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David Letterman let it be known in clear terms on his show the other night that 2015 will be the end of the road for him as the host of CBS’ “The Late Show.” Letterman said on Thursday night that after 31 years, although things have been great, he’s just ready to hang it up and retire. Letterman has become a well-known late night talk show host figure in his time, winning over many fans with his sense of humor and “Top Ten” lists. Although I’m not an avid late-night TV show watcher, my memories of Letterman will always be images of him laughing and seeming to genuinely enjoy himself, rarely taking himself too seriously. Surprisingly though, one of Letterman’s most memorable moments came with a more serious/somber note, just days after the events of September 11th. Letterman gave a heart felt monologue, highlighting the New Yorkers who gave their all to one another in the toughest moments surrounding the events of 9/11.
Here’s an excerpt from one of Letterman’s most memorable moments”
“It’s terribly sad here in New York City,” Letterman quietly began. “We’ve lost 5,000 fellow New Yorkers. You can feel it. You can see it… Watching all of this, I wasn’t sure that I should be doing a television show. For 20 years in the city, we’ve been here in the city making fun of everything. The city, my hair, making fun of Paul. So to come to this circumstance that is so desperately sad, I don’t trust my judgement. But I’ll tell you the reason that I am here doing this show. And it’s Mayor Giuliani. Very early on after the attack, Giuliani encouraged us to go back to our lives and go on living. Because of him, I’m here tonight.
There is only one requirement for any of us, and that is to be courageous. Courage defines all other human behavior. And I believe that pretending to be courageous is just as good as the real thing…”
…Today has been a wild day in Dallas and here on KSR, with TONS of stories, quotes, pictures, videos, etc. flowing out from the Final Four shenanigans. The teams practiced and met with the media, creating a wave of news tidbits here and there all day long. I’ll try to recap the most important, interesting and random highlights from a jam-packed day of action:
Less than 24 hours until Kentucky plays Wisconsin…
We’re not quite there yet, but we’re getting close. The worst part of the Final Four is how long we have to wait between the Elite 8 and the next game. This week has been exciting, but I think I speak for many fans when I say that I’m ready to see this team back on the court. We are now officially less than 24 hours away from the 8:49 p.m. tip-off time between Kentucky and Wisconsin. The stage is set in Dallas and now all that’s left to do is play the games.
Tomorrow will be a busy day, but we’ll keep you up to date on everything going on here on KSR. Don’t forget to tune into the KSR pre-game show tomorrow around 6 p.m. on 630 WLAP and 840 WHAS.
One and Done Succeed Then Proceed is the motto…
We knew it was coming, and today… John Calipari released his new attempt at a replacement phrase for the much maligned “One-and-Done” label. Calipari decided that the negative connotations being coupled with the term “one-and-done” needed a makeover. Calipari asked for an assist from Big Blue Nation, taking suggestions for a new motto/label. The replacement?
“Succeed Then Proceed.”
“You cannot proceed unless you succeed,” Calipari exclaimed to the hundreds of ears listening to his latest catch phrase, that no doubt we will hear over and over for the next few years. Calipari told reporters he expects to see the newly adopted phrase on t-shirts. Calipari’s hope is that perhaps a less negative light will be cast upon the players who come to Kentucky (or any school for that matter) for a short period of time before moving on to the NBA. “No one wants to put their arms around this and I don’t care if you do or not. Why don’t we make this about succeed and proceed?”
Willie Cauley-Stein appears doubtful, but he says “don’t count me out”
Willie Cauley-Stein is now limping around without the boot and crutches… But the keyword in that sentence is “limping.” Although the 7-footer says he is feeling anywhere from “70-80 percent” now, he’s still walking with a visible limp. Cauley-Stein was in workout clothes, but not practice gear at the open practice this afternoon. Cauley-Stein put up a few shots, but didn’t bear much weight on the ankle and didn’t elevate for jump shots.
