Part two in an eight part series previewing the 2014 Kentucky Football Wildcats. Cats hope →
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It’s been a long week for those of us who work in the capital of our fine Commonwealth, but we here at KSR are on team no sleep–time for your news and views.
Tonight’s post is being brought to you by the fabulous, hard-working
nerds people… of Funkhouser, KSR’s answer to Bill Simmons (take that Sports Guy.) This Sunday night, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will be hosting the 2014 Golden Globe Awards on NBC, and Kentucky Sports Radio will be blogging it live. We apologize in advance for any wardrobe malfunctions that occur on the Live Blog. Hide your kids, hide your wi-fi.
The guys of Funkhouser, along with me, the resident girl, follow television, film, and celebrity while ignoring our careers and loved ones, so it will make for a good time for pop culture enthusiasts or curious passersby. And it will most certainly be ridiculous.
If you want to comment “it’s not UK sports grumble grumble” that’s perfectly fine. Keeping it current, unique, and most importantly fun is what we strive for here at KSR, but we won’t make you watch the Golden Globes against your will. Now the SAG Awards? That’s a different story. The Screen Actors Guild runs the world.
On to the sports news:
- Vanderbilt has 7 scholarship players
Kentucky travels to Vanderbilt tomorrow to take on a depleted Commodore team, with yes, only seven scholarship players. The latest blow for the ‘Dores is the upgrade of the indefinite suspension of starting point guard and leading scorer, Eric McClellan to a definite suspension–the entirety of the spring semester.While the Commodores may not be the kind of team (a frustrating one…) we’re used to seeing under Kevin Stallings, the Memorial Gym effect–its atmosphere and surreal setup, cannot be discounted, especially with our usual band of merry freshman.
Yet what worries me most has to be Vanderbilt’s stellar promotional efforts per their website:
Replicas of Memorial Gym will be given away to the first 1,500 fans wearing Black and Gold and to the first 500 students. NCAA Rally Towels will also be given away. At halftime, the Vanderbilt baseball team will be signing autographs in the practice gym, and the Russian Bar Trio, which was featured on America’s Got Talent, will perform on the main floor at the half.
And don’t forget about the chance to compete for a Barnes and Noble gift card or a Princeton Review test prep course!! Kevin Harlan and Greg Anthony have decided to refrain from calling the game, and instead have enrolled at Vanderbilt for a shot at that Barnes and Noble giftcard. Who can blame them, have you seen the Nook?
- Kevin Stallings thinks this Kentucky team is talented
I know, I was shocked too. In his pregame press conference, Stallings said he thinks this team is better than the NIT squad of last season, “I would say that as opposed to their team last year, this team is much more physical, it’s bigger, longer and more athletic.”
- Eric Bledsoe’s surgery went well
Sidelined with a damaged meniscus in his right knee, Bledsoe underwent surgery to repair the damage, and there is hope he may return this season.
Bledsoe will immediately begin a recovery and rehabilitation program and will pursue a possible return to action during the second half of this NBA season.
This is great news for the former Cat who has been averaging 18 points, nearly 6 assists, and 4 rebounds at the point for the 21-13 Suns.
– The third best center of the 2015 class is interested in the Cats
Luke Hiers, teammate of commit Marcus Walker, is high on the Cats. Hiers has cut his list to 12 schools: Kentucky, Nebraska, Mississippi State, South Florida, N.C. State, Duke, LSU, Alabama, Arkansas, UMass, Miami and Florida State. That’s a lot of schools, but Hiers hopes to visit Lexington this spring. Yahtzee?
- How to entertain yourself until tipoff
North Carolina at Syracuse, Noon ET ESPN
The ever confusing Tar Heels just dropped their second-straight ACC loss at home against Miami to go to 0-2 in ACC play. It’s their fifth loss to an unranked opponent. But they’ve also beaten Michigan State, Louisville, and some other ranked team that shall not be mentioned..
I’m interested to see how the Heels fare at #2 Syracuse in the Carrier Dome tomorrow. At this point, Kentucky’s “good” losses aren’t looking quite as good, but perhaps a big win against Boheim’s Orange is in the works for an erratic North Carolina squad. Who really knows with this team?
