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University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.
December 22nd, 2014

Ryan Timmons likely out of spring practice

timmons-vs-scar-Steve-Blake-USA-Today

A bit of unfortunate news from Mark Stoops: in addition to ankle surgery, Ryan Timmons also had shoulder surgery after the season, which he anticipates will keep him out of spring practice.

No, I don’t think he’ll be good to go for spring,” Stoops said. “Ryan was playing very banged up and I appreciate his effort. And we all know there are things he can do better and he will do better, but he really competed all year through some major injuries.”

That may explain the drops.


Stoops: “Recruiting is going exceptionally well”

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 11.01.57 AM

A jolly Mark Stoops met with the media this afternoon to recap the 2014 season and answer questions about his new offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson. After admitting it was “difficult” to watch the bowl season kick off after coming up short with five wins, Stoops said there are plenty of things to look forward to, including recruiting. “Recruiting is going exceptionally well once again,” Stoops said. “All signs are pointing toward a very good class.”

Hopefully one that will include Damien Harris, who will announce his decision on January 9th.

More coming as we go along…


LIVE: Mark Stoops reviews the season and talks about Shannon Dawson


ESPN: How John Calipari hacked college basketball

karl

Everyone points to recruiting as the key to John Calipari’s success, and for the most part, they’re right, but ESPN’s John Gasaway has another theory this morning. Gasaway writes that the secret to Cal’s success has been assembling multiple rim protectors on one team, creating a wall around the basket:

Calipari has taken the role of “rim protector” and made it plural. Ordinarily, this role is supposed to be filled by one guy who’s susceptible to foul trouble and less than skilled offensively, but UK’s paying no price to speak of for having center-type players logging minutes at the 4 spot. These rim protectors don’t foul often, and they’re also excellent offensive rebounders. This season, the Wildcats have pulled down 46 percent of their missed shots.

The way college basketball is supposed to work, Willie Cauley-Stein, Karl-Anthony Towns, Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee should be playing the 5 spot for four different teams. Instead, they’re playing alongside each other. Calipari has flouted convention and built a wall of size around the basket. That wall won’t always be the determining factor — Columbia and North Carolina actually shot somewhat normal percentages on their 2s in back-to-back games against Kentucky. But having multiple rim-protectors on the floor at the same time gives the Wildcats the potential to simply nullify any opponent’s aspirations to compete, let alone win. Just ask UCLA.

Calipari is famous for developing point guards, but after DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Nerlens Noel, Willie Cauley-Stein, Dakari Johnson, Karl Towns, Marcus Lee, etc. etc. etc., his bigs may be his calling card so far at UK.

[ESPN Insider]


This video from KyWildcatsTV is the best Christmas present you’ll get

LET’S GO RUN THROUGH WALLS WEARING JINGLE BELLS


BREAKING NEWS: NORTH POLE HACKED!

 

The North Pole (KSRTech)

hacked xmas compy

Follow earlier hacks of Target, Home Depot, and Sony, today saw the largest data breach in history as the North Pole was hacked.  According to an e-mail from SantaClaus@aol.com the name, address, Christmas Credit Rating (Naughty/Nice), and list of presents for every person in the world has been stolen and all of humanity’s Christmas accounts have been compromised.

Within hours of the news breaking, a group called the Egalitarian Liberation Front claimed responsibility for both the hack and the leak.  A spokesman for the E.L.F. who identified himself only as “Hermey, cited “sickening working conditions in the North Pole, lack of benefits, and the general, untenable outpouring of capitalistic greed” as reasons for the hack.  A subsequent release stated that unless the nations of the world gave in to their demands, the only present anyone would get is a 2-sided LP of “Grandma Got Runover By a Reindeer” and the version of “All I Want For Christmas is You” with Justin Bieber.

This release was followed closely by a release from representatives of Santa Claus led by Yukon Cornelius, J.D., saying that the North Pole was prepared to launch litigation against any media outlet publishing lists of gifts.  “The only thing giving these hackers power is the insistence of the media on publishing this information.  We plan to sue anyone who looks up their gift as well as switching them from ‘Nice’ to ‘Naughty’ if need be.  I’m looking at you Bumble.”

