UK Basketball: Hood happy to be healthy, back on the court after knee injury
Kentucky guard Jon Hood, left, said he was glad to be back on the court after sitting out last season with a knee injury. (Clay Jackson / October 25, 2012)
“Jon Hood, that is the best he can play,” Calipari said after Hood scored 17 points on 8-of-15 shooting in the Blue-White game. “He's not listening to somebody tell him how to play, he knows what his game is now. So he takes that 7-footer. He'll run and do things that he can do. He's getting his legs back. I was happy for him.”
Hood missed all of Kentucky’s national championship season because of an offseason knee injury and this was his first time in a game-like setting since the end of the 2010-11 season. He had five assists, three rebounds and one steal to go with his scoring.
“It feels good to get out there and play, first and foremost. What I did on the court was good. I played within myself and everything. I did all the things that coach asked me to do, but I was just happy to get out there and play,” Hood said. “I could not stop smiling the entire time.
“Jarrod (Polson) looked at me and the White team had been on a bit of a run, and Jarod looked at me and said ‘Why are you smiling?’ and I said ‘Because I get to play. Last year I was watching you guys play.’”
Hood was on the Blue team that opened the game playing against Ryan Harrow, Archie Goodwin, Nerlens Noel, Kyle Wiltjer and Alex Poythress, the expected starters. Yet Hood’s team raced to an early lead and won the game even with Calipari juggling lineups.
“We came out ready to play. The White team had a lot of young guys and we had an old man. We had Julius (Mays) and he knows how to play. He knows how to prepare for a game. He has done it his entire career,” Hood said. “We were ready to play and jumped on them from the start and got them on their heels.They did a good job recovering.”
Hood has also recovered from his anterior cruciate ligament surgery last summer.
“The knee is 100 percent. It gets sore, but if any of you guys ran on the court for five minutes, your knee would be sore, too. My knee is perfectly fine. I ice it a couple of times a day, but everything is fine,” Hood said.
Blocked: Thanks to Anthony Davis, Kentucky led the nation in blocked shots last season with 9.5 per game. In the Blue-White Game, freshmen Willie Cauley (five) and Nerlens Noel (seven) combined for 12 blocked shots.
“If we played against each other, we'd be pretty good, but since we have to play against other people ...,” Calipari said.
He noted that Noel didn’t go after some early blocks because he fell on his back early in the game and was hindered a bit by that.
“I even said, you saw Nerlens' quickness where you could get it to him, and he could make plays quick. And Nerlens has quick feet,” Calipari said.
That’s why the coach was impressed when Cauley-Stein dunked on him.
“They're both able to play 18, 19, 20 minutes right now. Trying to play 30 minutes, they're not ready. But neither is anybody else, that's the issue right now. We've got a bunch of guys that could probably play about half of a college game, maybe. Maybe less,” Calipari said.