It’s the start of a new month, which means it’s time to look back and →
By Ally Tucker on ©11:00 pm
Trying to put the life of a man who meant as much to the world as Nelson Mandela did seems impossible. I’m not worthy of putting such a life into perspective, but I can’t imagine dedicating tonight’s news and views to anyone other than Nelson Mandela. Mandela left the world at the age of 95 today, leaving one of the biggest, most influential and most inspiring footprints on humanity. Instead of trying to put a man like Mandela into words, I will leave you with some of the most powerful words he ever spoke…
“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”
“It always seems impossible until it is done.”
“It is better to lead from behind and put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
“I’m not a saint unless you think a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying.”
“When you have done your duty, you can rest for all of eternity.”
And if you wonder how a connection can be made to sports, Mandela found a way…
“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can awaken hope where there was previously only despair.”
And now on to the rest of the news and views from the day…
Flights getting cancelled left and right, but the Kentucky basketball team has arrived in Dallas
The Big Blue mist might have trouble making the trip to Dallas due to flight cancellations left and right thanks to a winter storm blowing across much of the United States. The fans stranded in airports or left at home may be disappointed, but at least the Kentucky men’s and women’s basketball teams both successfully made it to Dallas before the worst of the weather is expected to hit. Safe travels to those already en route and to those who are still trying to make the journey to Dallas. Be safe, Cats fans
All new everything
Both the women’s and men’s basketball teams will be sporting new jerseys and shoes for the big double-header tomorrow night.
The Cats open as a 4.5 favorite over Baylor
Kentucky will be the favorite team, though not by much, when they tip off against the Bears tomorrow night. Baylor enters the game ranked as the 20th best team in the country. Baylor’s athleticism should provide a great test in a road game (technically, though it might feel more like a neutral site game) for the young Cats. Baylor is probably the first team since Michigan State who can match up position for position with Kentucky from an athletic standpoint.
Homecoming for a trio of Wildcats
The journey to Texas will provide a homecoming of sorts for Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison and Julius Randle. The Texas trio will have a chance to come back to their home state for a game on a huge stage. Julius Randle and Aaron Harrison have both already had monster games for Kentucky so far this season. Andrew Harrison has steadily improved, but has yet to experience a monster game. Could this homecoming opportunity be the moment when Andrew Harrison takes over some of the spotlight? The stage seems to be just right…
Jon Hood didn’t travel with the team, again
Kentucky’s oldest veteran, Jon Hood, once again did not travel with the team. Hood is still recovering from a head injury and is still unable to travel or participate with the team in any fashion. Calipari said that the training staff will be conservative when it comes to Hood’s return.
Mark Stoops talks about important and interesting things on KSR. Here’s a brief rundown of the highlights:
1) Drew Barker can “absolutely” play as a freshman. Stoops was asked directly about the chances of Drew Barker coming in and playing right away. Stoops didn’t shy away from the possibility at all, answering emphatically that it could happen. Stoops said the staff believes he’s that good and that he will have a chance. Stoops also said that Kentucky plans on having all 5 quarterbacks on the roster for spring camp. I don’t know if that’s going to happen, but you heard it from the horse’s mouth. “It’s up in the air. I need somebody to come in and take it over. The new guys who didn’t play last year will have a chance.”
2) Mark Stoops doesn’t make excuses. He had a chance to put the blame on the lack of talent for this year’s lack of success in the win column. Instead, he said it was coaching too and that they have to do a better job. “I’ll never put that all on the players.”
3) Speaking of the coaching staff, Stoops said he is “very happy” with the staff and that there will be no changes. Vince Marrow will be promoted to “recruiting coordinator” because of the great job he has done so far. MVP.
4) Stoops was proud of the effort of this year’s team and said that he had fun coaching them. With that said, “the heat needs to be turned up.” Stoops clearly plans to up the intensity and discipline required to be a part of the program. He briefly addressed the suspensions and called them discouraging. Stoops said the team is not a group of bad guys though in any capacity.
5) At this point, Stoops said he believes the Cats will have Za’Darius Smith and Bud Dupree back for next season. He will gather further information about their draft status though.
6) Mark Stoops loves recruiting. You can hear it in his voice when he talks about it. He took a break from recruiting for a moment to talk to KSR, but you can tell that he loves putting in the grunt work to get the future of the program in place.
