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Muhammad Ali’s Saturday News And Views

Seventy-two years ago today the greatest athlete the state of Kentucky has ever produced was born to Cassius Clay Sr and Odessa Clay in a middle class Louisville home. For a state that seems to have a miniscule impact on the world of professional sports it’s cool to associate ourselves with one of the athletes who define a sport. Ali was famous for both his work in ring and outside of it along with being infinitely quotable. My favorite Ali quote

I’ve wrestled with alligators,
I’ve tussled with a whale.
I done handcuffed lightning
And throw thunder in jail.
You know I’m bad.
just last week, I murdered a rock,
Injured a stone, Hospitalized a brick.
I’m so mean, I make medicine sick.”

Muhammad Ali is a living legend and despite him making appearances at Card games we wish him a very happy 72nd birthday to the greatest of all time.

Now on to the news and some views:

-Tomorrow the Cats will take on the Tennesse Vols and despite Alex Poythress turning on absolute beast mode don’t expect him to slide into the starting role. Today Cal said:

“No, no. We’re fine,” Cal said at his pre-Tennessee press conference, when asked if he’ll toy with the starting rotation. “If I need to put a guy in, I’ll put him a minute into the game.”

Alex the Tennesse native has been putting in extra midnight hours following the loss to Arkansas. I expect him to have another monster dunk-a-thon tomorrow afternoon. How many point do you think he will finish with?

-As for the game against the 11-5 Vols, Kentucky opened as a big time favorite at home. The Cats are a a 9.5 point favorite over Tennessee. The spread seems a little high considering its a rivalry game against a team that can match-up well with us. I expect to see an all out brawl in Rupp tomorrow.

-One of the best SEC match-ups this season will be Stokes going up against Julius Randle and believe it or not the two have a history. Randle and Stokes were teammates on the USA Men’s U18 National Team in 2012 and saw plenty of each other in the training sessions and practices before traveling to Brazil for the FIBA Americas U18 Championships. Randle, the youngest member of that team, led the USA in scoring and rebounds with 14.9 and 6.6 per game. Stokes, the oldest player on the team, was a close second with 14 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.

I could see both guys going for 14 easy in tomorrows battle.

These cat fans climbed a mountain in anticipation of tomorrow’s game.

The new football Cats are on Campus and UK released a video showcasing the new crop of talent:

The video is awesome and will get you hyped up for the future on the football field. Big things are coming for Stoops and the troops.

-Speaking of football there’s a new coach in town down in Nashville. Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason is all set to become Vanderbilt’s next head football coach. Stanford has remained great despite Harbaugh leaving for the league a few years back so it seems like the ‘Dores landed a good coach. Hopefully though Vandy will fall back down to a team the Cats can defeat on the regular. That’d go a long way towards reaching a bowl

Around the NBA

-DeMarcus Cousins continues to dominate around the association. Tonight he finished 22 and 17 against defensive player of the year Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. If Big Cuz isn’t the best center in the NBA already he is well on his way as he is averaging  25 and 14 of the last 10 games. The Kings have a franchise player in the 23 year old. Now, if only they could get him some help.

-John Wall hit an amazing shot you just gotta see. Scroll on down the page to take a look.

 

The fun for Tennessee starts bright and early tomorrow with the KSR pregame show at 9:30 so set your alarm to tune in. I’ll be around for the pregame festivities and checking in on Jarnell Stokes’ ability to stretch.

Go Cats.

 


So John Wall Did This…

That was an actual shot Wall hit tonight in a win over the Bulls. Wall and the Wizards have won 5 of 7 including a win over the Heat to move into 5th in the east. That’s just one game behind third place Toronto. As of now it’s looking like Wall is playoff bound.

As far as circus shots go that was one for the ages. But was it better than James Young’s amazing toss from earlier this year? I say yes since it was actually a basket. What do you think?


