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January 25th, 2015

Tai Wynyard’s Sunday Night News and Views


Photo courtesy of

The first Sunday afternoon of the year with no football usually means a slow day in sports, but not for us college basketball fans. Duke stormed back from a double-digit deficit at Madison Square Garden to give Coach K his 1,000th win. While the rest of the world celebrates the milestone, we remember the reason why he should still have 999: Christian Laettner’s stomp on Aminu Timberlake.

Elsewhere in the ACC, Virgina escaped to stay unbeaten with a 60-57 win over Virginia Tech. The Hokies, 8-11 and 0-6 in ACC play, led for most of the second half but couldn’t finish it off. After a lackluster performance by the Cavs, we’ll see tomorrow if the Cats could be a unanimous No. 1 once again. Also in action today was the UK women. The No. 14 Cats defeated Missouri on the road, 83-69.

The biggest UK news of the day is the commitment of New Zealand big man Tai Wynyard. The 6’9″ 265-pound Wynyard visited Kentucky two weeks ago and liked what he saw, choosing the Cats over Villanova and Texas this afternoon. Currently Wynyard is a member of the 2016 class, but New Zealand’s academic calendar could allow him to reclassify to the 2015 class. If Wynyard does reclassify, he’d join the Cats in January, 2016. Now with five projected first rounders on the roster, the sooner Wynard can play, the better.

Here is what everyone is saying about the son of two World Champion wood-choppers:

ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla: What Tai Wynyard means for Kentucky

Tai Wynyard, who committed to Kentucky on Sunday over Villanova and Texas, is one of the best young 16-year-old players in the world at the moment.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s ready-made to step in for the Wildcats. But they are getting a 6-foot-9 power forward who plays with terrific physical toughness inside for his age. He has an ability to make shots away from the basket, but his bread and butter is around the rim. In many ways he reminds me of a young Enes Kanter, a Turkish import who never gained NCAA eligibility at Kentucky and still ended up as an NBA lottery pick with the Utah Jazz.’s Evan Daniels: Why Tai Wynyard picked Kentucky

“I commited to Kentucky because I feel like they will push me to my maximum potential, the academic side looked awesome and the facility was great,” Wynyard said.

What did Wynyard like most about his visit to Kentucky?
“The fans,” he said. “They were awesome.”

Courier Journal’s Steve Jones: Wynyard’s skills compare to Trey Lyles

Wynyard said he’s mostly a physical inside player, but he believes he’ll develop into hybrid power forward/small forward at UK as he continues to work on his shooting, ball-handling and other perimeter skills. Calipari told him he thinks his development pattern could follow that of 6-9 UK freshman Trey Lyles, who was almost exclusively a center in high school but now plays primarily small forward.

Herald Leader’s Ben Roberts: Pro experience won’t impact Wynyard’s eligibility

There are no questions about Wynyard’s amateur status as a college recruit, unlike former UK recruit Enes Kanter, who played for a Turkish professional team and was later ruled ineligible at Kentucky.

Wynyard sits on the (New Zealand) Breakers bench for home games but does not travel with the team and is not paid by the Breakers. His parents and Breakers personnel are aware of the requirements for NCAA eligibility and have kept Wynyard on the path to play in college.

“He’s not going to have any eligibility issues whatsoever,” Jonathan Givony said (of “He’s been on the college track from a very early age.”

–In football recruiting, there was good news and bad news today. The good news was that Kentucky received a commitment from Ohio 3-star defensive tackle Javon Provitt, who also held offers from Cincinnati, Ohio, West Virginia and Purdue.

The bad news is the decommitment of 3-star defensive back Jeremiah Dinson. The Miami native announced the news on Twitter today and is now considered an Auburn lean.

–In an NBA thriller between ex-Cats, Anthony Davis (28 points, 10 rebounds, 5 steals) carried the Pelicans to victory over Rajon Rondo (17 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds) and the Mavericks. Davis sealed the game with two free throws and a late steal.

–Last but certainly not least, congratulations to Randall Cobb on his Pro Bowl debut. I’m a little embarrassed to admit I was watching the Pro Bowl, but Cobb hauled in a 9-yard reception on the game’s first drive.


An Average Week in the Life of a Kentucky Basketball Fan


I’ve noticed myself falling into a very regular routine each week when it comes to being a Kentucky basketball fan. My plans always have to take into consideration when Kentucky plays, and my Twitter and KSR activity revolves around the Cats as well. On a typical week, when Kentucky plays on Tuesday and Saturday during the SEC season… 



– Stick your chest out a little further after reading in the newspaper online that Kentucky remains in the #1 spot in the Top 25 polls

– Quickly count how many votes Kentucky did NOT receive for #1

– Google search those 2 voters to find out whether or not they are from Indiana, North Carolina or the Courier Journal

– Tweet them this picture every hour on the hour, because you are all about being subtle and not going too far.

– Stress about the new bracketology that is WAY TOO premature. The only thing for certain about the bracketology is that the NCAA will put Kentucky and Louisville in the same bracket.

– Check to see if the line for tomorrow night’s SEC game has come out yet.

– If it’s Kentucky by 20 or more, brace yourself for a nail biter.

– If it’s Kentucky by 12 or less, brace yourself for a blow out.

– Check to see which UK player won SEC Freshman of the Week this time around: Devin Booker, Tyler Ulis, Trey Lyles or Karl Anthony Towns

– Visit to make sure that he didn’t implement a tweak over the weekend.

– Read a quote from whatever opposing coach Kentucky faces on Tuesday that says, “This Kentucky team is as good of a defense as I’ve seen in years.”



– Try not to let anyone at work catch you reading Aaron Flener’s Bachelor post, because you know you kind of watched it last night.

– Set your DVR to record the Kentucky game.

– Add an extra hour to the DVR recording because this team has a tendency to find themselves in overtime.

– Remind yourself of which SEC team we play tonight.

– Scroll through the roster to see if you recognize any of the players….




Haha that’s a funny name.



THAT GUY? NO WAY he is still in college. I feel like I’ve been watching him for 6 years.


No, but he looks random so he will probably be the one guy to go off for about 20 tonight and then never score in double figures again.


-Incessantly check Twitter for the hour leading up to the game to make sure Tyler Ulis isn’t sick, or to see if Dominique Hawkins is starting.

– (If it’s a road game) As the broadcast begins, think to yourself “I don’t remember seeing 1/4 of that many people in (enter random SEC team’s arena/gym) when I accidentally stumbled upon their game against Auburn on the SEC Network last week.

– Read at least 2 tweets from Jeff Goodman or other national media members during the game that not so subtly take a jab at Andrew Harrison.

– Watch Kentucky add another victory to your “10-0″ “11-0″ “12-0″ etc. tweet that you send out at the end of each win.

– Listen to Calipari talk about being everyone’s super bowl, telling the team they won’t have practice, or saying “platoon” at least 3 times during the post-game press conference.

– Dream sweet dreams of another national championship.



– Read every single article you can about last night’s win.

– Shake your head in disbelief as you scan through the other SEC scores from last night’s games. Everyone who was supposed to win lost. Everyone who was supposed to lose won. And Florida lost, again.

– (If it was a non-conference game against a mid-level team) read a quote from the coach after last night’s game telling everyone that Kentucky could be an NBA team.

– Either partake in or watch others over-analyze an undefeated team… because it’s impossible to just be content



– Stumble upon at least 4-5 pictures of children standing next to a UK-themed snow man, while throwing up 3 goggles

– Read about what % chance Kentucky has to win each of its remaining games.

– Smile because it’s not looking good for everyone else.

– Read about whatever “t-shirt night” the SEC opponent coming up on Saturday has planned for Kentucky coming to town…

– Check again to make sure there hasn’t been another tweak.

– Laugh at C.M. Tomlin’s Thursday post because you understand it.

– Get mad at C.M. Tomlin’s Thursday post because you aren’t smart enough to get it….and comment “THIS IS A SPORTS BLOG!! MORE MIX TAPES PLZZZ! YOUR SUCH A IDIOT!”



– Watch a highlight of John Wall doing a ridiculous move, Anthony Davis getting a double-double or some analyst explaining how DeMarcus Cousins is the best center in the NBA.

– Realize that somehow… DeMarcus Cousins has still not been named to the NBA All-Star team. (Fingers crossed it still might happen)

– Check the spread for Saturday’s game. Once again, if Kentucky is heavily favored… brace yourself for a tough game. If Kentucky is considered to be in for a closer game, expect a blow out.

– Read about whatever bad story has broken at Louisville this week buried in “10:30 at night on Friday…surely no one will really notice, even better if it’s a holiday….news”



– Plan your entire Saturday around when Kentucky plays.

– Set your DVR to record the game.

– Set your DVR to record an extra hour.

– Yell at the TV because some Big 10 game no one cares about (here’s looking at you, Indiana) is going into overtime and will cause you to miss the beginning of the UK game.

– Thank the man upstairs when you realize that the game will be carried on ESPN News for the beginning.

– Either get pissed that you still haven’t added ESPN News even though this happens every time, or give yourself a high 5 for finally biting the bullet and paying that extra $10 a month.

– Tweet something angry at Time Warner Cable (@TWC) because either way… they’ve likely done something wrong today.

– Watch Kentucky play, knowing the mood of the rest of your weekend depends on it.

– Think of new ways to incorporate the “3 goggles” emoji into Devin Booker’s name in a Tweet.

– Celebrate yet another victory for the Cats.

– Ignore those who still continue to pit one set of guards against the other.

– Go to sleep dreaming of another national championship.



– Get a twinge of sadness as you read that after yesterday’s game, Devin Booker is yet again climbing up the draft boards.

– Go back through Twitter to see how many times Kyle Tucker has used the word “helluva” this week

– Listen to people claim the SEC is still the worst conference, while ignoring another loss by Tom Izzo.

– Read a Frank Martin tweet and try to decipher what he is saying. Wonder to yourself why no one has told him that he can split his thoughts up into multiple tweets


– (If it’s still NFL football season) Cheer for Randall Cobb, whether you like the Green Bay Packers or not. Tweet proudly when he scores a TD, because you know he will.

– Watch all of the best GIFs from yesterday’s game at least 10-12 times.

– Ignore all of the “ICYMI” articles that the media has been trying to get you to read 17 times today. If I didn’t click the first time, why am I going to click now?

– Call your parents to thank them for raising you as a Kentucky fan and not a Louisville fan.


Rinse and Repeat next week.

Deflategate, Chris Jones’ Flop and the Morality of Sport

chris jones flops mattstonephotog

Call me a prude, but if I hear yet another story this week about how grown men handle their balls, I’m boycotting ESPN.

Unless you’ve been hiking the Pacific Crest Trail with Reese Witherspoon (a great flick, by the way, from Ms. Flick), your aural and visual senses likely have been inside zone blitzed for days by “Deflategate,” the latest SPORTS SCANDAL OF THE CENTURY, in which the New England Patriots have been accused of breaking NFL rules by under-inflating footballs for competitive advantage during last week’s AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.

The over-scrutinized, über-hyperbolic media coverage of the brouhaha (more cleverly-named “Ballghazi”) clearly demonstrates how in today’s angry Twitterverse, the sports news vacuum created by Super Bowl Bye Week is no longer the exclusive dominion of pro-NFL hype.

But even though the media’s reaction has been wildly disproportionate to the nature of the wrongdoing, it’s an important discussion to have.  And while I’m a hard-core Pats fan (I went to school in Boston), should the NFL’s investigation prove the culpability of superstar quarterback Tom Brady or head coach Bill Belichick (who should already be on double-secret probation for 2007’s Spygate scandal), either man should be suspended immediately and punished severely.

For despite the extraordinary unlikelihood that the slight ball deflation altered the outcome of the game (New England crushed Indy 45-7), the incident strikes at the core value of competitive athletics.  Due to sport’s unique and exceptional impact on society, we must insist on a zero tolerance policy on cheating.

There are many gradations of cheating in the sports world.  First and worst is subverting team play in order to secure outside financial advantage, such as through point-shaving or game-throwing as part of an illegal sports gambling conspiracy.  Close behind is trying to capture game-day advantage through means that demonstrably risk long-term physical harm, i.e. overuse of performance enhancing drugs. (While I argued here that Big Sport should reconsider its War on Steroids, I have no sympathy for the Lance Armstrongs of the world who know the rules and deviously violate them.)  Then comes impropriety such as Deflategate — or baseball-scuffing or bat-corking –where the playing field is unleveled, and confidence in the sanctity of the game is undermined.

But in a different sense, perhaps the worst kind of sports cheating is the most subtle, by far the most common, and unfortunately, the most accepted as part of the nature of the game.  I’m speaking of the little lies that players tell as they seek unfair advantage through undetected deception and understated artifice.  It’s the outfielder who knows he trapped the ball but pretends to have caught it cleanly.  It’s the defensive lineman who burrows through a pile to wrest the ball out of the hands out of the running back who legitimately held possession when the whistle blew.  It’s the tennis player who calls the ball out when she’s the only one who knows that it nicked the baseline.  It’s the catcher who “frames” the pitch by quickly moving his glove into the strike zone to fool the umpire.

And then — by far the most pervasive subtle cheating today — it’s the flop: the World Cup midfielder, or NFL wide receiver, or NHL defenseman who fakes contact with an opponent to delude the referee into calling a penalty on the other team.

The Big Blue Nation witnessed one of the most ridiculous exhibits of this misconduct in Kentucky’s December matchup with intrastate archival Louisville.  As Cats big Dakari Johnson hauled down a rebound, Cardinal guard Chris Jones pretended that he was struck by Johnson’s elbow; and in what my colleague Drew Franklin termed the “worst acting performance since Eddie Murphy in The Adventures of Pluto Nash,” he continued to feign an imaginary jaw injury minutes after Dakari’s swing and whiff. (Watch the replay or check out this Play-doh recreation.)

Of course, sports fans, there was a happy ending. The refs didn’t buy what Jones was selling; the national press lambasted him; and much to his credit, coach Rick Pitino benched the Card guard for most of the following game.  Even Jones admitted later that the whole incident was “embarrassing.”

But too often, crime pays.  Miami star Dwayne Wade’s infamous flop in Game 2 of last year’s NBA finals put All-Star San Antonio Spur Manu Ginobili into early foul trouble, likely influencing the outcome of a game that Wade’s Heat won by only two points.  And just a few weeks ago, a Tyson Chandler flop pretty much clinched the game for his Dallas Mavericks, fouling out the Sacramento Kings’ best player, former Cat Demarcus “Boogie” Cousins.

But it’s less the outcome than the behavior itself that’s most disturbing.  To be clear, game-throwing, PED-using and even equipment-altering are much more morally offensive than subtle play-acting.  But when these transparently egregious infractions are identified, the strong penalties that are usually imposed send a powerful public message.

By contrast, when a player gets away with a particular crafty flop or an ingenious deception — especially if he is on our team — he sometimes is celebrated.  Bobby Thompson may have hit “the shot heard around the world,” to win the 1951 National League playoff with the Brooklyn Dodgers, but New York Giants were stealing the catcher’s signs to his pitcher, a practice still defended to this day by some fans and surviving players.

And that’s the pernicious problem.  Over the past few months, I’ve used this column to extol the virtue and meaning of sport, particularly my favorite, college hoops.  I’ve discussed how Anthony Davis models selflessness; how Richie Farmer’s foibles offer meaningful lessons on hubris, entitlement and forgiveness; and most of all, how Kentucky basketball serves as the most powerful force in our Commonwealth for community and connection.

