By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 21st, 2019 @ 5:30pm
To the common fan, yesterday’s news that Reid Travis will have to miss at least two weeks with a sprained right knee would seem like a blow for Kentucky; however, you’re not the common fan. You’re a Kentucky fan, which means you know the game better than most, so you realize that this could be a blessing in disguise for the Cats as we get closer to March.
Will Reid being out affect the Cats in the short term? Obviously. The two-week time frame includes games vs. Auburn, Arkansas, Tennessee, Ole Miss, and potentially Florida. Not having Reid will hurt in some cases more than others. Auburn and Ole Miss are both guard-oriented teams, so Kentucky can afford to play a smaller lineup. Reid had a huge impact on the Tennessee game because he took care of Grant Williams down low, allowing PJ Washington to shine. Having Reid would certainly help Kentucky contain Arkansas’ Daniel Gafford; however, not having him will force Kentucky’s three other bigs, namely Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery to step up.
How many times have we heard John Calipari say that Nick Richards is the key to Kentucky winning a national championship? Countless. Throughout the season, Richards has made baby steps of progress here or there, but continues to be inconsistent. Same thing for EJ Montgomery, who, at times, has shown glimpses of being a transformational player for the Cats. Remember his 11-point, 13-rebound performance vs. South Carolina? Nick and EJ are averaging 10.7 and 13.9 minutes per game, respectively; those numbers will most certainly go up in Reid’s absence. With the brass ring of minutes in front of them, the hope is both will elevate their games and build their confidence.
“One guy’s misery is another guy’s opportunity,” Cal said on last night’s call-in show. “So now you have Nick and EJ, now you have that opportunity to get extended minutes. Now, any clutter you were hearing — you should be playing more, etc. — alright, now there it is.”
A better Nick and EJ will lead to a better Kentucky. The most obvious area in which they can contribute is rim protection. Kentucky’s 24th in the country in blocks, with 4.85 per game. Nick leads the team with 1.3 blocks per game, followed by PJ Washington with 1.1 and EJ with 1.0. On offense, that jump hook Nick showed off in the Tennessee game could become a deadly weapon.
“That jump hook he has, unstoppable,” Cal said. “His ability to block shots, his ability to go get rebounds that other players can’t get because he’s seven foot tall.”
On the flip side, if EJ can hone that jump shot he’s shown us on occasion, he could be a matchup nightmare, but with Reid out, Calipari just wants him to focus on the glass.
“At the end of the Missouri game I thought EJ was fabulous against [Jeremiah] Tilmon. He sat him down, he used his quickness, he used his length and he stopped trying to mud wrestle. In EJ’s case, be that active guy, be that secondary scorer. Put yourself in position to go get rebounds, make us different. Reid gave us that. Well, guess what EJ, you’re going to have to give us some of that now.”
With Reid in the middle, PJ Washington’s been able to showcase other parts of his games, such as his three-point shot, but with Reid out, he’s going to have to move back inside.
“I told PJ, now you’ve got to be that guy. We have no one else to go roughhouse. You have to be that guy. And that’s what’s going to make it hard for PJ but let’s just hope he has to hold the fort down for a couple of weeks and we get Reid back and go.”
Maybe even further than we would have gone before.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©February 21st, 2019 @ 5:00pm
After 20 hours or so of endless hot takes and speculation following Zion Williamson’s shoe blowout and knee injury last night, the NBA has officially taken the first step forward to ensuring players are able to enter the draft right out of high school.
According to a report by USA Today, the NBA has officially filed a formal proposal that will lower the draft-eligible age from 19 years old to 18, a move that would likely take place starting in time for the 2022 NBA Draft.
— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) February 21, 2019
Back in October of 2018, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that 2022 was the target range for the NBA to make the official rule change, with NBA commissioner Adam Silver saying on multiple occasions that the 19-year-old age limit is simply not working for the league, nor is it working for the college basketball ranks.
The NBA informed teams no changes to allow HS players into Draft will happen prior to 2022, sources tell ESPN. NBA/NBPA have been negotiating to change age eligibility to 18. HS players could already go directly into G-League — it’s just now elite can make $125K instead of $35K.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 18, 2018
We have heard speculation about lowering the draft age for years, with the MLB model of players having the option of entering the professional ranks right out of high school or playing in college for a set number of years (likely two) being the most popular outcome.
