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March 27th, 2017

P.J. Washington Dunked On Quade Green’s Face

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This morning I saw a preview of what’s to come this summer at the Joe Craft Center.  With four Kentucky commits on the same team, future Cats went toe-to-toe all morning long.

The East Team’s practice began with a variety of small group drills.  Quade Green’s demise came as soon as they started a one-on-one closeout drill.  With P.J. Washington at the three-point line and Green starting at the baseline, Green’s goal was to keep Washington from scoring.  Instead, he got dunked on.

Washington started chirping and didn’t stop.  “I was talking to him the whole practice about it.”

“I was ready to fight him right there,” Green said.  “Y’all are lucky y’all were here.  I would’ve been ready to fight.”

But that wasn’t the worst of it.  When it was Quade’s turn for redemption, Washington buried a three in his face.  Unfortunately, my fingers were too busy typing to capture it on video, but the guys at Courtside Films did.  See the dunk around the 12-second mark and the trey around the 37-second mark.

After it all, the point guard din’t hold it against his future teammate.  During a 5-on-5 period he fed Washington for an open three and screamed, “EAT!” before Washington buried the bucket.  It’s just one small example of how the four future Cats are using this week to foster a chemistry that can take them to the top of the college basketball world.

“We all have the same goals, and that’s a championship,” Washington said.


Hear Calipari sum up the season on tonight’s call-in show

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Need closure, or maybe a little more group therapy? The final John Calipari call-in show of the season is about to begin in Lexington on WLAP-630 and online at UKathletics.com. Follow along on this stream courtesy of UK Athletics:

We’ll pass along news and/or highlights if there are any worth sharing.


UK faculty defends UK Athletics in Herald-Leader op-ed

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A few weeks ago, The Washington Post ran a story that always gets run this time of year: the amount of money spent on college athletics is staggering, and disproportionate to the amount of money spent on academics. It’s an old narrative that gets trotted out every March to make everyone feel guilty about enjoying sports, but this particular piece took fire at UK specifically. The author, Will Hobson, pointed out that coaching salaries at UK (even for sports other than football and basketball) are rising at a much higher rate than faculty salaries; therefore, the school cares more about sports than academics.

Today, UK provost Tim Tracy, Dean of the College of Arts & Science Mark Kornbluh, and Chair of the Department of Chemistry Mark Meier fired back in an op-ed for the Herald-Leader, defending UK Athletics, which they argue is not only self-sufficient, but helps out academics, most notably in the form of the new $110 million Jacobs Science Building, $65 million of which was funded by the athletic department.

But salaries for coaches have not deterred our progress. In fact, the ability of athletics to fund vital infrastructure on our campus — and pay its own bills entirely — has, in many ways, made us more competitive for academic and research talent, not less.

In fact, the UK Athletics investment in the Jacobs Science Building alone is greater than all the coaches’ salaries combined for multiple years.

There’s a lot more logic where that came from over at the Herald-Leader, so go check it out.


Christian Laettner just couldn’t help himself, trolls Kentucky by embracing Luke Maye

So far today, it seems the national media is really going with this “Luke Maye is the new Christian Laettner” narrative, which is entirely unfair to Maye because he doesn’t seem like a pretentious punk. Sure, both Laettner and Maye hit heartbreaking last-second shots to beat the Cats, and, wow, isn’t a coincidence that both wore the #32 and the shots happened 25 years apart, but other than that, whatever. Laettner further proved my point today when he embraced Maye on Twitter, trolling the #BBN as only he can do:

Hard to believe that a few years ago, I was starting to not hate him so much.


South Carolina fans raise $4,000 to send “Gamecock Jesus” to the Final Four

If you’ve ever been to a game at South Carolina, you’ve seen “Gamecock Jesus,” the long-haired super fan waving a flag and dancing in his own little world behind the basket. I got an up close and personal introduction to Gamecock Jesus (whose real name is Carlton Thompson) in 2014, when he practically gyrated in my face the entire game:

The South Carolina fan next to me is READY.

A post shared by Tyler Thompson (@mrstylerksr) on

They tell me he's called Gamecock Jesus.

A post shared by Tyler Thompson (@mrstylerksr) on

A lifelong fan and USC nursing school graduate, Gamecock Jesus is an institution at almost every South Carolina athletics event, and now, with the Gamecocks unpredictably in the Final Four, South Carolina fans have teamed up to make sure he goes to Phoenix. After Gamecock Jesus couldn’t afford to go to the East Regional in New York this past weekend, South Carolina fans started a GoFundMe page and raised over $5,000 to send him to the Final Four, well over their $3,500 goal. So, if you can stomach watching the games this weekend, keep an eye out for him, doing his thing. Here’s hoping he gets lots of screen time.

