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Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez is the best to ever play the position and a surefire Hall of Famer when he retires. During Monday Night Fooball on Monday, which is when Monday Night Football is always played, he caught a pass in his 200th consecutive game. Tw0 hundredth. Two. Hundredth. Only Jerry Rice has recorded a catch in as many consecutive games as Gonzalez.
Think about that for a second: 200 consecutive games with a catch. That’s almost 13 entire NFL seasons. The last time Tony Gonzalez suited up and didn’t find his name in the box score was November of 2000, his fourth year in the league. His quarterback that season was Elvis Grbac, who has been retired for over a decade. The backup? Warren Moon.
That’s a crazy statistic, almost as crazy as the Jets being up by two possessions in Atlanta right now.
Are you ready for some News and Views? A Monday night party…
Jalen Whitlow is Kentucky’s starting quarterback.
In a move that shouldn’t come as a surprise, the ‘OR’ was removed between Whitlow and Max Smith on Kentucky’s updated football depth chart. Whitlow is the starting quarterback moving forward and Mark Stoops believes the offense will take a step forward now that it has its guy. He said the team can hang its hat on Jalen and build around him, playing to his strengths.
“Let’s hope he takes it and runs with it and gets better and better each week,” Stoops said of his starter.
Bud Dupree listed as starter for Alabama, day-to-day this week.
Bud Dupree sat out the second half against South Carolina with an injured pectoral muscle but he is back atop the depth chart at one of the defensive end spots. Stoops said the junior end is swelled and a little sore and he’s expected to be day-to-day most of the week. His status for Saturday is still up in the air. “I really don’t know, to be honest with you,” Stoops said.
Freshman defensive end Jason Hatcher, who carried most of the load in Dupree’s absence in Columbia, broke his hand in two places in the second half against the Gamecocks. Stoops said the injury didn’t phase Hatcher at all; he continued to play after the suffering the injury and he’ll play against Alabama in a cast.
The SEC apologized for the illegal substitution call.
The conference apologized for the phantom 12th defender who drew a flag late in the game, potentially costing UK one last possession and a shot at tying the score. SEC officials coordinator Steve Shaw told Mark Stoops they made a mistake and they were wrong. Stoops called Shaw on Sunday and again on Monday to get the explanation.
The Alabama game is close to a sellout.
Only a limited number of tickets remain for Kentucky’s upcoming home game against the No. 1 team in the nation. Stoops addressed the expected turnout at his Monday luncheon, saying, “That will be a great atmosphere. I’m looking forward to it. You know, we won’t be out there at Keeneland during the day of anything but it will be a lot of fun. We’re happy that it’s a night game and that we’ll get a good crowd.”
He had this to say about Alabama: “Extremely well‑coached team, very physical, and everything they are built up to be. They deserve all the credit they have been given for what they have done through the course of this year, and of course with their history. So it will be a real challenge but it should be a lot of fun for us as a staff and for our players to embrace such a challenge.”
Nick Saban praised Stoops, called UK’s record “deceiving.”
Alabama’s head football coach met with the media in Tuscaloosa on Monday and had a few good things to say about Kentucky. He called the Cats’ 1-4 record a little deceiving and applauded Mark Stoops for how well he has done thus far.
“It’s always tough to play in our league, especially on the road. I think Kentucky is really playing well as a team,” Saban said. “Sometimes you look at the loss record and it’s a little deceiving. Kentucky has played three tough games in a row, played them all tough, played them all well. They typically have given us tough games the last two times we played them.”
He added, “Mark has done a really good job there, I think. The players are playing hard, they’re playing with a lot of toughness, they’re really good on special teams, which to me sometimes shows the character and attitude of your team as much as anything.”
John Calipari told the Greater Louisville Alumni Club he believes six or seven guys will leave for the NBA next summer.
While speaking at his annual Wildcat Tipoff Luncheon in Louisville, Coach Cal told the crowd he expects to lose six or seven players to the NBA after the upcoming season. What’s even scarier is he spoke highly of the guys who likely won’t be going to the NBA, too.
