Kentucky Sports Radio

University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.





December 11th, 2018

KSR Show Thread 12/9: Back from New York City

After traveling all across the northeast to the Big Apple, the KSR crew is (mostly) back.  Drew Franklin is still enjoying the sights of the city, but Matt Jones has made his triumphant return to talk about all of the latest across the Big Blue Nation with Ryan Lemond.  Don’t miss it.

Join in on the fun by calling (502) 571-1080 or send a text to the KSR Texting Machine at (859) 300-3264.

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KSR Shop: Buy 3 or more bowl tees, receive a FREE hat!

Now is the perfect time to stock up on bowl gear. These tees from the KSR Shop and Kentucky Branded will make great gifts this holiday season before the ‘Cats play in the Citrus Bowl.

If you head to ShopKSR.com and purchase 3 or more bowl tees, you will receive a UK hat for FREE. Plus, five random orders will receive another FREE hat autographed by Tim Couch!

This sale is exclusively at shopksr.com. Offer ends Wednesday at midnight.

[KSR Shop]


December 10th, 2018

Matt’s Notes: Losing to Seton Hall Edition

I pulled onto my street in Louisville last night at 2:38 am, after an 11 hour drive across Ohio/Pennsylvania swing-state interstates that seemed as if it would never end. Due to my new gig with ESPN doing the NFL Pre-game show, I find myself paying attention to NFL games with an attentiveness that I used to reserve only for UK affairs. 10 straight hours of NFL play by play (I highly recommend NFL Radio Channel 88 on Sirius/XM on Sundays….it is basically Red Zone with local broadcasts of the teams and you get some great homer cheering during the big plays) were exciting, but it was the last three that had my mind racing. We have had an amazing last few months around these KSR parts. We have seen the radio show expand, the TV show has reached record ratings, the website has received a huge Football bump and we opened a sports bar that has been a great success. It has been continued growth on all levels and I couldn’t be happier about what everyone around KSR has accomplished.

But I also realized that there is one thing that I do miss…I do miss the intimacy that defined KSR when we first began in 2005. Spending these last 10 days with Chris Tomlin (the only writer left who started with me back then) reaffirmed to me how special and unique this entire enterprise has been. We started from Hubby’s basement and now we do shows from the US Embassy Residence in Ottawa, Canada. It truly is a dream. But at the core of this entire enterprise, was just this….me at a keyboard, writing my thoughts and sharing them to people across the Big Blue Nation. In recent years I have all but stopped writing and I truly do miss it. I will never be able to recreate the output I once did, and with the work of Tyler/Drew, etc, there really is no need. But I do miss sharing my random thoughts and hope to add to them going forward. I have had this goal before and have usually flamed out (writing is hard…much more so than Radio and TV) but long trips listening to Tyler Childers give a man confidence. I hereby endeavor to write more…if not every day, at least once a week. And if I don’t…well I will buy you a drink (or hummus) the next time I see you at KSBar.

With that, some thoughts:

KSR Staff Changes

If you read the site earlier, you know this is the last week that TJ Walker will be writing for KSR as he leaves us to move onto another career as a real estate appraiser. While figuring out the value of Matt Bevin’s estate is much different than figuring out the meaning behind Tyrese Maxey’s Instagram posts, I am certain TJ will have a great deal of success as his work ethic and intelligence are of the highest rate. He has been a great addition here at KSR and helped us refocus our efforts in recruiting, once the lifeblood of this site. We appreciate his time with us and wish him nothing but the best…and if he hears scoop in the coming months, he will always be welcome to share it here.

With every loss, there must be a gain and so we are also happy to use this opportunity to announce the hiring of Jack Pilgrim as a full-time KSR Staff writer. Jack has been with us since his Sophomore year of College and now gets to join us as a full-time career. His work output is outstanding and I know of virtually no other student who has spent as much time balancing schoolwork, an outside job, volunteer activities and actually having fun as Jack has. I knew from the first day he began writing for us that I wanted him to eventually end up as a full-time staffer. That begins this week and we couldn’t be happier. Jack will focus on recruiting, but have a presence in many areas and we here at KSR are lucky to have him with us.

With his addition, we move Maggie Davis (who is also a tremendous talent both now, and for the future) up to our Sunday Editor and will continue to add to our staff in the coming months. We expect 2019 to be a huge year of growth for KSR and we are glad to have you along for the ride.

