Yesterday, I wrapped up another mega UK sports weekend by spending the afternoon at Rupp →
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©October 25th, 2016 @ 4:30pm
Marquis Estill is not only one of the more beloved members of the Tubby Smith Era, he served as an assistant on the 2012-2013 UK team while finishing up his degree. It was thanks to Estill that John Calipari first noticed Dominique Hawkins (like Estill, a Richmond native), who is entering his senior year. Since then, Estill has been an assistant basketball coach at Dunbar in Lexington, where he helped lead the Bulldogs to the state championship last season. Now, Estill is an assistant coach for a brand new college basketball team at Midway University.
For years, Midway was a school for women, but in May, voted to become a fully coed institution with male athletic teams. After St. Catherine College closed in July, St. Catherine’s coach Joe Krupinski brought six of his former players to Midway and added nine more for a roster of 15. He rounded out his coaching staff with Estill and student assistant Jamille Jones.
“We are very excited to add Marquis to our basketball family at Midway,” Krupinski said via press release. “With his combination of coaching and playing experience at the highest levels, and his commitment to developing student-athletes on and off the court and in the classroom, he is an ideal fit to help us get our program off the ground and achieve success — both in the short and long term.”
The Eagles will open their inaugural season this weekend at the Marian Classic at Marian University in Indianapolis and host their first ever home game on November 2 vs. Lindsey Wilson.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©October 25th, 2016 @ 3:30pm
Today is opening day in the NBA, and what better way to get ready than watch an interview with Karl Towns? Karl went on SportsCenter this morning to do an interview with Hannah Storm, and, as only Karl can, described how he’s aiming to take over as the leader of the Timberwolves in only his second season in the league.
“For me, I’ve just continued to lead by example and lead by voice. I think, for me, last year, I just tried to lead by example, tried to be the first one in the gym, last one to leave, do the little things, but this year, with KG (Kevin Garnett) gone, I have to pick up a new responsibility. I’m also trying to be the vocal leader of the team, like he was for years in Minnesota.”
Karl and the T-Wolves start their season tomorrow night vs. Andrew Harrison and the Grizzlies in Memphis, and Saturday vs. Boogie, Willie, Skal, and the Kings. I hope you guys will join me on the T-Wolves bandwagon this year. I’m getting League Pass, a t-shirt, and everything.
Former IU player says Bobby Knight broke a clipboard over his head, punched him, and grabbed his testicles
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©October 25th, 2016 @ 2:30pm
Former Indiana coach Bobby Knight is known for his temper, but now, one of his former players is claiming the legendary coach abused him and his teammates physically and emotionally. Todd Jadlow, who played for Knight at IU from 1985-89, outlines the abuse in his new book, “Jadlow: On The Rebound,” which describes Jadlow’s descent into a life of drugs, alcohol, and family incarceration. In the book, Jadlow accuses Knight of punching him, breaking a clipboard over his head, and grabbing him by the testicles and squeezing. Yikes.
Jadlow says that Knight also made fun of Jadlow’s facial tic in front of the entire team and repeatedly called his teammate Daryl Thomas a “(bleeping) p—-,” made team managers wallpaper Thomas’ locker with pictures of female genitalia, and actually threw tampons at him during practice. (Who throws a tampon?) On one flight home after IU’s 1986 NCAA Tournament loss to Cleveland State, Jadlow says Knight tore up the plane and grabbed Thomas by the neck and shook him violently.
It’s interesting to note that Jadlow was once considered one of Knight’s favorite players, and, when Knight was dismissed from Indiana in 2000 after evidence surfaced that Knight choked a player in 1997, he swore off the Hoosiers, calling the administration two-faced for firing Knight when they should have erected a statue in his honor. Despite his allegations in the book, Jadlow told WTHR’s Bob Kravitz he still considers himself “a Knight guy.”
“I’m a Knight guy, I’m proud to have played for him and love him like a father; let’s not mistake that,” Jadlow said. “But this was the life we led when we were playing for him.”
Jadlow said he reached out to Knight while writing the book, but was told his former coach would not respond. (Guess he’s too busy campaigning for Trump.)
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©October 25th, 2016 @ 2:00pm
A win over Missoui on Saturday would essentially clinch bowl eligibility for Kentucky for the first time since 2010 (pardon me for penciling Austin Peay in as a win, but the Governors haven’t won a game this season), and the Cats’ chances of taking down the Tigers got another boost due to some unfortunate injury news. Missouri’s star linebacker Michael Scherer left Mizzou’s game vs. Middle Tennessee State on Saturday with a knee injury, and, last night, rumors spread that he is out for the year with an ACL and MCL tear:
Linebacker Mike Scherer has torn both his ACL and MCL, a source confirmed to me. #Mizzou
— Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) October 25, 2016
Missouri has yet to confirm the news, but I think it’s safe to assume Scherer will not play vs. Kentucky, which is a huge blow to Mizzou’s defense. He’s considered the heart and soul of the unit, leading the team in tackles with 53 total and handling on-field communications. Try as Mizzou might, players like Scherer can’t be replaced.
Scherer’s injury is one of many for the Tigers, who saw several significant players go down vs. MTSU: cornerback John Gibson, defensive tackle Terry Beckner, safety Thomas Wilson, and tight end Jason Reese. Missouri also played without right guard Alec Abeln, who sprained his ankle in practice last week.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©October 25th, 2016 @ 1:00pm
The one question that remains after the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations about the University of Louisville sex scandal is, could Louisville lose its 2013 National Championship? The NCAA determined that 17 UofL players and recruits received impermissible benefits in the form of stripper parties and sex acts, but did not specify whether or not that makes those players ineligible. We’ll know for sure when the NCAA releases its sanctions for UofL in the coming months, but the Courier-Journal interviewed two former members of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions about the matter and both said there is a real chance Louisville could lose its title.
One of them, Rodney Uphoff, a University of Missouri law professor who served on the committee from 2008-14, said the only defense would be if the player or players mostly rode the bench and did not make a big contribution to the wins.
Jerry Parkinson, a former law school dean at the University of Wyoming who was on the committee from 2000-10, said it became increasingly automatic during his tenure to vacate wins earned with ineligible players. he cited Memphis, whose 38-victory season – including its run to the championship game – was vacated when the NCAA found freshman Derrick Rose’s SAT score was fraudulent because somebody took the test for him.
In her book and interviews following its release, Katina Powell claimed Chane Behanan, Montrezl Harrell, Russ Smith, Chris Smith, Terrence Jennings, George Goode, and Wayne Blackshear all attended parties, and that Peyton Siva only came to one, near the end, but did not have sex with her employees.
That sounds like a group that contributed heavily to Louisville’s 2013 title if you ask me.
By Freddie Maggard on ©October 25th, 2016 @ 12:15pm
An After Action Review, or AAR, is a US Army evaluation tool used to analyze an intended mission/action. Let’s apply this method to the Kentucky-Mississippi State football game:
WHAT WERE INTENDED RESULTS
— Win the football game
WHAT WERE ACTUAL RESULTS
— Won the football game 40-38
WHAT CAUSED OUR RESULTS
— Kentucky resiliently won a home conference game after facing late, self-inflicted adversity.
— UK secondary played its best game under Mark Stoops.
— Offensive line cleared a path for 200-plus rush yards as well as were key contributors in winning the time of possession conflict.
— The Wildcats maximized current/available talent capacity and played with extreme effort/resolve.
— RBs Boom Williams and Benny Snell outmaneuvered the Miss State defense by combining for 227 rush yards.
WHAT WILL WE SUSTAIN? IMPROVE?
Offensive Line Production
Kentucky’s offensive line dominated the line-of-scrimmage. Center Jon Toth led the charge by neutralizing interior defensive linemen and strategically deploying his line-mates to chip up to linebackers on the second level.
— Cole Mosier/Landon Young, Nick Haynes/Logan Stenberg, Jon Toth, Bunchie Stallings/Ramsey Meyers, and George Asafo-Adjei/Kyle Meadows construct the most improved platoon on the team.
— Offensive yardage output: 262 rush yards, 292 passing; 554 total.
— LB Richie Brown, SEC’s 5th leading tackler, was regulated to 4 total tackles.
— All SEC DE AJ Jefferson, 3rd in SEC with 10 TFL, did not register a single tick mark on the stat sheet.
— 44 rushes, 262 yards; 5.95 yards per carry.
— Offensive coordinator Eddie Gran’s IPB, Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield, was precise and timely. UK’s offensive game plan was proven, sustained, and pointedly influenced the victory.
— 26-1st downs (MSU 16); 32:43 time of possession (MSU 27:07).
— Benny Snell: 19 carries, 128 yards, 1 TD. Boom Williams: 14 carries, 99 yards. Kentucky’s one-two punch was accurately deployed for sixty minutes.
— Mark Stoops’ secondary successfully obeyed its 1st General Order: I will guard everything within the limits of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved.
— Miss State passing statistics: 13-22, 81 yards, 1 INT, 1 TD. 1st half numbers: 7-9, 9 yards.
— 1st Team All SEC WR Fred Ross limited to 5 catches, 50 yards. He did have a late, 4th quarter touchdown catch.
— CB Chris Westry: 7 tackles, 1 tackle for loss
— CB Derrick Baity: 4 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 pass breakup
— CB JD Harmon: 4 tackles, 1 pass breakup
— S/N Blake McClain: 4 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 pass breakup
— S Marcus McWilson: 8 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 Pick 6
— S Mike Edwards: 3 tackles, 1 TFL
— QB Stephen Johnson completed 2 passes including a near miss surgical strike on a post route to Dorian Baker in the end-zone in the game’s final drive.
