NCAA Tournament

Notes: Calipari wants to see Cats give meaning to post-season awards

Kentucky's Darius Miller (1) passed the ball to Terrence Jones for an alley oop in the first half of the Georgia at Kentucky men's basketball game at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., on March 1, 2012. Photo by Pablo Alcala | Staff
Kentucky's Darius Miller (1) passed the ball to Terrence Jones for an alley oop in the first half of the Georgia at Kentucky men's basketball game at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., on March 1, 2012. Photo by Pablo Alcala | Staff Lexington Herald-Leader

Of all the Southeastern Conference awards lavished on Kentucky players Tuesday, perhaps the surprise — albeit only slight — was Darius Miller being named Sixth Man of the Year.

Miller credited coming off the bench as a help this season.

"Sort of an advantage," he said. "You see how the game is being called and how the other team is playing."

Miller said he could adjust accordingly and benefit from listening to UK coaches discuss the opening minutes of games.

"I try to come in and do whatever's needed," he said.

Kentucky, 30-1 and Southeastern Conference champion, hauled in numerous awards on Tuesday. The SEC's coaches named Anthony Davis their Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist made the All-Freshmen, All-Defensive and All-Conference first teams.

The league coaches voted Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb to the All-SEC second team.

"A dream come true for me," Kidd-Gilchrist said.

UK Coach John Calipari, who won his second SEC Coach of the Year award in three seasons (he was the media's choice in 2010), cautioned against too tight a grip on the various trophies.

"I'm happy for all the kids," he said. "They deserved all the accolades. But I will remind them the awards mean nothing unless we move on to the next part of the season."

Kidd-Gilchrist expressed an eager anticipation to begin play in the SEC and then NCAA tournaments.

"It's the final stretch," he said. "I really can't wait."

Calipari won the Conference USA Coach of the Year award three times while at Memphis and the Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year award three times while at Massachusetts.

Davis, MKG Wooden finalists

Also on Tuesday, Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist were named as two of the 15 finalists for the John R. Wooden Award, the nation's most prestigious for top player.

And Davis was named the top player in the nation by the Sporting News. He is only the second Kentucky freshman to receive one of the national Player of the Years, joining John Wall, who received three in 2010 from Rivals.com, Yahoo Sports and The Rupp Trophy.

Mess with success?

Kidd-Gilchrist said that Calipari had given the team a motto for March (and, perhaps, April) Madness.

"Don't mess with success," he said.

When asked to explain Calipari's message, Kidd-Gilchrist said, "We've been winning all the time. Don't do nothing wrong. That's pretty much what it means."

Kidd-Gilchrist suggested another motto, also freighted with meaning.

"More to come," he said.

In explaining UK's No. 1 defense, Calipari described multiple lines of obstacles for opponents to overcome.

"It starts with on the ball," said Calipari, who described Marquis Teague as a "pit bull" defender.

Several Cats can stay between their man and the basket, he said, with Kidd-Gilchrist the most reliable stopper.

Then Jones, Kidd-Gilchrist and Miller block shots.

Then there's Anthony Davis, whom Calipari called "the ultimate shot blocker."

Sweet apathy

Calipari's teams have won six straight conference tournaments.

"Probably because I don't care about them," he said. "(The players) know that. We're trying to get better. They know it's no big deal. Have fun."

Cal endorses Antigua

UK assistant Orlando Antigua has been linked to the coaching job at Rhode Island.

Calipari said Antigua was ready to become a head coach. But the UK coach suggested that any head coaching job would not necessarily be a promotion.

"The issue is, we have a pretty good thing here," Calipari said. "Now, you have to be a little choosy in what you do. ...

"This is a place you want to coach, and people here are in no hurry to leave."

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