Part one in an eight part series previewing the 2014 Kentucky Football Wildcats. Barring →
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There are several ways to die, all of them terrible, because you die, but none quite like a recent death in Oklahoma that’s caught a lot of attention across the nation.
Brad Davis, a former U.S. marine, has been charged with the murder of his stepfather, Denver St. Clair, by giving him a wedgie. A wedgie, defined by Wikipedia as, “When a person’s nether underwear or other garments are wedged between the buttocks.” That’s how Davis’ stepfather died. Sad, yet incredibly bizarre.
The police report says Davis stretched St. Clair’s underwear over his head and neck, causing him to suffocate, after the two exchanged blows during an argument. Davis described it as an “atomic wedgie” to authorities when they arrived on the scene. Asphyxiation has been determined as the cause of death and it has been ruled a homicide.
The recent news means we will no longer give BTI wedgies when he upsets one of our readers, a KSR practice that lasted over six years. We just can’t take that risk anymore, not without health insurance for our part-time writers.
We will still do the Friday News and Views, though, and I have it right here without any nether underwear interference…
Coach Cal doesn’t want to hear about Vanderbilt’s seven available scholarship players.
Hush. Stop it. He doesn’t want to hear it.
With the recent suspension of its leading scorer, Vanderbilt is down to seven scholarship players for Saturday’s game against the Cayts. That sounds great for UK’s chances, but Coach Cal ain’t havin’ it. When asked about the Dores’ depleted roster on Thursday, Cal reminded everyone he had only seven scholarship players last season. “Everybody felt sorry for us,” he said sarcastically.
May we remind you, this is the guy Vanderbilt is losing. He was averaging over 14 points per game.
Calipari loves the new Alex Poythress.
He had a lot to say about his sophomore forward on Thursday:
“I love it. Nothing makes me happier. Again, it took him awhile to accept the fact that he had to change. Most of it is just changing how you think and changing how you approach things, and change your mentality about practice and loving the grind and then seeing the results. They have to see results to build on that to get better. He is seeing it. Now, I want him to take some jumpers. He’s a good shooter. I love that he made his free throws. Now go get fouled. I want him to drive to the middle left to right and shoot his jump-hook that he has taken 9,000 times in two years here. Now do it in the game. You don’t have to go three dribbles, behind-your-back crossover, just take it, get the ball behind the man, take it into the lane and shoot the jump-hook. He’s got more game. I just like how he is settling into how he’s going to play. He’s in great condition, he’s in a great frame of mind, his mentality has changed, he’s changed how he’s thinking.
It’s definitely a different Alex Poythress than what we’re used to seeing, even he knows it. After the Mississippi game he told us he’s bringing more energy, even coaching his teammates from the bench during games, and his confidence level is higher than it’s ever been.
Neal Brown will name his starting quarterback much sooner next season.
Kentucky’s offensive coordinator dropped by Kentucky Sports Radio radio Thursday morning to talk football expectations for 2014. One thing he knows will be different next fall is the staff will not wait as long as it did last season to find its starting quarterback. Brown said he and Stoops already decided they will pick a quarterback as early as possible and go with him. They won’t drag it out again.
It’ll be a four-man race in the spring when football picks back up with Max Smith sitting out after shoulder surgery, but he’ll still get his look in the fall. Brown thinks Drew Barker will be right in the mix to compete right away and he’s anxious to see the improvements the other guys make this offseason. He said Towles is working hard to speed up his release and Reese Phillip throws the best deep ball of the bunch.
Contrary to popular Lonny Demaree tweets, there has been no conversation about what to do with Jalen Whitlow if he doesn’t keep the starting job. They will cross that bridge if and when they get to it.
The Bobby Petrino press conference was laughable.
He changed, everybody. CAN’T YOU SEE THAT? HE IS A CHANGED MAN. HE IS FINALLY HOME.
Matt and I commentated over the first five or six questions until we couldn’t handle it any longer. Listen during the second hour on Thursday’s podcast on TalkRadio1080.com.
I did enjoy Tom Jurich saying he told Petrino, “If you lie to me, I will kill you.”
