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March 28th, 2015

UK vs. Notre Dame LIVE BLOG

Live Blog UK vs. Notre Dame LIVE BLOG
 


Sights and sounds from The Q

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We’re about 40 minutes from tip off, and The Q is starting to buzz. To help you pass the time, here are some sights and sounds, starting with the Cats taking the court:

A video posted by Tyler Thompson (@mrstylerksr) on

Our favorite tatted fan, Thomas Younce, is ready:

New Jersey governor Chris Christie is here in a Notre Dame hoodie (his daughter goes to school there):

Finally, Sam Malone’s mother Linda and Jake Craft are sporting #13 Malone jerseys:

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Now all they need are some headbands and they’re set.

Live blog in 30…


The Old Gang is Ready for Tonight

Yeah, I guess if you play at Kentucky for a year you don’t care about the program. Once again these guys continue to be proud to have worn Kentucky’s jersey no matter how long it was. John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis all had this tweeted out. Pretty cool drawing if you ask me, I’d be willing to buy it. Also, nice touch on the blue and white checkers for Cousins.

Matt tweeted this out earlier as I’m sure there will be more stars in the crowd tonight. You have to assume LeBron will be wearing blue and white as he is good friends with Coach Cal. Good to see everyone coming back and supporting the team.


The Team Just Arrived at the Arena….

… and they look calm, cool, and collected.

T-minus 1 hour and 11 minutes, guys.


A Hoosier is Cheering for Kentucky

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Bob Kravitz of WTHR in Indianapolis has a warning for those who hate Kentucky. Don’t read the column where he explains you should be cheering for the Wildcats.

Kravitz does make a great point and one many Kentucky fans have made throughout the year. This is exactly what you want out of a team. They are playing defense-first basketball and many stars have given up minutes and numbers for the greater good of the team. However, because it says Kentucky on the front of the jersey it’s been bad for basketball. What if this was Arizona or Virginia instead?

The other point Kravitz brings up is how people accuse Calipari of running a bad program because of the one-and-done rule. Let’s remember, that’s a NBA rule and not something the NCAA can control. Wouldn’t Tom Crean and Matt Painter take Trey Lyles in a heartbeat? You think Missouri or Michigan would be happy to have Devin Booker?

So, welcome aboard the bandwagon, Bob. Just save room for some others.


Report: Rick Barnes Fired at Texas

Numerous people are saying Rick Barnes has been fired from the head coaching job at Texas. This isn’t necessarily surprising as Barnes has massively underachieved with a ton of talent. Maybe, this just goes to show that you also have to be a great coach when you are a good recruiter, cough cough USBWA voters.

CBS’ Sam Vecenie poses an interesting debate though. Is Texas a top five job from a coach standpoint? There’s not much pressure as it’s a football school first and has a ton of money to spend.

For what it’s worth, I agree with Vecenie as he’s not saying it’s a top five program, but rather if you’re a coach you want to go here.

The two names being thrown around are the obvious ones in Gregg Marshall and Shaka Smart. This absolutely makes the Alabama, St. John’s and Tennessee jobs less desirable and should lead to some mayhem in the coaching carousel.

Barnes was the head coach in Austin for 17 years, going 402-180 but made just one Final Four.

 


Catch the KSR Pre-game Show

Photo courtesy of UK Athletics

Photo courtesy of UK Athletics

It’s officially go time, just look at Sam Malone. Tip is just under three hours away yet I know you’re ready to listen to the gang. Just tune in to the KSR Pre-game show to hear Matt and the crew talk about the Elite Eight game against Notre Dame. Will it be a repeat of the West Virginia game? How will Kentucky use it’s massive size advantage and depth to help secure a win? Will Willie Cauley-Stein have another monster dunk? How’s Aaron Harrison’s finger? The list goes on and on, but who am I to stop. Just listen to Matt and friends.

The show starts approximately at 6:15.Tune in to 630 WLAP in Lexington to hear the KSR pregame show or stream online

Share your voices and opinions by calling 1-800-444-8484 or 502-571-8484.

Discuss the show below.


Time to get Looney

News coming from the UK football team just now. Ben Roberts of NextCats just tweeted out that Kordell Looney has committed to the Wildcats.

