Harrow blames self for Kentucky meltdown
by Dan Wolken, USA TODAY Sports
NASHVILLE – After the final act of this baffling, mostly bitter journey through NCAA Tournament no-man’s land, Kentucky point guard Ryan Harrow sat at a locker inside Bridgestone Arena and put a towel over his head. His voice quivered, his eyes were red, and as more questions came, it turned into a painful image of a Kentucky’s season, which now seems destined to fall short of any preseason goals.
“I’m disappointed in myself, and I just feel horrible for my teammates,” Harrow said, barely able to get the words out. “They deserve to win because they work so hard.”
Nobody took Kentucky’s 64-48 loss to Vanderbilt in the SEC quarterfinals harder than Harrow, which was understandable given his performance: 2-for-15 from the field, one assist, four turnovers. With everything on the line for Kentucky, it was an all-out disaster against a team that finished 10th in the SEC’s regular-season race, a team the Wildcats had already beaten twice.
But it also laid bare the truth about Kentucky, and it has not changed since the first time the Wildcats stepped on the court this season. For all of John Calipari’s recruiting powers – and make no mistake, he’s the best in the game by a mile – he misjudged his roster following last year’s national title, and in particular, misjudged the quality of guards he had brought into the program.
And barring an improbable gift from the NCAA Tournament selection committee, the result will be exactly what Kentucky deserves: A trip to the NIT.
“The good news is everyone seems to be losing, and I just hope we’re the best of the bad right now,” Calipari said. “That’s what I’m hoping.”
Think about that for a second. Just one year removed from dominating college basketball, here was Calipari hoping his team would be forgiven for a season in which it went 21-11 overall and just 7-9 against opponents in the RPI top-100. Since center Nerlens Noel tore his ACL, Kentucky went 4-4 with two bad losses (at Georgia and Friday vs. Vanderbilt) offsetting two good home wins over Missouri and Florida.