's been making plays all his life. I think there are times when you've got to defer and trust other guys."

Young's accuracy from three-point range has dipped from 41.3 percent as a freshman to 21.9 percent this season.

"I thought he was hesitant (at LSU on Wednesday night)," Anderson said. " ... And shooting is about confidence. It's all about confidence."

"I think it's a lot flatter. And part of it is confidence."


Brian Anderson and Dan Bonner will call Saturday's game for CBS.

Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227 Twitter: @JerryTipton Blog:

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