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March 22nd, 2017

The Moment Malik Monk Didn’t Look Like Malik Monk


Volume Scorer

Those two words are the best best way to describe Malik Monk’s game.  The freshman phenom from Lepanto, Arkansas has never disappointed.  Kentucky has seen many great scorers, but Malik Monk gets hotter than characters on NBA Jam, achieving unprecedented awesomeness in Las Vegas against North Carolina by dropping 47 clutch points for the win.

A steamrolling locomotive who’s never seen a bad shot, Monk gets his.  In high school, he never stopped shooting.  John Calipari said he’d get tired watching him shoot so many shots. “How is he raising his arm again?”

They aren’t always falling, but they eventually will, just ask Florida (30 points after halftime), Georgia (31 after halftime) and South Carolina (30 after half).

Sometimes Monk takes bad shots, until they go in.  The King of “No, No, No! YES!” shots, he might be a better shooter with a hand in his face than left wide open. To enjoy his greatness, you must learn to trust that Monk will be fine.  Just give him some time and the once-in-a-generation scorer will eventually figure it out.  In the meantime, he’ll throw in a few gym-clearing, SportsCenter Top Play dunks.

Until he got to the last game of the season.

For the first time in his Kentucky career, he didn’t reach double figures.  After scoring just six points at Texas A&M, he only scored two points in the opening round of the SEC Tournament.  Since the Texas A&M game, he’s hit just 5-of-26 threes (19%).

Many described it as a slump.  Monk took question after question after question after question after question after question after question after question after from reporters about his shooting slump, but stayed the course.

He failed to hit a three-pointer against NKU, but I was not worried.  “Shooter’s shoot,” and Monk continued to look like Malik Monk, his shots just weren’t falling.

Then, he didn’t look like Malik Monk.



Monk had a two-step advantage on Shamet and two other Shockers.  This is the part where we hold our breath, anticipating the death of an opponent with a poster that would make Michael Jordan proud.  Even if Shamet’s life didn’t end with a dunk, Monk’s high-flying acrobatics guaranteed an amazing, finesse finish.

We didn’t see either.  We saw Malik Monk hesitate.  The dude best defined as a “dog” hesitated.  Instead of fight, we saw flight, and a missed layup.

It got worse.


Two possessions later, Monk got the ball in a much more comfortable position: off a staggered screen with an incoming ball screen from Derek Willis.  The pop from Willis for a three would ensure a wide open lane, best described as “playtime” for the prolific scorer.

He hesitated, again.

Drawing Bam Adebayo’s defender, instead of taking and making a soft floater down the middle of the lane or dunking on his face, Monk opted for the floating lob to Bam, a pass Adebayo confused for a shot.

For the first all season, this question was valid: “What is wrong with Malik Monk?”

Malik Monk doesn’t hesitate.  He goes 100 percent.  Like a bull in a china shop, Monk’s eye are always on his favorite prize: buckets.  But that didn’t happen at the start of the Wichita State game.

Malik Monk didn’t look like Malik Monk.

The game against Wichita State quickly turned into a knock-down, drag-em-out, defensive struggle.  With refs opting not to use their whistle against contact inside, at one point in the first half six minutes past before a whistle was blown and subs could enter the game.

The conditions for Monk to work out of his funk were not ideal.  Still, Malik Monk found a way to be Malik Monk, but differently than Kentucky fans had ever seen him.

The second half grind gave neither team a decisive offensive advantage.  With his shot still not falling, Monk used his skills elsewhere.  A block, a defensive rebound, an assist, then another.  Finally, Monk found a way to make a shot: at the free throw line.  The two made free throws with just under six minutes to play were just what he needed.

The Cats looked like they might fall apart.  After building a significant lead, De’Aaron Fox fouled Shamet on a three-pointer.  The mistake shook the momentum the Shockers’ way, now trailing by just two with 2:30 minutes to play.

Malik Monk proved he’s still a killer.


Monk didn’t need any space.  He didn’t need to hit a bunch of shots.  He just needed to hit one.  He was not finished.

The Shockers were not fazed, immediately answering with a three of their own.  Fox responded with a ferocious dunk.  The game was turning into a back-and-forth offensive battle…or so we thought.

