Harrellson is “perfect” in his role for UK (with video)


UK’s Josh Harrellson pulls up a shot during the first half of the University of Kentucky’s basketball game against Boston at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., on 11/30/10. UK led the game at half 40-33. Photo by Mike Weaver

Sometimes it’s better to keep it simple.

About an hour after recording 13 points and 12 rebounds against Boston University Tuesday – his first double double in exactly two years and a day – senior center Josh Harrellson expounded on his offensive mindset.

“I ain’t got too many moves,” Harrellson said. “Just grab a rebound and stick it back in, that’s about all I got.”

Getting offensive rebounds and scoring second-chance points has been a emphasized by Harrellson as his primary function to the offense. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have some moves of his own.

“Yeah, I got a jump hook and I got a jumper,” Harrellson said. “But not much else.”

Whatever offensive repertoire he has, it’s helped him to 5.2 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. He’s filled in the post position by being a self-titled “garbage man.”

“He’s perfect for this team,” Boston University head coach Patrick Chambers said. “Because he really doesn’t need the basketball,” Chambers said. “He doesn’t demand the basketball. He knows his role. If he gets the basketball, it’s great, he’s happy about that, but if he doesn’t get a shot attempt, he’s happy about that.”

While he said he only has two go-to moves, his limited offensive repertoire is by design. Assistant coaches Kenny Payne and Orlando Antigua have helped Harrellson and fellow center Eloy Vargas develop a few specific moves they can rely on, rather than have a large volume of moves that aren’t honed.

“They have done a really good job of just simplifying things for these guys, having them have one or two (good) moves and nothing else,” assistant coach John Robic said. “(Harrellson) doesn’t have the same post skills as DeMarcus (Cousins) did or Pat (Patterson) did down there, so he’s going to be a little limited,” Robic said.

At the same time, however, UK doesn’t expect Harrellson to produce as much as last year’s big men. Harrellson said he’s not worried about scoring since the rest of the roster has offensive potential. As such, not much of the offense is geared specifically for Harrellson.

“Really, I don’t think we run any (plays) directly toward me,” Harrellson said. “But some of our options have me as second look, or first. They’re not really directed at me, but if I’m there, (my teammates) are going to give it to me.”

Harrellson said he isn’t worried about getting post-ups and would just as soon grab rebounds for second-chance points. And he’s improved his conditioning, the result of a Twitter comment about head coach John Calipari that resulted in a Twitter ban and more sprints.

And beyond all those “grinder” roles, Harrellson has one more thing in mind: taking charges. He said head coach John Calipari urged him to “just try one,” and Harrellson was a little harsh in his assessment of his first attempt, saying he left early. But still, it was his first charge taken.

“Today was my first attempt I’ve ever taken my entire life of playing basketball,” said Harrellson, who may (or may not) have been joking.

He hadn’t taken any before because of his size. Harrellson stands 6-foot-10 and 275 pounds.

“When people hit me, I don’t move,” Harrellson said. “I’m too big to fall. But now, I’ll lean on my heels so I fall over instead of just standing there.”

VIDEO: Josh Harrellson discusses his role on the team, his arsenal of offensive moves and the decision to wear black socks in honor of John Calipari’s mother:

And these two videos, courtesy of The Courier-Journal, of Harrellson discussing taking charges and being called the “mother hen” of the team.