Florida at Arkansas, 1 ET, ESPN2
If you’re into channel surfing, this SEC matchup featuring the #10 Gators and Hogs in Fayetteville may interest you as well. The Gators have wins against Kansas and Memphis, but have dropped their two true road games against quality opponents. Arkansas may not be quality, but it could be another good measuring stick for the team currently holding the top spot in the conference. And our boys in blue travel to Arkansas to take on the Hogs next week. Time to get to scouting.
- Check out the UK pregame/postgame party in Nashville
If you’re a transplant of the Big Blue Nation, or traveling to Music City for tomorrow’s game, head to Corner Pub Midtown before making your way to Memorial.
Doors open at 10:30 in the a.m. I can assure you when KSR (+247 Sports) does Nashville–it’s a guaranteed good time.
And Vandy is having a bad week with Franklin going to Penn State.. let’s rub it in shall we?
The #21 Kentucky Gymnastics team claimed the victory in their season opening “Excite Night” against West Virginia, Ball State, and Penn State tonight in Memorial Coliseum. The Cats finished the meet with a score of 195.00, as opposed to Penn State’s score of 194.050, WVU’s 193.700, and Ball State’s 190.950.
The Cats, per usual for home meets, competed in the Olympic rotation starting with vault with a line-up of Holly Cunningham, Audrey Harrison, Kayla Hartley, Kenzie Hedges, Shelby Hilton, and Shannon Mitchell. Holly Cunningham kicked them off with a 9.8, Hedges vaulted a nice 9.775, while Shannon Mitchell and Audrey Harrison posted a 9.725 and 9.7 respectively. Junior Shelby Hilton rounded out the rotation with a respectable 9.6.
From there, Kentucky competed on the bars. Amy Roemmele lead the way with a career best 9.825, and redshirt junior Kayla Hartley gave the Cats a solid 9.8. Montana Whittle contributed a 9.775, and all-around competitor Audrey Harrison scored a 9.7. Kayla Sienkowski finished with a 9.675.
Audrey Harrison tied her career high on balance beam tonight with a 9.850, while Shannon Mitchell and Shelby Hilton both gave the Cats a solid 9.750. Sienkowski and Cunningham finished the rotation with a 9.675 and 9.650 respectively.
Finally, Kentucky got to display their crowd pleasing floor routines during the last rotation. Kayla Hartley contributed a 9.775, Harrison claimed a spectacular 9.825, and Hedges, Hilton, and Mitchell all scored a 9.750.
Senior Audrey Harrison, who lead the SEC with six all-around victories last season, claimed her first all-around title of the year with an average of 39.075. She also claimed the beam and floor individual titles.
Kentucky’s Individual Scores:
The Cats will take the floor again next Saturday at 7 pm in a neutral site competition in Audrey Harrison’s hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee for the Ozone Invite. Just to remind you of how tough the SEC is in gymnastics, the conference has won eight of the last nine national titles, including the last three.
It was a great way to kick off what is sure to be a tough schedule for the Wildcats. I am excited to see how far they progress in the coming months, especially coming off their record-shattering season last year.
Follow me on Twitter? @JC_KSR
Memorial Gymnasium. A relic of the past barely functioning these days as a makeshift basketball gym. It’s one of the weirdest places to play basketball in all of the nation and tomorrow the Cats will take a young team into a hostile environment for just the second time this year. The question is how will the Cats react when they take the floor in Nashville.
It was six years ago when Billy Clyde took his team to Memorial for the first time and the results were disasterous. The ‘Dores jumped out to a 41-11 halftime lead as they completely dominated the Cats on both ends of the floor. One reason was the offense being played on the opposite end of the floor from the coach another was Billy G just being plain awful. UK suffered their worst loss in SEC history in Memorial.
The Cats should have little trouble on the road tomorrow as Vandy is completely overmatched at every position. However the odd set up can always create some problems. Hopefully the environment will get them ready as they move on to tougher crowds at Arkansas, LSU, and Missouri in the near future.
