Good evening, sports fans. Drew here, back at the KSR Lexington office after defying the odds →
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Happy 30th birthday to Shagari Alleyne, the former Kentucky Wildcat who is now a professional dancer, believe it or not. At 7’3″, Shagari is the tallest player to ever play for Kentucky, and after three years in Lexington (and several upper deckers), the big guy transferred to Manhattan College. In 2008, he was invited to join the Harlem Globetrotters under the nickname “Skyscraper,” and hilariously took part in a segment for The Today Show:
The butt bump pass was a particular favorite of mine. Make the big 3-0 count, Shagari.
Now, on to some news and views from a busy Monday in Kentucky sports…
The new 40 minutes of hell
I’ll be honest: I’m worried about Tuesday night’s game. Arkansas almost beat Florida last Saturday and is better than their 0-2 conference record suggests. At home, they’re downright dangerous, which is why Vegas only has the Cats as a 1-point favorite in Bud Walton Arena. I would also argue this is the Cats’ first real road test since North Carolina, considering that half (or more) of the crowd in Nashville was wearing blue. Bud Walton is notoriously loud, and combined with Arkansas’ fast-paced style, it could be a long night in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks lead the SEC and rank 15th in the nation in scoring, and also lead the SEC in assists, scoring margin, field goal percentage, assist/turnover ratio, and turnover margin.
In remarks to the media on Monday, John Calipari agreed that Mike Anderson’s team is playing a style very similar to Nolan Richardson’s infamous “40 minutes of hell”:
“They’re playing that way; they’re playing that way. Offensively, motion into driving and attacking, a few pick-and-rolls, get it up quick, get a shot off quick, go rebound it. Defensively, denying, switching, being active, trapping. They’re doing a good job of that. They shoot the ball well. They shoot it from the 3, they shoot the 2s well and they shoot free throws at 70 percent; so it’s not a game you can go down there and throw a bunch of clunkers up because you’re going to have a problem.”
When asked about the matchup with the Razorbacks, Cal said “if you’re timid in any way, they’ll over run you.” No more slow starts. More Mortal Kombat finishes.
Cal hit his team in the mouth on Sunday
Just because the Cats got a win on the road Saturday doesn’t mean Cal was satisfied. On Monday, he told reporters that he “hit [his players] in the mouth” with some cold hard truth about their performance on Sunday:
“I just told them the truth. I just told them the truth. I just said, want me to sit here and BS you, or want me to tell you the truth? It wasn’t just one guy, it was like everybody. And then we were going to practice an hour because we traveled back and practice went an hour and a half because of them. I told them, part of our issue is the focus we have at times on the court, we just lose the – you have to have a sense of urgency and a sense of purpose on each possession and we don’t always do.”
Apparently the players were stunned by Cal’s come-to-Jesus chat.
Mike Anderson sees Cal’s McDonald’s All-Americans, raises him some Burger King All-Americans
Mike Anderson is in his third year at Arkansas, and has had his share of ups and downs in Fayetteville. He had plenty of nice things to say about the Cats on Monday, calling them the most talented team Cal has ever had, and one of the best in the country. Anderson said Julius Randle is playing better than anyone in the SEC right now, and will force the Razorbacks to focus on a half-court defense to contain him. When asked how he felt about going up against Kentucky’s seven McDonald’s All-Americans, Anderson quipped: “There’s Burger King All-Americans that are pretty damn good, too.”
If there were Taco Bell All-Americans, Drew Franklin would be the MVP.
Kentucky climbs to #13 in the AP poll; #12 in the Coaches’ Poll
After winning their first two SEC games last week, the Cats climbed one spot to #13 in the AP poll and four spots to #12 in the Coaches’ Poll. The top three is the same in both polls: 1) Arizona; 2) Syracuse; 3) Wisconsin.
