Final Four notes: Kentucky's Lee surprised by classmates' standing ovation

jtipton@herald-leader.comApril 1, 2014 

Even the instructor joined classmates in applauding when freshman Marcus Lee entered a marketing class Tuesday.

"I thought it was awesome," said Lee, one of the heroes in UK's victory over Michigan on Sunday in the Midwest Region finals. "I was kind of blushing. I was really surprised."

UK Coach John Calipari, a marketing major as a college student, has noted how the performance against Michigan made Lee an Internet star. "Trending No. 1 around the world," the UK coach claimed.

Coincidentally, Lee's marketing class covers how advertisers try to make effective pitches.

"How to get in people's minds," said Lee, who noted the AT&T "ding noise" as an example. "Every time you hear it, you know it's AT&T. We're kind of learning about that."

Poythress, too?

Calipari suggested that Alex Poythress can rate an ovation in class, too.

"Why aren't you being Marcus Lee?" Calipari said he'd asked Poythress. "You jump like him. You're tall like him. You're stronger than him. They can't push you around, so go play like him."

The difficulty of expending the necessary energy to score, rebound and titillate web surfers might be holding back Poythress, Calipari suggested.

"Alex is playing great and he's halfway home" to peak production, the UK coach said. "... But he's got to let loose, and that means unbelievable energy."

On a teleconference, CBS analyst Greg Anthony cited Poythress as a possible unsung player who could make a difference in the Final Four. He also put Kasey Hill of Florida, Wisconsin's Josh Gasser and UConn's Niels Giffey in that category.

'Wish we had Willie'

Calipari did not slam the door on Willie Cauley-Stein playing Saturday. That might have had more to do with how UK needs someone like Cauley-Stein to defend Wisconsin's versatile 7-footer, Frank Kaminsky.

"Wish we had Willie, maybe we will," Calipari said before quickly adding, "I doubt it.

"But this would be his game. But he's not here."

Calipari declined to reveal Cauley-Stein's injury. "His ankle hurts," he said.

On Wisconsin

Calipari described Wisconsin as a disciplined team with knowledgeable veterans.

"Great, great, great passing team," he said. "Movement team. Keep you on defense. Make you stay in a stance. The moment you fall asleep, like if you have a bunch of young guys somebody's falling asleep," Wisconsin can take advantage.

Steve Kerr, who will work the Final Four telecast, said, "All of Kentucky's inexperience is going to be tested."

What tweak?

Anthony dismissed the supposed "tweaks" that Calipari keeps talking about.

"I actually don't think he's changed much," the CBS analyst said.

Anthony attributed UK's improved play to "kids matured.

"The season taught them how to play basketball as opposed to being basketball talent."

'Perfect'

Calipari described South Florida's hiring of UK assistant Orlando Antigua as an ideal marriage of opportunity and hire.

"The right job for him," Calipari said. "Just perfect."

South Florida has the facilities to be successful. The league is not too difficult. Antigua, who coaches the Dominican Republic national team, can recruit from that island. He also brings a "Latin flavor" to South Florida, Calipari said.

"Also, they need somebody to excite their fans and their campus," the UK coach said. "Well, that's him. That's who he is."

Self-deprecation

South Florida introduced Antigua as its new coach at a news conference Tuesday. Calipari sounded confident Antigua would make a good impression.

"You guys all know, anyone who meets him is going to say, 'I really like him,'" Calipari said before adding, "He did not get that from me."

Pep rally

The UK Alumni Association will play host to a pep rally Saturday from 1:30 to 4 p.m. CDT at Fishbone Grill (816 North Collins St. in Arlington).

Cost to attend is $30 for UK Alumni Association members and $35 for non-members who pre-register. A limited number of walk-ups will be accepted at the door for $40 per person.

A reservation can be made by calling 1-800-269-ALUM (2586) or 859-257-7161.

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

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