Friday Morning Roundup: Archie Heads Home, Spring Game Excitement

02/28/2013 11:01 PM

Here’s what you might have missed Thursday while you were still partying like it was 1996…

Archie Heads Home

Ill always rep ARK. I got it tatted on my chest!! But I had to do what i Had to do. Point Blank Period

Those were the Twitter words of Archie Goodwin following his commitment to UK, when he was bombarded online by upset Arkansas Razorback fans who felt betrayed. At the time, Goodwin was the highest-ranked recruit in the history of the state and, to many, was the key to pushing the Razorbacks back to national relevance. And if Archie has forgotten how badly hearts were broken when he picked the Cats, he’s sure to get a spirited reminder in Fayetteville tomorrrow afternoon.

When the Cats stroll into Bud Walton Arena, they’ll enter they’ll be greeted by the angriest non-fast food arena crowd they’ve seen this year. Arkansas’ fans will be ready for a fight, but they’ll have special eyes for their freshman shooting guard. On top of that, Goodwin’s family and friends will all be on hand (Ryan Harrow said he and several players gave their ticket allotments to Goodwin), making for an emotionally charged return to his home state. And that’s why it’s even more important that Archie Goodwin not let emotions take him out of what has made him a more effective scorer in the last three games.

UK’s offense has taken a giant leap forward since the blowout loss at Tennessee as they’ve implemented more spacing and focused more on the pick-and-roll, allowing for more penetration and high percentage looks at the basket. Goodwin is still getting his shots – 12 per game during that stretch – but they’re coming naturally and without him having to force them. His efficient play is a small, but very important, piece of a much-improved team offense. When the Razorback fans start heckling and screaming at him, he has to ignore his natural competitive instincts and continue to play within a system that has seemed to take the team to a new level. If he is able to do that, he’ll still get his points and, more importantly, leave Bud Walton with a win. And that’s why he picked Kentucky in the first place.

I’m Sorry, Ryan Harrow

Really, I am. After the Tennessee loss, which gave Harrow back-to-back scoreless games and three-game averages of .6 assists and .6 rebounds per game, I thought Harrow was done. After an absolutely terrible performance in UK’s blowout loss in Knoxville, when he was benched in favor of Jarrod Polson, I declared Harrow dead. It was ludicrous to think a player that had failed to respond to the challenge of starting the game on the bench could simply just bounc back in the next game, especially with the “he’s mentally soft” label that followed him from NC State. But I was wrong. Horribly wrong.

After approaching John Calipari and telling him he wanted to start against Vanderbilt, Harrow has become a completely different player, averaging 15.7 points, .6.7 rebounds and 4.7 points in the last three games. Even better, he’s been a burst of energy from the start of the game, helping the Cats to avoid the slow starts that had become something of a trademark this season. Harrow’s turnaround, like Archie Goodwin’s efficient approach to offense, has been a piece of a revived UK offense, but it’s so much more significant because it wasn’t supposed to happen. This is not the same Ryan Harrow and, for UK’s sake, that means there’s a lot more chances for good things to happen this month.

But Harrow will have to prove Saturday in Arkansas, when the bodies are flying at him fast and furious for 40 minutes, that he’s taken a step forward for good. His positive turnaround has coincided with a return to Rupp Arena and he hasn’t scored a bucket on the road since the 12 minute mark of the Texas A&M game on February 2nd. The change in Harrow, though, doesn’t seem to be about scenery as much as it is about a transformation in his confidence and performance. And that should make Cats fans feel pretty good.

Ryan Harrow and “Grandpa Julius”

Part of Harrow’s turnaround, as well as the whole team really, can be traced back to the emergence of Julius Mays, who has solidified himself as a go-to guy down the stretch and team leader. After Wednesday’s game, we talked with Harrow about his bond with Mays and he said it dates back to NC State, where the senior guard hosted Harrow on his official visit. And Harrow had a pretty funny take on it.

Spring Game

UK announced Thursday that over 23,000 tickets have already been reserved for the spring football game, slightly surpassing last year’s total attendance of 4,500. The school record for spring game attendance is 20,235 in 1987. So what does this mean besides we’re all excited? It’s further proof that all UK fans have ever wanted is for the administration to show that they’re committed to being competitive. And now they are.

For as long as I can remember, UK fans have wanted three things. They’ve wanted a coach that can recruit in Florida and Ohio, as well as the rest of the south. They’ve wanted a high-powered offense that loves to be creative. And they’ve wanted a commitment in terms of facilities, that the team won’t be playing with a smaller deck than they already have. Mitch Barnart delivered those this off-season and even with no results on the field yet, fans are showing their support for a vision that’s pretty much all they’ve ever wanted.

Now let’s go win a national championship.

Melvin Lewis Commitment

Mark Stoops’ 2013 class picked up another big body in junior college defensive tackle Melvin Lewis, who signed with Kentucky Thursday. Lewis, who checks in at 6’2” and 290 pounds, picked up recent offers from Miami and Washington before picking the Cats. He’s expected to redshirt next season, but gives the Cats yet another big body up front and one more SEC-caliber defensive lineman on a unit that is quickly taking shape as a talented unit that should be able to keep the Cats fighting with SEC offenses over the next several years.

An Embarrassing Video

In 1999, my dad took me to the Final Four. We stopped at the Hoops City and took part in the mock Sportscenter set, where you could record a Final Four preview. My dad sent me the VHS tape recently and, after I converted it Thursday at work, everyone at the office got a kick out of 15-year old me slouching at the desk. I just think it’s embarrassing. But here it is nonetheless.

Be sure to watch KSTV Friday for a full preview of the UK-Arkansas game and check out all weekend for the latest updates from the world of UK sports/


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