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Apr 152014
 
Barry Rohrssen

Barry Rohrssen

Pittsburgh assistant Barry “Slice” Rohrssen will replace Orlando Antigua on John Calipari’s coaching staff, according to a report by Rivals.com on Tuesday.

A UK spokesman told the Herald-Leader that the assistant coach opening will be posted until Friday and there are no immediate plans to make any announcement related to the vacancy.

If Rohrssen joins UK’s coaching staff, don’t expect Calipari’s success on the recruiting trail to slow down anytime soon.

The Brooklyn native is known as a formidable recruiter himself, with extensive ties to the New York City area. He was an assistant at Pittsburgh from 1999-2006 before taking the head coaching job at Manhattan, where he spent five seasons. After one year in the Portland Trail Blazers’ organization, Rohrssen returned to Pitt last season.

It’s his time with the Panthers that stamped Rohrssen as one of the country’s top recruiters.

“He has a strong reputation — especially in the Northeast — as a guy who can really recruit and a guy who really builds strong relationships,” said Scout.com analyst Evan Daniels. “He has a history of reeling in some pretty good players at Pittsburgh.”

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Apr 082014
 
Calipari

Calipari

Several Kentucky players are projected as possible NBA Draft picks in June, and there will almost certainly be underclassmen that make that jump to the pros.

After Monday night’s loss to UConn in the national title game, Coach John Calipari spoke about the process that he’ll go through with those players

“Well, I’ll sit down with each young man individually, probably have their family either with us or on a speaker phone and get them information and say, ‘If I can help you with anything, let me know. Tell me what you want to do, what do I need to do to help you?’

“I kind of stay out of the decision making. I just get them information. So we’ll see. I have no idea because I haven’t talked to them and none of us have talked about that. We were playing to win the national championship. But now that the season’s over, it is about the players. It’s no longer about the program. It’s no longer about the team. It’s about each individual player on this team now. They sacrificed. They surrendered to each other now, for our team and our program and our school.

“Season’s over. Now it’s about them. And we’ll sit down with each of them and they will make decisions for themselves.”

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Apr 062014
 

ARLINGTON, Texas — Aaron Harrison has been Kentucky’s Mr. Big Shot for this improbable NCAA Tournament run.

The Cats’ opponent in Monday’s national title game has its own player capable of coming through in the clutch.

UConn senior guard Shabazz Napier is a first-team All-American, the American Athletic Conference’s player of the year and one of the greatest competitors in the history of the Huskies’ program.

Napier has been paying attention to Harrison’s game-winning shots over the past few days, and he offered some insight Sunday on what it takes to be a player who doesn’t shy away from the big moments.

“At the end of the day, you work so hard to get to the point where you have to believe in yourself,” he said. “And Aaron probably used to do this when he was younger — you’re on the courts and it’s, ’3, 2 …’ and you shoot the ball. When you miss it, you gotta say, ‘Oh, I got fouled’ or something. He’s been shooting the ball real well and it’s been when they need it the most. Clutch, clutch shots. That just shows you how great of a competitor he is. When you get in the moment, you can shy away from it. You can tell yourself, ‘Oh, I don’t want to shoot this, because I don’t want to miss.’ But to be successful, you gotta try. And sometimes when you try, you fail. And you have to move on to the next one. And he’s not worried about failing. He’s worried about doing what he believes is best for his team, and that’s taking them shots and making them shots.”

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Apr 062014
 
Alex Poythress

Alex Poythress

ARLINGTON, Texas — Alex Poythress was all smiles in the UK locker room following Saturday night’s victory over Wisconsin in the Final Four.

A few minutes earlier, Poythress was down on the court after getting stuck at the bottom of the celebratory dog pile. The national television cameras caught that scene, which caused some trepidation among UK fans watching at home.

Poythress was walking without a limp after the game and said he’d be ready to go Monday night against UConn.

“I’ll be fine,” he said. “We’ve got one more game left. I’ll be ready to play. … It was nothing. I just got caught on the bottom.”

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Mar 302014
 
Aaron Harrison and Aaron Harrison Sr. embraced after Sunday's victory. Photo: Ben Roberts/Herald-Leader

Aaron Harrison and Aaron Harrison Sr. embraced after Sunday’s victory.
Photo: Ben Roberts/Herald-Leader

INDIANAPOLIS — The shot was good and the celebration had begun.

One by one, the Kentucky Wildcats ran off the court at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday night after defeating Michigan and earning a spot in the Final Four.

Many of their parents were waiting, and Aaron and Marian Harrison were among them.

Julius Randle — an AAU rival of the Harrison twins since childhood — ran over to Aaron Sr. and Marian and delivered a couple of Texas-sized bearhugs.

Then it was Andrew Harrison’s turn to embrace his mother and father.

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Mar 292014
 
James Young

James Young

INDIANAPOLIS — Sunday’s Elite Eight matchup between Kentucky and Michigan would seem to have some special significance to one Wildcat in particular, but it doesn’t.

UK freshman James Young played his high school basketball in the Detroit area, less than an hour’s drive from the Wolverines’ Ann Arbor campus.

Even so …

“I’m just going to treat it like another game,” Young said Saturday.

Part of the reason: Young never seriously considered the Wolverines as a college destination.

Young chose the Wildcats over Michigan State, Syracuse and Kansas. Louisville and Arizona were also mentioned late in his recruitment, but never the Wolverines.

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Mar 292014
 

INDIANAPOLIS — His Kentucky Wildcats — the team he grew up rooting for — were down 13 points to archrival Louisville just a few minutes into Friday’s game, but Dominique Hawkins didn’t panic.

The freshman guard from Richmond was in a similar spot this time last year.

Then, Hawkins was the leader of the Madison Central Indians, who shook off several deficits in Rupp Arena to win the Sweet Sixteen championship. On Friday, Hawkins was a role player for a Wildcats team that played from behind all night, only to come back and beat the Cards in the NCAA’s version of the Sweet 16.

“To be honest, I really did think about my high school (days),” Hawkins said. “We were in those moments where we were down, and the fans were probably just thinking that there’s no way we were going to come back. As players, we just kept on giving each other confidence and saying that we’d be able to find a way to come back.”

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Mar 292014
 

INDIANAPOLIS — The subject of the first question that Aaron Harrison heard when he got back to the UK locker room wasn’t specific, but it could not have been more clear.

“Was it in all the way?” a reporter asked.

“What?” replied Harrison, a smile on his face.

“It” was obviously the three-pointer that will be shown for years to come.

When the ball left Harrison’s hand, the Cats were down one point to archrival Louisville, less than a minute on the clock and a trip to the Elite Eight on the line. When the ball landed, the Cats had the lead, and they had it for good.

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Mar 292014
 

INDIANAPOLIS — Here’s a closer look at the primary players for the Michigan Wolverines (28-8), the team that Kentucky will face Sunday at 5:05 p.m. for a trip to the Final Four.

The Starters

Nik Stauskas | 6-6 | Guard | Sophomore
Michigan’s leading scorer and a first-team All-America selection, Stauskas is one of the best three-point shooters in the country. The native of Ontario, Canada, had hit 45.1 percent of his three-point shots heading into Friday’s game. He averages 17.4 points per game and also leads the Wolverines with 113 assists. He’s an 82.2 percent free throw-shooter.
Friday’s line: 14 points, 2 assists, 5/12 FGs, 3/8 threes

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Mar 062014
 
Photo: Jonathan Palmer

Photo: Jonathan Palmer

Since many have asked in recent days, here’s a closer look at the UK basketball team’s scholarship situation for next season:

Each school is allowed 13 athletic scholarships per season. UK is playing with only 12 scholarship players this season due to the summer departure of Kyle Wiltjer. Two of the current scholarship players are seniors (Jon Hood and Jarrod Polson), so those scholarships will open up going into next season.

That means there are currently 10 underclassmen on scholarship, in addition to the four players who have signed with Kentucky for next season — making a total of 14 scholarship players for 2014-15. That’s one over the limit if no current underclassmen go pro, which is highly unlikely.

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