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John Calipari spent most of his press conference drawing laughs from the crowd of media, but he took a serious and sincere tone when asked about his two seniors: Jon Hood and Jarrod Polson. “They are two of the most loved players, maybe other than Darius, that I’ve coached here.” Calipari had nothing but glowing remarks to make about both of the home-state seniors, who each hit a 3-pointer on their first shot attempts of the game.
“They are both going to have great careers because of what they’ve done here.”
Calipari then went on about Jon Hood’s journey as a Wildcat, and how much he has changed and grown over the past 5 years. “Jon Hood, this kid. I’d like to be around him all day. Those first 2 years were so hard and so tough on him. Now, he has fun playing. He has fun coming in every day. He says he’s the best he’s ever been as a player. We’ve benefitted from having both of them here.”
Part of the chatter that began circulating this week amidst the ‘Cal leaving’ rumors was talk of John Calipari having hip problems that he’s been dealing with all season. Calipari was asked about these issues in his post-game news conference. Calipari stated that, “It’s been bothering me, but I have no excuse. I’m just a negative guy.”
Calipari, who was on fire the entire press conference, then added a joke referring to Alan Cutler chasing Billy Gillispie a few years ago when he was fired. “Let’s put it this way… if Alan (Cutler) chased me down right now, he would probably catch me.”
By Ally Tucker on ©11:26 pm
The press conference started with a bout of humor when Tony Neely, a PR spokesman for UK said that John Robic would be conducting the post-game news conference. A loud muffle came from the crowd of media, in disbelief that John Calipari would skip out on another post-game conference. Then Neely joked, “I’m just kidding.” That wasn’t the end of the humor.
John Calipari came roaring back to the critics and the media in his post-game press conference tonight. Cal was firing on all cylinders, cracking jokes and speaking with a little bite in his voice. When asked about whether or not he’s thought about the story line of stopping Florida from going 18-0 in the SEC, Calipari shot back, “I’m just trying to figure out if I’m coming back next year or not.”
Calipari said that he walked into his office yesterday and his secretary asked him if he was really leaving. “They’ve got me on PTI and Around the Horn. They’re already doing a 30 for 30 on me leaving.”
Jon Hood and Jarrod Polson met each other with an embrace at half court during the senior night festivities.
After the last two games, a win is a win, right? The Cats didn’t look great–in fact, in the first half, they looked terrible–but they loosened up in the second and powered past Alabama by a final score of 55-48, avoiding the first three-game losing streak in the Calipari era.
Julius Randle led all scorers with 12 points and 11 rebounds, followed by James Young and Dakari Johnson with nine each. Ally is live from Rupp and will have more postgame stuff for you in just a moment. For now, enjoy James Young’s new hairdo. And by James, I mean Wanda Sykes:
In recent years, Jon Hood has always been the first player to come out for warm-ups. Enjoy this picture of Hood warming up one last time on the Rupp Arena floor with his father, Brian.
Share your predictions for tonight’s game in the comments section. Live blog starts in 20 minutes.
In his fifth year as Alabama’s head coach, Anthony Grant has a 98-69 record, taking the Crimson Tide to one NCAA tournament and two NITs. Back in 2009, Grant was considered a home-run hire, exactly the type of young, energetic coach that Alabama needed to make their program relevant. There has been progress over the past five years, but way too slow and gradual for Alabama fans’ liking.
Alabama comes into Rupp tonight with a 12-17 record, and Grant is one of many coaches in the SEC on the hot seat. Former Alabama coach and Kentucky athletics director CM Newton told the Birmingham Tip-off Club last week that Grant deserves more time to “get it right”:
“We’re all instant gratification, we all want the hurry-up fix. If we leave this guy alone, Anthony Grant, leave him alone for a couple years, he’ll get it right. He’s a damn good coach. He knows what it takes to win. If I were his AD, I would leave him alone simply because I can put my head on my pillow each night and go to sleep knowing he isn’t going to cheat and he’ll have good discipline in his program.”
Could tonight be Anthony Grant’s last trip to Rupp as Alabama’s head coach? If so, I really will miss those starched shirts.
Tonight, we will say goodbye to Jon Hood and Jarrod Polson, two born and bred Kentucky boys who have given their all for the Cats in the past five years. Before Sundy Best has us all looking for the Kleenex with “My Old Kentucky Home” tonight, let’s look back at the top ten moments of Jarrod Polson’s career:
The fangirls: The minute Jarrod stepped on campus, the ladies of UK swooned. Jarrod’s boy band good looks wooed the women of the BBN, and became a running joke around the team. Vandy fans even chanted “Justin Bieber” at Jarrod back in 2011, which really, is only okay when we do it, right?
“SHOOOOOOOT!”: Because he was a walk-on and just so adorable, Jarrod became the new recipient of the “SHOOOOOT” chant the BBN traditionally bestows upon human victory cigars. It was fun at first, but over the years, Jarrod has proved he is much more than just a benchwarmer, and after four years in Cal’s system, he’s become an essential tool in training younger players and steadying the ship when need be.
White Boy Academy: Back in 2011, Kyle Wiltjer started making videos of the team, many of which featured his buddy Jarrod Polson. This blossomed into the “White Boy Academy,” whose hits include “WBA Hits New York,” “WBA Final Four Winners,” and my personal favorite, the 2011 WBA Christmas Special.
I miss stuff like this.
The dunk in the 2011 Blue/White game: Jarrod Polson doesn’t dunk often, but when he does, it brings Rupp Arena to its feet.
The magic dunk: When Jarrod isn’t dunking in real life, he does so with creative editing via apps like Vine.
The Maryland game: When did people stop yelling “shoooot!” at Jarrod? When he stepped up and saved the day for the Cats vs. Maryland. Ryan Harrow had the flu, so Jarrod rose to the challenge, putting up 10 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 steal, and 0 turnovers while making several key plays down the stretch. His performance was so impressive that Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said the junior–whom he hadn’t heard of before the game–was the difference for Kentucky.
His dancing: As if he need to push the boy band thing even further.
This picture: Thanks, Jon Hood.
The Belmont game, Vandy game, Mississippi State game, etc. etc.: In his senior season, Jarrod has turned into the team’s eighth man, making an impact in too many games to list. At times, he is Kentucky’s most reliable point guard, and a constant model to which Cal can point Andrew Harrison and Dominique Hawkins, the latter of which may follow in Jarrod’s footsteps as a veteran Calipari guard.
Jersey retirement: In January, West Jessamine High School retired Jarrod Polson’s jersey, with the entire Kentucky team and coaching staff in attendance. It was a big moment for Jarrod, whom Cal uses as an example for his younger players of how far hard work can get you in life.
Thanks for the memories, Jarrod.
Jon Hood is the last player from Calipari’s first year as the head coach at Kentucky to go, and it’s a little sad to think about.
Jon Hood quietly committed to Kentucky in 2008, but it did not come out that he had committed until two weeks later. Before he was named Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball, before he knew he would be playing for John Calipari, before he even hit his senior year, Hood knew Kentucky was the school for him.
In high school, Hood was a highly recruited athlete by Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Georgia, but when all was said and done, Kentucky won the fight. Looking back at how those schools have done in the past five years, I think we can all agree he made the right choice. Although much of his time has been spent on the bench, Hood has had more experience in the past five years than most have in a lifetime.
He has seen the NIT, Elite Eight, Final Four and is a National Championship player. He has traveled all across the world playing with the Cats. Not including this year, he has played with 17 NBA draft picks, but let’s not understate that in any way. Hood has played with and practiced with 13 first-rounders, two No. 1 overall selections, five top-five picks and eight lottery picks. He has touched the lives of many children and families across the Commonwealth. Most importantly, he has been a leader to all of the players who have graced the Kentucky bench over the past 5 years. At the age of 22, the grandpa of the Kentucky roster has acted as the old and wise elder and supported his friends through the good times (2012 Championship team) and the bad (2013 NIT team).
With Hood’s departure Kentucky also loses the last link to the Billy Gillispie era as the program moves on from the past and looks to what the future has to offer.
Now that his UK basketball playing career is coming to an end, all we can do is look back and thank him for his time with UK and be grateful for the contributions that he has bestowed upon us. Jon Hood might not have started every game at his career at Kentucky or been the most popular, but his involvement with the Kentucky program means just as much to the university as John Wall or Anthony Davis ever did.
The only question that remains is who will take over his important role as a Kentucky Wildcat?
Tune in to 630 WLAP in Lexington at 6:30 p.m. for the KSR pregame show with Ryan Lemond. While Matt and Drew are on their Fox Sports roadtrip, Ryan Lemond is manning the ship, and will be broadcasting live from the Rupp Arena food court alongside Dan Reiffer and Jared Prickett. 98.1 The Bull will carry the second half-hour of the show, beginning at 7 p.m., or listen online at WLAP.com.
Stick around for the Texas Roadhouse Countdown to Tip-Off Pregame Show on the IMG Network with Oscar Combs and Ryan Lemond. A list of affiliates around the state can be found here or you can listen online here.
Congratulations to Corey Peters, who signed a one-year contract with the Atlanta Falcons this afternoon. Peters injured his right Achilles this past December, but prior to that, started 15 games that season, setting a career high with five sacks and 48 tackles. In his four seasons in the NFL, he’s started 53 of 56 games, and in 2011, was named the Falcons’ Walter Payton Man of the Year.
Take off that Snuggie and treat yo’ self to a nice dinner, Corey.
If you’re like me (and I’m operating here on the assumption that you are, in fact, exactly like me), you’re a Wes Anderson fan. You’re the type of person who has grown to hate the word “twee” when used by his critical detractors and you struggle almost weekly with a constant mental re-ordering and re-shuffling of his films from most favorite to least favorite (Should it go “Rushmore then Bottle Rocket?” Or should it go “Rushmore then Life Aquatic then Bottle Rocket? And WHERE DOES MOONRISE KINGDOM GO?”). Rest assured, the latter is a Sisyphean task which will surely lead to your eventual insanity. Personally, though Rushmore is one of my all-time favorite movies and one I will and have watch mere isolated minutes of just to get a fix, my favorite Wes Anderson entry has to be The Royal Tenenbaums. For the uninitiated, Tenenbaums is essentially the eccentric saga of a family of geniuses, each suffering with his or her own particular burden. And it is quintessential Wes Anderson.
If you’ve seen The Royal Tenenbaums I don’t have to extol its virtues any further. If you haven’t seen it, you now have the opportunity to avoid public shaming at the next intellectual film-lovers’ social luncheon you attend by catching a special presentation of it at Cincinnati’s The Esquire Theater on March 6 at 7:30 pm. Tickets can be purchased at the Esquire or in advance at MovieTickets.com and the evening will feature the chance to win passes to an advance (for the Midwest) screening of Anderson’s latest The Grand Budapest Hotel. It’s sure to be a great time.