 


Coach Cal has Four Recruiters for Knox and Bamba at the McDonald’s All-American Game

Images via ZagsBlog and Andy Jones, Tampa Tribune.

Images via ZagsBlog and Andy Jones, Tampa Tribune

John Calipari may have not got the best draw in the NCAA Tournament, but he couldn’t have asked for a better selection at the McDonald’s All-American Game.  Four Kentucky commits — Quade Green, Nick Richards, P.J. Washington and Jarred Vanderbilt — are teammates with Kevin Knox and Mohamed Bamba, Calipari’s remaining two targets in the class of 2017.

“They’re in my ear 24/7 talking about how good it is to play with each other and how we’re getting along with each other,” Knox said after this morning’s practice.  Bamba’s description is the same: “Non-stop. Non-stop.  Seriously, non-stop.”

Bamba is third-ranked player in the 2017 class.  The lengthy 7-footer is down to Kentucky, Duke, Michigan and Texas.  Knox is the eighth-ranked player in the class, choosing between the Cats, Duke, North Carolina and Florida State.

Knox is also hearing it from Duke players, but the Cats have another ace-in-the-hole: P.J. Washington’s father, Paul.

“Him and my Dad are really close.  They always talk at every camp.  My mom and his mom are really close.” Knox said Paul asked him after practice, “‘How does it feel playing with Jarred and P.J. and Quade?’  He’s recruiting me too.  It’s all fun when my parents and their parents get together.  It never stops.  They’re always in my ear.”

Knox dunks one home at today's practice as Green and Richards look on, via McDAAG.

Knox dunks one home at today’s practice as Green and Richards look on, via McDAAG.

Green’s form of recruiting simple.  “When I see Mo and Kevin, I just tell ’em ‘BBN’ and walk away from ’em.”

Washington might be the biggest talker of the bunch and he’s feeling pretty good about the Cats’ chances.  “We’re trying to get them and I feel like we have a really good chance to get both of them.”

Jarred Vanderbilt echoed Washington’s statement.

“I’ve been in Mo’s ear all weekend.  Kev too.  We’re trying to make a dynasty,” Vanderbilt said.  “I feel like we got some good chances.  They’re still a work in progress but I think I we can get ’em.”

Knox will be making his decision during Spring Break after the Jordan Brand Game.  He initially planned on announcing in March, but wanted to see how the college basketball season ended.

“That’s one of the reasons I pushed it back from March to April is to wait to see how people did in the tournament, what people are leaving, what people are staying.  That’s definitely going to play a big part in my decision.”

When the small forward was discussing each of his finalists, I laughed a little when I heard, “Duke, they lost pretty early.”  Knox cracked a smile when he started talking about his Kentucky-bound teammates.  “I’m on a team with all the Kentucky commits.  It’s good to play with them.  They like to run and gun.”

A slam from Bamba via McDAAG.

A slam from Bamba via McDAAG.

Bamba’s perspective on Duke is different than I’ve ever heard before, validating those who say Coach K’s time as the Team USA head coach is a recruiting advantage.

“With Duke, you get something a little bit different because you’re getting three different brands,” Bamba said.  “You’re getting the university, you’re getting the program and you’re getting Coach K.  Coach K has his own global brand, which is pretty outstanding.”

When Bamba visited UK’s campus, he was taken aback seeing the walls filled with NBA players and banners at the Joe Craft Center, but that will not be the primary reason he chooses Kentucky.

“I really like their coaching staff and I really like the players that are coming in next year.”

Next year’s players have two more days in Chicago to convince two more All-Americans to become Cats.


Meanwhile, a future UK football player ran so fast his shoes fell apart yesterday

@FOOTBALLVILLETV

@FOOTBALLVILLETV

We now interrupt your misery to bring you a bit of a distraction. You’re looking at Josh Ali, a three-star wide receiver/athlete that is signed on to play football at Kentucky next season. Ali is so fast — “HOW FAST IS HE” — that his cleats broke apart while he was running at a camp down in Florida yesterday. Unfortunately, video of said run doesn’t appear to exist, but Ali did pose with the torn up cleats afterwards:

Good news: Adidas is sending him a new pair. Also, Kentucky is a Nike school, so he won’t have to worry about crappy shoes for much longer. Check out Ali’s speed for yourself in his senior highlight film:


Wallow in misery with more sad reaction videos

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We’re gonna get over this, I swear, but to mourn properly, we must wallow. Grab the tissues and let all of the emotions out on your lunch break. You’ve earned it.

