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Calipari Reveals “Tweak” That Aided Kentucky In The Big Dance

gfx-they-said-it4As Kentucky limped into the SEC Tournament with 9 losses and a 1-3 record in its last four regular-season games, John Calipari announced that he’d come up with a “tweak” that would hopefully change the Wildcats’ fortunes in the postseason.  The tweak worked, apparently.  The Cats made it to the SEC tourney final before losing to Florida by a point.  Then they won five straight in the NCAA Tournament before falling to UConn in the national title game.

So what was Calipari’s tweak?  UK’s coach appeared on “CBS This Morning” earlier today.  As CollegeBasketballTalk.com points out, he there revealed that the tweak was actually a simple request that point guard Andrew Harrison pass the ball more and shoot the ball less:

 

“I showed Andrew (tapes of NBA point guard Deron Williams).  I said, ‘Look at this, let’s watch.  Would you have passed or shot?’  He said, ‘I would have shot.’  Would you have or shot?  Well, Deron was throwing ball to everybody.

And so, I said, ‘Monday, you will not shoot one basketball.  You will pass, we’re gonna run these plays, you will create shots.  We will chart; we’re not telling our team.’  He comes in, he has 26 assists attempts, 21 assists that Monday, I’m mad the whole practice because it changed our team.  Why didn’t I do it earlier?  And then I apologized to him.  I apologized to the team and I said, ‘I screwed this up, make me look good now.’”

 

Now, you know very well that a light bulb didn’t suddenly come on for Calipari.  You can be sure he tried to coax Harrison into shooting less and passing more for much of the season, not just at tourney time.  But Calipari’s handling of the situation — the tournaments give us a new chance to adjust, we’ve struggled not because of you but because of me, etc — was perfect.

Kentucky’s coach is often saddled with the tag of “great recruiter, so-so coach.”  Heck, as his team kept dropping regular-season games this year there were plenty of Big Blue fans who made that exact point on messageboards, Twitter and talk radio.  But the reality is Calipari has been able to make deep tournament runs with freshmen-heavy teams in four of his five seasons in Lexington.  That takes a good coach.  And whether it’s on the court or playing a few mind games with his team off it, Calipari has proven himself to be a very, very good coach.

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SEC Headlines 3/23/2014

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1. Georgia wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell out for the rest of the spring with another leg injury.

2. Georgia coach Mark Richt: “The good news is we think he’ll be ready by the summertime to be working and be 100 percent by the time camp starts.”

3. Injury to his right foot likely means Auburn defensive end LaDarius Owens will miss the rest of the spring.

4. Salary pool for Auburn assistant coaches will increase by nearly $1 million.

5. Auburn defensive tackles Gabe Wright and Montravius Adams taking reps at defensive end this spring.

6. Arkansas quarterback’s Brandon Allen’s shoulder has healed completely.

7. LSU coach Les Miles is counting on his incoming recruiting class.  ”The recruiting class will hit us just where we need to be hit. Some of those guys are going to get first (team) snaps.”

8. LSU wide receiver John Diarse’s ankle is 100% after being redshirted last season following a high ankle sprain.

9. Ole Miss defensive coordinator Dave Wommack: “I love the energy of this team. The competition has been great.”

10. Alabama had two players put on more than 30 pounds in the offseason.

11. Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen and defensive coordinator Geoff Collins orchestrated an argument in front of the team.

12. About that Florida 4-8 season in 2013: “It seems inconceivable — and yet it happened.”

SEC Basketball

13. Wichita State vs Kentucky: “The team chasing 40-0 against the team that was supposed to go 40-0. ”

14. Will Kentucky guard Andrew Harrison be ready to play today?

15. Tennessee and Mercer are survivors – not Cinderellas.

16. “UT athletic director Dave Hart might be wise to extend Cuonzo’s contract rather than paying another coach not to coach.”

17. Bruce Pearls’ show cause penalty expires in August.  ”It’s up to Auburn to get the exact details of what Pearl can and can’t do for the next five months. ”

18. “Right now, Pearl is speaking to more potential recruits through the tube than he could on the phone or in person.”

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SEC Headlines 3/22/2014

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1. Alabama had a full-pads practice on Friday. One note: cornerback Tony Brown was out on the practice field.

2. Watch Alabama’s receivers, led by Amari Cooper, practice on Friday.

3. Auburn will be looking for toughness as it attempts to replace running back Tre Mason.

4. Jonathon Mincy wants to be Auburn’s boundary corner and a team captain.

5. Auburn is trying to replace Jay Prosch at H-back. Gus Malzahn: “Brandon Fulse, C.J. Uzomah are two guys that will definitely start out (at H-back).

6. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema sees a “feisty” team now that it’s going through its second spring with Bielema.

7. Expect LSU’s tight end to be “all over the place” in the Tigers’ offense in 2014.

8. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier’s donations back to the school have reached $1 million.

9. Barrett Sallee discussed Florida’s offense in his latest SEC football Q&A.

SEC Basketball/NCAA Tournament

10. Here’s a scouting report as Florida gets ready to take on Pittsburgh.

11. Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin has cooled off the “hot seat” talk as the Vols keep winning in the postseason.

