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While we’re watching the University of Kentucky pummel the University of Tennessee in basketball in Rupp Arena on Saturday, UK’s cheerleaders and dancers will be at the UCA & UDA College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship in Orlando, Florida. Tell the weather we said hello, please.
As you know, UK is the most dominant force in the history of cheerleading, but last year’s squad fell short of earning UK its 20th — TWENTIETH! — national championship with a runner-up finish behind Memphis. This year they’re on a mission, to say the least, and Coach Jomo Thompson and his team are ready for another shot at bringing the trophy back to Lexington, Kentucky where it belongs.
Head coach Dawn Walters and the UK dance team are also ready and looking to improve on an eighth-place finish in last year’s pom competition and a sixth-place finish in Hip-Hop, up two places from its finish in 2012.
I won’t pretend to know any more about it, so I’ll just say best of luck to UK Cheer and Dance in Orlando this weekend. Bring home some shiny hardware for Big Blue Nation! (And I’ll take a pair of Mickey Mouse ears from Disney if you can. Extra large.)
Good luck and Go Cats.
To the News and Views…
The Vols are coming.
Cuonzo Martin and his 11-5 Volunteers are coming to Rupp Arena this weekend for the only regular season contest between the two teams in 2014. Weird, I know. Tennessee has won five of its last six after dropping back-to-back games against Wichita State and N.C. State, and they’ll look to ride the momentum from that season-defining home win over Auburn earlier this week.
I’ll spend all day Friday previewing the game, and making fun of Tennessee, but for now just know that Jordan McRae is the guy to watch. He’s a two-time SEC Player of the Week this season, averaging over 18 points per game. Dude’s a scorer. He’s had at least 16 points in 14 of Tennessee’s 16 games.
We can’t forget about Jarnell Stokes, too. The guy with the world’s biggest shoes is .4 rebounds shy of averaging a double-double. Maybe he should stretch more.
Vanderbilt just beat Missouri.
The Commodores handed Missouri its third loss of the season Thursday night on ESPN with a three-point victory. That makes Kentucky’s road win in Nashville look a little better, considering Missouri was a Top 25 team until losing at home to Georgia in overtime last week.
The Cats travel to Missouri on February 1 as part of four road games in a 15-day stretch.
Mark Stoops visited Elijah Sindelar on Thursday.
Coach Stoops and Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell were in Princeton on Thursday to see 2015 in-state quarterback target Elijah Sindelar. Sindelar is ranked as the 18th best pro-style quarterback by 247Sports and he currently holds offers from UK, Toledo and Western Kentucky, with interest from several other schools including Alabama.
Stoops and Hazell popped in while Sindelar was playing a basketball game for Caldwell County against Hopkins County Central. Go Maroons. Central is the worst.
Kentucky and Alabama visited Matt Elam.
Elam tweeted that Neal Brown, DJ Eliot and Jimmy Brumbaugh stopped by Elizabethtown to visit him on Thursday. He also had Alabama in the house.
Larry Vaught believes the tides (no #pun intended) may have turned; he wrote on his website, “several sources close to UK football believe Elam now is a definite Alabama lean” with this photo:
Read Larry’s Matt Elam story here.
Honestly, I’m just ready for his recruitment to end. I hope he commits to Kentucky but it has been draggggggging on for so long. Good thing signing day is less than three weeks away.
Introducing The Stone Cold Willow Show…
“Episode 1: The Box Out Situation”
Try not to lose too much sleep waiting for Episode 2.
Our own John Dubya raised an interesting hypothetical question on Twitter.
It’s 2017, Calipari just retired, and Richard Pitino just took Minnesota to the Final Four. Is there a conversation?
My head hurts thinking about it. Let’s hope it never gets to the point where Kentucky is ever, ever, ever considering adding Baby Pitino. Your thoughts?
When Karl Towns thinks John Calipari, he thinks loud noises.
A funny quote from Karl Towns’ interview with The Sporting News, when he was asked what comes to mind when he thinks of Coach Cal…
“Loud. I mean, like he told me my first day with the Dominican team, ‘I’m not screaming at you because I’m mad, I’m screaming at you because I’m Italian.’ Coach Cal is such a great coach and such a great guy and a great human being. I’m just blessed I was given the chance to be his little apprentice and learn under him for these years.”
