(Ed. Note: The Emmys were last night, and the Funkhouser crew was unhand to soak →
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The 2014 Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys’ Sweet 16 State Basketball Tournament tips off Wednesday afternoon in Rupp Arena at 12:00 p.m. with one of its best first round match-ups: the South Oldham Dragons versus the two-loss Tigers of Hopkinsville. Once that game concludes, the Wednesday Sweet 16 goers will get Trinity vs. Owensboro to conclude the first session of the day, followed by Scott County vs. Fleming County and Campbell County vs. Johnson Central in the night session. KSR will be in the building all day to take in the action, so look for Skinny Ryan Lemond somewhere in the arena.
For me, it’ll be my first time attending the state tournament since my Madisonville Maroons got Fairdale’d at the buzzer in 2001 and I’m very excited to see Rupp Arena during one of its best events of the year. I will be a Campbell County Camel in the fourth game of the day but will be enjoying the basketball with no rooting interest the rest of the time. Our friend Les Johns tells me Hopkinsville is the team to watch, but I can’t convince myself to get behind the team that sent the Maroons home in the regional tourney. (And for you Hoptown folks, Madisonville has the better Ferrell’s.)
If you have a team in this year’s Sweet 16, drop us a comment in the comments section tonight and let us know who we need to look out for and why. And if you don’t, maybe you can learn a thing or two with us.
It’s going to be a fun and exciting week, and maybe, just maybe, it’ll come with some suspense in the end. Hope to see you there!
March Madness is underway and Albany kicked it off with the tourney’s worst unis.
Meanwhile, former UK target T.J. Warren is leading NC State to victory over Xavier. Tomorrow night we’ll get to see if Tennessee can make a statement for the SEC in its play-in game against Iowa in Dayton. The Vols and Hawkeyes will play around 9:10 on TruTV. Dare I say, “Go Vols”?.
Bruce Pearl is back! Bruce Pearl is back!
Speaking of the Vols, Auburn introduced former Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl as its replacement for Tony Barbee on Tuesday, and Pearl jumped off the plane to a mob of fans, as only Bruce Pearl can:
College basketball followers have mixed emotions about Bruce Pearl. Me? I love the guy and couldn’t be happier he’s back in the game. I have no doubt he’ll ignite the Auburn basketball program and provide the SEC with some excitement, just as he did in Knoxville before the cookout photo ended his run with the Vols.
The Wildcats practiced twice on Tuesday.
After taking a breather on Monday, Coach Cal had his team back in the Joe Craft Center for two Tuesday practices, implementing the new tweak for this weekend’s trip to St. Louis. Tomorrow they’ll go twice again and then it’s off to the Big Dance, where Kansas State awaits Friday night.
247Sports’ Chris Fisher believes the first tweak was for Andrew Harrison to look to pass first and he has the stats to back it up. But Cal was asked after the LSU win if driving and kicking was the tweak, and he shot that guess down in the postgame press conference. I still believes it’s nothing schematic, purely mental, and the new tweak is to kick the confidence up another notch before the tourney.
Anthony Davis picked the Cats over Michigan State in his bracket.
John Wall picked Florida over Wichita State.
DeMarcus Cousins picked Kentucky vs. Kentucky with Kentucky winning it all.
Well played, Boogie. Well played.
Wall explained his pick here.
Join us in WKYT’s Hoops Hysteria contest.
The KSR staff will be competing against some of Lexington’s celebrities in the bracket challenge to win money for the charity of our choosing, and you can get in on the action too with the chance to win nice prizes. The grand prize winner will take home a 60″ Samsung LED 1080 p 120 Hz TV; a pair of UK branded boots from The Boot Store; a $200 Arby’s gift card; a $200 certificate of deposit from Central Bank; and a $200 Appalachian Wireless gift card, a prize package valued at $2,000.
Get signed up here.
Quentin Snider is your 2014 Kentucky Mr. Basketball.
The Louisville Cardinal signee and Ballard star was named Mr. Basketball in the state of Kentucky, the same award Dominique Hawkins earned one year ago. He’s the first Louisville signee to raise the Kentucky Mr. Basketball trophy since, meh, who cares.
LaRue County’s Ivy Brown earned Miss Kentucky Basketball honors. She’ll be suiting up for the Lady Hilltoppers next season.
Cats express interest in UNLV’s Bryce Dejean-Jones.
