Holiday won’t stop Kentucky from its work

Published 1:14 am Wednesday, November 21, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — No. 8 Kentucky will have to enjoy its Thanksgiving meal sandwiched between two games.

It’s time for the Wildcats to get back to work.

Kentucky returns to action Wednesday night against neighboring Morehead State before hosting Long Island on Friday.

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The games are Kentucky’s final tuneups before the Wildcats take on Notre Dame in the Southeastern Conference/Big East Challenge on Nov. 29 at South Bend, Ind.

Wildcats coach John Calipari believes Morehead State provides the challenge his team needs. Kentucky routed Lafayette last Friday.

Morehead State features a pressure defense that has produced 88 turnovers through four games.

Kentucky (2-1) has committed just 35 turnovers in three games but Calipari says the Wildcats have not faced an opponent that brings full-court pressure like the Eagles (3-1).

“We’re not prepared,” Calipari said Tuesday. “They’ll scramble, and if the game is allowed to be physical, they’ll turn us over a bunch. But it’s what we need.

“We need to be pressed (and) played physical and let’s see what we’re about,” Calipari added. “If we’ll be strong with the ball. If we’ll come to jump stops. If we’ll come back and meet passes. If we’ll make the extra pass. We’ll find out. This is all learning. We could have 30 turnovers and they beat our brains in. It could happen. We’re a young team. We don’t even know how to respond to stuff.”

Kentucky is still awaiting the return of starting point guard Ryan Harrow, out the last two games with flulike symptoms. The sophomore played 10 scoreless minutes in the opener against Maryland on Nov. 9 but has practiced very little since.

Calipari, who didn’t provide details of the illness, said the 6-foot-2, 170-pound Harrow has lost seven pounds but is improving. The coach said he isn’t likely to jump back into the starting lineup.

“Obviously, he’s the low man on the totem pole,” Calipari said. “He’s got to start from behind. That ain’t all bad for him either because now he’s going to have to fight for time. He’s behind everybody, which means you’ve got to earn it in practice. It’s not all bad.”

As Kentucky waits to welcome back a healthy Harrow, first-year Morehead State coach and former Wildcats guard Sean Woods might face a colder reception from Wildcat fans.

Woods criticized some of the current Wildcats’ attitude and lack of limited Kentucky basketball knowledge. It bothered him that Kentucky freshman center Willie Cauley-Stein was unaware of Christian Laettner or “The Shot” that beat Kentucky in 1992.

“They don’t get it,” said Woods, who called it a symptom of today’s society. “They play basketball, but they don’t know what basketball really is. And they’re very, very fortunate. We live in a microwave society now, and it’s a shame that kids don’t know the history.”

Woods especially took issue with what he saw from some of the Wildcats as they worked a telethon organized by Calipari to benefit Hurricane Sandy victims. Broadcast on statewide TV, Woods said he saw a “vibe” that he didn’t like from some of the players.

“I walked into a deal the other day when they had that telethon and I didn’t like the vibe, I’m just going to be honest with you, of those guys,” Woods said. “It’s totally different now. And it’s not anyone’s fault. It’s just the way society is now. I think my generation. … my class and maybe four, five years after that, anything (players) after that, these kids don’t know anything.”

“They didn’t seem like Kentucky basketball players to me. And I’ll leave it at that. I’m a Kentucky basketball player through and through, and there’s just a certain aura about you.”

Woods, who played for Kentucky from 1990-92, later apologized via Twitter. His jersey hangs from the rafters of Rupp Arena, recognizing his status as part of the 1992 ‘Unforgettables’ squad.

The former point guard was almost the hero of that epic NCAA East Regional final against Duke, putting the Wildcats up 103-102 with 2.1 seconds remaining in overtime with a shot over Laettner. Of course, Laettner got the final word with a game-winning turnaround jumper at the buzzer.

Calipari did not seem bothered by Woods’ comments when asked about them Tuesday.

“Knowing Sean, I figured he misspoke,” Calipari said. “I chalk it up to that and I move on. I’m not taking it personal.”

Some of his players and Big Blue Nation might feel otherwise.