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February 8th, 2016

Derrick Ansley’s Potential Replacement

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After being turned down by Ed Reed, Mark Stoops is now turning to a former SEC assistant.  According to Justin Rowland, former South Carolina defensive backs and special teams coach, Grady Brown, is in Lexington to interview for Derrick Ansley’s old job.

Brown previously worked at LSU and was a cornerbacks coach for Southern Miss, before taking the South Carolina job in 2012.  After spending two seasons coaching the DBs and special teams, he as demoted to quality control assistant when Spurrier re-organized the defensive staff by adding Jon Hoke as a defensive coordinator.

What could set Brown apart from other candidates?  He has strong recruiting ties to South Florida.  Arguably his best recruit is one you can’t forget from his matches with UK — All-SEC linebacker Skai Moore.

Even though Brown’s name has popped up quickly, don’t expect Stoops to have a quick trigger with this hire.  We’ll keep you updated as more names surface throughout the process.


The Matt Jones Podcast: E14 Terry Meiners & Tony Vanetti on UofL’s Postseason Ban

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After UofL announced a self-imposed postseason ban for the men’s basketball team on what is now being dubbed as “Black Friday,” fans turned to Terry Meiners and Tony Vanetti to help them get through their difficult time.  Now, they’re talking to Matt Jones about what led to the decision and what’s next for the basketball program.  Some highlights:

—  Did Rick know what was going on?

—  Was Andre McGee a lone wolf, or did somebody else on the staff know?

—  How Terry’s relationship with Pitino has affected his job.

—  Ramsey, Jurich, Pitino: are they all still at UofL in 2017?

You can have every podcast delivered straight to your phone by searching for “The Matt Jones Podcast” on iTunes and clicking “subscribe.”  It doesn’t get much easier than that.  If you aren’t an iTunes person, you can also stream every podcast on Podbay.


Notes and Quotes from Calipari’s Call-In Show

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

 

—  Isaac Humphries is helping himself, and the other Bigs.  The play from Isaac Humphries was a pleasant surprise on Saturday, contributing solid minutes in the absence of Alex Poythress.  “He didn’t know if he would have an opportunity, and when he got his chance he grabbed it by the throat,” Calipari said.

The best part for Cal: Isaac’s play forces Skal to either step up, or sit down.

“You know the great thing about Isaac playing that way, who’s he putting pressure on?  Skal.  ‘You better start my man.’  It now is, ‘(If) You don’t get it done Skal, I’m playing Isaac.’  He’s proved it.  He got six rebounds and made a basket.  I’m trying to win, I don’t play favorites.”

With that being said, Calipari described Skal’s performance over the last two days, “as good as I’ve ever seen him.”  With Poythress’ status considered day-to-day, all of the post players must seize the moment.

—  Cal used the Super Bowl as a teaching moment.  Because of course he did.

The old “defense wins championships thing” rang true last night, with Denver’s DLine suffocating Cam Newton.  Cal’s best teams have been great defensively.  He believes this team is capable of playing great team defense, with an emphasis on “team.” After all, it worked for the Broncos.

“They counted on their line and their linebackers to really put pressure on the quarterback so he could not see the open guy.  That’s team.  You do your job, I’m gonna do my job,” Calipari said.

If he can get all five on the same page, the improvements will speak for themselves.

—  Cal is pumped to watch his former Cats during All-Star Weekend.  He is proud of the numerous accolades his players received, even though he doesn’t understand how some were left out of the Rising Stars Challenge.  He was quick to brag on his three post players in the Skills Challenge, listing the competitors by name: ” Karl Towns, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and someone else who’s not going to win.  I don’t even know who the fourth guy is, nor do I care.”

—  Tyler Ulis is the Team’s Most Valuable Player.  I think it’s pretty obvious too.

“If you’re comparing anybody to Tyler Ulis, you’re not giving anybody any justice here, because this guy is so unique,” Cal said.  “He plays with that energy that entire time he’s out there, and a will to win, and a fight to win and an emotion to win that is just not normal.”

The energy he plays with is becoming more infectious.  He sees Briscoe and Murray giving more fight, yet they’re still learning how to play without taking possessions off.