March Sadness from UK CSF on Vimeo.

While we’re all sad, at least we’re not this guy, who pulled his calf muscle cheering in the final minutes:

Okay, that’s enough.


Isaac Humphries made the All-NCAA South Region Team

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Had Kentucky won last night, Isaac Humphries would be a hero. Humphries came out of nowhere to score a career-high 12 points to give Kentucky a crucial boost in the second half vs. North Carolina. How surprising was Humphries’ breakout? He had eight total points over his last 12 games coming into this one. His performance was enough to earn him a spot on the All-NCAA South Region Team, alongside De’Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson, Joel Berry, and that kid who hit that shot (and was named the Regional Most Outstanding Player).

“We were all really obviously excited to play this game, so I was in the mindset of coming out and doing whatever I could to help my team,” Isaac said afterwards. “And I was given a great opportunity, and I just wanted to take advantage of it.”

“We know how good Isaac is,” Dominique Hawkins said. “In practice he shoots the lights out. We have a drill where we shoot for five minutes and he makes at least 80 shots. For him to step up in that moment, I’m proud of him, and I knew that he had it in him.”

“So proud of how these guys fought,” Calipari said. “So proud of Isaac. Can you imagine his first real opportunity to do this was in this game, and he performed? Amazing.”

It’s crazy to think that just two weeks ago, Isaac was questioning his future at Kentucky. Hopefully, last night showed him that just a little bit of confidence can go a long way.


Kaylee Hartung officially says goodbye to ESPN

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We’ve known for a while that Kaylee Hartung is leaving her job at ESPN for CNN, but today, Hartung made it official, posting this message on social media:

Best of luck to Kaylee in her new career. We’ll miss her on the sidelines at games, but she’s got one heck of a gig ahead of her. If you’ve got some time today, send her a message @KayleeHartung.


This 30 second video sums last night up perfectly

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The final 30 seconds of the game included the highest of highs and the lowest of lows for Kentucky fans. Lee K. Howard from WKYT captured this video that sums the roller coaster of emotions up perfectly, if you can stomach watching:

Sports, man.


Believe it or not, McDonald’s All-American Game coverage starts today

It seems impossible to believe, but the McDonald’s All-American festivities kick off today in Chicago. Four future Kentucky players (Quade Green, PJ Washington, Nick Richards, and Jarred Vanderbilt) and two remaining targets (Mohamed Bamba, Kevin Knox) are participating in the All-Star Game, which takes place Wednesday night, but all of the fun starts today with practice and the dunk contest. Nick Roush is in Chicago for us and will bring you updates throughout the day.

Kentucky’s commits are already enjoying themselves:

Blessings 🙏🏾🍟🍔

A post shared by PJ Washington (@pj_washington) on

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Gather round for group therapy (Monday mourning show thread)

Last night was horrible, but KSR is here to help you get through it. Tune in for two hours of group therapy as the guys reflect on a sad, sad night in Memphis. Bring Kleenex.

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

Listen to Kentucky Sports Radio

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Barleycorn’s Top 10: The Morning After

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Sunday’s loss was heartbreaking, but we still love our Cats! Congrats to Coach Cal and the team on a great season!

Looking for a place to hang out with other UK fans? Take your family and friends to Barleycorn’s! Barleycorn’s has over 30 beers on tap, jumbo wings with 10 delicious sauces, sandwiches, salads, and our famous handcrafted burgers!

If you need another reason to get over to Barleycorn’s, how about this promo they’re running right now!? Now through April 3, bounce back in to Barleycorn’s for a FREE order of chicken tenders when a player scores 30 or more points in a single Men’s NCAA Tournament game! 

Barleycorn’s has three locations in Northern Kentucky – Cold Spring, Lakeside Park, and Florence – and is open seven days a week! For hours and information, follow them on Facebook or visit Barleycorns.com. Get over here!


It seemed touch and go there for a minute last night, but the sun did come up this morning, although here in Nashville, it’s shrouded in clouds, which suits my mood perfectly. After rolling into town in the wee hours and getting a few hours of sleep, the loss to North Carolina still sucks, but as with all things, we must move on.

1. At least the season ended with a game like that?

At times yesterday, it felt like North Carolina was going to run away with the game, but as they have all year, Kentucky rallied, refusing to give up until the very last second. The Tar Heels were up seven with a minute left, but thanks to some clutch threes from De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk, the Cats tied it up with 10 seconds left. Unfortunately, the basketball gods had a different ending in mind and Luke Maye, a former walk-on, cemented himself in UNC lore with the game-winning shot with three seconds left. No shot will ever hurt as much as Christian Laettner’s 25 years ago (ironically, both wear #32), but Maye’s will sting for a long time to come.

2. If you’re still angry about the refs, well, so is Calipari

Complaining about the refs after a loss is petty, but the officiating was so horrendous in the first half, it’s merited. Questionable calls on the Cats and a lack of calls on the Heels put almost all of Kentucky’s starters on the bench for most of the first half, and it was the first thing on Calipari’s mind when he took the podium after the game:

“You know, it’s amazing that we were in that game where they practically fouled out my team. Amazing that we had a chance. So proud of how these guys fought,” Cal said. “I told them at halftime, it is what it is. And you’ve got to beat who’s out there, and let’s go, and don’t worry about it.”

3. Burn the tape

Calipari echoed all of our thoughts when he told reporters last night he has no desire to watch the tape of that game ever again.

“When that three went in and it tied the game, I probably should have called a time-out. It entered my mind, but they got that son-of-a-b in so quick, I couldn’t get to anybody to do it. But I needed to stop that right there. Someone said, well, what happened? I said, I don’t know, and I probably will never know because I won’t watch this tape, and I never watch the last tape of the season. Watched enough tapes all year. Watched a thousand tapes. I’m not watching a thousand and one.”

Same.

4. The locker room was heartbreaking

I was so far back that the only video I could get was of the backs of other people’s heads, but De’Aaron Fox’s sobs echoed through the room and will probably haunt me for a long time. Fox did most of the talking for his brothers, and after watching the heartbreaking video, I don’t know how anyone could claim that these players don’t care about the program.

Well, so much for that whole “no crying” thing.

5. There was no talk of who’s staying and who’s going

We know for certain that Kentucky’s three seniors are gone (although, if someone can figure out how to get an extra year of eligibility for any of them, you’ll be a legend in this state forever), but the trio of freshmen with the highest draft stock squashed any talk about whether or not they’re staying in school or going to the draft. With Fox and Monk projected to go in the top ten and Bam in the first round, they’re probably, definitely gone and although he’s not even on some draft boards, it feels like Briscoe is too. What about the rest, i.e. Wenyen Gabriel? With the new draft rules, he’ll probably test the waters and get feedback, which is entirely merited. Given that he only played four minutes last night, it’s hard to imagine a team picking him up, but you never know. Cruelly, yesterday was Wenyen’s birthday, and as the team headed back to Lexington, he sent out this sad, reflective tweet:

6. Lexington didn’t handle the loss too well

If you expected UK students to handle the loss well, well, you haven’t met many college students. Thankfully, there were no arrests or significant fires, but two people were taken to the hospital. Here’s a video from the Herald-Leader:

7. Where does this one rank in terms of heartbreak?

The comparisons to Laettner’s shot are inevitable, especially since it’s the 25th anniversary and both he and Maye wear the same number, but this morning on Twitter, someone asked me which hurts more, and it’s got to be Laettner, right? Try as I might, Luke Maye doesn’t even seem like a hatable guy, whereas Laettner was a total punk. I’m sure this depends mostly on age, but for me, this ranks third in terms of heartbreak behind Wisconsin and The Shot. Nothing will ever top the loss to Wisconsin in 2015, something I oddly took some comfort in last night.

Again, everyone’s different. Chime in with your thoughts in the comments.

8. Fans met the team at the airport

I just put this up in the post before this one, but a group of fans met the team at the airport, a small solace for a group that’s really hurting right now:

9. Brace yourself for the haters

The usual suspects spent the night trolling the BBN on Twitter and it’s only going to get worse today. For some reason, even Louisville fans started chirping at me, which seems hilarious because Kentucky got farther than they did, but hey, that’s what the mute and block button are for. Also, if you do follow him for some reason, go ahead and do yourself a favor and block Clay Travis. You’re welcome.

10. Group therapy begins at 10 a.m.

Let’s all grieve together on the radio show, which starts in about a half hour. Bring the tissues.


Fans met the team at the airport last night

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Nothing was going to make the team feel better about the loss last night, but seeing the group of fans that gathered at Bluegrass Airport must have been nice:

Some views from Snapchat:

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UPDATE: Here’s another video from KSTV.