Stoops and company continue to go into Ohio and win recruiting battles, which is pretty impressive. Looney is the No. 35 recruit in the state of Ohio and comes in at 6’3″ and 286 pounds. UK was the first major school to offer Looney, but he marks the 10th commitment from the Buckeye State for the Class of 2016. Kentucky now has seven of the top 40 prospects in the state.


Bud Dupree Rising Up the Charts

 

Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

In a quick break from basketball talk, let’s take a look at Big Blue Nation’s favorite football player. SB Nation’s site Canal Street Chronicles discuss Bud Dupree going to the Saints with the No. 13 overall pick. The writer talks about Dupree’s hardworking nature as one of the main reasons he wants to see New Orleans take Bud. He uses this quote as a prime example:

“I wear uniform number 2 because I’m trying to be number 1 but I am working like I am number 2″. – Bud Dupree, via the UK Athletics website.

This is high praise for Dupree, who has been on a tear since the season ended. At the NFL Combine, Dupree measured in at 6’4″, 269 pounds before running a 4.56 40-yard dash and dominating the vertical and broad jumps at 42 and 138 inches respectively.

Take a quick break from all the basketball stuff and read the article, pretty impressive to hear someone beg for their team to draft a Kentucky player. Best of luck to Bud Dupree as the draft process continues.


Willie Cauley-Stein is thriving as a mentor for the Wildcats

© Dale Zanine

© Dale Zanine

The original title of this AP article is “Confident Cauley-Stein is thriving in mentor role with the Wildcats”, however I think it is more about how Willie has found his confidence on and off the court and less about the players around him.

A short month and a half ago, we all saw a side of Willie Cauley-Stein we had never seen before. WCS was always a strange, but yet still lovable player on our team. Still. We never understood the inner workings of his mind. His strangeness and the way he stands out has turned him into one of our favorite characters over the year.

In case you missed it, here is the ESPN College Gameday special I am talking about:

 

Just like we have fell in love with Willie, the players have too. Now in his junior year, he is a mentor and big brother to the underclassmen who have came after him.

Calipari has always sat his players down at the end of the season and talked about what is best for them – staying or the NBA. For Willie, he only had to say one thing to Cal to let him stay a part of the Wildcats for another year.

“I said that day after we lost that I have never won a championship before,” Cauley-Stein said. “I’ve never won anything or any crazy awards and I’m coming back to fulfill that spot in my heart. To fulfill that emptiness.”

Now Willie says he is on a mission. (a quote we had a post on yesterday).  That mission may have took longer than expected, but he has finally reached the potential Calipari saw in him .

One that has taken longer than expected in the NBA prep school that doubles as Kentucky basketball under Calipari. Unlike many of his teammates, Cauley-Stein arrived in Lexington less a sure thing than a curiosity. He had the raw materials. What he lacked was the confidence required to mold his game into something better than the sum of his considerable parts.

You may not know this (har har), but Willie played football in high school, so his love for basketball has had to develop over the years.

And perhaps that’s the most important step in Cauley-Stein’s development. He admits he spent two years wondering if he belonged. It took being around “alpha males” like Julius Randle and twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison to play with swagger.

“He’s getting it,” Payne said. “It just happens in stages. It happens in flows. Hopefully somewhere down the road he gets it totally, he keeps it and he never loses it because that athlete is special.”

The story is a great one. Read the entire article here. 

 

@Sealey_KSR

 


Robic owns players with half-court shot

Shootarounds just ended for the Cats as they prep for tonight’s game. The Cats always end practice with a half-court shot and this time it was ended by Robic. Watch this hilarious video of Robic showing them how its done.

 

 

@Sealey_KSR


The Offense Dominates During Open Practice

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It was a cold, windy morning, but it didn’t keep a couple hundred fans from the Tim Couch Practice Fields to watch Shannon Dawson’s offense put on a show.  There wasn’t a better way to start an Elite 8 day.  Here’s a rundown of today’s offensive awesomeness.

1.  The running game works, with a little misdirection

Shannon Dawson’s running game looks completely different than Neal Brown’s, and it’s not because Jacob Hyde is lining up at fullback.  Today was filled with big plays from all three backs, getting into open space easier than ever before.  It wasn’t because the line was blocking better or the backs were running faster; they were successful because of the scheme.

