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April 18th, 2014

Watch the NBA Cats in the Playoffs this weekend


The NBA Playoffs begin this weekend, and eight former Cats will participate. Here’s this weekend’s schedule (all times Eastern):


12:30 p.m., ESPN: (6) Brooklyn Nets (Marquis Teague) vs. (3) Toronto Raptors (Patrick Patterson, Chuck Hayes)

3:30 p.m., ABC: (6) Golden State Warriors vs. (3) Los Angeles Clippers

7 p.m., ESPN: (8) Atlanta Hawks vs. (1) Indiana Pacers

9:30 p.m., ESPN: (7) Memphis Grizzlies (Tayshaun Prince) vs. (2) Oklahoma City Thunder


1:00 p.m., TNT: (8) Dallas Mavericks vs. (1) San Antonio Spurs

3:30 p.m., ABC: (2) Miami Heat vs. (7) Charlotte Bobcats (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist)

7 p.m., TNT, CSNC: (5) Washington Wizards (John Wall) vs. (4) Chicago Bulls (Nazr Mohammed)

9:30 p.m., TNT: (5) Portland Trail Blazers vs. (4) Houston Rockets (Terrence Jones)

Will you be watching?

Drew Barker tries to beat the odds


There are currently over 600 quarterbacks in FBS football. The young men joined the ranks of NCAA Division 1 football hoping to become the heroes of the school and dreaming of one day starting in the NFL. However, that dream just might be a little harder than the movies show.

With Whitlows departure, the spot for starting quarterback is left wide open. Thousands of quarterbacks have participated in NCAA football over the last ten years. Yet less than a handful have been successful in what Drew Barker is trying to accomplish.

Out of hundreds of BCS quarterbacks, there have only been 15 to start as true freshmen for a BCS Conference school since 2003 and the results have been nothing short of mixed. Of those 15 true freshmen, the completion percentages vary from as low as 39.5% to as high as 60.2%, both of which have room for improvement.

True freshmen usually have attributes that are in question from arm strength, to awareness, to vision and whatever else you can question. However, shouldn’t we just worry about how efficient they are? Of those 15 true freshmen that started for a BCS conference school, only two of them had a passer efficiency below 100. Is 100.0 passing efficiency good? Not necessarily. But for comparison sake it shows a good baseline of what has happened in the past.

The BCS might be dead, but the stigma of those power conferences will live on along with the rare feat of a true freshmen starting for a major FBS program. Does it always work out? In some ways yes and in some ways no, but it is rare that a player who doesn’t possess the skills necessary to start as a true freshmen will ever be thrown into that situation. However, as BBN has found out, it is not quite unheard of. Regardless of the rarities, more often than not when a young man is entrusted with the keys to an offense as a true freshman, he usually writes his name into his school’s football history.

Over the years, we have seen such history writing and perhaps it is UK’s turn to grab the pen and write it’s own chapter.

Take former Georgia Bulldog Matt Stafford for example. Stafford trotted out onto field against UAB for his first start as a true freshman and proceeded to lead the Bulldogs to a 34-0 victory followed by helping Georgia to an impressive win against Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. We all know the story from that point on, it worked out pretty well for both him and Georgia

Like Barker, Stafford graduated early from high school and enrolled at his college destination in January. It should be noted that Stafford played only sparingly until his first start which occurred in the fourth week of his freshman year. This formula could end up being Barker’s, the only question is when might his first start take place?

Barker has all eyes on him at the moment, but has not shown the pressure on the field so far. Barker looks at the stats not as a distraction, but rather more like a challenge to join the ranks of successful true freshmen quarterbacks of the past.

Cal talks Boogie in his latest book excerpt


It’s no secret that we love DeMarcus Cousins around here. While he’s a monster on the court, Boogie is a total goofball off of it, and in the latest excerpt from “Players First” on, John Calipari describes Boogie’s first practice at UK and how he was able to get through to him when Boogie wanted to slack off during a conditioning drill:

I turned around and DeMarcus was sitting against a wall. He had his shoes off. I walked over there and he said it again: “My feet are on fire!”