The coaching carousel continues to turn
So far this offseason, two UK assistants have been rumored candidates for jobs at other schools: secondary coach Derrick Ansley at Georgia and defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh at Alabama. On Monday, it was reported that Bo Davis will be Alabama’s new d-line coach, a big relief for the BBN. Ansley’s future remains uncertain, and if he leaves, it will be a big blow to the Cats’ recruiting staff. Meanwhile, Joker Phillips is a finalist for the offensive coordinator job at Texas, and if he gets it, it will fulfill the pact between Phillips and Strong to hire each other once they became head coaches. Best of luck to Joker, who could really use some greener pastures with Will Muschamp’s future at Florida on shaky
Someone named a racehorse after John Calipari
Cal was in a tweeting mood on Sunday, and posted this picture of a racehorse named “Calipari’s Kitten” with the caption: “I see someone named a horse after me. I’m just glad no one has named a mule after me yet.” After the Cats brought home #8 in 2012, something tells me we’ll start seeing a lot of Calipari, Anthony Davis, and MKG themed colts and fillies hitting the track in 2015.
Go vote for your NBA Cats to be All-Stars
NBA All-Star voting continues, and there’s still time for you to cast your vote for your favorite Cat to make the squads. After the latest round of voting, John Wall and Rajon Rondo are 4th and 6th in the Eastern Backcourt vote totals and Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins are 7th and 11th in the Western Frontcourt totals. Cousins was named the Western Conference Player of the Week on Monday, and Kings owner Vivek Ranadive made a YouTube video asking the people of India to vote for him:
GO VOTE! You can vote once a day until the 20th.
Namaste, KSR readers. See you in the morning.
The 2015 star is a huge talent and after watching him live in Paducah, John Calipari offered him a scholarship. Watch highlights of that game above and see why he is so highly coveted.
20 years ago the Kentucky Arkansas game would have been the biggest game on the schedule. That game would have been one between teams with eyes towards the final four. Now it’s simply a must win game for the Razorbacks to stay alive in the SEC. For the Cats its a chance to pick up a nice road win and move to 3-0 in conference. Despite the lower stakes tomorrows game could hold the intensity of some of those from two decades ago. Here are the match-ups to watch tomorrow night in Arkansas:
A Balanced Offense Vs Kentucky’s Front Court
This season each game it seems like a new Cat is finding a way to destroy the opposing team. Maybe it’s Alex Poythress find the rim for dunk after dunk. Maybe it’s Willie being unstoppable on the defensive end. Maybe it’s Julius Randle being an unstoppable basketball machine. Kentucky’s front court is capable of beating you in a multitude of ways and the backcourt is equally dangerous. They will need to be ready to stop a balanced effort from the ‘backs. Arkansas has four guys averaging double figures and 6 guys averaging about 20 minutes per game. While they don’t have a guy you can identify as a superstar they do have a bunch of guys who play solid basketball. Especially at home:
The Freshman Vs Bud-Walton
Kentucky opens as just a one-point favorite tomorrow in Bud-Walton and it’s for good reason. Bud-Walton will be in the top two toughest places the Cats will play in the SEC this season and with the crowd planning a white out you know they will be all fired up. The Razorbacks had enjoyed 23-straight wins at home before the Gators pulled out a win in overtime this weekend. Our young Wildcats haven’t fared too well away from Rupp this season after dropping games in Chicago, Dallas, and Chapel Hill. However a gritty win at Vandy shows a bit of promise for the rest of the year. If they can escape Fayetteville tomorrow with a win they should have an easy time with the rest of the SEC.
Which match-up are you most looking forward to watching during tomorrow night’s #PigRoast?
Not since living on an all-girls hall my freshman year at college have I heard so much talk about cramps. Of course, Julius Randle’s cramps are of the muscle variety, but over the past few days, the BBN has become obsessed with helping its star player overcome his frequent spasms, to the point that we’ve heard some truly unusual home remedies. I channeled my inner WebMD Monday afternoon and researched some of them. Here are eight muscle cramp remedies for Julius and the UK training staff:
Bananas: The cramp remedy as old as time: B-AN-AN-AS! Potassium deficiency, among other things, causes cramps, and bananas are high in both potassium and magnesium. Plus, they’re delicious. However, eating one banana when you get a cramp won’t do much because it takes the body a while to digest it, so perhaps Julius should have some over his cereal in the morning. Or with some peanut butter like Elvis.
Saran wrap: My favorite remedy so far comes from Rose, one of our favorite callers on the radio show, who suggested that Julius wrap saran wrap around his thighs during halftime of the game to get rid of cramps. Rose said that the nurses at St. Claire’s hospital in Morehead saran wrapped her legs when she was having cramps during labor. “I know it sounds crazy, but it works. I’ve done it ever since,” Rose told Matt and Ryan while rocking in her chair overlooking Caney Creek. “My husband laughed at me and laughed at me ’til he got cramps so bad one night. Well, I got the saran wrap out and wrapped his big legs up and he stopped cramping.” Rose said you have to be thorough about it, and offered to wrap Julius’ legs herself if it would help the cause: “It has to overlap, there can’t be no gaps in it. I mean, you’ve gotta wrap it round and round.” No word on the effect Rose’s magical moonshine has on cramps.
Pickle juice: This is probably the most popular modern remedy for muscle cramps, and by far the most disgusting to me. According to a study at BYU, pickle juice relieves cramps 37% faster than water and 45% faster than no fluids at all. Why? Experts believe the salt and fluids in pickle juice quickly rehydrate and replenish missing electrolytes. In fact, studies show that pickle juice can relieve cramps in only 85 seconds. That’s not even a TV timeout.
Mustard: Bobby Bluegrass called into the show this morning and said that his wife made him eat yellow mustard the last time he had cramps. After three minutes, the cramps disappeared. It’s his go-to remedy now. Apparently, the tumeric (which makes mustard yellow), the vinegar, and the salt replenish the body. Bobby’s one of many to suggest this remedy, so perhaps Julius needs to tuck some mustard packets in his socks tomorrow night.
Fluids: Duh. #TeamWater
Vinegar: I was not surprised to see vinegar on a list of muscle cramp remedies since it’s a remedy for just about everything. High in potassium, apple cider vinegar can quickly ail leg cramps, and tastes much better when mixed with a little bit of honey. If that’s still too gross to consider, you can also rub the vinegar directly on your legs, which, combined with sweat, makes for a lovely smell.
A bar of soap under the sheets: I thought this was a joke when I first read it, but apparently if you sleep with a bar of soap under your fitted sheet, it will reduce leg cramps during the night. No one knows why it works, but people swear by it. Julius’ problems come during games, so this might not work, but it would still be hilarious to see him walking around before the game with a bar of soap strapped to his legs.
Pinching your upper lip: Again, not a joke. Some say that pinching the skin between your nose and upper lip, also known as an “acupinch,” is a quick and easy way to relieve cramps. At the first sign of pain, pinch the area for 20-30 seconds, or until the cramps subside.
Got more? Leave them in the comments section. (And don’t say “Midol.” It’s beneath you.)
Jodie Meeks broke Kentucky’s all-time single game scoring record with 54 points against Tennessee in Thompson-Boling Arena. Meeks hit a record 10 three-pointers on 15 attempts, all 14 of his free throws, and five two-point field goals. It broke Dan Issel’s 39-year-old record by one point.
Meeks famously looked to Tennessee’s Bobby Maze after a made free throw and said, “Fifty.”
Billy Gillispie called it the most unbelievable thing he’s ever seen.
Bruce Pearl said it was amazing.
Enjoy it, once again…
Yesterday was move in day for the five early enrollees from the 2014 football recruiting class; seven when you include JUCO transfers Johnson and Stamps. I should have mentioned in my post last night that these players have met the necessary requirements to enroll at UK, and they all have filed their financial aid agreements prior to registration. It’s now official that Drew Barker, Thaddeus Snodgrass, TV Williams, Mikel Horton, and Dorian Hendrix are football players at the University of Kentucky. Classes will begin on Wednesday, and winter conditioning should start up in the coming weeks. It shouldn’t be long before these boys are shaped into SEC caliber players and on the field for the season opener. All five of them have big expectations leading into next season. I know I’m excited, and I’m sure Stoops can’t wait to have them on the practice fields.
