Fourteen seconds in, it was over. When Aaron Harrison’s three swished through the net, UCLA →
By Matt Jones on ©December 21st, 2014 @ 10:34pm
We knew coming into this season that this Kentucky team was going to be very good. That much was not a mystery. When you return the majority of a team that goes to the National Championship Game, add Four McDonald’s All Americans and give them a summer trip to work out the kinks, it isn’t surprising that the end result is a team that can be special. But while very good was never in doubt, the question of great, or even elite, was still an open one. We all saw the talent, but the legacy of the start of last year still lingered. A pessimist might see the loss of last season’s best player (Randle) and best shooter (Young) and think, “well maybe they will struggle a bit until they hit their stride in March.” After the nation’s mockery of 40-0 pronouncements last year, it seemed foolhardy to suggest that such a thing was possible this time around, no matter how much talent Calipari had stocked up. The cold, snowy night in Dallas and the putback dunk in Fayetteville had us all slightly skeptical and trying our best to temper the excitement. We saw a team in the Bahamas with the potential for greatness, but we all remained a little leery and scared of uttering any phrase that could jinx what was to come. Grand preseason pronouncements were, for once at least, not coming from the Big Blue Nation until Missouri’s state motto could be realized and the evidence was in front of our face.
That evidence is now here. There is no reason to hide it anymore and attempting to play humble is no longer honestly possible. It is time to embrace facts. This team is on the path to being historically great. The game Saturday in Chicago was one of the most thorough, dominating performances of my lifetime. 24-0…41-7…a 40 point win over UCLA and it never felt that close and could have been so much worse. What we are seeing this season is not only something that hasn’t come along very often in UK basketball history…it hasn’t come along very often in college basketball history. In my lifetime, college basketball has certainly never seen a team this deep and has almost certainly never seen a team this elite defensively. As of this moment, Kentucky has the best adjusted defensive efficiency rating since Kenpom has begun keeping the statistic (2001). They have the greatest string of double digit defeats to start a season in UK history. They lead the nation in every meaningful defensive statistic and they are putting on performances against blue blood programs that are almost difficult to comprehend. Think about these facts:
— Kentucky beat UCLA and Kansas, two teams of the highest pedigree in college basketball, on neutral courts by a combined 73 points.
— Kansas and Texas, two teams ranked #5 and #6 that UK handled with relative ease and the favorites in the Big 12, have not lost a game besides their loss to Kentucky.
— Kentucky held UCLA, a program with more championships than any in college basketball history, to the fewest points in a half IN THE HISTORY OF THE PROGRAM…and not only that, they cut the record in half from 14 to 7.
— Kansas, Texas and North Carolina are all three currently ranked in the Top 12 in the Kenpom numbers…yet Kentucky beat them by a combined 59 points.
— UK lost a returning Junior starter that at times has been projected as a first round draft pick and proceeded to win its next two games against UNC and UCLA by a combined 55 points.
The performances almost boggle the mind. When the Cats demolished Kansas to open the season, many argued (or hoped) that it said more about Kansas than it did about Kentucky’s greatness. When UK was able to handle Texas and UNC, the thought remained that the Rupp Arena advantage and other less dominant performances (Columbia and Boston) suggested that UK was great, but vulnerable to the right test. However the game in Chicago has removed all doubt from all but the most die-hard of UK haters (talking to you Gottlieb). Mike Wilbon said the UCLA game was the best the most amazing he has seen in 35 years. Seth Davis has called UK going undefeated a “real possibility.” And Dan Dakich has gone on record and predicted that Kentucky will go 40-0. We now know this Kentucky team is certainly great and the only question that remains is if they are on a crash course for historically elite status.
But we in the BBN don’t actually need the national talking heads to tell us their opinions. We have watched elite basketball for decades and we know the best when it is front of our face. And at this point, it is beyond clear that his team is special in ways we simply may never see again. It almost boggles the mind. How can a team have nine (ten with Alex) players that are all destined to play in the NBA, but are all willing to sacrifice minutes and personal glory to allow their fellow players time to shine? How can a team have this much length and athleticism at EVERY position, allowing it to play defense at levels that opposing coach after opposing coach says they have never seen before? How can a team have no obvious weakness, not only playing tough defense, but sharing the ball as well as any group in over a decade? How can a team have all that talent and also be made of a group of genuinely good kids who are as high level off the court as they are on the court? How can all of those factors come together at once, in one season, with a coach at the top of his game, followed by a fan base unmatched in the sport and still find a way to dazzle us and produce multiple performances that leave us shaking our head?
It is time to embrace it. These are the proverbial good old days for Kentucky basketball and this may be a team for the ages. That doesn’t mean perfection is certain. Kentucky could still be shocked next Saturday by Montrezl’s punches and Rick’s hair plugs in the hardest game left on the regular season schedule on the road at Louisville. The Cats might end up in some random game on the road in February on the SEC where a team hits 13 threes and rides the wave shocks the world. Even worse, it is possible that in the NCAA Tournament, UK has the worst run of luck imaginable and trips up against an inferior team in a one game scenario that will seem as arbitrary and unfair as it is heartbreaking. Any of those things may happen. But it doesn’t change the simple fact. This team is already one of the best to ever wear the Kentucky uniform. 1948, 1951, 1978, 1996 and 2012 stand at the mountaintop of UK teams because of the way their titles were won, followed closely by a group that includes 1949, 1958, 1966, 1984, 1993, 1998, 2003 and 2010. It is nearly impossible to forsee a scenario where this 2015 group is not certain to be at least at the top of the second list, and potentially the top of the first one as well. At this point only two moments of this season truly matter…the one where they lose their first game (if it happens) and the NCAA Tournament. Those games are for history, while the rest are simply for entertainment.
I don’t know what the future holds. Due to the randomness of the NCAA Tournament, I don’t know if it is even certain that this team wins #9. But here is what is assured. We are watching a group that we will remember forever and we are seeing things that will never be repeated. It is rare to get to watch greatness…it is rarer still to realize it while it is taking place. Our great fortune this year is we are being treated to both.
By Wilder Treadway on ©December 21st, 2014 @ 8:30pm
Now I know you may be confused about the title of this post. “Why compare the defenses of Virginia and Kentucky? They don’t even play each other!” Well, after UVA (who in my opinion are one of the most underrated teams in the nation) throttled Harvard this afternoon in Kentucky-like fashion 76-27, Jay Williams of ESPN has declared Virginia has the best defense in the nation.
Points Per Game: UK-47.7 | UVA-46.2
Steals: UK-8.2 | UVA-5.9
Blocks: UK 8.7 | UVA-5.3
Field Goal Percentage: UK-30% | UVA-31%
Defensive Efficiency: UK-.703 points per possession | UVA-.800 points per possession
Statistically Kentucky has the edge in three of the four major defensive categories. Jay William’s argument was that Virginia is a better fundamental defensive basketball team, and that Kentucky’s shot-blocking erases the mistakes the defense makes, whereas the Cavaliers don’t make those mistakes in the first place.
For the record, Jay doesn’t think Virginia could beat UK…
— Jay Williams (@RealJayWilliams) December 21, 2014
I’d say a Kentucky/Virginia match-up in the NCAA Tournament would clearly be a low scoring, but entertaining game. Who’s up for a 26-24 final score in the championship game?
By Jonathan Miller on ©December 21st, 2014 @ 8:00pm
Whenever my East Coast friends ask how a Jewish bagel-nosher like me could win statewide office in the country ham-slinging Bible Belt, I tell them it’s simple: There’s only one acceptable form of idolatry here, and it’s Kentucky basketball.
(And don’t forget the explosion of anti-Christian madness every March when CBS Sports replays That Damned Laettner Shot every 15 minutes.)
But growing up here in the sports-crazy South, the paucity of Jewish athletic heroes has always been the source of great disappointment. No scene in cinematic history rings truer than this one from the classic Airplane! (written and directed, natch, by three Hollywood Hebrews):
For the YouTube challenged, here’s the transcript:
FLIGHT ATTENDANT: Would you like something to read?
PASSENGER: Do you have anything light?
FLIGHT ATTENDANT: How about this leaflet, “Famous Jewish Sports Legends”?
Sure, my grandfather had the Hebrew Hammer, Hank Greenberg, and my dad watched the Yom Kippur-skipping Sandy Koufax; but it turns out that my favorite childhood menorah-lighter, Rod Carew — the Hall of Fame California Angel and Minnesota Twin — was never actually a Member of the Tribe (sorry, Sandler).
And today, the most prominent Jewish sports “heroes” include steroid liar Ryan Braun, allegedly kosher Amar’e Stoudemire, and pretty much every controversial or detestable pro exec — late outlaw Al Davis, Redskins-assassin Daniel Snyder, loudmouth Mark Cuban, Browns-mover Art Modell, and…ugh…Donald Sterling.
Then along came Willie…
A few years ago, when word came from on high (or at least Matt Jones’ sources) that my beloved C-A-T-S had signed a super-talented, huge skinny dude named Willie Cauley-Stein, I felt like Kim Jong Un in a buffet line.
Now, for the uninitiated, I’m not suggesting that Willie Cauley-Stein “looks Jewish.” (Although he did once sport a fascinating Jew Fro). Indeed, I’ve been told for decades that I don’t “look Jewish” — and if I tried to show you surgical evidence of my covenant with God, I’d be arrested as a sex offender.
But the name “Stein” is as about as Jewish as it gets. Two of the Bluegrass’ most prominent dreidel spinners, Lexington Legend Alan and liberal icon Kathy, boast the surname. And even when it appears as a last name’s prefix (Steinberg, Steiner) or suffix (Bernstein, Goldstein), Stein is as much an indication of Semitism as the prefatory O’ is of the Irish.
Then the icing on the bundt cake: It turns out that Big Willie was raised from the third grade by his grandparents, Val and Norma Stein. I had visions of a 6 foot 6 inch, 13-year-old Willie hovering over the Torah at his Bar Mitzvah — and even better — his Jewish relatives struggling to lift him up in a chair during the hora circle dance later that evening.
But…alas…came the horrible news: Willie Cauley-Stein is not a Jew. The Steins of Kansas are among the rare subset of Steins who claim German ancestry, but have no connection to the people of Israel.
My world was devastated. My favorite current Cat — and likely the most charismatic and athletically-talented Kentucky cager in a generation — wasn’t part of our International Zionist Conspiracy. I had flashbacks to the awful moment in the Henry Clay High School cafeteria when I discovered that The Boss was Catholic. (Maybe the fact that “Mary” is the name of the woman in every other Springsteen song should have given it away.) I suddenly began to understand the horror experienced by my Irish friends upon their discovery that Barack O’bama and Hakeem O’Lajuwon weren’t wearin’ of the green.
Sure, we can put together a nice minyan prayer group every Saturday game at Rupp — with noted Chosens ranging from UK President Eli Capilouto, to Board of Trustees past chair Britt Brockman, to Medical Center head Michael Karpf, to Arts and Sciences Dean Mark Kornbluh, to rapper/super fan Drake (No kidding, Drake is Jewish!) But there’s no one on the hardwood to light the Sabbath candles.
So here’s my Chanukah wish. It would be obscene for me to ask anyone to consider modifying their faith for my own personal enjoyment. But if Willie Cauley-Stein can’t be Jewish, I would love for the emerging superstar to embrace his surname and consider becoming a Jew-ish Gentile.
Let me explain…
A decade ago, when I launched my national tour for The Compassionate Community – the book in which I discuss my political career as a devout Jew living in an inner notch of the Bible Belt — I ventured often into the rural hills and hollers of my home state. I’d speak passionately about my Jewish faith, quote the Talmud and the Rabbis; but, inevitably, there would be someone who’d come up to me afterwards to proclaim: “You are such a good Christian!”
If I could be a christian Jew, then consider my college roommate, Ron Granieri, who came to campus with an encyclopedic knowledge of the Hebraic faith, customs and moral code, quite impressive for a Roman Catholic from upstate New York. And because he was a compassionate soul with a wicked sense of humor, our other roommate — a future rabbi — annointed him as a Jew-ish Gentile. And a zeitgeist term was born. (Well, at least I’ve written about it.)
If Willie Cauley-Stein took me up on my offer to become a Jew-ish Gentile, he’d find it extraordinarily advantageous in his coming years of challenge ahead. Consider:
As he tries to bulk up his slender frame for the physical combat of in-the-paint professional hoops, Cauley-Stein would find himself surrounded by dozens of Jewish mothers, each noodging him to finish his dinner plate: “William?!? There are kids starving in Africa!”
As he works his way up the NBA ranks, he’d find common cause with so many of the Jewish folks who run the sport, from Commissioner Adam Silver, to nearly half of the league’s owners, to pretty much every sports agent not named Jay-Z.
And as he struggles through his early seasons in the pros, he’d always be buoyed by a 4000-year, comforting tradition of self-deprecating jokes, meta-awareness of neuroses, and kicking the ass of aggressive adversaries. To quote the bard of all things Jewish — Jerry Seinfeld — Willie Cauley-Stein could be the master of his own domain.
So Willie, I wish you a very Merry Christmas. But if you have an inkling that I’m onto something, please put on your yarmulke, drink your gin and tonic-ah, and have a happy, happy, happy, happy Chanukah.
By Wilder Treadway on ©December 21st, 2014 @ 7:15pm
The No. 1 ranked Cats get a few days off for the Christmas holiday this week, as a few players have tweeted how great it is to be home. Coach Cal also is back with his family, in the Bronx watching his son Brad play for MacDuffie.
KSR favorite Erin Calipari tweeted out this picture of herself, her dad and her sister Megan from the game. Is it just me or does it look like Brad is playing at a prison gymnasium?
By Wilder Treadway on ©December 21st, 2014 @ 7:00pm
The 8th ranked Kentucky women’s basketball team fell behind early and was unable to claw back this afternoon on the road, falling to 13th ranked Duke 89-68. The Wildcats got the turnovers they wanted, and were even able to rebound their own missed shots at a high clip, but when UK had opportunities they did not capitalize. The Blue Devils played as a cohesive unit, dismantling the defense of Kentucky all over the court, and without senior leader Bria Goss the Cats looked frustrated and disheveled.
Duke came into today’s game with a 7-3 record, having losses to South Carolina, Texas A&M and Nebraska, but they took their frustration out on the visiting Wildcats. Six Blue Devils scored in double-figures, as Kentucky was unable to cut off the vision of Duke’s passing lanes. Kentucky is now 10-2, having failed to play a complete 40 minute game the entire season with a tough SEC schedule looming in the New Year.
A silver lining of an otherwise dark cloud, was the offensive performance of Kentucky’s post. Freshman Alexis Jennings netted a career high 17 points, while Azia Bishop notched another double-digit scoring effort with 15. What was lacking was the guard play for the Cats, which usually is the strength of UK, but not tonight. Jennifer O’Neill finished with 17 points but only on 5-21 shooting. The best way to describe today’s game…this video of Matthew Mitchell:
Kentucky returns to action next Sunday in their final non-conference game of the season and final game of 2014 as Tennessee State visits Memorial Coliseum for an afternoon match-up.
By Wilder Treadway on ©December 21st, 2014 @ 5:30pm
As John Wall’s Washington Wizards take on Eric Bledsoe’s Phoenix Suns tonight in our nation’s capital, the Washington Post published a great article highlighting the two former Kentucky teammates and just how UK alums have taken over the NBA. It features a few great quotes from Wall, always the Wildcat ambassador for Coach Calipari.
“The way people still talk about Coach Cal like, he can’t do this, he can’t do that,” Wall said. “He’s writing the blueprint of what basketball is now. How many coaches can get five or six talented all-Americans and have them play together on one team? It’s very rare to find that.”
With 19 former Wildcats on an NBA roster to start the season, the former Kentucky players have formed a “fraternity” of sorts. Wall understands that even though he played at UK for just one season, his connection to the Bluegrass State will last a lifetime.
“They all supported us and they’re still supporting,” Wall said. “It’s a big tradition and once you play for them it’s like a big family here.”
To read the entire article, click here.
By Wilder Treadway on ©December 21st, 2014 @ 4:00pm
After perusing the Vegas odds this morning for a few college basketball games, (not for betting Mom don’t worry), I stumbled across the updated odds to win the National Championship in April. Not surprisingly, Kentucky is the overwhelming favorite with 11/10 odds to cut down the nets.
Arizona and Duke are behind the Cats at 8/1 odds each, with Wisconsin rounding out the “Final Four” with 9/1 odds. Louisville is looking at a 14/1 shot, but we all know that won’t happen.
If you’re looking for a big pay day: Wake Forest has 5000/1 odds to win it all. Go Deacs?
By Kory Henry on ©December 21st, 2014 @ 2:30pm
Earlier this week, we learned that Bud Dupree landed at #30 on Todd McShay’s ESPN mock draft. Well since it’s NFL Sunday, I wanted to share some other mock drafts and where they have Bud going. If you recall, McShay predicted that Dupree would be drafted by the Arizona Cardinals with the 30th pick.
#30. Seattle Seahawks: Alvin Dupree, DE, Kentucky
There are a number of reasons why the Seahakws underachieved this year until recently. One was a lacking pass rush. It’ll only get worse in the offseason when Cliff Avril hits free agency. Alvin Dupree, who has been a monster this season, fits what Seattle looks for from an athleticism standpoint.
– Sports Illustrated
#30. Denver Broncos: BUD DUPREE, DE/OLB Senior, Kentucky
The resurgence from DeMarcus Ware has helped key Denver’s defensive success this season. He won’t be around forever, and he and Von Miller could use a little help in the meantime. Dupree has eight sacks this season and 24 for his career. Those numbers would be even higher if Kentucky did not need him to do so many other things.
– CBS Sports
#21. New Orleans Saints: Alvin Dupree, DE, Kentucky
The Saints locked up Junior Galette to a long-term deal, but need another athletic pass rusher who can give opposing offenses trouble. Dupree is easily overlooked playing at Kentucky, but his first step and natural athletic traits will land him in the first round.
– Bleacher Report
#31. Arizona Cardinals: Alvin Dupree, DE/OLB, Kentucky
Arizona has an extremely impressive defense, but it tends to have trouble pressuring the quarterback at times. Dupree may very well translate to a 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level, which makes him a great option for the Cards.
Well there you have it. The majority have Dupree going to a Super Bowl contender late in the 1st round. Keep in mind the NFL Scouting Combine is still to come, as well as the Senior Bowl. The future looks bright for our former Wildcat.
By Kory Henry on ©December 21st, 2014 @ 1:00pm
After being traded by the Boston Celtics, PG Rajon Rondo finally made his Dallas Mavericks debut. It wasn’t a great performance from the former Wildcat, but he showed glimmers of what’s possible at his new home. For the night, Rondo had a stat line of 6 points, 7 rebounds, 9 assists, and 2 steals. While only shooting 3-of-11 from the field, he was just a few stats short of a earning another career double-double. Not bad for a debut with a team you just joined.
Rondo hasn’t even had a full day of practice with the Mavericks, yet debuted as their starting point guard. That’s not all too surprising, but many questioned how he and teammate Monte Ellis would mesh. Considering Ellis scored 38 points, I’d say Mark Cuban is a smart man. With their recent addition of Rondo, Cuban has put together the pieces for the Mavs to make another deep playoff run.
“He scored 38 points, so I didn’t hold him back too much,” Rondo said of Ellis after their 99-93 victory. “We both like to dominate the ball, but I think we played well off each other tonight.”
Rondo also had a pretty good defensive game, drawing 4 offensive fouls. That’s one stat that doesn’t show up on the sheet, but are still turnovers caused by Rondo.
“I just try to do the intangibles. I didn’t make a lot of shots tonight, so I just wanted to go in on the defensive end of the floor and make plays for my team and get the ball back for more possessions.”
We will definitely have to keep an eye on the Mavs, as Rondo hopes to earn another NBA Championship.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 21st, 2014 @ 12:16pm
By Kory Henry on ©December 21st, 2014 @ 11:30am
Sports Illustrated’s Brian Hamilton just confirmed what all of us were thinking yesterday; this Kentucky team is awesome! Not only did they demolish UCLA, but they squashed any and all hopes they had. It was a brutal beatdown, but it sure was fun.
41-7 at halftime….41 to 7!
Here are a few excerpts from Hamilton’s article:
“That’s our fight song,” one of the girls said. “Oops. I think we missed it.”
And that was it. On the list of Kentucky’s imperfections Saturday, that was the beginning and the end. The rest was brutish, unmerciful and just completely absurd, this 83-44 victory that transcended all metaphors for demolition or involuntary surgeries. This was something far, far more terrifying, something we had not seen this insensate leviathan accomplish before: The Wildcats destroyed a team’s hope. That is a very hard thing to do against athletes conditioned to believe all things are possible at all times.
Of course, the talk of 40-0 is beginning to rumble again. After a performance like this, who can blame such crazy thoughts? Hamilton seems to agree.
If you think Kentucky will get beat this season, you are not thinking unreasonably. It is also time to prepare for the eventuality that you may be wrong. The Wildcats are now competing only against their own ability to crush the will out of every team that happens across their path.
To read his article in its entirety, you may do so here. I highly suggest it.
Louisville, you’re next!
By Kory Henry on ©December 21st, 2014 @ 10:00am
Throughout the long, storied SEC history, some schools have played football in stadiums built almost a century ago. Because of this, universities must do a little bit of renovating to keep the stadiums somewhat modern and up-to-date with the latest technologies. Commonwealth Stadium is technically the “newest” stadium in the entire SEC, but honestly you wouldn’t think that just a few years ago. With recent additions like the new HD scoreboards, brand new sound system, and HD upper deck banners, CWS actually looked legit. The upgrade was much-needed, and it added a new element to the stadium, especially at night.
This year, CWS is being completely gutted. We’re getting a completely new concourse, a huge upper deck press box, and of course chair-back seats for the sideline levels. But everyone already knows that.
The reason I bring this up today is because Texas A&M, an SEC newcomer, completely demolished an entire sideline of their historic Kyle Field. If you thought CWS was being gutted, just watch this video from this mornings demo at A&M.
– I don’t think the UK-UCLA highlight video made the site yesterday, so I might as well share that piece of history for you. Enjoy
– ICYMI: Louisville had a rough game against Western Kentucky yesterday. When I mean rough, they almost lost. And “star” Cardinal Montrezl Harrell was ejected from the game. Luckily for UK, Harrell will be back from his flagrant II ejection next week. Catch up with the stats and post-game quotes from their game here.
We don’t want Rick to have any excuses. You’re next.
– Looking for reactions to yesterday’s UCLA beatdown? Well the guys over at Bleacher Report have taken some of the best live tweets from the game and put them all in one. Check it out, have a laugh.
By Wilder Treadway on ©December 20th, 2014 @ 10:30pm
For the first time in school history, a Kentucky men’s basketball team has started the season with 12 straight double-digit wins. A few weeks ago, the Cats took down a top-10 Kansas team, a program rich with history and tradition, and completely annihilated them by 32 points in which was before today the best performance of a team this season. We all thought we wouldn’t see a performance like that again this season, but here we are tonight, coming off a 39 point win over another blue-blood powerhouse, UCLA. The Bruins have the most national championships in the history of college basketball, but today the Cats made them look like a 6th grade JV squad.
Experts around the nation are now calling today the most impressive performance of a team this season, as the Cats jumped out to a 24-0 lead (yes this looks like a football score, no this is not a typo). With UK continuing to look like a team leaps and bounds ahead of the competition, the question arises: just how great is this Kentucky team, and how many historic performances like this will we see this season? These games against Kansas and UCLA are games that will talked about decades from now, and with Louisville the most talented and hyped-up game remaining on the schedule for Kentucky in the regular season (sorry SEC), what will we see next week against the Cards?
With a rivalry game on the road, I wouldn’t personally expect to see such a beatdown, but this version of the Cats seems unlike one I have ever witnessed. Intense. Consistent. Athletic. Talented, and just downright scary. Only time will tell, but savor this moment right now Big Blue Nation.
Wildcats Dominated in Epic Fashion
It was over from the moment Aaron Harrison swished in his first 3-pointer. Kentucky completely out-classed the Bruins from UCLA almost instantaneously, and didn’t even look tired doing so #platoons. You all know the stats by know, many of which are hard to even comprehend when you read about them on paper. UCLA was held to record-low SEVEN points at halftime as Kentucky strengthened their bid to be the best defensive team in college basketball history.
An Actual Shot of UCLA During Today’s Game
Coach Alford Praised Kentucky
UCLA’s Coach Alford joined the Kentucky praise train today, because if ya can’t beat em: join em, right? In his post-game press conference Alford put UK on high, saying “I don’t know in my 20 years coaching at the Division I level that I’ve coached against a better team that what this team looks like.”
In regards to the whole undefeated discussion? Count him in. “If they continue to play at that level defensively, I’m a firm believer they’ve got a chance to run this thing out. They’re that good. They’re that talented.”
Kentucky Women Face Tough Test on the Road
The 8th ranked and 10-1 Kentucky women’s basketball team plays a nationally contested road game tomorrow afternoon as the Cats are in Durham to face the 13th ranked Duke Blue Devils. Duke got the best of UK last season in Rupp Arena, in front of the largest crowd for a women’s basketball game in school history. Led by Elizabeth Williams, the Blue Devils are a monster team, with big post players inside that tower over Kentucky, but they are just 7-3 on the season, losing to both SEC schools they have played: Texas A&M and South Carolina. With senior leader Bria Goss out 4-6 with a broken thumb, Kentucky will have to step up defensively to control the Blue Devils in the paint and speed up the tempo against a talented team on the road. You can watch at 3:00 on ESPN2.
Louisville Was Typical Louisville in Win over WKU
With the Cardinals next on the docket for Kentucky next Saturday, UofL struggled on the road against in-state rival Western Kentucky this afternoon. The Cards pulled away late for 76-67 win, but the real drama occurred late in the first half as Montrezl Harrell got involved in an on-court skirmish with a few Hilltoppers and ended up throwing a punch, resulting in a Flagrant-2 foul and ejection from the game. This led to Rick Pitino running out onto the floor, screaming at Coach Harper from WKU and also getting involved in a few arguments with WKU fans in the crowd. #L1Classy? Next week should be interesting…
Michigan State Shocked at Home
In what seems to be a common theme of Big 10 teams being upset at home, the 23rd ranked Spartans of Michigan State were beaten tonight in overtime by the previously 1-8 Texas Southern Tigers. As other schools have been up and down this season, Kentucky just keeps on rollin’…
By Austin Monnett on ©December 20th, 2014 @ 9:30pm
OK, so maybe sidelined isn’t the best word to use, since coaches are technically sidelined even when they’re active, but Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin has been ruled out indefinitely after an unruptured aneurysm was discovered following tests this week. Cronin explained that he has been experiencing headaches for the past few games. He felt ill during the Bearcats’ huge overtime win at home against No. 19 San Diego State on Wednesday, but opted to coach anyway.
Rick Pitino brought in Cronin for his first three years at Louisville for an assistant coaching position, before he took the head coaching job at Murray State in 2003. The 43-year old is in his ninth season at Cincinnati, after replacing interim coach, now Ole Miss head coach, Andy Kennedy, following the 2005-2006 season.
Cincinnati struggled today without their coach, as VCU rolled them at home 68-47.
Cronin tweeted his thoughts about the news:
Thank you to everyone for your concern, prayers, and support. I am ok. I am very fortunate to have such great friends and family.
— Mick Cronin (@CoachCroninUC) December 20, 2014
I want everyone to know I am going to be ok!! I just can't coach for precautionary reasons with my medical condition.
— Mick Cronin (@CoachCroninUC) December 20, 2014
I hope to be back ASAP but that will not be my call. As I love to say " I am always day to day. " so that really applies now.
— Mick Cronin (@CoachCroninUC) December 20, 2014
KSR ally, Seth Greenberg also had some thoughts about the news:
Thoughts go out to one of the best guys in the business @CoachCroninUC Get well my friend.
— Seth Greenberg (@SethOnHoops) December 20, 2014
KSR and the rest of Big Blue Nation wish Coach Cronin a quick recovery.
By Austin Monnett on ©December 20th, 2014 @ 8:15pm
I don’t know about you, but I started thinking about the Cards after UK went up 24-0 against UCLA. Louisville might have been looking ahead as well, as they struggled to fight off the scrappy Western Kentucky Hilltoppers earlier today. Rick Pitino and company were able to leave Bowling Green with a win behind Rozier’s 32 points, but they’ll have to play Cal State Northridge on Tuesday before going up against the Cats. Originally, it looked like the Cards were lucky to have that game before UK, as it appeared that Harrell’s ejection would lead to a suspension, but Jeff Goodman reports that that isn’t necessarily the case.
That info comes from NCAA. If ejected for flagrant 2, not suspended for next game. If ejected for fighting, automatic suspension.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) December 20, 2014
So, since Harrell was given a flagrant 2, he is not automatically suspended for next game.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) December 20, 2014
Because the foul was a flagrant 2, and not a fighting ejection, there is no automatic suspension. The ACC, university, and coaching staff are able to review the incident to decide upon suspensions. But no matter the case, it doesn’t appear that it will lead to Harrell missing more than one game, if any. Personally, I want to see Montrezl on the court next Saturday, as I want Louisville at full strength to avoid any excuses after a loss. CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein is already calling the match-up one of the “most anticipated in a long time.”
Kentucky-Louisville will be as anticipated a regular season game as college hoops has seen in some time. Best rivalry in the sport. #BBN
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) December 20, 2014
A win next Saturday will make Kentucky the winners in 7 of the last 8, and 10 of the last 13 games against “little brother.”
Cards: You're Next
— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) December 20, 2014