LEXINGTON - Ryan Harrow has scored in double digits, including 14 points in Saturday’s 83-71 loss to Texas A&M, and is averaging 16.2 points per game over that stretch.
Yet he knows there’s no reason to be happy after UK’s narrow win at Vanderbilt, a team that managed just 33 points in a loss at Arkansas Saturday, and the loss to Texas A&M. That was Kentucky’s second home loss this season after coach John Calipari won every home game his first three years at UK.
“We had some discipline lapses and when it got down to gut-check time we just didn't step up all the way,” Harrow said after the loss.
Here are other thoughts he shared about the Wildcats (10-5), who host Tennessee on Tuesday night:
Question: What does this loss do to the team’s confidence?
Harrow: “I hope it doesn’t mess with anybody’s confidence because we have been working so hard. We just have to go out and be prepared for the next game. We have to keep guys’ morale up in the next practice and just be focused for our next game (Tuesday against Tennessee).”
Question: What kind of message did coach John Calipari have for the team after the game?
Harrow: “He just said more guys need to buy into the system. We just need to make changes.”
Question: What sort of changes?
Harrow: “Just who we are going to play and how we are going to play.”
Question: Do you worry that losses like this could keep you out of the NCAA Tournament?
Harrow: “I don’t worry about it. We are always supposed to make it to the NCAA Tournament. We have to keep that attitude.”
Question: Is there just a different mentality with this team compared to last year’s national championship team?
Harrow: “You have to remember that last year’s team had Darius (Miller) who was a senior, Doron (Lamb) and Terrence (Jones) who had played here one year already. They just had those type guys on the team. They had a little bit more depth. We definitely have had to grow faster.”
Question: Is there any chance some players thought it would be easier this year than what it really is?
Harrow: “I hope that is not the case. I don’t think that is what it was. It’s just a different level of basketball.”
Question: Were expectations too high for this team?
Harrow: “I wouldn’t say that. We have a good team. Everybody is just not buying into the system.”
Question: Did the Thursday night game in Nashville and then quick turnaround to Saturday afternoon game create any physical problems for the team?
Harrow: “I wouldn’t say we were tired, but I know that my body is pretty tired just from a lot of practicing and games back to back and stuff like that.”
Question: Why do you think this far into the season that not all players would buy in to what Calipari is saying?
Harrow: “Most of us are freshmen and sophomores. Just change of mentality from where you were in high school. Some other of coach Cal’s teams have taken off quicker. Last year’s team, Doron came back, Terrence stayed back and Darius was still here and Eloy was still here. It just takes time.”
Question: Is it hard to explain to others why experience is so important to be a good team?
Harrow: “It is important to have a lot of experience and knowing when they go on those type of runs, how to stop it.’
Question: Is it harder to be a freshman at UK than other places because of the expectations and success Calipari’s teams have had?
Harrow: “I think it is harder here because you are supposed to get here and get out of here (for the NBA). Basically, that’s what it is. Maybe that’s not what it is with this group and we have to accept that and keep playing as hard as we can.”
Question: Why do you think freshman Alex Poythress seems to not play with the energy and zeal that Calipari wants?
Harrow: “He is working hard to make the changes. It isn’t just going to happen overnight. He is just going to keep working hard until the change is obvious to everybody.”
Question: How deflating was it to watch Elston Turner hit so many deep 3-point shots and score 40 points?
Harrow: “He was just having a good night. I know Archie (Goodwin) tried to play hard on him and he was just making tough shots.”
Question: Did you sense any frustration on your team when Turner kept scoring?
Harrow: “Yeah. Who wouldn’t be frustrated when you are trying to play good defense and he hits that type of shot. That’s just normal. We just didn’t do everything we were supposed to do to stop him. We had talked about him for a couple of days now and Coach was telling us if he was driving right that means he was going to pull up, if he's going left it is going to be a step-back, and if he is facing up you know he is trying to do a crossover, but he is never going to go to the hole. He was just knocking down shots today and I don't believe he went to the hole once so, we didn't do what we were supposed to do on him."