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November 26th, 2014

“We Ask You Wednesdays” Vol. 24

(EHarmony.UK.com)

 

The off-season is technically over, but the folks here at KSR love getting your input on things… relevant and bizarre. We have to get a little creative around here sometimes.Earlier this summer I started a weekly series called “We Ask You Wednesdays,” that brought in some great responses from many readers via Twitter. Most of you all, All of you all, Everyone but my Mom and Dad,Some of you all probably hate it, but it’s either this or I’ll post another Trey Lyles mix tape.

Each week, the question will change and we will hit on a variety of topics, mostly UK-related… but you never know. Each week the best responses will make it on to the website.  This week’s ninth volume of the “We Ask You Wednesday” allowed Kentucky fans to answer the following question via Twitter in 140 characters or less: WHAT KENTUCKY-RELATED THING/PERSON ARE YOU MOST GRATEFUL FOR THIS THANKSGIVING?

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Amen to that.

 

I think we are all grateful for the coaches in pretty much every sport here at Kentucky these days. 

 

Hey, whatever it takes.

The true meaning of Thanksgiving spirit….

A sweeter version of the Thanksgiving spirit…

Spinning in rolly chairs, dancing on the sidelines, talking about 100 pound coats….

 Speaking of 100 pound coats. Did you get yours at the Burlington Coat Factory?

That was awfully nice of him. I hope you weren’t wearing orange.

Suck up….

I think this goes for basketball and football.

Bobby Knight does not approve this message.

That’s good “keep things in perspective” advice. Also, beat Louisville.

As long as someone else was behind the wheel.

#NeverForget

Retweet.

 

Having a consistent outside shooting threat is certainly always a blessing after the West Virginia calamity of 2010. 

Eat D. Lamb? How about Tweet D. Lamb.

BEST ANSWER OF THE WEEK:

 

I hate that song. So much. It makes me very much the opposite of happy.


10 Signs Cal is Swaggy

cal-dealwithit

John Calipari’s always had some swagger, but with his most talented squad ever holding teams like Kansas to 40 points, at times, it feels like Swaggy Cal has completely taken over. How can you spot a Swaggy Cal? Here are ten telltale signs:

1. He talks in his “whiny media voice”

This season, Calipari has a campaign against the “clutter” heaped on his players by the media. Everyone is buzzing about the Cats right now and Cal is distinctly “anti-clutter,” even if he talks about it so often that he creates a lot of it himself. On Sunday night, Calipari mimicked the clutter in his special “whiny media voice”:

“Wait a minute. What about the media? 45 straight. They got to win ‐‐ can they beat the 76ers? Let’s take a vote. What?”

Now if he would just complain about transcribing and free food in that voice, he’d totally nail the impersonation.

2. When asked a question, he talks about a completely different topic

Calipari is the master of controlling a conversation. When asked a question, he’ll only really answer it if that’s what he wants to talk about. If not, he’ll change the topic to whatever’s on his mind. On Sunday, a question about Devin Booker’s shot selection quickly morphed into an answer about his players dealing with the pressure and expectations of being a UK basketball player, which Cal called “wearing a hundred-pound coat.” Speaking of…

3. He breaks out the catchphrases

The coat, the tweak, the platoons, reinforcements, tanks on a hill, hum ditty-ditty! Pooping ice cream, fifth-most shots, fourth-most shots, brother’s keeper. If Cal really likes something, he’ll turn it into a catchphrase…

…and then run it into the ground.

4. He talks to fans about autographing basketballs during the postgame show

After he’s done with his postgame press conference, Calipari goes back out on the court to do radio with Tom Leach. In a growing tradition, fans stick around to listen and get autographs from Cal while he’s on the radio, and this season, he’s so swaggy that he’s telling fans what kind of basketballs he’ll sign while on the air.

“Now, guys, I’ll only sign the ones without the pebbles because the pebbles tear up my pen.”

“Walk down. There you go. You were going to hit someone on the head.”

“I love you all, but I’m not signing those pebble balls.”

Captain #TeamNF reporting.

5. He sends out “pump the brakes” tweets to fans

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 6.19.01 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 6.19.24 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 6.19.43 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 6.19.58 PM

Odds he was doing this when he wrote that?

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6. He brings a balloon to his press conference

@UKAthletics

After his birthday tweet heard round the world, Cal tried to make things right with his daughter, Megan, by bringing a birthday balloon to his press conference Sunday night. The gesture was sweet, but it was also Cal thumbing his nose a bit at the national media for pouncing on an innocent mistake.

“Why does that go all over the world, by the way? The whole world, yeah, but it was like they invited me to Good Morning America to talk about it. What? It is my daughter’s birthday. Man I got platoons and…”

To clarify, “Good Morning America” didn’t really invite him on, but Cal said he would accept if they did, because of course.

7. He does his press conferences in “call and response” style

Ain’t no press conference like a Calipari press conference. What other coach flips the script and makes reporters answer questions? Swaggy Cal dangles statements and stats out there for reporters to finish, and if they don’t, he chastises them for not being “basketball Bennies.” You know Cal’s REALLY feeling great when he spars with Jerry Tipton.

cal-wizard

8. He calls himself the magician

Cal, or rather “John in Kentucky,” famously called into the Mike Francesa show this summer to defend himself when Francesa said he’s not a great X’s and O’s coach. “Are you saying I can’t coach? Why didn’t you say that while I was sitting next to you? You said ‘he’s not great at X’s and O’s.’ That’s basically saying I can’t coach. You know what they call me? A magician. ‘Cal the magician.’”

Definitely not “The humble magician.”

9. He pauses after statements and gives everyone “that look”

calsmirk

Yeah, that’s the one.

10. He calls out his enemies

We all remember Pat Forde’s article after the loss to South Carolina telling Calipari to lie in the bed he made. Turns out that bed was pretty comfortable; however, with expectations ratcheting up and the media just waiting for the platoon system to fail, Cal couldn’t help but get in another shot at Forde:

“You’ve got people right now on radio silence because there’s not enough to write that story. The problem is they’ve written those stories and gotten burned because we turned it around and they look like fools, so there’s radio silence right now because they’re not going to do it yet.”

Swaggy Calipari never forgets.


This week’s USA Today Campus Report


The Only Stat that Matters in the Governor’s Cup

With the Governor’s Cup moved to the season finale, there’s approximately eleventy-thousand ways to analyze the Cats and Cards’ previous 11 games.  No matter how much people talk about the importance Louisville’s win at Notre Dame or UK’s 5-game losing streak, there’s only one thing that matters: the rushing game.

For 18 consecutive years, whoever has tallied the most rush yards has won the game.

A game that has featured Tim Couch, Jared Lorenzen, Chris Redman, Brian Brohm, Andre Woodson and Teddy Bridgewater is not defined by the play of quarterbacks.  It’s all on the ground.  It doesn’t matter where they play or the conditions, if you can play smashmouth football and control the ball in the run game, you will win.

During the losing streak, the BBN does what every fan base does when the offense sucks: blame the play-caller (the defense has been worse, but people don’t question Stoops/Eliot’s decisions).  Patrick Towles has been good, not great, but good enough for people to dream of “Tim Couch 2.”  There are times when I agree – the trap play up the middle for a yard can gray the hairs on the head – but to completely abandon the run game would be to completely abandon any hopes at beating Louisville.

Before looking at the numbers, it’s safe to assume the Louisville’s rush offense and defense is MUCH better than Kentucky’s.  The Cards have had four rushers with 100+ yard games and their defense is third in the nation at stopping the run.  Michael Dyer is as large as most Mack trucks, and he’s just one of three power-backs.

If you recall, Kentucky hasn’t done very well against power backs: Florida’s Matt Jones, South Carolina’s Mike Davis, LSU’s Terrance Magee, MSU’s Josh Robinson and Georgia’s Nick Chubb combined for 9 touchdowns and 834 yards (averaging 166.8 yards per game and almost 2 TDs).  A Bye Week can help you get healthy and improve on fundamentals, but completely flipping the switch to stop Dyer, Brown and Co. seems out of the question.

But I’m still saying there’s a chance.  The facade of Louisville’s rushing attack appears fierce, but they only average two more yards per game than the Cats.  That’s right BBN, Neal Brown’s stubbornness has paid off, averaging 153.4 yards a game compared to the Cards’ 155.5.

The greatest concern for the Cats’ run game is in Patrick Towles’ ankle.  Boom Williams is ‘banged up’ but you can still expect a big BOOM or two from the playmaker in the traditional run game.  However, Louisville’s defense works best against that style of play.  Needing versatility in the run game, Towles’ feet are the best option – IF his ankle is good to go.

Even though many expect the Cards to run away with it, Kentucky can too if they get it done on the ground.


Thanksgiving Eve’s Practice Notes

(James Crisp/AP)

Jason Hatcher knows a thing or two about the rivalry. (James Crisp/AP)

–  The Kentucky-Louisville rivalry brings out the best and worst of both schools and their fan bases.  The heart of the rivalry lies in Louisville, where Jason Hatcher grew up on the other side.  A former fan of “the other school,” Hatcher originally planned on donning the disgusting red and white for the rest of his life, but was smart enough to be persuaded to UK by Stoops and Co.

