MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Ironically, the kind of one-for-all unity and resolve that Kentucky sought all season surfaced after a 59-57 loss to Robert Morris on Tuesday. Members of the much-heralded freshman class — minus Nerlens Noel, of course — all said they intended to return to UK next season.
"I don't think it's a question of whether I'm going (to the NBA) or not," said Archie Goodwin, who led UK with 18 points. "I don't think I'm ready to go."
Then Goodwin added, "There's no reason any of our guys should really leave. We should come back next year . . . and just try to do better."
Alex Poythress echoed Goodwin's assessment. "I don't think I'm ready," he said.
Poythress said he would concentrate on off-season workouts. "That's when you get better," he said. That's when the Cats can "continue to regroup."
Willie Cauley-Stein, who assumed the center position when Noel tore an anterior cruciate ligament last month, laughed when asked if he might enter this year's NBA Draft.
"No," he said. "Nobody's ready for it. I don't think anybody's ready for it mentality-wise, body-wise, athletic-wise."
Cauley-Stein said the disappointing season left him feeling a need to return.
"I've got this empty feeling in my gut and I want to fill it," he said.
But, Cauley-Stein did not rule out an entry into the 2013 NBA Draft.
"It just depends on what my situation is," he said. "I want to win a national championship. It could be next year. Could be the year after."
But the financial security of being an NBA first-round pick cannot be automatically dismissed, he said. "If my family needs me, I'll go."
Goodwin sounded like John Calipari — even using one of his favorite words — in suggesting all UK freshmen (with the possible exception of Noel) should return.
"If any of us are saying we think we should leave, we're all being delusional," he said. "None of us need to leave. (Returning) is just going to help us in the long run."
Calipari said he would sit down and discuss options with each UK player individually.
"You expect me to be honest with them," he said, "and that's what I'll do."
Point guard Ryan Harrow's season continued its sour spiral downward. After 2-for-15 shooting left him tearfully apologizing for the 64-48 loss to Vanderbilt in the SEC Tournament last week, he sat the bench most of the night at Robert Morris.
Harrow played nine minutes, his lowest total since the first game back from a de facto leave of absence early in the season. In the final two games, he had one assist and six turnovers.
Although he spoke about wanting to return to UK next season, Harrow acknowledged that Calipari has veto power over any player's wishes.
"If I can come back, I will come back," he said. "If I can't, I'll just have to make decisions, really."
Robert Morris took the initiative from the start. The Colonials took a 10-0 lead inside the first five minutes.
"The game got too rough," Calipari said. "You sit there and shake your head."
The UK coach saluted Robert Morris's approach.
"They just physically came in and said, 'These guys can't physically withstand our toughness. Go at them,'" he said. "That's all they did."
Two hours prior to tip-off, the chief of campus police gave advice to the Robert Morris students already in place.
"Don't be idiots," Randy Mink said.
When asked about the potential for idiocy, Mink smiled and said the Robert Morris students were "perfect kids." He said that his attitude toward the students was, "Help me out and I'll help you."
The students rushed the court at the final buzzer. But it seemed like an orderly stampede, as stampedes go.
Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227 Twitter: @JerryTipton Blog: ukbasketball.bloginky.com