Last week, a 4-year-old fan named Olivia made a video for her favorite Kentucky player, Willie →
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 01st, 2015 @ 1:38pm
Last week, a 4-year-old fan named Olivia made a video for her favorite Kentucky player, Willie Cauley-Stein. In the video, Olivia, who suffers from cerebral palsy, asked Willie to marry her:
Some of you may know our wonderful friend Olivia but for those who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Olivia, here’s a little bit about her. Olivia is one of the most vivacious, happy, loving, and upbeat 4 year olds I’ve ever met. I’ve been blessed to be able to work along side her for about a year and a half. Not a day has gone by that I haven’t seen her light up a room and put smiles on everyones face whom she crosses paths with. Olivia also has CP (cerebral palsy). I’ve been able to witness first hand just how much progress she has made and how hard she works on a daily basis on everyday tasks most of us take for granted. The other day when I was talking with Olivia and her wonderful Grammy, she told me a secret. Since then, it has become a goal to make sure it happens. For all that Olivia has taught me and brought into my life, as well as everyone’s life she brightens. Olivia’s secret: she wants to marry Willie Cauley-Stein Now, my goal is to grab the attention of famous Wildcat and set up a meeting for her. Please help us by sharing this and the video to make it happen! She has brought so much joy into every life she’s touched, help us return the favor! #ForTheLoveOfOlivia #BBN #strivefornine #wildforthecats #williecauleystein
Posted by Caitlin Nugent on Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Through the wonders of social media, Willie saw the video, and visited Olivia at the Child Development Center of the Bluegrass on Monday to invite her to lunch at the Wildcat Lodge. Here are the heartwarming pictures and an update from the CDCB:
Our hearts are full today! We are so proud and excited to let you all know why the UK Wildcat visited CDCB on Monday! He came to deliver an invitation to our Olivia…. Willie Cauley-Stein requested her presence for a lunch date!
Yesterday Olivia got to have spaghetti with Willie at the Wildcat Lodge. She was SO charming and he made her feel SO special. Very happy for our little girl, and very proud to be a part of #BBN …. that a player of Willie’s caliber would take time out of his day on perhaps the most pressured-filled and anticipatory week of his college career speaks volumes about the outstanding character of Kentucky’s Basketball team.
Willie and Olivia’s story will be a feature on CBS’ “March Madness Confidential” show after the tournament. We’ll bring you more details as we know them.
These kids, guys…I can’t.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 01st, 2015 @ 1:00pm
The national media profiles of Kentucky’s players continue to pour in, and while most of them aren’t news to us (Willie played football! Karl Towns is a great kid!), I had to share this one from The New York Post’s Zach Braziller just for that picture of a baby Karl and his sister, Lachelle. Can you believe Karl was ever that small?!
Braziller spoke with Karl’s dad Karl Sr., who had some great quotes to share about Karl’s famous work ethic. This one stood out to me:
“Our motto has always been [bad] things happen after midnight,” Karl Sr. said. “He didn’t party, he didn’t drink. He was always focused on his basketball, he was focused on his education, and he was focused on all the things in life he wants to do. He wants to build a hospital in the Dominican Republic. He wants to be a kinesiologist.”
I was fortunate enough to stand next to Karl Sr. on the court after UK beat Notre Dame, and as Karl climbed the ladder to cut the net, Karl Sr. yelled at his son to turn around so he could take a picture. Karl put his piece of the net in his mouth, turned and gave his dad a smile that spoke volumes.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 01st, 2015 @ 12:30pm
Remember that pesky bag policy from last year’s Final Four? It’s back again. If you plan on attending any of the Final Four festivities in Indianapolis this weekend, don’t plan on bringing a big bag with you. Here’s the clear bag policy from the NCAA:
NCAA-provided clear bags, other clear bags not exceeding the size of the NCAA-provided clear bags, and one gallon clear plastic storage bags will be permitted at the aforementioned events, in addition to purses smaller than 5.5 inches by 8.5 inches (please see the attached diagram).
Clear bags will be provided by the NCAA for free and can be found at downtown Indianapolis hotels, the Indiana Convention Center and most entrances and exits at events where clear bags are required.
