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A few changing thoughts on Ryan Harrow

My gut reaction following the Louisville game was to bemoan some of the officiating, agonize over missed free throws and ponder where Alex Poythress disappeared to late in the second half. Once the initial frustrations and feelings subsided, I was left with one lingering thought: This is a really different Ryan Harrow. 

I was actually left with the same thought after the first few weeks of the season, when the team was heading into Thanksgiving break with Ryan Harrow’s status a big question mark. When I heard that Harrow had left Lexington before the rest of the team for the holiday, I just remember thinking that this wasn’t supposed to be how the season played out for Ryan Harrow. All the expectations, the year of practicing with the team while he redshirted… It wasn’t supposed to play out like this. I was left with one lingering thought: This is a really different Ryan Harrow than I expected to see. 

In just over one month’s time, Harrow has seemingly undergone a major transformation. The thoughts and comments from coaches, teammates, fans and himself have continued to change over the last month.

Here are 3 changing thoughts on Ryan Harrow, and perhaps you can relate:

1. Cal and Harrow are not on the same page —> Cal and Harrow are building a strong player/coach relationship

Then: When Calipari talked about Harrow a month ago, he sounded similar in a lot of ways to how he talks about Alex Poythress right now. Harrow was a puzzle that Calipari had yet to figure out. Calipari seemed certain that the potential was there, and he wasn’t ready go give up… but the formula for getting Harrow on track like many of his young point guards in the past felt like it was still more than a few tweaks away. Due to health and personal issues, Harrow didn’t seem like a point guard Calipari could trust in the big moments early in the season. Calipari used Harrow sparingly in the beginning, electing to go with Archie Goodwin or Jarrod Polson instead.

Now: The comments from Calipari on Harrow have gotten more and more positive with each passing press conference. First it was Cal being pleased with Harrow putting in extra work at practice. Then it was Calipari feeling like Harrow was trying to be more vocal. Harrow and Calipari talk now like a player and a coach who have found a common ground. They are on the same page. Calipari pushed the right buttons and Harrow responded, clearly buying into what his coach was telling him. Calipari has turned over the point guard duties to Harrow almost fully. He played 37 minutes against Louisville and played exceptionally well. Harrow is no longer a puzzle Calipari has to figure out. Harrow is now a player ready to be pushed to his highest potential by Calipari, much like the point guards of Calipari’s past.

2. Was Kentucky the right choice for Ryan Harrow? —-> Ryan Harrow made the right choice by picking Kentucky

Then: For a few days when the Harrow saga was at it’s lowest point, and rumblings were floating around that Harrow couldn’t handle the pressure when he was at NC State, I began to wonder if Kentucky was really the right choice for Harrow. The pressure and the spotlight is always shining on the Kentucky players, for better or for worse. Then I heard about Harrow getting nervous before games and sometimes throwing up. Was Kentucky the right place for this young man? Was the choice a matter of circumstance with the 2012 batch of point guards being less star studded than usual? Would Harrow, who obviously has talent, have been better off at a school with less pressure/spotlight?

Now: Harrow had his first big test as THE starting point guard against a top 5 ranked Louisville team. Not only was it a huge test on a big national stage, but Louisville’s defense is known for pestering opposing point guards and creating turnovers. Harrow did not turn the ball over one time. He handled the press with ease almost all day long. He had one of his best games in the Kentucky uniform on the biggest of stages. Harrow now looks like a point guard ready to max out his potential in Calipari’s offense. As Calipari has done with point guards in the past, he will push them and he will likely help them achieve their goals of playing in the NBA one day. A few weeks ago those goals seemed very far away for Harrow. Now, they seem much more attainable and Kentucky is the perfect place for a young/talented point guard.

3. Ryan Harrow doesn’t come off as a “leader” —-> Ryan Harrow is starting to sound like a veteran/leader

Then: It’s hard to come off as a leader when you are still trying to figure your own self out. Calipari has said it before with lines such as “worry about your teammates” or “be your brother’s keeper.” We’ve heard all the lines before. While they are cliche’, there’s definite truth behind them. Harrow spent the first month of the season getting healthy and getting himself right. He wasn’t necessarily in a position to be worrying about his other teammates at that point in time.

Now: Harrow is in a good place right now. He’s still improving, but he’s no longer struggling to catch up with the rest of his teammates. Even though he admitted in an interview yesterday that he “gave up his right to be a leader” when he wasn’t there with the team, I think that realization and mature type of comment shows just how savvy of a young man he is. I read through Harrow’s comments about his struggling teammate Alex Poythress. He was intuitive and in Cal’s terms, sounded like “his brother’s keeper.” Cheesy, but he sounded like a veteran leader who had himself figured out, talking about his younger teammate who needed a little guidance. There was nothing “know it all” about his comments either. Harrow sounded wise and sounded like a guy who had been through a similar struggle to Poythress, and was now on the other side and ready to help Poythress get there too.

After reading over Harrow’s comments a few times, I couldn’t help but shake my head and think, “Where did this veteran come from? This is a really different Ryan Harrow. And I like him a lot.”

Article written by Ally Tucker

I once successfully requested "The Wobble" to be played 6 times at one wedding.

21 Comments for A few changing thoughts on Ryan Harrow

  1. Jim G
    2:20 pm January 1, 2013 Permalink

    Good analysis. If a player wants to get better, he has to be willing to accept coaching.

  2. Nice Job
    2:30 pm January 1, 2013 Permalink

    Another nice article Ally…

  3. mudcreekmark
    2:36 pm January 1, 2013 Permalink

    I think Harrow lacked confidence at the first of the year and Cal jumping on to him all the time only made it worse. Then came the TV show that probably pushed him to the brink of quitting the team.Different players respond to different coaching and I think he is the kind of player that needs more encouragement and less criticism.Personally,I think he is way ahead of where Teague was at this time of the year last year with a lot less to work with.