Neal Brown believed too much in the old-fashioned lead play.  If the offensive line didn’t drive their man out of the hole, the play was dead in the water.  When Dawson ran the drive-block plays early in practice, they weren’t very successful either.  Today’s big plays came out of misdirection in the shotgun, using fake screen passes and pulling guards to bait the defense before the running back found a huge hole to bust through.

A little rundown of the best runs of the day…. Jojo’s cutback near the end of practice was good for 60+ yards or so, outdoing his big 30 yeard touchdown run from earlier.  Mikel Horton was the first to make an eye-opening play today, nearly running an 80-yard touchdown before getting caught inside the 10-yard line.  Boom brought as many Booms as usual, but his most surprising was a wheel route down the sideline for 60+ yards.

Simply put, they’re a lot more fun to watch make moves when in open space.

2.  Patrick Towles is confident

Towles’ role is a bit different this year, commanding total control of the offense when it comes to communicating the plays.  It’s helped them move much faster and I believe it’s made him more aware.  When the defense tried to throw him off guard with the blitz, he countered by getting it out of his hand quickly, or changing the snap count to draw the defense offsides.

The deep ball wasn’t executed too well today, but I can let it slide considering it was their first big scrimmage of the year (and the cold weather had guys a step slower).  What Pat had going for him was the 10-18 yard pass, hitting deep outs, comebacks, and squares routinely.  Just when the defense thought they had a stop, he’d hit Garrett Johnson or CJ Conrad in the middle of the field for an easy first down.

His confidence is probably what’s most important.  The defense was starting to get a little chummy, when Pat decided to tuck it and scramble.  Not allowed to take him down, they shoved him out of bounds.  He still won that round, “That was a first down,” Pat said.

3.  Even in a scrimmage, Stoops wasn’t letting the Refs off easy

Jeff Badet received some contact from Kendall Randolph on a fade route in the end zone.  Randolph didn’t get his head around quickly, making it an easy pass interference call for both referees.  Still, Stoops wasn’t satisfied, “That ball wasn’t catchable,” he pleaded.  “The ball was under thrown five yards.  Ain’t no way he’s making that catch.  It’s not a flag.”

The man has his DB’s backs.

The offensive lineman see how low they can go.  No position on the line is set, other than Jon Toth's spot at center.

The offensive lineman see how low they can go. No position on the line is set, other than Jon Toth’s spot at center.

4.  Red Zone Weapons

Let’s see if this scene sounds familiar.  The Cats have let an SEC opponent get into the Red Zone, but have stuffed the run two plays in a row.  Now third down, they can get out of there with a field goal if they can just get one more stop.  The next play a 6’6″ receiver makes an easy fade catch for a touchdown over Kentucky’s smaller cornerbacks.

This year WE GET TO TURN THE TABLES!  Blake Bone could have played better today, but still had two easy touchdowns from inside the red zone.  Another weapon we haven’t been used to in awhile is a great pass-catching tight end.  C.J. Conrad is only six practices into his college career, but Sweet Jesus he’s going to make an impact on the field.  He had two touchdown grabs off play-action rollouts that appeared effortless.  The only time I saw him drop a ball was after four people hit him in the middle of the field (it hurt me he got so many times).

5.  Jeff Badet is faster than you

I never realized how fast Jeff Badet was until watching a practice a few weeks.  Today, he surprised me yet again.  Someone around the team was telling me, “I didn’t think he could get faster, but after injury he somehow got faster.”

His route-running is exceptional as well and will help him make a push to start at outside receiver.  I also appreciated his improvisation, diving for a nice catch after the ball was tipped at the line of scrimmage.

6.  A little something, something on the defense

I decided not to say much about the defense because their butts were thoroughly handed to them after a solid start.  But it’s still worth mentioning Ryan Flannigan’s improvement.  He’s thinking less, helping him react quicker.  I was unsure if he’d be a suitable Will linebacker, but his play today proved me wrong.

Here’s how the starting front seven looked, from left to right: C.J. Johnson, Melvin Lewis and Farrington Huguenin.  At linebacker: Denzil Ware, Josh Forrest, Ryan Flannigan and Jason Hatcher.  The secondary is pretty fluid, but A.J. Stamps, Blake McClain and Kendall Randolph will all play big roles.


Big night for former Cats in the NBA last night

The NBA Cats must have felt inspired from the performance of their young brothers against West Virginia Thursday, because they went off in each of their games last night. Look at this break down of the NBA Cats last night:

 

Go Cats!