Do you think the arena will be a factor in tomorrow’s game?
So we’re about halfway through the college basketball season, and it’s time to check in and see how our super hyped freshman class is doing. What started off looking like one of the most talented classes ever, has revealed itself to be a deep class, but a class that feels very young. Most of the phenom’s are quite clearly still freshmen, but the potential is there. With that said, let’s check in on how the ‘top five’ have looked through today.
What they said: You heard it from us, and you heard it from everyone. Clear cut number one pick, the best high school prospect since LeBron.
What they’re saying now: Tyler Conway from Bleacher Report sums it up pretty well “There are moments where you can see it. The first two wide-eyed dribbles in transition where he sees a helpless defender about to get posterized. Those fleeting moments where his jumper loses its inconsistent hitch and suddenly he feels empowered to take over a game… Then again, there are just as many times you want to ask for a refund for the Hype Check you cashed this preseason.”
Best game: Wiggins best game came against Florida, tallying his first career double double with 26 points and 11 rebounds. It wasn’t enough though, as the Jayhawks fell to the Gators 61-67.
Worst game: He has gone 2-9 twice – once scoring only 6 points in 34 minutes against UTEP, and most recently scoring 9 in 29 against Oklahoma. That said, Kansas won both of those games.
Parting shots: Look, he’s talented. Is he KD? Clearly not. But he’s no Shabazz either. People had doubts about Self’s ability to motivate and utilize freshmen, and some of those doubts are coming to fruition. Wiggins is still a dynamite prospect, but he’s a lot further from a franchise player – both physically and mentally – than we all thought.
What they said: Embiid is that one guy who didn’t start playing basketball until a few years ago, but has shown unlimited potential. Surely you’ve heard about him by now. Early on he got some pre-season hype (was on the wooden watch list), but was overshadowed by Wiggins.
What they’re saying now: Thanks to his upside, he is a dark horse candidate for the number one pick come June.
Best game: Embiid’s best game would probably be against San Diego State. While he was in foul trouble most of the game and only played 26 minutes total, he finished with 12 points on 6-7 shooting and 12 boards.
Worst game: His second. Against Duke, he only managed 2 points, but pulled down 7 boards.
Parting shots: Embiid benefits from Wiggin’s lack of fulfilling expectations. He’s got ‘the look’, and while his numbers don’t wow you, NBA scouts say he has the hand eye coordination and athleticism to be the best prospect in the class. If Wiggin’s were further along, Embiid wouldn’t be getting the hype that he gets now… but as is, he is becoming the NBA’s favorite Jayhawk one post move at a time.
What they said: Headed in to the season, Wiggins was clearly number one, and Randle clearly number two (with a few analysts thinking he might take Wiggins spot by the end of the season).
What they’re saying now: He’s slipping on the draft board, but still looks to be a top 5 lock, save for a few projections with the lottery.
Best game: There’s a bunch of great double double’s to pick from, but the best was against Belmont when Julius went for 29 and 10 in 28 minutes. That’s more points than minutes, y’all.
Worst game: There haven’t been many – Randle is consistently productive. That said, his quietest game was probably his last against Mississippi State, when he only managed 8 points – but still pulled down 14 boards.
Parting shots: Consistency can be a curse. On the BS Report, both Simmons and Jalen Rose said they believe Randle could be the best rookie pro next year – he’s the kind of guy that you know will get you 20/12 every night. Unfortunately for Julius, NBA scouts are starting to doubt his upside. It’s silly, but sometimes being the most consistent player on one of the most talented teams can be a disadvantage, I guess.
What they said: Headed in to the season, Jabari was coming off an injury, so he wasn’t talked about on the same tier that Wiggins and Randle were. Considered the universal third best prospect wasn’t too shabby though.
What they’re saying now: Jabari supplanted Randle in the discussion of overall number one pick, despite a recent slump.
Best game: Jabari has had a number of great games, but his best might have been against Vermont, when he went 11-16 for 26 points and pulled down 9 boards.