He compared Marcus Lee to Dennis Rodman, calling Lee the team’s energy guy who runs and blocks every shots. “He can guard the point guard or a five.”
Cal also said he won’t hesitate to play Jon Hood and Jarrod Polson this season, unlike years past. “When I put them in games over the last couple of years I was closing my eyes. And let me tell you this, (this year) they’re competing.”
Dominique Hawkins and Derek Willis are also competing in practice. He said Willis is a lot better than he originally thought and Willis isn’t afraid of the guys in front of him. “There is space on the court for him because of his strength. He can really score it. And long arms. Like, Julius has trouble getting shots off.”
James Blackmon Jr. is nearing a decision.
Scout.com’s Evan Daniels caught up with Blackmon to discuss his final five schools — Kentucky, Michigan State, Indiana, Kansas and Michigan — and where he currently stands in the recruiting process. The former Indiana commit will visit Kentucky for Big Blue Madness, might visit Kansas, and plans to make his final decision within the next five weeks and sign early.
On Kentucky: “I like Coach [John] Calipari and how he gets guys to the next level, but he also told me that it would be one of the toughest things I would ever do because there would be a target on my back. I like challenges so that stuck out to me and playing on the biggest stage, that would be good.” [Scout.com]
Kentucky is believed to be the heavy favorite in the race for Blackmon, and with a Big Blue Madness visit still ahead, things are looking good for the Wildcats.
Myles Turner may visit for Big Blue Madness.
Myles Turner, the No. 2 ranked basketball recruit in the country, is considering an official visit to Kentucky during Big Blue Madness. Turner was the second stop on Calipari’s September recruiting tour and getting him in for the visit is a must. He told Adam Zagoria that he’ll definitely take an official visit somewhere on October 18th, and it’s between Kentucky, Duke and Oklahoma State.
Gotta get him to Lex.
Kelly Oubre tweets there will be big news tomorrow.
Big News tomorrow !!
— Kelly Paul Oubre Jr. (@K_Ctmd22) October 8, 2013
BUT WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?????
Tickets for the Blue-White game go on sale Tuesday.
Tickets for the men’s basketball Blue-White scrimmage go on sale beginning Tuesday, Oct. 8 at 9:00 a.m. ET. The annual Blue-White scrimmage is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 29 at Rupp Arena.
Tickets will be available online through Ticketmaster.com or by calling Ticketmaster at 800.745.3000. Tickets will also be sold in person at the UK Ticket Office between the hours of 9:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. ET or by calling 800.928.2287. Fans can also obtain tickets by calling or in-person at the Rupp Arena Box Office (859.233.3535) starting at 10 .m. ET, or by visiting statewide Ticketmaster outlets. For outlet locations, go to Ticketmaster.com.
The cost of the tickets will be $10 (lower level) and $5 (upper level). All public seating is reserved. UK students may claim up to two free eRUPPtion Zone tickets for the Blue-White Scrimmage, while supplies last. Student tickets must be claimed in person at the Joe Craft Center ticket office with a valid student ID.
The Cats will tipoff the 2013-14 season on Friday, Oct. 18 with Big Blue Madness at Rupp Arena.
This is really poor tackling.
Matthew Mitchell will be on Kentucky Sports Radio tomorrow morning.
Ryan and I will be doing the show again Tuesday morning and we’re bringing in Matthew Mitchell during the first hour to get us through it. As most of you know, Mitchell is always great on KSR and we don’t expect tomorrow to be any different. We’re hoping to get a hint about his Madness dance, too.
Yes it is crazy to even hypothesize that a Kentucky team with just one year could find a way to dethrone the two time defending national champions. However you can never say never in the world of sports and it’s fun to imagine Kentucky beginning their road to relevancy with a upset of the top team in the land. Here’s what the Cat’s will need to have clicking if they are going to have any shot this Saturday.
