By Nick Roush on ©December 11th, 2018 @ 11:30am
Citrus Bowl tickets are flying off the shelves. After only eight days, Kentucky fans have bought all but 300 tickets in UK’s allotment.
Pat yourself on the back, Big Blue Nation.
Even though ticket sales may not seem like a big deal, they are important for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, the BBN’s presence will give these seniors the proper send-off they’ve earned. Advanced ticket sales also help future Kentucky football teams. When bowls have the ability to select their teams, Mitch Barnhart can use the BBN’s ticket-purchasing power as a selling point to land the most attractive bowl possible.
If you have not yet purchased your tickets, help sell out UK’s allotment by clicking here. If you act too late, there are plenty of other opportunities on the secondary market to make sure you’re celebrating 2019 with Kentucky fans at Camping World Stadium.
By Nick Roush on ©December 11th, 2018 @ 10:30am
One of Kentucky’s most coveted commits recently received a visit from Mark Stoops.
Yesterday Kentucky brought the Big Dogs to Toledo. Stoops, Vince Marrow and defensive line coach Derrick LeBlanc paid a visit to Cavon Butler. It’s at least the second time Marrow and LeBlanc have seen Butler since the end of the college football season.
A three-star recruit, Butler is considered a top 50 interior defensive lineman. The recruiting websites aren’t as high on Buitler as other schools are.
Not long after Butler committed to Kentucky in August, Ohio State began to show interest. They officially offered Butler when the prospect unofficially visited for the Indiana game in October. The fight for Butler only intensified when he watched Ohio State rout Michigan on an official visit. While most believed Butler would flip following the official visit, he’s remained committed to Kentucky.
This week’s in-home visit is the first step to ensuring Butler will sign on the dotted line in eight days. The next step is this weekend. Butler’s official visit will be his first trip to Lexington. We’ll soon know if Kentucky can beat Ohio State in the race to the finish line.
By Nick Roush on ©December 11th, 2018 @ 9:55am
After traveling all across the northeast to the Big Apple, the KSR crew is (mostly) back. Drew Franklin is still enjoying the sights of the city, but Matt Jones has made his triumphant return to talk about all of the latest across the Big Blue Nation with Ryan Lemond. Don’t miss it.
Join in on the fun by calling (502) 571-1080 or send a text to the KSR Texting Machine at (859) 300-3264.
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By ShopKSR.com on ©December 11th, 2018 @ 9:45am
Posted in Main
Now is the perfect time to stock up on bowl gear. These tees from the KSR Shop and Kentucky Branded will make great gifts this holiday season before the ‘Cats play in the Citrus Bowl.
If you head to ShopKSR.com and purchase 3 or more bowl tees, you will receive a UK hat for FREE. Plus, five random orders will receive another FREE hat autographed by Tim Couch!
This sale is exclusively at shopksr.com. Offer ends Wednesday at midnight.
By Nick Roush on ©December 11th, 2018 @ 9:35am
There’s a new development in the recruitment of four-star pass rusher J.J. Weaver.
Less than two weeks ago Weaver committed to Kentucky. Following the ceremony at Louisville Moore High School, Weaver revealed he would sign with UK in December, but wait to enroll until June. According to Rivals’ Chris Person, that plan has changed.
Person reports Weaver will wait to sign until February. This news comes days after Weaver met with Scott Satterfield and toured the Louisville football facilities. Weaver told one reporter on Sunday the visit was simply a “favor” to Vince Tyra, but the latest development leads one to believe there’s more to that Louisville visit.
While signing in February may be the plan as of now, UK coaches have eight days to convince Weaver to sign on the dotted line during the early signing period.
By Nick Roush on ©December 11th, 2018 @ 9:00am
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No, I’m not talking about the holiday season. It’s Tweak Season!
Coach Cal’s favorite buzzword usually doesn’t strike this early, but after a sluggish 7-2 start, Calipari had to pull out his secret weapon.
“I made a couple tweaks in a couple of the ways we were playing offensively that I think will help us,” he said on his call-in show. “And I talked them through it, said ‘This is what we are going to do, I want to try some of this.’ So this whole season is going to be that way, my guess, including who we play.”
I hope the pre-Christmas tweak of the 2018-19 season is “make shots.” Kentucky got some good looks against Seton Hall, but all too often failed to capitalize on open opportunities. The misses piled up in a ten-minute field goal drought that ultimately led to the heartbreaking loss.