Madison Square Garden Misery

In 2005, I watched the Kentucky-Michigan State basketball game sitting by myself in my apartment in Raleigh, North Carolina, desperately living and dying with each shot. When Patrick Sparks’s rim-bouncing three miraculously fell in the basket, not only did Austin, Texas erupt, but I went outside and screamed with glee as loudly as I have ever made a noise in my life. It still to this day remains the only time I have ever uttered a primal scream in my entire existence and I think of it often every time I see a fan acting out at a sporting event. It still to this day remains the most improbable big shot in UK history (considering the physics of it) and the follow-up fist pump to Billy Packer only makes it more amazing.

But as a great moment as that is, in my memories it doesn’t sit with pure joy. For along with Sean Woods’ free-throw line heave against Duke, Anthony Epps straight-away 3 pointer versus Arizona and James Young’s insane UCONN dunk, its memory is forever intertwined with the result of the game…in all cases a loss. In fact, with the exception of Aaron Harrison’s insane three-point string in 2014, it is oddly the case that the best shots in UK history have often come in losing efforts. Keldon Johnson’s halfcourt-heave on Saturday was just the injection of adrenaline this fan base needed to jumpstart the season. Well until it wasn’t. See since the Duke game, I have been shocked at the lack of energy around this UK basketball program. A combination of excitement over football, the lack of star power, the rise of Duke as the “cool” program of the day, a schedule lacking in fun and the deflation of unmet expectations has produced the largest sense of malaise I have seen since Billy Clyde was stumbling his way through 2009. Fans aren’t attending games (the fact that there are $15 seats for the game against Utah on Saturday is insane to me), our basketball conversation on the radio has been sparse and with the loss of top 5 recruits more commonplace, even the solace of recruiting can’t snap us out of our issues. With one beautiful heave from mid-court Keldon Johnson seemed ready to change that narrative. Now it goes into the dustbin of great moments in losing games and our fan base looks for a new reason to care.

I am not sure how to totally diagnose what is wrong with this group. The Sophomores haven’t improved to the degree they need to, our Point Guards all have defects that make playing any of them a choice in which defect will be spotlighted, Tyler Herro cant make a shot, Reid Travis is the team’s best player but is a step slow and can be exploited on Defense and John Calipari seems unable to connect with a group of good kids whose future seemed so promising. The Bahamas now looks to be a bit of a curse on this group, setting the standards high and giving them the burden of high expectations for a fan base that desperately wants/needs to be top dog again. I am unready and unwilling to give up…Calipari’s team turnarounds in 2011, 2014 and 2018 should have taught us that. But something is clearly missing with this group, not only on the court, but off in the connection with BBN. The back-to-back end of December contests against North Carolina and Louisville can bring everyone back…but losses could make the situation only worse. Trust Cal I do…but getting the team to call a timeout, run an inbounds play or simply guard the three point line would most certainly make it easier.

Feeling Better about Football Recruiting

College Football recruiting is not for the faint of heart. Kids commit/decommit and flip allegiances multiple times and it can cause even the most patient of us to become extremely frustrated. I can freely admit that the decision by Wandale Robinson to switch from UK to Nebraska one week after saying to me on TV that Nebraska was eliminated was head-scratching and bizarre. However I am a big believer that kids should go to school wherever they want and if the process that gets them there is convoluted, so be it. Since that decision though, many UK fans have thrown up their hands and said “WAKE ME WHEN THEY SIGN” and assumed that every UK commitment is going to flip. Case in point, JJ Weaver from Louisville, a 4 star talent who visited UL this past weekend, after committing to Kentucky. He posted the above picture and many UK fans wrote me, already assuming he was soon to be a Card. With that in mind, a few recruiting notes from me, someone who is admittedly not a UK football recruiting guru, but sometimes gets some good info:

1. I still think JJ Weaver will be a Cat. I believe him when he told Dave Lankford of Rivals.com that he visited as a favor to Vince Tyra (who had been nice to him when Bobby Petrino was not) but that he is still 100% committed to UK. The folks in Lexington still feel very good about him, and so do I.

2. I think UK is going to finish this class strong and probably keep all of their other commitments. Wandale was a unique situation and those around Lexington believe he always wanted to go to Nebraska but the pressure made him initially pick Kentucky. If that is true, I am glad he made the decision he did.

