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Wall, Calipari teaching Cousins to channel emotions

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Thumbnail image for long beach celebrate.jpgBy now just about everyone has seen the opening sequence of the Kentucky-Louisville game, one that started with a loose ball and ended with three technicals, some shoving and jawing, and a lot of controversy as to what was intentional and who should have been ejected.

DeMarcus Cousins, who was at the center of the scrum, was charged with a technical foul for unsportsmanlike conduct for an elbow to Jared Swopshire's chin.

Was it intentional? Should he have been ejected? Was it provoked by a knee to Cousins' head before that? What about Reginald Delk's ensuing push? That, not even 24 hours since Saturday's melee, is still the hot topic of debate.

"I was just going for the loose ball," Cousins said of the fracas. "I never knew I did it."

Regardless, all players stayed in the game and the refs, commendably, took control of the situation in an ugly, physical slugfest at Rupp Arena.

Cousins finished the game with an incredible line of 18 points and 18 rebounds, but Saturday's opening few minutes may have been a blueprint for what teams are going to try to do to Cousins for the rest of the season: toy with his emotions.

"He's kind of like a kid I had at Memphis named Joey Dorsey where the other team used to do whatever they could to get his goat, because they knew he'd lose it," head coach John Calipari said. "Well, I think Louisville came in to try to get this kid's goat. Now we told them they were going to do that, and they did it as we walked in and off the court."

The Cardinals pushed him, double-teamed him, jawed with him before and during the game, and tried to get inside his head. They tried getting a self-described emotional player to let his emotions unravel him.

It nearly worked.

"The kid never budged," Calipari said. "He said 'It's not bothering me, I'm going to play.' He's grown up. He's really maturing. He's playing with a lot more confidence. He still does the reverse layup dunk. 'What are you doing? You had it on the other side.' He reverts to AAU ball every once in a while, but he's getting better and better."

But teams are going to continue to bait him in hopes of letting Cousins' emotions get the best of him.

"I think teams are going to go after him and try to foul him hard or try to talk junk to him just to get him out of it," freshman guard John Wall said.

Wall can relate. As a young and promising prospect growing up, Wall became notorious for attitude problems. Issues on and off the court rattled the young man in his early high school days and would often spill over to the court.

"I was emotional," Wall said. "If someone fouled me, I got up and wanted to fight. That's something you can't do. College coaches start looking at you and people start judging you by it."

Wall refined his attitude and his talent shined through, propelling him to the top of the recruiting rankings.

Now his teammate appears to be going through a similar situation.

"I think people are going to start judging him not just because of the way he plays but how he carries himself and how he acts on the court," Wall said.

The problem is you can't completely put Cousins' emotions on ice. It's what makes Cousins who he is. Without his emotions, he isn't the same player. With them, he's a dominant force, one capable of taking over a game.

The key isn't containing Cousins' emotions, rather channeling them and finding the right balance.

"I am an emotional player," Cousins said. "It helps me get going. I just try to come out and play. I'm not trying to get into a fist fight or anything. I just want to come out here and help my team win."

Having a history with emotions in the past, Wall said it would be unfair for Cousins to earn a bad reputation for playing the type of basketball that makes him so good.

"I don't think it's really fair," Wall said. "You can't help if you're the type of player like he is. He's emotional. He lets his emotions do his game, so you can't really judge him off that."

Teams will continue to test those emotions as the season wears on. How Cousins handles them remains one of the keys to the 2009-10 season.

Regardless of what you believe did or didn't happen in Saturday's scrum, all parties would agree that Cousins is still a work in progress.

"I've still got a lot to do," Cousins said.

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4 Comments

The more I watch this kid play, the more I love him and his game...even though I am roughly a foot and a half shorter, I still played with the same emotion in any game I played...and it helped more than it hurt...I just hope he isn't reading what other "fans" are writing about him on blogs and the like, as he seems to be a thoughtful and funny young man who is going through his growing up stage in the spotlight...and my guess is those fans are just jealous that they don't have his monstrous 6' 10" frame patrolling the paint for their teams...keep it up Boogie...

db
Silverton, Oregon

I don't condone what Cuz did in the Louisville game but I DO understand it. The taunts started an hour before game time and continued through warm-ups and tip-off. The knee to the head didn't look intentional but in that situation it's an instinctive reflex action to respond without thought. The thing that makes me the saddest is not what happened but what brought it on. To go into a college game and intentionally try to get a guy ejected, which I have no doubt was the plan is embarrassing if you ask me. I've played ball now for 35 years and if I can't compete in a fair yet legally physical manner I won't bother playing. If that's the only way you feel like you can win a game then you do not belong in Division I basketball and you sure as hell don't belong on our schedule period.

Well I think Rick should have called his players over if this is the case and they were acting inapropriate before the game even started. I guess it was too much to ask to show Kentucky a little respect. I lost respect for Pitino for allowing all this to continue. Thats no way to win a game.

louisville tried to come out and push the cats around and found out that was a bad game plan loved to see that the cats were more than happy to push back and show looserville what was up



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  • bill in louisville: louisville tried to come out and push the cats around and found out that was a bad game plan loved read more
  • Candyinky: Well I think Rick should have called his players over if this is the case and they were acting inapropriate read more
  • kywildcatblue: I don't condone what Cuz did in the Louisville game but I DO understand it. The taunts started an hour read more
  • DaveBall: The more I watch this kid play, the more I love him and his game...even though I am roughly a read more