—  How Jamal Murray can build off a career-game.  Like every Wildcat fan, Calipari wants to see him play better defense, bringing energy to both ends of the floor.  Offensively, he knows that hitting eight threes isn’t going to happen every time he hits the floor.  To make up for that, he wants to see Murray be more aggressive by attacking the basket and drawing fouls.  “He should be a guy that get’s to the line 8 to 10 times a game.”


Living by the Three

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

So, taking a look at Kentucky’s stats this year and a couple things are jumping out. Most notably, Jamal Murray and Derek Willis are absolutely relying on the three and that’s not a bad thing. Murray is shooting a 3 on 50% of his shots while Willis is shooting a 3, 64% of the time.

This isn’t necessarily shocking with the value of the 3-point ball and the evolution of the game. This is especially true in both of their styles of play. Willis being a stretch four is made for this and he’s frankly not going to beat a ton of people off the dribble to the hoop. Murray’s number is a little shocking considering he can get to the hoop and is crafty at finishing around the elbow/in the paint.

Would you like to see those numbers go down? Not necessarily. Murray has upped his 3-point shooting to almost 40% – that tends to happen when you go 8-for-10 in a game – but, if he can continue to shoot around 40% the value is just too great.

The other stat that sticks out? Alex Poythress has just eight assists on the year. Tells me he’s looking for his shot, which is something fans have always wanted him to do.


Keep an eye on UK’s field goal percentage tomorrow

Andy Lyons | Getty Images

Which statistic are we looking at ahead of tomorrow night’s game?

Kentucky’s field goal percentage.

Georgia is one of the best teams in college basketball at making its opponent miss shots. Mark Fox’s squad leads the SEC and ranks sixth nationally in field goal percentage defense. All but two of its 21 opponents shot beneath their season field goal percentage while facing the Bulldogs.

Kentucky, on the other hand, has been been on fire from the field lately. UK shot 53 percent in four of the last five games, well above its average of 46 percent entering that stretch. The Cats currently rank second in the conference in field goal percentage, trailing LSU by three-tenths of a percent.

Want more? Another stat to keep an eye on is rebounding. Georgia is undefeated this season when winning or tying its opponent on the glass. A perfect 11-0 on the year when not losing the rebounding battle.


Kentucky’s Movin on Up According to Joey Brackets

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I thought the Rocky Mountains would have been a little more rockier than this.

Get used to hearing a lot of Dumb and Dumber jokes if Joe Lunardi is right with his latest bracketology. He’s got Kentucky moving up a spot – and a team on the rise – to a No. 4 seed in the South Region.

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Getting Arizona in Denver would be tough, but if Kentucky makes it to the second weekend on this bracket, getting Oklahoma in Louisville would be a complete home court advantage. Oh, isn’t that cute to have Indiana, Duke and Wichita State in the same bracket as Kentucky too?


Tomorrow’s show with Katina Powell may be KSR’s best ever

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Katina Powell, author of Breaking Cardinal Rules and the thorn in Louisville basketball’s side, will be a special guest on Kentucky Sports Radio radio tomorrow morning. It is our most anticipated show ever and it will be must-hear radio for fans on both sides of the rivalry.

The interview will be conducted in person at an undisclosed location due to security concerns. The suits at iHeart Media are taking the KSR show away from the studio and into a super-secret warehouse to avoid complete mayhem surrounding Powell’s appearance.

You can hear it all on tomorrow’s show in Matt Jones’ Super Bowl.

Get your popcorn ready.


Ulis and Murray challenge UK fans to a game of HORSE

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Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray have challenged Big Blue Nation to a game of HORSE. Simply tweet a video of your best shot to @KentuckyMBB with the hashtag #HorseWithTheCats, then sit back to see if Ulis and Murray can match your bucket.

Kentucky’s two All-American candidates kicked the game off by hitting two deep three-pointers on their first take of the Horse With The Cats video:


More Isaac Humphries in the Georgia game?

Joel Auerbach | Getty Images

Isaac Humphries was terrific in his unexpected role in Kentucky’s win over Florida. The freshman big man played 15 minutes and matched his career-high in rebounds and blocks while helping make up for the loss of Alex Poythress prior to tip-off.