3. UK will get one Transfer that everyone who follows UK football will know…it could occur any time, although my guess is next week. I have said this for about a month and it is still the case. The only new scoop I have is that a 2nd transfer who is slightly lesser known to UK fans, but maybe equally (or more) important is considering transferring as well. If both come, it will be a huge coup.

With that, I will call it a night…we will be back on radio tomorrow, with an announcement about our $5,000 Bowl Challenge game, looking ahead to Utah and more. And later this week, for the 3-4 of you who care, I will write about my trip this weekend to see “Hamilton”, which was amazing. Adios


KSR Top 10 Tweets of the Day

McDowell


The one and only Big Mick is a meaty masterpiece in its own right. Composed of two quarter-pound patties* of never-fresh, frozen, mostly beef raised close to the processing plant. Only McDowell’s has the frosted beef and processed cheese to give you a major reason for the afternoon trip to the secret bathroom only you and Debra know about on the 9th floor that is under construction.


You can be a part of McDowell’s KSR Top 10 Tweets by using hashtags like #KSR #BBN or #KSRtop10. You can also nominate tweets by mentioning them with the hashtag. If we like what we see, it could be posted the next day.

If you are interested in sponsoring KSR’s Top 10 Tweets, please contact us at Via Email.

#10 it me. josh ballard.


Nice Benny!

#9 Troy Winters


Yeah it is!

#8 Matt Bristow


Yes please.

#7 terri tucker


It was a great one!

#6 Jody.BBN


Congrats to all!!!!

#5 John Newton


Yup.

#4 Loc


Classic.

#3 Jeanne Begley


Well Deserved!

#2 Derek Petrey


A bright spot indeed.

#1 UKRoar


Yes.


Why It’s Perfectly Understandable for Kentucky Fans to Be Frustrated Right Now

So as you’ve probably definitely heard by now, Saturday was not a good day to be a Kentucky Wildcat. Not only did Kentucky lose to Seton Hall at Madison Square Garden, but they didn’t even lose to a particularly good Seton Hall team. There haven’t been many truly stunning regular season losses in the John Calipari era at Kentucky. But falling to a Seton Hall club which lost four starters off last year’s team and already had three losses this regular season would certainly qualify as one.

Still, despite the disappointing result I did what I try to normally do in situations like this: Look at the big picture and provide perspective for Big Blue Nation. No, a loss to Seton Hall doesn’t look good. But there were positives. P.J. Washington played like the star Kentucky needs him to be, Ashton Hagans is coming along as “the guy” at point guard, and Reid Travis is who we thought he was going to be when he decided to play his final season of college ball in Lexington.

More importantly though, this is both the gift and the curse of the John Calipari era at Kentucky. With John Calipari, it isn’t always going to be pretty in November and December. But you take some of the bad for the reality that come February and March this team will be in the hunt for a championship. And in sports, where the ultimate end prize is to win a title, isn’t that what matters? To win it all? It is, and say what you want about John Calipari, but when you have Coach Cal, you’re almost always going to be in the conversation to win. Even last year when the Wildcats went 21-10 in the regular season (including a four-game losing streak in SEC play) they were a couple missed free throws away from playing Loyola-Chicago for a trip to the Final Four (a game they would have won by a billion, by the way).

I expressed this exact sentiment in a tweet shortly after the Seton Hall loss.

Yet after I sent out the tweet, something strange happened: I got a little bit of a pit in my stomach. While what I said was true, it also felt a bit hollow to me, and it does feel like something is a little bit… different this season. More importantly, I kind of understand the perspective of fans who are frustrated with where Kentucky is at right now. I understand the ones who are starting to say “I’m tired of hearing we’ll be fine by March. I want to win in November and December, darn it!!”

And for the first time, I find myself somewhat siding with them. Why do Kentucky fans have to sacrifice wins in November and December just to be in the hunt late? At a school like Kentucky – with every resource available imaginable – why can’t you have both? Why does it have to be one of the other?

Now before we go forward, like I always try to do, let’s go ahead and clarify a few things.

One, this isn’t a “Calipari is on the hot seat” column. Don’t be ridiculous. Heck, it’s not even a “Calipari has lost his touch” article either. Despite what the nameless, picture-less accounts on Twitter will tell you, 99 percent of Kentucky fans realize just how good they have it with John Calipari and that if Calipari left (for the NBA or retirement) there isn’t anyone out there who is guaranteed to replicate the success he’s had in Lexington. Most of the fan-base appreciates Coach Cal, and most remember what life on the other side was like. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, just go ahead and look at the “Kentucky” section on Billy Gillispie’s Wikipedia page. It ain’t pretty.

