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University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.
August 27th, 2015

Why Kentucky was Voted the Best Coaching Job in the Country

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

CBS Sports wrapped up their Candid Coaches theory yesterday by asking the roughly 100 Division I to Division III coaches what are the top three coaching gigs in the country. They voted in order Kentucky-Duke-North Carolina. Now, it shouldn’t be a big surprise that Kentucky was voted the best coaching job in the country, but let’s look at why. Remember, this is the best coaching job, not the best program, which does make a difference – and why Duke shouldn’t be on the list.

One of the coaches polled said the following about Kentucky:

“Fan base is unwavering. They’re consistent. Kentucky owns the state in terms of the fan base. They travel well, are willing to put in any amount of money. There’s a blank check for those guys to do what they need to do dot maintain a level of greatness.” 

But, for me that’s not the main reason why Kentucky is the best coaching gig. It’s because each coach wins in Lexington. Since Adolph Rupp, only two coaches haven’t won a title and that is Eddie Sutton and Billy Gillispie. So, the fear of following up a legend like Coach K in Duke isn’t as strong. Again, that’s why Duke shouldn’t be on the list along with the terrible facilities in Durham from a recruiting standpoint. Yes, the pressure is immense, but there’s a constant stream of success in Kentucky, which no other program can talk about.

Then there’s the obvious reasons of the practice facilities, living quarters for the players which make it easy to recruit coupled with the extremely competitive salary that goes along with the pressure of being the coach at Kentucky. So, after Kentucky what are the best coaching gigs – again, not programs – in the country? For me, it’s North Carolina and Texas.


Sleep Outfitters’ Thursday Recruiting Roundup

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 Kobi Simmons will take an official visit to Kentucky this weekend

I mentioned this in the wakeup post, but it bears repeating. Tomorrow, Simmons will arrive on campus for an official visit, the first of three he’s taking in the coming weeks. Next month, the five-star combo guard visit UNLV and Ohio State, and he’s already visited Georgia, his home state school. His dad told Ben Roberts they will decide between the four programs next month, and laughed at the notion that Kentucky has cooled on his son.

“It’s just funny to me that people think that,” said Demond Stephens. “Cal talks to me. Kenny (Payne) talks to me. We talk every day.”

 Marques Bolden visits next weekend

The best center in the 2016 class will come to town next Friday before taking officials to Duke on September 18 and Kansas on September 25. Reason to feel good: Bolden’s AAU coach and mentor is Jeff Webster, Julius Randle’s former coach. Reason to worry: Duke has a slight edge in his 247 Crystal Ball.

Here’s a reminder of what he can do:

 ESPN released their new 2017 recruiting rankings

Here’s where those with UK offers stand:

1. DeAndre Ayton
2. Wendell Carter
3. Michael Porter, Jr.
5. John Petty
7. Jarred Vanderbilt
8. Mohamed Bamba
9. Gary Trent Jr.
13. Nick Richards
18. Zach Brown
25. Trae Young

Point guard Trevon Duval was ranked fourth, and although he doesn’t have an offer from the Cats yet, he’s expected to pick one up soon.

  Don’t forget that Kash Daniel plays in Frankfort Friday night

Paintsville’s game against Frankfort High School is the BBN’s best chance to see the future Cat play in Central Kentucky. It kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at Sower Field, which apparently is a little difficult to find. Here’s a map to help guide you:

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 2.29.53 PM

Daniel scored three touchdowns in his season opener. What will he do this week?

  3-star cornerback has UK in his top two

Three-star cornerback Carlos Becker is considered the 37th best corner in the 2016 class, and according to 247 Sports, he’s got the Cats in his top two, along with NC State. Ryan Bartow spoke with Becker, who says he’s going to take officials to Kentucky, NC State, Wisconsin, Ole Miss, and potentially Florida State. He said the Cats were the first “big SEC team” to offer him, and the fact that he considers UK a “big SEC team” speaks volumes to me.

He may be a NC State lean, but he was spotted by his classmates wearing a UK shirt on “college day” today:

Why not, right, Carlos?