They’ve finally taken to Twitter to update us on how their move-in is going, let’s have a look.
Drew Barker -
Dorian Hendrix -
Mikel Horton -
Thaddeus Snodgrass -
(Looks like they’re spending their night watching “Good Burger”. I miss living in the South Campus dorms.)
T.V. Williams -
T.V. may have felt like man of the year yesterday, but today’s rainy, cold weather leaves a different story.
Unfortunately for us, it’s only going to get colder as the semester moves on. Don’t worry guys, you’ll get used to it by the time the Spring Game comes around. Other than the weather, our new Wildcats seem to be enjoying their first couple of days. Maybe they can help us recruit the remaining targets, as long as they don’t mention the cold weather to them.
Coach Cal said he hit his team in the mouth on Sunday, one day after they failed to put away Vanderbilt the way Kentucky should put away Vanderbilt in 2014. He went to the tape and showed his players what they should’ve done to run away with an easy victory and what they did instead, which allowed Vanderbilt to hang around until the end.
“I think they were all, like, stunned,” he said of the players’ reaction to the “hitting of the mouth.”
Then he explained what that hitting of the mouth entailed:
“I just told them the truth. I just said, ‘Do you want me to BS you, or do you want me to tell you the truth?’ And it was kind of like ‘slap, slap, slap, slap, slap, slap, slap, slap, slap, slap.’ It wasn’t just one guy. It was, like, everybody. And we were going to practice an hour because we traveled back, but practice went an hour and a half because of them. I told them part of our issue is the focus we have at times on that court. We just lose the — you have to have a sense of urgency and a sense of purpose on each possession, and we don’t always do it. Guys will stop, and they’re pointing to go guard their man who came off a screen, or stop playing and a guy back-cuts. We told them, ‘Vandy’s going to try to trick you into baskets, and they did.’ They probably got 20 points on trick. Just — get beat because they’re better than you; they executed. Not trick you into a layup or slip into a dunk. Those kind of things, which we had gone over. Obviously we didn’t have a whole lot of time, but you have to be focused. We’re not quite ready for that.”
Sounds like Sunday’s practice wasn’t a fun one.
Dakari Johnson and Derek Willis were available before practice today to discuss increased playing time and tomorrow night’s game against Arkansas. Johnson said playing in Nashville felt like a home game with so many UK fans but he hears Arkansas is a hostile environment for opposing teams.
Willis told reporters he has been doing midnight shooting sessions by himself in the Craft Center. He compared his alone time in the gym to going to church because it gives him time to think about stuff.
Jerry Tipton was quick to ask what Willis thinks about. Just stuff, Jerry.
Following a push against Vanderbilt on Saturday (unless you got in early), the Cats open up as a 1-point favorite tomorrow night against the Arkansas Razorbacks. Arkansas won last season’s meeting in Bud Walton by 13 points but the Cats are looking to win a second consecutive road game after a six-game skid away on the road prior to Saturday’s win.
Kentucky is 1-9-2 against the spread in its last 12 road games while Arkansas is 12-4 against the spread in its last 16 home games.
Go Cats. Gamble responsibly.
Langston Newton has a new home in college football. The former Kentucky defensive lineman and Morgan’s baby brother is now in West Lafayette, Indiana as a mid-year enrollee at Purdue, announced today on the Boilermakers’ official website. Newton redshirted his first season at UK in 2012 and was a scout team player for the Cats in 2013.
Fun Fact of the Day: Of the 26 signees in the 2012 recruiting class, only 13 remain on Kentucky’s roster entering spring football. Wow.
Kentucky made a much bigger leap in the USA Today coaches poll this week, moving from No. 16 to No. 12 in the updated rankings. The top seven spots are no different than the AP poll except Michigan State somehow managed to pick up a first place vote from someone.
