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February 8th, 2016

Rick Pitino talked to SI.com and lied a lot, probably

Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated recently chatted with Rick Pitino to discuss Louisville’s self-imposed ban and his opinion of the decision to do it.

Pitino told Davis he played no role in imposing the ban and he was left in the dark until Tom Jurich notified him of it on Thursday, the day before the press conference. He was not given any details because he hasn’t been interviewed, so he says, and he asked Jurich to take some time to think it over before going public.

Pitino also said he hasn’t read the book — yeah, okay — but, “I know that Eric Crawford found out a lot of inaccuracies.” You will never convince me Pitino didn’t read the book that cost him the NCAA tournament and will likely end his time at Louisville. He read the book.

Then, maybe the most telling part of the interview, Davis asked Pitino if he will be the coach of the Cardinals next season.

Pitino did not say he will be back:

You know, I do the same thing every year. I take some time and ask, Did you have fun? Is it something you want to continue doing? And every year for 15 years, I’ve said I want to come back. Now these circumstances are different than most, but I’m more passionate today than I’ve ever been. I think I enjoy teaching as much as I’ve ever enjoyed it. If there was a time where if I believe in my heart that Louisville is better off without me, I would leave yesterday.

Some other great Pitino quotes from the interview:

— “The mistake they made was they didn’t have (Tom Jurich) on the committee.”

— “​The second thing is, this took place in a dormitory that I built in my brother-in-law’s name in honor of his legacy after 9/11. I wouldn’t let anybody break a chair in that place without coming down hard on them.”

— “She’s saying this happened maybe 20 times over four years, so that’s four or five times a year behind closed doors. How the hell are we gonna know about that?”

— “Andre McGee was one of the cheapest individuals around. If it was his turn to buy a round in a tavern, he would go to the restroom.”

— (On skipping Kentucky press conference) “It’s an environment that’s very emotional for me and I didn’t want to deal with it. Normally, I like going to press conferences. I like dealing with the media.”

— “People at Louisville know that I am telling the truth.”

Read the whole thing here.


Derrick Ansley’s Departure, Danny Trevathan’s Super Bowl, and #FINISH

maggard-finish

Been quite the week in the land of Big Blue Football. Co-Defensive Coordinator Derrick Ansley accepted a position as the defensive back coach at the University of Alabama. Ansley is from Tallassee, Alabama and spent his first seven coaching years in his home state. The first five were at Huntingdon College as his next two were spent in Tuscaloosa. While a graduate assistant and under the tutelage of Nick Saban, Alabama won a National Championship.

Derrick Ansley was the best teacher on Mark Stoops’ staff. Progressing from inherited talent to what today is considered a SEC top-five secondary based on youth and ability; Ansley’s tenure at UK can only be described as impactful and successful. By intention, I’ve praised his worth, recruiting, and coaching prowess. This opinion was formed by his group’s steady performance climb over the course of three seasons, positional evaluation and recruiting, but was solidified while filming a coaching show segment focusing on the Wildcat secondary.  Said it before and will do so again now, Derrick Ansley will eventually become a defensive coordinator and head coach. With all the assistant coach departures during the Stoops’ era, this one stings the most. But, just as expected by players, Next Man Up.

Mark Stoops is defensive back subject matter expert. From playing DB at Iowa to coaching the position at the U, Florida State, Arizona, and Kentucky; Stoops knows and understands what it takes to lead his position of choice. Thus, of all the assistant coaches that have departed, I’m most confident in this Stoops’ replacement decision. Selling the position to potential candidates will not be a difficult. The secondary cupboard is filled with youthful talent. An up and comer, youthful coach will see the talented secondary as an instant resume builder. An experienced coach will recognize the situation as a turn-key meeting room. 

Danny Trevathan is the most distinguished “La Familia” member.

From a Rivals 2-star prospect to 188th NFL draft selection, Danny Trevathan’s performance on America’s biggest athletic stage will forever be remembered in Wildcat lore. For the second consecutive year, a UK alumnus starred in the NFL title game. Danny tied a Super Bowl record with two fumble recoveries and led the Bronco’s with eight tackles. The World Champion and MVP candidate did not play out of character. His 109 regular season tackles led Denver as Trevathan cemented himself as the University of Kentucky’s most distinguished 2016 professional athlete.