KSR’s 2015 College Football Preview Podcast

As Coach Stoops loves to say, “It’s been a process” creating this podcast but nonetheless, an absolute blast.  I would like to apologize in advance because at times, it isn’t the best quality, but it improves later in the podcast and will continue to improve in the future.   It’s what I call a “learning experience” (like when it begins and Matt says I’m shaking, because I was, and still am).

We hope you enjoy listening as much as we enjoyed making it.  If you have any future suggestions, send them my way.

On iTunes search “Kentucky Sports Radio” and hit “Subscribe,” and it should then appear on your phone or computer.

UPDATE: You can also listen to it by clicking here.


The winner of the #KSRCandyBracket is…

…SNICKERS. The chocolate/caramel/nutty goodness beat out M&Ms, Skittles, and Starburst to win KSR’s candy bracket. The bracket was a huge topic of debate, with several people having several bones to pick, including yours truly. Matt didn’t include Reese’s Pieces, one of the best candies in the entire world, which is totally bunk. Twix got knocked out in the first round, upsetting Jared Lorenzen to the point that he left work and drove to the studio to protest.

Here’s the bracket so you can play along at home:

CHOCOLATE HALF

EAST

1. M&Ms
8. Dove Bar

4. Butterfinger
5. Baby Ruth

3. Reeses
6. 3 Musketeers

2. Hershey Bar
7. Whatchamacallit

MIDWEST

1. Snickers
8. Almond Joy

4. Twix
5. Crunch Bar

3. Kit Kat
6. Heath Bar

2. Milky Way
7. Mr. Goodbar

SUGAR HALF

SOUTH

1. Skittles
8. Good And Plenty

4. Tootsie Rolls
5. Candy Corn

3. Jelly Belly
6. Sweet Tarts

2. Twizzlers
7. Pez

WEST

1. Starburst
8. Pop Rocks

4. Gummi Bears
5. Junior Mints

3. Hot Tamales
6. Fun Dip

2. Nerds
7. Blow Pop

Tune in to today’s podcast to weigh in on all of the crew’s picks.

Hour 1:

Hour 2:


Skal Labissiere named preseason All-American First Team by Blue Ribbon

Believe it or not, college basketball preview magazines are already coming out, and our very own Skal Labissiere is on the cover of Blue Ribbon’s College Basketball Yearbook as a Preseason All-American.

Skal and LSU’s Ben Simmons are the only two freshmen on the First Team, which Blue Ribbon editor Chris Dortch says is a sign of the times.

“For a long time, the criteria we primarily used to select our All-America teams was past accomplishment in college basketball,” said Blue Ribbon editor Chris Dortch, who has been in charge of the book’s direction for the last 18 editions and was a Blue Ribbon writer and co-editor for years before that. “But in recent years I’ve been fortunate to assist NBA.com and NBA TV with their coverage of and preparation for the NBA Draft, and I’ve realized that NBA potential, especially when you’re talking about lottery picks, has to be used as a criteria if you’re choosing a team of the five best college players in the country.

“Kentucky has proven many times over in the John Calipari era, with players such as John Wall, Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns, etc., that freshmen can impact the college game to a first-team All-America level, and then move on to become the first pick in the NBA Draft.”

Congrats, Skal. The first of many preseason accolades, I’m sure.


Game day preparation, every second counts

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

There are several minor details that go into gameday operations that may seem simple, but in reality requires repetitive rehearsal. Here are a few:

Locker room clock management

The Cat Walk starts approximately two hours prior to kick-off. What happens between stadium arrival and the first play of the game is a precise procedure. In a prior post, I described the Hotel Abyss and misery of waiting around until game time. As for stadium arrival, the clock starts the minute the bus stops. Minutes are managed. For example, players don’t go onto the field to warm-up at their own leisure. Specific groups depart the locker room at certain times. The culmination is when the entire team is gathered before returning to the locker room. This also works in reverse. Captains go onto the field for the coin toss, then the main body exits to smoke and loud bangs. May seem simple, but prior to the first game, the team will go through this entire process. Coaches want to ensure gameday provides zero surprises. Below is an example itinerary. It’s been decades, so it’s probably not close to reality. However it may give you a better understanding:

5:00 – Taping (wrists/ankles)

5:20 – Specialist on field

5:25 – Offensive skill players out

5:30 – DB’s and LB’s

5:40 – OL and DL

5:45 – Team stretch

6:00 – Position work

6:20 – Team

6:30 – Punt team

6:35 – Return to locker room

6:52 – Captains out

6:55 – Team out

7:00 – Kick-off

Play call charts

Offense and defensive coordinators require specific data to be collected on each play. This may include the play call, opponents pre-snap look, result, and individual personnel involved. Charts are revised and modified to provide the most efficient amount of information for future decision making. This process is rehearsed and revised throughout camp and will get ramped up in final team or scrimmage situations.

Time outs

Players practice, but so do coaches. Throughout situational and unscripted scrimmage situations, decisions that factor just when timeouts are called or not called are also rehearsed. And, the next factor is the support or athletic training staff’s role during stops in play. You’ll notice that during a time-out, towels and water are sprinted onto the field to hydrate players during that brief down time. All that is practiced.

Halftime operations

Just like pregame, every halftime minute is accounted for. Normally, the first time allotment is for the coaches to gather for a quick after action review to discuss second half adjustments. Players hydrate, use the bathroom, etc. Then, position groups briefly meet before the coordinators install adjustments or reinforce game-modifications. See, the entire team is rarely together in both pregame and halftime. The locker room is divided into offensive and defensive segments. The final moments prior to going back onto the field belongs to the head coach as the whole team gathers. During this time is when the “motivation” speech occurs. Re-entering the field is also on a strict time schedule. There are multiple managers that track the clock and provide time hacks to coaches to ensure processes are met. When the team goes back onto the field, proper stretching and warmup exercises are in place. All this will be practiced believe it or not.

On-field clock management

Offensive pace just doesn’t occur on game day. From Shannon Dawson’s mind to Patrick Towles’ signal, there is zero time to waste from play call to snap. This is practiced throughout camp. Same is executed on the defensive side. DJ Eliot to Josh Forrest communication must be instant and without confusion. Areas that aren’t commonly discussed but continually practiced are during two minute offense scenarios. The quarterback must understand when the play clock starts, when time is stopped, and other specifics that can decide the difference in a late touchdown or failing drive. For example, when the offense gains a first down, the play clock is started upon placement and movement of the chains. The game clock stops following a player going out of bounds. But, do you know the clock process differences for offensive and defensive penalties? Many varying factors that have to become second nature for quarterbacks and linebackers.

Factor in the ridiculous NCAA 20-hour rule, as you can imagine, practice time must be managed down to the second. A team can efficiently prepare for any circumstance and yet face unique situations that presents player uncertainty. So now, I hope you understand why experience is critical for primary decision makers (quarterbacks and linebackers) and why wasted practice time is so detrimental to program growth.


Make your kid the ultimate VIP at the Cats Legends Youth Fantasy Experience

Legends-Flyer-v2

Want to be your kid’s hero? Send him or her to the inaugural Cats Legends Youth Fantasy Experience, which takes place September 12-13. Open to boys and girls ages 10-18, the camp will include instruction from famous former Cats like Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, and Karl Towns, and give your kid the chance to play in Rupp Arena in a game called by Jay Williams and Seth Greenberg.

Like the older campers at the John Calipari Fantasy Experience, your kid will get to tour the Rupp Arena locker room, participate in mock press conferences with Paul Biancardi and Seth Greenberg, get plenty of cool swag AND attend the Saturday night VIP party in the locker room.

There are only about 20 spots left, so HURRY! Register at www.catslegends.com or www.procamps.com/catslegends


Chuck Hayes will NOT sign with the Rockets

Last month, Chuck Hayes agreed to a one-year deal with the Houston Rockets, but apparently, he’s going to pass. Hayes’ agent Calvin Andrews told Yahoo’s Marc Spears that Hayes will NOT sign with the Rockets due to salary cap issues.

Hayes has discussed a future in coaching, and apparently has multiple coaching/front office job offers, but according to his agent, he still wants to play. In a statement, Andrews said Hayes has spent a lot of time preparing and training for this season, and is “in better shape than he has been in years.” While it didn’t work out with Houston, Hayes and his agent will look for other playing opportunities.

Best of luck, Chuck.


