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University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.
August 20th, 2014

8 Things You Need to Know About Javess Blue

Photo by Clay Jackson/cjackson@amnews.com

Photo by Clay Jackson/cjackson@amnews.com

Football is right around the corner and KSR is getting you ready with in-depth profiles of the team’s top players. First, we profiled Za’Darius Smith, one of the leaders of the defense, and now, we’re switching to offense and UK’s leading receiver last season, Javess Blue. 

When Mark Stoops took over the UK Football program, he knew he needed to get talented players as soon as possible, preferably with some experience. Like Za’Darius Smith, a fellow JuCo star, Javess Blue had an immediate impact in his first season at Kentucky, a lone bright spot in a very thin wide receiving corps. Here are eight things about our boy Blue to refresh your memory heading into next week’s opener.

1. He is the Cats’ top returning wide receiver

Blue led the Cats in receiving last season with 43 catches for 586 yards and four touchdowns. He was 14th in the SEC in receptions per game (3.9), 15th in receiving yards per game (53.3), and 13th in all-purpose yards per game (103.2). UK has six freshmen wide receivers on deck to finally give the QBs some targets, but Blue will still be the go-to guy.

2. Blue’s 88-yard TD grab against Miami is the fourth-longest in UK history

And it was glorious.

3. That shoulder is ready to go

Blue injured his shoulder during offseason workouts and had to sit out spring practice. The staff has been cautious with him so far in camp, but yesterday, he was in full pads for the first time.

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4. He’s one of UK’s cover boys this season

Blue and Bud Dupree grace UK’s double-sided schedule posters this season. One side shows the players going through Erik Korem’s training program and the other how it will translate to their performance in games.

5. He’s looking forward to the Cats picking up the tempo this season

Last season, the Cats just had to make do with what they had on offense. With another year for players to learn Neal Brown’s system, more receivers, and Patrick Towles taking over quarterback, Blue is looking forward to things picking up on offense. At today’s practice, Blue told Larry Vaught that he wants more touchdowns like that 88-yard grab vs. Miami:

“That is something I am looking forward to getting done this year. A lot of those 88-yard touchdowns or going longer than that,” he said. “Coach (Neal Brown) told us we are going to be picking up the tempo this year.”

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6. This summer, he lost all of his belongings in a fire

Back in June, the apartment Blue shared with Nate Willis, Mike Douglas, and Melvin Lewis caught on fire, and the four Cats lost all of their personal belongings. They were forced to stay in a hotel before the NCAA agreed to let UK help the players replace some clothing and belongings and insurance helped them buy furniture for a new place. Apparently, a cigarette from an apartment downstairs in the building was the culprit. Blue said the fire caused the four to focus on what is really important in life, and to not take anything for granted.

7. He says he’s much more comfortable in his second year

Blue was one of the few things working in UK’s offense last season, and he admits that being thrust in the spotlight was a bit abrupt. However, he told reporters today that he’s much more comfortable this season, and ready to make his final season count:

“I am more comfortable right now. I can say that. Last year it was like more of an iffy situation. I knew I was being put on the spot, but at the same time I had to locked in and get everything down pat because I knew I was going to be that guy and they needed me to make plays and be that player,” Blue said. “Now I really needed to focus up. Now I am more focused and I take things more comfortable, which makes it easier to play.

8. He’s still flipping, it’s still impressive

An accomplished tumbler, Blue showed off his skills at the UK Gymnastics complex last month. If that doesn’t impress you, the video of him flipping in the snow has to. Good lord.


This fishing video is going viral and I see a UK jersey so here you go…

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A guy wearing a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist jersey caught a black tip shark in what I assume is the ocean, only to see his prized catch get nabbed up by the world’s largest grouper.

Several people on the internet find it amusing so I’ll leave it here in case you feel the same way. I think it would be better if he reeled both fish in and pounded his chest toward the coast. That’s what MKG would do.


SB Nation’s “Blueprint For A Rebuild” has great stuff from Stoops

Darrell Bird | CatsPause.com

Darrell Bird | CatsPause.com

SB Nation has an excellent (and fancy) piece on how to rebuild a college football program, featuring six coaches from around the game. Mark Stoops is one of the profiled coaches, as well as his brother Bob, Bill Snyder, Bob Diaco, Justin Fuente, and Kevin Wilson.