Unfortunately, we will not get to see what Calipari’s mysterious tweak is until Saturday. Until then, here’s what’s happening.
This week will be extra quiet on the UK Athletics front. Blame it on finals. When they aren’t on the practice fields, the end of semester exams are keeping the student-athletes in the library. That’s why we won’t hear from the football team until next week or the basketball team until Friday.
To all of the test-takers out there good luck! And to all of those in the journalism department, enjoy a week without tests!
Stoops is on the Road
This weekend is THE weekend in Kentucky football recruiting. Mark Stoops will host dozens of 2019 commits and recruits on campus to seal the deal before the early signing period begins next Wednesday. Until they arrive on campus, Stoops is going to see them. We’ll have more updates throughout the week on who he is visiting and who will be visiting campus this weekend.
Butch Jones is on the Move
The former Champion of Life is leaving Nick Saban’s coach rehabilitation clinic. After the ex-Volunteer head coach spent a year running errands for Saban, he’s departing to do some real coaching. Jones will reportedly follow Mike Locksley to Maryland to serve as the Terps’ associate head coach. Now I have a reason to pay attention to Maryland football.
Ryan Lemond is becoming Mr. Worldwide. In an episode of Amazon’s Emmy Award-Winning Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, the question is asked, “Have you ever heard of Scoop Lemond?” The pronunciation may be slightly different, but it’s close enough.
— Andi (@AndiMiche11e) December 11, 2018
Since the end of the college football season, our podcasting schedule has been thrown all out of wack. That will slowly get back on track next week. This week Drew is out of town and I’m too sick to talk for ten minutes straight without blowing my nose. To make up for lost time, we’ll have two podcasts — a Citrus Bowl extravaganza and a Early Signing Day Special.
In the meantime, Aaron Torres is bringing the heat on the KSR podcast feed, the Funkhouser Situation is set to return and there will be a new episode of Hardly Committed tomorrow.
College Basketball on TV
To call it a slow sports night would be an understatement. Villanova plays Penn in a Big 5 matchup at 7:00, but outside of that, there isn’t much going on. Thankfully, bowl season begins Saturday.
That will leave a bruise.
i am never playing dodgeball against LeBron ever pic.twitter.com/Gxwy27UreH
— . (@WorldWideWob) December 11, 2018
By Jack Pilgrim on ©December 11th, 2018 @ 8:30am
Good morning, everyone! I hope everyone had a great Monday and got their week started on the right track.
It was certainly a wild one for me.
If you read Matt’s post last night or scrolled through social media at all yesterday afternoon, you might’ve seen that it was one of the biggest days of my life. Starting immediately, I will be joining the KSR team in a full-time capacity, meaning you’ll be seeing a whole lot more of me from now on.
I will be responsible mainly for recruiting and basketball coverage, but I’ll also be contributing on podcasts, video, analysis posts, and covering all the events you guys want to read about. Anything you guys want to read, watch, or hear involving UK Athletics, I’ll do my best to make it happen.
You’ve seen my posts as an intern and part-time writer, and it’ll only grow from here. But it’s certainly been one heck of a journey to get to this point.
When I was in 5th grade, I got kicked out of computer class for reading KSR when I was supposed to be working.
Now, I’m a full-time KSR employee, living out my dream.
Life is wild, and I’m truly thankful for this opportunity. https://t.co/W0QG4OpcDX
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) December 10, 2018
Back in 2007, I got kicked out of my fifth grade computer class for reading KSR when I was supposed to be working on a graded typing assignment. (You know those dreaded finger placement, home row keyboard lessons? Yep, those gems. Can you blame me?)
In fact, her exact words were “there’s no time for games, this class is dedicated to work only.” Little did Mrs. Arnold know, 11 years later this would become “work” for me.
(Another side note: I was overwhelmed with people (including my bosses) saying I made them feel old for tweeting about the story above yesterday. Sorry about that.)
Growing up as a die-hard Kentucky fan, I’ve always had a passion for sports, and writing was always fun for me. Trying to be the world’s first official middle school sports reporter, I started a website called “Jack Pilgrim’s UK News” in the seventh grade. I obviously didn’t have a credit card at the time (or anything more than lunch money, for that matter), so I couldn’t afford to pay for an actual domain. “JackPilgrimsUKNews.yolasite.com” had quite the ring to it, and boy did it show in the traffic reports.