12. Kentucky guard Andrew Harrison was listed as “day-to-day” after suffering a right elbow injury against Kansas State.

13. Mercer was confident heading into the Duke game. That helped Mercer pull off the huge upset.

14. LSU is preparing for a deep, physical team in SMU in the NIT.

15 Shane Rector is back with Missouri while Wes Clark remains suspended for a “violation of team rules.”

SEC/NFL

16. Mel Kiper Jr. has three Texas A&M players in the top 10 of his latest mock draft.

Extra

17. Marcus Smart’s college basketball career ended in disappointing fashion. Could Duke’s Jabari Parker return?

18. There’s still a perfect bracket out there. It won’t be winning $1 billion from Warren Buffett.

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Fourth Of July 2013 Headlines

July 4th FlagSEC Football

1. $626.42.  That’s the average asking price for a ticket to the Alabama – Texas A&M game.

2. So what did Urban Meyer know about potential NCAA violations at Florida and when did he know it?

3. Florida with the toughest schedule in the country?  Arkansas and Kentucky also make Phil Steele’s top 10.

4. ESPN’s Chris Low says Alabama has the best receivers in the SEC, Tennessee comes in last. Alabama’s Amari Cooper rated No. 1 overall.

5. One take on LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger - “might be looking at his last shot at redemption.”

6. Matt Hayes on the warm seat at Missouri for coach Gary Pinkel: “Missouri isn’t nearly ready on the lines of scrimmage to compete in the SEC…”

7. Missouri offensive coordinator Josh Henson encountered former Missouri coach Woody Widenhofer at a Florida toll booth.

8. “I don’t believe there’s a discipline problem within the football program at Georgia.”

9. Georgia tight end Jay Rome on the duo with Arthur Lynch: “I really think we’re gonna be the best tight end duo in the country next year.”

SEC Basketball

10. It will be the fall before Kentucky signees  Aaron and Andrew Harrison and James Young are enrolled in school.

11. Accusing of trying to fix a game while at Auburn, Varez Ward’s trial is postponed until November.

12. Last year’s 10-22 record has Mississippi State players inspired to hit the weight room this summer. Nine of the Bulldogs 13 non-conference games will be played at Humphrey Coliseum.

13. Missouri is counting on Keanau Post to fill the void left by the departure of Alex Oriakhi.

 Extras

14. Aaron Hernandez had a secret apartment.  Police find ammunition and clothing that could prove helpful in their murder investigation.

15. Has realignment in college sports paused?  What comes next?

16. Butler is searching for a new basketball coach after Brad Stevens departs for the Boston Celtics. The news drew plenty of reaction.

17. Good news for Digger Phelps.  Doctors tell him he’s cancer free.

18. The most American brand in college sports?  What about the Great American Rifle Conference?

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Marcus Lee Will Play Basketball At Kentucky

Kentucky added to its 2013 class on Wednesday when the Wildcats received a commitment from forward Marcus Lee from Deer Valley High School in Antioch, Calif.

Lee’s offer list included Florida, Arizona, Duke, Connecticut, Indiana and Kansas.

Lee is the fifth prospect to commit to Kentucky’s 2013 class, joining guards Aaron and Andrew Harrison (brothers) and James Young and forward Derek Willis.

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Kentucky Lands Another Hoops Standout

Kentucky received a commitment Thursday from guard James Young from Rochester (Mich.) High School.

Young chose Kentucky over Kansas, Michigan State and Syracuse.

“Kentucky has always been my dream school,” Young said, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Young’s announcement came one week after the Wildcats landed commitments from twin brothers Aaron and Andrew Harrison from Richmond, Texas. Young is considered the nation’s No. 5 prospect by ESPNU, which gives Kentucky three of the nation’s top five prospects in the 2013 class.

Kentucky also has a commitment from forward Derek Willis from Mt. Washington, Ky.

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Harrison Twins Ready To Announce Decision

Basketball prospects Aaron and Andrew Harrison plan to announce their college decision on Thursday afternoon at 5 eastern time.

The twin guards from Travis High School in Richmond, Texas, will make their announcement on “Recruiting Nation” on ESPNU, the network confirmed to USA Today. The brothers are considering Kentucky and Maryland.

Andrew is the No. 2 overall prospect by ESPNU while Aaron is ranked No. 4 overall.

Forward Derek Willis from Mt. Washington, Ky., is the only prospect committed to Kentucky’s class of 2013.

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SEC Recruiting Headlines 6/8/12

1. Georgia commit Derrick Henry will visit Alabama. Should the Bulldogs be worried?

2. LSU has depth on the way at the fullback position.

3. Several of the nation’s top prospects will be in Gainesville during Will Muschamp’s camp.

4. Here’s a one-on-one interview with the nation’s No. 1 football prospect Robert Nkemdiche.

5. Aaron and Andrew Harrison know they’re a high priority for John Calipari and Kentucky.

6. Interesting story by Mike DeCourcy on John Calipari coaching the Dominican Republic national team.

7. Arkansas’ basketball program will likely look for help from the junior college ranks.

8. Here’s an update on Arkansas 2014 quarterback target Rafe Peavey.

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