After Monk’s jumper rattled around the rim, Wichita State needed a bucket to take the lead.  Monk couldn’t do enough, we thought, until he iced the game.


Monk followed the incredible blocked shot by nailing two clutch free throws, the final points of the game.  The volume scorer helped get the win not be scoring, but with assists and defense, as noted by Tom Leach on the radio broadcast after Monk’s block.

“Those two things you mentioned might pull him out of the slump he’s in,” Mike Pratt said.

Even if it doesn’t, we saw Monk transform into a complete player against Wichita State.  His shot wasn’t falling, but it didn’t keep him out of the game.  De’Aaron Fox got layups by driving at Monk.  He made defensive stops and eliminated second chance opportunities.  He made Kentucky better without scoring 20 points.

They say the Cats can’t keep winning without 20 points a game from Monk, but I think the Cats can keep winning with this version of Malik Monk.

Funkhouser Presents the Kentucky Deadcast: Episode 13

What a wild and wacky weekend. We started off with the Cayts winning their first two games of the tournament, then we got to witness the exit of our favorite teams to hate, the Cards and the Blue Devils. Then without trying to be the story, KSR became the story. As usual, all of this is brought to you in the most ridiculous possible manner.
Having watched so much basketball we’re hearing shoes squeak in our sleep, Brad and Josh return to discuss this weeks episode of The Walking Dead “The Other Side.” If you heard that loud sigh coming from the air Sunday night, that was just the boys sucking it up as we had to watch Sasha and Rosita have a girl road trip for half the episode. Other topics discussed this week are:
– The scene between Maggie and Daryl that we’ve been waiting for
– Who is it with the crossbow waiting for Rosita at the end?
– The craziness that was the “Coache’s Wife” controversy
– The second breakdown of Josh’s bracket of characters

You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play.  You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes, streaming on Podbayor via Android’s Podcast Addict app.

The Unforgettables 25 Years Later

Big Blue History

Big Blue History

Next Tuesday marks the 25th Anniversary of the game many Kentucky fans would rather forget.  The fateful conclusion ended a season, but cemented The Unforgettables into Kentucky basketball lore forever.

Since their Kentucky careers came to an end, Sean Woods, Deron Feldhaus, John Pelphrey and Richie Farmer have led very different lives.  Two have become coaches, one a politician, another a golf course manager.

The Kentucky basketball beat writer for The Courier-Journal in 1992, Pat Forde caught up with the mythical Kentucky basketball figures and discovered that life has not been easy since their careers ended in 2.1 tragic seconds.

In the fantastic feature, Forde details their brief triumphs and falls from greatness.  Nobody fell harder than Richie Farmer.  Once a candidate for Lieutenant Governor, Farmer recently declared for bankruptcy after serving 20 months in federal prison.  Farmer’s words to Forde are gut-wrenching.

“It’s been the most difficult thing I can ever imagine,” said Farmer, a divorced father of three boys. “The people of this state have been great to me my whole life. I want to say thank you to all of them.

“I would like to work dealing with people. I know I have a lot of support and would be an asset to a company. I know the Lord will lead me in the right direction.

“There’s no disgrace to get down. It’s a disgrace to stay down.”

It’s difficult to do the article justice in a blog post.  An emotional roller coaster ride, their stories are not easily told, but this is well done and worth your time.

Forde: From immortal to quite mortal, Kentucky’s Unforgettables face midlife challenges 25 years after their greatest moment 

ESPN ranks UK’s uniforms among the worst in the Sweet 16


By now, you either love Kentucky’s checkerboard uniforms or you’ve gotten used to them. I was not a fan of the uniforms when they were first unveiled, but even my hate has dulled over time. Not ESPN. ESPN’s Paul Lukas ranked the teams in the Sweet 16 by their uniforms, and Kentucky’s were among the worst, coming in at #12:

“There’s a fine line between having a signature visual element and having too much of a good thing,” Lukas writes. “Kentucky’s checkerboard trim is on the wrong side of that line — the Wildcats need to dial it back a bit.”

Hard to argue with that, just as it’s hard to argue with Lukas ranking Baylor’s neon green unis dead last:

(Jamie Squire/Getty Images North America)

(Jamie Squire/Getty Images North America)

“Years later people will look back and say, ‘What were they thinking?’,” Lukas writes.

Great question. Check out the rest of the list over at

[Uni Watch: Pulling rank on the Sweet 16]

WATCH: Memphis residents describe John Calipari in three words

One big storyline headed into this weekend is John Calipari’s return to Memphis. This marks the first time Calipari will come to the city with his team since leaving Memphis for Kentucky back in 2009, a move that still haunts many Tigers fans. In fact, this morning, Jerry Tipton wrote an article entitled, “‘Pure bile’ awaits Calipari in Memphis, a city that once regarded him as a god.” Whoa. As an outsider, eight years later, Memphis fans should be over this, right? Calipari left for his dream job. And, this isn’t like Pitino going to Louisville; Memphis and Kentucky don’t run in the same circles. I understand being hurt and feeling betrayed, but eight years later, have Tigers fans moved on?

The Memphis Commercial Appeal decided to find out, sending a videographer out to ask Memphis residents to describe Calipari in three words. The results?

Mostly positive, although you can tell some people clearly still hold a grudge. We’ll see what kind of reception Cal gets over the next few days.

[Commercial Appeal]

Doug Gottlieb is apparently interviewing for the Oklahoma State job

Today in “Strange,” college basketball analyst Doug Gottlieb is reportedly interviewing for the Oklahoma State head coaching job, according to Jeff Goodman:

Gottlieb has worked for ESPN and CBS, and he recently agreed to a deal with Fox. He does not have any college coaching experience, but sources told ESPN that athletic director Mike Holder is intrigued by the idea of Gottlieb and his potential.

The Oklahoma State job is now open after Brad Underwood left to become the head coach at Illinois after only one season. Gottlieb is an Oklahoma State alum and has been mentioned for the job in the past. Oddly enough, as Goodman notes, the news comes on the same day that Gottlieb started his new job with FS1.

Trading working with Cowherd to being a Power 5 college basketball coach with no experience? Sounds just crazy enough to happen.

LaVar Ball takes shots at UK’s chemistry and De’Aaron Fox (for real this time)

(Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports)

(Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports)

LaVar Ball may not have called Friday’s game with Kentucky a tune-up for the Final Four like we thought, but as predicted, he continues to run his mouth. This morning, ESPN’s Ian O’Connor interviewed Ball, father of UCLA star point guard Lonzo Ball, and he actually DID take some shots at Kentucky and De’Aaron Fox ahead of Friday night’s game. (For real, this time.)

“I already said UCLA will win the national championship, and I’m not going backwards on it now,” Ball said. “With Zo, the chemistry that UCLA has is better than what Kentucky has.

Fox got the best of Ball in December’s matchup, with 20 points, 9 assists, and 2 turnovers to Ball’s 14 points, 7 assists, and 6 turnovers, but Ball Sr. sounds confident that won’t happen this time around.

“He can’t mess with Zo,” Ball said of Fox. “You can have 40 points and Lonzo can have two points and make the game winner, and I’m going with him. You had more points, but look at who won the game. I guess [Fox] really didn’t outplay him. It’s a team sport. All my boy is worried about is his team winning.”

Ball also said that his son should go first in the NBA Draft, while De’Aaron Fox isn’t top five material.

“I don’t know if he’d be in the top five of the draft for me. I want a bigger, stronger guy.”

More from Ball, including why he plans to have his younger sons attend UCLA “even if you put in Bobo the Clown in as coach” over at the Worldwide Leader.


The 7 most important parts of Calipari and Stoops’ contract extensions

Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 1.30.20 PM

If you missed the post directly below this one, UK just extended John Calipari and Mark Stoops’ contracts by two years. The extensions will keep Calipari at Kentucky through the 2023-24 season and Stoops the 2022 season. There’s A LOT going on with each deal, so I spent some time boiling each down to the most important parts, starting with Calipari’s:

1. John Calipari isn’t getting a raise

Normally, when you think contract extension, you think raise, but it’s important to note that for Calipari, the extension is just that. Cal was already scheduled to begin making $7.75 million next season and $8 million in the 2018-19 season; this deal just extends his old one by two years.

2. The only incentive in his contract remains the APR incentive

One of the unique things about John Calipari’s contract is, that while most coaches have incentives, such as payouts for making the tournament, winning championships, etc., he only has one: meeting the school’s mark for the Academic Progress Rate, or APR. In fact, this extension raises that APR threshold from 950 to 975 beginning next season. What does Calipari get if his players meet the mark? $50,000.

3. In 2022, he and the AD will meet to see if they need to raise his salary

While Calipari isn’t getting a raise, the amendment adds a compensation review in June 2022, when he and the athletic director will meet to determine whether or not he should get a raise. If they decide he should, a new amendment (and perhaps a new extension) will be negotiated.

4. Calipari can leave UK without paying anything

Always of note is the buyout clause. While UK would owe Calipari $5 million if they decided to terminate his contract, it’s worth pointing out that should Cal decide to leave, he would owe the school nothing. That’s not new.

5. If UK wins 7, 8, or 9 games, Stoops’ contract extends another year

Not only is Stoops extending his contract two years, if the Cats win at least seven and no more than nine games in a season, the terms of the agreement will extend one year; if UK wins ten or more games, it will extend two years. For each additional automatic extension year, the total guaranteed compensation will increase by $250,000 from the immediately preceding year.

6. Look at all these incentives

By the 2022 season, Stoops will be making $4.75 million/year, but the real change to his contract comes in the incentives. He will make…

  • $50,000 if the football team wins six games and participates in a non-SEC affiliated bowl game
  • $100,000 if the football team wins six games and participates in an SEC-affiliated bowl game
  • $100,000 if the football team participates in the SEC Championship Game
  • $200,000 if the football team wins the SEC Championship
  • $200,000 if the football team participates in a “New Year’s Six” bowl game (Rose, Sugar, Orange, Cotton, Fiesta or Peach)
  • $300,000 if the football team participates in a CFP semifinal game
  • $400,000 if the football team participates in the national championship game
  • $500,000 if the football team wins the national championship

These incentives were already included in Stoops’ contract, but are worth mentioning:

  • $250,000 for each win beginning with the seventh win of each season
  • $50,000 per semester in which the team grade-point average is 2.75 or higher

7. Stoops now has a buyout

As I determined last fall, there was no buyout clause in Stoops’ old contract, meaning if he left UK on his own volition, he wouldn’t owe the school a dime. That has changed. Should Stoops decide to leave, he would owe UK $1 million, while if UK terminated the agreement, they would owe him 75% of the remaining guaranteed compensation on his contract.

To view Calipari and Stoops’ contract extensions for yourself, click the links below


BREAKING: John Calipari and Mark Stoops agree to two-year extensions on their contracts

Photo via USAToday

Photo via USAToday

Here’s some excellent breaking news. UK just announced that John Calipari and Mark Stoops have both agreed to two-year extensions to their contracts. The amendment to Calipari’s contract extends his deal from March 30, 2022 to March 30, 2024, while the amendment to Stoops’ contract extends his deal from June 30, 2020 to June 30, 2022. Calipari will make $7.75 million for the 2017-18 season and $8 million for each season thereafter. Stoops’ contract provides for total guaranteed compensation of $3.5 million for the current year. The total increases $250,000 in each successive year, including the two years added as part of this amendment.

“John has achieved consistent championship-level performance at Kentucky,” Barnhart said. “No one in America is better suited for everything that comes with being the coach here. Not only has he attained incredible success on the court, he is also a leader in our community and in college basketball. We have been blessed to have him and Ellen here for the last eight years and we are blessed they will continue to call Kentucky home.”

“The last eight years at the University of Kentucky have been a terrific ride,” Calipari said. “This extension shows our full commitment to each other. I believe this school is the gold standard and I’m so thankful and blessed that this university has given me this opportunity at this point in my career.”

“The last four years have been a grind for Mark and his staff, but he has never wavered in his commitment to building Kentucky football into a consistent winner,” Barnhart said. “While the work isn’t close to finished, we believe Mark is the coach to take us there. We are thankful to Mark and Chantel for all they have done to this point and we look forward to our program’s bright future under his leadership.”

“I want to thank Dr. (Eli) Capilouto, Mitch Barnhart and the Board of Trustees for their continued support,” Stoops said. “When we came here, doing a rebuild in a challenging situation, I said that full support from everyone involved was imperative and we have always received that.  We needed great commitment, we’ve had great commitment and we’re continuing to get great commitment.”