For a full list of security policies and procedures, please visit www.ncaa.com/finalfour/champgame.
For serious, y’all, don’t bring the fanny pack.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 01st, 2015 @ 12:00pm
Peyton “Peanut” Henderson stole the show at the Boys Sweet 16 in Rupp a few weeks ago when the video of him dancing to Pharrell’s “Happy” went viral. In case you’re not one of the 81 million people who have seen it, let’s stop right there and get it out of the way:
A star is born.
Posted by What The Flicka? on Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Pretty awesome, right? The Bowling Green native was invited on “The Late Late Show,” where he did the Dougie and danced with host James Cordon:
If that’s not enough to get you out of your seat on the Wednesday before the Final four, I don’t want to know you.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 01st, 2015 @ 11:42am
You’re looking at the regional cover of Sports Illustrated, which features an amazing picture of Karl Towns going against Notre Dame’s Zach Auguste. Karl was 8-8 from the floor in the second half and looked every bit the #1 NBA Draft pick as he carried the Cats to victory.
Again this is just the regional cover. Sports Illustrated’s national cover features Russell Westbrook.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 01st, 2015 @ 11:15am
I’ve been a huge fan of Chuck Culpepper since his time with the Herald-Leader in the 90’s, and it’s not a stretch to say that reading his stuff growing up made me dream of doing this for a living. In fact, one of his college football preview features is still tacked up on the wall in my bedroom, yellowed and fraying, but still intact.
So, you can imagine my excitement when I read Culpepper’s latest piece on Willie Cauley-Stein for The Washington Post. There have been A LOT of articles written about Willie lately, but Culpepper focuses on Willie off the court; in the locker room, specifically. Throughout the postseason, the locker rooms have been open to reporters after the game, a rare treat, and not surprisingly, Willie always has a big crowd around him. I’ve done my best to capture Willie’s comments, attitude, and essence for you guys, but it’s such an impossible task that Culpepper wrote an entire article about it:
He begins almost every answer with, “Ommm,” and flows from there.
As a third-year wise man in a sport of starry freshmen, he manages to be blunt without being abrasive, helpful without being fawning, candid without being derisive. Mostly, he’s respectful of seemingly every type of question, often with long answers. He’ll describe the sport seriously, describe Kentucky’s noted fans semi-seriously, or go off the script unseriously.
Culpepper mentions the famous “raccoon” quote and other treasures, so go check it out. And then try not to count the days we have left with Willie.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 01st, 2015 @ 10:30am
While the rest of us are preparing for the weekend of our lives, the McDonald’s All-American Game festivities keep rolling on in Chicago. The main event is tonight, so to get us ready, let’s check in on UK’s primary targets.
Considering: Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss. Kansas, Connecticut, NC State
Newman is famously coy about his recruitment and has looked excellent in practices this week. Newman says he’s waiting for the draft deadline to decide, but admitted that “it feels like it’s time to decide now.” LSU and UK remain the perceived frontrunners. Newman told The Courier-Journal’s Steve Jones that if Devin Booker stays at Kentucky, that’s fine by him. “I think playing with a player like Book would really help my game because he can open up the floor for you.”
Considering: Kentucky, Michigan State, Duke, California, Arizona, Purdue and Chicago State
Swanigan turned some heads this week with strong performances in practice and says he’s ready to wrap up his recruitment soon. Right now, Michigan State still seems to be the favorite, but Cal has recently made a strong push in an attempt to woo a package deal of Ivan Rabb and Jaylen Brown.
Considering: Kentucky, Kansas, UCLA, Georgia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Michigan and California
Brown, a 6’6″ wing, has lived up to his hype this week and has told various reporters that he could decide in the next three weeks. For some reason, a comment he made several months ago about wanting to attend an adidas school surfaced this week, but Brown has since backtracked on that. Apparently, Brown has been talking plenty of trash this week, even yelling at Malik Newman during one of the scrimmages “He ain’t a point guard.” (H/t Evan Daniels)
Check out the ESPN crew break down Brown’s game:
Considering: Kansas, Kentucky, UNLV, UCLA and Arizona
Zimmerman made waves with some ridiculous dunks in Monday night’s dunk contest. Zimmerman will wait until after the NBA Draft deadline (April 26) to make any more decisions about his recruitment; however, if the way his mother tweets is any indication, I think Kentucky is the favorite.
Here’s another insane dunk:
Considering: Kentucky, Kansas, Iowa State, Pittsburgh and St. John’s
Kansas and St. John’s are considered the favorites for Diallo, who has reportedly been a little inconsistent in practice this week.
Briscoe already signed with Kentucky and therefore doesn’t have the weight of a recruitment on his shoulders, and it shows. Briscoe has had a ball at the event, clowning around and cutting up with other recruits. Jerry Meyer told the Herald-Leader’s Ben Roberts that Briscoe has lived up to the billing of the #1 point guard in his class. “He played really well,” Meyer said. “He looks good, physically. I thought he looked explosive. He’s strong, he’s got quickness, he’s got savvy, he’s crafty. He’s great through contact.”
Want to judge these guys for yourself? Tune in to the game at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 01st, 2015 @ 9:55am
Good morning and welcome to the Wednesday edition of Kentucky Sports Radio, which is coming to you live from the Louisville studios before Matt takes off for Indianapolis. Tune in to hear Matt and Ryan talk everything Final Four because right now, would you really want to hear anything else?
Join in on the fun by calling (502) 571-1080.
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By Bryan the Intern on ©April 01st, 2015 @ 9:00am
We love to overanalyze officials and we do know what the possibilities are for Saturday’s game. The 6 officials who will officiate the 2 games have been announced, but as of yet, I don’t think the 3 for each game have been released. Either way, there are a bunch of common names on that list. But just successful or unsuccessful have the Cats been in the Calipari era with each of the referees for this weekend (and potentially Monday). Below are the records, notable wins, and losses for each of those refs since Calipari took over in 2009.
Pat Adams (20-3)
Notable Wins: LSU (2012 SEC Tourney), Wisconsin (2014 Final Four), North Carolina (2014), Florida (2015 SEC Tourney), Arkansas (2015 SEC Championship)
Losses: Vanderbilt (2011), Baylor (2012), Arkansas (2014)
Doug Sirmons (15-4)
Notable Wins: Tennessee (2010 SEC Tourney), Louisville (2013), Kansas (2014 Champions Classic), Texas (2014)
Losses: Tennessee (2010), Vanderbilt (2011), Baylor (2012), Florida (2014)
Mike Eades (5-3)
Notable Wins: North Carolina (2009)
Losses: North Carolina (2010), Duke (2011 Champions Classic), North Carolina (2012)
Verne Harris (3-1)
Notable Wins: North Carolina (2011 Elite 8), Kansas (2012 National Championship), UCLA (2014)
Losses: UCONN (2014 National Championship)
Brian Kersey (2-0)
Notable Wins: Baylor (2012 Elite 8), West Virginia (2015 Sweet 16)
John Higgins (1-1)
Notable wins: Cornell (2010 Sweet 16)
Losses: UCONN (2011 Final Four)
Joe DeRosa (9-2)
Notable Wins: Louisville (2012 Final Four), Louisville (2014 Sweet 16), Kansas (2014 Champions Classic), Notre Dame (2015 Elite 8)
Losses: Baylor (2013), UCONN (2014 National Championship)
Michael Stephens (7-2)
Notable Wins: UCONN (2009), Louisville (2010), Louisville (2011)
Losses: Georgia (2013), Florida (2014)
Pat Driscoll (3-1)
Notable Wins: Princeton (2011 First Round), North Carolina (2011 Elite 8)
Losses: Michigan State (2013 Champions Classic)
By Courtney Sealey on ©April 01st, 2015 @ 8:30am
Wendy’s Fresh-Made Salads offer healthy fast food choices, fresh toppings, and the choice to select from nutritious options for healthy living. ___________________________________________________________________ You can be a part of Wendy’s KSR Top Ten Tweets by using hashtags like #KSR #BBN or #KSRtopten. If we like what we see, it could be posted the next day. Now. On to the tweets:
#10 Bailey Vandiver
— Bailey Vandiver (@baivandiver) March 31, 2015
High school is hard enough without your friends harassing you for not being cool enough for KSR Top Ten.
#9 Amelia B. McCormick
— Amelia B. McCormick (@AmeliaMcCormick) March 31, 2015
Sweet. I need a new rag.
— Anthony (@conservative270) March 31, 2015
a LONG time ago. Long. Lonnnnnnnng.
#7 Holly Thompson
It's only Tues & my game anxiety is on overload. Already feeling sick w/nerves. Might have to tune out KSR the rest of the week! #KSRTopTen
— Holly Thompson (@hllywd0203) March 31, 2015
I’ve been trying to get some Xanax, but no one seems to think I’m serious on here. =[
#6 Curtis Barkley
— Curtis Barkley (@barkley25) March 31, 2015
This is the most unappealing picture of Cal, but I like the message.
— BigBlueReaper (@GregEten) March 31, 2015
The resemblance is uncanny.
#4 Jack Bergstrom
— Jack Bergstrom (@Jack_Bergstrom) March 31, 2015
I want to see Stoops vs. Franklin on the green.
#3 Jamie Reagan
— Jamie Reagan (@JamieReagan71) March 31, 2015
This. You can give it back to him after class is over.
#2 Patrick McDowell
— Patrick McDowell (@costhedog) March 31, 2015
“The General” lost his battle against Kentucky long time ago.
#1 Adam Weaver
— Adam Weaver (@L_A_Weaver) March 31, 2015
I wish this was an actual cow representation.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 31st, 2015 @ 11:00pm
(Images via @MadelynStampley and @lvm_4)
Of all of the random things to happen in Lexington this week, I did not expect a steer getting loose on UK’s campus to be one of them. This morning around 10 a.m., a large steer escaped the Agriculture school off Nicholasville Road and Cooper Drive, sending policemen, students, and bystanders on a wild cow chase for nearly two hours. The steer hunt took over Twitter and even closed parts of Cooper Drive until Adam Menker, star of the UK rodeo team, lassoed the steer. With the help of Bluegrass Stockyards, the steer was sedated and returned to the Ag College unharmed.
Twitter gonna be Twitter, so at least two parody accounts for the steer were made, along with endless puns and hashtags. My favorite? #GoBigMoo
UK steer, these news and views are for you.
John Calipari was named NABC Coach of the Year today
…Which (slightly) makes up for the US Basketball Writers Association snubbing him last week. This is the third time Cal has received the award from the National Association of Basketball Coaches, the first being in 1996 at UMass and second at Memphis in 2009.
On Friday, Cal will find out of he wins AP Coach of the Year and his chances look pretty good considering the AP decided to hand out the awards during the Final Four team press conferences on Friday instead of holding a separate press conference on Thursday as originally scheduled. Cal is also one of four finalists for the Naismith Men’s College Coach of the Year award, which will be announced on Sunday, and one of twelve finalists eligible to go in to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in September. The Class of 2015 will be announced on Monday at a press conference in Indianapolis, prior to the national championship game.
If Cal runs the table AND the Cats go 40-0, I fully expect him to walk into his postgame press conference like this on Monday:
Aaron says the team is going into the Final Four with a different mindset than last year
Aaron Harrison, Dakari Johnson, and Karl Towns all met with the media this afternoon before leaving for Indianapolis. This is Aaron and Dakari’s second straight Final Four, and both said they’re going into it with a different mindset than they had in Dallas last year.
“I think last year we were just excited to be there,” Aaron said.” This year we’re not going to be satisfied with just the feeling. We’re just going up there to win.”
Dakari agreed. “Last year it wasn’t expected. This year it’s expected from us so you know we are going out there to win and last year it kind of just felt like we were happy to be there.”
Shannon Spake walked the team to class this morning
Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, Karl Towns, and Derek Willis were nice enough to let Shannon Spake accompany them to their 8 a.m. class this morning for a segment on SportsCenter, becoming even more the envy of Drew Franklin. I haven’t seen the segment, but when it comes online, I’ll share it with you and then send it to Bobby Knight to prove that, even the Tuesday before the Final Four, these kids (including the potential #1 pick in the draft) do go to class.
Wisconsin is preparing for Willie Cauley-Stein with a 6’6″ freshman
According to Sports Illustrated’s Brian Hamilton, Frank Kaminsky says the Badgers are preparing Willie Cauley-Stein’s length with 6’6″ freshman Matt Ferris. “I think Matt Ferris will give us a great look at Willie Cauley-Stein,” Kaminsky said.
Sure, if someone else is sitting on Ferris’ shoulders.
Apparently Wisconsin also plays Super Smash Brothers on Nintendo 64
And talk about a weird coincidence. At today’s presser, our ole buddy Jeff Goodman asked the Badgers about FIFA, and Nigel Hayes decided to talk about Super Smash Bros. instead:
“We care more about suckoffs than Smash battles. We’re a Super Smash Bros. team, so FIFA has really taken a backseat to that. All we care about is our suckoffs.”
Before you get all inappropriate on the Google machine, “suckoffs” is Super Smash Bros. lingo for sucking the opponent in with Kirby and falling off the edge with them. At first, I thought this was a shot at UK’s famous habit for playing the game, but it turns out Wisconsin actually enjoys it too.
I mean, this calls for a Super Smash Brothers battle on Friday, right?
Dave Baker, Rex Chapman and Michael Eaves were chosen for UK’s Team Stream
I’ll be honest, I was pretty shocked when I saw that Rex will return to UK’s homer coverage of Saturday night’s game. He’ll be joined by Buzz Baker and Michael Eaves, the main sports anchor for Al Jazeera America who went to college at UK and worked for WKYT in the mid to late 90’s.
To hear the trio call the game, tune into TNT at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday night.
Will a certain part of a certain Lexington statue need painting this weekend?
Shoutout to Bucky Small Hooves for this bizarre video, which honors a certain pair of big cojones.
Doron Lamb suffered a season-ending wrist injury
Lamb was averaging 17.7 points per game with the Westchester Knicks, and recently set a franchise record for the most points scored in a single game with 40. Westchester will retain Doron’s D-League rights for the next two seasons.
Let’s hope this doesn’t also affect his Twitter game.
There will be quite a few potential first-round draft picks on the floor Saturday night
According to Chad Ford, at least seven, four from Kentucky and three from Wisconsin. We’re used to Kentucky have a substantial advantage in talent over other teams, and while the margin is still great, Wisconsin has some legit players. Sam Dekker wanted to make that clear in Wisconsin’s press conference today.
“We know Kentucky’s got a lot of guys who will be first rounders who will be good,” Dekker said. “So do we.”
Tomorrow is April Fools’ Day and I’m not biting
I think April Fools’ Day is the dumbest holiday in existence, so you have my promise that I won’t pull any dumb pranks on you on the website tomorrow; however, I’m sure the rest of the world will, so be on the lookout for fake articles about the Cats or John Calipari.
By Matt Jones on ©March 31st, 2015 @ 9:48pm
Some thoughts as we move towards Indy….
— I am more confident than others seem to be about this game on Saturday night. Of course Kentucky can lose, as Wisconsin is a great team and probably the best matchup against the Cats of any in the Tournament. But I like where UK is, think they got the worst game of the tournament out of the way and feel better about the matchups than I have before. The Notre Dame game exploited what is Kentucky’s real weakness on defense…guards who can beat you off the bounce and penetrate to the rim. Jerian Grant was a defensive problem for the Cats and their success on the offensive end stemmed from his play. I am not as worried about the Wisconsin guards…they can shoot but I don’t see the game-changing playmaking abilities that Grant was able to give the Irish. The key for me is Karl Towns playing Kaminsky well without getting into foul trouble and controlling Dekker as much as possible. Wisconsin isn’t really deep and if UK plays well offensively, they can’t guard the Cats. I expect a very good game but still think UK is a solid favorite if they do what they are capable of on both ends of the floor.
— I was really surprised by the TeamCast broadcast lineup. I like Dave Baker, Rex Chapman and Michael Eaves all quite a bit. They are all friends of mine and I think they are all very talented. Baker makes total sense for play-by-play and Eaves, while not known by everyone in the state, will do a good job on the sidelines after doing it for the Clippers for a number of years. But using Rex after his problems and the issue with the fans following the Tweet last year surprised me. As readers here know, I like Rex a lot and think this is a good chance for him. But it wasn’t met well by fans and showcases how little television executives really know about what a fanbase wants. My hope is that Rex can use this to rebuild some bridges, and I know the product will be good with these three guys. But what is also likely is that some fans who would have otherwise watched, are now less likely to.
— I have no idea what is wrong with Chris Webber. His argument about Willie today was silly and the one thing it will do is motivate WCS to play well this weekend. To act like Willie is not a NBA starter because he only averages 9 a game is ludicrous. Deandre Jordan (who Webber said Willie isn’t nearly as good as) averaged 7 a game in college and Nerlens Noel (who is the same age as Willie) only average 10 while playing eight more minutes a game. Success in the NBA isn’t guaranteed for Willie and I am not sure how great he can become…but he can play NBA level defense on a high plane immediately…that means he will see the Court from Day One and I don’t know how anyone can project that he won’t be able to eventually be a starter.
— Willie today became the 25th Consensus All-American in UK history. That is an amazing accomplishment for the young man and also showcases his place in history. To only have 25 since this program began, and have a player who was an afterthought in his recruiting class become one of them, is truly impressive for the kid and John Calipari. He is the first consensus All American ever to average less than 10 points a game, a distinction that should be a badge of honor. What makes it even more amazing is that I think Willie now will have a real case to have his jersey retired at Kentucky…think about it…one of only 25 consensus First Team All Americans in school history and potentially the MVP of the first team in school history to go 40-0. If that happens, Willie has a case, something I don’t think any of us thought was possible even one year ago…a great kid who has become a great player.
— Pat Forde is the worst. I know we all know this but he reminds me of it often. I ignore him when I can, but sometimes his awfulness needs the occasional acknowledgement. I did that on Twitter today with five tweets that illustrate my biggest gripes with him. Check them out if you so choose…and while doing it, follow me on Snapchat (kysportsradio) for behind-the-scenes video from the Final Four…plus our radio presence in Indy should be huge, including a potential special live show during the UK open practice. Should be much fun.
— I can’t wait for Indianapolis. Not only do we have the excitement of the 40-0 chase, but we also have one of the best Final Four fields ever and the close site means there will be UK fans EVERYWHERE. Saturday will be a circus, and the basketball is now being joined by the political issue in Indiana to mean that we may have one of the wilder scenes in a NCAA Tournament ever. The key for Kentucky is to do what they have done all season…avoid distractions. If they do that, they will be fine. This group has not gotten off track all year and I see no reason why it would happen now. What I do know is that I will be a nervous wreck, and like many of you, will feel like I have played 10 games by the time the Semifinal ends late Saturday night.
— I am giving away FINAL FOUR TICKETS from Guyonthecornertickets.comover the next three days on the morning radio show. Listen to win and get a trip to see all the shenanigans on Saturday.
With that, my picture of March (I hate April Fool’s Day):
By Andrew Cassady on ©March 31st, 2015 @ 9:30pm
It’s that time of the week once again. Time to check in with the statistical models from around the web and see if they like the Cats in their upcoming games. First up is Five Thirty Eight which has vaulted Kentucky from 41% to 53% as fewer teams are left in the field. Nate Silver’s model really likes Kentucky and Duke to meet in the Championship as both teams are over 65% favorites to win their Final Four match-ups.
The Power Rank has updated their model as well but they still place UK a bit lower. They have the Cats advancing to the National Championship game 64.7% of the time and a chance at winning the title of 42.3%. That’s a jump of almost 5 percentage points since we took a peak at the numbers last week.
