In the great list of Kentucky Wildcat villains, two names stand out: Christian Laettner and Joakim Noah. Sure there are opposing players we do NOT like, including any member of the Indiana Hoosiers, but let’s face it. Those candy stripers don’t possess the true level of crazy to make us hate them. But tonight, a new villain for the ages can be born if the Ole Miss Rebels knock off our Wildcats and send them further onto the bubble. Marshall Henderson is that man. We all ready know his level of crazy as evidenced by the whole taunting of the horrible Auburn Tigers student section after a narrow win. That in itself is a level of crazy. Deadspin has more:
Henderson’s personality has led him on an odd and twisting path through the college basketball landscape. Before graduating from high school, Henderson was arrested and sentenced to 25 days in jail for trying to buy $800 (59 grams) worth of marijuana with counterfeit money. He was also coached by his father during high school, an experience that he has described as “freakin’ miserable” to the Lexington Herald-Leader. This likely had something to do with his decision to move out of his parents’ house when he was 18, even though he was still in high school.
After his freshman season at Utah, Henderson decided to leave because then-coach Jim Boylen’s philosophy didn’t mesh with Henderson’s “individualism.” Henderson transferred to Texas Tech, but after head coach Pat Knight was fired, the guard blew town before ever playing a game.
So Henderson went underground, transferring to South Plains College, a junior college in Levelland, Texas, where he helped lead the basketball team to an undefeated season and an NCJAA championship. While at SPC, Henderson continued to shoot an ungodly amount of threes—312 three-pointers in all, hitting 41 percent of them—and amassed plenty of technical fouls for doing things like hanging on the rim too long after a dunk.
Go and read the Deadspin article and check the video as Henderson possesses a level of crazy that has to be seen. Henderson will be in his element tonight at home, so enjoy the crazy train. Something tells me he may not be around next year at Rupp. Just a hunch.
As expected, controlling Henderson is going to be the main focus of Kentucky’s defensive game plan tonight and John Calipari was asked about that at his press opportunity yesterday:
On how he’ll deal with Marshall Henderson and the environment at Ole Miss …
“This is all good. Let me just tell you. They’re very physical. You watch the game last year; it was a tie game except for four minutes in the second half where we blew the game open. The rest of the game was a tie game and they battled and they did not step back, and we were a good team last year. They’re all back and they’ve got a guy that, he must remind Andy [Kennedy] of Andy. Just get in there and the ultimate green light. Shoot every ball if you want and the kid feels. He gets it going that way.”
On whether he would have Archie Goodwin guard Marshall Henderson …
“I don’t know yet. We’re trying to figure out how we’ll play it. We did some stuff yesterday at practice but (Henderson)’s going to take 14 three’s. Whether you’re on him, you’re not on him, he’s taking 13 three’s. I love his energy and his excitement about playing. He loves the game. It was a great thing Ray Lewis did, and I showed the guys, one of the things he said, ‘The reason I could last this long, I love it. I love everything about it. I love the game.’ I stopped the tape, ‘Do you love playing? Or are you more happy when practice is over than when it starts?’ Everything I’m trying to do is get these guys to grow up fast and the biggest thing is to get them to recognize what they’re doing, what it looks like. You have to recognize it before you can change it.”
On if Henderson is an X-Factor …
“I would say he’s that type of guy. There may be special attention paid to him. What you end up doing if you pay too much attention to him, all of a sudden two big guys get 20 and 20 and then you’ve got no chance of beating them. A lot of times you want one guy to get 30 and not let the other guys get any. And there are many times I’ve coached a game where I’ve said we’re letting him get his 30-35, let him try. And if he’s on fire, then OK, we’ve got problems. And if he’s shooting it anyway, and he doesn’t… And sometimes we do it with big guys. Why trap them? Let him try to get 40. It will take out this guy, that guy, that guy. Now, that’s not how we played the kid (Texas A&M’s Elston) Turner, but there are times we do it.”
On lessons learned from Turner applying towards Henderson …
“No, but he’s probably watching that tape, I would say. Their team probably watched that tape, us falling into screens, hands down, beat on the dribble, beat on curl cuts, stopping, acting exhausted, just whaling with no bones in your body. I imagine they watched it, though.”
Perhaps the biggest quote out of the Calipari press conference was the fact that he wants his team to play mad tonight and be ready if Henderson starts jawing:
“I’d like us to lose our composure. Like lose your composure. Get mad. Get angry. Be mad to be great. (Calipari mumbles inaudibly) ‘Sorry, you can’t…’ What? Be mad. And if he talks, talk back to him. Be mad. I mean compete, battle, fight, toughness, swagger. It’s hard to have a swagger when you’re ducking and you’re running. You’ve got to dig your heels in. And this is why I’m saying, all of this stuff is good for our team. If we’re going to get it, it’s going to be competing in games like this and growing.”