4 Reasons Kentucky Is In For A Brawl With The Vols

1. Tennessee Needs To Make A Statement

Coming into the year the Vols hoped to land a top 25 ranking and roll into March looking to make some noise. Instead they limp into SEC play with a record of 11-5 and an early SEC loss to Texas A&M. Much like Arkansas the Vols need a signature win and a hot streak to have any hope of hearing their name called on selection Sunday. Expect them to bring as much fight as the Razorbacks which could be another problem since:

2. The Vols Match-Up Well With The Cats

In Jordan McRae, Jarnell Stokes, and Jeronne Maymon Tennesse has three guys capable of matching up with the Cats on both ends of the floor. Just recall what the Vols did to the Cats last season in Knoxville when they delivered their biggest win over the Cats ever by winning 88-58. Kentucky has a new crop of horses in the stable that should will be bigger, stronger, and better than UT. Still on paper Tennessee looks like a team that will be able to hang with the Cats not a good thing when you need a win and come out of the gates slow.

3. Kentucky Looks To Bounce Back

Following the disappointment in Fayetteville the Cats now have a chance to right the ship with three straight home games. All three are easily winnable but they will need to do something they have struggled with so far in the SEC, put the foot on the gas. The boys in blue will need to come out of the gate firing and put UT away because you don’t want to let any team hang around but especially when that team is a rival.

4. The Rivalry

What has always made the Kentucky Louisville game more special than Duke-Carolina? Many would point to the fact they only play one time a season versus multiple times when you’re in the same conference. Well, this season Kentucky will be playing Tennessee just one time in the regular season which means bragging rights between the two states will be on the line. To many in the state UT is the biggest rival on our schedule and a win would give them something to crow about until football kicks off next fall.

 

What do you think the score will be during tomorrow’s 12pm brawl?

 


Back to School

Back to School

Hood, Polson, Cal Graduation

 

The Kentucky Wildcats will face bitter rival Tennessee for the first and only time this season when the ‘Cats and Vols tip off tomorrow at noon in Rupp Arena. The matchup in itself will be captivating on several levels:

1. This will mark the first season since 1952-53 in which Kentucky will not play a regular season game on the road at Tennessee

2. The two teams split the series 1-1 in 2012-13, though Tennessee won the latter contest at home by a 30-point margin in the Wildcats’ first game without Nerlens Noel

3. The ‘Cats are coming off their first conference loss of the season, after finding themselves on the wrong end of a heartbreaking overtime thriller in Fayetteville, AR

4. Saturday’s matchup will be the basketball team’s first game since University of Kentucky students returned to class on Wednesday

Reason No. 4 may not jump off the page at first glance, but it’s worth noting that the Wildcats built a four-game winning streak before falling short to the Arkansas Razorbacks over the student-athletes’ winter break from classes. The freshman-laden squad compiled a 2-0 record over November’s Thanksgiving break (bringing their overall record to 6-1 in games that took place while class was not in session), but lost their first game back in a semi-neutral environment to the Baylor Bears, 62-67. Hopefully, when the young ‘Cats return to school this time, the balance between basketball and books will be an easier load to bear when the two forces clash for the first time.

If the recent trend of Big Blue one-and-dones continues (which 2013-14 talent levels indicate it will), several players won’t have to worry about balancing sports and studies after this semester. Four Kentucky players remain on ESPN Insider Chad Ford’s latest edition of his NBA Draft prospect Big Board, version 5.0. Julius Randle finds himself at No. 4 [LINK], while Willie-Cauley Stein temporarily solidified a lottery spot at No. 11 [LINK]. James Young clocked in at No. 15 [LINK], and Andrew Harrison rounded out the list at No. 30 [LINK].

H/t to /u/iamtheraptor

96 Conclusion Logo

@Condre3000_KSR


Crunching the Math for March Champs

Crunching the Math for March Champs

math

First off – big ups to BlugrassDiesel in the show thread today, for getting this idea going.  Free throws have been a big topic of discussion for this team (and pretty much every Calipari team, but just how important are they when it comes time to win a title?  Are there other factors we can look at too?

We’re going to compare some statistics to see where each title team finished, and where Kentucky falls in so far this year.

Free Throw Percentage
2003 Syracuse 69%
2004 UConn 61%
2005 UNC 73%
2006 Florida 73%
2007 Florida 68%
2008 Kansas 70%
2009 UNC 76%
2010 Duke 75%
2011 UConn 75%
2012 Kentucky 72%
2013 Louisville 71%
2014 Kentucky 66%

Takeaway:  Well.  Kentucky isn’t the worst so we’ve got that going for us, which is nice.  And let’s throw 2008 Memphis in the mix – they only averaged 61% on their free throws, and were a crazy shot away from winning the title.  That said, it’s clear that more consistency with free throws takes this team from good to great, so it’d be nice if that percentage creeped up about 4 points. 

3pt Percentage
2003 Syracuse 35%
2004 UConn 40%
2005 UNC 40%
2006 Florida 39%
2007 Florida 41%
2008 Kansas 40%
2009 UNC 31%
2010 Duke 39%
2011 UConn 33%
2012 Kentucky 39%
2013 Louisville 33%
2014 Kentucky 30%

Takeaway: With great post play, Kentucky hasn’t had to rely on the three too heavily.  And with Randle getting better at passing out of double and triple teams, the percentage will get better.  But it’s clear that the Cats need to work on taking smarter shots here, too.  But at the end of the day, the 3 ball is only to keep teams honest.  Kentucky is going to win on their inside play this year.

FG Percentage

2003 Syracuse 46%
2004 UConn 48%
2005 UNC 50%
2006 Florida 50%
2007 Florida 53%
2008 Kansas 51%
2009 UNC 45%
2010 Duke 44%
2011 UConn 43%
2012 Kentucky 49%
2013 Louisville 45%
2014 Kentucky 48%

Takeaway:  This should be encouraging.  Kentucky is right in the middle here, and they’re still rounding in to shape.

And then of course, there is the Offensive and Defensive efficiency rating. Every champ for the past ten years has been in the top 20 of both categories, with only two being outside the top 5 in offensive, and three outside the top 5 in defensive

Kentucky is 11th in Adjusted Offensive efficiency so far on the season… and 45th in Adj Defensive efficiency.

The teams that are in the top twenty in both so far this season?  Kansas, Syracuse, and Arizona.  That’s it.

The stats back up what we already knew, to be honest.  The Cats still have work to do.  But as Calipari has preached – enjoy the process.  They’re getting better.  Here towards the end of SEC play, we will take a look at how the Cats performed solely in the SEC season, and compare the statistics again.

Until then – Go Cats, Beat Tennessee.


Julius Randle and Jarnell Stokes know each other well

When Julius Randle and Jarnell Stokes body up in the paint tomorrow in Rupp Arena, it won’t mark the first time they’ve met on the basketball court. Randle and Stokes were teammates on the USA Men’s U18 National Team in 2012 and saw plenty of each other in the training sessions and practices before traveling to Brazil for the FIBA Americas U18 Championships.

Randle, the youngest member of that team, led the USA in scoring and rebounds with 14.9 and 6.6 per game. Stokes, the oldest player on the team, was a close second with 14 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. They started all five games together down low for USA in Brazil, alongside Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, Syracuse’s Jerami Grant, and North Carolina freshman guard Nate Britt.

Oh yeah, Randle and Stokes were roommates that summer, too.


Don’t expect any changes to the starting lineup

Calipari hinted at maybe shaking up the starting five last week before Kentucky went down to Vanderbilt. He was asked if that’s still an option today and the answer was a big ol’ “no.”

“No, no. We’re fine,” Cal said at his pre-Tennessee press conference, when asked if he’ll toy with the starting rotation. “If I need to put a guy in, I’ll put him a minute into the game.”

Alex Poythress followed that up a little later by saying, “It really just matters who playing at the end of the game. It doesn’t matter who starts, it’s who finishes.”


Alex Poythress different player in reality compared to paper

Alex Poythress different player in reality compared to paper

poythress
(Darrell Bird|CatPause)

When Alex Poythress came to Kentucky last year, many had high expectations for the 5-star and top 10 nationally recruit. However he, like many of his teammates, fell short of expectations and he decided to come back to prove everyone wrong.

Which he has.

Poythress has been a big part of this year’s team, averaging 19.2 minutes a game so far. Even though fans seem to be more than pleased with his performance, on paper so far his 2013-14 season average is below what last year’s total was. Here, take a look:

SEASON

TEAM

MIN

FGM-FGA

FG%

3PM-3PA

3P%

FTM-FTA

FT%

REB

AST

BLK

STL

PF

TO

PTS

2013-14

UK

19.2

2.4-4.7

.520

0.3-0.8

.333

0.9-1.7

.519

5.7

0.6

0.9

0.2

2.0

0.8

6.0

2012-13

UK

25.8

4.0-6.9

.581

0.4-1.0

.424

2.8-4.0

.689

6.0

0.7

0.4

0.3

2.7

2.0

11.2

In today’s Pre-Tennessee press conference Cal seemed to think it all boils down to one thing. Responsibility.

“The guys that don’t take responsibility stay here longer,” he said. “Until you’re ready to take responsibility and be a man about your decisions and your choices, which leads to your performance.”

Poythress has learned all about responsibility this season as he stepped up to make big plays for the Cats when they need it most. One play in particular was his offensive rebound at the end of the Arkansas game this past Tuesday.  In fact, Cal said he did not know of any other player in the country that could have made that same play.

Although Cal praised him for the play, he also said that even just three months ago he didn’t believe Poythress would have made it.

“He would have never gone after the ball. He would have never attempted,” Cal said. “And then when you talked to him about it, ‘Why didn’t you go after this?’ His head would have went down, and he would have slumped. And that’s what he was then.”

Cal went on to talk about why Poythress has changed so much in such a short period of time.

“Now he can be alert because he’s in great shape. He can be alert because he’s busted through comfort levels. He’s doing more than he’s ever thought he could do. It just took him more time. I mean, these kids are on different timetables. They all are.”

In each game this season Alex Poythress has look less confused and more like the 5-star recruit he was as the season has progressed. He has learned to deal with game pressures and has converted that pressure into some big time plays.

At the very least Poythress has been putting the effort in. As Drew Franklin reported earlier today, Poythress has been joining Derek Willis for midnight sessions in the Joe Craft Center since Kentucky’s loss against Arkansas.

Coach Cal stated that he believes Poythress has finally learned to stop caring about what others think of him.

“You can’t deal with the clutter. He had to deal with clutter such as ‘He likes him more, if you did this and that’ and no one in that clutter makes these kids take responsibility.” Cal said. “At some point, you’ve got to be a man and man up, and it isn’t about another player on the team. It’s not about the coach. It’s about me. And I’m going to change this. And you get rid of the clutter.”

Based on the Pre-Tennessee conference today, Poythress seems to understand and even appreciate his role as Kentucky’s sixth man.

“Coming off the bench isn’t any different than starting,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who starts the game, it’s who is playing at the end”

Poythress also said he feels like he has been taking defense more personally than before this year.

“I’m trying to stop people and trying to guard people. I’m trying to help my teammates on the weak side getting rebounds and blocks,” he said. “I am just trying to be there to help them more and put them in the position to win.”

I say KSR should at least give Poythress an A for effort for the season so far.

@Sealey_KSR


Kentucky opens as a 9.5 point favorite

YOUNG

The spread for tomorrow’s game is out and the Cats find themselves as a 9.5 point favorite over Tennessee in the noon o’clock game. According to Covers.com, Kentucky is 5-3 against the spread at home at 6-6-2 overall. Tennessee is 1-2 against the spread on the road.

As always, gamble responsibly. We don’t want you losing a finger to a bookie for coming up short at the end of the month.


More SEC tickets available, this time from Alabama

Last night I told you about the SEC Tournament ticket books available through the University of Tennessee, and now we have another option for those of you who would rather sit amongst the Crimson. The University of Alabama has tickets available in Sections 126, 127, 130 and 131 in the lower level of the Georgia Dome.

Books go for $375 and each one contains seven tickets, one for each session, which allows one person to attend all 13 games.

See you in Atlanta.


Julius Randle 6th in Ken Pomeroy’s Player of the Year Standings

randle

Every season, coaches, writers, and fans of the game hand out numerous Player of the Year honors to the best and most deserving players in collegiate basketball. While the dozens of awards in existence usually do an outstanding job in selecting worthy recipients, for whatever reason, some players get left out of consideration. This quandary bothered stat guru Ken Pomeroy, and as a result, he created the KenPom Player of the Year Award.

As you can imagine, Pomeroy’s award is solely based upon efficiency metrics – meaning things like off-court character aren’t considered. While most traditional sources consider numbers to an extent, his ratings include almost everything from a player’s statistical profile – including things like turnovers, missed shots, and defensive ability. In addition to considering the negative statistics, Pomeroy also considers team strength and how heavily a player is featured in his team’s possessions. In the most basic terms, the award is usually given to a very efficient, heavily featured player on a highly ranked team – three qualifications in which Julius Randle meets.

Randle is currently 6th in Pomeroy’s Player of the Year standings, due in large part to his titanic rebounding ability and efficiency in the post. However, he’s hindered by turnovers, lack of defensive statistics, and Kentucky’s relatively low rating in Pomeroy’s system. Creighton’s Doug McDermott is currently leading the pack by a significant margin. The remainder of the rankings, with further explanation from Pomeroy, can be found by following this link.


This video of the early football enrollees is great

Kentucky Wildcats TV followed the early football enrollees as they moved into their dorms last weekend. Watch as Drew Barker, T.V. Williams, Thaddeus Snodgrass, Mikel Horton, Dorian Hendrix, Cory Johnson, and A.J. Stamps begin the next chapter of their lives in Lexington as members of the UK football team.

They’re all very excited about the future and know the difficult task that lies ahead.

Horton said, “I don’t want to be a part of something that’s already there. I want to create something. Thirty years from now I want to be on ESPN’s 30 for 30 asking why UK is the best today. I want to be part of something new.”

Love the attitude.


Not Jerry Tipton’s Friday Basketball Notebook

tipton2

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), North Carolina and Arkansas (again), 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 Can Have the Crown: After shocking 3rd ranked Wisconsin Tuesday night, jubilant Indiana fans rushed the court, and in doing so showed all the enthusiasm of a girl finding out she just won Miss Teen Detroit. The reaction from Kentucky fans was predictable: Jealousy. Why else would they call out IU backers for being excited about their team winning? For one thing, given how the Hoosiers have played this year, nobody saw this coming. Sure, Wisconsin isn’t a dominant team historically, but then again, neither is Indiana. Secondly, no current Indiana student was enrolled in the university the last time IU beat the Badgers, so excuse them for thinking they’ll never see it again. Likewise, no normal-aged college student in America was alive the last time IU won a championship. And to all the members of Big Blue Nation who were telling Indiana fans to “act like you’ve been there before,” you can’t “act like you’ve been there before” if you haven’t. Duh.

*I’d Have to Be Crazy: Despite the fact that they have been playing together for almost 4 months now (practice began in late September), Kentucky has only won one true road game all year. By my calculation, this means that this UK team is only averaging one road win every almost 4 months. This is an astounding feat, given the fact that the Wildcats entered the season ranked #1 in the country. While it’s true that UK has only lost two home games in the past 5 season, and sports a sparkling 76-2 mark under John Calipari in the confines of Rupp Arena, the fact of the matter is that the Cats won’t be playing any NCAA Tournament games at home. To get ready for the Big Dance, these Kiddie Cats need to learn how to play in opposing arenas full of hostile fans. Unfortunately, as evidenced by the thousands of Big Blue Backers who routinely fill opposing arenas (e.g., Memorial Gymnasium when Kentucky played Vanderbilt last week), it isn’t clear how many more chances they’ll get to do this.

*Life Ain’t Fair & the World Is Mean: When Arkansas hosted UK Tuesday, the Razorbacks had a “white out,” whereby they handed out white t-shirts to all the fans, and had coach Mike Anderson donning a white tie. This does not bode well for Kentucky. John Calipari likes to crack that everywhere the Cats play, the opposing team has “a red out, a white out, a blue out, an orange out,” etc. In other words, the only way UK’s opponents can coerce any fans to attend games featuring Kentucky is to bribe them with swag (this is shorthand for “stuff we all get”). Apparently, Kentucky’s tire fire of a season last year, which culminated in a humiliating loss to Robert Morris in the National Invitation Tournament, has resulted in people not wanting to see them play. in previous years, opposing arenas sold out whenever the Cats came to town. Nowadays, the only way fans will come see Kentucky is if they are bribed with clothing. It’s sad, really.

* On this date: On this date in 2020, that Arkansas fan who confronted Aaron Harrison should be up for a promotion at Dairy Queen.


Kentucky Predicted to Lose One More Game in the Regular Season

Kentucky Predicted to Lose One More Game in the Regular Season

amn-uk-notebook-coach-john-calipari-not-happy--001

Photo courtesy of Victoria Graph

UK’s last-second loss in Fayetteville, Arkansas, was particularly painful.  It wasn’t just a heart-breaking buzzer beater – the loss also slowed the momentum that UK had gained in the past couple of weeks after a rougher-than-expected start to the season. However, according to Jeff Sagarin’s computer ratings, Kentucky will have an exceptional chance to regain that momentum before tournament time. Sagarin’s ratings project that UK will only lose one more game in the regular season. That loss, to no one’s surprise, is predicted to occur at Florida – with the Gators having a 4.99 point advantage. There are only four other games on the schedule where the margin is projected to be within five points:

@ Missouri
Predicted score: UK – 87.31 Mizzou- 84.96

vs. Florida
Predicted score: UK – 90.84 UF – 88.77

@ LSU
Predicted score: UK – 87.31 LSU – 83.82

@ Ole Miss
Predicted score: UK – 87.31 Miss. – 82.8

With Missouri losing at home to lowly Georgia and LSU being crushed by Tennessee in Baton Rouge, the talent gap between Florida/UK and the rest of the conference looks to be wider than previously imagined. Of course, nothing is set in stone. Teams move up and down the rankings regularly, and projections obviously don’t guarantee outcomes (though Sagarin is right 84% of the time). The Wildcats could very well drop some games they aren’t supposed to from now until March. However, if you’re a believer in the strength of computer predictions, you can’t help but feel optimistic about the rest of the season.


Poythress spending late nights on his own in the gym

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

(Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

A source with knowledge of the happenings around the basketball program told KSR that Alex Poythress has joined Derek Willis in the midnight sessions in the Joe Craft Center. Poythress has been walking over to the gym late at night to put in work on his own time since Kentucky’s loss at Arkansas.

Before today’s practice, Poythress, who says he doesn’t mind coming off the bench, told reporters part of the reason for his elevated play is he is in better shape this season. He said the treadmill doesn’t affect him anymore and he feels like he can run for days.

Watch Poythress and Marcus Lee talk basketball below.