Some notes from a lazy Wednesday:
— I have to tell you that I love the little bit of trash talk we got yesterday from Zadarius Smith and the UK team. Smith was asked about Florida and said, “It’s an OK team, I’m not just going to say (that) they’re all that. Hey, it’s the SEC.” When asked if they looked bigger/faster/stronger on tape than he expected, he said, “No they didn’t, they actually looked smaller than people we already played.” To me, that is the type of mindset UK needs to play with in the Stoops era. I know there are probably some concerns that this gives bulletin board material for Florida and I am sure that is correct. But what matters much more is to change the way Kentucky football players approach each game. When you have lost to a team 26 straight times (dating back to the RONALD REAGAN ADMINISTRATION), it is clear that whatever was being done in the past didn’t work. If Zadarius and the rest can get up for the game by talking a slight bit of trash, more power to them. Kentucky needs to end the Gator streak for all the former players who got close and didn’t quite get there (granted that isn’t very many). Changing the UK football history is first about changing the culture and maybe Zadarius took a step to doing just that. Or maybe it was simply stupid. Who knows.
— I for one hope that Kentucky comes out in the grey uniforms pictured above on Saturday. Apparently the Cats are using it for one game this year and this seems like the best choice (quality opponent and a chance at pulling an upset). Fans seem to generally support the move and while Mark Stoops downplayed it on his call-in show (suggesting we would wear “traditional” uniforms…my guess is he said it with a sly smile, since the Cats have already worn black), I think Saturday with the Cats in grey would be a sight to see. Uniforms matter (look at the Oregon success story) and as Western Kentucky showed when they played in Nashville (with sleek chrome helmets), looking good can equal playing good. Wear grey and if possible, STAND UP! I know not everyone can do it, but as I addressed in my KSR Minute the other night, for those who can, GET OFF YOUR FEET Saturday night:
— I know I sound like a broken record, but I can’t wait for this basketball team to take the floor. The Cats have had two practices and if you read the reports on John Calipari’s website, they clearly have gone well. But what is much more interesting to me is the talk of those who have seen the team play and are outside the program. From Jay Bilas to Seth Greenberg to Dick Vitale, everyone is praising UK and how good they can be. The consensus seems to be that in addition to the talent, the team chemistry with this group is just different. You could see it during the Fantasy Camp with how the players related to each other and the campers, and the energy around the group is on another level from last year. As ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg told me yesterday, “I saw the team against Maryland and I didn’t like their attitude, their body types or the way they interacted. This group, I like everything I didn’t like last year.” Be ready, that is all I can say.
— Finally, I hope you heard Dick Vitale praising the Cats on the show today. He ranked UK as his preseason #1 team but also talked about how special each player could be. He mentioned that when he talks to Calipari, he is not only excited about the stars but mentions what a player Marcus Lee will be and how Jarrod Polson has risen to the challenge in competing against Andrew Harrison every day in practice. Vitale thinks this is the best group in the nation but notes, that this year there are a number of really good teams. He has 1. UK, 2. Michigan State, 3. Louisville, 4. Duke and 5. Kansas. Coincidentally, that is my top five as well (I might flip Duke and Louisville), and all five will be loaded. If you get a chance, listen to Vitale’s entire interview in hour 2 below:
Finally, before we take the field against Florida, Mark Stoops will want to pump up the troops. I am sure he has a great speech prepared, but when it comes to speeches, only one works, the one given by Will Forte to Peyton Manning’s team on SNL. If that doesn’t work, nothing will: