Kentucky-Miss. State notes: Calipari 'stirs everybody up' and moves forward

jtipton@herald-leader.comFebruary 7, 2014 

Three days after complaining about scrutiny his team faces and an anti-Kentucky bias in college basketball, John Calipari sort of offered an amendment: Never mind.

Calipari made light of his earlier comments about UK being the most overly analzyed team in the history of sports and how dark motives move some media types to hope, not just opine about the Cats' struggles.

"There's a lot of things I just feel like saying," the UK coach said Friday in a throwaway tone.

Listeners take his comments too seriously, Calipari said. He joked about praying for his enemies at church Friday morning. He claimed a fellow parishioner offered him support, which supposedly led him to ask Deputy Director of Athletics DeWayne Peevy to explain. "What? Are you paranoid?" Calipari said Peevy responded.

"If it stirs everybody up, I'm fine," he said.

When pressed to say why he talked about the scrutiny and questioned reporters' motives, Calipari turned cryptic.

"I like to talk in parables," he said. "Those who understand, listen. And the others don't have any idea what I'm talking about."

Shortly before patting himself on the back for being a truth-teller, Calipari said coaching for Kentucky had been "the greatest five years of my life."

'Unique player'

Reserve Dominique Hawkins spoke glowingly of starting point guard Andrew Harrison.

"He's a unique player," Hawkins said. "He can do so many things."

When asked what made Harrison unique, Hawkins said. "Because he's a point guard that's 6-5. That's not real (common), and he's pretty fast for how tall he is. He can shoot good, He can post you up. He's posted me up many times before, and I can't stop him."

Hawkins also lauded the intangible contributions Harrison makes.

"He's a great teammate, too," he said. "He's basically our leader."

'Protective blanket'

Jarrod Polson noted how UK guards had been working on preventing opponents from driving to the basket. To blunt the initial drive is to help teammates like Willie Cauley-Stein and Dakari Johnson get into position for the block.

"Willie's kind of the protective blanket for us guards," Polson said.

Two-and-done

Calipari welcomed the idea of the NBA requiring players to stay in college two seasons before turning pro. In such a scenario, players would be further along toward a degree, he said.

But, he added, such a rule change would displease rival coaches.

"Because I get these guys for two years," he said. "That's why."

Of course, in the second year, rival coaches might have greater recruiting success by pointing out that Kentucky's roster was full of two-and-done players.

'Winning player'

Calipari noted again how defenses collapse on Julius Randle.

"He's the only player in college basketball being played by three different people," the UK coach said. Calipari recalled how Tennessee players spoke of how Jeronne Maymon made his own scoring secondary to containing Randle.

After noting how Randle is improving as a passer out of traps, Calipari said, "That's who I want on my team. He's a winning player. He's tough. He can do things. Make a key basket like he did at Missouri down the stretch even though he's getting fouled on just about every possession."

When asked about Randle shooting 10 free throws against Ole Miss after getting only 11 in the three most recent games, Calipari said, "They called the fouls."

Etc.

■ Mississippi State will seek its 400th victory in Humphrey Coliseum.

■ Joe Davis and Joe Dean Jr. will call the game for the SEC Network.

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

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