Obviously this is major news for Kentucky and the rest of the blue bloods in college basketball, as the recruiting world would be flipped upside down. With elite talents such as Williamson, RJ Barrett, Deandre Ayton, etc. entering the draft right out of high school, the nation’s top schools would then compete for the next-best group of talent and groom them for several years before they would be allowed to make the jump to the NBA.
This change has been in the works for quite some time, but it’d be silly to discount the timing of Williamson’s close-call last night and the NBA’s formal proposal as just coincidence.
By KSR on ©February 21st, 2019 @ 4:30pm
After making an appearance on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Lee Cruse returns to The Funkhouser Situation to make fun of Chris Tomlin’s wrinkly shirt. Aside from Tomlin’s poor fashion choices, KSR’s terrific twosome touches on a variety of topics around the pop culture world, like…
— The bizarre Jussie Smollett situation.
— Is Rebel Wilson’s rom-com worth a watch?
— There’s a Netflix show started by a Seinfeld writer you should watch.
— Could Fox find worse judges for The Masked Singer?
— Ariana Grande makes music history.
— Who should be the next Batman?
You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to The Funkhouser Situation podcast feed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.
Today’s episode is brought to you by Jake’s Cigar Bar.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 21st, 2019 @ 3:42pm
The debate over whether Zion Williamson should play the rest of this season is dominating the news today, to the point even DeMarcus Cousins is weighing in. When asked, Boogie said Zion should start preparing for the NBA because college basketball, specifically the NCAA, is “bulls**t.”
“Knowing what I know now? College is bullsh**t. College basketball, the NCAA is bulls**t. My advice to him is do what’s best for you and your family. Obviously, college isn’t it. You can’t really — it does nothing for you at this point. You’ve proved you’re the No. 1 pick coming out, you’ve proven your talent. Get ready for the next level because it’s happening.”
DeMarcus Cousins: “Knowing what I know now, college basketball is bullshit.” Advises Zion Williamson to get ready for the NBA. pic.twitter.com/k3B1JA0E42
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) February 21, 2019
Don’t misinterpret Boogie’s comments as a shot at Kentucky; he added that he loved his time in Lexington, just hates how the NCAA exploits student athletes.
“I loved my experience in college. That was some of the best years of my life playing basketball. That being said, just how crooked the whole NCAA business is. I saw a post the other day where it was I think the highest ticket for that UNC-Duke game was $2,500, $3,500? How much does Zion Williamson get? That’s who they’re coming to see. So how much does he get? Actually, who does it go to? How does it benefit any player on that team? But if they were to get $20 and a free meal, they’re this bad kid. They get a bad rep. ‘Uncoachable.’ They’re ‘thugs.’ Whatever the case may be. It’s bulls**t.”
He’s not wrong.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©February 21st, 2019 @ 3:00pm
The Golden State Warriors are preparing to unleash hell on the post-All-Star break NBA in the form of a fully capable DeMarcus Cousins.
According to the San Fransico Chronicle, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr recently stated that Cousins would have his minutes restrictions lifted, meaning he can now play more than the 25 minutes he was being held to and within an ideal rotation.
“It just depends,” Kerr said after practice on Wednesday, regarding Cousins playing time. “We’ll see how the games go. I don’t think we’ll change the plan too much in terms of how we’re going to play him in the rotations and all that, but I think once we get back into the rhythm, we can absolutely play him for longer stretches, play him down the stretch how we like.”
So what does this mean for Cousins, the Warriors, and the rest of the NBA? Kerr basically unintentionally threatened the rest of the league. A fully healthy Cousins who can close games alongside four other All-Stars – two of them being MVPs – is some “Monstars” from Space Jam type nonsense.
Cousins has played only 11 games for the Warriors since returning from a nearly year-long Achilles tear but doesn’t look to be severely hampered by the once devastating injury.