#FINISH and the Super Bowl commercial.

In a busy week for Kentucky’s Athletic Department, its #FINISH Super Bowl commercial was well produced and applicable. Interpreted as a thank you and stick with us message to a loyal but tiring fan base, the production was spot on. From the Signing Day marathon to the Nike uniform and logo unveiling, Wildcat staffers have definitely burned the midnight oil. Regardless of your logo/uniform opinion, all three products were of high quality. This shows me that the ALL IN mantra is more than mere words. I find that incredibly refreshing. Now, it’s time to win games.


Eli Manning is excited for today’s KSR (Monday Show Thread)

Wake up, Eli! It’s time for KSR!

On today’s show, Matt and Ryan will look back on Jamal Murray’s career-high in Kentucky’s win over Florida and Denver’s win over Carolina in last night’s Super Bowl.

They’ll also do a little show prep for tomorrow, when Katina Powell will be in studio.

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

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Danny Trevathan’s Monday Morning Wakeup

For a second consecutive year, a former Kentucky Wildcat made game-changing plays in the Super Bowl. Last year, Chris Matthews’ flirted with MVP honors in a breakout game at wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks. This year, it was linebacker Danny Trevathan, who recovered two fumbles and recorded a team-high eight tackles in Denver’s complete dominance of Cam Newtown and the high-powered Carolina Panthers offense. He and Mike Singletary of the ’85 Chicago Bears are the only two players to recover two fumbles in a Super Bowl.

But before Trevathan was a Super Bowl champion and one of the stars of the NFL’s best defense, he was an unheralded recruit out of Leesburg, Florida. He signed with the University of Kentucky as an unranked, two-star linebacker; one of the lowest ranked signees in Kentucky’s 57th-ranked class:

Trevathan went on to become the first linebacker in Kentucky history to earn first-team All-American honors. He was picked up by Denver in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft, and now has two Super Bowl appearances and one Super Bowl ring in his four seasons as a pro. He is a free agent his offseason, and he is about to get PAID.

So, congrats to Danny!

 

John Robic will talk to the media today.

Head coach John Calipari will pass today’s media responsibilities off to assistant coach John Robic when it comes time to answer questions about tomorrow’s game. Robic will fill in for Calipari in the pre-Georgia press conference, set for 2 pm later today in the Joe Craft Center. A couple of players will be available as well, and we will have the full rundown here on KSR.

Look for a shakeup in the rankings this week.

The new college basketball rankings will look completely different when they are released to the world later this afternoon. Kentucky will likely drop following last week’s loss to Tennessee, and your new No. 1 team will be… Iowa?

Kentucky unranked in CBSSports.com’s Top 25 (and one). 

Gary Parrish’s weekly rankings were updated yesterday and Kentucky was not one of the top 26 teams on his list. The Cats were ranked No. 24 in last week’s CBS rankings from Parrish.

KSR will have Katina Powell on tomorrow’s show.

Tuesday’s show may be one of the best in KSR’s long history of doing real radio. Matt Jones and Ryan Lemond will have Katina Powell in studio to discuss her book, Louisville’s postseason ban and all the naughty stuff that went on in Minardi Hall that led to both. You should always listen to the show, but tomorrow is a must-listen. No excuse for missing it.

The highlight of the Super Bowl:

That, or me taking the Broncos and everyone’s money because people thought too highly of the Panthers against Denver’s defense. I also hit the coin toss, the over on the national anthem, and won the squares game for a perfect gambling night. All money will go toward Kentucky’s trip to the Final Four.

Did you see Kentucky football’s new Super Bowl commercial?

The new motto for the program is: FINISH.

UK even got our own Freddie Maggard in on the movement:

maggard-finish

 

Kentucky landed a HUGE transfer from Michigan yesterday.

Michigan’s Brian Cole was granted his release from the Wolverines last month after playing one season as a wide receiver. A former top-100, four-star prospect, Cole will now take his talents to Lexington, where he will sit out the coming season and then suit up for the Wildcats as a sophomore in 2017. Cole can play either wide receiver or defensive back, but the staff has plenty of time to figure that out. For now, celebrate the highly-touted player becoming the newest member of the UK football program. Big get after National Signing Day.


BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Worst Set of Losses in UK History?

cal-tenn

This season has been so weird for John Calipari and the team.  They show these flashes of being a legitimate Final Four/Champion contender, especially considered it being such a down/balanced year in college basketball.  But they have truly thrown in some of the biggest duds in the Cal era.  The losses to Auburn and Tennessee, no matter the fact they were on the road, are 2 of his worst at UK.  UCLA and Ohio State are not really tournament contenders and likely will finish around .500 for the season.  LSU has recovered some over the last few weeks and Kansas is legit.  But overall, even more than the impressive stretches have been the horrible losses.

But just how bad has the losses as a group been?  I dug through the last 11 years of UK basketball, spanning Cal’s 7 season, Gillispie’s 2, and Tubby’s last 2 and compiled the record of all of UK’s losses in those seasons.  And unfortunately 2016 is shaping up to be the worst group of losses by a long shot.

2016 (81-57, 58.7%)
UCLA: 13-10
Ohio State: 14-10
LSU: 15-8
Auburn: 9-13
Kansas: 19-4
Tennessee: 11-12

Last 10 Years
Caliapri: 2013 (277-142, 66.1%)
Gillispie: 2009 (320-153, 67.7%)
Caliapri: 2010 (74-32, 69.8%)
Gillispie: 2008 (319-134, 70.4%)
Caliapri: 2011 (230-96, 70.6%)
Tubby: 2006 (312-124, 71.6%)
Caliapri: 2012 (52-20, 72.2%)
Caliapri: 2014 (297-106, 73.7%)
Tubby: 2007 (325-107, 75.2%)
Caliapri: 2015 (36-4, 90.0%)

Keep in mind that both of Billy’s year and Tubby’s last 2 years were filled with terrible losses.  Calipari’s year in 2013 was equally as bad.  And yet it is this year that, so far, could be the worst group yet.  A lot can happen over the next 9-15 games to change that, either UK losing to better teams or the teams they have already lost to picking up some wins.  But right now, you have to say this could be the biggest flop in Cal’s tenure when it comes to the UK losses.

 


February 7th, 2016

Broncos and former Cat Danny Trevathan are Super Bowl Champs!

Twitter @UKSTOOPSTROOPS

Twitter @UKSTOOPSTROOPS

AND THE BRONCOS WIN!!

If you live under a rock (hopefully you don’t) the Broncos won the Super Bowl tonight when they faced off against the Panthers. It was a close game the whole way through but I know us BBN’ers who were rooting for our guy knew the Broncos had it.

Holding the lead the entire game, the Broncos won 24-10. Our very own Wildcat, Danny Trevathan, finished the game with a team-high eight tackles and two fumble recoveries (he had one in his career) that gave the Broncos a strong advantage.

And we have to talk about Peyton Manning for a second. If this is truly the end, what a storybook ending for this guy! Congrats to the Broncos and always to our Wildcat, you go Danny!

 


Briscoe shining as Kentucky’s secondary point guard

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

CoachCal.com posted an article earlier called Kentucky’s “Starting Five,” a list of five highlights we’ve seen from this Kentucky team recently. While Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray were two key components of this list, one other takeaway is Isaiah Briscoe.

Ulis and Murray have been garnering a lot of well-deserved attention lately, but Briscoe is one who has been quietly putting together some solid games. According to CoachCal.com, Briscoe is serving as Kentucky’s secondary point guard.

In UK’s loss at Tennessee Tuesday, Briscoe had 10 points, a team-high tying eight rebounds, and three assists. In Kentucky’s big win against Florida yesterday, Briscoe had six assists and only one turnover. Since UK’s loss to Auburn, he has averaged 8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists with a 3.9 assists-to-turnover ratio.