Stoops’ section of the article, called “CLAIM YOUR TURF,” focuses on his early success in recruiting at Kentucky and the role the state of Ohio played. Stoops told SB Nation the SEC is a “goldmine” for high school talent and “nearby” Ohio is where he went to work.

It’s a reflex to tie Kentucky into the Southeast and only the Southeast. And it’s easy to assume that a new Kentucky coach is going to have trouble competing for elite high school kids in Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana. They don’t have the same history to sell — they have been ranked in one of the past 29 seasons, and they didn’t finish that season ranked. Upon reaching eighth after defeating No. 1 LSU at home in 2007, the Wildcats lost four of five, and even after defeating Florida State in the Music City Bowl, they finished 8-5 and unranked.

While many of us looked to the south and wondered, Stoops turned and faced north. He signed three Ohio high schoolers (one a four-star prospect) in his abbreviated 2013 recruiting class, but given a full year to prepare, he outright invaded. According to Rivals.com, Ohio produced 19 four-star prospects in the 2014 class. Ohio State landed seven of them, other Big Ten schools reeled in two, Notre Dame landed two, and Oklahoma and Tennessee got one each. Kentucky signed five. In the past five recruiting classes, UK had signed five four-stars, period.

In all, nearly 40 percent of UK’s 2014 class hailed from the Buckeye State.

“It’s home base,” Stoops says. “Ohio was part of the plan all along.”

Give it a read here.


Coach Cal says David Blatt is the better choice to coach the Cavs

cal-lebron

John Calipari was a guest on SiriusXM NBA Radio and the hosts of The Starting Lineup were interested to know his thoughts on the Cavaliers, the franchise he turned down to return to UK. Cal told them, “David Blatt can really coach. He’s a better choice than me to coach that team. I coached against him. I’m not sitting here just saying it. I coached against him in FIBA basketball. I watched him coach Russia, the guy can coach, OK? Those players, all they want is respect. If they respect you as a coach they’re going to play like crazy. Now you just have to have really good players. Guess what? Cleveland has really good players.”

Cal also said, “Dan Gilbert is a great guy who wants it for the right reasons. That’s why Cleveland will win.”

You can listen to the entire interview below. I really like when he says he maintains a solid relationship with NBA teams, not for himself, but because he calls them every summer to tell them to draft his UK players.

(H/T Cleveland.com)


Blast From the Past: Jamaal Magloire Knocks Down a Mascot

magloire

I love Jamaal Magloire…he was the greatest for about 500 reasons. My email address is still Magloire52@hotmail.com because of my Magloire fandom. But there may have been no better moment for Magloire (with the exception of putting Wojo in the rack) than the one below. End of the Miami (Oh) first half, Saul Smith hits a big shot and then running off the court, Magloire nails the Miami mascot and knocks him to the ground. A great moment that is best shown here on a terrible version of a videotape…but unfortunately it is all we have (and this should have been a three)


Keith Bogans headlines UK’s 2014 Hall of Fame Class

The University of Kentucky announced today that it will induct six new members to its Athletics Hall of Fame this fall. Headlining the group is former basketball standout, Keith Bogans.

Bogans ranks fourth on UK’s all-time scoring list with 1,923 points and second in three-point field goals made with 254, trailing only Tony Delk’s 283. He’s about to enter his 12th season in the NBA and his UK trophy case includes AP Third Team All-American, NABC Second Team All-American, All-SEC, All-SEC Tournament Team, All-SEC Freshman Team, and 2003 SEC Tournament MVP honors.

Bogans is joined by:

Pat Etcheberry, Track and Field (1963-67, 1967-89)

Etcheberry won the SEC Championship in javelin in 1966 and later became assistant track coach, head track coach and UK’s first strength and conditioning coach. According to the release from UK, he also trained several world class athletes such as Pete Sampras, Monica Seles, Nick Faldo, Dan Jansen and Charles Woodson, plus former Wildcats Rex Chapman, Kenny Walker and Dermontti Dawson.