— OC Eddie Gran meritoriously prepared his unit for the same exact 2-minute scenario it faced on Saturday during practice. Gran dialed up an exact play that led to the Johnson-Badet completion. Jeff Badet remained situationally aware following the catch and fell directly to the ground in order to stop the clock.
— John Schlarman is to be commended for his offensive line’s development and performance. It goes 2-deep at every position other than center with no apparent drop-off from 1st to 2nd team.
— Eddie Gran has proven his worth in the Cat’s three SEC wins. Please see above referencing the 2-minute drive. His offense appears to be consistently battle ready.
— QB Coach Darrin Hinshaw has developed a backup, first year, junior college quarterback to lead the offense to 4 wins. Johnson is a project and has shown flaws. But consider this; where would UK be without his services after Barker’s injury?
— Jimmy Brumbaugh’s defensive line is razor thin and lacks overpowering talent. Preseason reserve players TJ Carter, Tymere Dubose, and Alvonte Bell have been adequate and have shown weekly improvement. Starters Courtney Miggins, Matt Elam/Naquez Pringle, and Adrian Middleton remain in the fight and are trending upward.
Quarterback Ball Security
— Stephen Johnson fumbled twice; one led to a 81-yard, 4th quarter scoop and score. The game could have been put out of reach with either a field goal or touchdown. Johnson’s 2nd turnover flipped momentum to advantage Mississippi State.
— Seven fumbles in five games is unacceptable. UK has allowed 83 points off turnovers and is currently ranked last in the SEC’s turnover margin category.
— There was no secret in MSU’s battle rattle; a heavy dose of QB Nick Fitzgerald as the sophomore accounts for 60% of all MSU’s offensive production. UK fought hard in the 1st half but faltered in slowing Fitzgerald down the stretch.
— QB Nick Fitzgerald rush yard totals: 16 carries, 118 yards, 2 TDs. Fitzgerald’s yardage mostly came from RPO runs aimed at the middle of the line-of-scrimmage.
— Miss State’s rushing numbers: 39 carries, 281 yards; 3 TDs, 7.2 yards per carry.
— Long runs: Nick Fitzgerald-38 yards, Malik Dear-45.
— Grant McKinniss averaged 34.3 yards per punt. A target average for the rookie is 42 yards per punt. McKinniss’ hang time was also insufficient. Low, short punts invite a dangerous counterattack.
— Keith Mixon returned 3 kickoffs for 96 yards which includes a 45 yarder that eventually led to a shortened field, MSU touchdown drive.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©October 25th, 2016 @ 11:29am
We usually reserve this picture for sad times, but this guy’s look of utter disbelief also works for what I’m about to tell you: Kentucky could find itself in first place in the SEC East this weekend. Yes, we’re talking about Kentucky football. Yes, the same team that so many of us wrote off after the Southern Miss loss. The same team that now has sole possession of second place in the SEC East:
For Kentucky to move into first, they must beat Missouri and Georgia must beat Florida this weekend. That would make Kentucky 4-2 and Florida 3-2 in the league, putting the Cats in sole possession of first place in the SEC East (because the LSU game was postponed, the Gators are one SEC game behind).
So, you know, go Bulldogs.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©October 25th, 2016 @ 10:30am
Do you work at the state capitol? No more flip flops at work. According to the Herald-Leader, Governor Bevin’s administration just put a new dress code in place that outlaws flip-flops, exposed midriffs, and clothing with large commercial logos or offensive language for 31,000 executive branch employees. Those who dare to bare their toes in flip flops or show their belly buttons could face disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.
Earlier this month, Personnel Secretary Thomas B. Stephens also passed down a stricter code for those in the Personnel Cabinet, banning jeans, sweatpants, pajama pants, exercise pants, camouflage pants, shorts, and tank tops. Dresses and skirts must be knee length or longer, and strappy dresses must be covered with a cardigan. Most of this is common sense for workplace wear, but if it wasn’t the norm before now, getting people to change their ways won’t be easy.
As someone who worked in a corporate setting for five years after college, I know NOTHING upsets people more than changes to the dress code, especially when it comes to footwear, so I can only imagine the grumbling in Frankfort.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©October 25th, 2016 @ 9:55am
Good morning, friends, and welcome to the Tuesday edition of Kentucky Sports Radio. Today, Matt, Ryan, and Shannon will wrap up talk of Kentucky/Mississippi State and move on to this weekend’s matchup vs. Missouri, and talk some basketball as well. Tune in for all of that and probably a lot of random stories.
Join in on the fun by calling (502) 571-1080.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©October 25th, 2016 @ 9:00am
Greetings, everyone, or, as our friends up there at the Royal Hawaiian Surf Academy in LaHaina, Maui, Hawaii would say, “Aloha.” With both football and basketball games on the horizon, this is a busy week, so let’s get to today’s top ten things to know.
