Calipari: Point guard role made Washington more assertive
At Vanderbilt on Tuesday, TyTy Washington made his first shot. That continued what’s become a pattern for the Kentucky freshman guard. He’s done so in at least four straight games.
“Whenever I make my first shot, I feel like it’s going to be a good day for me,” he said Friday.
Washington linked making his first shot to diligently practicing the type of shots he’ll take in a game.
“It’s like second-nature to me,” he said. “When I’m shooting, I always think it’s going to go in.”
With Sahvir Wheeler missing the last two games because of a neck injury, Washington has moved over to the point guard role.
Wheeler has quickly made his mark as a player to quicken the pace and disrupt opposing offenses.
Davion Mintz saw a contrast with Washington. “He’s going to take his time,” he said of the freshman. “He’s super patient.”
UK Coach John Calipari suggested there can be too much of a good thing when it comes to patience, saying that becoming the primary ball handler helped Washington be more assertive.
“It made him more aggressive,” Calipari said. “You can’t be afraid to make errors.”
Washington, whose first name is Tyrone, said his mother and an aunt came up with the nickname when he objected to being called T.J.
“Ty is the first syllable of my name,” he said. “I’m a junior because my dad’s name is also Tyrone. So, they just doubled it up and it became TyTy.”
During this season of COVID precautions, the SEC has said that teams must play if they have seven healthy scholarship players. Calipari was asked if Shaedon Sharpe, who arrived on campus last week, would count as one of the seven.
“I don’t know,” Calipari said. “If he was not ready to play, I would not put him out there. I would say (to the SEC), c’mon, this kid just got here. . . . You can’t do that to the kid unless he’s ready. If he’s ready, I say let’s go.”
Sharpe began practicing with the UK team on Thursday, Calipari said. Sharpe is “way behind” in adjusting to the speed and intensity of basketball on the college level, the UK coach said.
Basket by Bob?
In preparing for telecasts of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament Nov. 20-21, ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla asked Tennessee’s Santiago Vescovi for the correct pronunciation of his last name.
The Vols’ guard said his name was pronounced VESS-cuh-vee. That’s how college basketball learned that his name had been mispronounced for two seasons as Vess-COE-vee.
When Fraschilla subsequently pronounced the name correctly on game telecasts, it did not go over well with some Tennessee fans. They took to social media to direct their annoyance at the college basketball analyst.
Fraschilla responded on-air, reportedly saying, “For these idiots in Tennessee, it’s VESS-cuh-vee, OK? We asked him. So stop tweeting me.”
When asked Thursday about his reaction, Fraschilla said, “I temporarily lost my mind for 10 seconds.”
Vescovi, a native of Uruguay, shrugged off how his name had been pronounced.
“I don’t really care either way,” he reportedly said. “I think that’s just easier for English people to pronounce. . . . Just call me Santi. That is it.”
Last year Vescovi said his name could complicate placing a to-go order at restaurants. To make it simple, he said the name he gives for such orders is “Bob.”
There can be older players like Kentucky has this season in grad transfers Kellan Grady and Davion Mintz, plus Oscar Tshiebwe and Keion Brooks.
Then there’s John Fulkerson. He is in his sixth season with the Vols. He redshirted his freshman year of 2016-17. Now, taking advantage of the NCAA granting players an extra season because of the coronavirus pandemic, he is what UT calls a “super senior.”
“I remember when he played against Rick Robey in — what? — ‘77?” Fraschilla quipped.
Fulkerson’s 25th birthday will be April 29.
According to UT, Fulkerson is the fourth oldest player in Division I men’s basketball this season.
The three older players are Josh Ayeni of Chattanooga (26), Grant Weatherford of Georgia Southern (25) and Frederick Scott of Boston College (25).
Kentucky-Tennessee will be the final game for Eric Lindsey as UK’s director of communications (liaison between UK basketball and the media). He has served in that capacity for 13 years.
Lindsey is leaving UK for a job at the Kentucky Blood Center.
Calling Lindsey a colleague and friend, Calipari said the demands of Kentucky basketball made the departure understandable.
“This is all-consuming,” the UK coach said. “When you have a young family, you start making decisions.”
Dan Shulman and Jay Bilas will call the game for ESPN.
Jerry Tipton has covered Kentucky basketball beginning with the 1981-82 season to the present. He is a member of the United States Basketball Writers Association Hall of Fame.
Support my work with a digital subscription