UNLV’s Bryce Dejean-Jones will graduate this spring and hopes to find a new home for his senior season of college basketball next year. He will be eligible to play immediately wherever he goes as a graduate student transfer, unless he decides to enter this summer’s NBA draft. UK assistant Orlando Antigua called Dejean-Jones’ AAU coach to get a feel on where Dejean-Jones stands, so there is some interest there, but it’s too early in the process to have any idea which way he is leaning. The Herald-Leader’s Ben Roberts chatted with Dejean-Jones’ former coach Tuesday night; you can read what he had to say here.
This compilation of buzzer-beaters will get you fired up for the Big Dance.
This 10-minute video features every buzzer-beater from the 2013-14 college basketball season.
Let the Madness begin.
Go Cats, everybody.
Barry Westerman | UK Athletics
After a disappointing beginning to SEC play, one in which the ‘Cats finished 1-2 against Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Kentucky returned to action today against in-state rival Western Kentucky. The game was UK’s lone weekday game, with the Wildcats taking on #1 South Carolina at home this weekend. Western Kentucky came into today’s matchup having won 2 of 3 against Georgia State this last weekend, with a overall season record of 10-8. UK took on WKU twice last year, losing both games, one of which lasted 18 innings. Though the Hilltoppers easily handled the Wildcats last year, UK showed up to play today. With that being said, on to a recap of the action…
Result: UK 10- WKU 3
Starters: UK- Ryne Combs | WKU- Josh Bartley
– Kentucky wouldn’t take long to get the ball rolling offensively. It would only take UK 1 inning to hang 4 runs on the Hilltoppers, a surge that would be started by a Thomas 2-out RBI single, his 13th 2-out RBI of the 2014 Season.
– Austin Cousino, with a rare start as the DH, would start the 2nd with a single, extending his SEC-leading hitting streak to 16.
– WKU would get a run back in the top of the 3rd off of an error, making the score 4-1.
– The Hilltoppers would get another run back in the T4th thanks to a 2-out RBI Triple from Miller. He would get another triple again later in the game, becoming the first Hilltopper to triple twice in one game since 2011.
– After 4 innings pitched, UK Starting Pitcher Combs would be taken out for Sophomore Sam Mahar. Combs would finish the day with a line of 4.0 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO
– The game would stay relatively quiet until the Bottom of the 7th when UK would plate 6 runs to extend its lead to 10-2. The offensive outburst included RBI’s from Wilson, Carson, and Cousino. The inning saw a number of pitching changes for WKU, with Ian Tompkins finally getting the Hilltoppers out of the inning.
– Heading into the 8th Zach Strecker (4.91 ERA) would come in to pitch for Kentucky. Mahar would end his day with a final line of 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO.
– WKU would get one more run in the T9th off of an error by Javon Shelby, making the score 10-3. Shortly after WKU’s Diedrick would groundout to 1st to end the game.
UK vs #1 South Carolina | 3/21/14 | Lexington, Kentucky | 6:30 PM ET
UK vs #1 South Carolina | 3/22/14 | Lexington, Kentucky | 2:00 PM ET
UK vs #1 South Carolina | 3/23/14 | Lexington, Kentucky | 1:00 PM ET
By Drew Franklin on ©10:00 pm
This year, KSR has been asked to participate in WKYT’s VIP Charity Challenge, which means Matt, Ryan, Drew, and I will be going up against some of the Lexington’s biggest celebrities to win $1,000 for charity. Follow along as we play against the WKYT crew, Eli Capilouto, John Clay, Jerry Tipton, Kyle Macy, and others. First place gets $1,000 donated to the charity of their choice; 2nd place $270 to the charity of their choice; and third place $27 to the charity of their choice. I will be playing for the Danville/Boyle County Humane Society.
Want to get in on the fun? You can play too, for the chance to win a 60″ Samsung LED 1080 p 120 Hz TV; a pair of UK branded boots from The Boot Store; a $200 Arby’s gift card; a $200 certificate of deposit from Central Bank; and a $200 Appalachian Wireless gift card, a prize package valued at $2,000.
The best part? You don’t have to submit your entire bracket at the start–just the winners of each round as they go along.
After 18 days of travels, I am back settled in Kentucky and ready for the Madness of this Tournament to get started. There is a lot to digest, but here are some quick thoughts:
— Kentucky is of course in the hardest bracket and seeded a bit low, but we knew both of those things could/would happen. When you get past those frustrations however, I do like the matchups that Kentucky has in its first 2-3 games. Kansas State is a team that Kentucky should beat. They have lost 6 of their last 8 coming into the Tournament, they have very little in the way of size and while they are physical, they don’t overwhelm you at any position. Kentucky’s guards will get beat up a bit but the Cats should be able to control the glass and Julius Randle is set to potentially have a big game. It is definitely a winnable contest and one the Cats should handle if they are ready to do anything in March. As for Wichita State, yes they are 34-0 and yes they are very good. But if you were going to pick a one seed for Kentucky to play, you might pick the Shockers. They aren’t very big and while they are very efficient offensively, they don’t have the length to contest UK at the glass. The Cats have struggled all year in the SEC against teams that are long and athletic. Neither of their first two opponents play that way and that is why Calipari should like the matchups, even though they are harder than what the Cats could/should have had.
— If UK ends up playing Louisville in Indianapolis, the scene for that Sweet 16 game would be insane. However for UK, I don’t think it is (again) a terrible matchup. Louisville can’t like having to play against UK’s size as it is the one thing that Pitino’s team does not have in abundance. It will be a difficult moment and one worries about nerves for a young team, but this UK group knows that it can beat the Cards and their length will clearly give UL fits. If both teams get to that spot, the pressure will all be on Louisville and I think the UK guys can play loose and free. If the Cats were going to play two of the title contenders, Wichita State and UL aren’t the toughest matchups for them of the bunch.
— If you get a chance, check out the Twitter feed of NCAA spokesman Greg Shaheen. Last night he went into some detail as to how the bracket came about and it was very instructive as to the NCAA’s feelings on the issue. A quick read and summary is this…the NCAA favors geography much more than people realize. When they lay out the seeds, the first thing they do is try to place teams that are the highest seed in a particular place, close to home. So for instance if the four seeds are Louisville, Michigan State, UCLA and San Diego State, in that order, they place in regions based on proximity. Louisville got in Indy, Mich State then was placed in Memphis, UCLA couldnt go to West (because Arizona was the #1 seed) and went East, etc. Competitive balance is a factor, but not the controlling one…geography is. Thus we get the balance problems we had this year. It was very instructive to read and worth your time to check out.
— Every year, I pick my five teams that can win the title and I guarantee the title will come from that group. I have done this since 1994 and only once (1997 with Arizona) has the team that won not been in my group. This year, I am having a harder time than usual picking my five. I legitimately think there are eight teams that are in the same ballpark and another five (UK is one of these) that could get going if everything came together. Three of mine are already set (Florida, Michigan State and Louisville) but I am struggling to fill the other two between Michigan, Kansas, Duke and Arizona. I will pick my final five on Thursday but this has the potential to be another year where I am left struggling to get the final winner.
Finally, we taped another WALK ONS PODCAST last night for the first time in mini-months. If you have never listened to the podcast before, it is myself and a guy who covers the ACC and Duke (Ben Swain) and we talk national college basketball and of course the Cats. There is a lot of good stuff in this one as we preview the NCAA brackets and go 90 minutes with a lot of great stories. Check it out at the link below or subscribe on iTunes. Otherwise, I will see you tomorrow on radio:
Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber might be a nice guy. I don’t know. I don’t care. All I know is there was a time, not that long ago, when it was believed by some that Bruce Weber was running his mouth about John Calipari, the Kentucky basketball program, and one of our favorite Wildcats.
Remember that Anthony Davis rumor in the Chicago Sun-Times? The one about Davis’ family asking for six figures for his commitment? An alleged $200,000 deal between Davis and Kentucky? Word on the street was Bruce Weber, then at Illinois, was the one yapping.
CBSSports.com’s Gregg Doyel went on the Kentucky Sports Radio airwaves at the time and told Matt he believed Weber started it all. Doyel was only speculating, but he believed it could’ve been Weber and we like anything Doyel says.
The Chicago Tribune’s high school sports blog ran with Doyel’s accusation with quotes from Doyel on another radio show: “If anybody is behind this, Weber is behind this, because he doesn’t lose very well. And, he unfortunately loses recruits left and right. Nobody loses more recruits than Bruce Weber. That ought to be on his coat of arms — Bruce Weber: Losing recruits like a son of a gun.”
We’ll never know if Weber was behind the rumor and it doesn’t even matter. It became water under the bridge as soon as the story magically disappeared from the Sun-Times’ website without explanation. But when I look across the court from John Calipari Friday night and see Weber on the other side, I won’t help but think back to the possibility of him trying to mess up a good thing in Lexington because he was a sore loser in Davis’ recruitment. True or not, I don’t trust the guy and he needs a beatdown from the Cats in St. Louis.
John Wall raised some eyebrows and broke some hearts in Big Blue Nation today when he released his bracket for USA Today. The former Wildcat went against the school that made him a star by picking Wichita State to upset Kentucky in the
second third round of the NCAA tournament. To make matters worse, he predicted Florida, an old college foe, to win the title over the Shockers in the end. Bad form, John. Bad form.
Michael Lee of the Washington-Post tracked Wall down today to ask him why he went against his Cats. Wall told him, “I was putting pressure on Kentucky. I knew everybody was going to make a big deal about it but that’s me putting motivation on the team. I know how good those kids are. I know how talented they can be.”
“I want them to win. I want them to make it far,” Wall added. “They’ve got the talent, it’s just about figuring it out. I think it takes time, but hopefully they figure it out at the right time. Wichita State is a good team. I feel like we got a great team that can beat them, matchup wise. I made that decision to see if they going to react to it.”
For more from Wall on his bracket and quotes from Wall’s teammate, former Gator Bradley Beal, check out Lee’s story here.
We forgive you, John.
‘The tweak’ heard ’round the world was introduced by John Calipari, to both his team and the media, for the first time a little over a week ago in preparation for last weekend’s SEC Tournament.
Since that time, ‘the tweak’ has taken on a life of its own, even finding itself on the front of custom t-shirts in Atlanta. But it’s hard to believe that somehow Calipari managed to overhaul the entire Kentucky offense over the course of a week.
So what was it?
Was it something? Was it nothing? Was it schematic or was it just a mental reset for a team in dire need of one? Or was it just another Calipari-ism from the master of media messages?
Maybe the most over-analyzed ‘tweak’ comes with the territory as the self-proclaimed most over-analyzed program.
Real or perceived, Kentucky looked like a completely different club in Atlanta as the Wildcats dispatched LSU and Georgia before chasing down Florida and taking the top-ranked Gators to the wire in the SEC Tournament final Sunday.
The answer has been a well-kept secret but according to a source, ‘the tweak’ is real.
To read more about ‘the tweak’ and the stats that support it, visit CatsPause.com
Before Matt and Drew went on their cross-country basketball tour, Matt got the chance to sit down with Coach Cal and the Harrison twins. The next day on the radio show, Matt seemed slightly gloomy about the twins’ outlook on their future with the Cats. However, in the past week, the twins attitude seems to have turn positive drastically since starting the SEC tournament.
So what is it that changed the twins’ attitude in such a short amount of time? Three things have happened recently that could point to the change.
KSR listeners sending positive vibes
The ability to stay anonymous on the internet is one of the worst things, especially for public figures. This goes for the basketball players as well. One person’s negativity on the internet can hurt worse than the voice of one person in public. The twins have been the brunt of internet hatred this year on twitter. However, thanks to Uncle Matt, their twitter mentions have made a turn for the better with words of encouragement instead of bullying. The encouragement has helped the twins realize they have the love and support of #BBN behind them.
Advice from Daddy Harrison
Before the SEC tournament, Aaron Harrison Sr. sat down with his kids and gave them words of encouragement. The words from Harrison Sr. lifted weight off of their shoulders when he told them there is no pressure to leave the Cats for the NBA. The twins played their best ball all year after their dad reassured them. Harrison Sr. gave the twins some advice we could all live by:
“Don’t worry about next year, just worry about the next practice.”
Cal’s ejection against South Carolina was an eye opening experience for everyone. However, since then Cal has changed his tone. Cal has vowed to take a positive approach with his team after his negative demeanor and he said he would try to adapt to his players rather than have them adapt to him. The Harrison’s have loved playing for the new Cal.
Cal has taught the players to loosen up, like he has, and to just go out and play the game.
According to Catpause.com, Aaron Harrison finds the new Cal to be very supportive.
“I think he’s helping,” Aaron Harrison said. “He’s just being positive really. After those tough losses that we had, he was the one telling us that that doesn’t really matter and it’s just us. We just got to stay together and keep fighting.”
We saw at the SEC tournament the Harrison’s attitude is contagious on the court. After a long year of seeing little emotion from the two, the Harrisons lit up the court with their playing and their smiles. It is obvious that in the past week they have changed from just going through the emotions to actually having fun playing the game they love. I am sure all of BBN is enjoying the new Harrison’s and hoping we see them for the rest of the season, and hopefully next year too.
The Cats are poised to make some noise in the Big Dance, but they’ll need the Big Blue Nation behind them. Whether you’re going to St. Louis or watching the game with your friends, it’s time to get some new gear from TheKSRShop.com. They’ve got a wide selection of tees, jerseys, hats, and get you looking your best for the big game.
As the NCAA tournament seeding rounds out, I always find it interesting to see which seeds (1-16) have the most projected 1st and 2nd round NBA draft picks. Some would assume that the #1 seeds would have the most future NBA talent on their rosters, while others might believe that the top seeds would have less sure-fire NBA talent, and more veteran players.
Interestingly enough, only 2 projected 1st round NBA Draft picks are on any of the teams who have #1 seeds. Two projected second round picks are on the teams with #1 seeds. While the very top seed may not have the most future NBA picks, the top 4 seeds have 50% of the NBA’s projected 1st round picks.
Take a look at how the projected first and second round NBA Draft picks are spread among the 16 various seeds represented in this year’s 2014 NCAA Tournament.
(*Players listed in regular font are currently projected as 1st round NBA Draft picks. Players listed in italics are currently projected as 2nd round NBA Draft picks)
1 seeds: Aaron Gordon (Arizona), Cleanthony Early (Wichita State), Nick Johnson (Arizona), Patric Young (Florida)
2 seeds: Joel Embiid (Kansas), Andrew Wiggins (Kansas), Wayne Selden (Kansas), Nik Stauskas (Michigan)
3 seeds: Jabari Parker (Duke), Rodney Hood (Duke), Doug McDermott (Creighton), Tyler Ennis (Syracuse), Jerami Grant (Syracuse), CJ Flair (Syracuse), Melvin Ejim (Iowa State), Andre Dawkins (Duke)
4 seeds: Gary Harris (Michigan State), Zach LaVine (UCLA), Kyle Anderson (UCLA), Montrezl Harrell (Louisville), Adreian Payne (Michigan State), Xavier Thomas (San Diego State), Keith Appling (Michigan State), Russ Smith (Louisville)
5 seeds: Juvonte Reddic (VCU), Sean Kilpatrick (Cincinnati)
6 seeds: Cory Jefferson (Baylor)
7 seeds: Shabazz Napier (UCONN), Kendall Williams (New Mexico)
8 seeds: Julius Randle (Kentucky), James Young (Kentucky), Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky)
9 seeds: Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State), Markel Brown (Oklahoma State), Lamar Patterson (Pittsburgh)
10 seeds: Jahii Carson (Arizona State), Jordan Bachynski (Arizona State)
11 seeds: Terran Petteway (Nebraska)
12 seeds: Semaj Christon (Xavier), TJ Warren (NC State)
14 seeds: Elfrid Payton (UL-Lafayette)
Not in tournament: Noah Vonleh (Indiana), Deonte Burton (Nevada), CJ Wilcox (Washington), Olivier Hanlan (Boston College), Khem Birch (UNLV), Jabari Brown (Missouri), Fuquan Edwin (Seton Hall), Alec Brown (Wisconsin-Green Bay), Justin Cobbs (California), Roscoe Smith (UNLV), Johnny O’Bryant III (LSU)
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©4:30 pm
Forbes recently put together a list of college basketball’s most valuable teams for the 2012-2013 season, and Kentucky came in at #3, behind Louisville and Kansas. Here’s what they had to say about the Cats:
3. Kentucky Wildcats
Team value: $32.5 million
One-year change: 1%
Profit: $20.4 million
Head coach: John Calipari
The 2012 NCAA champions leveled off after a huge 32% surge in value last year. The school’s athletic department contributed $1.7 million to non-athletic scholarships last year.
Forbes uses a weighted methodology to measure how much value the top college basketball teams generate for their athletic departments, universities and fellow conference members. Here’s the entire list:
4. North Carolina
7. Ohio State
11. Michigan State
12. NC State
The War Eagle has landed! Bruce Pearl arrived in Auburn, Alabama this afternoon to a group of fans waiting for him on the runway. Because he’s Bruce Pearl, he went a little bit nuts when he saw the fans, yelling out “WAR EAGLE” and then told them he wanted the same kind of reception when Auburn wins the SEC title. Whoa.
He also jumped into a mosh pit:
How long before Bruce gets Auburn back to the NCAA Tournament?
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©2:30 pm
According to @ComptonMagic, UNLV junior guard Bryce Dejean-Jones will transfer, and Kentucky is one of three schools who have shown interest, along with UCLA and Cincinnati. Dejean-Jones is on pace to graduate this summer, and will either test the NBA waters or use his final year of eligibility elsewhere (as a graduate transfer, he won’t have to sit out a year).
Dejean-Jones is UNLV’s leading scorer, averaging 13.6 points a game, but had a tumultuous career at UNLV with several off-the-court incidents, including a suspension for a violation of team rules and yelling at his teammates in the locker room after UNLV lost to San Diego State last Friday. He had similar problems at USC, where he started his college career.
As we saw last year, Cal is not opposed to bringing in senior transfers, but this kid may not be a Julius Mays when it comes to character. Something to keep an eye on…
He had this SportsCenter Top 10 dunk a few months ago: