Admit it: you like Ellen DeGeneres. Come on…even you big, burly Eastern Kentucky mountain men feel the urge to shake it when she shimmies across the screen on her daily talk show. If anything, I’d like to thank Ellen for encouraging white people to dance freely (even if only in the privacy of their own homes). Seriously, before putting on her birthday boogie shoes, Ellen DeGeneres should take a break and reflect on her wild and crazy career in showbiz. Ellen started doing stand-up comedy in the 80’s, and must have been pretty darn good at it, because she was the first female comedian invited to chat with Johnny after her routine on “The Johnny Carson Show” in 1986. After a variety of TV roles and a small part in the movie Coneheads (yeah, I went there), the execs at ABC took a chance and gave Ellen her own show, “These Friends of Mine,” or, as it was later known, “The Ellen Show.”
I bet you know where it goes from here, right? In February 1997, Ellen told Oprah and the world she was gay, and a few months later, her television character followed suit. Sadly, ratings declined and the show was canceled soon thereafter, leading to a brief career hiatus, during which she dated crazy lady Anne Heche. Ellen eventually found her way back in the limelight after two critically-acclaimed performances: her 2000 HBO comedy special and her hosting stint at the 2001 Emmy awards, held less than a month after September 11th. She got her own talk show and became a force in daytime television, completing one of the most impressive comeback stories in Hollywood history. In the past few years, Ellen’s been an Oscar host, CoverGirl, American Idol judge, and even a Special Envoy for Global AIDS Awareness. Pretty good for a girl from Metairie, Louisiana.
Happy birthday, Ellen. Don’t just stand there, bust a move…on over to these news and views.
— When we weren’t fighting over the new uniforms (more on that later), the Big Blue Nation spent Wednesday discussing the Cats’ win over Georgia. Well, the first half at least. After toying around with the Bulldogs early on, the Cats found their groove and pushed the halftime lead to twelve, largely on the shoulders of a seemingly-possessed Darius Miller. Miller turned in his most impressive performance of the season in Athens, shooting a near-flawless 7-8 from the field (including a perfect 4-4 from behind the arc) for 19 points. Most encouraging was Miller’s confidence and aggression, both of which have been fluctuated this season. But not last night. Darius played like a man on a mission, living up to the legend spun by his teammate Ryan Harrow, who calls him the squad’s most talented player. I guess all those practice shots before the game are finally paying off?
— If the first half was a smooth Bugatti Veyron, the second was a clunky Chevy Geo. The Cats put up a paltry 19 points in the second half, a figure acceptable only when compared to Georgia’s 18. Despite the snooze-worthy pace, the Cats remained in control of the game until the end, thanks to impressive rebounding and smoldering defense. Although their shots weren’t falling, Terrence Jones and Marquis Teague found ways to contribute, Jones with seven rebounds, three blocks, and inspiring hustle; and Teague with seven assists to zero turnovers. Both of these players draw ire from Cats fans, but should be applauded for progressive, albeit quiet, performances.
— Call us spoiled, but despite their 20-1 record, some Cats fans continue to spend more time worrying over this team’s flaws than admiring its fair features. Maybe it’s because when this team is clicking, like in the first half against Georgia, they are unstoppable. Coach Cal echoed these thoughts during his time with the media on Wednesday, explaining that his animated behavior on the sidelines of late is a by-product of his frustrations with a team that has so much promise: “Last year’s team, I couldn’t believe we were as good as we were. I didn’t have to say a whole lot. This year, we could be really special, and we’re not right now.” Cal was quick to point out that this team has plenty of time to reach their peak, but he wants them to communicate better with each other and continue to hone that killer instinct. I can think of several teams we can practice that on.
— By far the most controversial news on Wednesday was the unveiling of Kentucky’s new Nike Hyper Elite Platinum uniforms. Some of you love them, most of you hate them. Like really, really hate them. So much so that your outcry over them made the front page of Yahoo:
New jerseys always inspire their share of grumbling, but the release of these has been especially polarizing.
An angry commenter on Kentucky Sports Radio wrote, “Big Blue Nation to Nike: Our colors are BLUE and WHITE.” One minute later someone else correctly responded, “Guess what old people? They’re not for you. They’re for the players.”
(Congrats, Wildcat84 and ktmiln2: you’re famous!)
I’ll take blue and white over gray any day, but as Drew mentioned earlier, it’s important to remember that these are just alternate uniforms whose function will mainly be increasing Nike’s sales numbers and maybe, just maybe, making the Cats look even more appealing to the youngin’s. They’re not my cup of tea (and they’re not supposed to be), but they do feature the latest “uniform technology,” and if that means they turn our players’ sweat into jet fuel, then hooray Nike. Also, and this is probably the reason Nike made them, the uniforms will be worn in games against teams sponsored by adidas or Under Armour, which means every time the announcers mention them, it’s a marketing coup for Nike. Still hate them? At least they didn’t shorten our name to “Tucky.”
— Need another reason to marvel at the wonder that is Anthony Davis? Ethan Sherwood Strauss of HoopSpeak.com called Davis the best defensive prospect since the 1980’s. AND, he has the stats to back it up. Using what he calls the “Stock Spread,” a formula that measures defensive efficiency, Strauss determined that the only defensive legend over the last few decades whose stats can compare to Davis’ so far this season is Hakeem Olajuwon. I’m not a numbers person, but even I can appreciate Strauss’ work. (H/T to CoachCal.com)
— 2013 superstar Nerlens Noel has added West Virginia to his list of suitors after visiting the campus last week. Noel and his awesome high-top fade are also considering Kentucky, Syracuse and Connecticut. Speaking of Noel, he was recently ranked the 2nd best player in the 2013 class by Scout.com; the top ten of that class features eight Kentucky targets. Yes, eight. Like the banner we will hang in April.
— Remember when we used to whine about being in the “lowly” BBVA Compass bowl a few years ago? Well, Birmingham may look like paradise in a few years if the powers that be have their way. According to a report from CBSSports.com, there is “growing support” amongst conference commissioners, athletic directors and bowl officials to raise the number of wins required for bowl eligibility from six to seven when the new BCS cycle begins in 2014. This is tough news for the Cats, who have only won seven regular season football games four times in the last 27 years (thanks to our very own Beez for that depressing stat); it also makes the possibility of eliminating the Louisville game from the schedule seem more and more likely. The only good news? No more Sketchers Shape-Ups “How I Met Your Mother” Trojan Minis Bowl!
— Good luck to UK Hoops, who travel to Auburn to take on the Tigers Thursday night at 7 p.m. ET. Our ladies boast an 18-2 overall record, including a stellar 7-0 run thus far in SEC play, tying the best start through the first 20 games in program history. I bet our pals over at KSRCollege.com will have a fantastic preview of the game tomorrow (hint, hint).
— In ridiculous and slightly maddening news, a KSR reader tipped us off on this story from Steve Gansey, the head coach of the NBA D-League Fort Wayne Mad Ants, for whom Ramon Harris plays. At today’s shoot around, Gansey threw a cross-court pass to assistant coach Christian Laettner, who was being guarded by Harris at the opposite free throw line. In a cruel recreation of “The Shot,” Laettner caught the pass, turned around and made the basket. I checked Ramon’s Twitter to see how he was recovering, but only saw tweets about foamposites (WTF) and chicken wings.
— Finally, a shoutout to Bopper Minton and Mark Jackson, two best friends from Clay County, Kentucky who will compete for a million dollars on the upcoming season of “The Amazing Race” which premieres on CBS on Sunday, February 19. I’ve been a fan of “The Amazing Race” for years, and still think it’s the best reality TV show out there, especially when it features people wearing Kentucky shirts. Bopper and Mark, whom you can learn more about here, say they will use the prize money to pay off Bopper’s daughter’s medical bills. Use the “U-Turn” wisely, boys:
We’ll be back bright and early to quench your thirst for all Cats everything. Matt and company will take the airwaves at 10 a.m. Don’t miss it.