Worst game: Notre Dame zoned the Blue Devils and made Parker less than effective, and it resulted in him being benched for the end of the game. He finished with 7 points and 4 boards on 2-10 shooting.
Parting shots: Parker has been the most statistically dominant of all the freshmen, averaging just shy of 20 points a game. He’s currently going through a freshman slump that we’ve become pretty familiar with here at Kentucky. How he handles it – and how Coach K handles it – will say a lot when we get to draft day.
What they said: He was considered a lottery pick, in the mold of Blake Griffin. Outstanding athleticism, and a passable rest of his game.
What they’re saying now: Draft Express currently has Gordon at 7, just a few spots ahead of Willie Cauley-Stein.
Best game: Just two games ago against Washington, Gordon had 18 points and 11 boards and only had 1 foul in 35 minutes.
Worst game: In 31 minutes, he only tallied 3 points and 8 boards against UNLV.
Parting shots: Gordon hasn’t been asked to play as big a role on his team as the other freshmen have – and it shows. He’s afforded the luxury of not being the focus of an offense, and has been more efficient because of it. Gordon is probably right where he needs to be in draft discussions.
After dispatching the pesky Bulldogs of Mississippi State, John Calipari and his young team now must turn their focus toward a road contest with Kevin Stallings’ Vanderbilt Commodores. It was a tale of two halves on Wednesday. The first half left fans pulling out their hair and questioning humanity as the Cats were still struggling with the same problems that plagued them pre-Camp Cal. However, the second half blitz on the Bulldogs showed a potential glimpse of what this team can become capable of in the distant future. At least to the players and coaches, the team’s potential ability in the distant future isn’t as important as the immediate future against Vanderbilt. However, as fans, we’re free to speculate on any number of ridiculous things, like how this team would perform against the ’96 Bulls for example. Because of this, I decided to make hypothetical lines against the top-25 using Ken Pomeroy’s current data and a formula I’ve developed to predict NFL games.
A formula to predict the NFL applied to NCAA basketball games? That’ll never work, you scream emphatically! Don’t be so sure about that. The only items you need to predict scores in any league are team efficiency totals along with tempo averages. Once you have those, in addition to league averages, you can make fairly accurate predictions. Since Pomeroy’s site is generally considered to be the most accurate and has all of the necessary data, I decided to use it in the predictions. While his site already offers predictions on future games, he only considers the games that are currently on a team’s schedule. Since my formula will predict a score within a few points of his (for instance, he predicts a 75-72 victory over Missouri in Columbia while I predict a 74-71 win), I think this is a fair representation of where Kentucky currently stands. Below, you’ll see how the Cats would be predicted to perform against the AP top-25 in a variety of locations. Kentucky’s score is listed first in every single prediction. Since the Cats are listed in the top-25 and obviously can’t play themselves, I dropped them and added the 26th ranked team.
First and foremost, Kentucky would be favored at home against any team in the AP top-25 according to Pomeroy’s data and my formula – even against undefeated teams like Arizona, Syracuse, and Wisconsin. This is a testament to the power of home court advantage. However, on the road, Kentucky would only be favored in three contests – against Missouri, Illinois, and Kansas State. This is a testament to Kentucky’s current ranking in Pomeroy’s system and home court advantage. While it’s interesting to know how Kentucky would be predicted to fare at home and on the road against the top-25, the only way we can play a vast majority of these opponents is in the NCAA Tournament. This is where the last three columns come in handy.
At a true neutral site, Cal’s squad would be favored against thirteen opponents in the current AP top-25, which, considering the way things have gone this season, isn’t too bad. While twelve of the top-25 would be favored against the Cats on a neutral floor, seven of those opponents would only be favored by a single point – meaning the prediction is a virtual tossup. Ohio State, despite not being the top team, would be favored by four over Kentucky due to their suffocating defense. Arizona, Syracuse, and Wisconsin would all be favored by three at a neutral site while Villanova would be favored by two. Of course, sometimes in the NCAA tournament you get lucky and play in a semi-home arena – much like Kentucky did during 2012′s tournament run when they started in Louisville. But sometimes you draw the short stick and have to play in a semi-road environment where the opponent is closer to home and dominates the crowd. The final two columns predict those scores. If the Cats were unfortunate enough to get a semi-away draw they would only be favored in nine contests. But, if fortune favors the Cats in the tournament and we draw a semi-home site, we would be favored in twenty-one match-ups.
These predictions aren’t perfect – no predictions are – but they do give a solid indication of where Kentucky currently stands. Personally, I believe that 15th in the rankings is about right for Kentucky at the present time, but there are some teams ahead of us that I disagree with wholeheartedly (cough, Louisville, cough). Remember that these predictions are based off what the teams have done so far and not off any other factor. While the season hasn’t been perfect for Kentucky thus far, there’s still ample time to improve and increase the odds against every team in the field.
This season, UK Men’s Basketball has taken the term “second half team” to a new level. However, is that something fans should worry about?
Fans were left less than satisfied Wednesday with the lack of aggressiveness from the starting five as the Cats took on Mississippi State. Since Mississippi State is 10th in the SEC, many fans expected the Cats would dominate the Bulldogs the entire game. However, as you know, the Cats fell behind early and took 12 minutes before they tied the game and then took the lead.
Throughout the entire season, the Cats have had issues starting games strong. Here are flow charts from the past four games to prove that:
Although the first half slump has been part of all the games this season, many hoped the 13 days of Camp Cal would fix that issue.
One thing that has been consistent with the team this year; their short-term memory loss. The team seemed to forget about their losses quickly by not letting them affect their performances in the games they had ahead of them, which is great and something a good team should be able to do. However, the memory loss hurts them as well, since they cannot seem to remember what they learned at Camp Cal.
Even Cal said, “We were really rusty. When you watch the tape it is amazing how they revert back.”
A lot of the rustiness could account for the 10 day break in the schedule, as well.
Energy and aggressiveness are key components to defeating teams as the Cats get deeper into SEC play. Every team Kentucky has faced this season has opened with energy Kentucky has been unable to find out of the gate, and this has left Cal worried.
“This is every game now, and it’s the same reason. They out run us, they out work us, they’re more alert to play then we are. And then we kinda kick it in,” he said. “I told them after the game, [do this] against a really good team, and you’ll be down by 20 and you’re not coming back”
Not to worry, however. There are plenty of things that will help the team with their first half woes.
For one, the Cats have a history of playing rusty after a break in the schedule. Lucky for them, their breaks are over for the rest of the season. The upcoming schedule pace should help the Cats stay on track as they progress as a team.
While the scheduling might be out of Cal’s control, there are a couple of things he plans on doing to help make the team better out of the gate.
At his pre-Vanderbilt press conference, Cal said he was thinking about starting different people who understand what he expects from his players. He also stated he was happy with the performance with his bench players more so than the starters.
In his weekly call-in show, Cal said team members need to start thinking differently. Throughout the season the players have been selfish by trying to run down the clock and shooting the ball when they feel most comfortable. Calipari is hoping that by changing that mindset, he will be able to fix the opening jitters.
“My challenge to them now is you’ve gotta think different. When you have the ball think pass and you think score when you don’t have the ball,” he said.
Much of the team’s roster has come from schools where they did not have the talent to pass to, which explains where this bad habit came from. While bad habits might be hard to break, if anyone can break them….it would be Cal.
While it might seem a bit like nit-picking, it is the small technical things like this which divide National Championship teams from all the rest. These small things will help the Cats come out of the gate strong and help them be able to play a full 40 minutes of ball.
Looking for something to do Saturday night? Two of UK’s 2014 signees, Trey Lyles and Tyler Ulis, will be playing in the Mustang Madness National Invitational at McCracken County High School in Paducah this weekend, and on Saturday night, their games are back-to-back. Several other UK recruits are also on the docket. Here’s a complete schedule, with notable recruits highlighted:
(All times Central)
Session 2: Friday, January 10
5 p.m. — Curie, Ill. vs. Villa Angela St. Joseph, Ohio (Cliff Alexander [Kansas] vs. Carlton Bragg)
6:30 p.m. — Prime Prep, Texas vs Sunrise Christian Academy, Kan. (Emmanuel Mudiay [SMU])
8 p.m. — The Carlisle School, Va. vs. Our Savior New American, N.Y. (Thon Maker vs. Cheick Diallo)
9:30 p.m. — St. Mary vs. Orr, Ill.