I said to him very calmly, “DeMarcus, you didn’t make that run, so you know you’re going to have to make it up. And to be honest with you, I’m okay with that. I know you’ve got a long way to go. But you do know that you will never start for this basketball team if you can’t do the conditioning and you’re not in shape. You know that, right? You’ll come off the bench, and if you’re playing well and in shape, might play thirty minutes. But if you’re not, you’ll come off the bench and you’ll play eight minutes. Either way, you can never start here. You do know that, right?”

Cal said that DeMarcus completed every conditioning drill after that. Look at him now.

To read more, head on over to for the full excerpt, or click here to purchase the entire book.

Watch the future Cats play in tonight’s Jordan Brand Classic

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Got plans tonight? Either cancel them or set your DVR. All four of Kentucky’s 2014 signees–Karl-Anthony Towns, Trey Lyles, Tyler Ulis, and Devin Booker–are playing in the Jordan Brand Classic at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

The guys have been in New York all week preparing for the event, and each has turned heads in their own way. Bleacher Report’s CJ Moore says Trey Lyles has the best stroke of any of the big men in the Classic, and would be surprised if he’s NOT the starting four for UK next season:

Lyles is really skilled, can score facing up and has great hands. Everything he does is fluid and fundamentally sound. Even with a really crowded frontcourt, I would be surprised if Lyles is not the starting 4 for the Wildcats.

Depending on who comes back, I doubt that’ll be the case early on, but Lyles is definitely turning heads this week.

A few matchups you should definitely keep an eye on tonight are Tyus Jones vs. Tyler Ulis and James Blackmon, Jr. vs. Devin Booker. Jones is headed to Duke, and considered one of the premiere point guards in the class along with Emmanuel Mudiay, but Ulis’ stock has been rising after an impressive performance in the McDonald’s All-American Game. A few analysts have said he’s better than Jones, so it will be fun to see them go head-to-head.

With Blackmon vs. Booker, you’re not only getting a showdown of two of the best shooters in the class, you’re getting an early taste of the Indiana/Kentucky rivalry. Blackmon was ready to commit to the Cats, but changed his mind at the last minute to go to Indiana, a decision I can’t help but wonder if he’s regretting now.

Go future Cats.

Marcus Lee makes it official, says he will return next season

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

It’s official: Marcus Lee will return for his sophomore season. Lee confirmed the news via press release minutes ago. Here are his quotes about coming back:

“I’ve really enjoyed my college experience and I’m looking forward to continuing to develop as an all-around player,” Lee said. “Playing in the Final Four was such an amazing feeling, but I want to come back and help win that final game this year.

Coach Cal says Lee’s only scratched the surface of what he can do:

I’m excited for Marcus and think he’s barely scratched the surface of what he’s capable of,” head coach John Calipari said.  “In addition to his athleticism and the energy level he brings, the experience he gained in the NCAA Tournament this year will be immeasurable for us next season.”

Lee’s brother told Adam Zagoria Marcus would be back earlier this week, but it’s still good to get the official word. Even better, it sounds like he and Willie share the desire to settle unfinished business and bring home #9.

Welcome back, Marcus!

Fake Barney and Coach K want you to listen to today’s podcast


Photo @broncofan4life

What are Coach K and Fake Barney doing in the bathroom? You’ll have to listen to today’s Kentucky Sports Radio to find out. Matt and Ryan talked about the latest draft decision rumors, James Young leaving, and Nate Willis’ sports hernia injury. If you’re wondering what a sports hernia is, please Google it and don’t rely on Ryan Lemond’s explanation.

There’s only a few hours left ’til the weekend officially begins. Spend them wisely.


Stan Van Gundy quips that Cal to the Lakers would be a “step down talent-wise”

Former Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy was on Mike Bianchi’s “Open Mike” show this morning, and the two discussed the now-dead rumors that John Calipari’s going to the Lakers. Cal’s said that isn’t true and I’m sick to death of talking about it, but Van Gundy’s response to the rumor was too good not to post:

“I have no idea why he would want to go the Lakers,” Van Gundy cracked during his weekly appearance on our Open Mike radio show. ”He has more NBA players (at Kentucky) this year than the Lakers do. It would be a step down talent-wise for him.

I know Kobe’s out, and he’s probably joking, but man. Cats.

25,000 tickets distributed to the Spring Game


According to Jen Smith of the Herald-Leader, 25,000 tickets have been distributed to next Saturday’s Spring Game, which will take place at 3:30 p.m. ET at Commonwealth Stadium. Because the renovations to the stadium are underway (as you can see above), capacity has been limited to 42,500, but it looks like that won’t be a problem based on current estimates.

I talked to Bud Dupree, TV Williams, and Josh Clemons on the phone this morning for some features next week, and both Bud and Josh told me there is a totally different vibe around this team right now, and it’s all about winning. That and checking out the quarterback battle are two huge reasons you need to go out and support Stoops and company next Saturday. Also, tailgating.

Get your Spring Game tickets here.

Stoops’ D Steps Up With Only a Week Left of Spring Practice

IMG_20140404_145721 (1)

Coach Stoops wasn’t too pleased with his offense today, but was it because the offense played bad, or the defense played well?  I’ll take the latter.

The defense came ready to play in early down situations.  By getting hands on passes early, they put the offense in a lot of tough situations, “We get behind the chains early and we’re not very efficient.”

Last year the Cats were last in the SEC in interceptions, a rare occurrence for a Stoops and Eliot coached team.  They’ve placed an extra emphasis on getting hands on the ball this Spring and it has paid off.  Today the unit came down with multiple picks, including one by linebacker Josh Forrest.  Forrest has received praise from the coaching staff for his athletic ability, even though it hasn’t been easy learning the 4-3 and 3-4.  Forrest caught one of the three interceptions last year, and takes pride in his hands.

With CB Nate Willis out 3-4 months for hernia surgery, the Cats need guys like Forrest to step up.  Stoops believes the return of JD Harmon at cornerback has given them much needed versatility and depth.  AJ Stamps might be the most versatile playmaker in the group.  He’s received praise all Spring from the staff, but his skills with the ball are another new revelation.  A guy that played both sides of the ball in JUCO, Stamps doesn’t hesitate to make the big play, and he can do something with it once he comes down with an interception.

Willis’ injury is the only major setback, but the amount of guys ‘banged up’ has forced them to adjust their practice plans, and possibly their plans for the Blue/White game.  Today Stoops wanted another full scrimmage, but it was too risky with dwindling numbers on the depth chart.  He’d like to have some fun next week and decide teams with a draft, but they might have too many guys on the sideline.

Even though the Cats are struggling with depth (what’s new), Stoops expects to get a lot out of his team in the final week of Spring practice.  Stoops  wants to see some continuity from his offense, and that could mean deciding a starting quarterback, “if we can figure it out in the last week we will.  If not we’ll continue to work through it.  We have time until our first game.”  Other than quarterback, he wants to determine a solid pecking order at running back, wide receiver and defensive line.

Eight days til the Spring game.  Don’t Geek BBN.

Police searching for robbery suspect with giant UK tattoo


Police in Ludlow, Kentucky are searching for Matthew Wolfinbarger, a 26-year-old man suspected of robbing Huntington Bank back on April 10. Investigators were able to identify Wolfinbarger from surveillance footage, in which he’s wearing the same hat as he is in pictures on his Facebook page. He can also be identified from this huge UK tattoo on his back:


See, tattoos can always come back to bite you.

(H/t Big Lead)

UK Fans at the Ford Truck Plant want an updated list of Calipari book signings


Want a signed copy of John Calipari’s new book, “Players First”? Calipari’s local book signing tour is rolling through the Bluegrass. Here’s an updated list of dates and locations via

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 4.07.56 PM

Remember, the signing event in Louisville on April 24, “An Evening with John Calipari,” will take place at The Clifton Center, and will feature a discussion led by our own Matt Jones. Tickets are $30, which gets you admission to the discussion with Calipari and Matt, a copy of Calipari’s new book, and a designated place in the book-signing line based on the letter on your ticket stub. Seating at the event will be general admission (no reserved seats). You can order your ticket here.

Can’t make it to one of the stops? You can order your copy of “Players First” online by clicking here.

UPDATE: Cal has added another Keeneland signing, one at the Richmond Road Kroger, and a stop in Owensboro. I’ve updated the list above as well.