@Sealey_KSR


Harrison and Ulis were rivals before they were Cats

 (AP Photo/James Crisp)

(AP Photo/James Crisp)

This picture was seen today on SportsCenter. No idea when it was taken, (and I haven’t found it on KSR from the past) but  I am assuming it was middle school. It’s hard to tell since Andrew Harrison looks like a full grown man and Ulis, well, he looks like a smaller version of himself now. 

(@Bigrich98)

 

 

Ulis kind of makes Harrison look like Mamadou Mdiaye a bit.

(h/t Orange County Register)

 

@Sealey_KSR


Kentucky Upsets #1 LSU in 12 Innings

Thomas Bernal collected three hits in a 5-4 win in Baton Rouge. (Photo by Elliott Hess, UK Athletics)

Thomas Bernal collected three hits in a 5-4 win in Baton Rouge. (Photo by Elliott Hess, UK Athletics)

For the seventh time in the Gary Henderson era, Kentucky has knocked off the #1 team in the country. A 5-4 upset over LSU on Friday night improved Kentucky’s record against #1 teams to 7-7 under Coach Henderson. The win did not come easy as the game rolled into extra innings.

LSU got the ball rolling with two runs in the second inning to take the first lead of the game. RBIs by Jake Fraley and Chris Sciambra put Kentucky starting pitcher Zack Brown in an early hole. Brown managed to work out of that inning and keep the score at 2-0 into the seventh where Kentucky’s offense woke up. LSU starter Jared Poche’ didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning, but Kentucky found five hits off Poche’ in the seventh. Dorian Hairston started the inning with a double. Thomas Bernal collected one of his three hits on the game with an RBI single to score Hairston. Later in the inning, Connor Heady singled to bring home Bernal and tie the game. Kentucky had an opportunity with two outs to take their first lead of the game. Kyle Barrett came through in the clutch with an RBI single to score Greg Fettes and give UK a 3-2 lead. 

LSU quickly responded in the bottom half of the seventh. After a throwing error by Bernal, LSU scored to tie the game at three. The unearned run would lead to Brown not picking up a decision on the mound as he exited after 6.2 innings. Dylan Dwyer came on to finish the seventh and pitch into the eighth for Kentucky. Both team’s bullpens were able to shut down the other’s offense leading into extra innings. A duel began between Kentucky’s Zach Strecker and LSU’s Jesse Stallings in the extra frames. Strecker went three innings out of the bullpen, allowing four hits and an unearned run. Stallings was fantastic as well before he reached the 12th inning. 

Ka'ai Tom played hero once again. (Photo by Elliott Hess, UK Athletics)

Ka’ai Tom played hero once again. (Photo by Elliott Hess, UK Athletics)

Kentucky’s offense had been relatively quiet in the final two innings and in extras. Stallings had been cruising through the lineup before Barrett singled with two outs in the 12th. Following Evan White being hit by a pitch, Ka’ai Tom came to the plate with runners on first and second with two outs. Tom drove a 1-2 pitch down the right field line to score both Barrett and White. Tom’s RBI double gave Kentucky a 5-3 lead heading into the bottom of the 12th. 

Just like the 7th inning, LSU managed to begin another rally in the 12th. Two errors by Kentucky allowed LSU to cut the score to 5-4. Kentucky closer Spencer Jack was brought on to end the threat. Jack got a groundout to end the game and solidify a 5-4 win for Kentucky.

-Starting pitcher Zack Brown was phenomenal in his third consecutive Friday start. In his 11th career start, Brown went 6.2 innings and allowed three runs while striking out three.

-Evan White extended his hit streak to nine games while Kyle Barrett extended his to eight games.

-Zach Strecker picked up the third win of his career after pitching three innings and not allowing an earned run.

-Ka’ai Tom did not have a hit in his previous four at-bats in the game before his RBI double in the 12th inning. Tom now has 26 RBIs in 2015.

-LSU’s Alex Bregman and Connor Hale combined for one hit in ten at-bats against Kentucky pitching on Friday. Neither of LSU’s big run producers drove in a run against UK.

-Over 11,000 people were at Alex Box Stadium to see Kentucky knock off LSU in Baton Rouge.

 

@TreyHuntsmanKSR