1. Stoops feels like his team has gotten over “the hump”
“The hump” being the tendency to fall apart in crucial moments. Stoops praised his team for not being “fragile” with the game on the line Saturday night, a huge step towards what he’s trying to do in Lexington.
“Absolutely. I feel like that we’re over the hump there. That’s for sure. And that takes a long time because when you don’t have the success, and they constantly hear that and hear that and hear that, the minute you hit adversity, the minute you hear coaches riding and pushing them to the brink, if they don’t respond the right way then it’s not gonna work. It’s never gonna work until they respond the right way.”
Now, the hope is that ball of confidence keeps rolling downhill to a pivotal road trip to Columbia. This afternoon, Eddie Gran will address the media after practice, so check back in tonight for his remarks.
2. Were you one of the people criticizing Stoops’ clock management at the end of the game?
Then Mark Stoops thinks you don’t have a clue about football.
“If they did, they’re not real intelligent,” Stoops said of the SEC Network commentators criticizing him for sitting on his timeouts in the last few minutes of the game. “Anybody that keeps going on and on, they don’t have a clue.”
Well, then Twitter was full of a bunch of idiots on Saturday night. (Breaking news!)
3. Benny Snell and Austin MacGinnis won SEC Player of the Week awards
After huge performances vs. Mississippi State, Benny Snell won SEC Freshmen of the Week and Austin MacGinnis won SEC Special Teams Player of the Week. Benny’s dad celebrated his son’s award by sharing this pic of the two from after the game on Saturday:
4. Get ready for another huge night game at Commonwealth
Before the season started, few people thought this team was capable of beating Georgia; however, both squads are now 4-3 and last week, Georgia lost to Vanderbilt. The Dawgs will still be favored, but the Cats’ chance of an upset went up a notch yesterday when it was announced the game will take place under the lights at 7:30 p.m. on the SEC Network.
First things first: beat Missouri.
5. The real key to Kentucky’s winning streak? The Possom Trot IGA Stoops
This cardboard cutout of Stoops was put out after UK’s loss to Alabama. I guess whoever took this snapchat is counting the bye week as a win — which is totally fair — or, they’re already counting Mizzou as a W. Either way, let’s make sure he stays up the rest of the season.
6. Lots of NBA moves in the past few days
Today is opening day for the NBA, which means teams have been scrambling the past few days to finalize their rosters. There were a lot of moves concerning former Cats, so here’s a quick rundown:
- James Young made the Celtics’ roster
- Aaron Harrison made the Hornets’ roster
- Andrew Harrison made the Grizzlies’ roster
- DeAndre Liggins made the Cavaliers’ roster
- Archie Goodwin cut by the Suns
This stat won’t surprise you, but UK has 24 players on opening-day rosters, the most from any school:
- Eric Bledsoe – Phoenix Suns
- Devin Booker – Phoenix Suns
- Willie Cauley-Stein – Sacramento Kings
- DeMarcus Cousins – Sacramento Kings
- Anthony Davis – New Orleans Pelicans
- Aaron Harrison – Charlotte Hornets
- Andrew Harrison – Memphis Grizzlies
- Terrence Jones – New Orleans Pelicans
- Enes Kanter – Oklahoma City Thunder
- Brandon Knight – Phoenix Suns
- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – Charlotte Hornets
- Skal Labissiere – Sacramento Kings
- DeAndre Liggins – Cleveland Cavaliers
- Trey Lyles – Utah Jazz
- Jodie Meeks – Orlando Magic
- Jamal Murray – Denver Nuggets
- Nerlens Noel – Philadelphia 76ers
- Patrick Patterson – Toronto Raptors
- Julius Randle – Los Angeles Lakers
- Rajon Rondo – Chicago Bulls
- Karl-Anthony Towns – Minnesota Timberwolves
- Tyler Ulis – Phoenix Suns
- John Wall – Washington Wizards
- James Young – Boston Celtics
That number should go back up to 25 when Archie gets picked up by another squad.
7. Speaking of Opening Day, this is a cool graphic from Bleacher Report:
Three of those guys sure look familiar. Here’s tonight’s schedule, which features two Cats:
- 7:30 PM: Knicks at Cavaliers (DeAndre Liggins), TNT
- 10:00 PM: Jazz (Trey Lyles) at Trail Blazers, League Pass
8. The Joe Craft Center getting an update
Yesterday, UK unveiled its plans for the new $49 million baseball stadium, which is very exciting, but Mitch Barnhart also announced plans to update the Joe Craft Center at Memorial Coliseum. The practice facility was built almost ten years ago, but apparently, could use some freshening up. When you’re the gold standard in the sport, you gotta stay shiny, right?
9. “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” is one of the most underrated comedies on TV
I watched the season two premiere yesterday and was pleased that, so far, the show continues to be hilarious and innovative. It’s quirky and probably not for everyone, but if you’re looking for something new to binge, check it out. Even though they debuted a new theme song, the old one will always pop into my head whenever anyone mentions the show.