“Win or lose, Kentucky is dominating college basketball”

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Considering how they’re dominating the headlines this week, you’d think Kentucky actually won the National Championship game, not UConn. CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein agrees in his latest column, in which he says, “Win or lose, Kentucky is dominating college basketball.” Here’s a quick snippet:

It’s been a little more than 10 days since UConn beat the Wildcats for the 2014 national title but since that moment, Kentucky has still been the one team that’s dominated virtually every headline in the sport. Maybe it’s because the Wildcats have so many players debating whether or not to leave Lexington early for the NBA Draft. Maybe it’s because John Calipari has been on literally every media outlet possible in the past week to talk about his team’s season and promote his new book — “Players First.” Or maybe it’s just because right now Kentucky will always be the dominant storyline in college basketball.

Now feels like the appropriate time to revisit Al McGuire’s classic quote about Kentucky basketball: ”They had it before you, they had it during you, they’ll have it when you’re gone.”

Win $20,000 with Draft Street’s 2-day $100,000 Playoffs league!

Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 8.49.47 AM

Want to make $20,000 this weekend? Join Draft Street’s 2-day $100,000 NBA Playoffs league!

This Salary Cap style league is similar to Draft Street’s standard daily leagues, with one exception. Draft rooms contain games from 2 consecutive days and you’ll accumulate points over both days of the contest. Rosters will lock at the start of the first game on day 1. Fill out your roster without going over the $100,000 salary cap and finish with the most fantasy points over the 2-day scoring period to take down the big score and $20,000.

This league is only for games on April 19 and April 20. All you have to do to enter is go to, pay the $55 entry fee, and start drafting your team. There’s a $100,000 prize pool, with first place getting $20,000 and the top 300 finishers getting paid. First time depositors at DraftStreet will received a 100% bonus up to $200.


Nate Willis to have sports hernia surgery, will be out 3-4 months

Image via 247 Sports

Some bad news from this morning’s spring practice: according to Mark Stoops, cornerback Nate Willis needs sports hernia surgery, and will be out three or four months. Ouch.

Nick Roush will be by later with a full recap from practice. Get well soon, Nate.

#AskEmmert happened this morning and it was hilarious

NCAA President Mark Emmert went on “Mike & Mike” this morning, and listeners were able to ask him questions on Twitter using the hashtag #AskEmmert. Of course, this turned into a total, hilarious disaster. SBNation and Lost Lettermen took some screenshots of the funnier tweets Emmert received:


I see you, Bomani Jones!


What did they really expect?

For what it’s worth, during the actual interview, Emmert did admit that the NCAA’s previous rule restricting meals and snacks was stupid, so, there’s that.

Proposed plan would extend age limit to three years in college and expand the D-League

(Photo by Garrett Ellwood /NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Garrett Ellwood /NBAE via Getty Images)

New NBA commissioner Adam Silver has said ending the one-and-done rule is a priority this summer, and there are several possible solutions on the table, including extending the age limit so that players would have to stay in school two years, which John Calipari endorses.

According to The Sporting News’ Sean Deveney, another proposal that is currently making the rounds is extending the age limit to three years in college while also expanding the D-League with higher salaries so that players who want to come to the league immediately have a proper training ground, and be able to make a decent living. So, go to college for three years or straight to the D-League.

The sources said that, in order to pave the way for raising the age limit, the league would be willing to expand salaries in the D-League, giving each team a salary cap and allowing executives with each team to sign players as they wish. Not only would that allow D-League teams to sign good young players, it would allow NBA clubs to size up young executives and player evaluators.

Deveney says the problem is the NBA Players’ Association hasn’t been able to find an executive director to work with Adam Silver on the matter. Once they do, Deveney notes, finding a solution to the one-and-done problem will be a priority.

[The Baseline: D-League could be major part of NBA raising age limit, sources say]

It’s FRIDAY! (Friday Show Thread)


It’s Friday! Let’s celebrate with two hours of Kentucky Sports Radio! This morning, Matt and Ryan are in studio to discuss all the latest happenings, including James Young declaring for the draft, who may or may not join him, and next week’s Spring Game.

Join in on the fun by calling (502) 571-1080.

Listen to Kentucky Sports Radio

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