Towns also said he believes Kentucky’s 2014 recruiting class will be special because the continuity is already there. He said they don’t care about the draft or doing anything individually, they just want to win at UK. That might be the exact opposite of Kentucky’s 2013 class when they arrived on campus last summer.
Louisville first, kisses for everyone.
Thank you, Kentucky Sports Radio listeners.
The Lexington radio ratings came in this week and KSR was No. 1 in the city with a 14.3 share. 14.3 for a sports show is unheard of and it beat out country music, which isn’t supposed to happen. Ever.
On behalf of Matt, Ryan, Shannon and everyone else, thanks for listening and being a Big Blue fan in the morning.
Oh I’m a Big Blue fan in the morning, oh I’m a Big Blue fan today…
Go Cats, y’all.
The Lexington Herald-Leader will soon announce its 2013 Kentucky Sportsman of the Year, and once again, I was not invited to participate in the voting process. Shocker, right? But that didn’t keep me from putting together my own ballot for you here on KSR this evening. Give it a read and submit your own nominees in the comments section, and, who knows, maybe one day we’ll matter in the newspaper world. Probably not.
Ladies and gentlemen, my 10 finalists in order of awesomeness in 2013…
Dominic is John Calipari’s hardest worker on the hardwood, despite being the lowest ranked player Calipari has recruited since arriving in Lexington. Known to everyone except Calipari as Dominique Hawkins, Dominic was a very late addition to Kentucky’s 2013 basketball recruiting class after he led nearby Madison Central to a state championship, earning him Mr. Basketball honors and the coveted UK scholarship offer.
Once on campus, Dominic averaged a surprising 13 minutes per game in his first 11 games as a freshman at Kentucky in 2013 and Calipari often referred to him as the only player who does everything right in practice. If only the potential NBA talent surrounding him exuded half the energy and heart Dominic does every time he puts on the uniform, the Wildcats would be much further along in the “warped speed’ process of one-and-done basketball.
2.) Vince Marrow
The University of Kentucky football program has seen an incredible spike in its incoming talent since Mark Stoops took over as head coach a few weeks before the new year, a little over one year ago. The credit goes to everyone on Stoops’ hardworking staff, but if one man gets a bigger pat on the back than the others, it is tight ends coach Vince Marrow.
What makes Marrow such a great recruiter is his fearless attitude and ability to connect with the players he is recruiting. He can relate to athletes from all backgrounds and he isn’t going to let any of the naysayers get in the way of what he and his fellow coaches are trying to accomplish at Kentucky.
“Let’s roll up our sleeves and see what happens,” Marrow told KSR last summer. “We might shock the world. I made it very clear that we’re not taking a backseat to nobody.”
DeMarcus Cousins had a pretty good 2013, considering he signed a four-year max contract extension worth $63 million and earned the trust of the Sacramento Kings’ new brass, which includes his new mentor, Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq said he sees DeMarcus as a young Shaquille O’Neal and they plan to build the Kings franchise around him.
Cousins ranks seventh in points and fifth in rebounds in the NBA since inking the new deal.
4.) Drew Barker
Vince Marrow gets a lot of the credit for building Kentucky’s highly-ranked 2014 recruiting classes, but Drew Barker is the glue that keeps it together. A Top247 player in his class, Drew Barker is one of the most important signees in Kentucky football history. Not only is he expected to compete for the starting quarterback job as a true freshman, but Barker was instrumental in recruiting other elite talent and maintaining relationships once they committed to keep the class intact. Barker is also the highest ranked player in Kentucky’s 2014 class and a KentuckySportsRadio.com Blogger of the Year nominee.
5.) Anthony Davis
The 2012 Kentucky Sportsman of the Year winner, Anthony Davis is one of my finalists for 2013 because he is already one of the best players in the NBA in only his second year. After losing the Rookie of the Year award to Damian Lillard, the only trophy he didn’t win last year, Davis started the 2013-14 season with a bang with six double-doubles in his first nine games, including a 26 and 17 night in the second game of the season at Orlando. He’s on his way to superstardom, if he’s not already there.
6.) John Robic
Coming in at No. 3 on my 2013 Kentucky Sportsman of the Year ballot is UK assistant coach John Robic. Robic single-handedly won Kentucky’s home basketball game against LSU in January when he pulled Nerlens Noel off the floor milliseconds before UK inbounded the ball with a one-point lead and three seconds on the clock. Had Robic not intervened, Noel would’ve been the sixth player on the court for Kentucky, a technical foul, and LSU would’ve been allowed two free throws and the ball. Instead, Robic saved the day and the Wildcats escaped with a victory.
Robic was also the star in UK basketball’s dodgeball game in the Joe Craft Center and he is always the fan favorite off the court at events like the women’s clinic, John Calipari’s fantasy camp, and on Kentucky Sports Radio.
7.) Jared Laurenzen
Jared Laurenzen makes my ballot for the great commentary he gave on the KSR football pregame show in 2013. The former Kentucky quarterback, known as Jared Lorenzen to most, made his KSR pregame show debut this past season, providing football knowledge and insight that Matt, Ryan and I couldn’t even Google the night before. He carried the show at times while never saying no to a photo request or a sausage biscuit.
Maybe next year the folks in the orange lot will learn how to spell his name of the Wall of Fame.
8.) Dr. Doron
Dr. Doron, Doron Lamb’s alter ego, burst onto the social media scene late in 2013 with lessons in life, love, time and money management, the pursuit of happiness, and, of course, cuffing season. Whenever Doron wasn’t tweeting photos of his socks, pancakes, or socks and pancakes, Dr. Doron would chime in with daily inspiration and motivation for his followers.
However, the question still remains: “Who up?”
9.) Angry Stoops
Angry Stoops, not to be confused with kind, good-hearted Mark Stoops, debuted on the Kentucky football sideline in the fall during Stoops’ first season as head coach. His most memorable appearance came in Columbia during the fourth quarter of UK’s loss to South Carolina, when the Wildcats were incorrectly flagged for too many men on the field, giving South Carolina a first down on a critical possession. We would see Angry Stoops several more times throughout the year.
10.) Rick Pitino
The University of Louisville’s head basketball coach had a very successful twenty thirteen, capped off by a second place finish in the December 28th game against the University of Kentucky. It wasn’t just his runner-up trophy in that game, though, Pitino had several other shining moments last year, including tattoo and back hair modeling; providing second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth chances for a troubled college student; and releasing a popular fiction book about being humble.
And you all thought I wouldn’t put any Louisville Cardinals on my ballot. Ha. I’m not that biased.
Because they love us, the University of Tennessee is selling its allotted tickets for the 2014 SEC Tournament on UTTix.com, knowing Kentucky fans are going to gobble them all up. Mrs. Tyler and her family already purchased a large portion of the tickets so you won’t be alone in blue if you choose to go this route.
Ticket books are $375 and located in Sections 120 and 121 in the lower level corner of the Georgia Dome. One book contains seven tickets, one for each session, which allows one person to attend all 13 games.
Go here if you’re interested.
I can take the Sunkist and Texas Pete already.
I get lots of compliments on my UK shirt. It’s a real ice-breaker. A bona fide tone-setter. People always ask if they can buy it from me, and some even try to steal it right off my back. One guy even offered up his wife for just one night with my shirt. I’m spoken for, guy, and so is my UK shirt.
My UK shirt brings out my eyes. It also accentuates my awesome. Cute polo, fella. You a Cats fan? Oh, didn’t notice the wee little logo up in the corner there. That thing moisture wicked?
Tell me folks, on what other article of clothing can you find both Commonwealth and Cliff Hagan Stadiums, and Rupp Arena, and Alumni Hall and the Funkhouser Building? When I walk into the game, I get a standing ovation. I get the fireworks.
My UK shirt guides me. Literally. It’s a map.
I go hard at the gym in my UK shirt. As the heat turns up, the buttons come down.
I wear my UK shirt in the club. Girls go ham.
I wear my UK shirt in the grocery. Get free ham.
I wear my heart on one sleeve of my UK shirt, and wipe my nose on the other.
I day-trade in my UK shirt and make bazillions.
I’m on the phone with Asia, making deals in my UK shirt.
Ladies love my UK shirt. Moms trust my UK shirt. Dads pat me on the back and say, “hot damn, now that’s a UK shirt.”
I don’t smoke but I keep a soft pack in the front pocket because that’s just what you do with pockets on UK shirts. Anyone got a light? Actually, I do, right here in my UK shirt.
There are pennants all over my UK shirt because really, who doesn’t love pennants?
My UK shirt has taken me places I never thought I’d go: Bowl games, Final Fours, breakfast at Wheeler’s, Davenport, IA once for work, Turks and Caicos. Where has your “Dunk Dynasty” t-shirt ever taken you?
We’re taught in school that too much of a good thing is bad, and living in excess is somehow wrong. They say you can’t go through life cloaked in UK wallpaper because no one will take you seriously. But there’s no room for naysayers on my UK shirt. There’s actually no room for anything else, at all.
One of the best things I’ve seen this week is the Washington Wizards’ Bandwagon Cam, which shamed fans who wore Miami Heat gear but actually live in Washington during last night’s game.
I’d say we need a Bandwagon Cam in Rupp, but no one in Lexington would do that, would they?
H/t to everyone and their mom who posted this on Twitter today
Auto-Play is annoying so watch it below.
From barkingcarnival.com, here are Charlie Strong’s new guidelines for his football players at the University of Texas, and surprise, surprise, things look pretty strict. There’s a heavy focus on “winning now,” in addition to guidelines for off-the-field behavior. Players can’t live off of campus, and have to sit in the first two rows in all of their classes. For a college student, that first part is essentially a social death penalty, and the second part is going to seriously cut down on nap time.
But did you notice how four of the five Louisville “core values” are incorporated into a single bullet point (#4)? He also apparently had a bad experience with earrings, which I’d be interested to know. But why do all of Louisville’s rules take up so little space?
The Sporting News’ Ryan Fagan caught up with Karl Towns this past weekend during the Under Armour Showcase in Charlotte, and Towns’ quotes about Kentucky and Cal will make you love him even more. Towns joked that he’s been committed to Kentucky so long (over a year), it’s like he’s already been “sent to the D-League or something,” and by the time he gets on campus, it will feel like his junior year.
What is the first thing that comes to Towns’ mind when he thinks of Cal? How loud he is.
“Loud. I mean, like he told me my first day with the Dominican team, ‘I’m not screaming at you because I’m mad, I’m screaming at you because I’m Italian.’ Coach Cal is such a great coach and such a great guy and a great human being. I’m just blessed I was given the chance to be his little apprentice and learn under him for these years.”
Towns also had some promising things to say about his future teammates, whom he’s already gotten to know on visits:
“This class is going to be one special class. People, really, look too much at the rankings, and it doesn’t actually show the worth of the player. This team, right now, the continuity is already there. The biggest thing about us is we all want to win, and we don’t care about the draft stock and we don’t care about how we do individually, we just want to make sure we get a W every time we step on the court. Right now, we’re taking those steps in high school to raise our game to another level before we get to college.”
I mentioned this last night, but next year’s team could be one of Cal’s best in terms of experience and talent if enough players return. It’s early, but it looks like Dakari, Marcus Lee, and maybe Alex Poythress (who is on track to graduate at the end of his junior year) could come back, which, along with Dominique Hawkins and Derek Willis, could be a strong core group of veterans to offset the learning curve of the freshmen.
Meanwhile, I wonder how many things Calipari uses “I’m Italian” as an excuse for.
I gel my hair a lot because I’m Italian.
I eat a lot of
pasta meat because I’m Italian.
I pay a lot of money for loafers because I’m Italian. Also rich.
Chime in with yours…
Almost a year after he tore his ACL, Rajon Rondo is poised to return to the court. Celtics president Danny Ainge said that Rondo will play in Friday’s game against the Lakers, his first game under new head coach Brad Stevens. Earlier this week, Rondo worked out with the Celtics’ D-League team, and went through warm ups before their game against Toronto last night.
Ainge said he expects Rondo to play about five minutes per quarter before he gets back to All-Star form: “I expect him to come back quicker than anyone expects. He’s a great competitor.”
Speaking of All-Stars, check out the NBA’s All-Star game jerseys this season:
Will this jersey-with-sleeves trend just die already?
Tampa (Fla.) Tampa Catholic
Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 210
It will be a long 11 months before Mark Stoops gets another shot at a Bobby Petrino team, but this weekend Stoops has the chance to snag one right from under the Dirty Bird’s nose. This weekend 2014 Florida safety Tj Harrell is making his rounds through the state, taking official visits to U of L and UK. Harrell was considered a lock for Louisville until Charlie Strong left for Texas. Strong has taken a handful or so of recruits with him to Texas, but all it has done for Harrell is open the door for others, including the National Champion Florida State Seminoles.
Harrell is the big athlete that Mark Stoops loves in his secondary. Standing at 6’0 tall, Harrell plays like he is on the prowl, playing with a physicality that is immeasurable. Harrell did pretty much everything for his Tampa Catholic high school, using his speed and power at running back while playing centerfield as safety. Even though he has ridiculous closing speed, what’s most impressive is his ability to lineup inside and physically ‘blow up’ plays. I cannot help but think of Winston Guy when I watch Harrell make plays all over the field.
With less than three weeks until National Signing Day this recruiting battle will be nothing short of intense. Harrell can choose to play for the National Champs, his cousin (UK RB Coach Chad Scott), or the stinky Dirty Bird Bobby Petrino. Only time will tell if Mark Stoops can get another HUGE symbolic win.
Watch Harrell fly around the field in his Senior highlight tape, including a couple diving INTs ( I have no idea how he got to the one at 2:48).
Given Cal’s track record of putting players in the NBA, it’s no surprise that a LOT of NBA scouts regularly attend games at Rupp, and the demand for seats is so high that some don’t make the seating chart. Over at Draft Express, Jonathan Givony has a good piece about which college venues are the best for NBA teams to scout games. Kentucky and Rupp were near the top:
Kentucky received mentions from virtually every NBA person we talked to, mostly positive, but occasionally negative. “Calipari wants us at his games and practices. He embraces it. That’s part of what their program is,” one assistant GM told us. “But it all depends on your title. I would never send one of my scouts there because he’d be up on the balcony. Sometimes we need to embellish their title a little bit to make sure they can actually see the game. It’s understandable considering the demand. They can’t accommodate 150 NBA scouts and they’d have that if they didn’t have their policy in place. We can designate two people from our staff [typically GM and Assistant GM] at the beginning of every year to sit courtside at any game. The rest get sent up to a place where you’d be better off watching on TV.”
Another executive concurs. “Who you are matters more at Kentucky than probably anywhere else in the country. But that’s part of their deal. They want decision makers. They know which wheels to grease. If you’re a GM then you are on the baseline, which is great. If you’re a regular scout it’s not a great seat to watch a game, up on the balcony. On the flip side, they are one of the most accommodating schools in the country in terms of the way they interact with us. They go out of their way to help you. They obviously want you there, especially in practice. They are phenomenal with the way they manage their relationships with NBA teams.”
Some of the scouts’ least favorite venues? UCLA, Oklahoma State, and North Carolina. Considering their media overflow section is the stands, I’m not surprised.
Joker Phillips did not get the offensive coordinator job at Texas, which means he’s back at Florida for at least another season as wide receivers coach. And, with the dead period over, he’s on the recruiting trail. On his list of recruits to see? Three-star 2014 WR Garrett Johnson, a current UK commit. ESPN’s Derek Tyson reports that Joker will visit Johnson, who lives in Winter Park, Florida, and committed to Kentucky back in July. This is the first time Florida has shown interest in Johnson, who will receive a visit from Mark Stoops later this week.
Hello, Friends. You look well. You really should put a shirt on, you’re going to get really cold in this weather. Yes, we all love your tattoo. I’m not sure it’s spelled “Too-pock,” though. You might want to look into that. Yeah, I don’t think there’s a dash in that.
Friends, I don’t need to tell you that Tuesday night wasn’t fun. It was an exciting game, sure, but whenever an “L” is handed over to our Cats it isn’t much of a good time. The one thing most forefront in Tuesday night’s game, however, had to be the fouling situation. Sixty fouls in one game prompt even the casual viewer to wonder what’s going on with the NCAA and their new fouling rules for 2013-14. Don’t pretend like you understand them all, because no one does, and that one person you know who claims to is lying. Lucky for you, then, that you have your old friend Tomlin here to look up the new rules concerning NCAA fouls – and we’ll do it today in a little game we call Foul or No Foul. It’s easy. I’ll present a situation, you tell me if it’s an NCAA-sanctioned foul or not. Shall we? Oh indeed we shall.
Q. While defending, a player sticking close to his man places his arm out to keep contact with his opponent’s forearm and upper arm, non-aggressively, to keep his opponent in check and at bay.
A. Foul. According to the NCAA rules, a personal foul should be called whenever “a player keeps a hand or forearm on an opponent” during play.
Q. A defender quickly jumps into the path of an offensive player as the offensive player starts his movement with the ball to either jump or pass the ball to a nearby teammate.
A. Foul. According to the NCAA’s newly revised block/charge call ruling, the defensive player “is not permitted to move into the path of an offensive player once he has started his upward motion with the ball to attempt a field goal or pass.”
Q. A player swinging his elbows above his shoulders makes contact with his opponent.
A. Possible Foul, But Not Always. The newly-amended NCAA rules concerning elbows allows court officials to use the monitor to review elbow fouls to determine if the offending elbow contact was unintentional, garnering no foul, or a variation of flagrant foul on the offensive player.
Q. An offensive player, after being taken to an extravagant restaurant by the defending player with the defending player paying the entirety of the restaurant bill, makes a gesture of thanks by patting him on the back.
A. Foul. According to NCAA rules, “the use of an arm bar to impede the progress of an opponent” is prohibited and a personal foul should be consistently called.
Q. A defending player during game play approaches an offensive player and mimics placing his hand behind the offensive player’s ear, using sleight of hand to give the impression that the defender has just removed a quarter from behind the offensive player’s ear, both surprising and delighting the offensive player.
A. Foul. The receiving or accepting of moneys or gifts garnered in correlation to NCAA athletic play is strictly prohibited by the NCAA and should consistently be called a foul with possible committee investigation.
Q. A defending player is found to have a stray eyelash resting upon his cheek, whereupon the offensive player tells him to hold still and “make a wish” as the offensive player delicately blows the eyelash away from his cheek.
A. Foul. According to NCAA rules the encouragement of dreams and ambitions is prohibited by the NCAA in all ways, including wishing upon stars, blowing out birthday candles and depositing coins into fountains or wells (said coins are as well may be suspect to committee investigation and review concerning athletes and monetary gain).
Q. A defending player shoves an offensive player out of bounds during game play.
A. No Foul. Acceptable pending the opinion of the officials.
Q. An offensive player is dying. A defensive player who has special otherworldly powers unknown to him until only the past few months, and who has struggled to control these powers and come to terms with them, touches the offensive player with his hand and heals his body, making him well again to the crowd’s amazement.
A. Foul. No hands or forearms on the opponent.
How much did the Cats’ loss at Arkansas hurt their tournament seed? If you listen to Joe Lunardi, not much. Kentucky remains a 4-seed in the latest Bracketology, facing off against Steve Masiello’s 13-seed Manhattan in Orlando.
I’ll take that draw.
Today marks the end of the dead period for football recruiting, which means the UK coaching staff is hitting the road to check in on their remaining targets for 2014 and beyond. Their first stop? Elizabethtown to see five-star defensive tackle Matt Elam. The staff will visit with Elam before heading to Alabama this weekend for his official visit. They’ll also go to Princeton, Kentucky to see 2015 QB Elijah Sindelar.
The Cats Pause’s Chris Fisher has a list of confirmed in-home/school visits over at the House of Blue message boards. Go check it out.
In the post directly under this one, I shared Anthony Davis’ stats from last night. The Brow had 24 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 block against Terrence Jones’ Houston Rockets, and had one big fan in the stands. New Orleans defensive coordinator Rob Ryan sat courtside in an Anthony Davis jersey, and told Fox Sports’ Jen Hale that Davis is the reason he comes to Pelicans games:
“I just know that you’re supposed to put the ball in the hoop,” Rob Ryan said. “I like coming to games because I’m a big fan of Anthony Davis. I love cheering for him and for our city.”
I’m a fan of Rob Ryan. That hair is glorious (even if some think it’s preventing him from getting a head coaching job). He’s the Connie Britton of NFL coordinators. Real recognize real:
Several of your NBA Cats put in great performances last night. Let’s take a look at some of their stat lines and highlights:
Terrence Jones, Houston Rockets (103-100 W @ New Orleans): 25 points, 8 rebounds, 6 blocks, 1 assist and 1 steal (Career high in points)
John Wall, Washington Wizards (114-97 W over Miami): 25 points, 5 rebounds, 9 assists, 1 block
DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings (111-108 W @ Minnesota): 20 points, 11 rebounds, 1 block. (His 12th straight double double)
Anthony Davis, New Orleans (100-103 L to Houston): 24 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block
Enes Kanter, Utah Jazz (105-109 L @ San Antonio): 25 points, 11 rebounds, 2 steals (Career high in points)
Brandon Knight, Milwaukee Bucks (77-82 L to Memphis): 27 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal
In fact, the players above combined for a whopping 146 points last night. Wow.
We here at Funkhouser are recovering from the Golden Globes, and of course prepping for the Oscars–whose nominees were announced today, yet I feel like talking about three films that aren’t being recognized this awards season; they are far from Razzie material, yet they’re not classically great, nor suitable for the tastemakers of the Academy or Hollywood Foreign Press.
Don’t worry, we will have plenty of time to talk about who’s getting golden manikins this year, but we’re all playing catchup on the movies we missed in 2013, and while the Internet incessantly discusses the Oscar nominated films, let’s take a look at those that were not nominated for major awards.
The films I chose below were my personal favorite films that were underrated, not necessarily particularly successful or “buzzed” about, and are not candidates for major movie awards–yet they’re still good!
Yes, it’s possible to like movies that are not Oscar nominees, not franchise films (otherwise known as Marvel films,) nor are so damn indie that your most hipster acquaintance couldn’t identify a single castmember.
Without further ado, here are my favorite underrated movies of 2013. They are so personal, I had only shared them with my turquoise Limited Too diary before today.
My underrated films of 2013
This film intrigued me early on in the long ago days of 2012, and was one of the (many) on my must-see list for the upcoming year.
Stoker is the English language debut of South Korean director Chan Wook-Park, best known for the acclaimed, yet controversial 2003 film, Oldboy (which has been remade, Spider-Man style, only ten years after its release.)
I was also interested to see that Wentworth Miller, former star of the FOX television show, Prison Break, wrote the screenplay for Stoker. And not co-wrote. Wrote. Apparently along with his ridiculously good looking looks, Mr. Miller is also a Princeton graduate. Dare I say, I underestimated you Wentworth?
Coupling (tripling?) the screenwriter and director with a cast featuring rising star Matthew Goode, Nicole Kidman, and one of my favorite young actresses, primarily due to her eclectic, independent choices in film projects, Mia Wasikowska, and I was sold.
But the main reason that you should check out Stoker in 2014? This:
IMDb identifies the “plot keywords” as pus, shoes, punched in the stomach, disposing of a dead body, and garden shears? Hell, sounds like the ingredients for a pretty typical night on the town for Bobby Petrino and Rick Pitino–with the wives of course.
Despite having all of the pus-covered garden shears and a lot of starpower, Stoker did quite poorly at the box office, scoring only $1.7 million in the US for a film with a $12 million estimated budget. Luckily, it made up for it with 85% of its box office total coming outside the US, but regardless–the movie was not profitable.
Yet, I, Brennan English, claim Stoker as one of my favorite films of the year.
Stoker is one of those films that is simply deliciously creepy, giving the viewer a similar experience and vibe as the 27 thousand films about freaky boarding schools that are out there. And who doesn’t love those movies? Communists that’s who.
The film begins with the death of India Stoker’s (Wasikowska) father, her confidante and hunting partner (foreshadowing cough cough) should destroy young India, but instead of becoming truly shattered, she seems to accept his passing rather coolly.
Icy, cool, numb–these words largely sum up this film, especially the role played by young India’s emotionally vacuous, unaffectionate mother, Evelyn (Kidman.)
Enter the Hitchcockian Uncle Charlie (Goode,) the brother of India’s father whom she didn’t know existed, and oila, it’s creepy “oh my God this is starting to feel incesty” time!
Without giving too much away, previously nonexistence and young, attractive Uncle Charlie takes a special interest in his shy niece India, and throughout the film flips his personalities–from supportive, loving Uncle Charlie to calculated, sociopathic Uncle Charlie.
This uncle has a profound effect on India, helping her to in some sense realize herself in a bizarre coming-of-age story.
Although the film’s story-line may have been missing enough thematic complexity to make this a “great” movie, it is still a very good, patient, simple, and beautifully creepy thriller.
Stoker is easily one of the most visually beautiful films of 2013, and its cinematography, pacing, setting, and use of colors (black and white, a la Black Swan) makes it difficult to tear one’s eyes from the screen.
The cast isn’t so bad to look at either.
It’s difficult to get noticed as a filmmaker in February, but I notice you Steven Soderbergh, I always notice you.
The director of Ocean’s 11, the 2011 thriller, Contagion (also underrated in my opinion,) and Behind the Candelabra, Soderbergh has a unique style that comes forth in the very underrated, Side Effects.
With another star-studded cast in this list, Soderbergh takes the viewer on a twisting rollercoaster ride in a film indicting the pharmaceutical industry and American medical “industrial complex” as it destroys a loving young couple’s lives.
It’s very difficult to review this film without giving anything up, but take my word for it, it’s extraordinarily entertaining, and it’s expected but somehow still unexpected climax, and while a bit outlandish–the viewer still finds him or herself being sucked into this pharma-thriller.
And it’s on Netflix Instant! No excuse not to give it a go Funkhouser. There’s even some Rooney Mara stabbing; I had missed some skinny girl-on-man violence since the American Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Ryan Gosling loves playing the strong but silent type, and unlike his rather terrible “other” films of 2013–American Gangster and Only God Forgives (there is such a thing as too much symbolism,) his character in The Place Beyond the Pines hit the mark.
Staring, brooding, tattooed, mysterious fast-driving, troubled, and somewhat mythical–this sums up the post-Notebook career of Mr. Gosling, and this one is no different. As a Carny who drives motorcycles upside down for a living, Gosling’s life is turned upside down when he learns the news that his former lover, played by Eva Mendes, is the mother of his son.
So naturally, the poor guy with the bad bleach-job and even worse tattoos turns to robbing banks to come up with some cash, and get a chance to be in his son’s life.
Bradley Cooper plays the good cop, another too good to be in this profession character in this film of beautiful, yet poor faces; as a former lawyer, the idealistic Cooper intends to better the world, similar to Ryan Phillippe’s character in Crash (ugh, can’t believe I just referenced Crash..)
I saw this film back in early 2013 at Lexington’s own Kentucky theater, and it is divided in such a way, focusing on the lives of three different characters chronologically, that it feels like 3 short movies in one.
I am still undecided on whether this was a flaw of the filmmaker, being unable to coalesce several unique stories into one, concrete story, yet I believe in this instance, it made for a unique and positive viewing experience for a drama.
It explored the themes of the blurred lines between right and wrong, corruption via power, and the complexity of parenthood powerfully, and while movie did well financially despite being largely limited to hipster theaters, it was rather neglected in the pre-summer blockbuster buzz.
Hey girl, you know Ryan Gosling wants you to see this movie. Yes, I’m aware he looks incredibly douchey in this movie, but he’s still Ryan Gosling ladies–never forget.
May have deserved major awards nominations but were released early and got none–wah wahhhh
Prisoners, Mud, Don Jon, The Way Way Back, The Spectacular Now, and Fruitvale Station are each movies that did not manage to receive awards distinctions, but should have been in the conversation. They are absolutely must-sees from 2013. While each had an opportunity to be awards bait (unlike the three films I discussed above,) particularly Prisoners and Mud, yet were unfortunately overshadowed–to some degree due to their early release dates.
Sidenote–those Arkansas kids in Mud stole my heart. Stole. It.
Another underappreciated, potential award-winner, Rush, was nominated as a Best Picture, Drama candidate at the Globes, otherwise it would have certainly been at the top of the “deserved an awards nom” list. Rush is a thoroughly enjoyable film in a way nominated dramas often are not. Even if you loathe fast cars driving in circles and are skeptical about Chris Hemsworth’s ability to act, outside his God of Thunder role–this movie is nearly impossible to dislike. Also, did you see him read the Oscar nominees this morning? Man looks good at a podium–mad respect.
Underrated Honorable Mention:
These movies didn’t make zillions, nor spend zillions, and won’t be receiving any statues, but each are worth watching. And I only included films available to legally rent today! Because piracy is a crime people!! You wouldn’t steal a laptop from a store to watch your bootleg movie on would you? Oh you would? Carry on then.
You’re Next, Drinking Buddies, The Family, To Do List, The Kings of Summer, The Iceman, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Scenic Route, The Bling Ring, The East, Passion, Girl Most Likely, Devil’s Pass, Short Term 12 (not yet available to rent)
That’s all folks. I’ll be back with plenty of Oscar buzzness for you in the coming weeks, namely if Inside Llewyn Davis got hosed by the Academy and should be included as an underappreciated film of the year. Love to have your thoughts. In the meantime, may as well watch a lotttttt of movies.