When I realized I was the only one reading my website and covering the entire world of UK Athletics alone was nearly impossible, I decided to make a Twitter account dedicated to all things Kentucky under an alias when I was a freshman in high school. My thought process was that no one would trust, nor care, about what a 14-year-old had to say about sports, so the only way to “brand” myself was through a silly UK fan account. (I won’t tell you the handle because I haven’t touched it in years, but it’s still live if you want to go down that rabbit hole and try to find it)
I stuck with it throughout high school, where I eventually got the opportunity to write for several small outlets, interview recruits, and work my way through as a (literal) no-name “media” guy. If nothing else, it was great practice for the real stuff later on.
Once I got to college, I gave up that page and started out at the Kentucky Kernel as a regular sports writer, eventually working my way up to the Assistant Sports Editor position. There, I covered basketball, football, volleyball, softball, baseball, and whatever else was going on at UK.
I enjoyed myself and appreciated the opportunity, but I always had my eye on the crown jewel of UK sports media: Kentucky Sports Radio. I had been a huge fan of Matt, Drew, Ryan, Tyler, and the whole gang for years, and I wanted to be a part of it one day.
And when they sent out internship applications for college students back in the summer of 2016, you better believe I was going to take advantage of it.
I applied immediately, and after a few long weeks of pacing in my room and refreshing my email over and over again, I got my golden ticket.
I came on as an intern, where I wrote just a few long columns a week and helped out however I could. No matter the game or event, I was there to cover it. Just having the “KSR” title next to my name and the opportunity to grow as a young writer with the greatest audience in the world reading my work was enough.
After grinding for a year living on ramen noodles and beenee weenees, I was promoted to a part-time role, where I spent the next year or so covering the website on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights, and then throughout the day on Sundays.
During that time, I was able to cover massive AAU events, the Jordan Brand Classic in New York City, a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden, sit down for a one-on-one interview with Karl-Anthony Towns in Minnesota, and the Champions Classic in Chicago, among other adventures.
If my journey had ended there, all of my wildest dreams as a diehard sports fan would’ve already come true.
And then I got the call of a lifetime.
A little over a month ago, Matt held a KSR team meeting and told me there was a full-time opening available if I wanted to take it. I don’t think I’ve ever agreed to anything faster in my life. I wanted to keep my cool in front of all my coworkers, but are you kidding me?
Shaking and teary-eyed, I left the meeting, got in the car, and immediately called my mom and dad. Then my girlfriend. And then my grandmother.
The hobby I once had in elementary school and my biggest passion throughout life since has become my career. I still can’t believe it.
But the grind isn’t over, not in the slightest. In this position, I promise to do whatever it takes to bring you guys the best content and up-to-date information as fast as I can type. I promise you’ll never have to question my work ethic or love for this job.
I was planning on a National Signing Day-esque celebration with balloons and hats on the table, pledging my services to Kentucky Sports Radio. But this post will do the trick.
Thank you to Matt Jones and the entire KSR staff for taking a shot on this 21-year-old kid just trying to live out his dream.
By Matt Jones on ©December 10th, 2018 @ 11:00pm
I pulled onto my street in Louisville last night at 2:38 am, after an 11 hour drive across Ohio/Pennsylvania swing-state interstates that seemed as if it would never end. Due to my new gig with ESPN doing the NFL Pre-game show, I find myself paying attention to NFL games with an attentiveness that I used to reserve only for UK affairs. 10 straight hours of NFL play by play (I highly recommend NFL Radio Channel 88 on Sirius/XM on Sundays….it is basically Red Zone with local broadcasts of the teams and you get some great homer cheering during the big plays) were exciting, but it was the last three that had my mind racing. We have had an amazing last few months around these KSR parts. We have seen the radio show expand, the TV show has reached record ratings, the website has received a huge Football bump and we opened a sports bar that has been a great success. It has been continued growth on all levels and I couldn’t be happier about what everyone around KSR has accomplished.
But I also realized that there is one thing that I do miss…I do miss the intimacy that defined KSR when we first began in 2005. Spending these last 10 days with Chris Tomlin (the only writer left who started with me back then) reaffirmed to me how special and unique this entire enterprise has been. We started from Hubby’s basement and now we do shows from the US Embassy Residence in Ottawa, Canada. It truly is a dream. But at the core of this entire enterprise, was just this….me at a keyboard, writing my thoughts and sharing them to people across the Big Blue Nation. In recent years I have all but stopped writing and I truly do miss it. I will never be able to recreate the output I once did, and with the work of Tyler/Drew, etc, there really is no need. But I do miss sharing my random thoughts and hope to add to them going forward. I have had this goal before and have usually flamed out (writing is hard…much more so than Radio and TV) but long trips listening to Tyler Childers give a man confidence. I hereby endeavor to write more…if not every day, at least once a week. And if I don’t…well I will buy you a drink (or hummus) the next time I see you at KSBar.
