It’s the start of a new month, which means it’s time to look back and →
Want to catch a game at Rupp this season? Well here’s your chance according to our fearless leader Matt Jones 2000 tickets still remain:
@KySportsRadio: 2,000 unclaimed tickets left for UK vs Boise State on Tues. Fans can get at Ticketmaster, students at box office on Mon/Tues
For whatever reason people aren’t showing up to sporting events quite like they used to. How many of you will be calling the ticket office tomorrow morning?
By Andrew Cassady on ©2:30 pm
After a lackluster game Friday night which saw the young Cats reach their bedtime and lose all energy nothing sounds better than hosting a Mountain West team. Wait that Mountain West team took the final at large bid from Kentucky last season? That team is 8-0 and currently leads the NCAA in points per game? We could be in for another long night in Lexington. The Cats have all the pieces to win this game with ease. However they are going to need to bring their best defensive effort to these match-ups:
Derek Marks Vs Andrew Harrison
Boise may have rose to notoriety through their BCS winning football team but it’s the Broncos of the hardwood who have been making noise recently. That’s thanks in part to the rise of junior point guard Derrick Marks. Marks started every game for the NCAA tournament team last season and was named to the Mountain West second team. This year he is stuffing the stat sheet by averaging 17.6 ppg, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. Derrick is shooting 53% from the floor this season which is not a good thing for a freshman point guard who has trouble staying in front.
Kenny Chery of Baylor and Bryce Cotton of Providence both had big games against the defense of Andrew Harrison and if he isn’t ready to bring the intensity Tuesday we may see yet another strong performance. With great guard play in each of the next four games the young Harrison needs to make some adjustments and fast.
Jeff Elorriaga Vs Aaron Harrison
While Andrew has been dealing with the challenge of shutting down some of the nation’s best cutting point guards his brother has had the fortune of guarding three point specialists who don’t move around too often. Brady Heslip was held to just two points from the charity stripe Friday night thanks to the length of Aaron not allowing many open looks. The Harrison who wears #2 will have to shut down perhaps an even better shooter this Tuesday night when he guards Jeff Elorriaga.
Jeff is fifth in the nation from downtown with 26 makes on 41 attempts for 63%. Basically just don’t leave him open because he has gone for 18 twice this year and has a career high of 30.
UK Vs The Free-Throw Line
I asked last night what should be the first thing the Cats work on once the plane lands and the answer was effort and free throws. UK was just 12-23 Friday night for one of the worst percentages of the Cal era. John Clay examined some of those games and while two have already happened this year it is interesting to note most of them occur before January. Perhaps they will get this and the defense worked out with time. Otherwise it could come back to bite them like the 16-29 against WVU in the elite eight. With the free throw weakness now exposed you have to think its only a matter of time before teams start playing hack-a-cat.
How do you think the Cats will fare in these match-ups Tuesday night?
By Andrew Cassady on ©1:00 pm
What an amazing turnaround. The Tigers went from 3 wins a year ago to the BCS title game just a year later. As Kentucky fans you look at a 2-10 season and wonder why we can’t do the same. Why can’t we shock the world and land in the SEC championship next season? Well the answer is that it requires some luck and the proper foundation. This is how Auburn went from worst to first and how UK is following a similar path for future success:
Have an Amazing Talent Base
The primary reason Gus Malzhan was able to find success in just his first year as coach was the shelves already being stocked with grade A talent. The Tigers won the national championship in 2011 and that was able to keep the Tigers’ classes inside the top ten despite having little success off the field.
2010- Class Rank 4, Star Average 3.5
2011- Class Rank 7, Star Average 3.63
2012- Class Rank 10, Star Average 3.62
2013- Class Rank 8, Star Average 3.57
The problem for Stoops and the staff at Kentucky was just the opposite. They inherited a team with guys who were just not talented enough to make an impact on the SEC level. The talent is beginning to turn around thanks to Stoops and his amazing recruiting ability. In his first year he added a bunch of guys to a Joker class to bring it up to number 29 with a 3.05 star average. Currently the Cats have the 9th ranked class with a 3.33. Throw in a Matt Elam or flip and Ohio State commit and that average will only rise. As Auburn has shown the talent has to be in place first.
Grab a Dynamic Playmaker
Unlike basketball you can’t just look to one guy to credit all of a team’s success. Yeah, tell that to Auburn. In 2011 the Cam Newton show changed that team and vaulted them to the title game. This season it’s a similar story with Nick Marshall. Like Newton, Marshall was outcast from another SEC school before heading to JuCo and landing at auburn. Marshall has been dynamic with the ability to run and throw which has kept defenses on their heels all season long. Without the big playmaking ability Nick brings to the table it is hard to imagine Auburn having half the success they have had this year.
Perhaps the Cats will be bringing in a dynamic playmaker in the form of Drew Barker. In case you have never read this site or just woke up from hypersleep Barker is a top ten quarterback with a big arm. Rivals has him as the top player in the state and Coach Stoops mentioned the possibility of him starting day one on the radio show last week. Like Newton and Marshall, Drew is going to need some great players around him. But if you let him reach his third year of college like the Auburn guys, watch out.
Play a Unique Offense
The reason Nick Marshall is able to have so much success is due to the unique offense that Gus Malzahn brings to the SEC. Its a run first attack that Gus claims to have invented back when he was a high school coach. He calls it a two-back power rushing attack and with over 4300 rushing yards this season you can see why. Another key is the lightning fast pace the Tigers bring to the line on each and every play. They refuse to give the defense a chance to catch up. That is what you have to do to average 40 points per game in a league known for their defense.
Kentucky will try to play another unique offense when Neal Brown unleashes his form of the air raid. Against WKU we all expected and offensive onslaught that would see the ball hurled from endzone to endzone. Looking back now it’s easy to see why we didn’t. 1) We just didn’t have the playmakers in place to pull it off. 2) Why give opposing defenses a year of tape when you know this isn’t the year we can win. Let’s save all the tricks for a year we can win. With 5 receivers in this class the playmakers are on their way. Perhaps next year we finally see a unique offense debut in Lexington. Perhaps next season UK will look at Auburn tape and have Whitlow in the Marshall role with Braylon Heard & the other awesome backs leading the rushing attack. Just a dream.
While Kentucky may never have the success that Auburn had this season we are definitely on our way up. Kentucky looks to be following a similar route to success that Auburn has used to reach the title game. Do you think we will ever get there?
By Andrew Cassady on ©11:30 am
That is the question Gary Parrish poses in his latest article. Two seasons ago Anthony Davis and MKG, like Wall, Bledsoe, and Cousins before them, made the leap to college basketball like it was nothing. Davis was a defensive force from game 1 and developed on the offensive end exponentially as the season rolled on. MKG was an unstoppable work horse who would never give up on a play and provided the heart and soul for a young Kentucky team.
With the greatest class of freshman entering college basketball in a decade perhaps we just expected too much too fast. Yes, guys like Julius Randle and Aaron Gordon can dominate because of their physical ability but it may take a little longer for players like Andrew Wiggins and Andrew Harrison to adapt. Like Kentucky, Kansas dropped their second game of this season over the weekend and Gary Parrish sees similarity between the two teams:
Kansas’ best lineup is as follows:
- Freshman Frank Mason
- Freshman Wayne Selden
- Freshman Andrew Wiggins
- Sophomore Perry Ellis
- Freshman Joel Embiid
That looks a lot like Kentucky’s best lineup, which is:
- Freshman Andrew Harrison
- Freshman Aaron Harrison
- Freshman James Young
- Freshman Julius Randle
- Sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein
I bring this up because I spent Friday night watching Kentucky lose to Baylor and Saturday afternoon watching Kansas lose to Colorado, and a lot of the things that bothered the young Wildcats also bothered the young Jayhawks, most notably confusing zone defenses employed by Baylor’s Scott Drew and Colorado’s Tad Boyle. If nothing else, those two games in a span of 24 hours made me realize that Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist — and a veteran sprinkled here and there — spent the 2011-12 season making something look easy that just isn’t easy. That Kentucky team, highlighted by two incredible freshmen, has distorted what we think is reasonable to expect from talented teams that are young, and I freely admit that I’m among the biggest guilty parties in this regard.
I think it is so much easier to remember both the Wall team and the Davis team as they were in March rather than where they were in early December. Both Kentucky and Kansas should be major factors this March but let’s give both teams some time to go through some growing pains. Perhaps this group is more 2011 than 2012. That season Brandon Knight and the rest struggled to click all season long following a roster turnover and they dropped games to less talented Georgia, Bama, and Ole Miss. Once they got it figured out they went on to knock off the two best teams in the tournament in Ohio St and UNC before coming up short in the Final Four.
I still think we can expect this team to be great but for now and perhaps in the future we may need to all realize that this process just takes some time. Like Parrish says it’s a good thing there is plenty of it between now and March. Do you think Davis and the Kidd have ruined our perception of freshman success?
By Andrew Cassady on ©10:00 am
SEC! SEC! SEC! Everybody’s favorite conference got just the help it needed last night when Michigan State ended Ohio State’s 24 game winning streak 34-24. The Ohio State loss launches Auburn to a match-up against Mark Stoops’ former defense at Florida State. Ohio State will now likely land the good fortune of having to play Alabama. Haha Good luck with that. Now some Sunday morning links:
-What was the biggest factor in Kentucky’s loss to Baylor? According to SI it was inexperience. The Cats looked like a bunch of freshman for the third or forth time this season and it gives you pause on just how far they can go.
-Our old pal John Clay took a look at the factors behind the loss and concluded it was due to the lack of intensity and focus. This group has a alot of growing up to do and they need to do it fast.
-Trey Lyles was in action at the Hoopsfest as Arsenal Tech took on Huntington Prep last night at the Marshall County Hoopsfest. Lyles finished with 22 and 14 before heading to talk with the UK staff.
-With our team stranded in Dallas the opposite is going on in Idaho as the Broncos are getting plenty of rest. They took down Carroll College Thursday to get to 8-0 ahead of their “Super Bowl” in Rupp. Is there a chance the Cats could drop two in a row?
-Our man Jorts is proving he can be a key member of the Pistons. He finished with 10 points and 5 rebounds in last night’s win over the Bulls. Teague finished with 10 points as well.
By Andrew Cassady on ©10:32 pm
A redemption tale for the ages took place tonight as the Auburn Tigers completed their journey from worst to first. One year ago the Tigers finished winless in the SEC and just 3-9 overall. Now, with a little help, they sit on the precipice of their second BCS title game in 4 years thanks to some good ol’ fashioned running the football. Auburn took down Mizzou in the Tiger clash in an offense orientated onslaught 59-42. New Heisman candidate Tre Mason ran the ball for Auburn a record 46 times for 304 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Tigers would finish with 545 yards on the ground for a new SEC championship record. It’s an unbelievable story and an unbelievable season.
All eyes are now on Ohio State who currently trail 17-7 at the half. Who do you have in the BCS?
The Future is In Kentucky
Ladies and gentleman its the most wonderful time of the year in that county way out west at the Marshall County Hoopsfest. Cal, Kenny Payne, and Coach O caught an early flight (more on that later) and arrived in time to take in future Cat Devin Booker take on the top team in the state Ballard. Booker showed out for the staff as he finished with 40 points in a 92-71 loss. Booker wasn’t the only future Cat to have a big game against Ballard as Trey Lyles and Arsenal Tech took them on earlier in the day. Lyles finished with 27 points in an overtime win including a nice dunk featured on down the page. A nice showing for our future Cats.
Current Cats Get Grounded
After last night’s awful showing in Dallas you would think things couldn’t get any worse for the Cats. Then their flight home gets cancelled. Cal and company caught an early flight to do some recruiting but with winter storm Cleon leaving the big D crippled the Cats found themselves stuck. The last bit of news from the city had the Cats finding another flight available to get them home. Hopefully, they will get back in time to get some rest and practice in before the Broncos come to town this Tuesday.
Kentucky Volleyball Gets The W
While the boys continue to struggle on the hardwood it’s the women of UK who continue to get things done. A quick shoutout to the UK volleyball team who advanced to take on Michigan State tomorrow at 4. Get out to Memorial and support these ladies as the make another NCAA tournament run.
Surprise Recruits on Campus
According to Justin Rowland Marcelys Jones, a four star offensive lineman–currently committed to Ohio State- made his way to Lexington to take in the Cats.
Jones, who has been linked to Kentucky for some time now, is rumored to be a serious candidate to flip from Ohio State to Kentucky come National Signing Day. He has been on campus multiple times now and adding him to the offensive line mix would make for a possibly elite line to stand in front of Drew Barker in the coming years if everything pans out as it could. Also on campus was Marcelys Jones who is visiting through Monday. Jones is a 4-star OG who has also given his verbal to Ohio State. If the Cats could flip one or both it would be a major coup for Stoops and the staff.
So it’s been a tough cold weekend for just about everybody but tomorrow begins a new day and a new week. I’ll be back in the morning to try and move past the Baylor loss and start focusing in on Boise St. The team will get it all figured out, let’s just hope it is in time to land a good NCAA seed.
By Will Totten on ©9:30 pm
Image courtesy of Chicago Sun-Times and Patrick Gleason
Tyler Ulis may not be as heralded a PG prospect as the John Wall’s, Brandon Knight’s, and Andrew Harrison’s of the world, but earlier today he proved himself worthy of his Top 40 ranking, albeit in a losing effort from his Marian Catholic squad.
Marian Catholic is playing in the Chicago Elite Classic and today took on California power Etiwanda, who is ranked #6 in the country by USA Today and proved themselves worthy in the school’s firsy ever appearance in a National Showcase. Ulis dropped a cool 30 points, 8 assists, and 5 rebounds in the 74-68 loss.
“We lost, so there isn’t anything good about it,” Ulis said. A less competitive observer could see many upsides for the Spartans. They proved they could play with the top teams in the country. Ulis himself showed a crowd of national talent evaluators that he should be a McDonald’s All-American, finishing with 30 points and eight assists against USA Today’s No. 6 ranked team.
By Andrew Cassady on ©8:12 pm
Except for the Final Four I don’t think Kentucky fans, players, or coaches want to hear anything about the city of Dallas for a very long time. The trip with everything possible seemingly going wrong continues to go from bad to worse as it now appears the team is stranded at the airport:
UK basketball team gets to airport and is told they can’t fly out tonight. Stuck again in Dallas for another night
— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) December 8, 2013
And just like that, a plane is found and UK may have a way to come back. I am now done with UK Basketball travel updates for the night
— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) December 8, 2013
Well it looks like the Cats may make it back tonight after all. If not I’d fully expect them to be running laps up and down the halls of whatever hotel they end up in. What do you think the Cats should work on first once they finally land in Lexington?
By Will Totten on ©7:00 pm
After yesterday’s winter storm laid a sheet of ice over the whole state of Kentucky and postponed the start of the NCAA Volleyball Tournament in Lexington until today, the Kentucky volleyball team proved that a lay off would do nothing to derail their hopes of a deep run in the tournament, defeating Duquesne 3-0 (25-23, 25-17, 25-17) today in Memorial Coliseum and pushing their record to 22-8 on the season.
— Kentucky Volleyball (@KentuckyVB) December 7, 2013
The Volleyball Wildcats will take the court again tomorrow at 4pm in the 2nd Round of the NCAA Tournament against Michigan State (22-11), who took down MAC Champion Ohio in straight sets in the early game today. A win tomorrow would likely send the Wildcats to Happy Valley to play against #2 ranked Penn State.
By Matt Wheatley on ©5:30 pm
Much has been made about this football staff’s ability to recruit elite players away from the big dogs. Not nearly enough has been said about how well they have scouted some under-the-radar prospects before getting big bumps in their ratings. While Derrick Kelley has recently decommitted from Kentucky, when he chose the Cats, he was a name that came out of no where. Since then, he has received offers from some of the big boys in college football, including an offer from LSU earlier this week. Even if Kelley doesn’t rejoin the fold–which I believe he will assuming he make his visit next weekend as has been rumored–this sort of scouting will pay off.
Another player that has caught the attention of recruiting analysts after his play this year is Dorian Baker. Baker, who hails from Cleveland, Ohio, received a fourth star from Rivals earlier this week. Kentucky fans who follow recruiting were very excited when Baker committed and it was clear that he was an underrated prospect. As football recruits often do (for whatever reason), Baker has decided to proceed with his visits despite being committed to Kentucky. Not to worry, however, as the only visit he currently has planned is taking place right now in Minnesota. I’ve been to Minnesota and if we think it is cold in Lexington this weekend, I can only imagine how miserable it would be to be touring that campus in the 2 degree weather that they are experiencing right now. Not to mention the Viking women that are roaming the campus up there. I don’t think the Cats will lose this one.
By Matt Wheatley on ©3:45 pm
Justin Rowland (@RowlandRIVALS) of Rivals.com has reported via his Twitter account that two of the most highly-touted recruits in the nation will be officially visiting Kentucky this weekend. Marcelys Jones, a four star offensive lineman–currently committed to Ohio State–and Erick Smith, a four star safety are apparently in Lexington.
Jones, who has been linked to Kentucky for some time now, is rumored to be a serious candidate to flip from Ohio State to Kentucky come National Signing Day. He has been on campus multiple times now and adding him to the offensive line mix would make for a possibly elite line to stand in front of Drew Barker in the coming years if everything pans out as it could (a BIG if).
Erick Smith might be a newer name for some of us. Smith, a four star safety ranked among the nation’s top 150 prospects would be yet another jewel in the recruiting crown that Vince Marrow has been crafting since his arrival in Lexington. Adding him to an already stout secondary recruiting class would be an unheard of achievement here in Lexington and would prove yet again that even with the struggles that this staff faced this season, Kentucky has the right people in place. If Smith were to choose Kentucky, the Cats will have warded off Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, and about a dozen other schools to secure his services.
[UPDATE]: Erick Smith did not make the visit to Lexington as earlier reported, however Marcelys Jones is on campus and will be through Monday.
Marcelys Jones is at Kentucky on official visit right now. Glenville teammate Erick Smith is not with him.
— Bill Greene (@BillBankGreene) December 7, 2013
By Stuart Hammer on ©2:30 pm
(Video via Anthony Wireman)
Future Cat Trey Lyles’ Arsenal Tech Titans battled Ballard High School, and after opening up a monstrous 24-2 lead through 1st quarter, the Bruins slowly chipped away to make it a game after the 3rd, trailing just 59-52. Early in the 4th quarter the game was tied at 61, but Ballard kept the pedal to the metal and extended a five-point lead late into the final frame.
Those in attendance say Lyles put the reeling team on his back and helped close the gap in the final two minutes. Some costly mistakes and a big shot helped tie the game at 78 by the final horn. Then Tech then pulled away in overtime to win 87-84.
Lyles scored 27 points and was named MVP.
By Stuart Hammer on ©1:00 pm
The Marshall County Hoopfest was postponed a day thanks to mother nature, but the games must go on! Trey Lyles and his Arsenal Tech squad will battle Louisville commit Quentin Snider’s Ballard in the first game of the day. You can watch on iHigh, tip off is at 1 o’clock eastern.
Lyles became Tech’s all-time leading rebounder last week and is just three points away from become the school’s all-time leading scorer, breaking the record of 1,269 points.
Later in the evening, Ballard will play Devin Booker and his Moss Point Tigers at 5 p.m. Booker dropped 21 points and hauled in 21 rebounds Friday night in Mississippi in a 60-51 win over Pascagoula. His team boarded a bus and drove through the icy night to make it to the Bluegrass for tonight’s contest.
Rumors are John Calipari, Rick Pitino, and Bob Huggins will be in attendance tonight.
By Stuart Hammer on ©11:30 am
Death, taxes, and Calipari-to-NBA rumors. We’ve weathered this storm before, and the latest bout occurred within the last week as the Knicks continue to struggle under Mike Woodson. So naturally, John Calipari is target numero uno and he’s going to be hired tomorrow. But that will leave a vacancy in Lexington which, according to Dan Rubenstein of SB Nation, is going to be filled by 66-year-old coaching veteran Mike Krzyzewski. Coach K is the obvious choice, says Rubenstein, and his unreal recruiting class at Duke will follow him to Kentucky.
Fear not, Big Blue Nation. The darkest hour is just before the dawn. Better times are coming.
(Before you go off the deep end, I’m pretty sure this is satire)
It’s an ugly morning after here in Dallas, and like most fans, I can’t stop replaying last night’s game, especially the postgame press conference. Here it is in its entirety, thanks to @KyWildcatsTV. Watch Cal, Aaron Harrison, and Julius Randle struggle to talk about the loss.
The most telling part to me? After answering questions from reporters, John Calipari abruptly left the presser with a sour look on his face.
I feel ya, Coach.