Final Four notes: 'You can't be scared to miss,' Harrison says

jtipton@herald-leader.comApril 5, 2014 

  • NCAA championship game

    Kentucky (29-10) vs. Connecticut (31-8)

    When: 9:10 p.m. Monday (CBS)

    Where: Arlington, Texas

ARLINGTON, Texas — In the last three games, Kentucky guard Aaron Harrison made only seven of 26 shots until making three-pointers in the final seconds. He was 2-for-7 against Wisconsin, 3-for-7 against Michigan and 2-for-12 against Louisville.

"Guys that make game winners are not afraid to miss them," Coach John Calipari said after Harrison shot UK to a 74-73 victory over Wisconsin on Saturday night. "The best players, they have amnesia from play to play."

Harrison seemed reluctant to take a bow. Asked why he had the confidence to take the big shot on a night when he did not shoot well, he said, "Because Coach said he wanted me to take the shot. I think that gave me a lot of confidence.

"You can't be scared to miss, and you wanna be the guy that wants to take the big shot. It's just a feeling that I want to be the one to take the shot."

Harrison acknowledged doubt about the shot. "I thought it was going to hit the back of the rim and bounce off," he said. "But it rattled in, and I'm just happy it went in."

Said Calipari: "It was a NBA three, contested, and he made it. It's crazy that he does it."

Poythress: I'm OK

Alex Poythress dismissed concern that he might have gotten hurt during Kentucky's on-court celebration after the game ended."Nah, I just got caught on the bottom of the dog pile," he said. "But I'll be fine."

Calipari cited Marcus Lee's contributions against Michigan as spurring Poythress, who had eight points and seven rebounds.

"Marcus Lee kind of woke him up," the UK coach said. "Like if Marcus Lee can do that, I can do that. Everybody on this team is waiting for him to break out like he did and like he is now."

Firepower

If the SEC figured to be represented in the Final Four, the likely suspects were Florida and Kentucky.

McDonald's All-Americans are not everything, but they're something. Of the 12 McDonald's All-Americans on SEC rosters this season, nine played for either Kentucky (seven) or Florida (two).

The UK seven are sophomore Alex Poythress, plus freshmen Julius Randle, Andrew and Aaron Harrison, James Young, Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee. Florida's two supersized players are senior Patric Young and freshman Kasey Hill.

The other three McDonald's All-Americans in the SEC were Johnny O'Bryant III and Jarrell Martin of LSU, and Bobby Portis of Arkansas.

The only other McDonald's All-American in the Final Four was Rodney Purvis, who transferred from Wake Forest to UConn. Wisconsin has no McDonald's All-Americans.

Last time . . .

The last time the Final Four came to the Dallas area, Louisville won the national championship.

Duke was playing in its first Final Four with Mike Krzyzewski as coach. Future coaches playing for the Blue Devils were Tommy Amaker (Harvard) and Johnny Dawkins (Stanford), plus future NBA general managers Billy King (Nets) and Danny Ferry (Hawks). Plus, future ESPN analyst Jay Bilas played for Duke.

Kansas had two future coaches: Danny Ferry (Wake Forest) and Mark Turgeon (Maryland).

ACC absent

For the fourth straight year, no Atlantic Coast Conference team made the Final Four. That hadn't happened since 1958-61.

The last time the ACC had a Final Four team was 2010, when Duke won the national championship.

TV ratings

Scott Grimshaw, a professor of statistics at BYU, explained last week why some teams usually draw the largest TV audiences in recent Final Fours. When asked about this year's Final Four, he explained why Florida played in the earlier game Saturday and Kentucky the later game.

"The (Las Vegas) odds I found show Kentucky is a two-point favorite over Wisconsin," Grimshaw wrote in an email. "This is quite a surprise! ...

"Using our model where odds replace seeding to measure 'outcome uncertainty' (meaning 'will this be a good game?'), the Kentucky v Wisconsin game is a much greater draw (2 million viewers) than the Florida v U Conn game since Florida is a 6.5 point favorite."

'It's all Cal'

UK band members wore T-shirts that read "Succeed and Proceed," the label John Calipari publicly floated Friday to replace "one-and-done."

Calipari's family also wore the T-shirts to the game. A photo of UK players wearing the T-shirts was posted Friday.

UK band director Scott Atchison said he received a call from Nike last week saying the shoe and sports apparel company had new T-shirts for the band to wear.

When asked who got credit for the T-shirt idea, Atchison said, "It's all Cal."

Etc.

■ Former UK Coach Tubby Smith and his wife, Donna, sat behind reporters across the court from the team benches. They were in the front row of seating near center court. Next to Smith was North Carolina Coach Roy Williams.

■ Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones appeared on the big, big screen over the court during the first TV timeout of the Florida-Connecticut game. He smiled as boos could be heard.

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

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