UK Football will host Chattanooga in 2018

Breaking schedule news! According to fbschedules.com, Kentucky will host the Chattanooga Mocs on November 17, 2018, the first ever meeting between the two schools. The news was confirmed in Chattanooga’s media guide.

The Mocs are in the Southern Conference in the FCS, and last season, advanced to the playoffs before losing to New Hampshire in the quarterfinals. Next season, they’ll travel to Tuscaloosa to play Alabama. So far, we know two of UK’s 2018 non-conference games: Chattanooga on November 17 and Louisville on November 24.

2018 feels light years away. What will UK football look like three years from now?


Seth Greenberg calls Isaac Humphries “a potential difference maker”

Seth Greenberg and Andy Katz released a new episode of their ESPNU College Hoops podcast yesterday, and, predictably, UK was a popular topic. There have been a lot of developments with the Cats in recent weeks, namely Jamal Murray arriving on campus and the addition of Aussie big man Isaac Humphries. I feel like I’ve heard about Murray turning down Team Canada a billion times, so I was most interested in Seth Greenberg’s comments about Humphries. Simply put, he’s impressed.

“I really like Isaac Humphries. He’s a 7-footer. This is a skilled 7-foot player. He can step out and make shots. He’s got very good hands. He’s going to have to continue to get stronger. He’s a guy that really has a chance to be a terrific player. When you have a 7-footer that is skilled, has terrific hands and can pass, another guy with a high basketball IQ, you’re talking about a potential difference maker.”

I’ll take it. While the newcomers are garnering a lot of attention, Greenberg maintains that Alex Poythress will be Kentucky’s “x-factor”:

“To me, he is the X-factor for Kentucky this year. If he can come in and play the 4, and use his athleticism, and play with a high motor and be hard to keep of the glass and be a physical, athletic, hard-playing, mature forward, now all of a sudden, you’ve really got some tough matchups, especially when you think about this backcourt.”

Click here to check out the rest of the podcast. Greenberg and Katz talk about the Cats right at the start.


Cameraman on Segway takes out Usain Bolt

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 9.03.15 AM

Having a bad morning? Odds are it’s not nearly as bad as this camerman’s at the World Athletics Championships in Beijing.

Usain Bolt won the 200m this morning, his 10th gold medal, but the real story came after when a cameraman on a Segway accidentally crashed into Bolt from behind. The footage is ridiculous:

Thankfully, Bolt seems fine. No word on the cameraman’s job.


Breaking down the #KSRCandyBracket (Thursday Show Thread)

Graphic by Matthew Mahone

Good morning, friends, and welcome to the Thursday edition of Kentucky Sports Radio. Football’s little over a week away, which means it’s time to get in one last summer show while we still can. Therefore, today, the guys will tackle the #KSRCandyBracket. Here it is, in all its glory:

CHOCOLATE HALF

EAST

1. M&Ms
8. Dove Bar

4. Butterfinger
5. Baby Ruth

3. Reeses
6. 3 Musketeers

2. Hershey Bar
7. Whatchamacallit

MIDWEST

1. Snickers
8. Almond Joy

4. Twix
5. Crunch Bar

3. Kit Kat
6. Heath Bar

2. Milky Way
7. Mr. Goodbar

SUGAR HALF

SOUTH

1. Skittles
8. Good And Plenty

4. Tootsie Rolls
5. Candy Corn

3. Jelly Belly
6. Spree

2. Twizzlers
7. Pez

WEST

1. Starburst
8. Pop Rocks

4. Gummi Bears
5. Junior Mints

3. Hot Tamales
6. Fun Dip

2. Nerds
7. Blow Pop

Tune in to hear the guys crown the first ever KSR Candy Champion.

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

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BBN at Windsor Castle wants the Thursday Morning Wakeup

FB_IMG_1438933989933 (1)

Good morning, everyone. Pardon the delay, there was a bit of a mixup in the KSR offices this morning over who was supposed to do the wakeup post, so we’re off to a late start. It may be early here, but I bet these two Cats fans at Windsor Castle are already enjoying their high tea, or maybe even a Pimms Cup to start the afternoon right. Cheerio, old chaps.

Here’s what you have to look forward to today in the wide world of Kentucky sports…

We’ll hear from Stoops and the defense this evening

There was no media opportunity yesterday so the team could focus on their first day of classes, which probably has most of you itching for a football fix. Mark Stoops, DJ Eliot, and select defensive players will address the media this evening after practice, and hopefully, we’ll hear some good news about Ryan Flannigan, who has been battling a minor injury all camp. The linebacking corps is thin as it is, and Flannigan is a major leader on the defensive side on the ball. Simply put: we need him back and we need him to stay healthy.

Did you see the SEC Network picked UK to go 8-4 last night?

If I hadn’t seen it with my own two eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it myself. While I admire their optimism, I don’t feel quite as confident about UK’s chances at South Carolina and Mississippi State, the latter in particular. Nothing good happens in Starkville.

That’s all fine and dandy, but the real star of UK Football preview show was Patrick Towles’ hair:

Just let your soulllll glo. Just let it shine through. 

Sacha Killeya-Jones is coming to Big Blue Madness

Add UK’s latest commit to the guest list, which includes Harry Giles, Miles Bridges, and Rawle Alkins. No offense to those four, but the real question remains, if Drake and Serena Williams are dating, does that mean she’ll come to Madness too?

Kobi Simmons will be on campus this weekend

Simmons was once John Calipari’s number one priority at point guard for 2016, though it’s unclear if that’s still the case since Cal’s offered several other guards in the class. Regardless, he’s coming to UK this weekend for an official visit, and his father, Desmond Stephens, told the Herald-Leader’s Ben Roberts his son is down to UK, Georgia, Ohio State and UNLV with a decision coming next month. Both Simmons and his father admit they’re UK fans, and Stephens says the family talks to Cal and Kenny Payne “every day.” That, along with these quotes, make me feel pretty good about UK’s chances:

“I rooted for Kentucky, I’m not going to lie,” he said. “I grew up watching Kenny Walker, Dicky Beal … I go way, way back. My friends and I have a rule – we can never change our favorite teams in life.

“And I really like Cal – I’ve been liking Cal since Memphis. And Kenny Payne, he’s the best of the best when it comes to teaching and knowledge. You gotta love it.”

Enjoy your visit, Kobi.

The seats in the new suites at Commonwealth Stadium sure look nice

@BigBlueWhoDey

Even if they have the new, crooked K.

Happy birthday to Mitch Barnhart

UK’s athletic director is celebrating his 56th trip around the sun today, although with that hair, he doesn’t look a day over 40. Live it up, Mitch. Two chocolate milks this morning!

Who will win the #KSRCandyBracket?

First was cereal, now is candy. It’s chocolate vs. sugar. Who will reign supreme? Tune in to KSR in about an hour to find out.


August 26th, 2015

KSR CANDY BRACKET

The now infamous pregame fight picture from the Kentucky Kernal.

The now infamous pregame fight picture from the Kentucky Kernal.

It is time to fight…about what you may ask? Well candy of course. Tomorrow on KSR, we will have the first ever KSR CANDY BRACKET. It will of course have 32 of your favorite candies, divided up into two sides…sugar and chocolate. The divisions aren’t perfect (Tootsie Rolls could be in either, but I put them in sugar), but it works fairly well. Here is the bracket and feel free to do your own Bracketology before the show

CHOCOLATE HALF

EAST

1. M&Ms
8. Dove Bar

4. Butterfinger
5. Baby Ruth

3. Reeses
6. 3 Musketeers

2. Hershey Bar
7. Whatchamacallit

MIDWEST

1. Snickers
8. Almond Joy

4. Twix
5. Crunch Bar

3. Kit Kat
6. Heath Bar

2. Milky Way
7. Mr. Goodbar

SUGAR HALF

SOUTH

1. Skittles
8. Good And Plenty

4. Tootsie Rolls
5. Candy Corn

3. Jelly Belly
6. Spree

2. Twizzlers
7. Pez

WEST

1. Starburst
8. Pop Rocks

4. Gummi Bears
5. Junior Mints

3. Hot Tamales
6. Fun Dip

2. Nerds
7. Blow Pop


Revisiting my 7 questions and predictions for Fall Camp

(Photo by UK Athletics)

(Photo by UK Athletics)

Back at the beginning of the month, I put together a list of seven questions and predictions for the football team heading into fall camp. Now that camp is officially over and game preparation has begun, let’s look over that list to see what I got right, what I got wrong, and what we still don’t know.

