John Calipari to Kentucky fans: Archie Goodwin doesn't deserve to be the subject of your venting.
After learning of fans using social media to criticize Goodwin's play at Alabama last week, the UK coach posted a defense of the freshman guard.
"The kid is working his butt off," Calipari said Monday when asked about the posting. First in the gym. Last to leave. Good teammate. "He's just doesn't have the right mindset."
Calipari likened Goodwin to DeAndre Liggins, whose turbulent freshman season included an infamous refusal to re-enter a game. The happy ending saw Liggins help lead UK to a Final Four as a senior, then get drafted by an NBA team.
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"Can we get him to play the right way?" Calipari said of Goodwin. "When you get a kid like that to play the right way, he becomes a killer.
"Right now, he is a killer. But sometimes he's killing us. But I can live with that versus a kid that's scared or don't show up for a game."
After Kentucky beat LSU on Saturday, Goodwin welcomed the role of defensive stopper.
"Yeah, something I take on," he said, "and I'm going to continue to want to take on."
For a second straight week, the SEC named Nerlens Noel its Freshman of the Week. This led Mississippi Coach Andy Kennedy to compare favorably Noel's presence around the basket to Anthony Davis's last season.
"Incredible, incredible talent around the basket," Kennedy said of Noel.
The Ole Miss coach voiced the hope that two seniors (Murphy Holloway and Reginald Buckner) can find a way to be productive around the basket. He also noted how the Rebels might not be shocked going against Noel since they practice against the SEC's second-best shot blocker (Buckner) every day.
Calipari explained why Noel does not yet generate the buzz Davis did. "Because we're not winning like we were," he said. "If we were winning like we were, he'd be getting all the praise."
Calipari was vague about freshman Willie Cauley-Stein's status. He said the 7-footer would practice Monday and make the trip to Ole Miss. He first said Cauley-Stein was "doubtful" for the game, then amended that to "questionable" and finally settled on "I don't know."
Calipari downplayed the significance of a victory over Ole Miss as a means of building a résumé for an NCAA Tournament bid. Kentucky has not beaten a ranked team this season.
"If you told me, 'You're going to lose this game and win the next nine,' OK, wake me up when it's over," the UK coach said. "I'll sit and watch the game."
Ole Miss leading scorer (and SEC phenomenon) Marshall Henderson on how the Rebels have captivated fans:
"It's a crazy energy in this town. I feel everybody wants the team to succeed so badly. I can just feel it. When I wake up in the morning, I feel everybody in Oxford is just waiting for our next game. Ready for us to go out there and win.
"We think we can be the best team in Ole Miss history."
UK officially announced it will resume the series with North Carolina next season. When UK refused to play North Carolina and Indiana this season, the program said the Cats would resume playing UNC next season.
The series, which included 27 regular-season games since 1960, resumes with a game at North Carolina next season. The two-year deal concludes with a game at UK in 2014-15.
In a tweet, Calipari noted how this allows Kentucky to play a home game against Louisville or North Carolina each season.
"It gives us the balance we were looking for," he said in the tweet. "We are always looking for great neutral-site games, as well."
Ole Miss is 11-0 at home this season. ... A whopping 75.8 percent of Henderson's shots have come from three-point range (207 of 273). ... Brad Nessler, Jimmy Dykes and Shannon Spake will call the game for ESPN.