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March 4th, 2015

Coach Cal and Willie named Naismith finalists

Today is a big day for the two Energy Bus buddies as Willie Cauley-Stein was named one of 10 semifinalists for the Naismith Player of the Year award, while John Calipari was named one of 15 finalists for the Naismith Coach of the Year.

Check out the competition in the complete lists of finalists:

Player of the Year

Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky
Jerian Grant, Notre Dame
Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin
Jahlil Okafor, Duke
Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga
Cameron Payne, Murray State
D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State
Seth Tuttle, Northern Iowa
Kyle Wiltjer, Gonzaga
Delon Wright, Utah

Coach of the Year

Tony Bennett, Virginia
Mike Brey, Notre Dame
John Calipari, Kentucky
Scott Drew, Baylor
Mark Few, Gonzaga
Chris Holtmann, Butler
Ben Jacobson, Northern Iowa
Larry Krystkowiak, Utah
Archie Miller, Dayton
Steve Prohm, Murray State
Bo Ryan, Wisconsin
Bill Self, Kansas
Wayne Tinkle, Oregon State
Mark Turgeon, Maryland
Jay Wright, Villanova

UMass sending Calipari to the rafters next season

UMass will retire John Calipari’s jersey next season to honor his run as head coach of the Minutemen. The ceremony will be part of the 20-year anniversary of his 1995-96 Final Four team.

Cal had this to say on the Twitter machine:

Add another Ohio commitment to the 2016 class


Kentucky added yet another football commitment from Ohio today, this time in the form of 6-foot-5, 278 pound offensive lineman Luke Fortner. Fortner, a three-star offensive tackle, tweeted: “Committed to play football at the University of Kentucky! #BBN”

He also had offers from Cincinnati, Maryland and Marshall, among others.

Kentucky’s 2016 class now has 14 commitments, eight from Ohio and three on the offensive line.

Spots are filling up for the 2015 John Calipari Fantasy Camp

harrison fantasy camp coachcal chris reynolds

Sign-ups are open for the fourth annual John Calipari Basketball Fantasy Experience and spots are filling up FAST. If you have any interest in being a camper this year, don’t wait around to signed up or you may miss out.

Details for the 2015 camp can be found in the flyer below.

As someone who has been a fly on the wall for the first three camps, let me tell you, it’s a pretty amazing weekend.



CBS and NCAA announce new March Madness broadcast teams

CBS and the NCAA announced the announcer pairings for the 2015 NCAA Tournament today, revealing eight brand new teams for the tournament broadcasts.

The most notable of the bunch is the first-time Final Four crew of Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery and Grant Hill, with Nantz being the only Final Four veteran of the bunch. Hill and Raftery take over for Greg Anthony, who was removed after a recent run-in with a hooker, and Steve Kerr, now with the Golden State Warriors.

The rest of the pairings look like this:


There is someone in the world who believes Kansas is having a better season than Kentucky… Seriously.

This morning I watched a guy eat pencils on YouTube and that’s not the dumbest thing I’ve seen on the internet today, believe or not. No, this article by Chris Chase for USA Today’s For The Win blog takes the cake. It’s called “Kentucky’s perfect season still isn’t as impressive as Kansas'”. I’m completely serious right now. That’s an actual statement that a real life human being wrote on the internet today. I kid you not. Someone, potentially under the influence of something very potent, sat down at a computer and typed that with their fingertips into a computer. Suddenly eating pencils seems normal.

To be fair, Chase’s argument is that Kansas’ 11 straight conference titles are more impressive than Kentucky’s 30 straight regular season wins. Okay. Debatable. But that extends beyond this season. To say Kansas is having the more impressive season is a statement worthy of a yellow slip, possibly a straitjacket.

Chase didn’t help his case when he said, “Texas is a yearly power under Rick Barnes,” either. That’s like saying, “Indiana is a title contender under Tom Crean” or “Bruce Jenner sure is looking manly these days.”

And to cap it all off, the article ends with: “But for now: KU > UK.”

If only there were a basketball game that could prove otherwise….



Reese Phillips’ mother says her son tore his Achilles today

According to Elaine Reese, mother of Reese Phillips, and relayed to the internet by Darrell Bird, the Kentucky quarterback ruptured his Achilles today. The timing couldn’t be worse, if this proves to be true, as the Cats are set to begin spring football practice this weekend. The injury will leave UK with only two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster until he can return to action.

Elaine Reese posted on Facebook that she is on her way to Lexington to be with her son, per Bird.



UK confirms the news. Phillips will miss spring football.

Wisconsin moves back to the Midwest in the new Bracketology

The dream bracket from two days ago didn’t last long as Wisconsin moves back to the Midwest in today’s update, replacing Gonzaga as Kentucky’s 2 seed.

Ohio State also returned to the region in today’s projections, setting up a potential matchup with Kentucky in the Round of 32. While I don’t believe UK will have any problems with the Buckeyes, I’d prefer to avoid DeAngelo Russell playing in his hometown. If there’s a Dwyane Wade performance in this field, that could be it. (Unlikely against Kentucky though.)

North Carolina, Wichita State and Notre Dame are also good teams in the Midwest. LSU is a dangerous 10 seed for Wisconsin.


What it was like to be a Georgia fan last night


Not sure where this originated but I’ve seen it floating around Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and my text messages today.

Kevin Hart’s facial expressions perfectly sum up what it must’ve been like to be a Georgia fan last night during Kentucky’s second half comeback.

Nailed it.

Coach Cal said Kentucky will play the SEC Tournament for the fans


John Calipari will give his players two or three days off after they clinch a perfect regular season Saturday, and then it’s on to the SEC Tournament in Nashville, where the Wildcats will play for you, Big Blue Nation.

After last night’s win in Athens, Coach Cal pushed aside his own negative thoughts on conference tournaments to say it’s a “different deal” when the SEC is in the Music City.

“Our fans take their rent money, their vacation money, mortgage money, car payments and go to Nashville,” he told reporters. “We’ve got to go up there with a sense of urgency and play for them, more than play. Because whatever happens up there, we’ve learned for six years it has no bearing on a seed, getting in, not getting in — it has no bearing. So we’ll go and do this for the fans.

The SEC tourney begins a week from today.


Catch a replay of the game today at 1:30 on the SEC Network


The SEC Network will re-air last night’s game for fans who didn’t see it or fans who would like to see it again. Tip-off is set for 1:30 pm on the SEC Network after Auburn’s Pro Day.

If you don’t want to wait until 1:30, you can watch the replay on WatchESPN whenever your little heart desires.


Karl Towns walking to class in the rain this morning is ruining college basketball

Karl Towns scored 17 second half points with Kentucky on his back last night in the comeback win at Georgia, furthering the argument that he should be selected over Jahlil Okafor in the NBA draft. It was a huge game for Towns, a freshman playing on the road in front of an electric Bulldog crowd on Super Tuesday.

So how did Karl celebrate his big night, you ask?

By walking to his 9:00 am class this morning. On very little sleep. In the rain.

Jay Bilas had fun with Evan Crane’s tweet that’s being shared around the internet:

Towns shouldn’t be rewarded for attending class, after all, that’s why kids go to college. Of course he goes to class. But sometimes it’s easy for us, the fans, to forget just what these kids go through as Kentucky basketball players. It’s a grind. There is so much on their plate. One minute you’re playing in front of the entire nation on ESPN, few hours later, you’re up walking across campus with an umbrella that covers half of a shoulder to hand in a paper in the pouring rain.

Hell, you wouldn’t find me at a rainy 9:00 am class after 14 hours of sleep, let alone after the night Karl had. I know plenty of you would’ve sat this one out, too. I’m tired just thinking about the lives these guys live.

Anyway, I’m going to take a quick nap now. That game was a late one and I’ve been up since 9:15.

Mark Fox: “They’re so dang good that you almost have to play perfect”

Georgia head coach Mark Fox will watch film from last night’s game today and he expects to see that his team should’ve won the game. And maybe he’s right. But that’s not how it played out. Kentucky won because Kentucky is Kentucky and Georgia just wasn’t quite perfect enough to pull off the upset.

“We played hard. We played very well. But we didn’t play perfect,” Fox said last night, in his postgame comments. “And they are so dang good that you almost have to play perfect.”

“We played our tails off,” Fox continued. “It just wasn’t quite good enough. They’ve got a great team, give them credit, they’re just terrific.”

He added, “There’s no shame in losing to a team like that.”

Watch his proud comments below:

30 down, one to go (Wednesday Show Thread)


Kentucky is 30-0 on the season after a hard-fought win last night in Athens, Jo’Ja. It looked as if the Cats’ winning streak were coming to an end, but just as they’ve done in the past, Kentucky kept its composure and did what it needed to do to remain unbeaten.

On today’s edition of Kentucky Sports Radio radio, Ryan returns to the show to discuss the win with Matt. So let your hair down and tune in to hear what they have to say.

Join in on the fun by calling (502) 571-1080.

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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: We’ve already had the Senior Day Conversation on KSR, Changed Minds?

On May 14th, 2014, I put this post on the website (only key points included):

There is no doubt that Senior Day in basketball has become more and more of a non-factor since Calipari took over.  In fact, it is likely that on Senior Day 2016, the roster will not have a senior.  But next season, there will be 3 seniors on roster: Brian Long, Tod Lanter, and Sam Malone.  Combined those 3 guys have played just 52 minutes in their UK careers and scored 8 points.  And there is no shame in that.  They’ve got to experience 2 or 3 years of some amazing basketball already and practice that I have no doubt made them very good basketball players.  But, they are on the roster for being extra bodies in practice.  I am sure they would admit that.

But at Kentucky, seniors almost always start on Senior Day.  Hood and Polson started last season, with Polson playing 19 minutes and Hood 6 minutes.  And each had an impact on the game hitting 3-pointers.  Lanter, Malone, and Long are 0-3 combined from behind the arc in their careers.  And hey, this year Alabama was senior day and the conference title was well out of reach with Florida coasting to the title.  

So what is Calipari to do?  ….should he start Long, Lanter, and Malone?  And if you think he should start those guys (which I do), how long do you keep them in the game?  Here is Calipari’s history of playing seniors:

2010: Krebs, Stevenson, and Harris all started and played 5:22 of game action AGAINST FLORIDA.  They left the game leading 7-3.  Harris would play 1 minute more and Stevenson 3 minutes more later in the game.

2011: Harrellson was the only senior that year and played 36 minutes against Vanderbilt on senior day.

2012: Darius Miller played 34 minutes against Georgia.  Eloy Vargas started the game and played the first 4:19, leaving the game with UK winning 7-2.  He would go on to play 16 minutes.

2013: Julius Mays was a regular starter.  Twany Beckham was available as a senior but did not start or play AGAINST FLORIDA.

2014: Both Jon Hood and Jarrod Polson started against Alabama and played the first 4:22 of the game, leaving with UK up 6-4.

Like I said, I think Calipari should start all 3 guys on Senior Day in 2015.  Long and Malone will have been in the program for 4 years and Lanter for 3 years.  I think they’ve earned the right to play for the first segment of the game, until the first TV timeout.  With that said, I am not sure if Cal will be able to pull the trigger and play them.  He did play Krebs in 2010, but that was the only walk-on he had to start, although Harris and Stevenson were not seeing the floor much either.  But then in 2013, Twany Beckham did not get the start or get to play against Florida.  And Calipari warned that may happen before that game.  So, we have seen mixed decisions from the coach in the past.

For the most part, I still stand by what I said.  While I am not sure I would allow all 3 guys to get to the 1st TV timeout, I still hold that all 3 deserve the right to get the start on Senior Day.  Just because those guys didn’t contribute on the floor doesn’t mean they are not valuable.  They are certainly valuable in the classroom but also being good teammates.  They are the most enthusiastic on the bench, the first off the bench to congratulate their teammates, and provide a morale that is often needed.  They have earned the right to be honored before the game and given the customary start, no matter what kind of history is being set.

Secondarily, what is the real risk in starting them?  Oh no, Florida might score the first basket of the game!!!!  Many of the “traditional” things about college basketball have fallen by the wayside over the last 5 years, and Calipari has been a leader in that.  And it’s cool.  I am happy we have a coach that is so far ahead of the curve.  But this is one tradition that isn’t worth throwing away.  Not allowing those guys to start is not transformational or ahead of the curve.  It’s just silliness.  Give the guys their 2 or 3 minutes of joy and then win the game for the other 37 minutes.

What I really find interesting is when I posted this article above in May of 2014 there were 38 comments.  Of those 38 comments, a total of 29 showed support to starting those 3 guys on Saturday.  I wonder if the general opinion has changed now that the Cats are 30-0 and going for some real history…..