Harrellson having the time of his life

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Harrellson having the time of his life

Post  BestdamnUKfanperiod on Thu Jan 06, 2011 4:43 am

Harrellson having the time of his life

As Josh Harrellson stepped onto the court during pre-game introductions prior to Kentucky’s contest against Penn Monday night, a loud roar erupted as the spotlight shined on him in the darkness.

Those cheers are reserved for special moments at Rupp Arena, many of which are used during a game when the team is down and in needed of an extra push at crunch time. Those cheers also are for former players, coaches and others who have been a part of the program during its storied history.

Josh Harrellson is having the time of his life in a Kentucky uniform and the fans all throughout Big Blue Nation know it and have been showing Harrellson a huge dose of love since his breakout game in the team’s 75-73 loss to North Carolina last month.

The Southeastern Conference Player of the Week is the league’s top rebounder heading into the team’s conference opener Saturday at Georgia. He has scored 35 points and grabbed 25 rebounds in Kentucky’s past two victories over Louisville and Pennsylvania, respectively.

Harrellson was “shocked” he earned the league’s top honor when it was announced on Monday and he took the honor in stride after he heard the news.

“If you would have said something about Josh Harrellson being named SEC Player of the Week a year ago or two years ago, I probably would have laughed like you all just did. It’s a new year and a new me. So, I guess anything is possible.”

In his last outing, Harrellson could have become complacent, but rolled up his sleeves and added to his list of impressive achievements this season. To go along with his 12 points and 11 rebounds against the Quakers, he snagged seven offensive rebounds and blocked seven blocks, a new career high in both categories.

Harrellson had nowhere to go but up after his performance against the Cardinals.

“I think (the Penn game) was a big step for me,” he said. “People have been saying lately, ‘how is he going to turn around after the Louisville game?’”

For Harrellson, the solution was simple.

“I (just kept) playing my game – nothing is going to change,” he said. “I’m going to keep playing my game in the post. I won’t be looking to shoot every ball, I’ll keep taking them if I’m open. I want to keep finishing around the rim and hopefully I can keep doing that so they’ll keep passing me the ball.”

Although competing against Enes Kanter, Terrence Jones and Eloy Vargas behind the scenes has contributed to Harrellson’s development, Calipari singled out his dismissal of bad habits in exchange for better ones.

“He’s conditioning 40 minutes before practice,” Calipari said. “He goes out and does full body conditioning, goes in the locker room, lays around for about 15 minutes, tries to get his mind back and then he goes out and practices for two hours. And, that’s what’s changed him, nothing else.”

Harrellson will need the extra conditioning regime as the Cats prepare for a brutal conference schedule that begins Saturday in Athens, Ga. When Harrellson steps on the floor against the Bulldogs, those cheers he heard earlier this week will turn into jeers and the Kentucky center is ready for the challenge.

“We are everybody’s Super Bowl, especially after last year,” he said. “(Last year) every game was sold out (in the SEC). I think I heard that Georgia is already sold out for this weekend (and) it’s going to be a tough to play down there.”

Story by Keith Taylor.


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