UK basketball notes: Seniors open Senior Night with three-pointers

jtipton@herald-leader.comMarch 5, 2014 

When Jon Hood swished a three-pointer from the right corner to start Kentucky's Senior Night victory over Alabama, he shot a glance at fellow honoree Jarrod Polson.

"I looked dead at him," said Hood, who then interpreted the glance for reporters. "OK, you're turn."

As if on cue, Polson hit a three-pointer from the top of the key for Kentucky's second basket.

"I thought he was just looking at me," Polson said. "(As if to say) 'Hey, I just made one.'

"He said before the game that the first daylight he got, he was going to knock that down."

Polson expressed gratitude for how Hood helped acclimate him to the UK campus four years ago. Hood is a fifth-year senior. "I followed him around like a lost dog," Polson said.

UK Coach John Calipari saluted Hood and Polson as "two of the most loved players, maybe other than Darius (Miller), that I've coached here."

Calipari not leaving?

Calipari made light of speculation that he will no longer coach for Kentucky after this season.

Asked if he was coming back as UK coach next season, he said, "I hope. If I get through the hip surgery."

Calipari first brought up the rumors, making light of them when asked about UK's game at No. 1 Florida on Saturday.

"I haven't thought of it," he said. "I'm trying to figure out if I'm coming back next year."

That was meant as a joke.

Cal's hip

Calipari said he will need hip surgery.

"It's been bothering me ... ," he said in acknowledging how this season has been literally painful. "I mean, I got a massage today. We're winding down. I'm fine. I did take some painkillers. I don't take aspirin, drugs, nothing. Never smoked. I'm like ridiculous.

"But I took four straight days of pain pills so I could sleep. I said, 'I'm not doing it (again). I stopped."

Growing up

Brian Hood noted how his son Jon has grown in his five seasons as a UK player. Physically, he'd grown from a 6-51/2, 183-pound freshman to a 6-7, 220-pound fifth-year senior.

Hood's father described his son's growth as "not only physically, but emotionally.

"That's what you take away from it. And, frankly, that's what you want. Life, he's equipped to do that, now, partly because of the things he's went through."

Coach Hood?

Calipari has offered Jon Hood a position on the staff next season, the player's father said.

Hood was non-committal about coaching.

"I would nit-pick people to death," he said. "I'm very much a perfectionist when it comes to basketball. I know how it's supposed to be played. I know what it's supposed to look like."

Future unplanned

Jarrod Polson is scheduled to earn a degree in marketing (minor in communications) at the end of the spring semester. He also has a degree in finance.

Polson is unsure about his post-UK career. He's open to playing overseas. He's also weighing a career in business or the Christian ministry.

Extra benefit?

Polson's father, George, had the idea of the player's mother, Chrisi, singing the national anthem.

"Potentially, it would be cool," the elder Polson said. "Such a unique thing."

UK cited NCAA rules, which might consider Chrisi Polson singing the national anthem as an "extra benefit," George Polson said.

Manuel Castillo of the UK School of Music sang the national anthem.

The Kentucky-based music group Sundy Best sang a soulful version of My Old Kentucky Home.

Odds lengthening

Kentucky can add the Las Vegas-based betting agency Bovada to the opposition in its us-against-the-world mindset.

Bovada's new odds released Tuesday are 16-1 for a UK championship. Last May 15, Bovada made Kentucky a 5-1 favorite to win this year's NCAA Tournament.

Florida is the new favorite to win the championship. The Gators' odds are 5-1, a big improvement from 18-1 last May.

Arizona and Kansas are the second choices at 8-1. In May, Arizona was a 15-1 shot and Kansas an 11-2 choice.

Wichita State has made the biggest improvement. Last May, Bovada made the Shockers a 66-1 shot. The new odds of a Wichita State national championship are 9-1.

Coaches not so bad

From The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday:

Ejections of Jim Boeheim (Syracuse) and John Calipari (Kentucky) from recent games might suggest that coaches need to get a grip.

But maybe not.

Citing Stats LLC, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that "with 379 technical fouls assessed to coaches through 9,954 games, this season is on pace to see the lowest rate of coaching technical fouls per game in the last decade."

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

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