The decision to switch allegiances wasn’t easy: he had to convince his mother, a Louisville fan, that UK was the place to be.  Not only did he sell her that UK was the place to be, she’s completely abandoned ship on the Cards, “[I] Can’t get her out of a UK jersey now.  She wears it to church and everything.” 

–  To contain the Cards’ offense, the Cats must make Reggie Bonnafon beat them.  It’s easy to lose in this series without a run game.  They can’t afford to give up any more yards to the Quarterback.  DJ Eliot said today that the key against Bonnafon is to keep him in the pocket, forcing him to make decisions to throw the ball down the field.

–  Stoops showed the team some more footage of the rivalry today.  I doubt getting the team hyped will be a problem this week, “It’s pretty self-explanatory: if we win, we’re going to play another game.  I’ve told them they deserve it, they’ve worked hard.”

–  Plumbers might make some more money off the Stoops’.  The team will be spending the holiday morning together, with practice followed by a Thanksgiving feast.  The players will have the evening off to spend the time as they please, but he’s leaving his door open for players to celebrate at their house.  The last time they had the team over, the toilets took a beating.  Maybe their open-door policy shouldn’t apply to the bathrooms.


On this day in 1988…

John Calipari made his head coaching debut at the University of Massachusetts. A babyfaced Coach Cal led the Minutemen to a 84-61 win over Southern Connecticut in his college basketball debut. Four year later he would win 1992 Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year honors, then again in 1993 and 1996, the year he also won National Coach of the Year and took UMass to its first Final Four.

Now, 602 wins later, he is the head coach at the University of Kentucky with what could end up being one of the best teams in history.

Happy Coaching Birthday, Cal.


Two Providence guards are doubtful for the Kentucky game

Two of Providence’s contributors in the backcourt, one being the starting point guard, suffered ankle injuries Sunday that will likely keep them out of action against Kentucky. Kris Dunn and Jalen Lindsey underwent X-rays and MRIs yesterday to determine the extent of the injuries and head coach Ed Cooley expects them to be out of the next two games.

“They both have really bad sprains, tender to the touch,” Cooley said of his guards, who are both on crutches. “They’re very, very doubtful.”

Dunn is averaging nine points and over seven assists in 27 minutes per game as the team’s floor general. Lindsey, a freshman from Huntington Prep, has provided shooting relief off the bench, averaging over five points while shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc.

Add these injuries to the loss of Texas’ starting point guard and UK is getting some unwanted help in two of its most difficult home games this season.


First North Carolina, now UCLA goes down…

UCLA took the Battle 4 Atlantis court immediately after North Carolina’s loss to Butler, and the Bruins didn’t do any better. Kentucky’s December 20th opponent in Chicago lost to Oklahoma, 75-65.

That Kevon Looney guy is pretty tough, though.

Bring it.


UK Fans of the Day Want Two Quick Afternoon Thoughts

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It’s Thanksgiving so I am going to make this quick, but two big pieces of news came out this afternoon that have been lingering around KSR-ville for a while:

— First, FootballScoop.com reports that UK Offensive Coordinator Neal Brown is a finalist for the Troy head coaching job. This rumor has been making its way around Lexington for a few weeks and has been a story we have been chasing for the past few days. I couldn’t get confirmation that he is taking the job (apparently the new coach will be named next week) but I know there is interest there. Football Scoop is talking to folks on the Troy side and says a decision has nearly been made with an announcement next week. We shall see what happens but Brown has coached there before and they love him. If he is offered it, I would be shocked if he doesn’t take it. Brown is a head coach in waiting and Troy is a good starter job. If he gets its, I expect him to go. It would be a bump in the road, but not necessarily a crushing blow if UK can continue its progress. The key would be to find someone who can still do the Air Raid (or the version we run) so that one doesn’t have to completely re-tool with Towles, etc starting over. Watch for East Carolina Offensive Coordinator Lincoln Riley to be at least one of the candidates.

— Second, Andy Katz reports what we hinted at on radio last week, that UK and UCLA are likely to begin a 2 year home and home series next season. UK would first go to LA and then UCLA would come to Lexington in 2016. I am told that this series will replace the UNC series for two years (although UK will play UNC in 2016 as part of whatever that UNC/Ohio St/UCLA round robin thing is called) and give the Cats a marquee home and home for fans. It will also allow me (selfishly) to travel to the one great college basketball home court I have never been in, Pauley Pavilion.

With that announcement, UK’s non-conference schedule next year would look like this:

Duke (in Chicago)

Ohio State (in Brooklyn)

at UCLA

Louisville in Rupp

South Florida (in Miami)

Big 12 True Road Game

The final of those games is likely to be Kansas, which could put UK in Phog Allen Fieldhouse for the first time in a number of years. If that happens, the return game would be in 2016 in Rupp (UK would not agree to playing a true road game there without the same team playing in Rupp Arena). That would mean UCLA/Kansas in Rupp in the same year…get those tickets now.

For traveling UK fans, that means trips next year to New York, LA, Chicago and Miami…plus possibly Kansas. That is a heck of a road trip (Drew, I hope you are ready for lots of Conway Twitty).

With that, enjoy your holiday…we will be back on radio on Friday. I leave you with young Calipari and his daughters on an early Throwback Thursday:

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The KSR Secret Home-And-Home Series Revealed: UCLA!

UCLA head coach Steve Alford spilled the beans to ESPN.com on the top secret home-and-home series KSR teased you about on the radio last week. It’s a deal with UCLA that would send Big Blue Nation to California next season. UCLA would then come to Rupp Arena in 2016, making it three straight years we’ll see the Bruins.

Josh Hopkins, you live in Los Angeles, your thoughts?


And we thought Kentucky was blowing teams out…

@jamiestogs13

Virginia is up 1,817 points on Tennessee State with 13 minutes to go in the first half. That has to be a record.


UofL fan changes mind on Calipari after hearing entire “SEC Wired” audio

cal-wired

Last night on the KSR postgame show, a Louisville fan called in to say he recently had a change of heart regarding John Calipari.

The caller, Tim, worked Sunday’s UK-Montana State game for the SEC Network and was assigned to Cal’s in-game audio for the new ‘Wired’ feature, giving him a unique and uncensored perspective into Cal’s coaching.

“I got to listen to everything Cal said for about two and a half hours,” Tim told KSR. “I got a perspective to Cal as a coach, as a man, as a guy who loves his team, that I never thought I would get. The guy who is in the huddle with that team is a different guy than is on the podium at a press conference.”

It was shocking to me. He loves the players. He loves them as brothers; he loves them as a man; he’s trying to get them to reach their individual potential. He is trying to get them as a team to reach a potential that he sees and maybe they don’t even see it for themselves.”

Tim said the perception of Calipari in press conferences is it’s all about Cal and nationally he is seen as a guy who brings in the 10 best players in the country and gets credit for coaching them up when he rolls the ball out there. “That’s not at all what’s going on. He has got a mind of a coach way beyond Xs and Os.

Definitely give the call a listen in the podcast from last night, below. Tim’s call begins at the 14:50 mark and it includes a story of Cal asking Andrew what he wanted to do with Dominique Hawkins and why:


North Carolina lost to Butler

unc-loss

No. 5 North Carolina just lost to unranked Butler in the Battle 4 Atlantis quarterfinals this afternoon. Player of the Year candidate Marcus Paige scored 18 points for the Heels, but he looked erratic at times and went 5-for-17 from the field, including 3-for-10 from deep. Paige’s second bucket in the game didn’t come until there were two minutes left; if that happens again on December 13, UNC won’t pose much of a threat to the Wildcats in Rupp Arena.

UCLA, another upcoming opponent on UK’s non-conference slate, is up next in Atlantis on ESPN2. Today’s a good day for scouting. (And missing the Bahamas.)


Neal Brown is a finalist for the Troy job

According to the always-informed FootballScoop.com, Neal Brown is a finalist for the head coaching job at Troy University. Brown was an assistant at Troy from 2006 to 2009 and his name has been tossed around as a potential candidate there over the past few weeks.

Football Scoop expects the new coach to be named by Monday. The site mentions Brown as one of two “significant real candidates,” along with LSU running backs coach Frank Wilson.

[FootballScoop.com]


The Joe B. and Denny Bluegrass Showcase begins Friday

Let’s be honest here: You’re going to get tired of your in-laws by sundown tomorrow, so here’s an excuse to escape for the weekend. It’s called the Bluegrass Showcase and it features 14 of the nation’s best high school teams in a two-day event in Lexington.

Beginning Friday, the 12-game showcase at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School will see teams from Arlington County Day (FL), Carlisle School (VA), Homestead High School (IN), Huntington Prep (WV), La Lumiere (IN), Life Center Academy (NJ), Orangeville Prep (Ontario, Can.), Prime Prep (TX), Prolific Prep (CA), Quality Ed (NC), Sunrise Christian Academy (KS), Chicago Currie (IL), Faith Baptist Christian Academy North (GA) and White Station (TN).

UK targets Thon Maker (Orangeville), Caleb Swanigan (Homestead), Thomas Bryant (Huntington Prep), Miles Bridges (Huntington Prep), and Josh Jackson (Prolific Prep) headline the event.

For a complete schedule and ticket information, check out the Bluegrass Showcase website here.