Mar 25, 2011, 8:30 AM EDT
Think Kentucky’s nothing but freshmen waiting to jump to the NBA? Think again.
The Wildcats (27-8) rely as much on senior Josh Harrellson and juniors DeAndre Liggins and Darius Miller as they do Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb. As Luke Winn notes, UK actually logs more minutes from juniors and seniors than Duke, Arizona, UConn and North Carolina.
Liggins is one of the country’s best defender. Miller was named MVP of the SEC tournament and Harrellson’s emerged as such a reliable – and popular – post player that it’s hard to imagine the ‘Cats without “Jorts.”
Yet none of them would’ve been a factor this season without spending serious time in the offseason working on their games. Harrellson had to get into shape. Miller needed to become more aggressive. And Liggins needed to embrace his role as a defensive stopper.
And it worked. Give credit to the players, and to UK coach John Calipari, who usually gets saddled as a recruiter and nothing more. Not that he takes all the credit.
“I don’t have a magic wand,” Calipari told the AP. “What you try to do is talk to them about what they have to change.”
There’s more to be found about those three in this feature. Mostly, I think it’s a healthy reminder that no team relies solely on freshmen – no matter how the team is usually referred to.
You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.
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