Interestingly, the only incentive included in Calipari’s contract is related to the Academic Progress Rate, or APR. This amendment increases the threshold for the incentive from 950 to 975 in single-year APR beginning with the 2017-18 season. The bonus will remain unchanged at $50,000.

While Calipari’s contact extension doesn’t include a raise (he was scheduled to start making $8 million/year in 2018-19 anyways), the amendment does adds a compensation review in June 2022, at which time he will sit down with the athletic director to “evaluate market conditions related to the compensation of other intercollegiate coaches.” Should they determine he’s not making enough compared to other coaches, a new amendment will be negotiated.

As for Stoops, the amendment to his contract includes an automatic extension opportunity, so that if the football team wins at least seven games in a season but no more than nine, the term of the agreement will extend one year. If the football team wins at least 10 games, the term of the agreement will extend two years. For each additional automatic extension year, the total guaranteed compensation will increase by $250,000 from the immediately preceding year. The incentives in his contract have also changed. Stoops will receive…

  • $50,000 if the football team wins six games and participates in a non-SEC affiliated bowl game
  • $100,000 if the football team wins six games and participates in an SEC-affiliated bowl game
  • $100,000 if the football team participates in the SEC Championship Game
  • $200,000 if the football team wins the SEC Championship
  • $200,000 if the football team participates in a “New Year’s Six” bowl game (Rose, Sugar, Orange, Cotton, Fiesta or Peach)
  • $300,000 if the football team participates in a CFP semifinal game
  • $400,000 if the football team participates in the national championship game
  • $500,000 if the football team wins the national championship

These incentives were already included in Stoops’ contract, but are worth mentioning:

  • $250,000 for each win beginning with the seventh win of each season
  • $50,000 per semester in which the team grade-point average is 2.75 or higher

If UK terminates Stoops’ contract for convenience, they will pay him 75% of the remaining guaranteed compensation on the contract. Should Stoops terminate the contract, he will pay UK $1 million. Meanwhile, should UK terminate Calipari’s contract for convenience, they will owe him $5 million.

But that’s not gonna happen. Congrats, guys.

Calipari Contract Terms Stoops Contract Terms

WATCH: Anthony Davis predicts Kentucky will beat UCLA by “at least” 12


Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday may play for the same team now, but on Friday, they’ll be cheering for opposite sides when Kentucky takes on UCLA. In that spirit, the folks at put together this fun video of the two talking trash, although it might be the mildest trash talking I’ve ever seen.

“We kind of owe UCLA,” Davis said. “They beat us early in the year in Rupp, which we don’t take too kindly. We’re going to see them Friday and try come back and beat them when it counts.”

“We’re not worried,” Holiday, who played for the Bruins from 2008-09, said.

Davis wore his Kentucky jersey into the Pelicans arena on Sunday to support the Cats and said he will again on Friday.

“It’s not going to be a hard game,” Davis. “It’s going to be pretty easy for us. We’re going to win by at least 12. We’re going to win by at least 12. I think we’re locked in. We’ve got a lot better players.”

Holiday, whose little brother plays for the Bruins, came back at Davis by mentioning all of UCLA’s great shooters, to which Davis quipped, “Who, the Ball kid?”.

Honestly, I’m more partial to Davis’ trash talk back at the McDonald’s All-American Game in 2011. But, I hope he’s right.

Bruce Pearl: “I’m concerned for Kentucky”


Normally, Bruce Pearl has nothing but nice things to say about Kentucky and John Calipari, but for some reason this season, he’s not very high on the Cats, despite the fact that they beat Auburn by 20. Last month, Pearl said Florida was the only SEC team he thought could make a run in the NCAA Tournament, and this morning, he casted some more doubts on Kentucky’s chances vs. UCLA. On The Dan Patrick Show, Pearl said he was “concerned” about Kentucky vs. UCLA and the Cats must defend better or the Bruins will blow them out.

