LEXINGTON — Ryan Harrow is “doing fine” this season, according to Kentucky coach John Calipari, even though the sophomore guard can’t participate in games or travel with the team after transferring from North Carolina State.
“It’s hard because he’s sitting out. You’re almost an afterthought, especially when you’re going through a season and you’re playing on this team at Kentucky,” Calipari said. “But he’s getting better because of who he plays against every day. He’s starting to get physically stronger, which he’s going to have to do. And he’s got a great feel.
“He gives us a little different look at point guard than Marquis Teague, kind of a combination of a Marquis and a Brandon (Knight) because he shoots it a little bit better than Marquis. He’s not quite as physical as Marquis, but he shoots it like (Knight).”
Harrow shared these thoughts on his transfer year during a recent interview:
Question: What has been practice been like for you during this redshirt season?
Harrow: “It has been a different experience, because practice for my other school was a different. It’s more intense, good. Coach is always telling us he wants us to always be getting better. If we are not getting better, then we are not doing anything at all. That’s the main part. He wants us better so in March we are one of the top teams in the country.”
Question: Is it hard as a competitor not to be working with the first team, or at least competing for that spot, and instead be practicing with the scout team or watching some drills?
Harrow: “It is hard for any player that wants to play, and I definitely want to be out there on the court with this team because they are doing so well. But I understand my role and what Coach wants out of me, so I just try to do my best, use my experience and go with the flow and learn everything for next year.”
Question: Do you take any satisfaction when you read or hear about the improvement Teague is making?
Harrow: “I definitely would think I am playing a little part in it, but he has been working hard and putting in extra work. That is what is really helping him improve, is putting in that extra work and working hard in practice. We definitely go at it when we practice and try to make each other better, and I guess it is helping both of us.”
Question: Is there a specific coach you work a lot with on a daily basis?
Harrow: “I work out with coach ‘KP’ (Kenny Payne), and coach ‘O’ (Orlando Antigua) will grab me after practice. Coach (John) Robic a little bit before practice. ‘KP’ will take us any time that we want to work out. If we call and say we need to be in the gym, he will be there and put us through a hard 30-minute workout that makes you feel like you worked out for two hours and makes you a lot better.”
Question: Do you work out a lot on your own then?
Harrow: “I try to. Whenever the guys go out of town, I try to work out, or before practice. Since I can’t be in the play every time during practice, I try to get in a little workout before practice, whether it is working out with the coaches or lifting weights. I am always trying to do something.”
Question: What do you do when the team is on a road trip?
Harrow: “I just try to get in the gym and shoot as much as I can and get somebody to rebound for me and just shoot a lot of shots and probably lift some weights over in the football area. I know those guys over there.
“That is the biggest thing for me, is just lifting weights and getting stronger for next year, because Coach wants us to be physical, and playing in the SEC I see that you have got to be very physical. That’s a big key for me next year.”
Question: Have you added weight and/or muscle already, or is that too hard to do during the season?
Harrow: “Our strength coach says I have gained 15 pounds. I have definitely got stronger because of how I can lift more weight, and I can see that. I can’t see it on my body, but I know it and our strength coach has told me I have gotten stronger, and I am thinking by next year with the offseason in the summer time and the preseason I will put on a lot more weight before next season.
“I weigh like 164 now and would like to be 170 or 175 next year. Anything around there and I think I would be good.”
Question: Has it surprised you that you added weight and strength so quickly?
Harrow: “Yes, it has surprised me. I didn’t add too much weight last year, but I was also playing a lot last year, and it’s hard to add that weight then. I have time to eat the food and lift the weights and not burn it off so quickly this year.”
Question: What ways do you think you have improved as a player?
Harrow: “I have learned from coach Cal that he wants you to run the team and be a point guard and just control the game. We don’t always have to shoot as much. I know last year I shot the ball a lot even though I was a point guard, and that was just because in high school you get to shoot every time and you come to college and you have to learn to control the game. Then when you have your open shot, you take them.
“Also, just playing every possession. Coach wants you to play hard every possession and then when you get tired take yourself out and then he will put you right back in as long as you are playing hard and producing. Those are the biggest things. Just controlling the game and playing hard.”
Question: Is playing point guard for Calipari different from playing point guard for other coaches or not?
Harrow: “I think all coaches want their point guard to control the game and do what a point guard does. Coach Cal may be a little bit harder on us because he expects so much from us, but that is understandable. You are like the extended coach on the floor, and coach Cal is going to make you a better point guard at this level and he’s going to get you to the next level. That has some stuff to do with how we work and some stuff to how he pushes us and teaches us.”
Question: How are you embracing or interacting with Kentucky fans even though you are not playing?
Harrow: “They are good. I didn’t expect so many people to actually know who I am. When they do know me, I try to say hello, and if they ask for an autograph or picture, I will definitely give it to them. I just wouldn’t expect so many people to know me.
“I was walking in the gym one day looking for one of my classes and I saw a kid go, ‘That’s Ryan Harrow.’ So I asked him where the class was at. It’s just crazy that they know me and I am not even playing.”
Question: How many Twitter followers do you have now since you are so active on Twitter?
Harrow: “I think have around 17,000, and they all came when I got here. Before I got here, I only had like 3,000. When I got here, it really shot up.”
Question: Are you the king of Twitter on the team?
Harrow: “Yeah, me and I would say Anthony Davis and Mike (Kidd-Gilchrist), because those guys have a lot of followers, too. I do enjoy Twitter. I have a lot of friends and my family is back in North Carolina, and we all tweet each other.
“When I tweet something random, some people could think I am just tweeting but I could be talking to my friends and they will understand what I am saying. Most people would be like, ‘What are you talking about?’ and then I have to explain it to them, but my friends know.”
Question: Do you enjoy connecting with fans on Twitter?
Harrow: “Definitely. I was always taught to just be personable and talk to people and be friendly. If they are supporting you, you may as well be friendly with them. That’s what I try to do.
Question: How nice is it as a player to have a coach who allows you the freedom on Twitter that you have?
Harrow: “It is good. He knows that is to build our brand. He says you are building our brand, and once you get to the next level everybody wants to see who they can market, and they are going to definitely look at Twitter and be like, ‘He is cool with the fans and has this many people following him. Let’s market him and put him out there.’”
Question: How will you handle the postseason? Will you be happy the team is doing so well or going crazy because you are not playing and can’t even be with the team?
Harrow: “I will be happy they are doing so well, but I hate sitting and watching the games. Even when I am on the bench at home games, I know I have to cheer the team on, but I hate just watching. It’s hard for me to just sit and watch when I know I could be out there.
“When March rolls around and I will be here all by myself and just sitting and watching on TV and hoping that they are doing well and cheering for them and wishing I was there at the same time.”
Question: Do you catch yourself imagining what you could or couldn’t do to help the team as you watch games?
Harrow: “At times I do. When Marquis does something, I will be thinking he could have made that pass right there or that was really nice. If ‘Ant’ (Anthony Davis) dunks the ball, I will be like, ‘I could have thrown him that alley-oop.’ or something like that.
“It’s hard sitting there on the bench, but I know it was the best decision for me to come here and get better and learn from coach Cal and the coaches and just see how the play would be so I would be ready for next year.”
Question: So there are no regrets or second thoughts about the transfer?
Harrow: “Not at all.”
Question: Is this team even better than you anticipated in October?
Harrow: “Definitely. Some players have definitely surprised me. Michael Gilchrist and Anthony Davis, they have just been doing great. Marquis is coming along really well. (Doron) Lamb does what he does: shoots the ball very well.
“‘D. Mills’ (Darius Miller) is getting a lot stronger and playing a lot harder. I told everybody he is the best player on the team when he puts his mind to it. He just goes out there and plays hard and doesn’t let all the outside interferences bother him. He can do everything. Shoot, dribble, pass, block shots, rebound, everything.”
Question: Do you really think Miller is better than Davis, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2012 NBA draft?
Harrow: “Right now, he is the best. But if ‘D. Mills’ comes out there — because he can do everything. He is 6-8 and can block shots, jump with everybody. He can shoot the ball, score in a lot of ways. Sometimes he doesn’t have that killer attitude in him all the time, and that’s what holds him back. Anthony Davis just goes out there and gets 20 blocks, 40 points, and it just looks easy to him.”
Question: Is there anybody in particular who helps you keep your spirits up while you can’t play in games?
Harrow: “They all come and talk to me and we all hang out with each other. We don’t really talk about basketball, because they know me and know it is kind of hard for me. We are all like brothers and just hang out and have fun together.
“Anthony Davis and Darius and Michael Gilchrist help me out the most, but we all hang out. I appreciate it from them because it is hard not playing and all the guys understand that.”
Question: How many pairs of tennis shoes have you added to your collection in the past few months?
Harrow: “I don’t know. It has been a lot. I know in December, I got a lot of shoes for Christmas. I told my mom I was going to stop buying shoes, and then some more just came out the other day and I got those.”
Question: Have you had to ship any shoes back to North Carolina, or do you still have room for them all in your dorm room?
Harrow: “I told my mom when she came up here for the Louisville game that I wanted to send some shoes back with her, but little nieces actually laid down in the backseat so I couldn’t send them back with her. Hopefully I can move some, the loose shoes that I don’t have boxes (for), can move them back home.”