The numbers all place Kentucky as a pretty heavy favorite to win the championship. But as Notre Dame proved, numbers don’t mean much when the ball is up in the air. Still, it gives me some stress relief to see models pick the Cats to go all the way.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 31st, 2015 @ 9:00pm
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 31st, 2015 @ 8:00pm
Almost one year ago, Kentucky beat Wisconsin 74-73 on a last-second three from Aaron Harrison to advance to the National Championship. On Saturday, the two teams will meet again with the same goal. What’s changed and what hasn’t since April 6, 2014? I’m glad you asked…
UK won’t have Alex Poythress
Alex roared the Cats back into the game with eight points and seven rebounds, including four crucial points and two huge rebounds in the final five minutes. He also had a key offensive rebound and putback that was part of 15-0 run by the Cats early in the second half. Of course, Alex went down with an ACL injury earlier this season, and will now take over Willie Cauley-Stein’s place on the bench from the last Final Four. Hopefully someone will give him a GoPro. Better yet, he can use ours.
UK will have Willie Cauley-Stein
Willie went down with an ankle injury during the Louisville game, and missed UK’s final three games of the NCAA Tournament. Although Willie only averages three more points per game this season, he’s a totally different player, a well-rounded dunk and block machine who alters games defensively. For some reason, most analysts think Willie will guard Frank Kaminsky, but I think he would be much more effective against Sam Dekker, a 6’9″ 220 lbs. forward who hit five threes vs. Arizona. Willie’s versatility and athleticism on defense are the perfect recipe to keep Dekker quiet, as long as he doesn’t chase butterflies.
Wisconsin won’t have Ben Brust
Brust scored fifteen points against UK last year, including three threes to keep the Badgers rolling. Thankfully, he’s gone, but…
Wisconsin will have Nigel Hayes
Hayes was a non-factor in last year’s game, but this year, he averages 12.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. As Andrew Cassady told you earlier today, he can put up a bunch of points in a hurry, and Trey Lyles will need to be at his best to contain him.
Frank Kaminsky is better…
In his senior year, Kaminsky is a favorite for Player of the Year, averaging five more points and six more minutes per game than he did last season. UK used a three-man attack of Julius Randle, Dakari Johnson, and Marcus Lee to contain Kaminsky this year, but I have a feeling Karl Towns will get the mission this go around, with Dakari and Lee running relief.
On yesterday’s Final Four teleconference, John Calipari ticked off the ways Frank Kaminsky has improved since last year. “He looks stronger. He’s working angles better. He’s a really confident perimeter shooter,” Cal said. “He’s passing because he gets double-teamed so much. He’s passing better.”
…But he still does this
And I have a feeling he’ll do that a LOT vs. Karl Towns on Saturday. Welcome to the Flop Hall of Fame, Frank. Please line up there right next to Chris Jones.
UK won’t have Julius Randle or James Young
Randle and Young were UK’s leading scorers against Wisconsin, with 16 and 17 points a piece; however, Randle was hampered by an ankle injury throughout the game, pulling down only five rebounds instead of his usual ten. Young was huge against the Badgers, scoring seven of UK’s first nine points.
But they will have Karl Towns, Trey Lyles, Devin Booker, and Tyler Ulis
UK’s four freshmen average a combined 34.5 points per game, 35.9 in the postseason. Karl will be especially important in Saturday’s game against Frank Kaminsky. In the postesason, Karl is UK’s leading scorer with 12 points per game, and he’ll most likely have the task of guarding Frank the Tank. Karl is foul prone and Frank is flop prone, so this matchup will be crucial on Saturday night. Look for Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee to double team Frank while Karl’s on the bench.
As mentioned earlier, Trey Lyles may help Willie guard Sam Dekker or focus on containing Nigel Hayes. UK didn’t have a weapon like Trey offensively last year, and he could once again be the x-factor for the Cats. Ulis and Booker need to help keep Kentucky balanced on offense, and wouldn’t this be the perfect game for Booker to get hot from the outside? He had two threes vs. Notre Dame and he’s due for a breakout performance.
UK still has Aaron Harrison, who still does stuff like this
And that’s just one more reason I’m not overly concerned about the Badgers.