As a Warrior, Boogie is averaging 13.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.1 blocks, and 2.1 turnovers per game while shooting 42.4 percent from the field, 29 percent on threes (on 2.8 attempts per outing), and 73.3 percent from the free-throw line. The most significant number, though, is actually quite small. He averages only 23.4 minutes per game and has topped 25 minutes a game in only five of his 11 appearances.
His numbers so far are about on par with where you might expect them to be. Especially when you stretch Cousins’ numbers out on a ‘per-36 minutes’ basis, he’s doing things on the stat sheet that resemble his healthy seasons in New Orleans and Sacramento. But he’s not closing games yet effectively (although the Warriors have gone 10-1 in the games with Cousins, so it’s not like they need him to win games down the stretch at the moment).
In his first six-to-seven games with the Warriors, Cousins would play up until anywhere around the 5-8 minute mark in the 4th quarter and then come out in favor for other bigs such as Kevon Looney or Jordan Bell. Boogie has only closed out two games so far, one coming in a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in his sixth game back and the other in a close win over the Miami Heat in his 10th game back. He played up until the last two minutes in his 11th and most recent game back against the Utah Jazz, a game the Warriors won by seven. The only game in which he has not appeared in the fourth quarter is during his eighth game back, which was a blowout Warriors win over the San Antonio Spurs.
So what we can take from this small trend is that Kerr has already been slowly trying to acclimate Cousins into the closing lineup. Now that the center has had over a week off and with only 25 games left in the regular season, this is the perfect time to get him into a rhythm as the postseason draws near (especially since he shot a combined 6-23 in his last two games playing 26 and 28 minutes, respectively). And considering how often Cousins has been in foul trouble through only 11 games (he’s registered at least three fouls in all 11 games and more than four in five games. He fouled out once in his very first appearance for Golden State, however, he never fouled more than three times per game over his five most recent outings), he needs all the on-court experience he can get right now.
The Warriors closing lineup will now likely feature Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and Cousins. Those five have only shared the court for a total of 243 possessions (fifth-most among Warriors rotations), but the numbers are encouraging – and somewhat frightening. That group averages 115.2 points per 100 possessions, according to Cleaning the Glass, which is an above average figure, but what’s scary is that they boast an effective field goal percentage of 58.3 percent, a borderline elite number.
*Side note: Cousins has not played more than 80 possessions with any other five-man groups.*
Overall, when Cousins has played, the Warriors have dominated. Through 530 total possessions played, Boogie has the Warriors ranking in the 86th percentile in total points per 100 possessions differential. Basically, for every 100 possessions (including both offense and defense), the Warriors are outscoring their opponents by 6.8 points when Cousins is on the floor. That’s very very good, but also a small(ish) sample size.
Playing among a star-studded cast of supporting players can typically mean that ball-dominant players see the ball less and less. But in the instance with Cousins and the Warriors, that hasn’t been the case. His usage rate of 28.8 percent ranks in the 97th percentile among all big men and his assist rate sits at 22.2 percent, which ranks him in the 96th percentile. Remember, the majority of his playing time is coming next to four other All-Stars. But the most encouraging number? A career-low 12.8 percent turnover percentage.
When you watch Cousins play, he doesn’t run like he’s coming off a horrific injury. His steal and block numbers are about the same as they have been throughout his career and he’s getting to the free-throw line with elite-level frequency. His overall shooting numbers are down, but that can reasonably be chalked up to him still regaining his confidence and shooting touch. The drop off from the All-Star version of Cousins that played 48 games with the Pelicans to this 11-game version of Cousins is honestly not too noticeable. Once he can get back into game shape and confidently play 30-plus minutes without massive fatigue, the Warriors are just going to get even better.
By KSR on ©February 21st, 2019 @ 2:30pm
It’s a MASSIVE edition of the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast. Aaron discusses all the big stories in college basketball, from Zion Williamson to Reid Travis and everything in-between. He is also joined by Furman head coach Bob Richey to talk about what it’s like to be a mid-major team battling to earn an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament.
Here is a rundown of the day’s show:
Why Zion Williamson Shouldn’t Shut it Down: It’s all anyone in college basketball is talking about! After Zion Williamson went down with a knee injury — should he throw in the towel? Aaron explains why that’s a bad idea. Wednesday night proved that Duke can’t win a title without Zion, and did it put UNC in the conversation for a No. 1 seed?