1. How long will the “Quarterback Race” continue?

Prediction: Not long

Result: Not long

Eleven days into camp, Mark Stoops announced that Patrick Towles is the team’s starting quarterback, putting an end to the battle that had been going on since the spring. Towles asserted himself as the leader of the team immediately, saying on “The Paul Finebaum Show” that he believes Kentucky can make it to the SEC Championship. Bold words, but would you want anything less from your starting QB?

Ryan Flannigan and Josh Forrest (Photo: Mark Zerof, 247Sports)

2. Who will step up and be the leader of the defense?

Prediction: Melvin Lewis

Result: TBD

This question will resolve itself over the season, but Stoops and DJ Eliot have praised several players for their leadership, including Lewis, Josh Forrest, Farrington Huguenin, and AJ Stamps. (The only comments we’ve heard about Ryan Flannigan have pertained to his injury.) While there may not be one overall leader of the defense yet, each unit seems to have its own chief(s): Lewis/Huguenin on the defensive line, Forrest/Flannigan at linebacker, and Stamps in the secondary.

Eliot says Stamps in particular has become a vocal leader, calling out to young corners like Westry and Baity to make sure they’re in the right coverages. Similarly, fellow senior Josh Forrest, who started his career at UK as a wide receiver, has started coaching younger players on the field, a sign he’s come full circle in his transition to linebacker.

3. Will C.J. Johnson top his “poop” comment from last year?

Prediction: Yes

Result: Maybe not, but this comment on Media Day was still pretty good:

4. How many practices until we get an Angry Stoops?

Prediction: Hopefully more than one, but no more than three

Result: 15!

Boy, was I off. Stoops seemed pretty happy with his team for two weeks until a piss poor outing last Friday afternoon. Stoops was furious with his group’s effort, and when they didn’t respond in the scrimmage the next day, he made them all come back Saturday night for unscheduled practice. We’ve covered that ad nauseam, but one thing Stoops has been harping on all offseason and preseason is players holding themselves and each other accountable for their performance on and off the field. That clearly didn’t happen last Friday and Saturday, and a message was sent. So far, it looks like it was received.

(Photo: Mark Zerof, 247Sports)(Photo: Mark Zerof, 247Sports)

5. Which wide receiver will stand out the most?

Prediction: Garrett Johnson

Result: Garrett Johnson and Dorian Baker

I was half right. Both Johnson and Baker have turned heads in camp for their consistency, with Shannon Dawson singling them out as guys who make plays “every day,” not just when the lights are on. Juice has also assumed a leadership role, doing push-ups with any receiver that drops a pass and watching film on his own late at night. That’s pretty impressive coming from a sophomore.

At 6’3″, 208 lbs., Baker earned the nickname “American Pharoah from his teammates for his size and athleticism. After offseason knee surgery, he’s really turned it on these past few weeks, becoming one of UK’s best outside threats. Jeff Badet has also made some big plays, but has had his reps limited due to a minor injury.

Westry (21) is tall. (Photo @KyleTucker_CJ)

6. Will the new guys take over at corner or will the veterans stand up?

Prediction: New guys will take over, but not by the first game

Result: One new guy has already taken over

After a week and a half of practice, true freshman Chris Westry was running with the ones on defense. Fellow freshman Derrick Baity has also impressed, and could be on his way to taking over the other cornerback spot from Cody Quinn. Earlier this week, Stoops said he wouldn’t hesitate to play both freshman together when they’re ready, but for now, Quinn is holding on to his spot.

Stoops also said that Fred Tiller, whom Westry jumped on the depth chart, isn’t pouting and has stepped his game up at practice, but the influx of young talent has some players, like junior corner Jaleel Hytchye, looking elsewhere. After he moved further down the depth chart, it was announced Hytchye will transfer.

7. Will Patrick Towles cut his hair?

Prediction: He’ll cut it, or Freddie Maggard will do it for him.

Result: Nope. Long hair don’t care. 

towles-hair

Watch out for Freddie and those clippers, Patrick.

Verdict: I got two predictions right and four wrong, with one still hanging in the balance. That calls for a few laps around the KSR Compound. Be back soon.