After two months of heavy-recruiting, Stoops Troops’ transition into two months of Spring Practice. Before →
By John Wilmhoff on ©March 05th, 2015 @ 8:00pm
Andrew Harrison has emerged as one of Kentucky’s most-reliable players this season. Once thought as a weak link, he’s lately been the rock on a 30-0 team that is chasing history. He’s developed into an elite Kentucky point guard. It’s time to start appreciating his time at Kentucky as “special.” Here are three reasons why:
Andrew has elevated his game since the end of January
Andrew has scored in double figures in seven of the last 11 games, dating back to a 15-point performance at Missouri on January 29th. According to UK’s new fancy player website, he led the team in assists with 117 (as of March 1). Before scoring 12 points Tuesday night in Athens, Andrew averaged 11.5 points and 4.1 assists in his last 10 games. Those numbers do not jump out at you, but on this historic team, they are critical.
Andrew is eight career assists away from Rajon Rondo
Other than Rondo, no other two-year player has more assists than Andrew (277) at Kentucky. The next best in two years or less are John Wall (241), Patrick Sparks (236) and Rex Chapman (220). Andrew is also one assist away from tying four-year star Darius Miller (278) and four away from tying Mike Pratt (281).
Andrew has become the unquestioned leader of the team
Remember when Coach Cal scolded Andrew for leaving the huddle against Louisville? What a difference a few months can make. In a late huddle at Georgia on Tuesday night, someone said “let’s get three stops,” to which Andrew responded, “no, let’s get five.” Andrew also led a huddle at midcourt during a timeout after Coach Cal went back to the bench. What did he tell the team? “I told them we’re not losing. I told them what we had to do to win and we did that,” Andrew said.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 05th, 2015 @ 7:00pm
For the next week and a half, get ready to see daily Bracketology updates from Joe Lunardi. Today, Lundari still has Wisconsin as Kentucky’s 2-seed and a potential 2nd round matchup with the winner of Xavier/Ohio State, which has some in the BBN nervous about facing D’Angelo Russell in his hometown of Louisville. Thankfully, this is just a fake bracket, so let’s not freak out too much.
More importantly, Lunardi still thinks six SEC teams will make it in: Kentucky (1), Arkansas (5), Georgia (8), Ole Miss (9), LSU (10), and Texas A&M (10).
Check out his entire fake bracket at the Worldwide Leader.
By Nick Roush on ©March 05th, 2015 @ 6:00pm
After two months of heavy-recruiting, Stoops Troops’ transition into two months of Spring Practice. Before looking ahead, there’s one thing you can’t ignore when reflecting on recruiting: the height of UK’s young wide receivers.
Decommitments had plenty of people worrying in January, but it’s hard to worry whether or not “they still got it” when you see the
ratings size of of the Cats’ new recruits, especially at wide receiver. People make a fuss over ratings, but there are two things you can’t teach: size and speed. Here’s a look of what the Cats already have on the roster, and what’s to come in the future.
All products from the state of Ohio, they are big athletes that can only improve their stock (rating) with more attention at summer camps. Ross and Holtzclaw have the outside speed, whereas Rigg is already a solid 240-pound tight end with another year of high school to grow and develop.
C.J. Conrad is already on campus, and expected to be a presence on the field immediately. Tavin Richardson has a tweener build, probably more suited for tight end, but much depends on how is how body develops once he’s on campus. Greenwood was one of the best players in the DMV last year. Gosier was a late addition to the class, but with 4.5-speed from South Florida, he’s not just going to take up a roster spot, he’s going to compete to play.
After this Fall’s first open practice, I was prepared to dub Baker and Bone as the best duo of outside receivers in UK history. I bit my tongue — people LOVE telling the young guy he’s short-sighted — but these guys are realer than the chunk missing from the Real Deal Holyfield’s ear. Their confident personalities can appear cocky; perfect for guys that have to “go get it.” They also complement one another well: Baker gets open with his physicality, Bone with his length and athleticism. If Long has improved as much as people have said around the team, he’ll be a consistent contributor in the middle of defenses.
It’s silly to compare these guys to former UK greats, but here’s something important to consider: how many tall UK receivers have been vertically gifted? The short answer is not many. The best of the blue and white have been undersized overachievers: Craig Yeast (5’7″), Randall Cobb (5’10”), Dicky Lyons (5’11”), Derek Abney (5’10”), and (to my surprise) Keenan Burton (6’2″) and James Whalen (6’2″).