“Well, the good news for Kentucky is they’re defending better than they’ve been defending and that’s always been the key to John Calipari’s teams in the sense that he’s going to have incredible talent, they’re going to play very unselfishly, they’re going to play fast so you have to be really good in transition defense. Fox is incredible pushing the break. Bam Adebayo is a freak athlete. Monk being as inconsistent as he’s been from the perimeter is a concern, but the one thing that John Calipari has them doing now that they haven’t done all season long is defend and if they don’t do a better job of defending UCLA, UCLA’s going to put 100 on them and run away from them. But, Kentucky did defend well against Wichita State, they had to kind of grind that one out.”

“In the first meeting, Lonzo Ball did not play well. He had 7 assists, 6 turnovers. UCLA turned it over 18 times. They’re not going to do that in the second match. The last two times UCLA has played Kentucky, they’ve put up a lot of points and shot 53%. I’m concerned for Kentucky. If they don’t defend better, they’ll get beat, and it could be a good margin.”

So, to beat UCLA, Kentucky has to defend better. Also, water is wet, but he has a point. To listen to Bruce’s comments yourself. click the link below, go to hour two, and fast forward to the 27:15 mark. He also defends LaVar Ball.

[The Dan Patrick Show]

Bing predicts Kentucky will beat UCLA


KenPom predicts Kentucky will beat UCLA by two, while FiveThirtyEight’s fancy algorithms give the Cats a 68% chance of beating the Bruins to advance to the Elite Eight. Another computer model is also feeling good about Kentucky’s chances on Friday night. According to Bing, Kentucky has a 53% chance of beating UCLA:

Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 10.04.15 AM

How did Bing come to this conclusion? By using its intelligent machine-learning technology to analyze social and search signals, plus more than a decade of college hoops statistical data, per its website. Per Bing, the Cats will win because they commit far fewer turnovers and fouls than the Bruins. That seems like an overly simplistic breakdown of this game, but hey, I’ll take it.

[Bing Predicts]

UPDATE: As “IstandUPatGames” notes in the comments, Bing apparently uses the rule of 71. See, it is real!

Jay Bilas: Kentucky is the third best team left in the tournament


A while back, we gave our pal Jay Bilas some grief when he didn’t list Kentucky among his seven teams that could win it all. Bilas eventually added the Cats to that list, but after the first weekend of games, he’s feeling even better about Kentucky’s chances. In the latest “Bilas Index,” Bilas ranks Kentucky third among the teams left in the tournament behind North Carolina and Kansas.

“The Wildcats are playing much better defense, which was the only thing standing in their way of being a title winner,” Bilas writes. “Bam Adebayo has 28 rebounds in the NCAA tournament, the most in the field and the most through the first two rounds of an NCAA tournament in Kentucky history. Adebayo is the third Kentucky player to have a double-double in each of his first two career NCAA tournament games (Julius Randle in 2014, Frank Ramsey in 1951).”

All of that is great, but as Bilas points out, Kentucky still has “the toughest draw of the No. 2 seeds” ahead of them, starting with a rematch with UCLA and another potential rematch with North Carolina in the Elite Eight. Speaking of the Bruins, Bilas ranks them fifth. Fellow SEC brethren Florida and South Carolina come in at #13 and #16, respectively.

Check the rest out at ESPN Insider.

Gearing up for Memphis (Wednesday Show Thread)

Good morning, friends, and welcome to the Wednesday edition of Kentucky Sports Radio. Today, Matt, Ryan, Drew, and Shannon are in studio to get you ready for this weekend’s Sweet 16. This is the last show before they leave for Memphis, so tune in to hear them preview their adventure, which could last all the way until the National Championship game in Phoenix.

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

Listen to Kentucky Sports Radio


FINAL DAY: Buy One, Get One Half Off Everything at the KSR Shop!


Today is the final day for the KSR Shop’s big sale leading up to UK’s match up in the Sweet 16. Head to to take advantage of our BUY ONE, GET ONE HALF OFF EVERYTHING sale! 

The KSR Shop has a great selection of UK and KSR hats and hoodies as well as plenty of new t-shirts including the recent Sweet Sixteen shirts. We also have Kentucky flags, coffee mugs, and the popular State Pride and Simply Southern apparel. So head to to BUY ONE, GET ONE HALF OFF EVERYTHING sale. No coupon required. Go Cats!


[FINAL DAY: Buy One, Get One Half Off Everything at the KSR Shop!]