Marty Moore, Football (1990-93)

Moore played linebacker on the UK football team before an eight-year career in the NFL. He was named First Team All-SEC by both the AP and Coaches in 1993, his senior season, earning him Mr. Irrelevant honors as the last pick in the 1994 NFL Draft.

Passion Richardson, Women’s Track and Field (1994-97)

Richard was a four time All-American in the 55 meters, 100 meters and 4×100-meter relay during her time at UK. She went on to win a bronze medal on the U.S. 4×100-meter relay team in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Terry Shumpert, Baseball (1985-87)

Shumpert was a standout on the UK Baseball team, where he ranks third in school history in stolen bases with 66. He was drafted in the second round of the 1987 MLB Draft by the Kansas City Royals and played 14 years in the bigs.

Sarah Witten, Women’s Tennis (2000-03)

The older sister of former men’s tennis star Jesse Witten, Sarah Witten ranks as the only player in UK women’s tennis history to earn three consecutive All-America selections. She is also one of only two players with four career All-America accolades, one in singles in 2003 and three in doubles in 2001, 2002, and 2003.

 

The six Wildcat greats will be inducted in late September during Hall of Fame Weekend when Vanderbilt comes to town for a football game.

Go Cats.


TJ Ford likes Tyler Ulis a lot

Retired NBA point guard TJ Ford knows all about being undersized and outmatched on the basketball court. The one-time Texas Longhorn was listed at six-feet tall during his eight-year NBA career, a career that could’ve gone longer if not for frequent injuries. Upon retirement in 2012, Ford said, “I think I succeeded at beating the odds, of being the little guy, making it to the NBA and lasting as long as I did. I think I achieved a lot.”

Today, Kentucky point guard Tyler Ulis is drawing comparisons to TJ Ford, although Ulis is listed three inches shorter. And this afternoon, Ford tweeted his support for the UK freshman:

Ford’s footsteps would be a nice set for Ulis to follow. Being the short guy doesn’t necessarily rule out a lengthy and successful career.


Jared Lorenzen is in the new ESPN The Magazine

@SethWickersham

Here’s a glance at Jared Lorenzen’s feature, “You Can’t Quit Cold Turkey,” in the new issue of ESPN The Magazine, which hits shelves soon. Jared told me he is looking forward to reading it as soon as it’s out, but he hasn’t seen anything from it yet.

By the looks of the teaser tweeted out by senior writer Seth Wickersham, the article will focus heavily on Jared’s appetite for food and the game.

We’ll have more when we get our hands on a copy. Be looking for it.


Win up to $10,000 in DraftKing’s Play-Action Week 1 Contest

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It’s football season again, which means you can win lots and lots of money via Fantasy Football and no one does it better than DraftKings. The daily fantasy sports website has teamed up with KSR for a Week 1 contest with a $100,000 prize pool. First place will take home a cool $10,000, while the top 11,500 will receive some form of payment for performing well.

Click here to sign up and draft your Week 1 squad. You’ll get a $50,000 salary cap to select nine spots: eight offensive players and one team defense. The contest beings on Sunday, September 7 at kickoff of the first game.

As always, first time depositors will receive a 100% bonus up to $600, plus free entry into the contest. It will cost returning players $2 to enter.

Dibs on Randall Cobb.

DraftKing’s $100,000 Play-Action Week 1 Contest

 


Hump Day Football Practice Notes

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-  When Coach Stoops walked off the field yesterday, I was glad he wasn’t speaking with the media.  His steps seemed to push the ground out of the way and his normal smile was nowhere to be found.  Today he said he was glad he didn’t speak with the media yesterday, but he is happy that the team responded this morning with what DJ Eliot described as the “most enthusiastic” practice of Fall Camp.  The wear and tear of camp will get the best of them at times, but today’s response revealed their fighting mentality.

The Cats are going to get punched this year.  Their success will be determined by how well they punch back.

-  When Eliot uses the word “enthusiasm” it can only mean that the defense did not shut the hell up.  The defense has been EXTREMELY vocal in camp, getting the entire sideline to cheer on most plays during “team” period.  Bud Dupree knows hot to push his unit’s buttons.  When he starts the “Baaaaaaaaad Boyz” chant, they go absolutely nuts.  Mark Stoops loves the energy, but isn’t quite ready to award them the Bad Boyz title, “We’ll see if they play like bad boys.  I’ve been around some Bad Boyz, so we’ll see.”

-  Another day of camp, another day where Blake Bone makes a big catch.  Stoops said today that Bone had another “go up and get it” moment.  Simply put, the young buck can do things that many can’t.

-  JUCO linebacker Ryan Flannigan once again received praises from DJ Eliot and Mark Stoops.  Eliot said that he isn’t quite game ready but, “close to where I need him to be” for games.  Unless the Cats win at Death Valley, entering the season nothing would have surprised me more than seeing Flannigan on the field Week 1.  There are so many hurdles for him to overcome: he didn’t get to have summer workouts, he never had a playbook in JUCO, and the most difficult position to learn on the field will be more difficult to learn when Stoops is running multiple defenses this season.

Despite all of the obstacles, Flannigan has continually been moving forward.  I’m less surprised by the coaches statements after attending practice.  Flanningan and the other young guys (Firios, Walker, Hendrix) stay close to each other at all times, teaching themselves when the coaches cannot.  The extra effort is paying off, giving the Cats much needed depth at the inexperienced linebacker position.

-  Safety Mike Edwards wasn’t expected to be here this fall.  His situation seems complex, but luckily he has been able to get on campus and enroll for fall semester classes.  Edwards will meet with Mark Stoops today, but it would be “unreasonable” to expect him on the field this year.   

 


Karl Towns will not travel to Spain with the DR

karl towns dominican

Karl Towns will not travel to Spain with the Dominican Republic for the FIBA World Cup later this month, the DR announced on Twitter this afternoon. An official statement from the club says, “Karl Towns no podrá acompañar al equipo a España. Se conversó con la UK y no puede hacer el viaje. Más detalles en unos momentos.

Towns will still suit up for Coach Antigua and the boys tonight in New York against Team USA before returning to Lexington. That exhibition game is at 7 pm on NBA TV.


On SEC Network Now: Kentucky vs. Tennessee, 2007

The SEC Network is currently airing the 2007 clash between Kentucky and Tennessee in Commonwealth Stadium. The four-OT classic featured some of your UK favorites like Andre Woodson, Rafael Little, Jacob Tamme, Stevie Johnson, Dicky Lyons and Keenan Burton, plus UT villains Erik Ainge and Arian Foster.

After making a big comeback in the second half, Kentucky lost on a failed two-point conversion try to force a fifth overtime, one of those sports moments I will never forget. The Cats were sooooo close.

Tune in now for the flashback, unless you’re, like, working or something.


Stoops’ Second Year Defensive Improvements

NCAA Football: University of Kentucky-Press Conference

Football success has followed Mark Stoops throughout his entire career. In his two previous coaching stints at Arizona and Florida State (serving as the defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach for both teams) the squads were better defensively every year after the first season he arrived in their program. The noise UK has made in this offseason has built very high hopes for Stoops to bring some of that previous career success to this year’s program and beyond as our Cats go into this season coming off a painful 2-10 record in their 2013 campaign.

Here’s a breakdown of his resume of improvements to date:

Arizona (2004-2009 – 6 seasons):

-Stoops assisted them in recruiting the 16th best class in the nation in his second season (2005), the previous year their recruiting class was 45th.

-Those defensive players from the 2005 class (his second season’s class) were the trendsetters for his defense going forward, they were coached by him all 4 years and led Arizona to the #24 ranking nationally in team defense in 2008.

-Stoops inherited nearly nothing when he got there in 2004, the team was ranked 109th nationally in total defense.

-Arizona steadily increased defensively every season after Stoops took over, making strides specifically on the defensive side of the ball in his time there.

Florida State (2010-2012 – 3 seasons):

This chart represents the numbers from his first and second seasons at FSU. Stoops defensive mind brought FSU to be ranked 2nd in total defense, 2nd in rush defense, 4th in points per game, and 2nd in recruiting nationally for the 2011 season.