To go along with the outpouring of grief from American children and retailers, there were reports of riots on the streets of Santa’s Christmas Village and several candy cane stabbings in Cracker Barrels across the nation.  In response to the violence President Obama asked the nation for calm and reflection on the true meaning of Christmas.  “Besides,” the President sighed, visibly aged, “apparently Santa still wasn’t going to give me a competent legislature this year so who really cares?”


Devin Booker named SEC Freshman of the Week

Congrats to Devin Booker, who was named SEC Freshman of the Week by the league this morning. Booker is coming off of two huge games against North Carolina and UCLA, and against the Bruins, he scored a career-high 19 points, including 5-6 threes. All in 19 minutes. This is the fourth time this season a UK player has won SEC Freshman of the Week honors.

Did anyone else notice this motion Booker does after hitting threes?

bogglesmotion

Here’s another one from the second half:

booker2

Finally found a good angle from KyWildcatsTV:

booker3


Bring on the Cards (Monday Show Thread)

Good morning, friends. Everyone recovered from Chicago? No? Well, thankfully you’ve got two hours of Kentucky Sports Radio to ease the pain. In what will be a shortened week, Matt and Ryan will do their best to review UK’s dominant win over UCLA, just how awesome this team is, and of course, Saturday’s looming matchup with the Cards.

Before we get started, here’s the schedule for the week:

MONDAY – normal show
TUESDAY – normal show
WEDNESDAY – Christmas Eve, NO SHOW
THURSDAY – CHRISTMAS, NO SHOW
FRIDAY – Live show at Bearno’s in Jeffersonville, Indiana

Join in on the fun by calling (502) 571-1080.

Listen to Kentucky Sports Radio

KSR Affiliate List

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WTCO (1450am): Campbellsville
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WGOH (1370am): Grayson
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On Delay (ALL TIMES LISTED EASTERN)…

WVHI (1330am): Evansville, IN, 5-7pm
WMTL (870am): Leitchfield, 11am-1pm
WLBQ (1570am): Morgantown, 3-5pm
WRIL (106.3fm): Middlesboro, Thur 8-10pm


BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Unsung Heros a Common Occurrence Against Louisville

It seems that very often in the UK-UL series (not always), there is a guy on the UK roster that comes through and plays a key role in the game without people expecting it.  An unsung hero.  Here are just a few examples:

2012: Ryan Harrow

-Yes, Kentucky lost this game, but if there was 1 positive we took away it was the play of Harrow.  17 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and most importantly, no turnovers.  Many people thought Harrow had turned the corner.  Of course we know that didn’t happen.

2010: Josh Harrellson

-Maybe the most unsung of heros, Harrellson at that point had a career high of 15 points.  He scored 23.  Harrellson never made 10 or more field in his career until this game and never did after.  UL just had no answers for Jorts that game.

2006: Jodie Meeks

-It what had to be the worst played game in series history, Meeks was the star.  Yes, he became a prolific scorer, but at that point in his freshman year, he had only scored in double figures once.  Against Louisville, he poured in 18.  Very unexpected.

2005: Sherray Thomas

-Huh?  Really?  Oh yeah, in the 2005 contest, only 2 UK players scored in double figures.  Rajon Rondo and…….Sherray Thomas.

1992: Gimel Martinez

-In his other 3 games against UL, Martinez scored 5 points total.  In the 1992 contest, he scored 14.  Only 2 other times in his career did he score more in a game.  UK won by 20 in Freedom Hall by the way.

Those are just a few, but I wonder who you might think this year’s unsung hero might be.  How to define who might qualify is a tough task, but I generally think the guy can’t be one of your two best players.  That eliminates WCS and Aaron Harrison.  Either way, just want to know what you think.  Who will be the guy that could surprise us with a big game Saturday?  Maybe score a career high.


KSR’s Top 10 Tweets of the Weekend

(Darrell Bird | Catspause)

(Darrell Bird | Catspause)

It’s time again for KSR’s Top Tweets of the Weekend. You can participate by using hashtags such as #BBN #KSR #KSRTop10 or just by simply tweeting @KYsportsradio. We will focus most of our attention on Kentucky sports-centric tweets but, as usual, there are no limits to our madness.