7) Mark Stoops > Clint Hurtt
Matt Elam news has Kentucky fans feeling good
News broke today from 247 Sports that Matt Elam is no longer expected to take his official visit to Alabama before announcing his college decision. Elam recently visited Kentucky and hosted the coaching staff at his home immediately following the end of the season. One can’t help but think that the timing can only point in a positive direction for the Cats.
Rashad Vaughn will visit Kentucky
Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire. We learned earlier this week from Evan Daniels that Kentucky’s interest level in Vaughn had heated back up. Apparently the interest is mutual and the result is that Vaughn plans to visit Lexington. Keep a close eye on this one, folks…
The women’s team thanks Coach Cal for scheduling the double-header
Earlier today we learned that the Kentucky men’s basketball team offered up its first class seats on the flight to Dallas to the women’s team. The women’s team graciously declined the offer. John Calipari took to Facebook yesterday though to let everyone know about a kind gesture on the part of the UK women’s basketball team. Each player on the women’s team gave a handwritten letter to Calipari thanking him for the double header opportunity against Baylor. “I appreciate it, but the privilege is ours,” Calipari said.
…. That’s all for now. Stay safe and stay warm, Big Blue Nation. Go Cats. Go Krogering.
By Ally Tucker on ©10:04 pm
You know what you might not want to do on the eve of playing one of the best teams in the country? Trash talk to the local paper. Isaiah Austin, a 7-1 center on Baylor’s team, did just that when interviewed by the Dallas News. Austin, much like Providence’s coach, doesn’t seem to care much for Kentucky. We saw how well thaat ended…
Austin was quoted as saying, “Kentucky is not better than us in any way, shape or form.”
Someone please show that to Andrew Harrison tonight before bed, at breakfast and then before the tip-off tomorrow.
By Dustin Rumbaugh on ©9:45 pm
It’s Throwback Thursday!! Guess who’s bizzack? That’s right, it’s the Kentucky basketball recruiting writer you all love to tolerate! I’ve spent the last couple years paying off that Pizza and Hard Liquor Mortgage I took out in college. Only 25 more years to go! Everyone needs a break from the real world now and then though and this is mine. So while Matt and Drew zig-zag through tornado alley and ice storms to bring you the news on your current Cats, I’ll be in Marshall County keeping you up to date on the future of Big Blue basketball.
(Quick shout out and thanks to Matt for allowing me to do this, Drew for the map of every Taco Bell on my way down there, and Mama TT for helping this old man figure out this dang blasted new blog format)
Walking into the KSR writers’ lounge made me realize just how much things have changed in the past couple years.
Where’s the national media writers dartboard? Oh, we’re friends with them now?!
Do I smell Pine-Sol? We clean now?
Mrs. Thompson really does just make us all sandwiches and BTI ghost-writes her posts? Love the spicy mayo by the way.
Where’s the picture of Kige in the Santa hat we used have hanging over there? Replaced by a flat screen and an Xbox 360 for Drew Barker?! (don’t worry trolls, the Coaching staff pushes the buttons for him, no violation here)
The times, they are a changin’.
Let’s get to the preview. Mrs. Thompson put up the schedule, so if you’re looking for specific games and times, check there. The following will be a preview of each team, the matchups you’ll want to see, who to watch for and any UK buzz surrounding certain players.
First off, the out of state teams listed by their national MaxPreps ranking:
#3 Huntington Prep
Coach: Rob Fulford
Friday @ 5:30 pm vs Atlanta Sports Academy
Saturday @ 6:30 pm vs Arsenal Tech (Trey Lyles, UK staff should attend this game)
Notable Players (by class)
Class of ’14:
Jaquan Lyle (#4 PG, former UL commit, strong IU interest); Josh Perkins (Gonzaga commit); Angel Delgado (UK showed interest before sudden Seton Hall commit); Jalen Lindsey (Providence commit, UL & UF offered).
Class of ’15:
*Montaque Gill-Caesar (5-star #4 SF in class, UK offer, may reclassify to ’14); Thomas Bryant (#4 PF, Cuse, Nova and WVU offers); Levi Cook (C, WVU commit)
Class of ’16:
*Miles Bridges (high 4-star, 6-5, 190lbs, Michigan, OSU, MSU early interest, UK will most likely “kick tires” at some point)
#4 Oak Hill Academy
Coach: Steve Smith
Saturday @ 8:00 vs Christ Presbyterian (Braxton Blackwell)
Caleb & Cody Martin (SR, NC State commits); Shelton Mitchell (SR, Wake Forest commit); Trevor Manuel (4 star, Jr, PF, MSU and NC State offers)
#7 Dallas Prime Prep
Coach: Ray Forsett
Friday @ 10 vs Quality Education (#15 nationally)
Saturday @ 9:30 vs Memphis White Station (#16 nationally, Leron Black and Chris Chiozza)
SMU’s golden ticket….Emmanuel Mudiay (#1 PG, possibly overall, in class)
*Terrance Ferguson (USA U-16 member, 6’5” Soph G, high 4-star, plenty of offers, KU and UNC interest already)
*Paul “PJ” Washington (6’7, 210 as a FRESHMAN, Rising star that UK will keep tabs on)
#15 Quality Education
*Previously unranked, moved up after beating Oak Hill & the Rock earlier in the season
Coach: Isaac Pitts
Friday @ 10 vs Dallas Prime Prep
#16 White Station (Memphis)
Coach: Jesus Patino
Saturday @ 9:30 vs Dallas Prime Prep
Notable Players: Leron Black (IL commit, Sr.) and Chris Chiozza (Florida commit, Sr.)
Arsenal Tech (IN)
Coach: Jason Delaney
Friday @ 8:30 vs Ballard
Saturday @ 6:30 vs Huntington Prep
Trey Lyles, ’14 UK Commit
Moss Point (MS)
Coach: Micoe Cotton
Friday @ 5 vs Ballard
Devin Booker, ’14 UK Commit
Evangelical Christian (TN)
Coach: Terry Triplett
Friday @ 4 vs Chicago Currie (Skal vs. Jayhawk Cliff Alexander and your only opportunity to see Skal, don’t miss this one)
Skal Labissiere (5-star, #3 C in ’15 class, UK offer along with many others)
Christ Presbyterian (TN)
Coach: Drew Maddux
Saturday @ 8:00 vs Oak Hill
Braxton Blackwell (6-7, 200lb, Soph., high 4-star, UK could kick tires, Florida, Memphis and Tennessee showing early interest)
Braxton Bonds and Jake Allsmiller should get high D-1 offers in the future
Coach: Michael Oliver
Notable Players: Cliff Alexander (Kansas commit–will not play due to suspension)
Coach: Lawrence Myers
Notable Players: CJ Anderson (UMass commit); Marcanuis Hymon (Ole Miss commit)
Now for your local boys listed by State Ranking first (plenty of D-1 talent):
Seven years ago today the KSR crew embarked on its maiden road trip to Marshall County’s Hoopfest. The events that transpired are now etched in KSR lore, though remain largely unknown among today’s audience. Until now. Take the ride with the crew here in Part I and look for part II sometime tomorrow or next week or never.
It sounded good in theory: some dudes from an emerging weblog/podcast promising UK sports and recruiting news in the most ridiculous manner known to man taking their act down to Marshall County’s renowned HoopFest. It was to be a cultural and spiritual immersion in the high octane environs of prep hoops; an opportunity to establish the orange circle with headphones brand among the national elite with hard hitting reporting and unique commentary.
Once there, we would abuse our media credentials, gaining access to the country’s top coaches and prospects while getting fat off comped bologna sandwiches and Check Cola. Today Marshall County, tomorrow Letterman, so the script read.
But even the soundest of theories cannot account for the whim of unpredictability. The milkman, the paperboy, the evening TV.
December, 2006. Justin Timberlake was in the process of bringing sexy back, even though Oh Napier had already done so a few months earlier with the hit, “Tubby Cain’t Coach.” Borat was on the big screen carving permanent emotional scars on people who watched the movie with their parents over the holiday. Kentucky football was going Music City Bowling. A gallon of gas set you back a nickel. A shave and a hair cut was still two bits. The US staked its fortunes in foolproof mortgage-based securities, and a website called Kentucky Sports Radio was wrapping up its first full year in operation. The Salad Days, to be sure.
Matt Jones sat in a chair in the corner of an old warehouse turned recording studio beneath the neon glow of downtown Shelbyville. Cloaked in a West Virginia hoodie and slicker pants that neither matched nor jibed, he was exhausted. The toll of the day’s podcast left him tired and he wore a look of mischief then spoke of the same when he asked the crew to join him on a roadtrip to Benton.
See, before the days of jetting off to the Final Four, The Masters and playing patty cake with Roger Federer, KSR had to swindle and shake its way through even the smallest of doors. But the Hoopfest really did seem like a great idea. After all, it was our best chance to watch and interview UK-commit A.J. Stewart, and well, at that point in time that was worth celebrating. Plus Derrick Rose would be there along with Oak Hill’s Brandon Jennings and Nolan Smith, and who knows how many top-level D1 coaches just waiting in line to talk into the KSR microphone that was rescued from a trash can at the WLAP studios. And it was all happening right here in Kentucky!
The crew assembled, westward ho. Matt Jones. Tomlin. Turkey Hunter. John Dubya. Hubby. If Gen. Patton himself had lined us up for close inspection I think he would have come away unutterably pleased. Five 20 somethings driving 3.5 hours to spend a weekend evaluating and chit-chatting high school boys. We were unstoppable.
The purpose of the trip was to find A.J. Stewart. What we found however, was a little piece of ourselves. Battles were fought, hard lessons learned:
Not all high school basketball games are created equal, or even remotely entertaining. Not all bologna sandwiches, are free. And two Leeks don’t always make a right.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©8:00 pm
Howdy, friends. Thanks to the kind people at Southwest and my husband’s foresight, we arrived in Dallas early this afternoon, a good 8 hours before schedule. Winter Storm Cleon has everyone on high alert here, to the point that we’re too afraid to go anywhere that’s not walking distance from our hotel. Therefore, I come to you from Boston’s Gourmet Pizza and Sports Bar in beautiful Arlington, Texas, swapping free wifi for beer and bar food. It’s been quite a day, so let’s get to it.
– Winter Storm Cleon sucks
24 hours ago, I thought the concept of naming winter storms was stupid. After traveling today, I realize it’s brilliant. Now we can hate on this ice storm like it’s a real person, and call it mean things, which Mr. TT and I have been doing all day. Cleon is currently on Dallas’ doorstep, sending the people here into a complete frenzy. I watched the local news for five minutes and got completely stressed out. Luckily, there’s a sports bar about 20 feet from our hotel.
– Not a lot of people are going to be at this game.
Because of Cleon, pretty much all flights from Lexington and Louisville to Dallas have been canceled. This includes tomorrow morning’s flights from Lexington. Some passengers with connecting flights made the first leg of their trek today, only to be told they had to turn around because the impending weather was so bad. Those driving better be in Texas now or travel could get really treacherous.
That means that a lot of people with tickets won’t make it to tomorrow night’s game, which will result in a sparse crowd. According to a source, a little over 10,000 tickets were sold in the first place, and with the travel delays, that will make the crowd look even smaller in cavernous Cowboys Stadium. For those here, that probably means getting a good seat will be very, very easy.
– Wanna see stress? Go to the team hotel minutes before they arrive.
After getting into Dallas, we went to the team hotel to pick up KSR’s credentials for the game. Because I am seemingly cursed when it comes to things like this, it was way more of an ordeal that it should have been. The team hadn’t arrived yet, so we waited around for them to get there to straighten things out. That meant we got to see the hotel staff freak out in advance of their arrival, bringing in luggage carts of Raising Canes, polishing the desks, and nervously pacing the lobby. You would have thought the President was coming to town (a comparison that’s not so far off when you consider the police escort the Cats received upon arrival). The men’s team went straight to the stadium while the UK Hoops team went to the hotel to unpack and get ready for their practice. Here’s a video of them coming into the hotel:
– Are you in Dallas? Are you looking for a place to party before the game?
The Dallas UK Alumni Association is holding a pregame party at the Blue Mesa Grill in Arlington (550 Lincoln Square, Arlington, TX 76011) Friday starting at 4:30 p.m. CT.
The boys are in Texas and will hopefully make it to Dallas before the real ice hits. Stay tuned for more tales from the road…
By Drew Franklin on ©7:30 pm
Posted in Main
Listen here, folks. I’ve been really excited about this since playing (and losing) my first DraftStreet contest early in the college football season. It’s KSR’s first COLLEGE BASKETBALL fantasy free roll with Draft Street, meaning we can all pick Julius Randle and hope our other players have big games to help him out. It’s going to be a lot of fun and someone, hopefully me, will win money and bragging rights over everyone else.
Here’s how it works…
Head over to DraftStreet.com and create an account (if you haven’t already) and join our league. (You can do that by clicking here.) The one-night competition starts Friday night at 7:00 p.m. EST, so get to it. Once you’re in, you will draft an eight-man team from a pool of 74 players participating in games that night. The price of each player varies based on projections, with Randle being the most expensive player available because of course he is.
The top 50 fantasy players in the KSR league will split a $500 prize pool, paid in vouchers to dominate other cash-paying leagues. The first place winner (again, hopefully me) will receive a $109 voucher, followed by $22 to second through 10th place and $5 to the remaining players ranked 50th or better.
If you’re like me, fantasy college basketball sounds too good to be true; but it really exists thanks to our friends at DraftStreet.com and I think it is going to be a lot of fun. I look forward to flaunting my winnings in your face on Saturday.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©7:26 pm
This morning, Mark Stoops called in to KSR to talk about his first season as Kentucky’s coach, the future of the program, and what he thought about UofL assistant coach Clint Hurtt’s comments about the Cats. Enjoy his interview above.
By Stuart Hammer on ©4:30 pm
As we enter December, the college basketball non-conference schedule is nearing its final stages. Most teams have faced off against a headliner foe by now, while others still have more waiting in the wings. One such team is Kentucky, which has four of its next five opponents receiving votes in the AP Poll. Providence was a quality warm up, and that victory will be a boost for the RPI come tournament time because the Friars are a solid team. But this next stretch of games can really set the Cats up well, not only for conference play, but also to help solidify a No. 1 seed in March.
Here is a brief rundown of the schedule and what you can expect to see out of each team. The arrows indicate how much better or worse the teams are compared to Kentucky in each respective stat. You’ll notice outside shooting and assists are the biggest weakness Kentucky has in these matchups. But that’s not exactly the bread and butter of this hard-nosed squad.
Fri, Dec 6 – (20) Baylor Bears
Tue, Dec 10 – (31) Boise State Broncos
Sat, Dec 14 – (29) North Carolina Tar Heels
Sat, Dec 21 – Belmont Bruins
Sat, Dec 28 – (7) Louisville Cardinals
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©3:00 pm
There were some major recruiting developments this week, with Kentucky picking back up on their recruitment of Rashad Vaughn, a 2014 wing player from Las Vegas. While in Vegas to see Stephen Zimmerman, Orlando Antigua stopped by to see Vaughn, 24/7 Composite’s 12th best player in the 2014 class. Vaughn has offers from UNC, Kansas, UNLV, Iowa State, and Baylor, but told ESPN’s Paul Biancardi that he plans to visit Kentucky. He hasn’t set anything up yet, but UK is trying to get him to come to campus for an official visit. To read more, go on over to ESPN Insider.
That’s huge news for what could now be a pretty great 2014 class.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©2:00 pm
The UK coaching staff visited Matt Elam last weekend, and he is the number one remaining target on UK’s 2014 wish list. 24/7 Sports is reporting that Elam is unlikely to take his official visit to Alabama this month, which, if true, is huge news for the Cats.
Elam will take his official visit to Kentucky next weekend, with Drew Barker and the rest of the 2014 commitments. Here’s hoping they show him a good time.
By Drew Franklin on ©1:00 pm
U of L assistant coach and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse rewards member Clint Hurtt recently took a jab at Kentucky football on his Facebook page when he wrote, “Alright I had some idiot Kentucky fan say to me we need to get ready for the Wildcats because their young players got better because they play in the SEC … I said correction you don’t play in the SEC you just participate. You only play when you actually WIN.”
It didn’t take long for Hurtt to delete the idiotic comment (via Bat-phone, I assume) but not before it made its way around the internet. On this morning’s radio show, Matt asked Mark Stoops about the message and his response, though very brief, was brilliant.
“Do you really want me to respond to Clint Hurtt?” Stoops asked. “That’s too easy of a target. Come on, Matt. I can’t respond to him.”
He said it one more time, just in case some of the listeners didn’t get the message.
“It’s too easy of a target,” he reiterated.
By saying he can’t response, Mark Stoops delivered a perfect response.
By Drew Franklin on ©12:25 pm
Next season the Kentucky football team will go through its 3rd season in a row without a definite starting Quarterback. Jalen Whitlow and Max Smith traded duties throughout the year in-between injuries, Reese Phillips and Patrick Towles took the year off with a redshirt, and “God’s gift to Kentucky football” Drew Barker is enrolling in the Spring and will be available for Spring practice. Barker has been the talk of the town throughout, but can a true freshman start at Quarterback for the Cats next year in the difficult SEC? “Absolutely,” was Coach Stoops’ answer this morning on Kentucky Sports Radio.
Coach Stoops also said that he does not expect any on the long list of 5 QBs to leave the team, making for an interesting competition during Spring practice.