Ex-Cats

Coach on Andrew Harrison: ‘The kid just knows how to get into the paint’

Memphis Grizzlies guard Andrew Harrison poses for a picture on NBA basketball media day Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, in Memphis.
Memphis Grizzlies guard Andrew Harrison poses for a picture on NBA basketball media day Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, in Memphis. AP

Former University of Kentucky star Andrew Harrison and Memphis Grizzlies teammate Wade Baldwin might have fought to a draw in their first bid to lock down the team’s backup point guard position.

Baldwin had the edge in points and minutes, but Harrison had a strong advantage in assist-to-turnover ratio in the Grizzlies’ preseason opening victory, 102-97, against the Orlando Magic on Monday night.

Harrison was 3-for-6 from the field with 11 points, six assists, one turnover and one rebound in 19:18. Baldwin was 5-for-5 from the field with 15 points, four assists, five turnovers and two rebounds in 27:31. Both were 4-for-6 at the free-throw line.

After the game, Memphis reporters’ first question for Coach David Fizdale was about how well Baldwin played.

“He’s got a real grit to him … a chip on his shoulder … he really fits us,” Fizdale said. “He’s allowing himself to be coached … and he’s also letting his teammates help him. So I was really happy with his performance tonight.

“Tonight he did not look like a rookie. I didn’t like the … five turnovers. I didn’t like that number. But he’s being aggressive and he’s trying to make plays for his teammates and for himself. … I’m OK with these guys making aggressive mistakes.”

Fizdale was also pleased with Harrison’s play and how he stepped up to the challenge of playing shooting guard when both he and Baldwin were in the lineup.

“Together it was great. I wanted Andrew to play off the ball tonight,” Fizdale said. “When he was in the game with Wade, it’s something that’s really uncomfortable for him. But that’s part of our deal is we get uncomfortable. We embrace discomfort. Tonight he really took on the challenge to guard (Evan) Fournier for a stretch. And I thought Fournier was rolling and Andrew really came in and changed it up a little bit — even though Fournier is a tough cover.”

Fizdale got exactly what he expected when Harrison played at the point.

“When he was on the ball he went back into his mode of attack, attack, attack and the kid just knows how to get into the paint,” Fizdale said. “He’s so big and strong and quick that he just really just has a knack for touching that paint with the basketball.

“So I was really happy with both of the kids tonight, and they really competed to win.”

Dennis Varney: 859-231-3514, @ExCats

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