UK Men's Basketball

Calipari: Harrison twins can improve by borrowing best attributes of each other

UK Coach John Calipari talked to guards Aaron (2) and Andrew Harrison (5) in February, before the twins found a winning rhythm in the NCAA Tournament en route to a runner-up finish. Aaron made three game-winners then, perhaps because he doesn't worry.
UK Coach John Calipari talked to guards Aaron (2) and Andrew Harrison (5) in February, before the twins found a winning rhythm in the NCAA Tournament en route to a runner-up finish. Aaron made three game-winners then, perhaps because he doesn't worry. Herald-Leader

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As Aaron and Andrew Harrison stepped onto a platform at Southeastern Conference Media Day on Wednesday, a reporter whispered a question to a fellow scribe: Can you tell who's who?

Yes. Aaron had the shorter hair and sat to the left of Andrew, who had longer hair.

Earlier in the day, Kentucky Coach John Calipari offered a more substantial, if less obvious, difference.

"Andrew cares too much," he said before adding, "We need Aaron to care a little bit more."

The UK coach sounded like the Goldilocks of basketball. Each of the celebrated twins was either too hot (Andrew) or too cold (Aaron). Calipari hopes to make them both — aaahhh — just right.

"Andrew cares so much (that) sometimes he gets down on himself," Calipari said. The point guard-playing brother's problems with body language (ear-to-ear frowns and slumped shoulders) were well documented last season.

"Aaron doesn't care enough, so there are times he evaporates," Calipari said, meaning the shooting-guard brother can fade into insignificance in games.

Of course, the UK coach added, not caring might be a good thing when a player faces the make-or-break pressure of a game-winning shot. All together now: Aaron made three in a row in the NCAA Tournament last spring.

"Maybe that's why he makes game-winners because he doesn't quite care as much as this one (Andrew) does," Calipari said.

This caused the UK coach to muse about how twins — same heredity and same environment — can be so different.

"I don't know why one got too much of one (attribute) and one didn't get enough of the other," he said. "But that's the case."

Calipari suggested there's no quick fix for — as strange as it sounds — making Aaron more like Andrew and Andrew more like Aaron.

"Just keep talking about it," Calipari said. "Just verbally talk about it."

The yin and yang of Andrew and Aaron Harrison apparently can be on display in Kentucky's practices. Calipari said he intentionally put Andrew Harrison with a unit that would struggle. As if on cue, Andrew started to get frustrated.

"I stopped him and said, 'It doesn't matter; you're not making every shot,'" Calipari said. "... 'You care too much, kid.'

"The other kid is going through the motions. 'I don't even know you're at practice. You're back to not caring.'"

Aaron offered a polite objection to Calipari's perception.

"I know I care," he said in a quiet voice. "I think I just brush things off a little more easily.

"I lose some focus sometimes during practice, maybe. I've been really working hard to try to improve that: the mental (part)."

Andrew pleaded guilty to caring intensely about the ebbs and flows of the game. As point guard, he is the brain of a basketball team. He said he shouldn't be emotional on the court, or "play angry" as a reporter put it.

"I'm going to be more comfortable and more relaxed," he said. "... Just have fun and try to enjoy my teammates and make sure they're in the right positions."

Easier said than done, at least last season.

"Yeah, I let stuff affect me too much," Andrew said. "I'm definitely working on that. Just having more fun.

"If I miss a shot, I think about it too much. Maybe I won't take the next one. I'm trying to get out of it."

When asked how much he dwelled on a missed shot, Aaron said, "Not at all."

Then he added, "I don't think that's a bad thing."

Aaron moves on to the next play or next shot.

"I think I truly don't worry about mistakes or anything," he said. "I just go out there and play. He (Calipari) says I float sometimes, and maybe I'm not focused on the game. So I think I need to work on being focused at all times."

Of course, the care too much-care too little issue is about two talented players improving. It seems ironic, but it's about twins becoming more like each other.

"I'm trying to get more focused like he is," Aaron said. "And I know he's trying not to worry about every little thing on the court. We're both helping each other out."

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