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December 21st, 2014

John Wall: “At Kentucky It’s a Brotherhood”

As John Wall’s Washington Wizards take on Eric Bledsoe’s Phoenix Suns tonight in our nation’s capital, the Washington Post published a great article highlighting the two former Kentucky teammates and just how UK alums have taken over the NBA. It features a few great quotes from Wall, always the Wildcat ambassador for Coach Calipari.

“The way people still talk about Coach Cal like, he can’t do this, he can’t do that,” Wall said. “He’s writing the blueprint of what basketball is now. How many coaches can get five or six talented all-Americans and have them play together on one team? It’s very rare to find that.”

With 19 former Wildcats on an NBA roster to start the season, the former Kentucky players have formed a “fraternity” of sorts. Wall understands that even though he played at UK for just one season, his connection to the Bluegrass State will last a lifetime.

“They all supported us and they’re still supporting,” Wall said. “It’s a big tradition and once you play for them it’s like a big family here.”

To read the entire article, click here.

@WilderTreadKSR


Updated Odds to Win the National Championship

After perusing the Vegas odds this morning for a few college basketball games, (not for betting Mom don’t worry), I stumbled across the updated odds to win the National Championship in April. Not surprisingly, Kentucky is the overwhelming favorite with 11/10 odds to cut down the nets.

Arizona and Duke are behind the Cats at 8/1 odds each, with Wisconsin rounding out the “Final Four” with 9/1 odds. Louisville is looking at a 14/1 shot, but we all know that won’t happen.

If you’re looking for a big pay day: Wake Forest has 5000/1 odds to win it all. Go Deacs?

@WilderTreadKSR


Bud Dupree Mock Draft Update

 

buddupree

Earlier this week, we learned that Bud Dupree landed at #30 on Todd McShay’s ESPN mock draft.  Well since it’s NFL Sunday, I wanted to share some other mock drafts and where they have Bud going.  If you recall, McShay predicted that Dupree would be drafted by the Arizona Cardinals with the 30th pick.

–  WalterFootball.com

#30.  Seattle Seahawks: Alvin Dupree, DE, Kentucky

There are a number of reasons why the Seahakws underachieved this year until recently. One was a lacking pass rush. It’ll only get worse in the offseason when Cliff Avril hits free agency. Alvin Dupree, who has been a monster this season, fits what Seattle looks for from an athleticism standpoint. 

–  Sports Illustrated

   #30.   Denver Broncos: BUD DUPREE, DE/OLB Senior, Kentucky

The resurgence from DeMarcus Ware has helped key Denver’s defensive success this season. He won’t be around forever, and he and Von Miller could use a little help in the meantime. Dupree has eight sacks this season and 24 for his career. Those numbers would be even higher if Kentucky did not need him to do so many other things.

–  CBS Sports

#21. New Orleans Saints: Alvin Dupree, DE, Kentucky

The Saints locked up Junior Galette to a long-term deal, but need another athletic pass rusher who can give opposing offenses trouble. Dupree is easily overlooked playing at Kentucky, but his first step and natural athletic traits will land him in the first round.

–  Bleacher Report

#31.  Arizona Cardinals: Alvin Dupree, DE/OLB, Kentucky

Arizona has an extremely impressive defense, but it tends to have trouble pressuring the quarterback at times. Dupree may very well translate to a 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level, which makes him a great option for the Cards.

Well there you have it.  The majority have Dupree going to a Super Bowl contender late in the 1st round.  Keep in mind the NFL Scouting Combine is still to come, as well as the Senior Bowl.  The future looks bright for our former Wildcat.

 


Rondo Makes his Mavs Debut

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

After being traded by the Boston Celtics, PG Rajon Rondo finally made his Dallas Mavericks debut.  It wasn’t a great performance from the former Wildcat, but he showed glimmers of what’s possible at his new home.  For the night, Rondo had a stat line of 6 points, 7 rebounds, 9 assists, and 2 steals.  While only shooting 3-of-11 from the field, he was just a few stats short of a earning another career double-double.  Not bad for a debut with a team you just joined.

Rondo hasn’t even had a full day of practice with the Mavericks, yet debuted as their starting point guard.  That’s not all too surprising, but many questioned how he and teammate Monte Ellis would mesh.  Considering Ellis scored 38 points, I’d say Mark Cuban is a smart man.  With their recent addition of Rondo, Cuban has put together the pieces for the Mavs to make another deep playoff run.

 “He scored 38 points, so I didn’t hold him back too much,” Rondo said of Ellis after their 99-93 victory. “We both like to dominate the ball, but I think we played well off each other tonight.”

Rondo also had a pretty good defensive game, drawing 4 offensive fouls.  That’s one stat that doesn’t show up on the sheet, but are still turnovers caused by Rondo.

