Kentucky Basketball: How Ryan Harrow's Re-Emergence Helps the Wildcats

Matt OveringContributor IIIDecember 9, 2012

LEXINGTON, KY - DECEMBER 08:  Ryan Harrow #12 of the Kentucky Wildcats dribbles the ball during the game against the Portland Pilots at Rupp Arena on December 8, 2012 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Kentucky basketball head coach John Calipari received a "thank you" text message from Ryan Harrow after last week's slew of tough practices.

It read (h/t Louisville Courier-Journal): “Thank you for being hard on me. Keep the pressure on me.”

What may be seen as a change of heart for Harrow is a good sign for Kentucky moving forward. 

It has only been one month, but Harrow has already had enough drama for an entire year. He started against Maryland at the beginning of the year and played 10 minutes because of flu-like symptoms.

That was the reasoning behind his absence against Duke and Lafayette. Before the Morehead State game, Calipari said that Harrow had family issues to deal with. 

Harrow would miss the Morehead State and Long Island games.

His first game back was against Notre Dame. He played nine minutes and looked like a player that hadn't practiced in weeks. He was lethargic on the court. 

But the need for Harrow to lead the offense was there. Kentucky needed (still needs) an athletic point guard not named Archie Goodwin. 

And since the Notre Dame game, Harrow has consistently performed better each game.

His minutes doubled against Baylor (nine to 18), and although he went 1-of-9 from the floor, he was back in his element. He was able to get around Baylor point guard Pierre Jackson and get into the lane multiple times.

Post-Baylor, Harrow has continued to improve. He played 21 minutes against Samford and 25 minutes against Portland. Statistically, his shooting percentage has increased from his abysmal 2-of-17 start to the year. In the last two games, Harrow is 4-of-10 from the field.

Points won't tell the whole story for Harrow, however. Turnovers have been a huge issue for Kentucky this season, but Harrow has done his job to prevent them. He has three turnovers on the year in 83 total minutes of play.

Compare that to 14 assists, and you can see that Harrow is one of the best facilitators on the team—and he limits turnovers.

It shouldn't take much longer for Harrow to earn his starting job back, and with Kyle Wiltjer still struggling to do what he does best (stretch the defense), we may see a guard-heavy lineup in the near future.

With Harrow at point, Goodwin and Julius Mays on the wings and Alex Poythress and Nerlens Noel down low, Kentucky would have a small lineup. But their efficiency on offense would improve drastically.

Playing Harrow at point would give Calipari his dynamic point guard and, more importantly, put Goodwin back on the wing. 

Harrow's position in the starting lineup should be secured with another strong performance against Lipscomb on Dec. 15. 

Kentucky has hardly had a smooth start to their title-defending season. But with Harrow back in the mix, the team will (hopefully) have some semblance of an offense moving forward.

Games against two tournament-level opponents, Marshall on Dec. 22 and Louisville on Dec. 29, will be a huge test for Harrow and the Wildcats.