(Not the highlight of the day for the NFL… The Redskins crowd… Yikes) The NFL →
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©1:35 pm
We knew the Cats would fall after losing to Baylor, but they’re still in the top ten of the latest USA Today/Coaches poll. Barely. They fell to #11 in the latest AP poll.
1. Arizona (30)
2. Ohio State (1)
3. Syracuse (1)
5. Michigan State
8. Wichita State
9. Oklahoma State
T16. Iowa State
21. North Carolina
24. San Diego State
Others receiving votes: Missouri 46, Colorado 42, Pittsburgh 38, New Mexico 28, Boise State 19, Saint Mary’s 18, Indiana 15, Virginia Commonwealth 13, Creighton 8, Virginia 5, Saint Louis 5, George Washington 1
1. Arizona (63)
2. Syracuse (2)
3. Ohio State
5. Michigan State
7. Oklahoma State
12. Wichita State
17. Iowa State
18. North Carolina
25. San Diego State
Others receiving votes: UCLA 104, New Mexico 62, Pittsburgh 47, Boise State 34, Michigan 26, Virginia Commonwealth 17, Dayton 11, Cincinnati 5, Harvard 5, Saint Mary’s 3, Indiana 3, George Washington 2, Creighton 2, Oklahoma 1, Toledo 1
Sounds about right.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©1:00 pm
Stevie Johnson’s talent on the field may be second only to his character off it. During his time in the league, Stevie has showed off a flair for the dramatic in his touchdown celebrations, his undershirts, tweets, and stunts, like the one he pulled with ESPN yesterday. In a piece for ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown,” Stevie went undercover as “Drew Mcelvein,” a drive-thru window server at a Buffalo-area Tim Hortons. Stevie had fun with patrons, asking them bizarre questions like if they wanted cheese on their apple cider and quoting absurd prices. It was his second time going undercover for “Sunday NFL Countdown,” the first being two years ago as a Toyota sales and leasing consultant.
Check out the skit below, and for more info, check out the producer’s take on it over at ESPN.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©12:30 pm
While Friday night’s loss was awful, at least Kentucky isn’t alone when it comes to inexperience. Kansas, another squad with superstar freshmen, also struggled this weekend, losing to Colorado. ESPN’s trio of college basketball analysts Andy Katz, Myron Medcalf, and Dana O’Neil examined which loss was more damaging, and unfortunately, they all agreed that the Cats have more work to do than the Jayhawks to become a national title contender. Here’s a snippet of the conversation:
Dana O’Neil: I’d be more worried if I were Calipari because, while the Wildcats lost just one, they’ve looked lethargic for a while, slow to come around against Cleveland State, Eastern Michigan and Providence. This team seems to think it can turn on the jets whenever and win, and that’s simply not the case. Mix that in with shoddy defense and an upcoming schedule that includes Boise State, North Carolina and Louisville, and Kentucky needs to find itself quickly.
O’Neil’s point about UK thinking they can just turn the jets on and win at any moment is spot on, and that line of thinking was totally debunked on Friday night. Katz mentioned UK’s struggles on defense as well, and Medcalf cited the lack of leaders as a warning sign heading forward. To read all of their thoughts, head on over to the Worldwide Leader:
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©12:00 pm
Need something to cheer you up on this gloomy Monday morning? Drew Barker has a new highlight reel featuring his senior season. Check KSR’s most talented writer doing his thing. He’ll be on campus in less than a month…
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©11:15 am
Got plans tonight? Be sure to set your DVR to record Bill Raftery’s interview with John Calipari, which will air on Fox Sports 1 at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can see a preview of the interview above, in which Calipari opens up about the day he will eventually leave Kentucky:
“There’s a point in which all of us coaches have got to start preparing for the inevitable. To prepare within a month, you’re making a mistake. I don’t reading all the stuff, ‘my name will be thrown in on all these NBA jobs,’ well that’s not–I’m not thinking that way and I’m not reading it.
My thing is, here’s what I’m doing. When I’m done with this, what’s the next purpose? That’s my thoughts, more than, ‘Alright, I want this job, or–’ No. I’ve got the job that I want, so it becomes what will my purpose be when I’m not helping young people prepare for the rest of their lives? That, I am thinking about.”
In Lexington, FoxSports1 is channel 67 (969 for HD) on Time Warner.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©9:55 am
The #KSRAcrossAmerica road trip is finally over, and not a moment too soon. Between UK’s loss to Baylor, the weather, and travel delays a plenty, what was supposed to be a fun weekend in Dallas turned into a nightmare. However, it’s a new day, and we’re all back home safe and sound. Tune in to hear Matt recap the weekend and where the Cats go after their second loss of the season.
CBSSports.com’s Gary Parrish will also call in to the show to discuss his column about the Cats from over the weekend, marking his first appearance on the show in over two years, so you don’t want to miss that.
Join in the fun and give them a call at (502) 571-1080.
KSR Affiliate List
WAIN (93.9 fm) Columbia
WHIR (1230 am) Danville
WCLU (1490 am) Glasgow
WHOP (95.3 fm) Hopkinsville
WJKY (1060 am) Jamestown
WLAP (630 am) Lexington
WFTG (1400 am) London
WKJK (1080 am) Louisville
WFMW (730 am/94.9 fm) Madisonville
WFTM (1240 am) Maysville
WKYM (101.7 fm) Monticello
WMSK (1550 am) Morganfield
WLME (102.7 fm) Owensboro
WKYH (600 am) Paintsville
WLSI (900 am) Pikeville
WPRT (960 am) Prestonsburg
WSFC (1240 am) Somerset
WTCW (920 am) Whitesburg
WBTH (1400 am) Williamson, WV
On Delay (ALL TIMES LISTED EASTERN)…
WBGN (1340 am) Bowling Green 3-5 pm
WMTL (870 am) Leitchfield 11am-1pm
WLBQ (1570 am) Morgantown 3-5 pm
WRIL (106.3 fm) Middlesboro Thur 8-10 pm
WPAD (99.5 fm/1560 am) Paducah 5-7 pm
By Bryan the Intern on ©9:00 am
You all know I am a stats guy so I always like to take a glance at the overall statistics after each game, just to see what stands out most to me. Certainly Julius Randle’s rebounding is always a bright spot. The improvement of Willie Cauley-Stein, etc etc. But this year, or at least up to this point, there are some very surprising stats floating around that are not the most positive in the world. I want to know which one of these 5 options surprises you the most.
Option A. James Young shooting 39% overall, 33% from 3
-Young was supposed to be the knockdown shooter of this team. The Doron Lamb. Instead, we have seen a guy who is incredibly streaky. And considering Young has attempted more shots than anybody else on the team, both overall and from 3, that is not a good attribute to have.
Option B. Julius Randle with 6 blocks total this season
-Did you see Randle nearly put his elbow in the rim against Baylor? So explain to me how a guy with that much athleticism, playing the power forward spot, only has 6 blocks in 9 games. Not to mention, teams are now avoiding Willie Cauley-Stein because of his shot blocking ability. So Randle will have plenty of chances to block more shots as the season goes on. Will we see him improve?
Option C. Kentucky with just 36 steals in 9 games
-How does a team with such length and size only average 4 steals per game, which is 261st in the country. Frankly, UK’s defensive intensity has been poor most of the season. That’s how. Aggressive play leads to steals. The fact UK’s opponents have 12 more steals than the Cats this year is not good at all.
Option D. Derrick Willis averaging just 3.4 minutes per game
-Following BBMadness and the Blue-White games, I think many thought Derrick Willis might find the floor more than he has. He hasn’t played in 4 games this year, UK’s 4 toughest games. Yes, he is a freshman, and yes he has some defensive flaws. But at this point, maybe trying a new guy or two with a few more minutes might help.
Option E. Alex Poythress averaging just 4.8 points per game
-Gotta be honest, I thought Alex Poythress would be the key to this team. I said if Poythress could just repeat his freshman year performance from a statistical standpoint that this team could be very, very good. Instead, Alex is averaging under half what he did last season and has been a non-factor most of the season. Seeing how he played against Michigan State made me very happy and optimistic. But that hasn’t really been replicated since.
By Ally Tucker on ©10:30 pm
(Not the highlight of the day for the NFL… The Redskins crowd… Yikes)
The NFL provided us with quite the treat today when in a span of 30 minutes, it seemed as if nearly every single game from the 1:00 time slot ended in dramatic and exciting fashion. If you’re like me, and you have no dog in the fight other than a few fantasy football players of interest, then Sunday afternoon was just plain fun. For those with rooting interest tied deeply to particular teams (I’m looking at you Terrible Towelers), the afternoon might have been nothing short of agonizing. We had the Steelers end of the game near-miracle, that was a mere milimeters away from being one of the most brilliant and exciting finishes in years. Then we had Tom Brady and the Patriots stealing one from the most unfortunate Browns in the waning moments of the game. Then we had perhaps the most overall entertaining game of the day: The Snow Bowl between the Lions and the Eagles. With a field covered in inches of snow, both teams put together a better game of football than many anticipated. The scenes and photos from the game were wild and it became a must-watch, if for no other reason than because of the shock value of the state of the field. And then finally, the poor, poor, poor Vikings. The Vikings’ season, our entertainment. Sorry, Mary Jo Perino.
After an action packed start to the weekend, let’s take a look at 10 thoughts and takeaways from the weekend that was in Kentucky sports…
1) Cal isn’t at a loss like last year, but he is certainly frustrated
During various points last season (a lot of points, in fact), John Calipari seemed almost at a loss when it came to analyzing and figuring out his team. Calipari is certainly not to that point with this team, but he is clearly frustrated after Friday night’s performance. The Cats took one step forward against Providence, and two steps back against Baylor. Calipari seemed genuinely pleased with his team earlier in the week, but whatever positives were to be taken from that victory were quickly erased by the disappointing finish against Baylor. Cal sees what we see… a team loaded with talent and potential. With that said, this team had an opportunity to put the foot on the gas pedal and finish Baylor midway through the second half, and instead did all of the things you can’t do if you want to win a game: lose the rebounding battle, turnovers, poor interior defense, miserable free throw shooting, lack of passion/effort.
2) It’s not time to panic, but there are legitimate concerns to be had with this team…
The good news is, while the Cats are stumbling a bit in the early part of the season… most of the other top teams in the country are doing the same thing. The 4 teams who participated in the Champions Classic (Duke, Kentucky, Kansas and Michigan State) have totaled 7 losses already only a month into the season. That’s probably more than anyone would have expected, but it makes me feel a little bit better about Kentucky’s woes. Kansas strikes an uncanny resemblance to Kentucky, relying heavily on the play of freshmen and a few sophomores. The result has been a struggle with more experienced teams and coaches who can put together confusing defensive schemes to confuse the young players. The 4 teams mentioned above all figure to still be a big part of the national championship picture as the season goes on, but which team will find its stride the soonest and which team will avoid a slide that might wind up hurting seeding come NCAA tournament time (It’s never too early to start thinking about that…)
3) 2 non-double-double games in a row from Julius Randle
It might seem a bit harsh to criticize a guy after a 16 point, 8 rebound performance… but in the case of Julius Randle, he is just held to a higher standard than the average college basketball player. Randle came out guns blazing to start the season, churning out 7 straight double-doubles before missing on the feat for the first time against Providence. Friday’s game against Baylor marks the second game in a row in which Randle has failed to reach the milestone. The early streak probably got expectations a little too high that Randle could do it every time, but a guy as talented and physically as imposing as Randle CAN do it every time. Will he? No. But he can, and I think his production against Baylor could have been a little better.
4) 2 losses both to teams with solid big men
Both of Kentucky’s losses this season (Michigan State and Baylor) have come at the hands of teams with a strong front court. Adreian Payne had a productive night against the Cats when they played in Chicago and Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson were both key contributers on Friday night as well. The two combined for 26 points against the Cats and gave Kentucky some trouble on the defensive end. Between Julius Randle, Willie Cauley-Stein, Dakari Johnson and Alex Poythress…Kentucky shouldn’t lose the front court battle too often, and definitely should not lose the rebounding battle (41-25 in favor of Baylor).
5) Still waiting on Andrew Harrison and free throws
The two biggest areas where it seems like Kentucky fans keep waiting to see improvement: Andrew Harrison’s play and free throws. It’s not necessarily that Harrison is playing poorly (He had 6 assists and 7 points against Baylor), but he’s yet to look the part of one of the elite point guards in the country. He still struggles on the defensive end against the dribble, and he still hasn’t completely helped the team into an offensive groove for a total 40 minutes.
In other frustrating news, Kentucky still struggles mightily from the free throw line. Such poor free throw shooting has almost come to be expected from Calipari teams, but it’s flat out costing this Kentucky team games at this poiint. Both the Michigan State and Baylor losses could have been remedied with even slightly improved free throw shooting. Heck, if the Cats could just hang somwhere around the 75% clip, the 40-0 t-shirt folks might still have hope. Kentucky shot 52.2% on the night from the free throw line and that’s unacceptable. The most frustrating part? Even guys like James Young, who is a tremendous shooter, can’t be counted on from the free throw line. As the kids say, the struggle is real. And I used to find the kind of people who call into call-in shows about free throw shooting to be terribly annoying. Now I’m fumbling to find the number to place that call myself.
6) Cal’s system perfect for the rule change…not perfect for poor free throw shooters
As many suspected, the dribble drive and type of offense that Cal runs, allowing players to take on their man 1-v-1, is perfect for the new emphasis on calling touch fouls. Kentucky has found itself on the free throw line plenty of times, and with the advantage in athleticism the Cats can put other teams in foul trouble. With that said, the system doesn’t give much of an advantage if the Cats can’t make free throws.
7) The future Wildcats are looking good…
A couple of future Wildcats from the 2014 class played this weekend in the Marshall County Hoop Fest, giving Kentucky fans a front row seat to watch the next batch of Cats. Devin Booker and Trey Lyles both looked impressive in their performances this weekend, showcasing why the future could be bright in Lexington. Booker, a shooting guard, went for 40 points and 9 rebounds in a losing effort against Ballard. Booker’s numbers were fairly efficient too (9 of 18 from the field, 20 of 24 from the free throw line…HEYYYY!!!). Lyles had two strong performances, taking home MVP honors. Lyles finished with 30 points (10-16 shooting), 19 rebounds and 2 assists in an impressive win over Ballard (Kentucky’s top-ranked team). Lyles’ team had another big win later in the day when they took down Huntington Prep, one of the top teams in the country. Lyles finished with 22 points and 14 rebounds. Hurry up and get to Lexington fellas.
8) Football is still rolling…
Mark Stoops and his staff haven’t stopped moving since Kentucky concluded its season against Tennessee last weekend. If you follow any of the future Wildcats and potential future Wildcats on Twitter, you can see that the staff has been making the rounds to visit the guys. The staff is clearly putting a priority on keeping this year’s recruiting class in tact, while also making some visits to the next crop of players. The momentum hasn’t stalled a bit for the Kentucky staff.
9) Dallas is no one’s favorite place after this weekend…
I don’t think I need to go into much detail on this one. Delayed flights, icy roads, late nights, bad losses… Let’s just forget this ever happened. Unless you are the UK women’s basketball team. The real winners of the weekend were the ladies, as they not only came away with a 2nd win over a top-10 ranked team in the span of a week, but also captured the attention of the sports world in a 4 OT thriller win against Baylor. While most of the world tuned into ESPN to catch the Baylor-Kentucky men’s game, they were instead treated to an instant-classic that saw both teams go back and forth before Kentucky finally pulled away from the Bears. Matthew Mitchell’s squad got a ton of good publicity and buzz from the event, which will hopefully propel them in their quest for the school’s first women’s basketball Final 4.
10) We knew that this stretch of games would be a growing experience… Breathe.
When it’s all said and done, we knew that this stretch of games which the Cats are in the midst of (Providence, Baylor, Boise State, North Carolina, Belmont and Louisville) would provide a huge test and a chance for growth for this young team. We expected Kentucky could potentially take a few blows during this stretch, especially once we cooled on the idea of a perfect season thanks to Michigan State. The reality is that this team is young and this string of games allows very little margin for error. The teams are all good teams, and each game provides a challenge in one way or another for the Cats. With Christmas break just around the corner (meaning the Cats will get unlimited practice time with Cal), this team could undergo some serious growth and improvement, even if they still take a few more losses between now and the first of the year. Just breathe though, folks. Perhaps our expectations were too high to begin with. But this team has plenty of time, and plenty of upcoming chances against good opponents to right the ship.
By Wilder Treadway on ©9:30 pm
At Marshall County’s Hoop Fest this past weekend Devin Booker sat down with Steve Jones from the Courier Journal who picked Booker’s brain about all things UK, the tournament, and his fellow 2014 recruiting class. Booker left the interview with some good quotes, my favorite being “I still think we have the best class. Obviously Duke has a really good class. But I feel like even if we ended right now (with no more signees) we’d be the best class. At the end of the day, we have to show it on the next level. ” He also mentioned that him and the other UK recruits for next season have an ongoing group text to talk about all things, not just basketball. Wonder how much people would be willing to pay to read that…
And hallelujah…he thinks free throws are important. The Wildcats need that.
You can check out the whole thing online here.
By Matt Jones on ©9:00 pm
In the realm of “only in the Mark Stoops era” stories, is this news. 4 Star Offensive Guard Marcelys Jones visited Kentucky this weekend and a source tells KSR that he “loved his trip.” Jones is currently an Ohio State commit, after giving a verbal to the Buckeyes last Christmas. But now he is looking around some more and the Ohio native spent this past weekend on a surprise official visit to Lexington. Jones is an absolute stud, a difference maker on the offensive line, and a recruit that Ohio State desperately wants to keep. He is taking his official visit to Ohio State next weekend, and one would assume that the Buckeyes are still the favorite. But he did visit UK and a source tells KSR that he is very serious about his UK interest at this point.
Now don’t go getting your hopes up. A recruit from Ohio, who has committed to Ohio State and just watched the Buckeyes go 11-1 would seem a long shot to change to Kentucky. But conventional wisdom isn’t always right and a commitment from Jones could be an offensive line game changer. Stay tuned…long shot or not, just getting Jones to consider this possibility is quite an accomplishment.
By C.M. Tomlin on ©8:45 pm
It’s been a big week for pop culture. A big Christmas tree got lit, Ron Burgundy was everywhere, Kanye went a little crazier, some Grammy things got announced and actor Paul Walker sadly passed away before his time.
It was also — as it is wont to be — a big week at Funkhouser. So if you’ve spent your entire week watching The Voice every night instead of reading over there (and look, I don’t blame you), now’s your chance to cozy up by the fire and see what you’ve missed. And what have you missed? Let’s cue up the fuzzy flashback effect and have a look:
If you’re so inclined, check it out. Knowledge is power, you know.
By Wilder Treadway on ©8:00 pm
Written by Tom Leach
After 27 minutes of the game against Baylor, you probably could have gotten nearly universal agreement among college hoops pundits that this young Kentucky basketball team was going to be playing at least one more game in Dallas’ AT&T Stadium this season (site of the 2014 Final Four).
So what happened to turn a 50-41 lead into a 67-62 defeat?
It may be as simple as the Bears deciding to take this game back and the Wildcats doing very little to stop them. Look at the pregame comments to the media of the Providence coach as well as Baylor’s Isaiah Austin. Kentucky opponents are tired to hearing all of the hype for players who are in the first season of college basketball and it’s putting a chip on their shoulders. And you need to understand that if you’re playing for this Kentucky team. Remember that line from the original “Rocky” movie when Apollo Creed’s trainer said of Rocky, “he don’t know it’s a damn show–he thinks it’s a damn fight.” And Baylor out-fought Kentucky down the stretch.
This group of recruits drew comparisons to Michigan’s Fab Five class and I suspect those guys had to deal with this in their first season, when they lost seven conference games before making a run to the Final Four. Until this Kentucky develops a tougher mindset, it’s in danger of taking several more losses, too.
Coach Calipari’s postgame critique included playing his starters too many minutes. This was supposed to be a deep Kentucky team but the Cats aren’t getting much production from that bench, save for the defensive effort Dominique Hawkins is giving them. It’s hard for a coach to stick with a player who isn’t producing so those bench players aren’t staying on the court very long once they get in the game. He doesn’t start but Alex Poythress is a big key to this team’s long term success because they need him to play significant minutes with significant production, mainly rebounding.
None of what Baylor used to beat Kentucky should have come as a surprise to the players. The scouting report told them about the Bears’ rebounding prowess and that this game could be decided on the glass. They were coached on how to defend Baylor’s pick-and-rolls although you couldn’t tell from the execution– and how Kenny Cherry was inexplicably left wide open for a dagger-delivering basket to make it 65-61. Besides Cherry, Rico Gathers was the key player for Baylor and it was simply all about effort plays for him.
No time for whining. Effort & competitive spirit need to be an always-thing. Waters get deeper. Teams comin’-up are better’n Baylor.
That starts Tuesday night with Boise State, the nation’s highest-scoring team.
–listen to Tom each weekday morning at 9:06am eastern on “The Leach Report” radio network
–check out tomleachky.com for more of Tom’s coverage of the Cats and followTom on Twitter @tomleachky and @leachreport + via Facebook for “The Leach Report”
By Wilder Treadway on ©7:32 pm
According to Yahoo! Sports, former Wildcats Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes are in trade talks to leave the Sacramento Kings and be traded to the Toronto Raptors. The Kings will acquire Rudy Gay, Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray from Toronto who will be getting Greivis Vasquez and John Salmons as well. This will be Patterson’s 3rd different team in less than a year.
Good luck to them as they head to good ole’ Canada.@WilderTreadKSR.