Jojo Kemp: Instant Offense
I remember sitting on the couch with my dad watching the Cats do work on the hardwood when a freshman Jodie Meeks would check into the game. “I like him,” my dad would say “That kid is instant offense” I can’t help but think the same thing every time Kemp gets to touch the football. Through five games Kemp leads the rushing corps in yards despite getting fewer carries than Senior Raymond Sanders. Kemp has shown a dynamic ability to make plays in the open field as he has found away to earn 10 yards or more on a single carry in each of the last four games. Saturday Kemp will need to have his number called often if the Cats want to move the ball against ‘Bama. Easier said than done against an Alabama defense that is stout but not perfect..
Alabama’s Susceptible Defense?
Last season the Crimson Tide relied on a defense that didn’t budge in order to march to the National Championship game. This season Alabama’s defense isn’t the same unstoppable juggernaut it was last season. First up they currently rank number 103 in the nation with just 6 sacks on the year. A surprising number when you consider they finished last season with 35 en route to the crystal trophy. Perhaps that can be expected when you lose a bunch of guys who are now playing on Sundays. Despite that lack of pressure opponents everyone not named Johnny Manziel had struggled to put up points on Alabama this year. Perhaps if the Cats find a way to run the ball and score a few touchdowns that will be the biggest upset we can truly hope for this weekend.
If Kentucky found a way to win Saturday it would unquestionably be the greatest win in program history. Unfortunately that seems like only a pipe dream as the improving Cats just aren’t on that level just yet. Kentucky will need a herculean effort from everyone on offense this Saturday and a massive screwup from the Tide defense to key an upset. Regardless, with Keeneland and football on deck for Saturday it’s going to be an awesome time to be in Lexington. No matter what the outcome. Go Cats.
Braxton Berrios is down to five schools and Kentucky made the cut, the four-star wide receiver announced Monday night. Berrios, ranked 38th at his position by Rivals.com, is down to Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, Oregon and Miami. He wrote a rap to reveal his final list:
Berrios will announce his final decision on Saturday.
Mr. Anywhere should have his nickname changed to Mr. Awesome. In the midst of his upcoming induction into the College Football Hall of Fame in New York, UKAthletics held a press conference for Mr. Meilinger that turned into the most entertaining 16 minute presser I’d ever been a part of. Not only did Meileinger have jokes, (I get a nice, big ring…but 40 years ago would have been fantastic), but his stories from his old playing days under Bear Bryant were one-of-a-kind.
Meilinger depicts Bryant as a traditional hard-ass that wasn’t afraid to teach ‘hands on’, “I saw Bear Bryant pick him up, and Bob (Gain) weighed a good 270 pounds. I saw Bear Bryant pick him up by the seat of his pants, his jersey, and throw him about three yards. And I seen him do it a lot of times.” While Bryant was brash on the surface, he never hesitated to help a former player out during a time in need. After his playing days were over, Meilinger yearned to stay in the game by coaching, turning to the Bear for advice, “‘You don’t want to do this.’ He said, ‘Get you another job.’” It paid off for Meilinger- his career as a U.S. Marshal led him to start the Federal Witness Protection Program.
Meilinger was there when Kentucky football was the best it has ever been. A member of the 1952 Cotton Bowl Championship team, Meilinger has seen many coaches come through the door, but this is one is the first he’s seen that has what it takes to bring the program back to that level, ““I tell you what: I think this one of the better coaching staffs we’ve had here in a long time. I’m really impressed with his hiring of his assistant coaches, and I think this is going to be the future of UK football, with Stoops and his staff coaching. Each game, they’re getting a little better.” While you may want to question the 83 year old’s credibility, the guy played for the Bear, Tom Landry and Vince Lombardi – I trust he knows what he’s talking about.
I could have listened to Mr. Anywhere talk all afternoon, but things came to an abruptly awkward ending. UK Media Relations people got REALLY nervous when a question about players cheating came up.
“We had an investigation here; the SEC had a big one, and two of our guys got kicked off the team their senior year – Gene Donaldson and (Chet) Lukawski – because they got clothes from somebody to come to UK. And I had received a couple clothes and a couple britches. Oh, let me tell you about britches. I came down here and never heard the word britches. Didn’t know what britches were.
“So this guy told me, he said, ‘Come on,’ he says, ‘I’m going to buy you a couple pair of britches.’ I said, ‘OK.’ See we go down there to (old local suit shop) and he measures me up. ‘Oh, britches are pants.’ Anyway, we had this investigation, and this was before that happened. And the gentleman swore you in and, good old Catholic boy I am, I never told a lie until then. They asked me if I had ever received anything, gratuity, clothing or something. I said, ‘No.’ And then they asked me a couple other questions: why I came to Kentucky and all this stuff. And like I say, I lied, and I stayed there for four years. (Smiles)”
For the rest of his wild stories from the past, including the time Bear kicked him off the team, check out the video below.
Steve Meilinger Fun Facts
- Meilinger will not be officially inducted until December 10th in New York, but will be honored during halftime of Saturday’s game.
-Meilinger is the 4th former Bear Bryant Wildcat to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
- In only 3 years of varsity play, Meilinger was a 2-time First Team All-American and a 3-time All-SEC performer.
- During his playing days they called him Mr. Anywhere, because that’s exactly where he played: end, halfback and quarterback on offense; end, linebacker and secondary on defense; he topped it off by punting for two years while returning both punts and kickoffs. (Be jealous Randall Cobb)
- Meilinger’s school records in almost every WR category were just surpassed by Craig Yeast after standing for nearly 40 years.
- Meilinger spent two years in the army as a tank commander after school, before playing for Landry and Lombardi during his six-season stint in the NFL.
(h/t to Kyle Tucker for the story quotes. It’s pretty difficult typing those stories verbatim.)
Planning on going to the Blue/White Game on October 29th at Rupp? Tickets go on sale tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. ET.
Tickets will be available online through Ticketmaster.com or by calling Ticketmaster at 800.745.3000. Tickets will also be sold in person at the UK Ticket Office between the hours of 9:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. ET or by calling 800.928.2287. You can also get tickets by calling or in-person at the Rupp Arena Box Office (859.233.3535) starting at 10 .m. ET.
Tickets range from $10 (lower level) to $5 (upper level). All public seating is reserved. UK students may claim up to two free eRUPPtion Zone tickets for the Blue-White Scrimmage, while supplies last. Student tickets must be claimed in person at the Joe Craft Center ticket office with a valid student ID.
We joke a lot that UK’s practices and scrimmages will be more entertaining than some of their games this season, so don’t miss out on one of the first opportunities to see them in person.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©6:00 pm
Jack Halperin has tutored athletes at UNC for over twenty years, and made news today when he resigned in protest of Roy William’s decision to keep PJ Hairston on the team.
In case you’re not up on your UNC Basketball hypocrisy, Hairston had three run-ins with the law during the offseason, including drug possession charges, possession of a firearm, and driving without a license. Roy Williams says Hairston will miss “some games” (aka the ones before Kentucky comes to town) for his off-the-court behavior, and he’s already practicing with the team. Halperin made his resignation public via an open letter to Roy Williams in “The Daily Tar Heel,” UNC’s student paper:
Roy, after 23 years as an academic tutor, and after going through the devastating football scandal, I am resigning in protest of your disgraceful decision to allow P.J. Hairston to remain on the team.
If I were arrested driving with no license, illegal drugs and a gun in a felon’s car, my employment at this University would end immediately. Hairston’s DTH headline quote was, ‘I will play this season.’ Since when does the criminal decide his fate?
Athletic academic tutor
Well done, Mr. Halperin. You just got a standing ovation from this gal.
The UK Softball team took on Georgetown College on Sunday in what was originally scheduled as a doubleheader. After a 50 minute delay before game one, with more rain moving through Lexington, the two coaching staffs agreed to play game one until the rain canceled play. Fall ball concluded for the Cats after getting in 8 innings with a 7-0 defeat over Georgetown. Kelsey Nunley, Meagan Prince, and Lauren Cumbess combined to throw eight shutout innings.
Sophomore Kelsey Nunley, who started out pitching, threw three scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out five. Freshman Meagan Prince relieved Nunley, allowing three hits over four innings while striking out two, but kept the Tigers scoreless. Lauren Cumbess relieved Prince in the last inning, striking out three. Maisie Steed and Emily Jolly each had multi-hit games with Steed going 2-for-2 with one run scored, and Jolly going 2-for-2 with a two-run homer over the wall in leftfield. Pitcher Lauren Cumbess had 3 RBI’s and Frazer recorded 1 to defeat Georgetown College.
The Wildcats will now focus on their 2014 spring schedule, which will be released later this year, but begins in February. This will be Rachael Lawson’s seventh year as Head Coach with the Cats, the winningest coach in program history at UK.
(h/t UK Athletics)
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©5:00 pm
One of the few things I choose to remember about the Robert Morris game was how outspoken and passionate Willie Cauley-Stein and the other players were after the game. Willie told reporters he had unfinished business, filling fans with hope that he’d forgo the NBA Draft for another season at Kentucky. Just how close was Willie to going to the draft last season? Pretty freaking close:
“I think I was on the edge. I feel like if we had won the Robert Morris game, won a couple more games after that, I probably would have put my name in [the draft], to be completely honest. But the way we ended, the way I ended, I didn’t feel like I could go to the league and do anything.”
Coming back also meant going against some of the best freshmen in the country in practice, including big man Dakari Johnson. Both are seven footers, but Johnson has at least twenty pounds on Willie, and plays a totally different style of ball. Willie says he needs that competition to prepare for the league:
“Going against Dakari every day is going to be great for me because now is the time to start preparing for the next level, and that’s the next level. That kind of strength and size is good for the next level,” he told KSR’s Ryan Lemond. “It’s going to make me a different player, for one. A more aggressive player. I don’t like getting bullied, so I’m not going to let it happen. Ultimately, it’s going to make me a better player.”
Archie Goodwin may have put it best when he said Willie Cauley-Stein was a “different kind of dude.” Willie, a studio art major and chalk art enthusiast, has an unique style, right down to his hipster duds. In fact, Willie says he considers himself the best dresser on the team, with “sensational” fashion taste. A tip to all you fashionistas out there? Willie says looking good doesn’t mean breaking the bank:
“A lot of it’s not really luxury. I just kind of put something together. If it color coordinates, it looks good. A lot of stuff I get from Wal-Mart. Lot of people wouldn’t know.”
Think he can give some advice to our crew?
See Willie Cauley-Stein’s entire interview with KSR’s Ryan Lemond below…
Saturday’s almost comeback win provided Big Blue Nation plenty of optimism moving forward. With a single quarterback at the helm, the Cats continued fighting for their lives despite trailing 21-0. Coach Stoops had to admit that the 21-0 score bothered him, “I was very frustrated I admit that,” but the team didn’t give up, “We talked about it throughout the week. If they started fast, ‘hang in there, (we’ll) make some adjustments and battle back to give ourselves a chance to win the game.’”
A big part of their success has to be accredited to Jalen Whitlow. A game with limited mistakes, Whitlow managed the game well and had only 7 incompletions while playing interception free. What stood out to Coach Stoops the most was his physical running play, but more importantly his competitiveness and decision-making that had been shaky in the past. Was that enough for Jalen to be “THE GUY” at Quarterback? “I do. He’s the starter and let’s hope that he takes it and runs with it and gets better and better each week.”
Jalen’s play and the tenacity of the entire team wasn’t enough to win the game alone. For Coach Stoops, the last piece of the puzzle is to, “find ways to make plays when the game is on the line, on both sides of the ball.” The zebras may have interfered with some of that. As Tyler said earlier, the league’s head official Steve Shaw has already informed Coach Stoops that they made the wrong call on a ’12 men on the field penalty’ during the game’s last drive. Not only did that unjust penalty harm the Cats, but a drive was halted earlier in the game because of a critical penalty on 3rd down. Lined up in the Wildcat formation on 3rd and 1, Jojo Kemp pushed forward for the first down before the zebras assessed a 5 yard penalty for illegal formation, ending a promising drive near field goal range. That’s right, not once but TWICE the Cats were victims of home cookin’.
Stoops cannot look back on the South Carolina game too much, the #1 and back-to-back National Champions are coming to town Saturday night. There were many lessons learned last week, lessons Stoops hopes will carryover:
“I just hope we continue to understand that we can win these games. It’s not just me up here talking about that. If we truly believe, if we go about our business, if we work the wright way, if we prepare the right way and execute and make plays when the game is on the line, we had every opportunity to win that game. And that’s a VERY good team, very well coached and we have a lot of respect for them, but had we done some things right we could (have) won that game….a lot of it’s mental. We mentally need to be stronger.”
What makes Alabama great is their systematic approach to the game. Well coached with great technique, players are forced to execute or they’ll sit the bench. There aren’t many teams with depth like Alabama, but they can consistently rotate guys in without missing a beat. They’re 3-year starting quarterback A.J. McCarron
has a hot girlfriend plays with that same systematic approach, maintaining poise and making the right throws in the most difficult situations, “McCarron is very poised, confident and tough. You can tell he’s played in a lot of big games.”
Defensively, Nick Saban orchestrates a complex system that can confuse the hell out of offenses, if simply smacking them around doesn’t work. Common knowledge might say that cornerbacks Coach Derrick Ansley could provide some insight after coaching for Saban at Alabama, but Saban’s defense is the best of the best, “I think there’s so much defense that they can grab from, even if you know what they’re in, it comes down to technique and execution at that point. They’re very good at what they do.”
Ansley might not have too much of an added effect on the gameplan this week, but Saban indirectly effects the Kentucky football team everyday (not just by giving us tons of BCS money). Mark Stoops doesn’t have any experience coaching with Nick Saban, but his former boss Jimbo Fisher has plenty. “The way coaching trees sometimes workout, in an indirect way I would imagine I’ve learned some things from the way Coach Saban structures practice or goes about his business. Obviously I’ve never worked with anybody on his staff or anything like that, but Coach Fisher did take an awful lot of that from Coach Saban and would often talk about it….He’s affected a lot of people in a good way.” I don’t know about you, but it’s very reassuring knowing the everyday practice structure of the football team is modeled after Alabama.
When the depth chart for the football team was released earlier today, one of the more noticeable things was the running back situation once again listed Raymond “Colonel” Sanders OR Jojo Kemp as number one on the chart. Now I get that UK is most likely leaving the starting job up to whoever brings it at practice this week, but I can’t help but wonder why they don’t just give Jojo a shot at starter Saturday against Alabama?
If you want to look at this statistically, it makes sense to start Kemp over Sanders this coming Saturday night. Kemp has the most yards of all the running backs on the team, with 226 yards off of only 33 carries. For comparison, Sanders has only 183 yards off of 38 carries so far on the year. However, Kemp has yet to record his first rushing touchdown in college football, while Sanders already has two under his belt this season.
One possible pause for concern on deciding whether to start Kemp or not against the Tide is the whole factor of experience. When you have a senior in the form of Sanders, you have someone who has had quite a few years of experience against top SEC competition. However with Stoops coming in and starting multiple true freshman now, the whole theory of experience kind of goes out the window a little bit. Plus, I don’t believe experience is going to matter too much against a glorified NFL team this weekend.
Really what this team is looking for is just someone who is going to be able to keep it respectable out there against the best team in the nation. Jojo has shown on the field that he is willing to compete and fight against anyone he has to, so why not give the freshman the pigskin to start the game out? Go ahead and put your two cents in below on who you believe should get the start this weekend if you are so inclined.
Of course by now everyone knows how loaded Kentucky is with six top 25 recruits and two projected first round NBA Draft picks returning to Lexington in Poythress and Cauley-Stein. But what about the guys whose names get brought up in significantly fewer conversations like Dominique Hawkins and Derek Willis?
Hawkins and Willis seem to be in the shadows of this ultimate recruiting class that is just littered with NBA talent where Derek and Dominique could be seen as the icing on that cake for the greatest recruiting class ever.
With a roster as loaded as Coach Calipari put together, it would appear as if Hawkins and Willis would be the 9th and 10th options off the bench, which is a tribute to exactly how deep this team is. To bring Dominique Hawkins and Derek Willis to the light for whoever might have overlooked them, here’s a quick preview to how good these guys can be:
This guy can put the ball in the hoop. Dominique possesses a smooth and consistent jump shot, solid ball handling skills that allow him to create separation and a knack for plays that ignite the crowd. Hawkins hits a buzzer beater one minute, converts a three point play the next minute and before you can catch your breath he is destroying the rim on explosive dunks. He carried his team to a Kentucky State Championship and was Mr. Kentucky Basketball for a reason; this kid can ball. One thing for sure is Dominique Hawkins will put up points when Coach Cal puts him on the court.
Derek Willis possesses a unique skill set that would leave you thinking he is a 6’9 shooting guard. A pure and very consistent jump shot from both mid range and beyond the arc makes Willis especially hard to defend. Not many post players want to play defense 20 feet from the basket. He lacks a dominant back to the basket game but his shooting and above average passing ability makes up for that. Willis is another one of those players a team could lose track of due to the superstars around him and quietly put up 15 points in a hurry.
Coach speak or not, Nick Saban had plenty of nice things to say about Kentucky during his time with the media this morning. Saban said the Cats are really playing well as a team, and that Mark Stoops is getting it done so far:
“It’s always tough to play in our league, especially on the road. I think Kentucky is really playing well as a team. Sometimes you look at the loss record and it’s a little deceiving. Kentucky has played three tough games in a row, played them all tough, played them all well. They typically have given us tough games the last two times we played them.
Mark has done a really good job there, I think. The players are playing hard, they’re playing with a lot of toughness, they’re really good on special teams, which to me sometimes shows the character and attitude of your team as much as anything.”
Saban mentioned Jalen Whitlow, a Prattville, Alabama native, and praised his performance against South Carolina: “He’s really kind of a dual threat guy, he’s a good runner and continued to improve as a passer and was effective last week in that regard.
Simply put, he doesn’t want his group to overlook the Cats:
“We expect this to be a difficult game. Our players need to prepare for this team with a lot of respect and I think our players understand how difficult it is to play on the road in this league.”
See you on Saturday, Nick.
On Saturday I outlined how Florida should do this year. Today, it’s Tennessee. But before I share how UT will fare this season, I have to post one of my favorite youtube videos that needs to be posted every time I write something about Tennessee.
That video just gets better and better every time I watch it. Ok, back to basketball…
(H/t to UK Athletics)
2012-13 Season: 20-13 (11-7), advanced to the NIT before losing in the first round to Mercer (well at least that makes me feel better about Bobby Mo’)
Who’s Gone: G Trae Golden, G Skylar “Mustache” McBee, F Kenny Hall
Who’s Back: G Jordan McCrae, F Jeronne Maymon, F Jarnell Stokes, G Josh Richardson
Key Incomers: G Robert Hubbs, PG Antonio Barton (transfer from Memphis)
Strengths: After missing all of last season with an injury, stud forward Jeronne Maymon is back and will pair with Jarnell Stokes to form one of the most formidable starting frontcourts in both the SEC and the nation. Maymon averaged 12.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game as a junior and claims to be 100% for Tennessee’s opener. The frontcourt won’t be the only strength for the Vols, either, as UT has scorers all over the place. Leading ’13 scorer Jordan McCrae is back and incoming four-star guard Robert Hubbs can score the ball in a variety of ways. Those four are going to be heavily relied on for the season which isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering their high level of talent.