With that, some thoughts:
KSR Staff Changes
If you read the site earlier, you know this is the last week that TJ Walker will be writing for KSR as he leaves us to move onto another career as a real estate appraiser. While figuring out the value of Matt Bevin’s estate is much different than figuring out the meaning behind Tyrese Maxey’s Instagram posts, I am certain TJ will have a great deal of success as his work ethic and intelligence are of the highest rate. He has been a great addition here at KSR and helped us refocus our efforts in recruiting, once the lifeblood of this site. We appreciate his time with us and wish him nothing but the best…and if he hears scoop in the coming months, he will always be welcome to share it here.
With every loss, there must be a gain and so we are also happy to use this opportunity to announce the hiring of Jack Pilgrim as a full-time KSR Staff writer. Jack has been with us since his Sophomore year of College and now gets to join us as a full-time career. His work output is outstanding and I know of virtually no other student who has spent as much time balancing schoolwork, an outside job, volunteer activities and actually having fun as Jack has. I knew from the first day he began writing for us that I wanted him to eventually end up as a full-time staffer. That begins this week and we couldn’t be happier. Jack will focus on recruiting, but have a presence in many areas and we here at KSR are lucky to have him with us.
With his addition, we move Maggie Davis (who is also a tremendous talent both now, and for the future) up to our Sunday Editor and will continue to add to our staff in the coming months. We expect 2019 to be a huge year of growth for KSR and we are glad to have you along for the ride.
Madison Square Garden Misery
In 2005, I watched the Kentucky-Michigan State basketball game sitting by myself in my apartment in Raleigh, North Carolina, desperately living and dying with each shot. When Patrick Sparks’s rim-bouncing three miraculously fell in the basket, not only did Austin, Texas erupt, but I went outside and screamed with glee as loudly as I have ever made a noise in my life. It still to this day remains the only time I have ever uttered a primal scream in my entire existence and I think of it often every time I see a fan acting out at a sporting event. It still to this day remains the most improbable big shot in UK history (considering the physics of it) and the follow-up fist pump to Billy Packer only makes it more amazing.
But as a great moment as that is, in my memories it doesn’t sit with pure joy. For along with Sean Woods’ free-throw line heave against Duke, Anthony Epps straight-away 3 pointer versus Arizona and James Young’s insane UCONN dunk, its memory is forever intertwined with the result of the game…in all cases a loss. In fact, with the exception of Aaron Harrison’s insane three-point string in 2014, it is oddly the case that the best shots in UK history have often come in losing efforts. Keldon Johnson’s halfcourt-heave on Saturday was just the injection of adrenaline this fan base needed to jumpstart the season. Well until it wasn’t. See since the Duke game, I have been shocked at the lack of energy around this UK basketball program. A combination of excitement over football, the lack of star power, the rise of Duke as the “cool” program of the day, a schedule lacking in fun and the deflation of unmet expectations has produced the largest sense of malaise I have seen since Billy Clyde was stumbling his way through 2009. Fans aren’t attending games (the fact that there are $15 seats for the game against Utah on Saturday is insane to me), our basketball conversation on the radio has been sparse and with the loss of top 5 recruits more commonplace, even the solace of recruiting can’t snap us out of our issues. With one beautiful heave from mid-court Keldon Johnson seemed ready to change that narrative. Now it goes into the dustbin of great moments in losing games and our fan base looks for a new reason to care.
I am not sure how to totally diagnose what is wrong with this group. The Sophomores haven’t improved to the degree they need to, our Point Guards all have defects that make playing any of them a choice in which defect will be spotlighted, Tyler Herro cant make a shot, Reid Travis is the team’s best player but is a step slow and can be exploited on Defense and John Calipari seems unable to connect with a group of good kids whose future seemed so promising. The Bahamas now looks to be a bit of a curse on this group, setting the standards high and giving them the burden of high expectations for a fan base that desperately wants/needs to be top dog again. I am unready and unwilling to give up…Calipari’s team turnarounds in 2011, 2014 and 2018 should have taught us that. But something is clearly missing with this group, not only on the court, but off in the connection with BBN. The back-to-back end of December contests against North Carolina and Louisville can bring everyone back…but losses could make the situation only worse. Trust Cal I do…but getting the team to call a timeout, run an inbounds play or simply guard the three point line would most certainly make it easier.