Session 3: Saturday, January 11
9 a.m. — Marshall Co. vs. Goreville, Ill. (Girls)
10:30 a.m. — McCracken Co. vs. Massac, Ill. (Girls)
Noon — Marshall Co. vs. Massac, Ill.
1:30 p.m. — Murray vs. Graves Co. (Girls)
3 p.m. — McCracken Co. vs. Holmes (James Bolden)
Session 4: Saturday, January 11
4:30 p.m. — Quality Education, N.C. vs. Evangelical Christian, Tenn.
6 p.m. — The Carlisle School, Va. vs. Sunrise Christian Academy, Kan. (Thon Maker)
7:30 p.m. — Arsenal Tech, Ind. vs. Villa Angela St. Joseph, Ohio (Trey Lyles [UK] vs. Carlton Bragg)
9 p.m. — Lausanne Collegiate, Tenn. vs. Marion Catholic, Ill. (Tyler Ulis [UK])
There is also a “Fan Jam” on Saturday, in which fans can meet players various teams. Ulis’ Marian Catholic and Lyles’ Arsenal Tech will participate, at 10 and 11 a.m., respectively.
Tickets for each session are $10 and $5 for the Fan Jam. Can’t make it? We will stream Lyles and Ulis’ games on KSR Saturday night, so tell your friends.
The United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s (USTFCCCA) 2014 Women’s Bowerman Preseason watch list was released yesterday. This award is the Heisman Trophy of track and field. Dezerea Bryant was mentioned on the list; the first Kentucky Wildcat to be named to the list. Bryant is a junior transfer from Clemson and had an excellent career there. As a freshman, she dominated in the short sprints, both indoor and outdoor. She is also a 9 time All-American and has 9 ACC championships under her belt. I strongly believe she will be on the first regular season Bowerman watch list, which will be released on February 6th. Also, the men’s preseason Bowerman list will be released on Wednesday. With Kentucky’s first meet being on January 17th and 18th at the Kentucky Invitational, look for Bryant to have a strong showing! GO CATS!
Follow me on twitter: @Perk_21KSR
(Pictures and info from ukathletics.com)
After a fast and furious week, it’s a relatively slow day around these parts. Here are some notes to help the day go by a little faster.
– If you didn’t see it below, Kentucky opened as an 8-point favorite over Vandy tomorrow. Without their starting point guard/Vine superstar Eric McClellan and only seven scholarship players on the roster, Vanderbilt is not quite as formidable a foe as years past. However, they always play the Cats close, especially in Memorial Gym. Since moving to Nashvegas, I’ve seen several games in the opera house from hell, and the surreality of the setup never fades. It will be interesting to see how this young group reacts to the atmosphere, particularly when they’re a slow starting bunch anyways. Stallings said yesterday he’ll probably use a zone against Kentucky, which they’ve slowly gotten better with, but in the end, there will be too many mismatches for Vandy to keep up. With McClellan out, tomorrow is a prime opportunity for Andrew Harrison to shine. Will he?
– A heads up for those of you coming down here: on Vandy’s site, there is a warning about counterfeit tickets. Apparently it’s common practice for scalpers to sell fake tickets outside the arena before the UK game because so many Cats fans come down. From Rod Williamson, Director of Communications:
Here’s a sure-fire prediction: sometime Saturday afternoon, a very sad, unlucky and possibly angry basketball fan is going to be turned away from entry into the Vanderbilt-Kentucky men’s basketball game because he/she paid good money for a counterfeit ticket on the street from a honest looking con artist. It happens every year, despite our attempts to warn our fans. The best advice is to realize the only tickets that are reliably safe are those purchased from our own ticket office. Buyer please beware!
There you go. Be careful, especially if you’ve had a Cat Bomb or two from Corner Pub.
– What a nice segue. Be sure to join me, Aaron Flener, 247 Sports’ Jerry Meyer and Barton Simmons, and the Nashville contingent of the BBN at Corner Pub Midtown (2000 Broadway) before the game. Corner Pub Midtown is where the UK Alumni Association in Nashville regularly holds their watch parties, so the crowd should be awesome. Doors open at 10:30 a.m. CT, they’re giving away two tickets to the game at 1:30 p.m. CT, and there will be plenty of food and drink specials. It’ll be the spot to hang out before, during, and after the game. Maybe Helmet Guy will show up again?
– The picture of Spike Lee going around the internet from last night’s Knicks game is truly hilarious, and more than one person has made the comparison to the mom from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air intro on Twitter:
That still wasn’t the best picture from last night. Many of you probably noticed this classic UofL fan behind the announcers during the Louisville/Memphis game:
Ah, Cards fans. Never change.
– On the football front, Marcus Walker, UK’s 2015 commitment from earlier this week, may help them reel in another top prospect. Walker’s teammate, Luke Hiers, is considered the third best center in the 2015 class, and according to The Cats Pause’s Chris Fisher, has Kentucky high on his list:
Caught up with Lake Wales (Fla.) 3-star center Luke Hiers, teammate of newest UK commit Marcus Walker, Thursday night. Hiers has cut his list to 12 schools: Kentucky, Nebraska, Mississippi State, South Florida, N.C. State, Duke, LSU, Alabama, Arkansas, UMass, Miami and Florida State.
Citing his relationship with UK running backs coach Chad Scott, he still has UK at or near the top of his list and says he may wait until April to visit Lexington. He has an uncle stationed in Fort Campbell.
Read more tidbits from Chris and Josh Edwards in this week’s edition of Cats Confidential.
On today’s show, Matt and Drew talked Cats vs. Dores, Bobby Petrino, and KSR’s new motorcycle gang, the Puns of Anarchy. What the hell am I talking about? Tune in to find out.
Odds are you’ll be watching the Divisional playoffs this weekend. Why not make some money while you’re at it? Join KSR’s $15,000 DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF POOL and have the chance to take home some serious cash!
All you have to do is head over to DraftStreet.com and create an account (if you haven’t already) and join our league by Saturday at 4:30 p.m. EST. Draft players from the divisional playoff games and get ready to win some money. There’s an $11 entry fee, but the top 150 finishers will be paid. First place takes home $3,000, and first time depositors will receive a 100% bonus up to $200.
How can you resist? Let’s go sign up now. We’ll do it together.
Tomorrow is UK’s second game on CBS this season, and Kevin Harlan and Greg Anthony will be calling the action from Memorial Gym. (A definite upgrade from Bobby Knight at Vandy last year.)
Anthony recently hosted John Calipari’s “Men of March” special, which aired before the Louisville game, so expect to hear plenty of tidbits from that. If you missed it during all the madness, it will re-air on the CBS Sports Network pretty often, including today at 4:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.:
Jan. 10 – 4:30 p.m.
Jan. 10 – 11:30 p.m.
Jan. 12 – noon
Jan. 14 – 4 p.m.
Jan. 16 – 4:30 p.m.
Jan. 17 – 4:30 p.m.
Jan. 19 – 12:30 p.m.
Jan. 20 – 10 p.m.
Jan. 24 – 4:30 p.m.
Here’s a snippet of the special, which is really well done.
The 2013-14 season is here, and Kentucky will spend the entirety of it trying to atone for the disaster was the 2012-13 season. John Calipari’s team is trying to do something that no team in the history of college basketball has ever done: Win a national championship relying primarily on 6 freshmen who were McDonald’s All Americans. With disappointing losses to Michigan State, Baylor (lol) and North Carolina, the team will fail to reach its ultimate goal of perfect season, and will instead try to console itself with a national title. To stay apprised and educated, follow me on Twitter @NotJerryTipton. Here’s the weekly notebook:
*You Were Right: In his weekly top 25 ballot last Sunday, noted expert Seth Davis dropped Kentucky from 12th to 15th on his ballot. Of course, many UK fans took offense to this, arguing that UK shouldn’t have dropped at all since they didn’t even play last week. But of course, he was right. For one thing, North Carolina lost, which makes Kentucky look bad because they lost to UNC a month ago. Also, Robert Morris lost, which makes not only the current UK team look bad, but it also sheds a negative light on last year’s UK team. And I’m not sure why Cat fans insist on pointing out the fact that Davis never played sports in support of their argument that he’s not an expert. His father was special counsel to Bill Clinton, for crying out loud. I’m not sure what other qualifications he needs. And the fact that he went to Duke doesn’t make him biased. He has the Blue Devils ranked #12. If he were truly biased, he’d have them ranked #1.
*Made-Up Dreams: On Wednesday, North Carolina lost to Miami, bringing the Heels’ record to 10-5, and 0-2 in the ACC. Kentucky fans must absolutely hate to see that. For UK to get into the NCAA Tournament, the Cats will need to end up with an impressive “strength of schedule.” (This is a metric that measures a team’s schedule strength.) Earlier in the season, Kentucky played North Carolina. So every time the Heels lose, Kentucky loses too. Also, with UNC’s profile continuing to plummet, the UK/UNC rivalry doesn’t look as good as it once did. For that reason, I suspect Big Blue Nation will be putting its collective weight behind North Carolina the rest of the year. The same reasoning applies to Louisville. For that win to mean anything, Louisville will need to get back in the top 10. As such, there are probably Kentucky fans all over the Commonwealth saying “Go Heels!” and “L1C4!” at this very moment.
*Out of Site: When UK pulled away from Louisville to win, they did so with star freshman Julius Randle on the bench with cramps. This does not bode well for Kentucky. All season long, announcers and media folk have been touting Randle as a “superstar” whose otherworldly talent, strength and skill could very well carry the Cats to the national championship. But apparently, he’s not that good at all. If he were, would UK have been able to somewhat easily defeat a top 10 opponent without his help? Of course not. And to anyone who says “well, this just shows how good his teammates are,” remember this: Those same teammates were 0-3 against ranked opponents before the Louisville game. Exactly.
* On this date: On this date in 2036, Louisville fans will still be blaming the refs for losing to Kentucky last month.
Kevin Stallings is down to seven scholarship players, and judging by his remarks to the media yesterday, almost expects the Cats to roll this weekend. Stallings practically had hearts in his eyes when describing this year’s Kentucky team to reporters:
“They’re big, athletic, physical, talented. Looks like they’re playing well to me right now. They’re a very, very talented–this is a very talented Kentucky team and I think they’ll be very formidable, they’ll be in the race the whole time. I think they’ve got a chance to be a very, very, very good team.”
Yes, that was three “very”s at the end. I counted.
How are the Cats different from the group the ‘Dores beat in the SEC Tournament last season? Let Kevin count the ways…
“I would say that as opposed to their team last year, this team is much more physical, it’s bigger, longer and more athletic. I think that they just, they’re really athletic, they’re big and long again, so I think the physical nature of their team is different than it’s been the last year or two.”
He is so much easier to like when he’s not whining.
According to the Phoenix Suns, Eric Bledsoe’s surgery on his right knee to repair damaged meniscus cartilage was successful. The team released a statement saying that “Bledsoe will immediately begin a recovery and rehabilitation program and will pursue a possible return to action during the second half of this NBA season.”
Up until his injury on December 30th, Bledsoe was killing it in the league, averaging 18 points, 5.7 assists, and 4.3 rebounds in his first season with the Suns. His 20.2 player efficiency rating (PER) ranks 8th among point guards in the NBA.
The news that Bledsoe can return to action this season is huge because he’s a free agent after this season, and prior to his injury, many believed he was worthy of a max contract. The Suns were prepared to match any offer that came his way.
Get well soon, Eric.