Cats need consistency from point guards

By Les Johns | @KernelJohns
ljohns@kykernel.com

John Wall, Brandon Knight and Marquis Teague ran UK head coach John Calipari’s first three teams and have moved on to the NBA.

Almost a month into the regular season, the Cats are still trying to determine who will take charge of one of the more vital positions in Calipari’s dribble-drive offense.

Calipari experimented during Tuesday’s 88-56 win over Samford, but didn’t find any solutions.

He started freshman Archie Goodwin at the point. He subbed in junior Jarrod Polson at the point. He gave sophomore Ryan Harrow a shot at the point. He even tried combinations of those three by playing the entire trio together in the first half.

Goodwin, who was considered to be a scoring “two” guard coming into the season, led the Cats with 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting in 25 minutes. He added four assists and had one turnover.

Polson contributed just one point in 21 minutes of play, adding four assists and two turnovers.

The presumed preseason starting point guard, Harrow, played 21 minutes, taking just two shots and dishing four assists against zero turnovers.

The Cats are three short, nearly automatic-win games away from a date with Louisville in the Yum! Center, and just five contests away from SEC play.

The time to figure out their identity is now.

Sure, the Cats pounded Samford — dominated in pretty much every quantifiable manner. They pounded them on the boards, forced more turnovers, blocked more shots, shot a higher percentage and even defeated the Bulldogs by a larger margin than the Louisville Cardinals did just a few weeks ago.

However, what did the Cats really learn from the drubbing?

Before the Notre Dame game, Calipari asserted that Goodwin was the team’s point guard. Earlier this week, he urged Polson to work to keep his spot in the rotation.

In reality, for the Cats to truly move forward they will need to have Harrow emerge and re-take his natural position.

Tuesday, Calipari characterized Harrow’s point guard performance as average.

“Ryan got cool because he’s not in shape. Decision making by Archie, why? Because he is not in good enough shape right now. Mind goes.

It’s called slippage,” Calipari said. “Jarrod was shaky at best, I think because he’s not in great condition.”

Being “OK” at point guard is good enough to handily defeat Samford, but it won’t be good enough against quality SEC competition, and it won’t be good enough against the Cards later this month.