Weaknesses: For as good as UT could possibly be (should be top 25 preseason), there are two big problems with their team. First, is the lack of a true point guard. The Vols were hit with some bad news this offseason when returning point guard Trae Golden decided to head to Georgia Tech for his final season of collegiate play. To make up for this, Tennessee added transfer Antonio Barton who has some experience playing the position before moving off the ball for his sophomore and junior seasons at Memphis. Barton’s impact on the team will play a major role in the success of UT this season even though Barton was a very marginal player at Memphis. The second hurdle for Tennessee this season is depth. Beyond Barton, Hubbs, McCrae, Stokes, and Maymon (their projected starters), Tennessee doesn’t have much for a bench. Guard Josh Richardson figures to be a key cog again after averaging over 30 minutes per game last season, but after him, who? Sophomore Quentin Chievious had some nice moments towards the end of the season, as did Armani Moore. Both players are going to have to step up their games in a big way though if Tennessee wants to make a major push at second in the SEC.
Bottomline: Weak starts have handcuffed the Vol’s postseason chances the last couple years, and a weak non-conference schedule won’t do them any favors if that happens again. Tennessee should have enough talent and balance at the top of their squad to make the NCAA tournament this season and challenge in the SEC. But, if they want to make the move from pretty good to really good, the Vols are going to have to find success from point guard Antonio Barton and their bench.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©2:00 pm
Calipari spoke at the Louisville Alumni Luncheon this afternoon, and pretty much repeated everything he said on the radio show Friday morning, but there were a few new soundbites to go over.
There’s been a lot of talk about how many players could go in next year’s draft. Cal’s guess? He said he believes six or seven players will go pro after this season.
He then gave his thoughts on some of the players, which, again, was mostly stuff we heard on Friday, but here’s the rundown:
Julius Randle: Cal said that if he only cared about winning, he would put Julius Randle underneath the basket and that he’s putting him back out on the floor to prepare him for the next level.
Jon Hood and Jarrod Polson: Cal’s no longer afraid to put Hood and Polson in a game, and joked that at times last season, he would be forced to put them in and just closed his eyes in fear when he did. Us too.
Marcus Lee and Derek Willis: Yet again, Cal singled these two out as the “surprise” players on the squad, comparing Lee to Dennis Rodman and Derek Willis to Bobby Jones (who used to play for the 76ers, Google tells me.)
Willie Cauley-Stein: Willie will start practicing again on Sunday after injuring his hand.
Alex Poythress: Has returned to practice after hurting his hamstring. Cal said Alex is going against Julius Randle and James Young in practice and “it’s competitive.”
The team as a whole: “They don’t play hard enough yet, but they’re good.”
Cal opened up a little more about his goal for an undefeated season, saying that it’s something he wants to accomplish before he retires: “Before I retire, I’d like to coach an undefeated team because they say it can’t be done.” He mentioned his three teams that came close (2008 Memphis, 2010 Kentucky, 2012 Kentucky), and said that the goal of going undefeated can keep players in the moment because players realize that each game is just as important as the next. Something tells me that’s going on a sign in the Joe Craft Center sometime soon.
It wouldn’t be a Cal speech without a little trash talking. When talking about being everyone’s “Super Bowl,” Cal said that his players don’t know what day they’re playing Florida, North Carolina, or even Louisville, but that the players on every team they face know when they’re playing Kentucky:
“If I ask my team when we play Florida, they’re not going to know. North Carolina? I’m telling you–and I’m going to do it today because I’ve thought about it–they don’t know. You think they know when we’re playing Louisville. They don’t know. They know ‘Is there a meal tonight?’. They don’t know.
Now, I ask you this. Does everybody on our schedule know when they’re playing Kentucky? All they know, and that’s in their locker, on the ceiling of their bedroom. You gotta deal with that, and it’s part of being at Kentucky. Not only do they want to beat Kentucky, they want to beat you as an individual player. You know why? They wanted that scholarship you got and they want to prove they’re better than you, not just their team is better than Kentucky. So that’s the challenge that we have. But would you want it any other way? I don’t. Bring it, let’s go.”
Well, alright. Let’s go.
In “of course they did” news, Indiana raised another banner during their Hoosier Hysteria festivities this weekend. This time, it was the 2013 Big Ten Championship banner, which was raised to the soaring sounds of U2 and Tom Crean’s sobs.
No word on when they’ll distribute the commemorative cups for their record campout crowd.