#10 -Drew Barker-

I’ve been doing this for 10 minutes straight trying to get it right.

#9 Lyndsey Gough

I feel like I can do anything now.

#8 Doug Gottlieb

annnnd the kid hit in the face is its fans?

#7 Evil Scratch

Accurate representation.

#6 Nate Willis

I feel like this could be an issue in the future.

#5 Kevin Jones M.D

For just $10 dollars you could help UCLA recover from its loss….

#4 Darius Miller

You know its bad if Darius thinks it got out of hand.

#3 Dave Scott

#2 Dr. Siciliano Calipari

Even on ‘break’ Cal can’t turn off that coaching face.

#1 Hayley Minogue

That’s going to leave a bruise.

@sealey_KSR


December 21st, 2014

Embracing Greatness

townswillie

We knew coming into this season that this Kentucky team was going to be very good. That much was not a mystery. When you return the majority of a team that goes to the National Championship Game, add Four McDonald’s All Americans and give them a summer trip to work out the kinks, it isn’t surprising that the end result is a team that can be special. But while very good was never in doubt, the question of great, or even elite, was still an open one. We all saw the talent, but the legacy of the start of last year still lingered. A pessimist might see the loss of last season’s best player (Randle) and best shooter (Young) and think, “well maybe they will struggle a bit until they hit their stride in March.” After the nation’s mockery of 40-0 pronouncements last year, it seemed foolhardy to suggest that such a thing was possible this time around, no matter how much talent Calipari had stocked up. The cold, snowy night in Dallas and the putback dunk in Fayetteville had us all slightly skeptical and trying our best to temper the excitement. We saw a team in the Bahamas with the potential for greatness, but we all remained a little leery and scared of uttering any phrase that could jinx what was to come. Grand preseason pronouncements were, for once at least, not coming from the Big Blue Nation until Missouri’s state motto could be realized and the evidence was in front of our face.

That evidence is now here. There is no reason to hide it anymore and attempting to play humble is no longer honestly possible. It is time to embrace facts. This team is on the path to being historically great. The game Saturday in Chicago was one of the most thorough, dominating performances of my lifetime. 24-0…41-7…a 40 point win over UCLA and it never felt that close and could have been so much worse. What we are seeing this season is not only something that hasn’t come along very often in UK basketball history…it hasn’t come along very often in college basketball history. In my lifetime, college basketball has certainly never seen a team this deep and has almost certainly never seen a team this elite defensively. As of this moment, Kentucky has the best adjusted defensive efficiency rating since Kenpom has begun keeping the statistic (2001). They have the greatest string of double digit defeats to start a season in UK history. They lead the nation in every meaningful defensive statistic and they are putting on performances against blue blood programs that are almost difficult to comprehend. Think about these facts:

— Kentucky beat UCLA and Kansas, two teams of the highest pedigree in college basketball, on neutral courts by a combined 73 points.

— Kansas and Texas, two teams ranked #5 and #6 that UK handled with relative ease and the favorites in the Big 12, have not lost a game besides their loss to Kentucky.

— Kentucky held UCLA, a program with more championships than any in college basketball history, to the fewest points in a half IN THE HISTORY OF THE PROGRAM…and not only that, they cut the record in half from 14 to 7.

— Kansas, Texas and North Carolina are all three currently ranked in the Top 12 in the Kenpom numbers…yet Kentucky beat them by a combined 59 points.

— UK lost a returning Junior starter that at times has been projected as a first round draft pick and proceeded to win its next two games against UNC and UCLA by a combined 55 points.

The performances almost boggle the mind. When the Cats demolished Kansas to open the season, many argued (or hoped) that it said more about Kansas than it did about Kentucky’s greatness. When UK was able to handle Texas and UNC, the thought remained that the Rupp Arena advantage and other less dominant performances (Columbia and Boston) suggested that UK was great, but vulnerable to the right test. However the game in Chicago has removed all doubt from all but the most die-hard of UK haters (talking to you Gottlieb). Mike Wilbon said the UCLA game was the best the most amazing he has seen in 35 years. Seth Davis has called UK going undefeated a “real possibility.” And Dan Dakich has gone on record and predicted that Kentucky will go 40-0. We now know this Kentucky team is certainly great and the only question that remains is if they are on a crash course for historically elite status.

But we in the BBN don’t actually need the national talking heads to tell us their opinions. We have watched elite basketball for decades and we know the best when it is front of our face. And at this point, it is beyond clear that his team is special in ways we simply may never see again. It almost boggles the mind. How can a team have nine (ten with Alex) players that are all destined to play in the NBA, but are all willing to sacrifice minutes and personal glory to allow their fellow players time to shine? How can a team have this much length and athleticism at EVERY position, allowing it to play defense at levels that opposing coach after opposing coach says they have never seen before? How can a team have no obvious weakness, not only playing tough defense, but sharing the ball as well as any group in over a decade? How can a team have all that talent and also be made of a group of genuinely good kids who are as high level off the court as they are on the court? How can all of those factors come together at once, in one season, with a coach at the top of his game, followed by a fan base unmatched in the sport and still find a way to dazzle us and produce multiple performances that leave us shaking our head?

It is time to embrace it. These are the proverbial good old days for Kentucky basketball and this may be a team for the ages. That doesn’t mean perfection is certain. Kentucky could still be shocked next Saturday by Montrezl’s punches and Rick’s hair plugs in the hardest game left on the regular season schedule on the road at Louisville. The Cats might end up in some random game on the road in February on the SEC where a team hits 13 threes and rides the wave shocks the world. Even worse, it is possible that in the NCAA Tournament, UK has the worst run of luck imaginable and trips up against an inferior team in a one game scenario that will seem as arbitrary and unfair as it is heartbreaking. Any of those things may happen. But it doesn’t change the simple fact. This team is already one of the best to ever wear the Kentucky uniform. 1948, 1951, 1978, 1996 and 2012 stand at the mountaintop of UK teams because of the way their titles were won, followed closely by a group that includes 1949, 1958, 1966, 1984, 1993, 1998, 2003 and 2010. It is nearly impossible to forsee a scenario where this 2015 group is not certain to be at least at the top of the second list, and potentially the top of the first one as well. At this point only two moments of this season truly matter…the one where they lose their first game (if it happens) and the NCAA Tournament. Those games are for history, while the rest are simply for entertainment.

I don’t know what the future holds. Due to the randomness of the NCAA Tournament, I don’t know if it is even certain that this team wins #9. But here is what is assured. We are watching a group that we will remember forever and we are seeing things that will never be repeated. It is rare to get to watch greatness…it is rarer still to realize it while it is taking place. Our great fortune this year is we are being treated to both.


Comparing Defenses: Kentucky and Virginia

Now I know you may be confused about the title of this post. “Why compare the defenses of Virginia and Kentucky? They don’t even play each other!” Well, after UVA (who in my opinion are one of the most underrated teams in the nation) throttled Harvard this afternoon in Kentucky-like fashion 76-27, Jay Williams of ESPN has declared Virginia has the best defense in the nation.

Let’s see…

Points Per Game: UK-47.7 | UVA-46.2

Steals: UK-8.2 | UVA-5.9

Blocks: UK 8.7 | UVA-5.3

Field Goal Percentage: UK-30% | UVA-31%

Defensive Efficiency: UK-.703 points per possession | UVA-.800 points per possession

Statistically Kentucky has the edge in three of the four major defensive categories. Jay William’s argument was that Virginia is a better fundamental defensive basketball team, and that Kentucky’s shot-blocking erases the mistakes the defense makes, whereas the Cavaliers don’t make those mistakes in the first place.

For the record, Jay doesn’t think Virginia could beat UK…

I’d say a Kentucky/Virginia match-up in the NCAA Tournament would clearly be a low scoring, but entertaining game. Who’s up for a 26-24 final score in the championship game?

@WilderTreadKSR


A Willie Cauley-Stein Chanukah

 

jewish_wcs

Whenever my East Coast friends ask how a Jewish bagel-nosher like me could win statewide office in the country ham-slinging Bible Belt, I tell them it’s simple: There’s only one acceptable form of idolatry here, and it’s Kentucky basketball.

(And don’t forget the explosion of anti-Christian madness every March when CBS Sports replays That Damned Laettner Shot every 15 minutes.)

But growing up here in the sports-crazy South, the paucity of Jewish athletic heroes has always been the source of great disappointment. No scene in cinematic history rings truer than this one from the classic Airplane! (written and directed, natch, by three Hollywood Hebrews):

For the YouTube challenged, here’s the transcript:
FLIGHT ATTENDANT: Would you like something to read?
PASSENGER: Do you have anything light?
FLIGHT ATTENDANT: How about this leaflet, “Famous Jewish Sports Legends”?

Sure, my grandfather had the Hebrew Hammer, Hank Greenberg, and my dad watched the Yom Kippur-skipping Sandy Koufax; but it turns out that my favorite childhood menorah-lighter, Rod Carew — the Hall of Fame California Angel and Minnesota Twin — was never actually a Member of the Tribe (sorry, Sandler).

And today, the most prominent Jewish sports “heroes” include steroid liar Ryan Braun, allegedly kosher Amar’e Stoudemire, and pretty much every controversial or detestable pro exec — late outlaw Al Davis, Redskins-assassin Daniel Snyder, loudmouth Mark Cuban, Browns-mover Art Modell, and…ugh…Donald Sterling.

Then along came Willie…

A few years ago, when word came from on high (or at least Matt Jones’ sources) that my beloved C-A-T-S had signed a super-talented, huge skinny dude named Willie Cauley-Stein, I felt like Kim Jong Un in a buffet line.

Now, for the uninitiated, I’m not suggesting that Willie Cauley-Stein “looks Jewish.” (Although he did once sport a fascinating Jew Fro).  Indeed, I’ve been told for decades that I don’t “look Jewish” — and if I tried to show you surgical evidence of my covenant with God, I’d be arrested as a sex offender.

But the name “Stein” is as about as Jewish as it gets.  Two of the Bluegrass’ most prominent dreidel spinners, Lexington Legend Alan and liberal icon Kathy, boast the surname.  And even when it appears as a last name’s prefix (Steinberg, Steiner) or suffix (Bernstein, Goldstein), Stein is as much an indication of Semitism as the prefatory O’ is of the Irish.

Then the icing on the bundt cake: It turns out that Big Willie was raised from the third grade by his grandparents, Val and Norma Stein.  I had visions of a 6 foot 6 inch, 13-year-old Willie hovering over the Torah at his Bar Mitzvah — and even better — his Jewish relatives struggling to lift him up in a chair during the hora circle dance later that evening.

But…alas…came the horrible news:  Willie Cauley-Stein is not a Jew.  The Steins of Kansas are among the rare subset of Steins who claim German ancestry, but have no connection to the people of Israel.

My world was devastated.  My favorite current Cat — and likely the most charismatic and athletically-talented Kentucky cager in a generation — wasn’t part of our International Zionist Conspiracy.  I had flashbacks to the awful moment in the Henry Clay High School cafeteria when I discovered that The Boss was Catholic. (Maybe the fact that “Mary” is the name of the woman in every other Springsteen song should have given it away.) I suddenly began to understand the horror experienced by my Irish friends upon their discovery that Barack O’bama and Hakeem O’Lajuwon weren’t wearin’ of the green.

Sure, we can put together a nice minyan prayer group every Saturday game at Rupp — with noted Chosens ranging from UK President Eli Capilouto, to Board of Trustees past chair Britt Brockman, to Medical Center head Michael Karpf, to Arts and Sciences Dean Mark Kornbluh, to rapper/super fan Drake (No kidding, Drake is Jewish!) But there’s no one on the hardwood to light the Sabbath candles.

So here’s my Chanukah wish. It would be obscene for me to ask anyone to consider modifying their faith for my own personal enjoyment.  But if Willie Cauley-Stein can’t be Jewish, I would love for the emerging superstar to embrace his surname and consider becoming a Jew-ish Gentile.

Let me explain…

A decade ago, when I launched my national tour for The Compassionate Community – the book in which I discuss my political career as a devout Jew living in an inner notch of the Bible Belt — I ventured often into the rural hills and hollers of my home state. I’d speak passionately about my Jewish faith, quote the Talmud and the Rabbis; but, inevitably, there would be someone who’d come up to me afterwards to proclaim: “You are such a good Christian!”

If I could be a christian Jew, then consider my college roommate, Ron Granieri, who came to campus with an encyclopedic knowledge of the Hebraic faith, customs and moral code, quite impressive for a Roman Catholic from upstate New York.  And because he was a compassionate soul with a wicked sense of humor, our other roommate — a future rabbi — annointed him as a Jew-ish Gentile.  And a zeitgeist term was born. (Well, at least I’ve written about it.)

If Willie Cauley-Stein took me up on my offer to become a Jew-ish Gentile, he’d find it extraordinarily advantageous in his coming years of challenge ahead.  Consider:

As he tries to bulk up his slender frame for the physical combat of in-the-paint professional hoops, Cauley-Stein would find himself surrounded by dozens of Jewish mothers, each noodging him to finish his dinner plate: “William?!? There are kids starving in Africa!”

As he works his way up the NBA ranks, he’d find common cause with so many of the Jewish folks who run the sport, from Commissioner Adam Silver, to nearly half of the league’s owners, to pretty much every sports agent not named Jay-Z.

And as he struggles through his early seasons in the pros, he’d always be buoyed by a 4000-year, comforting tradition of self-deprecating jokes, meta-awareness of neuroses, and kicking the ass of aggressive adversaries. To quote the bard of all things Jewish — Jerry Seinfeld — Willie Cauley-Stein could be the master of his own domain.

So Willie, I wish you a very Merry Christmas.  But if you have an inkling that I’m onto something, please put on your yarmulke, drink your gin and tonic-ah, and have a happy, happy, happy, happy Chanukah.


Calipari Clan Watching Brad During Holiday Break

The No. 1 ranked Cats get a few days off for the Christmas holiday this week, as a few players have tweeted how great it is to be home. Coach Cal also is back with his family, in the Bronx watching his son Brad play for MacDuffie.

KSR favorite Erin Calipari tweeted out this picture of herself, her dad and her sister Megan from the game. Is it just me or does it look like Brad is playing at a prison gymnasium?

@TheErinCalipari

@TheErinCalipari

@WilderTreadKSR


Kentucky Falls on the Road to Duke

Photo Britney Howard | UKAthletics

Photo Britney Howard | UKAthletics

The 8th ranked Kentucky women’s basketball team fell behind early and was unable to claw back this afternoon on the road, falling to 13th ranked Duke 89-68. The Wildcats got the turnovers they wanted, and were even able to rebound their own missed shots at a high clip, but when UK had opportunities they did not capitalize. The Blue Devils played as a cohesive unit, dismantling the defense of Kentucky all over the court, and without senior leader Bria Goss the Cats looked frustrated and disheveled.

Duke came into today’s game with a 7-3 record, having losses to South Carolina, Texas A&M and Nebraska, but they took their frustration out on the visiting Wildcats. Six Blue Devils scored in double-figures, as Kentucky was unable to cut off the vision of Duke’s passing lanes. Kentucky is now 10-2, having failed to play a complete 40 minute game the entire season with a tough SEC schedule looming in the New Year.

A silver lining of an otherwise dark cloud, was the offensive performance of Kentucky’s post. Freshman Alexis Jennings netted a career high 17 points, while Azia Bishop notched another double-digit scoring effort with 15. What was lacking was the guard play for the Cats, which usually is the strength of UK, but not tonight. Jennifer O’Neill finished with 17 points but only on 5-21 shooting. The best way to describe today’s game…this video of Matthew Mitchell:

Kentucky returns to action next Sunday in their final non-conference game of the season and final game of 2014 as Tennessee State visits Memorial Coliseum for an afternoon match-up.

@WilderTreadKSR