So when players cheat and then triumph, sport is sending an equally compelling, but this time a sinister and destructive message: that dishonesty is permissible on occasion, that deception is acceptable societal behavior.  In a culture where winning is everything, the lesson learned — particularly by our impressionable youth — is that corner-cutting, spin, and clever chicanery are the necessary arsenal to achieve the American Dream.  The slope from flopping to test cheating to tax dodging to political lying to insider trading to criminal defrauding is quite slippery indeed.

Sports have a commanding influence on our society; they must model integrity, fairness, rectitude, and character.   That’s why the NFL must crack down strongly on the Ballghazi perpetrators.  And that’s why college refs should start assessing technical fouls — and in the most egregious cases, suspensions — for any proven instances of malicious flopping.

As we watch grownups play kids’ games, we should always remember to see them through our children’s eyes.  It’s critical that the lessons young people learn from the sport model the kind of society we’d like them to inherit.

UK Hoops Beat Mizzou, 83-69.

(Britney Howard/ UK Athletics)

(Britney Howard/UK Athletics)

After being upset Sunday in Baton Rouge against a feisty LSU team, Matthew Mitchell’s #14 UK Hoops was back in action today in Columbia against the Missouri Tigers in their second ‘We Back Pat’ game. The ‘We Back Pat’ movement is a week-long event in the SEC to raise awareness for the legendary Tennessee women’s coach Pat Summitt’s foundation to help those, like herself, who are fighting Alzheimer’s disease. After a stellar second half, Kentucky came out with the win, 83-69.

Kentucky started the first half super slow, only going 2-10 from the field and trailing almost all of the first six minutes of the half until tying the game at around the fourteen minute mark. From there, the Cats took off, going on a 13-3 run. Kentucky didn’t make their first three pointer of the game until freshman Alexis Jennings finally knocked one down at the 11:50 mark to extend Kentucky’s lead out to seven. After not taking a shot in the first 12 minutes of the game, Jennifer O’Neill made a three pointer at 8:05. Then, Mizzou took the opportunity of Kentucky missing a few shots to cut the lead, but after a technical was called on the Mizzou bench, Kentucky extended their lead back up to eight when Bria Goss knocked down both of the free throws to take the score out to 41-37. Kentucky ended the half on a sour note. After O’Neill fouled Mizzou’s Sierra Michaelis swiping for the ball, Morgan Eye, who leads the SEC in 3 point FG made per game, was allowed to take Mizzou’s free throws after Michaelis was shaken up on the play. She put in both to cut Kentucky’s lead at halftime to three, 43-40.

Kentucky led almost 18 minutes of the second half, only giving Mizzou the lead for seven seconds after Azia Bishop committed a foul. The Cats outscored Mizzou 40-29 in the second half. After a quiet first half, Jen O’Neill had the hot hand for the Cats, going 5-8 from the field and tallying 15 of her 19 points in the second half alone. Makayla Epps also secured her second career double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. For the second game in a row Kentucky had a total of five players in double figures: Bria Goss (16 pts, 1 assist), Linnae Harper (15 pts, 11 rebounds), Makayla Epps, Jen O’Neill, and Alexis Jennings (10 pts, 6 rebounds). The Cats shot 42.3% from the field, and scored 23 points off of Missouri’s 22 turnovers. The Cats won the points in the paint battle 20-8 and got 12 steals, the team’s ninth straight game with 10 or more steals. With today’s win, Kentucky moves to 16-4 on the season and 5-2 in the SEC.

The Wildcats are back in action Thursday night at 7 against fifth ranked Tennessee in Memorial Coliseum. The Lady Vols are 17-3 on the season and undefeated in conference. They beat #22 Georgia today, 59-51 in Knoxville. Thursday’s matchup between the Cats and the Vols will be broadcasted on the SEC Network. Austin and I will also be in the building to give you our coverage here on KSR and to reiterate my unadulterated hate for Tennessee (hate just isn’t even a strong enough word for my feelings for Tennessee). Until then, Go Cats.