“I just try to do the intangibles. I didn’t make a lot of shots tonight, so I just wanted to go in on the defensive end of the floor and make plays for my team and get the ball back for more possessions.”

We will definitely have to keep an eye on the Mavs, as Rondo hopes to earn another NBA Championship.

 


2014 trends: complicated handshakes

How does this team celebrate big wins? Complicated handshakes, apparently. Kudos to Brian Ross, who caught this one between Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker yesterday.

Willie and Ulis did one of their own after beating Texas earlier this month:

willie-ulis

Now spend the rest of your Sunday trying to learn it.


SI writer says UK takes domination to a whole new level

marcuslee

Sports Illustrated’s Brian Hamilton just confirmed what all of us were thinking yesterday; this Kentucky team is awesome!  Not only did they demolish UCLA, but they squashed any and all hopes they had.  It was a brutal beatdown, but it sure was fun.

41-7 at halftime….41 to 7!  

Here are a few excerpts from Hamilton’s article:

“That’s our fight song,” one of the girls said. “Oops. I think we missed it.”

And that was it. On the list of Kentucky’s imperfections Saturday, that was the beginning and the end. The rest was brutish, unmerciful and just completely absurd, this 83-44 victory that transcended all metaphors for demolition or involuntary surgeries. This was something far, far more terrifying, something we had not seen this insensate leviathan accomplish before: The Wildcats destroyed a team’s hope. That is a very hard thing to do against athletes conditioned to believe all things are possible at all times.

Of course, the talk of 40-0 is beginning to rumble again.  After a performance like this, who can blame such crazy thoughts?  Hamilton seems to agree.

If you think Kentucky will get beat this season, you are not thinking unreasonably. It is also time to prepare for the eventuality that you may be wrong. The Wildcats are now competing only against their own ability to crush the will out of every team that happens across their path.

To read his article in its entirety, you may do so here.  I highly suggest it.

Louisville, you’re next!


SEC Stadium Renovations’ Sunday Morning Links

Throughout the long, storied SEC history, some schools have played football in stadiums built almost a century ago.  Because of this, universities must do a little bit of renovating to keep the stadiums somewhat modern and up-to-date with the latest technologies.  Commonwealth Stadium is technically the “newest” stadium in the entire SEC, but honestly you wouldn’t think that just a few years ago.  With recent additions like the new HD scoreboards, brand new sound system, and HD upper deck banners, CWS actually looked legit.  The upgrade was much-needed, and it added a new element to the stadium, especially at night.

This year, CWS is being completely gutted.  We’re getting a completely new concourse, a huge upper deck press box, and of course chair-back seats for the sideline levels.  But everyone already knows that.

The reason I bring this up today is because Texas A&M, an SEC newcomer, completely demolished an entire sideline of their historic Kyle Field.  If you thought CWS was being gutted, just watch this video from this mornings demo at A&M.

Wow.

– I don’t think the UK-UCLA highlight video made the site yesterday, so I might as well share that piece of history for you.  Enjoy

– ICYMI: Louisville had a rough game against Western Kentucky yesterday.  When I mean rough, they almost lost.  And “star” Cardinal Montrezl Harrell was ejected from the game.  Luckily for UK, Harrell will be back from his flagrant II ejection next week.  Catch up with the stats and post-game quotes from their game here.  

We don’t want Rick to have any excuses.  You’re next.

–  Looking for reactions to yesterday’s UCLA beatdown?  Well the guys over at Bleacher Report have taken some of the best live tweets from the game and put them all in one.  Check it out, have a laugh.

 


December 20th, 2014

Making History’s Saturday Night News and Views

Photo UK Athletics

Photo UK Athletics

For the first time in school history, a Kentucky men’s basketball team has started the season with 12 straight double-digit wins. A few weeks ago, the Cats took down a top-10 Kansas team, a program rich with history and tradition, and completely annihilated them by 32 points in which was before today the best performance of a team this season. We all thought we wouldn’t see a performance like that again this season, but here we are tonight, coming off a 39 point win over another blue-blood powerhouse, UCLA. The Bruins have the most national championships in the history of college basketball, but today the Cats made them look like a 6th grade JV squad.

Experts around the nation are now calling today the most impressive performance of a team this season, as the Cats jumped out to a 24-0 lead (yes this looks like a football score, no this is not a typo). With UK continuing to look like a team leaps and bounds ahead of the competition, the question arises: just how great is this Kentucky team, and how many historic performances like this will we see this season? These games against Kansas and UCLA are games that will talked about decades from now, and with Louisville the most talented and hyped-up game remaining on the schedule for Kentucky in the regular season (sorry SEC), what will we see next week against the Cards?

With a rivalry game on the road, I wouldn’t personally expect to see such a beatdown, but this version of the Cats seems unlike one I have ever witnessed. Intense. Consistent. Athletic. Talented, and just downright scary. Only time will tell, but savor this moment right now Big Blue Nation.

