By LARRY VAUGHT
If you look at the final statistics, you would think Kentucky sophomore guard Ashton Hagans probably did just about everything coach John Calipari wanted during the game.
He had 15 points on 4-for-10 shooting from the field and 6-for-9 at the foul line and hit a huge 3-pointer in the final minutes. He flirted with a rare triple-double as he had nine defensive rebounds and nine assists. He also had three steals in his 36 minutes.
However, he had four turnovers and Calipari was far from pleased with his point guard despite his numbers in the 76-67 win over Alabama.
“I wasn’t happy with Ashton. I think Ashton’s the best point guard in the country. I think we have three point guards, by the way, but I think he — and the reason is, he is a tough defender, pick-and-roll defense. He’ll rebound. He can get in the lane. He has a good twitch, which means if someone’s open late, he’ll find you. He’s shooting the ball better,” Calipari said.
So what’s the problem?
“I didn’t think he brought it to the level. Now, I made him this morning, normally we don’t shoot around. I made him shoot around this morning because I wasn’t — there was a gut feeling like if he ain’t ready, I see Evansville (an upset loss) all over. He didn’t play that game,” Calipari said.
“ I’m on him, he’s 15-9-9, almost a triple-double. I said, ‘That’s how much I think of you. You’re a triple-double, and I’m saying you’re better. You’re still undisciplined both offensively and defensively, you make four or five plays a half that hurt our team, and only because of discipline.’
“But you know, he’s getting better.”
Getting better? Many regard him as the best defensive guard in the SEC and his offense has improved dramatically. Calipari even compares even to UK football star Lynn Bowden for having the ability to “will” the team to win.
Hagans also has the kind of attitude you love. He admitted he got too “amped” at Georgia, his home state, and shot — and missed — too often in the first half. He admitted he “needed” the morning workout Saturday.
“It was just too early. That’s all it was. I’m not really the morning type, so he was on me all week,” Hagans said. “He wanted me there with some other guys around me while I was there, just talking and getting comfortable.”