Afterward, John Calipari said, “He earned his space, and I’m so happy for him because he has worked so hard and hasn’t had the opportunity, and what he did was he took advantage, and we all look and say, he needs to play. Let him play. And then you’ve got to stop waiting on some other guys, you’ve got to say, hey, he deserves it.”

Now we ask, will Humphries see an increase in minutes moving forward?

The opportunity is there with Georgia up next on the schedule, and Alex Poythress possibly out for that game and more. John Robic said it will depend on the flow of the game, but the Bulldogs present a challenge in the frontcourt that may require Humphries to do more of what he did against the Gators.

“This would be a good game for Isaac because of post players,” Robic said today. “They actually have size in the post. If it was an undersized, say a Tennessee, where they really don’t have a true post, that would be a tough game for Isaac. This is a matchup-type game that benefits all of our bigger players.”

Robic couldn’t put a number on how many minutes Humphries will play, saying, “It just depends on the flow and how he’s actually playing.”


John Robic expects Alex Poythress to play

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Alex Poythress’ status for tomorrow night’s game is undetermined, but assistant coach John Robic thinks he will be able to go.

While filling in for John Calipari at today’s press conference, Robic said of his senior forward, “He is doing okay. Right now he is day-to-day, expecting him to play tomorrow. Just one of those things, he just felt sore and he’s getting treatment on it right now.”

When asked once more if he thinks Poythress will play, Robic said, “I do, yeah.”

Me, I’m not so convinced. I’ve heard it will be a little longer before Poythress makes his return. Hoping I’m wrong, but Robic’s optimism may be more of a strategic move to make Georgia plan for Poythress inside.

Either way, Kentucky needs him back. And soon.


Kentucky ranked No. 22 in the AP poll

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Mark Zerof | USA Today

Kentucky is still alive in both polls this week despite suffering a crushing loss at Tennessee.

The Cats dropped two spots to No. 21 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, and fell to No. 22 in the Associated Press poll.

The entire Top 25…

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Watch John Robic preview the Georgia game

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John Robic is filling in for John Calipari at today’s pre-Georgia press conference outside Kentucky’s Monday afternoon practice in the Joe Craft Center.

Watch/hear what he has to say in the live stream below:


Kentucky is an 11-point favorite against Georgia

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Kentucky opened up as an 11-point favorite against the visiting Bulldogs in tomorrow night’s game.

UK covered the spread in its last three home games, while Georgia covered in its last four road games. The teams are 11-13 and 12-9 against the spread on the year.

As always, never get sucked into betting teasers and never wage more than you are willing and able to lose. Sports gambling is fun, but it is addicting and can ruin your life and the lives of the people closest to you.

If you think you may have a gambling problem, seek help by calling the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network at 1-800-522-4700.

And consider taking Georgia to cover.


Kentucky dropped two places in USA Today rankings

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Kentucky dropped from No. 19 to No. 21 in the new USA Today Coaches Poll, following last week’s loss to Tennessee and victory over Florida.

Villanova overtook the top spot, climbing up from No. 3 to replace North Carolina, which took back-to-back losses last week. Oklahoma fell from second to third.

Texas A&M and South Carolina are the SEC’s other two top-25 teams, coming in at No. 13 and 20.

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Courier-Journal: Stoops reached out to Ed Reed about coaching vacancy

Jon Hale of The Courier-Journal is reporting Ed Reed was indeed an option to replace Derrick Ansley, as many fans hoped and speculated.

According to Hale, Stoops placed a call to Reed, who just accepted a job as the Buffalo Bills’ assistant defensive backs coach, but Reed will remain in the NFL.

The former Baltimore Ravens great played under Stoops at the University of Miami when Stoops was the Hurricanes’ defensive backs coach. They won the 2001 national championship together, and that history is why many believed Reed would become a candidate after Ansley’s departure.

The speculation was fueled with this tweet from Drake Jackson yesterday:

It’s too bad Reed decided to stay in Buffalo because, not only is he one of the best safeties of all-time, he and Lamar Thomas would’ve torn up the recruiting trail in the Miami area.

[Courier Journal | SOURCE: Ed Reed turns down chance to join UK]