Feeling Better about Football Recruiting
College Football recruiting is not for the faint of heart. Kids commit/decommit and flip allegiances multiple times and it can cause even the most patient of us to become extremely frustrated. I can freely admit that the decision by Wandale Robinson to switch from UK to Nebraska one week after saying to me on TV that Nebraska was eliminated was head-scratching and bizarre. However I am a big believer that kids should go to school wherever they want and if the process that gets them there is convoluted, so be it. Since that decision though, many UK fans have thrown up their hands and said “WAKE ME WHEN THEY SIGN” and assumed that every UK commitment is going to flip. Case in point, JJ Weaver from Louisville, a 4 star talent who visited UL this past weekend, after committing to Kentucky. He posted the above picture and many UK fans wrote me, already assuming he was soon to be a Card. With that in mind, a few recruiting notes from me, someone who is admittedly not a UK football recruiting guru, but sometimes gets some good info:
1. I still think JJ Weaver will be a Cat. I believe him when he told Dave Lankford of Rivals.com that he visited as a favor to Vince Tyra (who had been nice to him when Bobby Petrino was not) but that he is still 100% committed to UK. The folks in Lexington still feel very good about him, and so do I.
2. I think UK is going to finish this class strong and probably keep all of their other commitments. Wandale was a unique situation and those around Lexington believe he always wanted to go to Nebraska but the pressure made him initially pick Kentucky. If that is true, I am glad he made the decision he did.
3. UK will get one Transfer that everyone who follows UK football will know…it could occur any time, although my guess is next week. I have said this for about a month and it is still the case. The only new scoop I have is that a 2nd transfer who is slightly lesser known to UK fans, but maybe equally (or more) important is considering transferring as well. If both come, it will be a huge coup.
With that, I will call it a night…we will be back on radio tomorrow, with an announcement about our $5,000 Bowl Challenge game, looking ahead to Utah and more. And later this week, for the 3-4 of you who care, I will write about my trip this weekend to see “Hamilton”, which was amazing. Adios
By Savannah Patton on ©December 10th, 2018 @ 10:30pm
The one and only Big Mick is a meaty masterpiece in its own right. Composed of two quarter-pound patties* of never-fresh, frozen, mostly beef raised close to the processing plant. Only McDowell’s has the frosted beef and processed cheese to give you a major reason for the afternoon trip to the secret bathroom only you and Debra know about on the 9th floor that is under construction.
You can be a part of McDowell’s KSR Top 10 Tweets by using hashtags like #KSR #BBN or #KSRtop10. You can also nominate tweets by mentioning them with the hashtag. If we like what we see, it could be posted the next day.
If you are interested in sponsoring KSR’s Top 10 Tweets, please contact us at Via Email.
#10 it me. josh ballard.
Benny Snell is on the AP third team as well!
— it me. josh ballard. (@JoshBallard13) December 10, 2018
#9 Troy Winters
Great example of player development!
— Troy Winters (@TroyWinters4) December 10, 2018
Yeah it is!
#8 Matt Bristow
I would actually love a half hour or full hour of @cutler18 during the major sports seasons right before KSR’s morning show called “This Morning in KSR.” Where @cutler18 essentially gets time to rant about the topics of the day before the guys come on @ 10AM. No calls.Just rants
— Matt Bristow (@realmattbristow) December 10, 2018
#7 terri tucker
Always a fun show with you and Ryan.
— terri tucker (@terrikwt_) December 10, 2018
It was a great one!
Way to go Josh and Bunchy for making 1st team All American ….and congrats to Benny Snell Jr making 3rd team. Benny should have been 1st team also, but he will next year!!!
— Jody.BBN (@DuggerJody) December 10, 2018
Congrats to all!!!!
#5 John Newton
— John Newton (@jnewton56) December 8, 2018
— Loc (@LocMorgan) December 10, 2018
#3 Jeanne Begley
— Jeanne Begley (@Jeanne_Wildcat) December 10, 2018
#2 Derek Petrey
— Derek Petrey (@Derek8Petrey) December 10, 2018
A bright spot indeed.