Reid Travis’ Injury: What does it mean for Kentucky? Aaron explains why if such a thing was going to happen, this isn’t the worst time.
Furman coach Bob Richey: Next up, Aaron is joined by Furman head coach Bob Richey. Last episode Aaron and Nick Coffey debated whether small, mid-majors should actually be in consideration for at-large bids, and Coach Richey tells you how tough the struggle actually is. He describes scheduling and how the computers are held against small schools. Furman is currently 22-5 and won at Villanova – yet might just get left out of the Big Dance. Is it fair? Coach Richey explains why the answer is no.
Get the podcast delivered directly to your phone by subscribing to the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast feed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app. You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. Don’t forget to follow the show on Instagram too.
By Drew Franklin on ©February 21st, 2019 @ 2:00pm
Kentucky’s PJ Washington has almost doubled his three-point shooting percentage from a year ago, turning his hard work in the gym into a 43.9% shooting percentage in his sophomore season, after a 23.8 percent clip as a freshman. Improving his three-point shot was one of Washington’s points of emphasis in coming back to school to improve his game, rather than taking a shot at the NBA draft last summer. And it has more than paid off.
In the last month (seven games), Washington hit 15 of his 30 three-point tries. Overall, his season average is among the best single seasons in the history of Kentucky basketball. If his current percentage remains the same, Washington’s sophomore year would rank 10th among the all-time best three-point shooting seasons for players with a minimum of 50 attempts.
|Name||Season||Games||3-PT FG||3-PT FGA||3-PT FG%|
His shot has only gotten better as the season goes on, so who knows, maybe he jumps a few more and makes his way further up the list.
However it all ends, it’s wild for him to even be mentioned among those names.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 21st, 2019 @ 1:30pm
If you’re a human being with a television or access to the internet, you’ve seen the clip of Zion Williamson’s shoe falling apart during last night’s Duke vs. North Carolina game. Just in case, here it is again:
Zion's shoe: destroyed ? pic.twitter.com/LqQ2te0Jay
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 21, 2019
As you might expect, that viral moment is costing Nike some money today. The shoe giant’s stock is down 1.44 percent this morning, the price of a share dropping from $84.84 at Wednesday’s close to $83.62 as of noon. That equates to a loss of over a billion dollars, all because Zion’s foot busted out of his shoe.
Last night, veteran shoe executive Sonny Vaccaro predicted the clip will haunt Nike forever.
“It’s already all over the world while we’re still watching the game he got hurt in,” Vaccaro told Yahoo Sports. “They’re going to show it until we die.”
Another clip they’ll show: President Obama saying, “His shoe broke.”
“His shoe broke.” pic.twitter.com/FAtpaF5uAt
— Chase Hughes (@ChaseHughesNBCS) February 21, 2019
Puma immediately pounced, tweeting — then deleting — this jab:
If you thought that was in poor taste, wait until you see this shirt a North Carolina company made:
You know what would take everyone’s minds off this embarrassment, Nike? Some awesome new Kentucky Basketball uniforms, that’s what.
By Nick Roush on ©February 21st, 2019 @ 1:00pm
As Mark Stoops finalizes his 2019 coaching staff, we now know the details of new deals for three UK offensive assistants.
Records obtained by the Courier-Journal reveal a few significant raises. Last week we learned Vince Marrow now holds the title “Associate Head Coach.” Along with that promotion is a substantial raise. On track to make $475,000 in 2019, Marrow’s new three-year deal comes with a $600,000 starting salary and increases by $25,000 each year.
Offensive coordinator Eddie Gran will receive a similar deal after turning down an offer from Georgia’s Kirby Smart. The three-year extension begins with $875,000 (a $25K increase from his previous deal) in 2019 and increases by $25,000 each year.
Wide receivers coach Michael Smith’s first deal at UK was set to expire at the end of this season. Instead, he’ll get a $25,000 raise to $450,000 a year through 2020.
All three contracts come with buyouts; Smith’s is $100,000, while Gran and Marrow’s is $150,000.