At the same time, it doesn’t mean that the fans who are frustrated are necessarily wrong either. Even if having Calipari on your sideline always guarantees you a shot in March, in the past it also meant you were going to be damn good early in the season as well. It’s no secret that in his first six seasons, there were three (2009-2010, 2011-2012 and 2014-2015) where Kentucky was unquestionably the class of college basketball. Yet here we are in 2018-2019 and it looks like for the third time in four seasons (excluding the 2016-2017 De’Aaron Fox/Malik Monk season), the Wildcats will be largely out of the national conversation for most of the regular season.

And the frustrating part that there is no obvious answer as to why. That’s something you couldn’t say in previous seasons. In 2016, Kentucky had basically lost its whole team from that magical, 2015 campaign, so a drop-off was expected. And last year Kentucky was the youngest team in college basketball.

This year though, what is Kentucky’s excuse? They brought back plenty of experience, and also added the best grad transfer on the market and a bunch of five-star recruits. Also, despite what some of the experts will tell you, the talent isn’t nearly as bad as some make it out to be: P.J. Washington and Keldon Johnson are projected by just about everyone as Top 20 picks in the next NBA Draft. Ashton Hagans and E.J. Montgomery could get there in the coming months as well. That’s not “We’re going undefeated!!” type talent. But it’s better than all but a handful of teams in college basketball.

Add it up, and that’s the most frustrating part right now: There is no obvious reason why this team is so bad. Maybe they were a little overhyped in the preseason, and I include myself in those who did the overhyping. At the same time, the reason that this team had so much hype was explainable. Kentucky entered the season with seven McDonald’s All-Americans and nine Top 40 recruits on this roster. Where were we supposed to rank them? Especially after they blitzed through a bunch of pros in the Bahamas. How could anyone have logically watched that team in the Bahamas, and then predicted that they would get blown out by Duke, lose to Seton Hall and struggle with just about everyone other than Monmouth on the schedule? It was flat-out inconceivable.

Only that’s exactly where we are, which is what’s so perplexing. It’s also why I’ve begun to side the fans who have grown tired of the whole “We might not have it all figured it out now, but we will by March” spiel. Why? One, this isn’t the typical Calipari team that struggles in November and December – again, there’s no tangible, logical reason for this team to be this bad.

And also, why does it have to be OK for the team to struggle early if it means they’ll be competitive late? Why can’t Kentucky be good in November and December as well as February and March? Duke is. Kansas is. Villanova historically has been. Same with Virginia. Even if Kentucky fans wouldn’t trade their March results with Virginia (or most anyone on this list) why does it have to be an either/or proposition? Why do the fans have to be OK with it? Especially at a place like Kentucky, where John Calipari is the second-highest paid coach in the sport and the fan-base and alumni provide every resource needed to compete at the highest level? That’s kind of the deal you make when you take the job at Kentucky: When you have every resource needed to compete at the highest level, it’s expected that… you know… you actually compete at the highest level. It’s not that you play well for a few weeks in February and get hot in March.

And that really is the gift and curse of being the head basketball coach at Kentucky, isn’t it? As John Calipari likes to say, he “can’t hide” his players in Lexington and right now it seems like the same can be applied to him. Again, I’m not saying Calipari needs to go (frankly, Kentucky fans are lucky to have him) but it is fair to question what’s wrong with this team, and why the November/December swoon has basically become an annual tradition.

Ultimately, the good news is as I’ve said all throughout this article: History tells us that Calipari will get things figured out by March. Like I said at the top, for as frustrating as last year’s team could be at times, they were basically a missed free throw or two away from playing Loyola-Chicago to go to the Final Four (a game I’m 1000 percent sure they would have won by the way). And I do believe this team will again be in position by March to compete with anyone in college basketball, be it Kansas, Gonzaga or yes, even Duke.

At the same time, March is a long way away.

And for the first time I can say that I understand any Kentucky fan that says “I don’t want to wait until March to have a competitive basketball team.”

For the first time, I get the fan’s frustration.

(By the way, Nick Coffey and I spent a lot of time talking about Kentucky, the frustating loss to Seton Hall and why the fans have every reason to be mad. To listen, download and subscribe here)


Kentucky football facilities ranked No. 15 in the nation

The Kentucky football program spent $45 million on a brand new training facility and $120 million on upgrades to Kroger Field back in 2016, and today, they’re receiving national praise for it.