Calipari praised Briscoe following his performance against the Gators saying, “I like what Isaiah did…he’s getting better.”

So while the spotlight might seem like it’s on Ulis and Murray the majority of the season, Briscoe has been quietly making big moves for the Wildcats while none of us were looking. Keep up the good work, big guy!


Towns still proving why he deserves Rookie of the Year

Getty Images

Getty Images

An article brought to you by Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding  highlights former Cat Karl-Anthony Towns and his monster performances that continue to show us why he deserves Rookie of the Year.

Not that any of us are surprised, but Ding notes that Towns’ talents are already surpassing that of former Kansas Jayhawk and his teammate Andrew Wiggins. Towns is quick to adapt and isn’t easily shook when things aren’t working in his favor. He has bumped up his assist average from 0.8 per game to 2.2 in just a few shorts months along with a 16.7 points per game average.

According to Minnesota Timberwolves coach Sam Mitchell, “Every night it seems he shows us something that he can do—shoot a three, make a pass, lead the break sometimes.” He furthered his praise of Towns by noting nine times out 10 he makes the right decision so it’s not easy to criticize him.

In last night’s win over the Chicago Bulls, Towns put up 26 points, 17 rebounds, and three blocks. He continues to keep proving he deserves the highest rookie honor. And I can’t lie, it makes me feel good knowing he once rocked Kentucky blue.

 


The Kentucky Football Super Bowl Ad revealed

 

The Kentucky Super Bowl ad aired in Lexington and I’m just here to let you know, you need to see it. #BBN

 

And if that’s not enough to give you chills, here’s members of the team, coaches, and former players saying “Finish” following the reveal…

 


Good Move, U of L. Your Turn, UNC

ramsey

It’s been a painful, tumultuous annus horribilis for Jim Ramsey. But on Friday, the embattled University of Louisville President — with a long career of accomplishment in academia and government — may have had his finest hour. Through his courage and sacrifice, Ramsey took a giant leap toward restoring the integrity of his university and its athletic department.

KSR regulars won’t need me to rehash the Cardinal basketball scandal that forced this painful moment.  (OK, I know you love it: Here are my takes on Escort-Gate.)  While Coach Rick Pitino has survived for the time being, no one expected the salacious story to disappear from the public eye or escape NCAA sanction.  And while the university promised a thorough investigation, the skeptical press and cynical public expected more excuses, foot-dragging, and perhaps a gentle self-flagellation.

But Jim Ramsey didn’t take the easy way out.  By self-imposing a one-year ban on post-season play — including opting out of the ACC championships and the NCAA tournament — U of L hit itself where it hurts most. I’ve always felt that forfeiting past wins — even in an ignominious case such as Penn State — serves as weak tea: a lame, impotent, Stalinist effort to rewrite history in an age when nothing disappears from the Internet.  By contrast, abandoning a chance for future glory, particularly in a year when the Cards were poised to make a deep post-season run, is a gut punch to L1C4 Nation, to its players, and especially to Trey Lewis and Damion Lee, graduate transfers who came to Louisville precisely for the opportunity to pursue the Final Four.

In a perfect world, perhaps Pitino was correct to argue that severe financial sanctions to the institution would have been more appropriate than punishing the players and fan base. But in the ugly, ethically-challenged construct that is college basketball today, shielding the squad from the sport’s biggest spotlight is by far the most effective and powerful way to seize the attention of the league and public — and to help prevent such behavior from transpiring again.

The sourest note of Friday’s press conference was the grim realization that Jim Ramsey’s prior academic home — the University of North Carolina — will, in all likelihood, still be playing in late March.  Louisville’s transgressions were pretty disgusting, indicative of a systematic failure that needed be redressed through strong sanctions.  But the university’s failures in Escort-gate pale in comparison to what I have argued was the most morally offensive institutional misconduct in the history of college sports.