Florida State Year 1 Year 2
Rush Defense 128.7 ypg 82.7 ypg
Pass Defense 225 ypg 192.3 ypg
Touchdowns Allowed 31 25
Red Zone Scores (36-48) 75% (27-35) 77%
Opponents 3rd Down (93-222) 42% (69-197) 35%
Recruiting 7th 2nd
PPG 19.6 15.1

There’s a few more important facts to be noted about Stoops transition at FSU between his first and second seasons that the chart doesn’t show. At FSU, in his second season opponents completed 41 more passes but averaged less yards per catch, typical of a Mark Stoops contain style defense. The FSU defense also took away an average of 80 yards of total offense from their opponents in his second season compared to his first season. Something I find amusing is that the team actually won 3 more games in 2011 because of Stoops’ defense that season, the offense at FSU was more efficient statistically in his first season.

Kentucky (2013-Present – 2 Seasons):

Bear with me through these first year stats real quick and we’ll get to some greener pastures.

Kentucky Year 1 Year 2
Rush Defense 197.3 ypg ?
Pass Defense 229.8 ypg ?
Touchdowns Allowed 49 ?
Red Zone Scores (42-52) 81% ?
Opponents 3rd Down (71-159) 45% ?
Recruiting 36th 20th
PPG 31.2 ?

Now with that said, I’m sure that anyone this far into the post by now is aware of the recruiting ordeal and improvements being made under Stoops in just his second year as head coach, so let’s keep the talk about last season behind us. It’s been evident in the past that schematically Stoops knows how to get the job done, he just needs the assets to do so.

Looking at the stats from last season, there is literally not a way this team doesn’t improve defensively. Minus the loss of our anchor in the middle, the entire defense is much sounder than it was a season ago. Specifically, the secondary should be much improved. Having good secondary play was the main reason Stoops was able to change the other two programs for the better at his previous coaching jobs. After all, he was a DB at Iowa (1986-88)!

Stoops knows coverage defense as well as anyone and he has proven it. The experience and good play in the secondary will be the biggest difference for us this year defensively if we can actually execute it according to Stoops schematics. Last season we couldn’t save ourselves from ourselves in the secondary.

It’s been about a week and a half since UK media days and the defense has been receiving praise for their play in early season practices. Kentucky won’t be #1 in the nation in defense this fall (shocker, I know), but improvement similar to his time at Arizona (or even better) seems imminently in our future with Stoops Troops on the rise. He hasn’t promised anything to us about how the defense will pan out in his second year, but you can tell by the way Stoops has been talking all pre-season that he sure has high hopes for improvement from the defense this season.

Will the Cats be able to compete on defense with some of the strong, hard-nosed SEC schools they will play against this year? Can they make stops consistently on a day where the offense isn’t getting the job done? Do these Cats have the manpower and depth to get through a grueling season surely including some injuries along the way, or will they roll over like teams from the last two years? Everything seems to be coming together for the 2014 campaign, but can Kentucky make the improvements they need to in Stoops’ second year in order to get the job done?

Mark Stoops certainly thinks so.

“I do. Just from the first day of practice and the first four days, I like where we’re at defensively. We haven’t arrived yet or anything like that, but I see drastic improvement, and a lot of it comes from confidence and communication and understanding what’s going on.”

@kaansoloKSR


UT Martin’s Dylan Favre knows Za’Darius Smith well

When quarterback Dylan Favre and his UT Martin Skyhawks come into Commonwealth Stadium for the season opener, Favre will be keeping a close eye on UK defensive end Za’Darius Smith. He knows all to well what Big Z is capable of, coming off the end; Favre experienced it firsthand hand when he was on the receiving end of a Za’Darius sack around this time two years ago.

Favre was the starting quarterback for Pearl River Community College at the time, and one of his linemen missed a block on East Mississippi’s star DE, our own Za’Darius. There’s plenty more where this came from…

And before you ask, Dylan Favre is Brett’s nephew.


Reminder: Team USA vs. Dominican Republic tonight on NBA TV

Cancel your Wednesday evening plans or set your DVR because there’s a good one on NBA TV tonight when Team USA takes on the Dominican Republic. It is the final exhibition game before the official USA roster is announced.

Karl Towns will suit up for the Dominicans, just days after competing against them with Kentucky in the Bahamas. DeMarcus Cousins says he’s 50/50 to play for USA, but Coach K believes Boogie will get some run. Of course, Anthony Davis will play and will be awesome.

The exhibition airs live from Madison Square Garden at 7 pm on NBA TV.