1. Arizona (30)
2. Syracuse (1)
4. Michigan State (1)
5. Wichita State
8. Oklahoma State
9. Ohio State
10. Iowa State
11. San Diego State
According to our friends over at 247Sports, Alabama has eyes on UK assistant Jimmy Brumbaugh to fill its defensive line coach vacancy. The position came open when Chris Rumph left Tuscaloosa to join Charlie Strong in Texas over the weekend.
Brumbaugh played a huge role in bringing Za’Darius Smith to Lexington, as well as incoming JUCO signees Cory Johnson and A.J. Stamps. He worked with the defensive lines at East Mississippi C.C., Syracuse and Louisiana Tech before joining Mark Stoops’ staff in December 2012.
The report includes several other big names on Alabama’s candidate list for the job.
Tomorrow night’s game at Arkansas will be a “White Out” with the first 3,000 students receiving a white rally towel for attending the game. Fans are encouraged to wear white, according the official release on the Arkansas men’s basketball website.
John Calipari is aware of the “White Out” and he has devised a plan, a new business venture, to take advantage of Kentucky’s opposing teams.
“Arkansas doesn’t know this yet but the t-shirt company, I own… I went out and bought a t-shirt company because everybody’s blue, black outs, white outs, yellow outs,” he said, jokingly.
Of course, Jerry Tipton corrected Cal and told him fans will receive a towel, not a t-shirt.
“It’s a towel? I have to look at towel companies, I guess.”
18,040 fans were in attendance when No. 7 Florida snapped the Razorbacks’ 23-game home win streak on Saturday. It would be a 24-game win streak going into tomorrow night if not for a game-tying jumper from Scottie Wilbekin with two seconds remaining to send the game to overtime. That game is a strong indicator of how tough it can be for the visiting team in Bud Walton Arena. Kentucky is that visiting team tomorrow night at 9:00 ET.
College rifle does not quite follow the status quo of other NCAA sports. For example, the rifle season is split up into two different seasons (Fall and Spring), with the two seasons being split by an almost two month winter break. So as is the case, one might expect that after two months off, your trigger finger might be a little bit rusty. However, this was not the case for one of the schools most underrated programs as the #2 ranked Wildcats beat THE #8 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes 4688-4623 in Columbus, Ohio.
Senior brother/sister duo Aaron & Emily Holsopple helped pushed the Cats past the Buckeyes in the smallbore category, with Emily gunning her way to a team high of 587. Aaron wasn’t too far behind his sister however, as he posted a score of 583 as his own.
In the Air Rifle category, Kentucky was led by Sophomore Conner Davis, who netted himself a team high 593 points. Rounding out the top three shooters in the Air Rifle category were Emily Holsopple with a 592, and Junior Elijah Ellis with a score of 591.
The Rifle Cats (6-2) will resume action this weekend when they travel up to West Point, N.Y. to face Murray State and host team Army.
Go Big Blue.
On Saturday I wrote at length about some inside stock information on some SEC basketball teams (well, it was inside to me). That article, though, had more to do with predicting the future success of teams rather than grading them on their relative performance thus far.
Well, now I’m going to grade everyone on their relative performance thus far! (The crowd goes wild, Ben bows his head)
Let’s start with the top:
Kentucky… B: The crowd of Kentucky fans that thought 40-0 was a possibility may disagree and want to give the Cats a ‘C,’ but all things considered the season has gone pretty well for Kentucky. They skated through the non-conference with no bad losses. All three of their losses came against teams that battled Kentucky on the glass better than any other team will this entire season (until tournament time). The Cats still need to improve their outside shooting a little bit, and quite frankly, with the Harrison twins and James Young on the perimeter, they should. The Cats have a huge week coming up as they take on Arkansas and Tennessee.