We should learn more about Brad White and Jon Sumrall’s promotions before Spring Practice begins March 4.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 21st, 2019 @ 12:30pm
Ashton Hagans’ defense has not gone unnoticed. The freshman point guard was just named one of ten semifinalists for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.
Hagans is one of only three freshmen on the list, along with Duke’s Tre Jones and Zion Williamson. Right now, he’s averaging 2.0 steals per game, which ranks second in the SEC and fifth nationally among all freshmen. He tied a school record with eight steals in the North Carolina game, and had at least three steals in the next six, the only major-conference freshman to do so since Wake Forest’s Chris Paul in the 2003-2004 season. With 53 steals so far this season, he could still break Rajon Rondo’s single-season record of 87 back in 2004-2005.
Hagans has been the catalyst to Kentucky’s improvement on defense. According to UK, over the last 13 games, which include four wins over AP Top 25 opponents, the Cats have limited opponents to 60.7 points per game, 38.5 percent from the floor and 31.6 from behind the arc. That’s good.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 21st, 2019 @ 11:30am
If the SEC Tournament started today, Kentucky would be the three-seed, playing the winner of Mississippi State vs. Texas A&M/Vanderbilt late Friday night. Tennessee and LSU would be the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds.
Here’s the bracket after last night’s games:
…and the current standings:
As you can see, LSU and Kentucky have the same conference record right now, but because LSU beat the Cats last week, they own the tiebreaker. On Saturday, Tennessee plays the Tigers in Baton Rouge. If the Vols win — and Kentucky beats Auburn — LSU will fall to third place. If LSU wins (and Kentucky beats Auburn), they’ll move into first place and Kentucky moves into second and Tennessee falls to third because of the three-way tie-breaker procedures. Obviously, the game vs. the Vols in Knoxville will factor in as well.
So, basically, the SEC is a giant mess at the top and the basketball gods need to work with us so we can avoid the late Friday night game. No one wants that.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 21st, 2019 @ 10:30am
Kentucky’s improvement since December is remarkable, and has the Cats in the conversation for a No. 1 seed. ESPN’s Jeff Borzello spoke to some SEC coaches about what led to Kentucky’s rise and whether or not their success is sustainable. Spoiler: Yes.
“Instead of having three guys pissed off at the guard spot, you got two guys playing more minutes,” one SEC coach said of John Calipari’s backcourt rotation. “They’re playing with more confidence. And you don’t have to manage as many egos. I think that’s what’s going on with them now. It’s one of those situations where [Green] left and guys are playing more freely.”
“I think the biggest thing is their bigs are playing a lot harder than they had been,” an SEC assistant said. “That was the knock on PJ Washington last year and toward the beginning of this year. He changes games.”
Both true. When asked what Kentucky’s weakness is, one SEC coach said outside shooting, but even then, between PJ Washington, Keldon Johnson, Tyler Herro, Immanuel Quickley, and Jemarl Baker, the Cats have plenty of guys who can catch fire on any given night.
For more, head on over to ESPN.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 21st, 2019 @ 9:55am
Good morning, friends. Wild night in college basketball, right? Tune in to KSR as the gang discusses the news about Reid Travis’ knee, what it means for Kentucky moving forward, and Zion Williamson’s knee sprain after blowing out his shoe in the Duke vs. North Carolina game.
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 Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 21st, 2019 @ 9:42am
Horrible news out of New York, where Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim struck and killed a pedestrian last night.
According to Syracuse.com, a man was walking outside of his vehicle after it had crashed on Interstate 690, when Boeheim drove by and hit him. The accident happened around midnight. Earlier in the evening, the Orangemen beat Louisville 69-49. Boeheim is reportedly cooperating with investigation.
Awful, awful news.
UPDATE: Syracuse.com says alcohol was not a factor, as Boeheim’s blood-alcohol levels were 0.00 and he passed a field sobriety test, but there was freezing rain in the area, which may have led to poor driving conditions.
UPDATE x2: More details have emerged. According to police, Boeheim swerved to avoid the car, which was in the middle of the road after crashing due to bad weather. Boeheim released this statement via Syracuse.
Statement from Jim Boeheim: pic.twitter.com/c9lNXXzvGN
— Syracuse Basketball (@Cuse_MBB) February 21, 2019