To refresh a painful memory: Over an 18 year period, more than three thousand UNC students enrolled in a series of sham African and Afro-American Studies classes, which provided them with respectable grades despite never having to take a test, or even to show up in class.  According to a UNC-commissioned report, the scheme was engineered by a cynical cabal of faculty members, administrators, and academic advisers, who conspired to keep athletes eligible to play by steering them to classes in which the only requirement was a single paper that was never read, but in which A’s and B’s were bestowed simply for signing up.  While no top school officials or leading coaches were implicated in wrongdoing, the classes were an open secret on campus — word spread throughout the fraternity and sorority system — in fact, more than half of the students impacted were not athletes.  The scandal violated the very underpinning of college athletics, and harmed the very people that academic institutions are responsible to protect: the student body.

When the UNC report was released in October 2014, the public was outraged, and media criticism was fierce: one volatile wag even suggested that the Tar Heels should receive the death penalty.  And yet…the NCAA investigation still drags on, with delay after delay sparked by new damning allegations.  Coach Roy Williams even pronounced recently that the foreboding scandal “cloud is beginning to lift.”

Well, bless his heart.

Let’s be clear:  An ACC and NCAA postseason from which the Louisville withdraws and in which UNC plays is a systemic sham, an ethical hypocrisy, and a blot on an already morally-challenged game.

It’s not too late.  On March 1, Margaret Spellings will step in as the new President of the University of North Carolina.  She’s no novice to policy, politics and public relations:  Spellings most prominently served as the U.S. Secretary of Education under President George W. Bush and was the leading champion of Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” initiative.  While some might disagree with her politics and priorities, no one can contest her commitment to educational integrity.

Spellings could do nothing better to launch her tenure on a note of integrity than to follow Jim Ramsey’s lead and announce a self-imposed ban on postseason play for the Tar Heels.

Carolina Dreaming?  Perhaps.  But as NCAA President Mark Emmert stated, the UNC scandal “is a case that potentially strikes at the heart of what higher education is about.”  And it’s high time that college sports takes its essential mission seriously, and halts the long, slow devolution of the term “student athlete” into a oxymoronic punch line.


NBA looking like a possibility for Tyler Ulis

(Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America)

In an article posted earlier in the week on SNY.com by Adam Zagoria, Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas discussed Tyler Ulis’ NBA potential despite his 5’9” stature. After all, Thomas knows what it’s like being 5’9 in the NBA.

Thomas told Ulis, “Just don’t back down from anybody. Take what’s yours and outwork everybody and have fun with it.” And outwork everybody Ulis has. Leading Kentucky in assists and steals, and averaging 16.1 points per game, Ulis is starting to gain notice from scouts in the big leagues.

In terms of his play at the college level transferring to the NBA, Thomas said, “For small guys, I think it translates even better in the NBA than college just because the floor’s more open,” he said. “It gives you more space to create and if he could driblbe-drive and shoot the ball, l think he’s going to have a spot in this league.”

Fans should definitely enjoy Ulis while we have him because even at 5’9”, the league is taking notice. Want one example why this kid special? Against Florida, Ulis joined John Wall as Calipari’s only players at UK with multiple 10-assist games.


GOOD LUCK DANNY TREVATHAN!

@UKStoopsTroops

@UKStoopsTroops

I am just going to assume that all of the Big Blue Nation will be rooting for the Denver Broncos and Danny Trevathan. Trevathan will be playing in his second Super Bowl, but looking for his first Super Bowl win.

In Trevathan’s first Super Bowl appearance, the Denver Broncos were dominated by the Seattle Seahawks in a 43-8 blowout win. I’m sure that loss will be on Trevathan and the rest of the team’s mind today as the take on the Carolina Panthers.

Kick-off is in 15 minutes so get your wings, chips and guacamole and drinks and turn on CBS now!

 


Utah Jazz like what they see in Lyles

Rob Gray, USA TODAY Sports

Rob Gray, USA TODAY Sports

Before the NBA Draft last June, there were a lot of Utah Jazz fans that were hoping the Jazz organization would draft Devin Booker. The Jazz were in desperate need of a shooter and Booker would have been their saving grace. However, as we know it the Jazz went with Booker’s Kentucky teammate Trey Lyles instead. The Phoenix Suns selected Booker next, 13th overall.

It looks like both selections have worked out of for the Utah Jazz and the Phoenix Suns. Booker has been shooting 41.7 percent from the 3-point line and is the youngest player to ever participates in the NBA All-Star Three-Point contest.

“We got his buddy, Trey Lyles, on our team (and he’s) done a great job for us,” Snyder said. “But, Devin is a unique player. That skillset is one that’s very valuable in the league and he’s getting an opportunity.”

When Jazz’s power forward Derrick Favors went out with in December, Lyles was able to blossom with the extra playing time he is received.

“You get an opportunity to have more responsibility, you can kind of play through some mistakes,” Snyder said. “And it gives you a chance to really get better, and I think that’s what we’re seeing with him.”

Since Favors and center Rudy Gobert have returned from their injuries, Lyles’ playing time has been limited. The rookie went scoreless with two rebounds in five minutes of play in the Jazz’s Saturday 98-89 win over the Phoenix Suns. Booker scored 10 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter.

 


Mom of basketball recruit loves Kentucky

6a885a51a982d7ff3cc2ca9f714e439a_crop_north

Getty Images

Billy Preston, one of the top basketball recruits in the class of 2017, visited Kentucky on Saturday morning before playing at the Thoroughbred Classic in Somerset.

Preston spent the morning in Lexington visiting campus and watching the team go through their morning shoot-around. Along with Preston, was teammate Trevon Duval, the No. 1 point guard in th country.

Preston met Coach Cal for the first time at the team’s morning practice.

“It was great,” he told the Herald-Leader. “At the end of it all, when he’s done coaching, he’s definitely going to go down as one of the greatest coaches in college basketball. So it was an honor for me to meet him and exchange a few words with him.”

Preston’s mother, who accompanied her son to Kentucky, sat in the stands at Pulaski County High School telling people that she would love to see her son play for Kentucky one day.

“She definitely is a Kentucky fan,” Preston said. “We keep up with Kentucky. We’ve been watching the whole season so far. A player in this era, you can’t make a final decision without having Kentucky in there, if you have an offer from them. It’s just one of those type of schools.”

@vaughtsviews

@vaughtsviews

Preston is currently ranked No. 5 overall prospect by 247Sports and is considered a top-10 player nationally by most recruiting websites. The 6-foot-9 power forward finished with 22 points and the most valuable player award when his Advanced Prep International (Texas) team defeated Thon Maker’s Athlete Institute (Ont.) squad.

Preston does not have an offer from Kentucky yet, but coach Kenny Payne has been in regular contact with Preston’s mom regarding his recruitment.

“Like I said, no player is going to cut it down without Kentucky being on the list,” he said. “When I get that offer, I’m definitely going to consider them heavily.”

 

 


Skal continues to drop in latest NBA Draft projections

Mark Zerof USA TODAY Sports Images

Mark Zerof – USA TODAY Sports Images

Skal Labissiere’s draft stock continues to drop each week after being starting the projection as No. 1. Labissiere now sits at the No. 10 spot after previously sitting at the No. 6 spot.

Jamal Murray is the first Kentucky player to appear on the list at the No. 8 spot. Among other Kentucky players, Isaiah Briscoe makes the list at No. 32 and Tyler Ullis at No. 51. Both Marcus Lee and Alex Poythress are not listed on the latest projection.

LSU’s Ben Simmons still remains at the No. 1 spot followed by Duke’s Brandon Ingram, Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Dragan Bender, Providence’s Kris Dunn and Cal’s Jaylen Brown. Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield currently sits at the No. 11 spot but will likely see his draft stock rise before the end of the college basketball season.

The Top 10 in 2017 now looks like this:

1. Jayson Tatum (Duke)

2. Harry Giles (Duke)

3. Josh Jackson (TBD)

4. De’Aaron Fox (Kentucky)

5. Dennis Smith (N.C. State)

6. Markelle Fultz (Washington)

7. Isaiah Hartenstein (International)

8. Bam Adebayo (Kentucky)

9. Omer Yurtseven (International)

10. Jonathan Isaac (FSU)