The fine folks over at 247 Sports ranked all of the top 25 football facilities in the nation, and Kentucky came in ranked No. 15 overall.

“See what funneling more money into football brings to the Bluegrass?” they said. “Kentucky might be considered a basketball school, but the Wildcats’ $45 million upgrade to its football training facility in 2016 totaled 100,000 square feet and proves the administration believes in Mark Stoops and his steps toward the future. It paid off in 2018 as the Wildcats won nine games and earned a New Year’s Day bowl berth. Every player’s locker is ventilated with a cell phone charger, lock box and cup holders. For a cool price tag of $120 million, renovated Commonwealth Stadium saw its first fans in 2o17 and initial reviews have been extremely positive.”

We’ve shared the virtual tour of the Joe Craft Football Training Facility several times since it officially opened, but if you missed it, take a look here:

Kentucky is ranked ahead of schools such as USC, Florida State, and Washington, among others.

Here’s the entire list:

  1. Clemson
  2. Oregon
  3. Texas A&M
  4. Alabama
  5. Tennessee
  6. Ohio State
  7. South Carolina
  8. Oklahoma
  9. Texas
  10. LSU
  11. Georgia
  12. Michigan
  13. Notre Dame
  14. Auburn
  15. Kentucky
  16. USC
  17. North Carolina
  18. Florida State
  19. Washington
  20. Northwestern

The 247 article put it best: good things happen when you pump time, money, and resources into something. That something just so happened to be the Kentucky football program, which just had their best regular season in over 40 years and are set to participate in a New Year’s Day bowl here in a couple weeks.

Check out the entire article here.


TWEAK ALERT: John Calipari says he made “a couple tweaks on offense” to help team

Ask and you shall receive, Big Blue Nation.

After a disappointing loss to Seton Hall on Saturday and momentum temporarily swinging away from the program a bit, Kentucky head coach John Calipari decided to make some changes… and we won’t have to wait until Camp Cal to see them.

On his weekly call-in radio show, Calipari said he has made “a couple tweaks” on offense that he feels that he thinks will help the team moving forward.

It started with a brief discussion about the grieving process following a loss and how he allows just 24 hours of feeling bad before moving on. From there, it’s about realizing these kids are hurting too and you just have to push them through it.

“When you’re me, losing just wipes you out for 24 hours,” he said. “Then you just have to come back and say “Alright, if I feel this bad, how do these kids feel?” Then I’ve got to come back and say, “Alright, what’s there, what can we do?”‘

With the tweaks, he has already told his team the changes are coming and it might be that way for the long haul.

“I made a couple tweaks in a couple of the ways we were playing offensively that I think will help us,” he said. “And I talked them through it, said “This is what we are going to do, I want to try some of this.” So this whole season is going to be that way, my guess, including who we play.”

One of those people included in the tweak? Kentucky guard Jemarl Baker, who played his first minutes as a Wildcat late in the first half on Saturday.

It’ll be a process, but he believes the sharpshooter can work his way into the rotation if he gives it his all.

“Someone was asking about Jemarl Baker,” he said. “I said to Jemarl, “You’re the tenth man. You are. You just started practicing, you’re not moving in front of anyone yet. But here’s what I would tell you, when you get your chance, be the seventh guy, sixth guy, start. But you’re going to have to perform in games. For right now, you’re the tenth man.”

When it came to his first minutes against Seton Hall, Calipari said he thought Baker did a great job in limited time on the floor.

We went down to the bench and just said “Can we play you?” Calipari said. “(Baker) said, “Oh, yeah.” I thought he went in there and did pretty good. But it was his first time. Hopefully he gets that chance and goes in there and does some good stuff for us.”

Beyond Baker getting healthy and earning more reps, any other ideas for what the tweak could be?


Time is running out! 24-hour Green Monday sale!

 

Finish your holiday shopping today with these massive Green Monday sales! The KSR Shop and Kentucky Branded are offering 50% off select sweatshirts and 25% off everything else. You will also receive FREE SHIPPING on orders over $50.

Head to ShopKSR.com to pick out KSR and UK fleecy sweatshirts for all your family and friends. Plus, check out all the other great gift ideas. Hurry this sale is 24-hours only!

[KSR Shop: Green Monday sales]