Wildcats Dominated in Epic Fashion

It was over from the moment Aaron Harrison swished in his first 3-pointer. Kentucky completely out-classed the Bruins from UCLA almost instantaneously, and didn’t even look tired doing so #platoons. You all know the stats by know, many of which are hard to even comprehend when you read about them on paper. UCLA was held to record-low SEVEN points at halftime as Kentucky strengthened their bid to be the best defensive team in college basketball history.

An Actual Shot of UCLA During Today’s Game

Coach Alford Praised Kentucky

UCLA’s Coach Alford joined the Kentucky praise train today, because if ya can’t beat em: join em, right? In his post-game press conference Alford put UK on high, saying “I don’t know in my 20 years coaching at the Division I level that I’ve coached against a better team that what this team looks like.”

In regards to the whole undefeated discussion? Count him in. “If they continue to play at that level defensively, I’m a firm believer they’ve got a chance to run this thing out. They’re that good. They’re that talented.”

Kentucky Women Face Tough Test on the Road

The 8th ranked and 10-1 Kentucky women’s basketball team plays a nationally contested road game tomorrow afternoon as the Cats are in Durham to face the 13th ranked Duke Blue Devils. Duke got the best of UK last season in Rupp Arena, in front of the largest crowd for a women’s basketball game in school history. Led by Elizabeth Williams, the Blue Devils are a monster team, with big post players inside that tower over Kentucky, but they are just 7-3 on the season, losing to both SEC schools they have played: Texas A&M and South Carolina. With senior leader Bria Goss out 4-6 with a broken thumb, Kentucky will have to step up defensively to control the Blue Devils in the paint and speed up the tempo against a talented team on the road. You can watch at 3:00 on ESPN2. 

Louisville Was Typical Louisville in Win over WKU

With the Cardinals next on the docket for Kentucky next Saturday, UofL struggled on the road against in-state rival Western Kentucky this afternoon. The Cards pulled away late for 76-67 win, but the real drama occurred late in the first half as Montrezl Harrell got involved in an on-court skirmish with a few Hilltoppers and ended up throwing a punch, resulting in a Flagrant-2 foul and ejection from the game. This led to Rick Pitino running out onto the floor, screaming at Coach Harper from WKU and also getting involved in a few arguments with WKU fans in the crowd. #L1Classy? Next week should be interesting…

Michigan State Shocked at Home

In what seems to be a common theme of Big 10 teams being upset at home, the 23rd ranked Spartans of Michigan State were beaten tonight in overtime by the previously 1-8 Texas Southern Tigers. As other schools have been up and down this season, Kentucky just keeps on rollin’…

Stay trill.

@WilderTreadKSR


Cincinnati Coach Mick Cronin Sidelined Indefinitely

 

Photo via. GoBearCats

(Photo via GoBearCats)

OK, so maybe sidelined isn’t the best word to use, since coaches are technically sidelined even when they’re active, but Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin has been ruled out indefinitely after an unruptured aneurysm was discovered following tests this week. Cronin explained that he has been experiencing headaches for the past few games. He felt ill during the Bearcats’ huge overtime win at home against No. 19 San Diego State on Wednesday, but opted to coach anyway.

Rick Pitino brought in Cronin for his first three years at Louisville for an assistant coaching position, before he took the head coaching job at Murray State in 2003. The 43-year old is in his ninth season at Cincinnati, after replacing interim coach, now Ole Miss head coach, Andy Kennedy, following the 2005-2006 season.

Cincinnati struggled today without their coach, as VCU rolled them at home 68-47.

 

Cronin tweeted his thoughts about the news:

KSR ally, Seth Greenberg also had some thoughts about the news:

 

KSR and the rest of Big Blue Nation wish Coach Cronin a quick recovery.

 


Next Saturday…

 

@MrsTylerKSR

@MrsTylerKSR

 

I don’t know about you, but I started thinking about the Cards after UK went up 24-0 against UCLA. Louisville might have been looking ahead as well, as they struggled to fight off the scrappy Western Kentucky Hilltoppers earlier today. Rick Pitino and company were able to leave Bowling Green with a win behind Rozier’s 32 points, but they’ll have to play Cal State Northridge on Tuesday before going up against the Cats. Originally, it looked like the Cards were lucky to have that game before UK, as it appeared that Harrell’s ejection would lead to a suspension, but Jeff Goodman reports that that isn’t necessarily the case.

 

Because the foul was a flagrant 2, and not a fighting ejection, there is no automatic suspension. The ACC, university, and coaching staff are able to review the incident to decide upon suspensions. But no matter the case, it doesn’t appear that it will lead to Harrell missing more than one game, if any. Personally, I want to see Montrezl on the court next Saturday, as I want Louisville at full strength to avoid any excuses after a loss. CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein is already calling the match-up one of the “most anticipated in a long time.”

 

 

A win next Saturday will make Kentucky the winners in 7 of the last 8, and 10 of the last 13 games against “little brother.”

 

 


This is special

townswillie

Fourteen seconds in, it was over. When Aaron Harrison’s three swished through the net, UCLA really should have just packed up and gone home, because that’s as close as it ever was.

It’s hard to put what Kentucky did today–what Kentucky has done all season–into words. We knew Kentucky would win this game; it was a horrible matchup for UCLA, no matter what Doug Gottlieb said on the CBS pregame show. But what is so impressive is the manner in which UK is winning. The Cats aren’t just beating teams, they’re curb stomping them. In ancient Rome, people filled the Colosseum to see this kind of carnage. No matter what you pay for tickets to games this season–and the prices for next week’s game will be outrageous, I’m sure–it will never be enough. This is special. This is once in a lifetime.

Let’s go over every glorious detail of the 83-44 romp.

“I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a start to a game like this one.”

That’s what Greg Anthony said at the 12:16 mark when UCLA finally scored. UK sprinted out of the gate like Secretariat, jumping to a 24-0 lead before UCLA finally got a bucket. It was so bad that UK fans gave UCLA a pity cheer. The DJ at the United Center even played Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.”

“They took our confidence out of us right at the beginning of the game and they put it to us from then on,” UCLA’s Bryce Alford said. His father was equally at a loss for words. “I haven’t been involved in many halves like that,” Steve Alford lamented. One of the few knocks on the Cats so far this season was their slow starts. Not today. “This game, the way we started, we haven’t always done that,” John Calipari said.

At halftime, UK led 41-7. In a game between two of the most storied programs in college basketball history, that is historic. UK had more blocks than UCLA had points. Karl Towns had more rebounds. Seven is the lowest halftime point total in UCLA history. It’s the fewest points Kentucky has given up in a half since 1983. As Greg Anthony said, UK overwhelmed UCLA physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Photo by Chet White, UK Athletics

What shooting woes?

Remember our shooting slump? Remember when the streak was in jeopardy? Yeah, me neither. A few weeks ago, Calipari said this team would be scary once it started hitting 8-10 threes a game. They hit 12 tonight, and everyone not in a blue and white shirt is terrified.

Devin Booker was especially hot, leading the team in scoring with 19, including five threes. Remember his shooting slump? It’s long gone. He shot his way out of it. So did Aaron Harrison, who is becoming king of the neutral site games. When Aaron hit the three to start the game, you knew he was on point, and he turned in 15 points this afternoon. The bigger the stage, the bigger the performance for Aaron.

Everything was clicking

The best part about UK’s domination? Everyone’s eating. So much they’re probably full. Ten players scored, and ten played significant minutes. If Calipari’s hammered one thing into our heads this season, it’s that the platoons are about balance. After the game, he thanked the players and their parents for buying in and sacrificing minutes for each other. “I’m not married to platoons, folks,” Cal said. “I’m doing this because it’s best thing for these players. Will I ever do this again? I doubt it.”

Everyone was clicking. The threes were falling. Willie was hitting mid-range jumpers. Marcus Lee made a free throw! Andrew Harrison has EIGHT assists. Dakari had six! The team had thirteen blocks. “I’ve got no schmoes,” Calipari said. Simple as that.

“I don’t know in my 20 years of coaching at the Division I level if I’ve coached against a better team.”

Those are strong words from Steve Alford, but can you blame him? The BBN has tried really hard to keep expectations in check after last season, but after performances like that, it’s impossible. Cal, who was swagging all over the place today, admitted as much after the game. “That’s our good game right there. That’s as good as we go,” Cal told Alford, who claimed he was probably just being nice.

While we all try to work up the courage to say the “un” word, others are doing it for us. “They continue to play at that level defensively, I’m a firm believer they’ve got a chance to run this thing out,” Alford said. “There’s not a weakness.”

This is the first team in Kentucky history to start the season with 12 straight wins by double digits. Cal said that this season is so much fun that he’s sending players texts about how excited he is about practice. “I’m staying in the moment. I’m enjoying this team.” We all are.

Enjoy this. It doesn’t happen often.


Best defense in the land


An updated look at the season stats

mbb1415_season_stats


Watch Calipari’s postgame presser


Michael Wilbon with some strong words

wilbon

Michael Wilbon had a front row seat for today’s beatdown in his hometown and he dished out some high praise for the Cats. The PTI host said he doesn’t remember seeing anything like what he saw in Kentucky today in the United Center. The tweet came early in the first half, so it got even worse from there.

Meanwhile, Doug Gottlieb still believes UK is a good matchup for UCLA and it will be a tight game.