Kentucky Sports Radio

University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.
July 24th, 2016

Jennifer Lopez’s Sunday Morning Wakeup

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Good morning, world. Pour yourself another cup of coffee and get ready for another day of news out of bluegrass country.

Jennifer Lopez turns 47 today, and she still looks as good as she did 20 years ago. After 20 million record sales, maintaining an acting career, and listening to the horrible auditions on American Idol for so many years, you’d think she’d age at least a little bit. Keep it up, J-Lo.

Kentucky Football Women’s Clinic

(Image via @MindySeeberger)

The Kentucky football women’s clinic was a huge success yesterday morning, where the ladies heard comments from coaches and players, and participated in some fun activities to kick off the football season.

The clinic was successful, but Eddie Gran’s joke early in the event, “(Darin) Hinshaw likes to joke we have 13 periods in practice and women only have one,” was not.

MKG returns to Lexington

(Image @acrphoto)

MKG came back home to Lexington to host a camp, and he’s still just as awesome as he was four years ago.  He talked with the media, talking about his time at UK, his professional career, and how jealous he is of the new UK practice facility.

Cornerback J.D. didn’t appreciate MKG’s comments.

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KSR will be LIVE from the DNC this week

Just a friendly reminder, Matt, Drew, and Ryan will be in Philadelphia this week taking on the Democratic National Convention. Their time in Cleveland for the RNC was a success, so be prepared for some ridiculous updates as the week progresses.

Enjoy your Sunday, BBN.


July 23rd, 2016

Kentucky Enters the Arms Race; A Former Player’s Perspective

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Soon after my high school graduation I moved from Cumberland to Lexington to begin summer workouts. By doing so, the first football facility that I called home was the Shively Center. Shively is now three facilities ago. In 1987, the team moved into the EJ Nutter Training Facility. The transition was flawless yet unheralded. Actually during the Nutter Center ribbon cutting ceremony, UK Head Athletic Trainer Al Green had to quickly retrieve a pair of scissors from the training room for the VIP’s to cut the ceremonial decoration. Quick thinking by my future father-in-law, but ceremonial vagueness was indicative of the matter-of-fact transition. Al texted me this picture on Friday. The original scissors with the ribbon still attached. History.

On Friday I was awarded the opportunity to tour the New Training Facility along with a contingent of media types. For brevity purposes throughout this post I’ll refer to the New Training Facility as NTF. Initial observations:

Initial Reaction

The 1951 national championship trophy was proudly displayed in the main lobby. Social media reaction regarding the trophy picture brought on a few snickers. See the trophy is not an original; in fact UK had a replica reproduced for exhibition purposes. When asked about it, a UK representative shamelessly and proudly said that there were still players from that team that come back to Lexington for football games. They deserve to see their championship trophy that they had earned decades ago. Amen. Drop the mic. Snickers, are you kidding me??? Men in their 80’s receiving gratification and recognition from winning a national championship should be celebrated for God’s sake. Unbelievable but believably sad.

At this point in the tour I lost all objectivity. I was no longer a member of the media. In my mind and heart, I was a 1980’s, full mullet sporting, “Glory Days” singing UK Man. You dag gone right, I was proud to be a Wildcat. Sorry, still a little fired up. Back on task.

Weight Room

There were no mirrors in the ginormous weight room. Initially unnoticed, but when asked about the the lack of standard “weight room guy” fixtures, the answer I got was that it was indeed intentional. Players are not there to get a beach body, they are at the facility to work on functional, football strength and conditioning. The stereo system was loud with deep bass. Compared to its predecessor, the NTF weight room is at least double of that of the Nutter Center. The ceiling is high; the walls are decorated in stadium décor and three stories tall. With the practice fields within full view behind an enormous glass wall, a feeling of openness resonates.

History

Within the downstairs lobby to upstairs meeting rooms and beyond, former Wildcats from all generations are honored. Bravo UK. For several years this was not quite the case. In some cases, UK has not sufficiently distinguished individual players or teams from the past. Sadly, some of my fellow alumni have at times felt forgotten or unappreciated. One reason was due to the lack of space for adequate displays at the Nutter Center. On Friday I surprisingly saw pictures of former teammates that were both All-SEC and All-American performers. There were names of UK NFL Draftees that are not commonly discussed in tailgate parties. In addition, in front of the NTF is a sacred location preserved for a statue that will honor four heroic Kentuckians: Greg Page, Nate Northington, Houston Hogg, and Wilbur Hackett Jr.

Examples: I saw the ugly mugshot of Dr. Joel Mazzella on one of many walls of fame. Dr. Mazzella was a former walk-on from West Virginia turned All-SEC guard in the early 1990’s. I hadn’t seen an image of my friend Joel in 27 years. Current Cat Cole Mosier could learn a great deal from Dr. Mazzella’s example. Another walk-on, Newport Catholic great Jeff Brady’s picture jumped out to me as he went on to earn All SEC honors and play over a decade in the NFL.

LB Randy Holleran and Chris Chenault are more than deserving for their numbers to hang in the Commonwealth Stadium, but they are not. Their All-SEC and All-American pictures are now exhibited for current Cats to see. UK’s current group of linebackers could learn a great deal by studying Holleran and Chenault’s intensity and at times, on-field insanity. Same can be said about Paintsville’s two-time All SEC defensive tackle Joey Couch and the hardest hitting Wildcat I’ve seen play, All-American Melvin Johnson.

When I recognized that former player’s careers were being documented from the Bear Bryant to Mark Stoops era, I nearly broke down in tears. These Cats are more than deserving, and this acknowledgment is a long overdue. I won’t name all of the pictures exhibited, but the history within the NTF made me extremely proud of my ordinary football past. On Friday I felt the Esprit décor of past, current, and future Wildcats. Furthermore, for the first time in nearly 30 years I felt that dearly missed “Us vs. Them” team mentality. I was ready to run through walls. The New Training Facility will do more to unite former football players than any other venture in the history of the University of Kentucky.

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Privacy/Functionality

With only one hallway from the locker room/coach’s offices to the practice fields, if you’ve been in the Nutter Center most likely you’ve run smack into a coach or player. Not the case in the NTF. This is not a good thing. This is a great thing. Behind three to four levels of security and a maze of hallways lie the locker room, coach’s offices, barber shop, and player’s lounge. With retinal identification systems in place, players and coaches can now focus on the task in hand without distraction.

This may seem miniscule in the grand scheme of 100,000 square feet and $45 million dollars, but from a player’s perspective, discretion is welcomed and a functional part of ownership in the facility. Players can now train, eat, get a haircut, go to study hall, and practice in a private setting. In essence, this secluded space identifies comfort boundaries. Football players now have their own version of the Coal Lodge, a sanctuary per say.

Attention to Detail

In my former job, out of necessity, I was a part of many major facility and construction committees. By no means am I a construction expert nor do I claim to be. But trust me when I say this, there were no details left uncovered as UK was meticulous from design, planning, to functional operation. Example, the shower heads are over 7 feet tall. Again, may sound picky, but still important. Lockers are ventilated, private, and provide purposeful space to match the size dimensions of a SEC football player. The locker room is immaculate, classily flashy, and spacey. Logo and branding was consistent throughout.

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Conclusion

I’ve never been more proud of the University of Kentucky than I was on Friday. Mitch Barnhart, Mark Stoops, Russ Pear, and so many more put in a great deal of hard work in bringing UK’s new state of the art football headquarters into reality. It’s been over a decade in the coming, but finally UK has a Top Tier, SEC football training facility, recruiting room, and stadium.

So, immediate results will surface right? Yes, and no. Speaking from experience, initially there will be a greater sense of pride within the football program. Kind of like when you buy your first house. But, here we go get ready for it; It’s not personal, it’s personnel. Football is a game of Jimmies and Joes. From recruits that first visit the NTF to actual on-field game production won’t be seen until 2018 at the earliest. Remember, the past decade of degeneration will not be amended with a singular turnkey operation. The NTF will attract, impress, and wow top prospects. It really is second to none in America. However, the cold hard reality of college football is that signatures will ultimately come from game-field wins.


Fun Facts About UK’s Non-Conference Foes

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Earlier this week UK released the non-conference schedule for the 2016-17 season.  We’re familiar with many of them — UofL, Michigan State, UNC, UCLA and Kansas — but some of these names are new to Kentucky fans.  After some serious investigating Wikipedia-ing, I’ve found fun facts to share with the BBN about the ten unfamiliar foes.

I think most of you know by now that Clarion University is Coach Cal’s alma mater, but I bet you didn’t know it’s also Kurt Angle’s alma mater.  Before winning the ’96 Olympic gold medal in wrestling, he won two heavyweight D-I titles at Clarion.

You might think of Asbury as only a seminary school, but you’d be surprised how many Kentucky connections have been involved with the basketball program.  Not surprisingly, they’re mostly related to Billy G.

Adam Delph was PRP’s Sixth Region Player of the Year before walking on at UK for a year, then transferring to Asbury.  Remember Dakotah Euton?  Kentucky’s Larry Bird Jr. who committed to Billy Clyde as a sophomore?  He finished his career at Asbury after a few years in Akron.

This year they’ll have Dixie Highway’s finest, Jack Schmitt, on the court.  The sharpshooter was a part of a legendary St. Paul backcourt alongside Nathan Roush.  UK’s elite backcourt defense will be put to the test early.

You probably remember SFA from their almost-Sweet 16 appearance in last year’s NCAA Tournament, falling to Notre Dame on a last-second tip-in.  You probably don’t know the Lumberjacks’ unique spirit sticks.  Instead of banging inflatable batons to make noise at football games, they bang axe handles on the ground in unison to create noise at athletic events.

A Catholic school in Buffalo, the Canisius mascot is the Golden Griffin.  Its origins are from Lake Erie explorer, Frenchman Robert de la Salle.  The boat he used to explore the Great Lake was “Le Grifon,” named after the mythical creature that features the body of a lion and the head of an eagle.

Known primarily as “the basketball team that got stuck in last year’s epic 2016 snowstorm,” their basketball team actually has quite the storied history.  In the 50’s the Dukes reached an NCAA Tournament Regional Final and won the NIT in 1955, defeating Dayton 70-58.

Before it was Cleveland State, it was the Cleveland YMCA.  After offering free classes for 50 years, they changed their name to the Cleveland YMCA School of Technology, a.k.a. Y-Tech in 1921.  It didn’t formally become Cleveland State until 1964.

The Skyhawks have been frequent flyers to Lexington, but only their football team.  The Cats opened the season in 2014 with a 59-14 win and they’ll be back in 2019.  On the basketball court, they’ve only met once.  Back in 1994 UK won 124-50.

No school has ever had a larger enrollment than ASU with 82,000 in 2014.  Some of the most famous students to ever walk through the halls: Pat Tillman, Reggie Jackson, Brock Osweiler, James Harden, Byron Scott, Terrell Suggs, Jake “The Snake” Plummer and Dustin Pedroia.

Before they became famous with Bryce Drew’s NCAA Tournament buzzer-beater, their 1945 basketball team was known around the nation as the “Valparaiso Giants.”  The tallest basketball team in the world was showcased in a game at Madison Square Garden.

The Long Island University has been the home to presidential debates in the last two elections.  This year they’ll be be the first university to ever host three consecutive presidential debates when Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton take the same stage for the first time on September 26.


Watch Romeo Langford Drop 40 in Las Vegas

Scout

Scout

New Albany, Indiana native Romeo Langford provided one of the best performances of the summer last night at the adidas National Championship in Las Vegas.

The best sophomore in America last season scored made 9-12 shots in the first half for 25 points, finishing the game with a cool 40, hitting five three-pointers and knocking down 11-13 free throws.  His layup with 46 seconds gave his team the lead for good.  Langford has an offer from Coach Calipari, who has spent some time watching him play in Vegas.

Check out the highlights from last night:


Shooting Craps with Coach Cal and Roy Williams

This is how Cal and Ol Roy spend their time when the recruiting is done for the day.

Go ahead, CAPTION THIS.


MKG’s Football Facility Comment Doesn’t Sit Well with JD Harmon

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When Michael Kidd-Gilchrist met with the media this morning, he noted how much campus has changed since he was in school.  The construction is obviously unavoidable, but he went out of his way to note the changes around the football program.

“Everything has changed on campus.  The new football facility is crazy, and I’m very, very jealous like we didn’t get a new (basketball) facility here.  I really, really don’t understand that. I really don’t understand that one.”

When asked if he had gone to see it yet, he replied, “I don’t want to.”  When further questioned he stopped, ending the line of questioning with a laugh.

I perceived the comment to be a bit of a joke, but it was no joke to Kentucky cornerback JD Harmon.

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Do you think MKG was taking a shot at the football team?  Judge for yourself by listening below.

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Views from the UK Football Women’s Clinic

Today’s women’s clinic wasn’t just a home for bad jokes.  Hundreds joined together at Commonwealth Stadium for a fantastic time that Tyler Thompson describes as the “best fan experience UK offers.”  She’ll have more later, but for now, here’s what it looked like at CWS.

Jojo Kemp was a fan favorite.

@tdlane11

Jacob Hyde’s cowboy boots aren’t too effective on the field turf.

Landon Young’s selfie game is strong on the cramped elevator.

@MindySeeberger

This is just too precious not to share.

Freddie didn’t get the memo.  The clinic is for women, sir.

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Freddie isn’t the most intimidating person on a football field, but I wouldn’t say the same about his wife, Jen.

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Has Jeff Goodman Changed His Mind About DeMarcus Cousins?

Jeff Goodman has never been a big fan of DeMarcus Cousins.  I don’t think I need to tell you this, but allow me to revisit a few his recent criticisms.

In August of 2014, he dismissed Cousins as nothing more than a “complete knucklehead.”

“Many are not enamored with Rondo. Sure, there are some who clearly like him (i.e. Kendrick Perkins) and others who say positive things about him (K.G. Pierce, etc.). I’m not counting DeMarcus Cousins, because it’s actually worse for Rondo that Sacramento’s big man came out and said he thinks he’s the best point guard in the league. Cousins is a complete knucklehead and just about everyone in the league knows it.”

When George Karl was fired, Goodman referred to him a “another DeMarcus Cousins victim,” placing Karl’s failures onto Cousins’ shoulders.  Almost one month ago to the day on June 24, he said on Mike and Mike: “He really hasn’t grown up.”

Then, this happened:

Ummmmmm?  I just, I don’t know. I can’t. It just. I……I don’t understand.

Maybe Boogie is changed for the better.  Or maybe Goodman’s finally seeing the Boogie the BBN always saw.  Or maybe an alien probe has possessed Goodman and he can no longer control what he Tweets.  That probably makes the most sense.


Why You Should Get Excited for the Olympics

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A lot of the talk surrounding the Olympics has been very negative. Thankfully, I’m here to remind you of all the positive. With a little under two weeks until the opening ceremony, here are my reasons for getting exciting for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Michael Phelps Returns to the Olympic Pool for One Last Time 

Michael Phelps announced after the 2012 London Olympics that he was going to hang up his cap and goggles. After a little over two years the 30-year-old swimmer announced he wasn’t done just quite yet. Phelps, already the most decorated olympian of all time, is looking to add to his 18 gold medals (22 medals all together).

Katie Ledecky Will Break Her Own Records

Katie Ledecky is one of the best female swimmer’s in the world right now and she is only 19 years old. Ledecky has the possibility to win four gold medals in Rio, and I think she can. Ledecky will swim in the 200m freestyle, 400m freestyle, 800m freestyle and the 4x200m freestyle relay. She currently holds the record for the 400, 800 and 1,500 meter distances. I can barely swim one lap without feeling like I’m going to drown.

Ledecky has been described as “the best athlete in the world” by Outside magazine and that’s a very fair judgement.

Jeff Curry/Getty Images

USA’s Gymnastics Has a New Star

In London it was Gabby Douglas, and now four years later it’s Simone Biles turn for the spotlight. The 19-year-old earned her spot on the U.S Olympic team as the top all-around performer at the Olympic Trials. Biles is a three-time world champion and four-time national champion from Spring. The Houston native will capture America’s heart by the end of Olympics.

Here is what you have to look forward to. Spoiler alert… it’s amazing.

The U.S. Women’s Soccer is Looking to Win a Second Straight Gold Medal

The reigning World Cup champions are looking to once again prove to the world that they are No. 1. With the World Cup just a little over a year ago, the roster will look completely different than what we saw in Canada. The biggest name missing, Abby Wambach. Wambach, who retired as the all-time leading scorer, will be missed that’s for sure. Other names missing include Lauren Holiday (retired), Christine Rampone (injury) and Sydney Leroux (pregnant).

With some big names missing, there is no need to worry. The new talent that the women’s team has is some of the best I’ve seen. One name to watch for is Mallory Pugh, 18-year-old forward out of Colorado. My scouting report on Pugh… she’s GOOD.

No team has won the Women’s World Cup and and Olympic Gold in consecutive years. Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, and Hope Solo will ultimately be the three who will lead this team to that.

Kerri Walsh Jennings Will Have a New Partner

The sand volleyball star will be competing in her fifth straight Olympics, but this time without longtime partner, Misty May-Treanor. May-Treanor retired after the 2012 London Games after winning a third straight gold medal with Walsh Jennings. The two beat fellow Americans Jennifer Kessy and April Ross, Walsh Jenning’s new partner. Expect nothing less than a gold medal from these two.

Photo: Wagner Meier/Getty Images

Golf Has Been Added as an Event

For the first time since the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis, golf will be an event at the Summer Olympics. It will feature both men and women’s individuals events. The U.S. men’s team includes Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed and Matt Kuchar. The women’s tea includes Lexi Thompson, Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller.

Big names like Jason Day, Rory McIlory, Jordan Speith and Dustin Johnson all turned down the opportunity to represent their country due to concerns of the Zika virus.

Handball is awesome

The Olympics are great for many reasons, but one of my favorite reasons is handball. Handball is basically a mixture of both soccer and basketball. In my opinion, it is one of the most fun events to watch because you rarely ever get to watch it expect for the Olympics.

In case you need to familiarize yourself with this amazing sport, watch the following video.

Because Boogie is For America

DeMarcus Cousins will represent Kentucky on the Team USA basketball team. With injuries to both Anthony Davis and John Wall, Cousins was the only former Cat selected to the roster. Team USA is looking to win a third straight gold medal, and they probably will.

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Live games

Unlike London’s five hour time difference, Rio is just an hour ahead of the Eastern time zone. So thankfully this year we will get to watch all the exciting games and events live. Yay to no spoiler alerts!!


If nothing else can get you excited, then watch this video of Katy Perry’s “Rise” and I’m sure you’ll be chanting U-S-A by the end.

 


Why Terrence Jones Joined the Pelicans

After the Houston Rockets decided not to use their team option to keep Terrence Jones with the team for another year, Jones jumped on board with the New Orleans Pelicans.  He could have made more money elsewhere.  Instead, he decided to take the league minimum.

“I wanted an opportunity to play for a team that is young and defining itself, but could still compete right away,” Jones told Basketball Insiders. “I wanted a larger role, where I could really compete and help a team win.”

That might be the initial reasoning, but Anthony Davis has a lot to do with it.  The National Championship teammates created a dynamic frontcourt at Kentucky.  Davis brought finesse and length to the forward position, while Jones extended the floor and brought strength.  Jones is confident that can be replicated in New Orleans.

“When you win a championship with a guy, you create this special bond and you can’t question their drive or willingness to sacrifice,” Jones said, speaking of his relationship with Davis. “We won a lot of games together and I know what he’s capable of. We both work well together and we’ve already got a great chemistry and friendship. When he’s healthy, I think he’s as good as any other big in the league so I am excited to see what we can do this year.”

I believe most of the BBN is excited to see what the two can do together for a team that’s rebuilding, but also has the capability to make a run in the Western Conference.

[Basketball Insiders]


The Ten Best Things MKG said in Lexington

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Michael Kidd-Gilchrist returned to town today to host a camp on campus and was kind enough to take the time to talk to reporters for ten minutes.

Before you see the best quotes, know this: everything you’ve ever heard about MKG being the nicest guy ever is true, and then some.  This was the first time I’d been in an interview setting with former No. 2 pick and I am still trying to comprehend how nice he is.  He was always one of my favorites, but today only solidified his standing.

Now back to the post…

“Things happen. It’s out of my control.”

Last season was a tough one.  After injuring his shoulder in the preseason, he returned for seven games, only to suffer another shoulder injury.  He isn’t the kind of guy to stay down for too long.  Now anxious to return to the court, he thanked his family and friends for supporting him through the tough time.

“I don’t want to say I’m jealous because I’m happy in Charlotte, but I’m excited for them both.”

Two of his National Championship teammates will be back on the floor next season when Terrence Jones suits up for the New Orleans Pelicans alongside Anthony Davis.  He believes their comfortability will make them both better.

“The new football facility is crazy, and I’m very, very jealous like we didn’t get a new (basketball) facility here.  I really, really don’t understand that. I really don’t understand that one.”

Kidd-Gilchrist is so jealous of the new football felicity, he’s not even going to take a tour, “I don’t want to.”  It’s a strange world we live in when basketball players are jealous of the things football players have.

“I showed him the ropes a little bit.  He was my rook, but we were the same age basically.”

During Aaron Harrison‘s rookie season, he received plenty of help from Kidd-Gilchrist and it wasn’t because they were forced to be around one another.  Aaron was assigned to “take care” of MKG throughout the season, going through the typical BS that rookies must go through as a rite of passage.

Was he going to take it easy on him? “Absolutely not.”  Laundry was Harrison’s primary duty, but sometimes he was forced to fetch lunch.

On the court, Kidd-Gilchrist taught him patience.  It’s a long season.  It can be difficult to deal with, especially when you aren’t playing.  Hopefully those are lessons the not-so youngster learned from his not-so elder. (MKG is only one year older, but he’s entering his 5th year while Aaron is entering his second.)

“I watched him in high school a few times. He’s strong, a dog and he knows how to play the game.”

MKG has yet to play pickup games with this year’s team, but he’s a big fan, especially of Bam Adebayo.  From North Carolina, MKG was able to watch the future Cat play in the area a few times and (understandably so) he likes what he sees.

“I just want to help my team win at the end of the day.  I don’t get into stats and all that.  My job is to win the basketball game.”

This guy is humble.  Even though he wants to eventually be an All-Star, he doesn’t care about points, assists and rebounds as long as his team is winning.

“You’ll see this season.  I don’t want to brag on myself.”

Once again, humility.

“I talk to MJ a lot about everything in the game of basketball.”

He can’t always be humble, but at least when he’s bragging it’s a humblebrag.

“I go to Cane’s. I go to Cane’s every day.”

When he’s back in town, he can’t go a day without seeing Stone Cold Willow for some delicious chicken tenders.  It’s just one of the things that makes him feel like he’s home.

“I got a National Championship ring so it’s always going to be home for me.”


Eddie Gran’s Bad Women’s Clinic Joke

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

At this morning’s Kentucky football women’s clinic, new offensive coordinator Eddie Gran tried to stir the crowd with some humor.  His attempt was not well-received.  It’s pretty easy to understand why.

“(Darin) Hinshaw likes to joke we have 13 periods in practice and women only have one.”

Even when he tried to pass the blame off on Hinshaw, the crowd still responded with a few boos.  I think it’s safe to say it was not the right place or time.


SI: Suns are Shaping Devin Booker for Stardom

Getty Images

Getty Images

Devin Booker’s rookie season didn’t go as expected.

The former Kentucky sharpshooter produced big numbers, but it was at the cost of his team’s success.  There were multiple injuries, a veteran boycotted and the head coach was fired.  Booker told Sports Illustrated it forced him to learn about how the league works, quickly.

“I feel like I’ve seen it all,” Booker said. “You don’t realize all that when you’re just a fan of the NBA. You learn the business of the game once you get in there.”

Therein lies the silver lining—a “diamond in the rough,” per Suns head coach Earl Watson—of an eventful year in Phoenix, fraught with bad breaks, missteps, and unintended consequences. The escalating weirdness eventually let Booker loose as a primary ball handler.

It suited him in ways completely uncharacteristic of players at his age and experience level, much less his entrenched role. The Booker pro scouts knew the rookie from Kentucky was a shooter by trade. The Booker the league saw blossom over the back half of the season was a wholly more complicated cover with a mature sense of timing and ball control.

Booker blossomed during his first complete NBA season.  Over the summer he’s continued to improved during the Las Vegas League and Team USA Camp.  There are plenty of details left to learn — especially defensively — but the future is bright for the Suns’ diamond in the rough.

[Sports Illustrated]


UK Football Women’s Clinic Saturday Morning Wakeup

Good morning Big Blue Nation.  If you’re reading this, you’re not at the Kentucky football women’s clinic.  Tyler Thompson is up bright and early on this beautiful sunny day, along with local celebrities like Jen Maggard.

It’s still early, but they’re already off to a hot start.  The biggest hit is (of course) Lamar Thomas.  Coach T took over Tyler’s snapchat to request another appearance on KSR.

When Coach Stoops took the big stage, he was upstaged by LT when he decided to talk a little trash about his former employer.

Give Tyler a follow and keep it locked for more updates throughout the day.

HOLY FTC!

The participants at today’s women’s clinic are receiving an extra special treat.  They will be the first fans that get to take a peak at the new $45 million Football Training Center (FTC).

I saw it yesterday and HOLY ****!  I can’t write enough words to describe to you how awesome it is.  I tried yesterday, banging out 1,200 with a  couple dozen pictures too, but it still doesn’t do it justice.  John Calipari calls Kentucky basketball “the gold standard.”  If the FTC isn’t the gold standard of college football, I don’t know what is.  Read more on it here.

Get Your Tickets to the Louisville Kickoff Luncheon

Next Thursday, July 28, the Galt House Hotel will host the 2016 Kickoff Luncheon.  While you’re eating a delicious meal, Mark Stoops, Eddie Gran and DJ Eliot will speak to the fans about the upcoming season.

Freddie and I will both be there.  I’m no superstar, but Freddie is, acting as the event’s emcee.  No word on if he’s also bring the poke sallet.

Doors open at 11:30 a.m. and the program and lunch begin at 1 p.m. Tickets are $50 for UK Alumni Association members and $55 for nonmembers. RSVPs are due by July 25. Reservations can be made at www.ukalumni.net/kickoff2016 or by calling 800-269-ALUM.

Boogie BALLED

In an Olympic warm-up, DeMarcus Cousins proved why he’s the starting center for Team USA.  Cousins dropped a casual 15 points and 14 rebounds against Argentina.  His highlights vary, from threes to dunks and more.  

You’ll Hear from MKG Today

Back in town for a basketball camp, reporters will get to hear from Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at Memorial Coliseum this morning.  I could not be more excited because it’s the first time I’ve ever had the chance to meet/interview him.  It’s also the first time I’ve seen him in person since he helped Kentucky win the 2012 title.  Today will bring back some fond memories.

Kendra Harrison Breaks a World Record

The former UK track star broke a 28-year old record by .01 in the 100m hurdles after failing to qualify for the Rio Olympics.  It was an emotional experience, one worth watching again.

A Movie Worth Watching

If you can find a little more than two hours of time and access to HBO, All the Way is worth experiencing.  Politics are kind of a big deal right now, but they’re much less scary when they’re in a movie.  The HBO film documents LBJ’s tumultuous first year in office.  Cranston is phenomenal.  Some of his lines are ripped right from recordings of LBJ’s phone calls.  He sounds like him, he even kind of looks like him.  Hate him or love him, this LBJ biopic is a piece of art.


July 22nd, 2016

Technology Acknowledges Past, Looks Ahead to the Future at the New Football Training Facility

The pedestal in front of the FTC is reserved for the statue that will be revealed vs. South Carolina.

The pedestal in front of the FTC is reserved for the statue that will be revealed vs. South Carolina.

Kentucky’s new $45 million Football Training Center will help the football program move forward on the field and in recruiting, while acknowledging the successes of the program’s past, something that has not always received the appropriate spotlight on campus.

From the moment you enter the lobby, the old era meets the new.  On a pedestal in the middle of the lobby, six mannequins are adorned in the Cats’ new uniform combinations.  Surrounding them are the bowl trophies from years’ past, including a 1951 National Championship Trophy that was made specifically for the FTC.

Many may laugh off the new trophy (you can see a close up in the photo gallery after the jump), but the reasoning from UK’s Mark Hill makes sense.  “We haven’t done a great job of acknowledging the past.”  That is no longer the case.

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On the lobby wall is a mural of the greatest players to ever wear a Kentucky uniform.

Tim Couch, Art Still, Steve Meilinger and Dermonti Dawson are just a few that are honored.

Tim Couch, Art Still, Steve Meilinger and Dermonti Dawson are just a few that are honored.

While seeing Kentucky’s past, recruits can use tools to help them see what it will be like to be a Kentucky Wildcat in the future.  A Nike kiosk allows them to craft their uniform, from the color combination, right down to the wrist bands and gloves (almost you’re in “Create a Player” mode from a video game).

Beneath the stairs is an area filled with TVs that completely encircles the individual, creating a 360-degree gameday experience.

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The ground floor is wear the players become physically enhanced.  The new weight room has doubled the team’s capacity to train, all while overlooking the practice fields.

The weight racks (bottom left) are unlike anything I've ever seen in a weight room.

The weight racks (bottom left) are unlike anything I’ve ever seen in a weight room.

A path from the practice fields to the Nutter Indoor Training Center splits the weight room and the locker room.  All college football locker rooms have unique features, but I don’t think any of them have a display like this.  Twenty 55-inch televisions are the first thing you see when you walk inside.

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Each locker has three separate compartments.  The large one on top is for shoulder pads, ventilated to cool them down and keep the stink flowing outbound.  The bottom is for their shoes and other essentials while the middle contains built-in USB ports to charge their phones.

They can use a variety of methods to unlock their lockers: a passcode, an ID card or use the retina display sensor.  James Bond technology has come to Kentucky.

Connecting them all is the trainers’ room.  Players can be taped, or use YMCA-like weight lifting machines to help with rehabilitation.  There’s also pools; LOTS of pools.

The largest is a 40-foot recovery pool near the practice fields that acts as a recovery tank, constantly set at 52-degrees.  In the trainers’ room lies three pools, one with an underwater treadmill to aid with rehabilitation.  Two tubs near the locker room can act as either cold tubs or hot tubs, with TVs to keep the players occupied.

The rehab area (top), the leisure area (bottom left) and the recovery area (bottom right).

The rehab area (top), the leisure area (bottom left) and the recovery area (bottom right).

Kentucky football tradition lines the first-floor halls that connect the larger rooms.  One wall features all of UK’s All-SEC and All-American performers.  Another shows each bowl team.  The most unique feature is the NFL wall.

With every NFL team represented by division, TVs in-between scroll through the names of UK players and the different teams they represented.  In the middle is a massive touch-screen that allows you to search for any player.  By selecting “First Round Draft Picks,” it shows each player picked.  Upon choosing a player, you can watch their highlights in the NFL or at Kentucky, and you can see their stats and a photo gallery.

The NFL Wall. The large screen in the middle is the interactive TV. You can see a close-up in the photo gallery after the jump.

The NFL Wall. The large screen in the middle is the interactive TV. You can see a close-up in the photo gallery after the jump.

There are also designated areas that appeal directly to prospective players.  The two that catch their attention most are the Gatorade bar and the Nike display.

The Nike display has every piece of UK-related gear you could imagine.  Recruiting coordinator Dan Berezowitz said recruits were WOWed just by the logo, before it was even filled with gear.  The Gatorade bar looks like something you’d see in a commercial.

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Before heading upstairs, to the right of the lobby is a new cafeteria.  It can sit 80 comfortably, giving room for players to come and go, or it can be a place to host recruits and their families for meals before a game.  On the other side of the glass wall is the hallway leading to the indoor facility.  Prominently pictured is UK’s Ring of Honor.

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If the ground floor is where the players physically enhance their game, upstairs is where they grow mentally.  The academic center is still under construction, but no longer will they have to make the long walk to the other side of campus to receive tutoring at Memorial Coliseum.

Around the corner are the coaches offices and meeting rooms.  Each position has their own meeting room, designed specifically for them.  The coaches offices are finished, but they will not be moving in until next week.  The coaches also have their own meeting rooms.  An offensive and defensive room looks like a conference center, while the main room connected to Coach Stoops’ office looks like something from a courthouse.  Whiteboards and screens are hidden behind wooden planks, while the assistants have a desk area that looks like a place where the jury would sit.

The second floor has a balcony area leading from the coaches’ offices where people can look out onto the practice fields.  There’s also a similar area to look over the weight room.  Called the “Cardio Deck,” sophisticated treadmills and exercise bikes overlook the area where the heavy lifting happens.

The massive second-floor team room that looks more like a movie theater.

The massive second-floor team room that looks more like a movie theater.

The practice fields are Bermuda grass, large enough to fit two football fields, with the capacity to change direction if needed.  On the far-side of the field lies the only part of the facility that will not be player-friendly — the running hill.

Turf will be laid on the pathway to the far left, allowing for them to simply run sprints.  That’s nothing compared to the stairs.  The middle strip will be used strictly for running, surrounded by larger platforms where players will perform plyometrics, jumping their way up the hill on a turf surface.

Instead of an ugly retaining wall, The Hill of Death was created.

Instead of an ugly retaining wall, The Hill of Death was created.

There is still some construction left to be done, but it will be ready to roll when training camp begins August 4.

You’ll see many pictures, but they will not do it justice.  This facility is a marvel, unlike anything I’ve ever seen.  That’s exactly what recruits are saying too.

After seeing it under construction. Berezowitz said their goal is to get the kids to come back for a second time, something that shouldn’t be a problem.  If they’ve traveled to other facilities, when they return to UK, nothing comes close.  After all, those that helped design this also design NFL facilities.

“These guys didn’t cut any corners,”  Berezowitz said.  “We’re at the top of technology in this building.”

The Football Training Center is helping the Cats move forward into the next generation of Kentucky football, while honoring the previous generations that wore the blue and white.

For more photos of how tradition is honored, and neat things like the barber shop, click below.

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