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February 8th, 2016

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

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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)

 


Good luck to former Cat Danny Trevathan in the Super Bowl

Danny Trevathan got a shoutout from fellow former Wildcat and Bronco’s teammate, Wesley Woodyard, last night in honor of Trevathan and the Denver Bronco’s making it to Super Bowl 50.

Tonight will be the 41st time a former Wildcat has played for a team that reached the Super Bowl and for the second straight year a UK alum has found himself in the most important football game of the season.

Overcoming three different injuries to his left knee area in 2014 – two fractures and a dislocated kneecap- Bronco’s linebacker Trevathan bounced back in 2015 to become the Bronco’s leading tackler after starting 15 games.

Trevathan was also the recent recipient of the Bronco’s 2015 Ed Block Courage Award for his part in leading the Bronco’s to the Super Bowl tonight.

The linebacker and former Wildcat has shed his share of blood, sweat and tears for his Bronco’s team and even some teeth.

During Denver’s Dec. 6 matchup against the Chargers, Trevathan suffered a concussion after making a tackle during the game at San Diego – knocking out two teeth (one of which he ended up swallowing) in the process.

That’s dedication right there and I think it’s safe to say Trevathan has definitely earned his spot under the big lights tonight.

 

 


Janee Thompson leads Hoops to win 70-58 over LSU

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

It’s been a trying couple of weeks for the Cats, losing three straight, the Lady Cats needed a win just as bad as the guys did yesterday.

And just like the guys, women’s hoops came out and battled to defeat LSU 70-58 and Janee Thompson was a critical piece to the victory.

Recording her third double-double of her career with 16 points, 10 assists and two rebounds, Thompson lead her team to the much needed win.

After struggling offensively for the last few weeks, Kentucky was able to get things clicking early on both ends of the court. A few early baskets by Maci Morris, who has definitely had her shooting woes of her own recently put the helped put the Cats up early with a lead of 16 at 26-10 at the end of the first quarter.

Despite a great first quarter, the second period came back to haunt the Cats. LSU went on a 6-0 run and Kentucky almost had more turnovers than points, turning the ball over six times and scoring 11 points. The last 7 of those being made in the last 2 minutes of the period. However, Kentucky was still able to hold onto the ending the first half up 37-22.

Back in form, the Cats poured it onto LSU in the third period. Kentucky scored another 21 points and held the Tiger’s to just 14. Both the Cats and the Tigers fell into foul trouble during the third period; LSU having three players with three players and one with four and Kentucky having one player with three fouls and two with four fouls.

Even though the Cats were outscored 22-12 in the fourth period, the Cats were still able to hold onto the lead even when Evelyn Akhator fouled out. The entire game the Cats were able to score on transition and break LSU’s zone and nothing changed during the fourth period.

As for the rest of the team, Morris was able to finally get some buckets to fall, scoring 14 and grab three rebounds. Alexis Jennings was able to score 11 points and get five rebounds. Makayla Epps, however struggled today only scoring five points, grabbing three rebounds but getting five assists.

The Cats go back on the road playing at Vanderbilt next Sunday at 4 on the SEC Network.


Kings’ coach battling with Rondo over defense

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Rajon Rondo’s reputation of being one of the harder players in the NBA to coach is no secret. Before the Kings’ game against the Boston Celtics, head coach George Karl discussed the challenges he faces with his point guard.

“I think Rajon is a challenge to coach from the standpoint you’re always talking the game with him because he knows the game. He’s a very intelligent basketball player,” Karl said. “Sometimes there’s a little bit too much debate, and as a coach I’ve got to learn when to open that window up and when to close that window down. I think that’s kind of where we’re at right now.”

Defense has been one of the main topics of debate lately for Karl and Rondo.

“He and I have been kind of battling a little bit trying get him to defend more consistently,” Karl said.

When asked what Karl wanted from Rondo defensively, Rondo said “ball pressure and try to help the bigs box out a little bit.”

“He’s not as strict; he gives a lot more freedom,” Rondo said of Karl. “… It’s allowed my game to evolve a little bit more.”

Rondo is having one of his best seasons seasons in his nine years in the league. The former Cat is leading the NBA in assists with 11.7 per game, while averaging 11.9 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.
The Kings have lost their last two games and currently sit in 10th in the Western Conference. Sacramento could really use a win over Rondo’s previous team today, which is currently going on right now.

Humphries proved himself last night

Humphries_Isaac_MBB_2015_10_eh

While the talk of Saturday’s game against Florida may center around Tyler Ulis’ impressive performance – earning his third double-double of the year, and Jamal Murray scoring a career-high 35 points, let’s take a minute to appreciate the “almost” forgotten 7-foot freshmen from Australia, Isaac Humphries.

Remember him? Before Saturday’s win over the Florida Gators, the 7-footer had only grabbed a few minutes here and there in six games before stepping in for an injured Alex Poythress last night.

Understandably, the 18-year-old was a bit nervous before taking the court against the Gators yesterday.

“I was talking to Jonny (David) just before the game and I said, ‘Bro, I’m really nervous.'” Humphries said. “‘Like, I don’t know. I know I’m going to play today. I haven’t been nervous for a while.’ And he just said, ‘Turn it into motivation.'”

Apparently, Humphries has been working hard to prove his worth to Coach Calipari and Co., and got a little help in the matter from his mom.

“I think my mom just noticed the mental, how it was affecting me mentally,” Humphries said. “I mean, it wasn’t that bad, but Mom’s being mom. She knows when something is a little wrong. She really drilled me and said, ‘Snap out of it, you’ll be fine. You’re young. When you get your chance, go for it.'”

Coach Cal was also pleased with Humphries’ performance Saturday saying the freshman, “earned his space.