  4. tyrone biggins
    2:43 pm January 1, 2013 Permalink

    I agree. The way things were going at the beginning of the season with him, people thought it was over. Then he came back and we were hoping that he could just run the point, not turn the ball over, and get our scorers the ball. But now he is a major threat at running the point, scoring, and passing. Way to go kid! Keep it up.

  5. Ridge Runner
    2:56 pm January 1, 2013 Permalink

    I can relate, Ally.

    Just a great turn around with Harrow and once again Coach gets kudo’s as much as Ryan.

  6. UK Freshmen
    2:59 pm January 1, 2013 Permalink

    Don’t bemoan the missed free throws before being thankful for the 3pt shooting.

  7. Ryan Harrow fan
    3:26 pm January 1, 2013 Permalink

    I felt KSR was overly critical of Harrow after his return, but to be fair most every other site was too. The only site that stuck by Harrow that I know of was
    They insisted Harrow would emerge and was the only real option for UK to be successful. Don’t get me wrong, I love KSR, but you guys did not stand by Harrow when things looked bad. You are kind of doing the same thing and bashing Poythress now as well.

  8. Coach Cal
    3:29 pm January 1, 2013 Permalink

    7– Remember, I can’t hide players here.

  9. mudcreekmark
    3:31 pm January 1, 2013 Permalink

    7) Poythress is getting alot of heat for not showing up for the UofL game but the truth is he only played 15 minutes. If we judged the players by their first 15 minutes of play, then Goodwin probably had the worse 15 minutes of anyone. Mays had 35 minutes of poor play and no one is saying that he didn’t show up.Poythress will be OK.

  10. Keeping It Real
    3:34 pm January 1, 2013 Permalink

    Harrow better get better so he can enter the draft. The one Harrison twin will be the starting pg. Harrow will grab some pine next year and will be sitting next to the ugliest player in college basketball, Jon Hood.

  11. Keeping It Real
    3:43 pm January 1, 2013 Permalink

    In the interest of full disclosure, aside from the backhanded compliment of Harrow, if you want to see ugly, you should see what I look like…

  12. BravoBigBlue
    3:55 pm January 1, 2013 Permalink

    Kudos to Harrow, Cal, and coaching staff for his improvement. Just keep it going Ryan and hang tough. Don’t concern yourself with anything except this year’s team as far as basketball goes. You can take us a long way.

  13. Don Imus
    3:58 pm January 1, 2013 Permalink

    10)I think everyone needs to get a grip on reality. Just because these high school kids come in and supposed to be the best this and the best that,doesn’t always mean they will be. Noel supposed to have been the best shot blocker coming out of high school since Greg Oden.The first few games he had no idea how to play defense at this level.Look at Poythress also. Goodwin was supposed to be the best two guard, do you think he could have beaten out Lamb? I would be pleasantly shocked if the Harrisons are good enough to come in and beat Harrow out.

  14. punny
    4:05 pm January 1, 2013 Permalink

    Hey #13–Nappy New Year!

  15. Dane Brammage
    4:26 pm January 1, 2013 Permalink

    Is this simply CAL’s way of preparing or the NCAA Tournament?

    He’s got a plethora of ‘shtud’ players.

    Perhaps CAL knows that if he plays his CATs right, he lowers expectations while knowing he’s still the owner and the jockey over a stable of coachable thoroughbeds……who will show up to a Derby filled with plow and quarter horses.

  16. Han
    4:28 pm January 1, 2013 Permalink

    Hopefully he had an a-ha moment, maybe after talking to a previous Cal pg or something. Hopefully Poythress has the same moment. Harrelson and Liggins had same moment. They realized it was more than just a game for them. It was a dream and what they wanted to do for a living. And all of Carl’s yelling is because he knows thet’re better, and the team needs them to be. More importantly, their dreams are in their own hands and only they can make them happen. Harrow assumed he would succeed like previous pgs. Now he knows they worked hard for it.

    Hopefully he sees that and isn’t cursed with being bi-polar or something.

  17. For real
    4:56 pm January 1, 2013 Permalink

    Harrow is the starting point guard for an unranked team. He’s terrible. He’s not as good as Travis ford or Patrick sparks and its not close? Travis has his team ranked & Patrick is still playing in the Ukraine.

  18. Syrin
    5:13 pm January 1, 2013 Permalink

    Another testament to Cal’s coaching prowess. This guy would have withered away and died under Tubby.

    Oh yeah, UK Freshmen takes it up the a$$

  19. Yep
    6:31 pm January 1, 2013 Permalink

    I was never worried about if Harrow was good enough to play here. The fact that Cal did not put much effort in to recruiting a point guard, told me that he must have liked what he saw out of Harrow last year in practice. Harrow was ill at the start of the season only getting 10 minutes against Maryland. Then he missed several games and was unable to practice or take part in conditioing exercises. To me, it was expected that he would not look great when he returned. I have always and will continue to expect Harrow to be one of the best guards in the SEC. It will surprise me if he isn’t.

  20. RealCatsFan
    9:43 pm January 1, 2013 Permalink

    Ryan’s turn-around since the start of the season is one reason why I am not at all worried about Alex. Just sit back and let cal do his work.

  21. howdy doody
    5:03 am January 2, 2013 Permalink

    Such an intelligent article reading it increased my IQ by -75 points….. and I am being generous….like check calling on the river when I have an over full house vs. an under full house…just cause I feel sorry for ya.