After doing some research, here’s a short list of the best UK wideouts 6’3″ and over.
That list looks short because it is. Even if you got back to Bob Windsor (6’4″) in the 60’s, there just aren’t a lot to choose from because “tall wide receivers” aren’t a thing at UK*. Chris Matthews (surprisingly) had better numbers than anybody. Stevie Johnson and Aaron Boone were the only wideouts with double-digit touchdowns in a season and Johnson was the only one to post more than 1,000 yards.
Just because Stoops’ new Troops are tall, doesn’t translate to onfield production, but it does mean that Stoops is addressing changes in the demographics of the game. After watching his DBs get Mossed on repeatedly last season, SEC football is go big or go home.
Or in Chris Matthews’ case, go big and go to the Super Bowl.
* By all means, remind me of any players you believe I missed.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 05th, 2015 @ 5:00pm
Some links for your snow day? Let’s go…
— All season, everyone has wondered if anyone can beat Kentucky. NBC Sports’ Rob Dauster tackled that topic and came up with six teams he believes can knock off the Cats: Virginia, Wisconsin, Duke, Arizona, Gonzaga, and Villanova. But those are just next best six teams in the country, right? Big whoop? Dauster backs it up by breaking down the reasons each of those teams can beat us. Here’s a snippet of what he has to say about Virginia:
Virginia runs the Pack-Line, a man-to-man containment defense that involves tremendous ball-pressure inviting dribble penetration into help defenders. I’ve gone in depth on the Pack-Line before, but essentially, it’s a defense designed to force offenses into contested, drive-and-kick jumpers, which is precisely what any team wants Kentucky to do. Virginia is also notorious for only sending two players to the offensive glass, which will limit the chances Kentucky as for leak-outs and easy buckets in transition.
Rob includes screencaps and videos to illustrate his points, so to do some scouting, go check it out.
— The women’s team starts their SEC Tournament journey tonight at 8:30 p.m. ET against Vanderbilt. The tournament is in Little Rock and the game had to be pushed up an hour because of inclement weather. The game will be on the SEC Network tonight, and we’ll have coverage on the site. Get it, ladies.
— The Courier-Journal’s Tim Sullivan has a column today about how Louisville’s accomplishments this season have been overshadowed by Kentucky’s success, a fact that never gets old. I especially like this line: “So long as Kentucky stands unbeaten, whatever Louisville accomplishes is diminished in the minds of many.” Can we get that knitted on a pillow, please?
— Kyle Wiltjer’s Throwback Thursday post made me a little nostalgic this afternoon:
A photo posted by Kyle Wiltjer (@kwiltj) on
It’s hard to believe that, had they stayed, Saturday would be Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague, Kyle Wiltjer, and Ryan Harrow’s Senior Day as well.
— Had to laugh when I saw this tweet:
Willie played football?! NO WAY!
— We’re nearing the time of year when the national media hands out their end-of-season awards. The always enthusiastic Dick Vitale is first up, and I think you’ll like his selections for the SEC:
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky
COACH OF THE YEAR: John Calipari, Kentucky
DIAPER DANDY OF THE YEAR: Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky
COMMENTS: It is a sweep for the undefeated Wildcats. Cauley-Stein’s statistics don’t tell the whole story as his athleticism and length help the tenacious UK defense. I picked him over Bobby Portis of Arkansas. Calipari had to get his players to buy into his concept and the stars have accepted their roles, wanting to win more than posting individual numbers. Towns is my choice for Diaper Dandy over teammate Devon Booker.
(Love you, Dick, but it’s DevIn.) If you get really bored today, try reading all of that in Dick Vitale’s voice. Bonus points for adding “bay-bee” to the end of each sentence.
— On the latest CBS Sports college hoops podcast, Seth Davis says once again that he believes Kentucky will run the table. Seth is one of the few national guys to say that from the beginning, so give it a listen:
— Finally, if you haven’t yet, be sure to download the KSR APP. Since we launched it on Monday, it’s been downloaded over 32,000 times. Whoa. You people are crazy. And we love it.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 05th, 2015 @ 4:30pm
John Calipari was on Colin Cowherd’s show this morning, and pretty much said a lot of stuff we’ve already heard (5th youngest team, this isn’t communism, etc.), but this quote stuck out:
“I keep telling these guys: risk. We’re not turning it over enough. You can’t end a game with three turnovers. Three turnovers? You’ve gotta have 11 turnovers, 10, 11, 12 turnovers. We played Arkansas, we had 9 turnovers. Well, then you’re not risking enough.”
I have a “Calipari” search feed on my Tweet Deck, and it was pretty interesting to watch the tweets roll in during Cal’s appearance. It looks like his reputation is changing for the casual sports fan:
To listen to Cal’s entire appearance on The Herd, click here.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 05th, 2015 @ 4:00pm
We all know Kentucky is the capital of college basketball, but it turns out the city of Louisville has the TV ratings to back that claim up. The Wall Street Journal’s Ben Cohen and Kevin Clark report that Louisville has the highest TV ratings for college basketball this season of any city in the country, more than twice the next largest market on the list. There’s even a quote from our own Matt Jones:
“Even in a place that’s been saturated with college basketball for 75 years,” said Matt Jones, the Louisville-based founder of the Kentucky Sports Radio website, “I think it’s bigger at this moment than it’s ever been.”
That wasn’t the only KSR shoutout:
Kentucky’s devotion to college basketball isn’t limited to television. Its fans are such regular radio listeners that when Kentucky Sports Radio unveiled an iPhone app this week, it shot up the Apple store’s charts, peaking as the No. 1 free sports app.
Imagine if there was a Android app too.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 05th, 2015 @ 3:30pm
We now interrupt your snow day for a Tom Crean update. After a brief stint of mediocrity earlier this season, the Hoosiers are once again terrible, which has many Indiana fans calling for Tom Crean’s head. Welp, IU AD Fred Glass told ESPN this morning that Crean’s job is safe despite the fact they probably won’t make the NCAA Tournament…again:
“I’m bullish on Tom,” Glass told ESPN. “He’s done a really good job with these guys. It’s ridiculous to say that someone is coaching for his job for one game and that it would be up or down in one game.”
Glass said Crean’s buyout–$11 million–has no impact on Indiana’s decision to keep him. Yeah, whatever.
Our buddy Gregg Doyel wrote a scathing column about Crean today in which he discusses “Creaning”:
“Creaning” is a thing. It’s an insult, it’s a verb, it’s a way of life for Indiana basketball. It’s the way the Hoosiers roster turns over almost every year, magically if you want to be naïve about it, with IU coach Tom Crean somehow finding a way to fit 14 or 15 scholarship athletes into the 13-player maximum. How does he do that?
You know you want to read the rest.
By Matt Jones on ©March 05th, 2015 @ 3:04pm
pic by WLKY
This video was shot on the Joel Prather Highway in Hardin County by WAVE TV in Louisville and gives you a notion of how bizarre the current travel conditions are in some parts of Kentucky. The picture above is of I-65, which is still closed in some parts and causing a travel nightmare for many, including Rev Jesse Jackson’s wife who is apparently stuck there as well.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 05th, 2015 @ 2:30pm
Like make YouTube videos of the news with the “Justified” theme song played over it, like KSR reader Randy Sigler:
I don’t really understand what’s going on here, but I really like the “Justified” theme song and there’s a KSR t-shirt in there, so rock on, Randy.
For serious though, thoughts out to those drivers stranded on 65. Here are more pictures from near the Lebanon junction:
Stay safe out there.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 05th, 2015 @ 2:00pm
Why? Brian T Slade, an Indiana fan, called in to the show today to give the guys some scoop about Stephen Zimmerman, one of Cal’s main targets in the 2015 class. Zimmerman recently trimmed his list to five and did NOT include Indiana, but Slade said sources tell him that the big man will be a Hoosier anyways.
“Write it down, Brian T. Slade says Stephen Zimmerman is going to Indiana,” Brian T. Slade guaranteed. “Make your little jokes, it’ll happen.”
From there, #BrianTSlade became a running joke and the KSR nation even got it trending worldwide. There’s already a Brian T. Slade Twitter account because of course there is.
If you missed it, Brian T. Slade calls in around the 36-minute mark in the first hour:
And we got it trending in the second hour:
By C.M. Tomlin on ©March 05th, 2015 @ 1:00pm
From: Steve Carlson, Production, CBS Sports
To: Sean McManus, President, CBS Sports
Date: March 4, 2015
Subject: Tournament production bumpers/teasers
You wanted me to report back to you on the progress for the bumpers and teaser promos for the upcoming NCAA Tourney coverage. I’ve checked in with all teams and have some updates. I think you’re going to be really pleased with the creativity and outside-the-box thinking our teams have done on this project.
1. Coach K’s people are being difficult about the shots we have of him. They don’t want him to come off as having a “mad face” or look “mean.” We are currently fixing his eyes in CGI to make sure he looks less threatening. You won’t be able to tell the difference.
2. From the regular season, we have a file folder of nearly 800 clips of Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell sinking a shot, turning around and getting low to the ground and screaming at the camera dramatically as he runs down the court. Of course we’ll run one of these going into every commercial break when Louisville plays, as usual, but we’re going to have to find other ways to burn off these clips otherwise. Perhaps we can superimpose a handful of TD Ameritrade brochures into his fists for one, if that would please the sponsors?
3. Some great marketing/coach tie-ins this season: Mark Few has agreed to liberally apply Nivea for Men face lotion during the games, Roy Williams will eat out of a mason jar of Red Mill™ Gluten-Free sorghum at time outs and Mike Bray has sold advertising space on the band collar of his shirt to a company that makes band-collar shirts.
4. Since the big story this season is Kentucky’s big dominance over the season and into the tournament, we’ve been working on some graphics for our analysis pieces and musical clip packages. Team has some good ideas:
-A stylish montage of each of the two Kentucky platoons shooting then cutting to a shot of a basketball goal comically overstuffed with basketballs because the team has shot so many, then the backboard and rim explodes into confetti spelling out “NCAA Tourney on CBS.”
-A clip of John Calipari devouring a large rotisserie chicken with his bare hands, stuffing it into his mouth to show his dominance as a coach. The rotisserie chicken is other teams.
-Superimpose crowns onto the heads of UK players. This signifies that they are the kings. Of basketball, or of a fictional land where basketball is a thing people can own and govern.
-We make all the basketballs Kentucky players dribble look like earths. We can do this with a Microsoft paint program. This means that they are really good and the world is their oyster, and the oyster is a basketball.
-A graphic where John Calipari loads his team into a bus and the bus starts down a highway toward the sun, and then the bus flies up into the sky and directly into the sun, and the sun explodes, and then night falls over the planet and most people die as the human race decreases its fossil fuels and resources, but those who live forge a new world underground in caves along streams and underground rivers until one day they walk out of their cave holes and look up into the sky, blinking and shielding their eyes because they’ve lived underground for so long, and then the dark clouds of ash which have covered the earth in darkness suddenly part and there’s big “NCAA on CBS” logo in the sky and animals come out of the woods and flowers begin to bloom again because life is new again and it’s time for basketball!
Let me know what you think.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 05th, 2015 @ 12:30pm
We’re all snowed in today, so why not turn off the TV and read another great article about the Cats? The latest feel-good read comes from Willie Davis at Insider Louisville, who writes that even though Kentucky has become “the action-hero basketball team,” the stress of an undefeated season is beginning to take its toll:
So why does the best start in school history bring as much anxiety as it does elation? Because, in spite of our reputation, even the craziest Kentucky Wildcat fans are tethered to reality. We know that this team is not made of gods, but men. Children almost, really, many of whom are still on their starter tattoos. As awe-inspiring as it is to watch Willie Cauley-Stein gallop down the court with nothing between him and the goal but a five-foot-six defender, we know he could flub the landing. He’s human, and if a swarm of anonymous ninjas snuck onto half-court at Rupp Arena and started kicking him, chances are he’d fall down.
Not if Willie’s super stare hits them first, right? Davis nails the building anxiety in the BBN, so go check out the rest of his piece at Insider Louisville.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 05th, 2015 @ 12:00pm
Congrats to Skal Labissiere, Charles Matthews, and Isaiah Briscoe on being named to the Jordan Brand Classic rosters. All three of UK’s signees will play on the East Team, along with UK targets Jaylen Brown, Thomas Brown, Cheick Diallo, and Caleb Swanigan. Malik Newman, Ivan Rabb, and Stephen Zimmerman will play on the West Team.
The game takes place on April 17 in the Barclays Center in New York and will be televised at 8 p.m. on ESPN2. We’ll be watching.