Louisville lost to Memphis, fans taunted Josh Pastner, he fought back and his rebuttal was awesome.
Per several people on Twitter, following Louisville’s home loss to Memphis, which Russ Smith called the worst loss of his career, the UofL crowd taunted Josh Pastner as he walked to his postgame radio show. Of the many insults thrown his way, the one about his players being thugs sent him over the edge and into a shouting match with the fans. His comeback? “We have a perfect APR score!” Got em! Take that, haters! Perfect APR score!
The funniest part of all this is the handful of Louisville fans saying Pastner has no class. Think about that one for a second. A Louisville fan, a fan of the University of Louisville, accusing an opposing coach of having no class.
ESPN.com’s new NBA lottery machine is really fun, especially if you’re Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker or Joel Embiid.
Chad Ford and ESPN.com’s draft crew launched a new interactive NBA lottery generator that projects the top 15 picks in next summer’s draft. Give it a click and see what results you get for the 2014 lottery. But just a warning, of the 2,184 possible scenarios, only Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid pop up as the No. 1 pick.
Here’s how my first spin looked:
The Los Angeles Lakers, with a 1.4% chance of earning the top pick, got it and selected Embiid first overall. Julius Randle went sixth to the Kings, hell yes, with Willie Cauley-Stein to the Celtics at No. 8 and James Young joining Marcus Smart in Orlando at No. 15.
You can give it a try here.
Who knew DeMarcus Cousins had his own sushi roll?
If you vote for DeMarcus Cousins on the NBA All-Star ballot, which you should do, you get 50% off the DMC roll at Mikuni in Sacramento. I just want to know when DeMarcus got his own sushi roll. It looks good.
Stop by the official UK alumni pregame/postgame party in Nashville.
Big Blue Nation will be gathering at Corner Pub in Nashville prior to Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt and the party won’t stop until well after Kentucky’s inevitable win. Doors open up at 10:30 a.m. and there will be plenty of food and drink specials to get you feeling good before, during, and after the basketball game.
Mrs. Tyler will be in the house alongside the 247 Sports team. Got questions for national recruiting analysts Jerry Meyer and Barton Simmons? They’ll be there, too.
That’ll do it for now, friends. Arizona just won at UCLA. The other Wildcats, the undefeated ones, are really good.
This morning we shared a letter to the editor of the Herald-Leader from a fan who isn’t too fond of Willie Cauley-Stein’s unique style. When Willie was made available to the media Thursday afternoon, the Herald-Leader’s Jerry Tipton asked him about his hair and why he decided to go back to its natural look. Because, of course he asked that.
Willie told Tipton, “A new year, Jerry. A new year and a new look. You got to start the new year off right.”
So there ya go. Tipton gets to the bottom of a story once again.
The 10th-ranked Kentucky women’s basketball team lost its second game in a row in a loss to No. 11 South Carolina in Columbia tonight. Matthew Mitchell called the road game his team’s “annual trip to the dentist office, its yearly root canal” during yesterday’s press conference and that’s exactly how it turned out. The Cats gave up an early lead with four minutes left in the first half and South Carolina never looked back, rolling on to win, 68-59.
UK falls to 13-3 on the season and 1-2 in conference play. The next game will be in Memorial Coliseum on Sunday against Missouri. Tip-off is set for 5:00 p.m. and you’re invited.
They’ll bounce back. Go Hoops.
It would’ve been impossible for Dominique Hawkins to be any more wide open than he was on several possessions in last night’s game. Mississippi State dropped back and completely quit guarding him on the perimeter. He probably had tougher looks in pre-game warm-ups. But Dominique never pulled the trigger, despite desperate cries from the Rupp Arena to SHOOOTTTTT.
Coach Cal was asked about that unwillingness to fire during today’s pre-Vanderbilt press conference and he said Hawkins needs to work on his shooting because they need him to take those occasionally.
“Well he is a good enough shooter, but he knows that’s not his deal. He is going to have to get in the gym more because he is going to have to take some of those shots. The other thing he may have to do is we may have to cut him to the basket. The nice place to stand him may be pass it to the post, cut under the basket and stand right under that goal and then throw it right to him. He can dunk it. So you can do different things if you’re not playing him. I’ve had players like that before. I’m not even worried about that. You keep that energy on, you keep defending.”
Willie Cauley-Stein chimed in, too:
Personally, I think he should have shot way more. If they’re going to sag off of you, you may as well shoot it and let us rebound it if you’re worried about missing. In practice, he’s been hitting it. So if you’ve been hitting it in practice, then I would shoot it. I don’t know. He hits it in practice. I really don’t know why he didn’t shoot it unless Coach said for him not to, but I don’t think Coach would do that.”
When asked about it on Thursday, Hawkins said he can hear the crowd (of course he can, parking lot security can) but he ignores it because he’s out there to run offensive plays, not be a three-point shooter. He admitted to being tempted the first couple times the crowd yelled at him, but he let it go and kept running the offense.
“It’s really weird. It’s different,” he added. “I’ve never had people sag off me like you said in high school. I just gotta prove that I can shoot the ball so they won’t sag off me anymore.”
But seriously, Dominique, shoot that. You got it.
We were beginning to wonder if we’d ever hear from Pat Forde about the Bobby Petrino hire at Louisville, ya know, since he blasted Petrino back in 2007. Would Forde run and hide this week to avoid being critical of his favorite university? Or would he own up to what he wrote before and question the hire?
The latter won out, surprisingly. Forde wasn’t shy about reminding everyone of his 2007 piece on the “disingenuous drifter” — he linked to it today, calling it one of the meanest columns he’s ever written — and he said he’s not ready to buy into Petrino being a changed man.
“For now, those words are cheap,” he wrote.
Forde followed that up with a Q&A session he had with Petrino following today’s press conference, and to Forde’s credit, he didn’t shy away from asking legit questions, not the softball’s tossed up to Petrino at the podium.
I suppose he’ll wait a year or two before he starts wearing his Louisville football foam finger again.
“We are scheduled for our annual visit to the dentist’s office. Our yearly root canal over in Columbia.” This is how Coach Matthew Mitchell opened up his pre-game press conference yesterday in regards to the yearly game against South Carolina. The Gamecocks are Kentucky’s permanent opponents in the SEC, and they are the only team that the Cats play at home and on the road each and every year. The series between the two teams has become one of the top match-ups each year in the conference, as both teams have been ultra-competitive and have made waves both in the league and nationally.
This year looks to be more of the same. 9th ranked Kentucky (13-2, 1-1 SEC) is coming off of a disappointing home loss to upstart Florida, while 10th ranked South Carolina (14-1, 2-0 SEC) is continuing to ride the huge roll of success Coach Dawn Staley has brought to the Gamecocks. A program with almost no prolific history in women’s basketball until Staley’s arrival, USC is no a mainstay in the top 15 of the polls and a pick to go far into March. How have they done it? One word: defense. When you get ready for a game against Carolina, you’re preparing for an ugly, grind it out affair that will most likely be decided in the 60′s, or less. The teams split last year’s games, with USC winning in Columbia, and Kentucky overcoming a 16 point deficit in Lexington to win by four. These teams are always hungry to beat one another, and with Kentucky trying to avoid a 1-2 start in conference play, look for Mitchell to light a fire under his team this evening. No TV tonight, but tune in on http://www.gamecocksonline.com/allaccess/
#9 Kentucky Wildcats vs #10 South Carolina Gamecocks
FINAL KENTUCKY 59 SOUTH CAROLINA 68 Sadly, the Cats could not overcome a brutal ending to the first half and terrible start to the second half and fell hard in Columbia tonight. UK is now 13-3 on the year and a disappointing 1-2 in conference play. Kentucky’s offensive woes continued tonight, as there was absolutely no consistency from the girl’s in blue.
2nd Half 3:54: Kentucky has finally been able to knock down some shots, and has taken all the momentum away from the Gamecocks, but it might be too little, too late. The Cats have had some opportunities to cut the lead down even farther, but the Cocks have controlled the rebounds in the paint, and free throw shooting continues to shoot UK in the foot. South Carolina leads 58-49.
2nd Half 7:45: This one’s ugly guys. Kentucky absolutely cannot get anything to fall from the field. The Cats are shooting 19% from the field, the Gamecocks have 12 blocks, and UK is now facing it’s largest deficit of the entire season. Not quite sure what else to say about this one, USC is winning 54-37.
2nd Half 15:34: The Cats are trying to claw back into this one, but some unlucky rolls and contained intensity from the Gamecocks have hurt UK early in this first half. Kentucky is making a concerted effort to get Stallworth more involved in the game, but nothing from the Wildcats is falling. Carolina leads by 15.
HALFTIME KENTUCKY 24 SOUTH CAROLINA 34 That was an ugly finish for Kentucky. After the Cats cut the lead to three points at 25-22, the Gamecocks went on a 7-0 run in less than a minute spurred by a 3-pointer and UK turnovers. Mitchell quickly and angrily called a timeout, and was not happy about the decision making from the Wildcats on offense. There was no movement, no passing, and a complete lack of execution. The Cats will need to regain their intensity on defense, force some turnovers, and move the basketball, if not…UK will be under .500 in the SEC. Kentucky is shooting an abysmal 26.7% from the field and is being out-rebounded 24-19 by the Cocks.
1st Half 3:55: The Cats have gone stagnant on offense. USC has used a mixed offensive attack with solid guard play and some lucky shots inside to chip away at Kentucky and eventually take the lead. The Cats are relying too much on Jennifer O’Neill to create her own shot (which she usually misses) instead of moving the ball in and around the arc on offense. When O’Neill has the ball in her hand the majority of the time, the Cats lose. South Carolina has taken the lead 22-18.
1st Half 7:52: Well, that early composure that Kentucky had on offense has transformed into some careless turnovers by the Wildcats and the Gamecocks have taken advantage. It’s going to be a back-and-forth affair, as both team’s realize the importance of this game early in the conference season. The SEC is stacked, and all teams are going to take some turns beating each other up. Bishop leads the way for UK with five points followed by four for Stallworth. Kentucky leads 16-15.
1st Half 11:59: After building a nine point lead against Florida with about 10 minutes left in the game on Sunday, Kentucky only made one field goal the rest of the game. Offense was brutal to watch. Tonight, the Cats have been focused and on a mission offensively. They look very poised in a tough road environment, and it seems like a hard few days of practice have made all the impact for UK. Dealing without Stallworth all of this time, the Cats have had to rely heavily on Azia Bishop, who is known for inconsistent play. Bishop will have one game with double-figures and dominating play, and then follow that up with a heinous performance like she had against Florida, with just two points. Mitchell said one problem with Bishop is that she avoids contact in the paint, opposed to the elite players in the SEC who draw the contact. Early tonight, it seems Bishop has taken that to heart as she is not afraid of banging around in the post, a quality Kentucky dearly needs from her. UK still looking good and winning 13-9.
1st Half 15:34: Early turnovers from the Gamecocks have been gifts to Kentucky. The Cats look active, focused and energetic on defense, and they’re going back to their pressure D roots to take the early lead. Mitchell has to be pleased with how UK has come out early after a lifeless loss a few days ago. Stallworth got the start tonight, so it’s safe to say she is back to prime form following her surgery. Her movement is fluid, and the senior already has four quick points in the paint. Cats lead early 10-4.
Tipoff: Cats win the tip, let’s do this. Gonna be a physical, gritty game.
10 Minutes till Tip: The Cats look to get more minutes from DeNesha Stallworth tonight. The senior who was sidelined for a month after knee surgery in December made her first appearance back on the court Sunday afternoon playing just seven minutes, but Coach Mitchell said she is extremely anxious to return and had a monster past few days of practice. Kentucky will need the depth inside as USC brings one of the biggest front court lineups in the conference. The Gamecocks also lead the league in field goal percentage, which means most of the shots they take and make are inside the 3-point arc. Key to tonight’s game? Mitchell says “The key: Can we keep that strength about us, and can we really hustle and try to outhustle South Carolina?” UK failed to do that against Florida on Sunday, so look for a focused Wildcats team tonight.
It’s a new year, which means it’s time to stock up on some new gear and take advantage of some great deals at TheKSRShop.com!
Did Santa not bring you want you wanted? Check out our new arrivals, including a wide assortment of tees, hats, sweats, and merchandise. Also in stock: The Sixth Man DVD and Season Never Ends 2014 calendar!
This year, make it your resolution to shop smart and stay ahead of the trends with TheKSRShop.com!
We’re halfway through the season, which is as good a time as any to dole out some recaps and awards, right? CBS Sports thinks so, which is fine with us, as long as it includes Kentucky. Spoiler alert: it does.
First up: top conference games. Kentucky makes the list twice, both times against Florida, as the Gators and Wildcats are the only nationally competitive teams in the SEC this year.
5. Kentucky at Florida (March 8): The SEC is struggling again this season, but these two teams should be the favorites heading down the stretch.
21. Florida at Kentucky (Feb. 15): The first game between the SEC favorites. It will be interesting to see the development of Kentucky’s young players.
Finally, Mid-Season awards. Officially, these mean nothing. By definition, the season is only half over, and there’s still a lot of basketball left to play. A lot could change between now and the end of the season, but as it stands right now, Kentucky’s in okay position.
The first award goes to Julius Randle, as a unanimous All-American. All six voters listed him as their fourth option for an All-American spot, behind Marcus Smart, Jabari Parker, and Doug McDermott. Unfortunately, he didn’t get any love for Freshman of the Year, as Parker hoarded all those votes.
Second, while nobody picked the Cats for National Champions, we did get in the Final Four on 33% of the ballots. Doug Gottlieb and Gary Parrish both have UK in their Final Four, while the single Oklahoma State pick was from… surprisingly not Doug Gottlieb.
Kentucky didn’t make anyone’s “Surprise” list, which is good, considering we also didn’t make anyone’s “disappointing” list. Gotta take the good with the bad.
So now that we’ve done okay in the mid-season awards, how do you think Kentucky will fare at the end of the season? Better? Worse? Is this a Kentucky team on the rise, or have we seen our peak already?
You’re looking at one of the many great shots from last night’s game, courtesy of the Cats Pause’s Darrell Bird. Bird captured some great moments from the Cats’ 85-63 win over the Bulldogs. Be sure to head on over to check out all the pictures, and talk about the game on the Cats Pause message board.
Bad news for one of the most promising Cats in the league: the Phoenix Suns just announced that Eric Bledsoe will need knee surgery and will be out indefinitely.
Sources tell ESPN that Bledsoe will undergo a procedure to repair cartilage in his right knee after suffering meniscus damage during the Suns’ game against the Clippers back on December 30. He hasn’t played since.
This season, Bledsoe has been one of the most improved players in the league, averaging 18 points (up from 8.5 last season), 5.8 assists, and 4.3 rebounds per game, flourishing in his role as a full-time starter in Phoenix. Hopefully the injury isn’t too bad and he’s back on the court soon.
Dominique Hawkins is already a fan favorite for many reasons–his Kentucky roots, his relentless energy and work ethic, that megawatt smile–but one of the things I love most about him is how much he appreciates the uniform he wears. Dominique’ journey to UK is special and has been documented many times, but when you realize just how far he and his family have come, it’s downright heartwarming.
Special thanks to KSR reader Susan, who sent me an article from the Summer 2013 edition of “Hometown News,” a newsletter for Home of the Innocents, a private, non-profit organization in Louisville that helps children and teens who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected. Dominique’s mother, Denise, went to the Home of the Innocents when she was pregnant at age 15 with Dominique after being raised by an abusive stepfather. Denise took part in a Pregnant and Parenting Teen program there while she continued to go to school. Once Dominique was born, the two moved back to her mother’s home in Richmond, where Denise went to Job Corps to get her GED and complete a Certified Nursing Assistant program. Her mother stayed home to take care of Dominique while she worked at a local nursing home.
Hometown News’ Meredith Pack writes this about the bond between Denise and Dominique, and what getting a scholarship from UK meant to the family:
Denise and Dominique have shared many joys in their life together, including welcoming four other children into the family. Their latest celebration was Dominique committing to attend the University of Kentucky and play on the basketball team beginning in the fall of 2013. “When he was five, he said wanted to play basketball. Every year we would ask what he wanted to do when he grew up and he would always say he wanted to be an NBA star. I made sure he stayed involved and he had a goal every time he moved up to a new team. In middle school, his AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) coach helped him toward becoming Mr. Basketball. Now he’s reached his next dream of being on the UK team. I’ve always been there for him and backed him up.”
Willie Cauley-Stein admitted to reporters today that he had no idea who Dominique was coming in, but he’s proved that he’s invaluable to the team:
“I didn’t know who he was coming in. I honestly couldn’t tell you what he looked like, what his last name was coming in. But he can hoop. I love him to death too. He’s a great guy and he can hoop. If he can keep on hooping like that, we’re going to be all right.”
Dominique said that he still receives texts from friends and family back in Richmond about his new life as a Wildcat, which keeps him humble:
“It calmed down a little bit but still people are talking to me and texting me saying it’s crazy for me, I’m getting all this playing time and stuff like that. I’m just blessed to be able to be on the team and get the playing time that I’m getting.”
How can you not root for this kid?
Check out who’s hanging out together today at WKYT: our own Matt Jones and Herald-Leader reporter Jerry Tipton.
In the midst of the Bobby Petrino mayhem this morning, KSR was blessed with an appearance by offensive coordinator Neal Brown.
On quarterbacks… After a season of uncertainty at the offense’s most important position, Brown is ready to get the Spring season rolling to see who is ready to step in and fill the important role, “We’re gonna have a competition, it won’t get dragged out as long as the one last year. …We want to make a decision and go with it.” Coach Brown liked what he saw from Drew Barker in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, “He’s been prepared for this, the opportunity to compete…He’s going to have to beat some other guys out, but he has the tools, which I think we saw Saturday [in the All-American game].”
The fan-base is excited to see what Drew can do for the Big Blue, but he likes the progression of the redshirts, Pat Towles and Reese Phillips, and the experience Jalen Whitlow brings to the table. Some fans are curious whether the staff might move Jalen if he does not win the job but, “we have not even thought about or discussed (it),” simply because he has taken more starting reps than any other QB on the roster. Max Smith did put a hitch in the QB battle yesterday when UK announced that shoulder surgery would keep him out of Spring ball. Coach Brown did not go into specifics, but said that it happened during the Georgia game and Max had to fight through the pain to finish the year.
Speaking of injuries… Coach Stoops often describes players without serious injuries as being ‘banged up’ but what does that exactly mean? Today we learned just how extensive ‘banged up’ can be. Brown said today that the team’s leading rusher, Jojo Kemp, and leading receiver, Javess Blue, both spent the end of the season fighting through injuries that required surgery. It comes as no surprise to me; the week after the season ended, it appeared that 1 of every 3 players on campus was on crutches. Brown expects Blue to have a HUGE year in 2014.
On players returning… The one good thing about playing a ton of young guys, is that they’re all coming back next year. The only position Brown doesn’t have a ton of guys coming back is at tight end. At running back, Brown has a loaded deck; Josh Clemons should be cleared to participate 100% in the coming weeks, Jojo Kemp will be healthy and experienced, Braylon Heard is anxious to get in the game, but what was most telling were his remarks about incoming freshmen Mikel Horton, “I think he’s as good of a big running back as any other in the country. He improved as much from his Junior year to his Senior year in camp, as anyone I’ve seen.” For 235 pounds, Horton is very agile and catches well out of the backfield. At last week’s Semper Fi All-Star game in California, top performers were picked each day; Horton was on his team’s list everyday.
The quote of the day: What does Neal Brown think about Bobby Petrino to Louisville?
“I don’t really pay a whole lot of attention to what’s going on over there.”
Don’t miss Coach Brown’s pep talk to the #BBN in the final five minutes from today’s podcast. Listen to Neal Brown on Kentucky Sports Radio.