“I waaaaaaaaas………. working hard a New York job making dough, but it made me blue….”
10. Cubs vs. Indians…who ya got?
The first game of the World Series is tonight (8 p.m., FOX), and although I am not a baseball fan, I’ll probably tune in to see the matchup of two beleaguered programs. It’s been 108 years since the Cubs won the World Series and 68 years since the Indians won it. Misery’s gotta end for somebody in the next few weeks, so who ya got?
By Bryan the Intern on ©October 25th, 2016 @ 8:00am
Pass: 5-7, 34 yards
Run: 20 rushes for 132 yards (6.6 ypc), 1 TD
Combined Season Statistics
Pass: 52-91, 769 yards, 7 TD, 4 INT, 2 sacks for -18 yards
Run: 136 rushes for 673 yards (4.9 ypc), 4 TD
RECAP: Pass defense was very solid but the rush defense was lacking. Several huge plays for Mississippi State and that usually doesn’t bode well overall for the defense when they can’t stop the run on 1st down. Overall, UK has been decent against the run this year but it took a step back against the Bulldogs.
2nd Down and Long (6 yards or more)
Pass: 3-5, 23 yards
Run: 8 rushes for 92 yards (11.5 ypc), 1 TD
Combined Season Statistics
Pass: 30-54, 351 yards, 1 TD, 2 sacks for -14 yards
Run: 63 rushes for 365 yards (5.8 ypc), 2 TD
RECAP: Much like first down, the pass defense was rock solid but the rush defense struggled, giving up too many long rushes, including a 45-yard TD in the 1st half.
2nd Down and Short (5 yards or less)
Pass: 1-1, -2 yards
Run: 7 rushes for 36 yards (5.2 ypc), 1 TD
Combined Season Statistics
Pass: 10-12, 56 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
Run: 46 rushes for 256 yards (5.6 ypc), 2 TD
RECAP: Somewhat better than above as Mississippi State focused almost entirely in the rushing game. Just over 5 yards per carry isn’t terrible.
3rd Down and Long (6 yards or more)
Pass: 2-5, 12 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT (converted 1 of 5)
Run: 1 rush for 15 yards (15.0 ypc) (converted 0 of 1)
Combined Season Statistics
Pass: 19-34, 258 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, 2 sacks for -8 yards (converted 15 of 36)
Run: 13 rushes for 77 yards (5.9 ypc) (converted 2 of 13)
RECAP: A very nice performance on 3rd and long against Miss State, something UK has struggled with all season. The highlight of the group being the interception return for a touchdown by Marcus Mclinton.
3rd Down and Short (5 yards or less)
Pass: 2-3, 20 yards (converted 1 of 3)
Run: 3 rushes for 12 yards (4.0 ypc) (converted 2 of 3)
Combined Season Statistics
Pass: 12-19, 129 yards, 1 TD, 7 sacks for -43 yards (converted 11 of 26)
Run: 26 rushes for 143 yards (5.5 ypc), 2 TD (converted 20 of 26)
RECAP: While no big plays here, UK only stopped them on 3 of 6 chances. While these are tough situations anyway, UK has been really poor in this situation all season.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©October 24th, 2016 @ 11:00pm
Yesterday, I wrapped up another mega UK sports weekend by spending the afternoon at Rupp Arena for eighth annual John Calipari Women’s Basketball Clinic. This is probably the fifth Women’s Clinic I’ve covered, and I’ll admit that it had gotten a bit stale. This year, organizers shook things up by moving the clinic to Rupp Arena for the first time, and, because they were expecting a record number of attendees (1,053 was the final count), changing the autograph rules so the whole clinic wouldn’t consist of watching players sign stuff. There was some early grumbling about the changes (NO RAFFERTY’S?!), but by the end, I think everyone will agree it was one of the best yet.
Let’s break it down, shall we?
1. I was worried when I drove up there
I woke up Sunday morning feeling great; the Cats won a game that would normally end in heartbreak and bowl hopes were looking up. Despite the late, late night, I was energized and ready to roll for a fun day of basketball…and then I checked social media. In what has become a tradition, fans were already lined up outside the doors to the women’s clinic hours before it began, and even though the rules for this year’s clinic were emailed to all attendees, there was some loud grumbling in line. Some people were upset that lunch wouldn’t be served as in years past (outside catering isn’t allowed at Rupp), that players could only autograph balls purchased at the clinic, and, because the players had to sign 1,000 or so balls, that interaction with them would be limited. Matters only got worse when the grumbling was reported on a local sports talk show, on which the hosts joked that a mutiny was in order. With all of that in mind, when I climbed in my car in Danville to make the short drive, I was expecting drama. No one wants to mess with hangry ladies!
2. Let them eat cupcakes
On my way to the clinic, I met up with Lorie Blevins, who made a funny cake about UK Football that we featured on the site a few months back. Lorie was nice enough to bake me some cupcakes, which I had planned on taking home with me to Nashville, but after reading tweets from people in line at the clinic complaining about the lack of food at the clinic, I decided to take some of them in with me and only hand them out to people who promised to quit whining. I tweeted about it, but I don’t think anyone took me seriously, so the looks on people’s faces when I handed out the cupcakes were priceless. I could go on a long rant about this, but the whole incident reminded me just how spoiled and entitled the UK Basketball fanbase can be sometimes. Who cares about Rafferty’s when you get to hang out in Rupp?
(By the way, the cupcakes were delicious. If you’d like to try Lorie’s baking for yourself, you can email her at email@example.com.)
3. Nothing shuts everyone up more than a charity donation
Thankfully, it seemed most of the grumbling was pacified by the perks of the event being in Rupp (touring the locker room, hanging out on the court, etc.) and the crackers and granola bars UK provided in the goodie bags. Most of all, people really shut up when John Calipari announced he was donating the $10,000 UK normally spends on food at the clinic to the Markey Cancer Foundation. Nothing quiets the masses more than a charity donation.
4. Alex Poythress was there
The grumbling about autographs also quieted down when attendees noticed special guest Alex Poythress, who signed autographs for two hours during registration. Alex, who was waived by the Pacers last week but is expected to play for their D-League affiliate, hung out for the duration of the clinic.
5. The Caliparis brought their dogs
Anyone who knows me or follows me on SnapChat (@mrstylerksr) knows I love dogs. So, when I spotted two dogs under the basket near the table where John Calipari was signing stuff, I immediately made my way over there and started playing with them. Turns out they are the Calipari’s dogs, McGruff (left) and Palmer (right). Ellen Calipari said she didn’t want to leave them at home, so her husband suggested bringing them with her. Both were sweet as could be and loved all the attention.
6. Ellen Calipari is an extrovert now
Of all the offseason developments, the one that’s surprised me most is how involved Ellen Calipari has been with the program since her son Brad joined the team. At Media Day, Cal joked that Ellen’s been to more practices this season than she has the whole time he’s been at Kentucky, but her presence and involvement really is remarkable the past few months. In years past, she’s stayed out of the spotlight to let Cal do his thing, but now, she’s a staple at each event, proudly posing in her son’s jersey at Madness, cheering loudly after each shot he takes, and even participating in yesterday’s training drills with Jen Palumbo:
— Tyler Thompson (@MrsTylerKSR) October 23, 2016
You go, Ellen.
7. I was impressed by Isaiah Briscoe
If you’ve heard it once over the past few months, you’ve heard it a million times: Isaiah Briscoe is the leader of this team. I’ll be completely honest: I wasn’t impressed with Briscoe until this weekend. Part of that is due to my odd interaction with him at SEC Basketball Media Day last Wednesday — it’s clear Briscoe dislikes doing media events — however, I saw a totally different side of him on Sunday. Briscoe embraced the crowd from the second he hit the floor, making a point to slap as many fans’ hands as possible and even doling out a few hugs.
Isaiah Briscoe made a point to shake as many fans’ hands as possible pic.twitter.com/Hj8BMiMC39
— Tyler Thompson (@MrsTylerKSR) October 23, 2016
After he scored 39 points in the Blue/White game on Friday, we knew Briscoe’s shot had improved, and on Sunday, I saw why. We got to watch thirty minutes of “practice” (basically, a glorified shootaround), and I kept my eyes on Briscoe throughout. UK split their five minute three-point shooting drill between guards and bigs, but Briscoe continued to shoot after the split. After a cold start, Briscoe warmed up, cheering after each three he made and encouraging the ladies to do the same. If I had to guess, I’d say he hit 65-70% of his threes over five minutes, which may not be as impressive as Derek Willis or Malik Monk’s numbers, but considering how far he’s come, it’s much more important.
Hard to tell much from drills, but here are some other brief observations:
- Isaac Humphries (knee) sat out again
- Bam Adebayo showed off a really nice touch from midrange
- The passing was incredibly crisp and fast
- This team is fast fast fast fast fast fast fast fast
8. Dominique Hawkins seems poised to take over as “team dancer”
With EJ Floreal off pursuing his track and field career, the role of hype man in the huddle is up for grabs. So far, it seems like Dominique Hawkins is poised to take over the role after busting a move at Madness and again yesterday during the clinic’s intros:
— Tyler Thompson (@MrsTylerKSR) October 23, 2016
9. The top secret recruiting video is awesome
Attendees were treated to the coaching staff’s ten minute video they show to recruits on visits, but before it began, we were all given a strict warning NOT to film it. Robic even went as far to give me a death stare and jokingly call out KSR in front of the whole group, drawing big laughs from the crowd. While I didn’t dare film the video, I did take some notes. The first half of it was just a recap of the Calipari era, but the second half included clips of Marcus Camby, Sam Cassell, Derrick Rose, John Wall, Anthony Davis, Devin Booker, and Karl Towns talking about how much Cal means to them and describing what makes him special as a coach. Anthony’s story about how Calipari yelled at him for the first time during practice was my favorite.
“I just turned around and looked him like, ‘What?’. I’d never been benched in my life, but he doesn’t care who you are,” Davis said.
10. Calipari gave away his shirt and shoes to two lucky fans
One of the sweeter moments of the clinic came at the end, when John Calipari gave away his custom pink UK sneakers to one lucky fan, and after someone yelled, “Give us your shirt,” decided to give that away, too. The winner? One of “Cal’s Gals,” the quartet of super fans who makes shirts for the clinic each year. The look on her face when her name was called was priceless:
Turns out that Cal’s gal, Kay, is a teacher, and one of her former students wrote me on Twitter to say that no one is more deserving of the gift than her, recounting how Kay watched the Cats win the 1978 Championship in Lexington, stayed up all night to welcome the team home, then was in school bright and early the next day to teach. Congrats, Kay.
11. Each attendee got a team photo with the team
Sure, there may not have been lunch, but fans did get to leave with a picture with the team, who posed with groups of fans at the end of the clinic. I love Rafferty’s, but that beats a honey croissant any day.
12. Pandering gets you everywhere
By Haley Simpson on ©October 24th, 2016 @ 10:30pm
The one and only Wendy’s Baconator is a meaty masterpiece in its
own right. Composed of six strips of thick cut, applewood-smoked bacon; cooked in an oven. Two quarter-pound patties* of fresh, never-frozen, North American beef raised close it never sees a freezer. Only Wendy’s has the fresh beef and thick bacon to give you a hamburger worthy of the name Baconator.
You can be a part of Wendy’s KSR Top 10 Tweets by using hashtags like #KSR #BBN or #KSRtop10. You can also nominate tweets by mentioning them with the hashtag. If we like what we see, it could be posted the next day. Now. On to the tweets:
— Caleb (@DrSayre) October 24, 2016
Hey, when you win a national championship you can be Twitter illiterate.
#9 Joey H.
— Joey H (@JoeyHerm) October 23, 2016
He’s cooler than any basketball player right now, and that’s saying something.
#8 The Caleb Sanders
— The Caleb Sanders (@big_smooth77) October 23, 2016
Well. At least we have that going for us.
— Billy (@OneSideDone) October 23, 2016
That shoe needs to be put on display in the Joe Craft Practice Facility.
#6 Travis Earlywine
— Travis Earlywine (@TravisEarlywine) October 23, 2016
Now that’s just too far
#5 Michael B. Vanover
— Michael B. Vanover (@theblakevanover) October 23, 2016
I feel like this relates to several aspects of my life.
#4 Kenny Fuller
@DrewFranklinKSR hmm…according to the shirt, I thought facts were optional lol
— Kenny Fuller (@nohairkenny) October 23, 2016
Well. I mean. They are.
#3 Michael Cain
@KySportsRadio when is a good time to sub Coach Cal in at QB?
— Michael Cain (@mvcwildcatfan) October 23, 2016
#2 Andrew Cassady
You vs the guy she told you not to worry about pic.twitter.com/RMbh7ZvVVX
— Andrew Cassady (@AndCassady) October 23, 2016
#1 David Tade
— David Tade (@DavidTade1) October 22, 2016
Knowing Cal, probably both.
By Brad Sherman on ©October 24th, 2016 @ 10:00pm
The Kentucky Wildcats are above .500 in SEC play for what feels like the first time in my life. UK is also sitting alone in second place in the SEC East standings this week. Let that sink in for a minute; seven games into a season that many gave up after game one, Kentucky is one game behind Florida for the SEC East lead. That is truly unbelievable.
Glass-half-empty fans will point out that the three SEC wins so far are against three of the four worst teams in the league…and they would be correct. But glass-half-full fans like me can counter that UK teams would typically have lost all three of the SEC games that they have won, especially after such a disastrous start to the season. It doesn’t really matter how you look at it, here is the bottom line: if the Cats can continue finding ways to take advantage of a weakened SEC East, this could turn into one of the most unexpected successful seasons in UK football history. The wins may be coming in unconventional, less than ideal ways; but this is Kentucky football, and we should be happy to take SEC wins any way that we can get them.
With that being said, I would like to give a shout-out to the two individuals that I believe are most responsible for this turn of events, offensive coordinator Eddie Gran and his right hand man Darin Hinshaw. Sure, Stoops’ takeover of the defense has been hugely important for the team. But I believe that what Gran/Hinshaw have done since Stephen Johnson took over as QB1 has changed the complexion of the entire team. The pair of offensive leaders has established an identity for this offense, which has indirectly done the same for this entire football team. For the first time in Stoops’ tenure in Lexington, the Cats know who they are as a football team – we are a power running team. But this identity is even more about attitude than it is about schematics.
This establishing of identity has been crucial to the Cats’ resurgence; it is impossible to overstate the importance of simply knowing who you are. With their new-found identity, the offense has now established a personality as an aggressive, physical unit. This change of philosophy has particularly agreed with offensive line coach John Schlarman’s group. Ask any lineman and they will tell you that if they had their pick they would run the ball every down. Thanks to the newfound offensive attitude, the offensive line is no longer reacting to the defense; instead, they are attacking the defense. Football is more fun when you are doing the hitting instead of being hit. Led by a strong interior line – which really found their stride when Bunchy Stallings was inserted as starting right guard – UK’s big guys up front have big hitting people, and hitting them hard. When Alabama’s all-world defensive end Jonathan Allen says the Kentucky offensive line was the most physical he’s played against, that is a pretty good gauge of just how nasty the Wildcat line has become.
It is no coincidence that this offensive identity emerged at the same time as Benny Snell. Snell embodies everything that UK’s offense has become – he is big, physical, and nasty. He’d rather run through contact than around it. He is a puncher, not a punching bag. To me, Benny Snell is the picture of what Kentucky Football has become this season, and his attitude has been infectious on the sidelines. Boom Williams has become much tougher running between the tackles, and since returning from injury Jo Jo Kemp has looked really good as well. Competition demands that each player step up their game or else risk losing all of their carries to Snell, and so far Williams/Kemp have chosen to step up their game. The running game has become one of the two or three best in the SEC, which is even more impressive considering that the passing game is a still a work in progress. No matter how Stephen Johnson is throwing the ball, the Cats know they are going to line up and establish their physical rushing attack. That is what they do because that is who they are now.
But the change hasn’t just been on the offensive side of the ball. Despite giving up 38 points to MSU on Saturday, the defense has made unbelievable strides over the last four games. While I give a ton of credit for the defense’s improvement to Coach Stoops taking over the play-calling, I truly believe that the defense is also feeding off of the attitude of the offense. The offense has become an aggressive, physical offense and we are starting to see signs of the defense following suit. When they see the swagger that the offense has from imposing their will on the opposing defense, it makes them want to play with that same physicality and intensity. There is just something about watching your teammates pummel people that makes you want to do the same. The offense’s identity is starting to become the entire team’s identity.
As big as a winning season would be at this point, this newfound attitude could pay even greater long-term dividends for UK football. Great football programs have an identity that carries over from year to year. Take Alabama for instance; there are characteristics and attitudes that are consistent in Tuscaloosa even when coordinators and personnel changes. Regardless of what offensive/defensive schemes are used from season to season, Alabama football is an identity built on the attitudes and characteristics that Nick Saban’s teams embody. Now I’m not trying to pretend the Cats have arrived by any means, and I’m certainly not comparing UK football to Alabama football. But if Kentucky wants to become a respectable football program they have to start where they are, and I believe that discovering the attitude and identity that they want to play with is a great place to start. In fact, I believe that if the Stoops era proves successful we will look back at the attitude that Gran/Hinshaw’s offensive philosophy introduced to this year’s squad as the pivotal moment of the turnaround.
Many of us wrote this season, and Coach Stoops, off after the 0-2 start. But with their backs against the wall, this team changed its mindset and established an identity – an identity that I believe UK can build a program around. Kentucky is not without flaws by any means; in fact, they have more than a few things to improve on in order to complete the mission of making the postseason this year. But what they do have now is a sense of who they are and who they want to be. In spite of their errors down the stretch on Saturday, Boom Williams confidently told kicker Austin McGinnis to be ready because they would get him in range to win the game. When all of BBN thought “here we go again,” Kentucky played with the confidence and winning attitude that can only be found when a team knows who they are. The Kentucky Wildcats have an identity, and if they can stay the course I believe this could be the beginning of slow but sustainable progress as a football program.
For this weekend’s matchup with Mizzou I believe the Cats will continue their winning ways against the SEC’s bottom-feeders. I’ll take UK 31 – Missouri 24 to all but clinch bowl eligibility for Mark Stoops and the Wildcats. If my beloved Cubbies can finally make a World Series, why can’t the Cats keep winning SEC games? Go Cubs Go, and Go Big Blue!
By Nick Roush on ©October 24th, 2016 @ 9:30pm
This November, your Kentucky Wildcats will play Basketball in Paradise at the first annual Atlantis Showcase in the Bahamas. The Cats will take on Arizona State University at Atlantis, Paradise Island on November 28, 2016. The game will be played at the resort’s 3,800-seat temporary arena located in the Imperial Ballroom.
Book now from $199 a night and discounted tickets from $99. Don’t miss the action! Call 1-800-Atlantis or visit AtlantisBahamas.com for more information.
There’s another way you can watch your Cats in person. Hey Kentucky! is giving out an all-expense paid trip for two to the person with the best impression of a notable Kentuckian. Discover the details in the video below.