Kentucky-Belmont notes: Tough day for Calipari after son tears ACL

mmaloney@herald-leader.comDecember 21, 2013 

More family urgency than emergency caused John Calipari to skip out on his radio commitment after Kentucky's 93-80 victory over Belmont on Saturday.

With assistant coach John Robic filling in on radio, Calipari ended his press conference by wishing "a great holiday" to those in attendance.

"Hope you get to spend it with your family," he said. "My whole family is in.

"My son (Brad) tore his ACL yesterday in a high school game and I had to go to the hospital last night. Tough deal. He's worked so hard and done great stuff, and he's out six months. So I'm kind of dealing with that right now, my own son, and kind of similar to I remember sitting down with Nerlens (Noel) and having him cry and then telling him why he was OK.

"I had the same scene last night. I literally did not want to tell him what I knew, and the doc said 'He probably knows; you need to tell him,' because I didn't want to deal with it. And then I told him, and same response that you would expect from a 17-year-old. But he's doing fine, and this is all part of life. This is all part of growing. This is adversity that's thrown at every kid in every family, so I'm going to spend a little time with him to try to keep him thinking the right way."

Brad Calipari is a junior shooting guard at Lexington Christian Academy. He scored three points before being injured in LCA's 64-48 victory over Paris on Friday night.

The Energizers

Calipari the coach made a point of saluting substitute guards Jarrod Polson and Dominique Hawkins.

"What did (Polson) add to the game? Energy," Calipari said. "Energy. Nothing else. So now you understand what energy does for our team. And if you're sitting there and you're not one of the guys playing, you're saying, 'Man, I've got to play with energy.'"

Calipari cited Hawkins for "energy and toughness. I put him in for James (Young) and he dives on the floor and gets that ball that basically ends the game."

Polson, a senior, finished with a three-pointer and an assist in 21 minutes of play. Hawkins, a freshman, had two points, four rebounds, three assists and a steal in 22 minutes.

Asked what he adds to the team, Polson had a similar response: "Energy. I'll probably say that a lot. I think we were down 10 or 11 when I got in. The crowd was dead and (Belmont) was hitting shots. I tried to push the ball. That's what Coach Cal wanted me to do. I felt like I did pretty good with that."

Julius Randle, who scored a career-high 29 points, also jumped on the Polson-Hawkins bandwagon.

"Jarrod is just a veteran and he's been around here for so long," Randle said. "Only thing Dominique knows how to do is play hard. The rest takes care of itself for him, and that's all Coach wants us to do. They just came in and brought energy to the team and got things going."

The Example

Calipari used Polson's time on the floor as teachable moments with Andrew Harrison, who he said "didn't play particularly well."

"I sat him next to me so I could talk him through what Jarrod was doing. Because he can do everything Jarrod can do to another level, but he's not. 'Do you see what he's doing?' You know, I'm just going to keep working with him because at the end of the day I want Andrew to be the best point guard in the country. Right now, most games, he's not the best point guard on the court.

"We've just got to get it changed. He has the talent, he has the ability, he has the mindset. I've just got to keep working with him."

Word from Byrd

Belmont Coach Rick Byrd said he was surprised by UK's depth.

"There was a guy or two that we didn't have on the scouting report," he said. "I know for us when we have a guy who doesn't get a lot of time and he comes in and plays well and gets things done, it lifts the team up. There are more guys not playing than are playing, and all of those unknown guys, when their buddies get in, can make a difference.

"For that matter, to the regulars it's a big deal. They know how hard the guys practice and don't get to play much. When they come in and contribute, it's a big lift for your basketball team."

Quick shots

■ Aaron Harrison finished with 23 points, his seventh consecutive double-digit effort.

■ Young, who made at least one three-pointer in 10 of 11 games, went 0-for-2 from long distance Saturday.

■ Strong pedigrees for Belmont include Blake Jenkins and Evan Bradds. Jenkins' father, Fred, was a standout at Tennessee. Bradds' grandfather Gary has his number retired at Ohio State.

■ Drew Windler's 21 points were one shy of leading Belmont in scoring. Windler scored a team-high 11 points for Samford when that team visited UK in Rupp Arena on Dec. 20, 2011.

■ Byrd on Windler hitting back-to-back threes for the Bruins' first points: "Drew answered the bell the way he started out, and it made them adjust how they had to play defense against us."

■ All six of Belmont's December opponents played in the 2013 post-season NCAA Tournament or NIT.

Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @MarkMaloneyHL. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com.

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service