Florida… B: The Gators season got off to a weird start that was muddled with injuries and suspensions. Slowly but surely, though, the Gators have gotten back to near full strength (the final piece being Chris Walker). Casey Prather has surprised nearly everyone with his outstanding play, while Scottie Wilbekin and Patric Young continue to supply experience and solid play for the Gators. Florida has sneaked their way back up to #7 in the nation (a little high, but no matter) and appear to be serious final four contenders in March.
Texas A&M… B: Elston Turner’s gone and the Aggies find themselves atop the SEC standings. Coincidence? I think… yeah, it is. Elston was really good. But it’s a new year for the Aggies, and one that has a really balanced scoring attack. I mean, like ridiculously balanced. They have nine guys averaging between 5.0 ppg and 10.9 ppg. Expectations were a bit low in the preseason for TAM, and after a shaky non-conference the expectations were still low. But if you told A&M fans that they’d start 11-4 overall and 2-0 in conference I think they would have been pretty happy.
Georgia… C: No one expected the Bulldogs to be good, and they aren’t. UGA was a very pedestrian 6-6 in the non-conference (against some pretty good teams, however), but hey, they are 2-0 in conference so they’ll take it. Also, remember Marcus Thornton? UK recruited him at the end of the 2010 class? Well, he’s on Georgia and he’s averaging 6.7 points and 4.9 rebounds as a 4th year junior. #KentuckyEffect
Missouri… A: The Tigers have started slow out of the gate in SEC play, but at the end of the day they are 13-2 with a couple of decent victories. Not many people expected much from this Mizzou bunch but Frank Haith has developed a nice little niche in Columbia. I think they are actually a little overrated at this point, but they are still a nice ball club and one that has made the fans in Columbia happy. Also, Jordan Clarkson is a baller.
Mississippi State… A: “Roar! How could you give Mississippi State a better grade than Kentucky when we just beat them by 22 points!” you might say. Well remember, this is based on fan/analyst expectation, and all things considered, this has been a good season for the Bulldogs thus far. Rick Ray has brought some energy to the program that had been lacking in years past, and has the Bulldogs tending upward in the future. Remember how bad they were last year?
LSU… D: If you had asked me two weeks ago, I would have probably given this team a B or maybe even an A. But after last week? Yuck. Who loses to Rhode Island at home and then follows it up by getting crushed at home against Tennessee and then follows that up by squeaking by awful South Carolina? There’s still plenty time for LSU to right the ship and get to the NCAA tournament, but I expected much better from this ball club.
Ole Miss…C: I think everyone expected this team to take a step back after last years run, and that’s what they’ve done. Everyone is finally realizing how important Reginald Buckner and Murphy Holloway were to that teams’ success. There won’t be a repeat bid for Marshall Henderson and company unless they get really hot here soon.
Tennessee… D: This team is weird, I tell ya. They crush Xavier, Wake Forest, Virginia and LSU, and then they lose to UTEP, NC State and Texas A&M. Right as I thought this team was turning a corner they lose to TAM. KenPom has them ranked #22, which is sign of good things to come. A 10-5 record, though, is simply unacceptable for a team of this talent level.
Alabama… D: A lot of people were expecting a trip to the NCAA tournament this season, but at this point, it’s just not going to happen. The Tide are 7-8 and continue to lose close games. In fact, all eight of their losses this season were by less than ten points. Sure, their schedule has been tough, but they should have double-digit wins.
Arkansas… C: Same old song and dance from the Hogs. Good at home, bad on the road. They can fool some more people if they win Tuesday against Kentucky.
Auburn… D: Other than that inexplicable 19-point home loss to Northwestern State, the Tigers haven’t actually been that bad. But then you remember that they lost by 19 points to Northwestern State.
Vanderbilt… Incomplete: Vandy’s season is a disaster, mainly because they are playing with like seven scholarship players. Their best player, Eric McClellan, was recently dismissed from the team, leaving this team in utter turmoil. They do play hard though.
South Carolina… Who Cares: They are 7-8 with home losses to Manhattan and South Carolina Upstate. They also have two wins over Akron. Who schedules two games against Akron? (I know, they played them in Diamond Head Classic, it’s still funny)