— UKRoar (@RobRoar) December 10, 2018
By Aaron Torres on ©December 10th, 2018 @ 9:30pm
So as you’ve probably definitely heard by now, Saturday was not a good day to be a Kentucky Wildcat. Not only did Kentucky lose to Seton Hall at Madison Square Garden, but they didn’t even lose to a particularly good Seton Hall team. There haven’t been many truly stunning regular season losses in the John Calipari era at Kentucky. But falling to a Seton Hall club which lost four starters off last year’s team and already had three losses this regular season would certainly qualify as one.
Still, despite the disappointing result I did what I try to normally do in situations like this: Look at the big picture and provide perspective for Big Blue Nation. No, a loss to Seton Hall doesn’t look good. But there were positives. P.J. Washington played like the star Kentucky needs him to be, Ashton Hagans is coming along as “the guy” at point guard, and Reid Travis is who we thought he was going to be when he decided to play his final season of college ball in Lexington.
More importantly though, this is both the gift and the curse of the John Calipari era at Kentucky. With John Calipari, it isn’t always going to be pretty in November and December. But you take some of the bad for the reality that come February and March this team will be in the hunt for a championship. And in sports, where the ultimate end prize is to win a title, isn’t that what matters? To win it all? It is, and say what you want about John Calipari, but when you have Coach Cal, you’re almost always going to be in the conversation to win. Even last year when the Wildcats went 21-10 in the regular season (including a four-game losing streak in SEC play) they were a couple missed free throws away from playing Loyola-Chicago for a trip to the Final Four (a game they would have won by a billion, by the way).
I expressed this exact sentiment in a tweet shortly after the Seton Hall loss.
Nobody wants a moral victory/Kentucky tweet. I get it. But PJ Washington was a star. Ashton Hagans is coming along. Reid Travis was excellent until he fouled out. And they always get better through the season, every year. Theyll be fine in the long run, even if its not pretty now
— Aaron Torres (@Aaron_Torres) December 8, 2018
Yet after I sent out the tweet, something strange happened: I got a little bit of a pit in my stomach. While what I said was true, it also felt a bit hollow to me, and it does feel like something is a little bit… different this season. More importantly, I kind of understand the perspective of fans who are frustrated with where Kentucky is at right now. I understand the ones who are starting to say “I’m tired of hearing we’ll be fine by March. I want to win in November and December, darn it!!”
And for the first time, I find myself somewhat siding with them. Why do Kentucky fans have to sacrifice wins in November and December just to be in the hunt late? At a school like Kentucky – with every resource available imaginable – why can’t you have both? Why does it have to be one of the other?
Now before we go forward, like I always try to do, let’s go ahead and clarify a few things.
One, this isn’t a “Calipari is on the hot seat” column. Don’t be ridiculous. Heck, it’s not even a “Calipari has lost his touch” article either. Despite what the nameless, picture-less accounts on Twitter will tell you, 99 percent of Kentucky fans realize just how good they have it with John Calipari and that if Calipari left (for the NBA or retirement) there isn’t anyone out there who is guaranteed to replicate the success he’s had in Lexington. Most of the fan-base appreciates Coach Cal, and most remember what life on the other side was like. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, just go ahead and look at the “Kentucky” section on Billy Gillispie’s Wikipedia page. It ain’t pretty.
At the same time, it doesn’t mean that the fans who are frustrated are necessarily wrong either. Even if having Calipari on your sideline always guarantees you a shot in March, in the past it also meant you were going to be damn good early in the season as well. It’s no secret that in his first six seasons, there were three (2009-2010, 2011-2012 and 2014-2015) where Kentucky was unquestionably the class of college basketball. Yet here we are in 2018-2019 and it looks like for the third time in four seasons (excluding the 2016-2017 De’Aaron Fox/Malik Monk season), the Wildcats will be largely out of the national conversation for most of the regular season.
And the frustrating part that there is no obvious answer as to why. That’s something you couldn’t say in previous seasons. In 2016, Kentucky had basically lost its whole team from that magical, 2015 campaign, so a drop-off was expected. And last year Kentucky was the youngest team in college basketball.
This year though, what is Kentucky’s excuse? They brought back plenty of experience, and also added the best grad transfer on the market and a bunch of five-star recruits. Also, despite what some of the experts will tell you, the talent isn’t nearly as bad as some make it out to be: P.J. Washington and Keldon Johnson are projected by just about everyone as Top 20 picks in the next NBA Draft. Ashton Hagans and E.J. Montgomery could get there in the coming months as well. That’s not “We’re going undefeated!!” type talent. But it’s better than all but a handful of teams in college basketball.
Add it up, and that’s the most frustrating part right now: There is no obvious reason why this team is so bad. Maybe they were a little overhyped in the preseason, and I include myself in those who did the overhyping. At the same time, the reason that this team had so much hype was explainable. Kentucky entered the season with seven McDonald’s All-Americans and nine Top 40 recruits on this roster. Where were we supposed to rank them? Especially after they blitzed through a bunch of pros in the Bahamas. How could anyone have logically watched that team in the Bahamas, and then predicted that they would get blown out by Duke, lose to Seton Hall and struggle with just about everyone other than Monmouth on the schedule? It was flat-out inconceivable.
Only that’s exactly where we are, which is what’s so perplexing. It’s also why I’ve begun to side the fans who have grown tired of the whole “We might not have it all figured it out now, but we will by March” spiel. Why? One, this isn’t the typical Calipari team that struggles in November and December – again, there’s no tangible, logical reason for this team to be this bad.
And also, why does it have to be OK for the team to struggle early if it means they’ll be competitive late? Why can’t Kentucky be good in November and December as well as February and March? Duke is. Kansas is. Villanova historically has been. Same with Virginia. Even if Kentucky fans wouldn’t trade their March results with Virginia (or most anyone on this list) why does it have to be an either/or proposition? Why do the fans have to be OK with it? Especially at a place like Kentucky, where John Calipari is the second-highest paid coach in the sport and the fan-base and alumni provide every resource needed to compete at the highest level? That’s kind of the deal you make when you take the job at Kentucky: When you have every resource needed to compete at the highest level, it’s expected that… you know… you actually compete at the highest level. It’s not that you play well for a few weeks in February and get hot in March.
And that really is the gift and curse of being the head basketball coach at Kentucky, isn’t it? As John Calipari likes to say, he “can’t hide” his players in Lexington and right now it seems like the same can be applied to him. Again, I’m not saying Calipari needs to go (frankly, Kentucky fans are lucky to have him) but it is fair to question what’s wrong with this team, and why the November/December swoon has basically become an annual tradition.
Ultimately, the good news is as I’ve said all throughout this article: History tells us that Calipari will get things figured out by March. Like I said at the top, for as frustrating as last year’s team could be at times, they were basically a missed free throw or two away from playing Loyola-Chicago to go to the Final Four (a game I’m 1000 percent sure they would have won by the way). And I do believe this team will again be in position by March to compete with anyone in college basketball, be it Kansas, Gonzaga or yes, even Duke.
At the same time, March is a long way away.
And for the first time I can say that I understand any Kentucky fan that says “I don’t want to wait until March to have a competitive basketball team.”
For the first time, I get the fan’s frustration.
(By the way, Nick Coffey and I spent a lot of time talking about Kentucky, the frustating loss to Seton Hall and why the fans have every reason to be mad. To listen, download and subscribe here)
By Jack Pilgrim on ©December 10th, 2018 @ 8:00pm
The Kentucky football program spent $45 million on a brand new training facility and $120 million on upgrades to Kroger Field back in 2016, and today, they’re receiving national praise for it.
The fine folks over at 247 Sports ranked all of the top 25 football facilities in the nation, and Kentucky came in ranked No. 15 overall.
“See what funneling more money into football brings to the Bluegrass?” they said. “Kentucky might be considered a basketball school, but the Wildcats’ $45 million upgrade to its football training facility in 2016 totaled 100,000 square feet and proves the administration believes in Mark Stoops and his steps toward the future. It paid off in 2018 as the Wildcats won nine games and earned a New Year’s Day bowl berth. Every player’s locker is ventilated with a cell phone charger, lock box and cup holders. For a cool price tag of $120 million, renovated Commonwealth Stadium saw its first fans in 2o17 and initial reviews have been extremely positive.”
We’ve shared the virtual tour of the Joe Craft Football Training Facility several times since it officially opened, but if you missed it, take a look here:
Kentucky is ranked ahead of schools such as USC, Florida State, and Washington, among others.
Here’s the entire list:
- Texas A&M
- Ohio State
- South Carolina
- Notre Dame
- North Carolina
- Florida State
The 247 article put it best: good things happen when you pump time, money, and resources into something. That something just so happened to be the Kentucky football program, which just had their best regular season in over 40 years and are set to participate in a New Year’s Day bowl here in a couple weeks.
Check out the entire article here.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©December 10th, 2018 @ 7:15pm
Ask and you shall receive, Big Blue Nation.
After a disappointing loss to Seton Hall on Saturday and momentum temporarily swinging away from the program a bit, Kentucky head coach John Calipari decided to make some changes… and we won’t have to wait until Camp Cal to see them.
On his weekly call-in radio show, Calipari said he has made “a couple tweaks” on offense that he feels that he thinks will help the team moving forward.
It started with a brief discussion about the grieving process following a loss and how he allows just 24 hours of feeling bad before moving on. From there, it’s about realizing these kids are hurting too and you just have to push them through it.
“When you’re me, losing just wipes you out for 24 hours,” he said. “Then you just have to come back and say “Alright, if I feel this bad, how do these kids feel?” Then I’ve got to come back and say, “Alright, what’s there, what can we do?”‘
With the tweaks, he has already told his team the changes are coming and it might be that way for the long haul.
“I made a couple tweaks in a couple of the ways we were playing offensively that I think will help us,” he said. “And I talked them through it, said “This is what we are going to do, I want to try some of this.” So this whole season is going to be that way, my guess, including who we play.”
One of those people included in the tweak? Kentucky guard Jemarl Baker, who played his first minutes as a Wildcat late in the first half on Saturday.
It’ll be a process, but he believes the sharpshooter can work his way into the rotation if he gives it his all.
“Someone was asking about Jemarl Baker,” he said. “I said to Jemarl, “You’re the tenth man. You are. You just started practicing, you’re not moving in front of anyone yet. But here’s what I would tell you, when you get your chance, be the seventh guy, sixth guy, start. But you’re going to have to perform in games. For right now, you’re the tenth man.”
When it came to his first minutes against Seton Hall, Calipari said he thought Baker did a great job in limited time on the floor.
We went down to the bench and just said “Can we play you?” Calipari said. “(Baker) said, “Oh, yeah.” I thought he went in there and did pretty good. But it was his first time. Hopefully he gets that chance and goes in there and does some good stuff for us.”
Beyond Baker getting healthy and earning more reps, any other ideas for what the tweak could be?
By ShopKSR.com on ©December 10th, 2018 @ 6:45pm
Posted in Main
Finish your holiday shopping today with these massive Green Monday sales! The KSR Shop and Kentucky Branded are offering 50% off select sweatshirts and 25% off everything else. You will also receive FREE SHIPPING on orders over $50.
Head to ShopKSR.com to pick out KSR and UK fleecy sweatshirts for all your family and friends. Plus, check out all the other great gift ideas. Hurry this sale is 24-hours only!
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 10th, 2018 @ 6:00pm
What gifts will Kentucky players receive for participating in the Citrus Bowl, other than the joy of playing on New Year’s Day in Florida? According to Sports Business Daily, a $400 Best Buy gift card, a Fossil watch, and an Ogio backpack with luggage tag.
What will $400 get you at Best Buy these days? Pretty much any video game console, a 58″ 4K HDTV, a tablet, an Apple Watch, or a tricked-out hover board. Add in the watch, backpack, and luggage tag with Citrus Bowl logos and that’s a pretty nice perk for making the postseason. It’s waaay better than the Belk Bowl’s gift of a Belk shopping spree.
A sampling of other bowl gifts:
- SoFi Hawai’i Bowl: Electronics gift suite; Oakley backpack; Oakley sunglasses; Tori Richard aloha shirt; shorts/swim trunks; performance T-shirt; beach towel
- Quick Lane Bowl: $175 Best Buy gift card; JBL E55BT over-ear wireless headphones; life-sized Fathead decal for each participant of his likeness; backpack; shirts; mini helmet; football
- Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl: Ghostek backpack with a power bank and external USB port; Beats Budst; Fire Kindle with built-in Alexa; hydroflask; cooling towel; Frito Lay products in each bag (Fritos!!!)
- Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: $300 Vanilla Visa gift card; Fossil watch; Mophie Powerstation XL; Amazon Echo Dot smart speaker (3rd generation); football
- Capital One Orange Bowl: Gift suite; Tourneau watch; personalized bobblehead of each student-athlete; sling bag
- Liberty Bowl: Shopping trip to Memphis’ Bass Pro Shops; Bose SoundLink micro Bluetooth speaker; Bulova watch; Nike athletic shoes; sport sandals; backpack and sunglasses; football
- PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: PS4 gift package; Fossil watch with engraved caseback; Ogio X-Fit backpack
- Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl: Gift suite; collectible Las Vegas item TBD; dad hat; beanie; fanny pack
That last one begs the question: what is a “dad hat”?