YAHTZEE! 2015 Defensive Tackle Javon Provitt commits to Kentucky


YAHTZEE! According to Justin Rowland Kentucky signed its 18th commitment for the class of 2015 tonight when defensive tackle Javon Provitt pledged to the Cats. Provitt hails from Ohio and Vince Marrow was the lead recruiter. Provitt (6-3, 305 lbs.) was a 3-star recruit based on 247 Sports’ rankings, and held offers from Cincinnati, Ohio, West Virginia and Purdue.

Coach Cal had a message for Coach K regarding his 1,000 Win


Coach K finally got that 1,000th win today (even though ESPN has been ready for it for about 2 weeks now). Duke looked to be in trouble early, but rallied late to give Krzyzewski his milestone victory. Before the game, John Calipari had a message for men’s college basketball’s winningest coach.

I still hate Duke. And I still can’t spell that last man’s name without looking it up.

Update: Tai Wynyard may join Kentucky in January of 2016


The good news of the day may even get a little sweeter, as Kentucky’s latest 2016 commitment, New Zealand big man Tai Wynyard says he might join Kentucky in January of 2016. For those who struggle with math like I do, that means that Wynyard COULD join Kentucky’s team next year halfway through the season. 

The 6-9 descendant of wood choppers caught up with Evan Daniels of Scout to discuss his timetable for arriving at Kentucky as well as his reasons for committing. “I committed to Kentucky because I feel like they will push me to my maximum potential , the academic side looked awesome and the facility was great.” 

When pressed on what his favorite part about Kentucky was, Wynyard responded, “The fans. They were awesome.”

As far as when Wynyard plans to enroll, he told Daniels that he hasn’t quite made that decision yet. He will either join with the rest of the 2016 class, or join midway through next season. 


To read Daniels’ full article, click here. 

Rick Pitino needs Harry’s Razors

As Matt Jones said, “The promo code is ‘Jones'” at Harry’s Razors. Maybe Rick is trying a new look… or not shaving until Montrezl makes himself captain again.

Virginia remains unbeaten in a close one

(Via John_Shiflett)


Buzz Williams’ sweaty leaping didn’t prove enough to knock off #2 ranked Virginia. Virginia remains undefeated and atop the rankings right behind Kentucky. Virginia Tech was able to give Tony Bennett’s squad all they wanted in a 50-47 thriller.

The reaction from a young Virginia Tech fan was overshadowed by the incredible NON-REACTION of Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer.



TIMBER!!!! Tai Wynyard commits to Kentucky


That didn’t take long. According to Evan Daniels, New Zealand forward Tai Wynyard has committed to Kentucky. The 6’9″ 265 lbs. Wynyard visited Kentucky two weeks ago and obviously liked what he saw, picking the Cats over Villanova and Texas this afternoon.

In case you forgot, Wynyard is best known around here for being the son of two world champion wood choppers. He’s expected to be part of Kentucky’s 2016 class.

Wynyard played a few games with the New Zealand national team this summer, which means his dance at Big Blue Madness has to be the Haka, right?

Welcome to the fam, Tai.

3-star DB de-commits from UK, may pledge Auburn

2014 NFTC Miami

With just over a week to go before National Signing Day, UK has lost a big defensive commitment – and it comes just days after getting a big one.

Jeremiah Dinson, a 2015 defensive back, announced on Twitter today that he has decommitted from UK.

Auburn is now the favorite, according to 24/7 Sports.

Dinson, a 6-foot, 180-pound defensive back for American High School in Miami, committed to UK in September.

dinson tweet

The news comes just days after UK got an Auburn player to switch to the Cats. Three-star defensive back Chris Westry flipped to UK earlier last week.



Hey, this Calipari kid can shoot!


You may have heard of him. His name’s Calipari. Brad Calipari.

Check it out: the kid can shoot. And note the gesture after the made three?

Maybe Devin Booker got it from Brad.

Watch the younger Cal go off against Carlton Bragg’s team last night: