Content provided by Jerry Tipton on UK basketball.
With Enes Kanter’s eligibility in serious doubt, Kentucky Coach John Calipari set a modest expectation for his team’s other centers.
“We have to get a double-double out of our center position, Josh (Harrellson) and Eloy (Vargas),” Calipari said Sunday. “Just combine, points and rebounds. You do that, and the rest of us do our thing. Then Jon Hood gives us something. We have a solid eight.”
Through two games, Harrellson and Vargas are averaging a combined 6.0 points and 13.5 rebounds.
Calpari traced the greater contributions from Harrellson so far this season to better conditioning. Harrellson grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds at Portland. He had only 27 rebounds all of last season.
“The conditioning he’s doing is making all the difference in the world,” Calipari said. “What you see it in is his own self esteem.”
With a healthier self-image, Harrellson sees himself making greater contributions. Calipari spoke in make-or-break terms when discussing the senior from St. Charles, Mo.
“You can B.S. only so long,” Caliparis said. “Then everybody starts calling you out. (You say) ‘I am what I am.’ Or you change. You change your body which changes your mind.
“Then all of a sudden he has a different self-esteem (and) a different approach to what he’s doing.”
Harrellson reverts to a person to looks to avoid responsibility or total effort, the UK coach said. But he’s bringing that approach more consistently.
“It’s also a challenge for Eloy,” Calipari said. “Now Eloy has to step it up.”