“Don’t count me out yet,” Cauley-Stein teased to the reporters today, not ready to completely rule out the possibility of playing against Wisconsin, or in the championship on Monday night if Kentucky advances. Most who were in Dallas and saw Cauley-Stein operating this afternoon still seemed doubtful though that Cauley-Stein would be fit to make a return.
Cauley-Stein called the possibility of not being able to play with his teammates in the Final Four “heart-breaking.”
The pre-Final Four hysteria is now over, and the team will go into “lockdown mode”
For the past few days, Kentucky has been enjoying some of the lime light of the Final Four hysteria, as well as a trip to Julius Randle’s mom’s house and a bout of mediocre golf swings. Add to that fun, an apparent game of “Spoons” that broke out among players in the hotel late last night. Now that the media onslaught has concluded for the day, Kentucky will go into “lockdown mode” according to Calipari. Calipari said, “we’re shutting it down.” The players will spend the rest of the weekend at the hotel or in the arena preparing for tomorrow night’s game. Calipari said that the last time Kentucky and its crop of Texas-bred players were in the area, they didn’t handle the pressure of the scene very well. He hopes for a different outcome this time around and the staff is attempting to eliminate as many distractions as possible for the youngsters over the next 24 hours.
As the team gets into business-mode, let’s enjoy one last moment of them dancing and being silly first…
“Derek the Destroyer” has been playing the part of “Frank the Tank”
How does a team prepare for facing the likes of Wisconsin’s superstar 7-footer Frank Kaminsky, also known as Frank the Tank? With a cleverly named player of their own: Derek the Destroyer.
Derek Willis has taken on a new role this week in practice for the Wildcats, attempting to simulate the expected type of play from Wisconsin’s sharp-shooting Kaminsky. Marcus Lee, who has been assigned to chase The Tank/The Destroyer, was one of the ones to help come up with the nickname for Willis. The role has been a nice fit for Willis, who likes to roam the perimeter a bit.
“Oh, it’s been fun,” Willis told Guy Ramsey of UKAthletics.com. “I play kind of similar to Frank Kaminsky.” Lee and some of the other Cats say that it has brought out the best in Willis and has allowed him to have a little freedom and fun going at some of UK’s guys and challenging them in new ways.
Anyone else excited thinking about THIS type of Derek Willis contributing for Kentucky next season? *Hand raised*
Wisconsin coach/players open up about the match-up with Kentucky…
Much like the Kentucky players and coaches have talked all week about the challenge of matching up with Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky, the Badgers have worries of their own regarding the challenge of guarding Julius Randle. “For a combination of strength and size, and the way he hits the glass, I think in that category he’s as good as anybody I’ve seen. So I’ll just keep him in his own category,” Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said of Randle.
Forget awards, Josh Hutcherson’s crowning moment was being the “Y”
Josh Hutcherson, a Kentucky native and star of the Hunger Games movies, took a moment to call into the KSR radio show this morning with his Mom. Hutcherson, much like another KSR favorite Josh Hopkins, opened up about how his passion for Kentucky basketball mirrors that of so many other Kentucky fans across the nation. Hutcherson talked glowingly about the opportunity he had to be the “Y” at the UK/UL game earlier this season:
“That was my single most proud moment that I’ve had as a side effect of my acting career. Absolutely. That’s bigger than any award that I’ve won, anything. That’s literally, it’s always been an absolute dream of mine,” Hutcherson said. “And it was at a Louisville game, too. It was against Louisville! It was a dream.”
In a funny moment, Hutcherson also let us in on the little secret that he’s much more of a “real fan” of Kentucky than his Hunger Games co-star Jennifer Lawrence is of Louisville (she’s a Louisville native).
Mike Wilbon is at it again…
Just a day after calling Kentucky fans “irresponsible and maniacal” (which by the way, would be a great t-shirt…cough cough much better use of time whoever made the 40-0 shirts cough cough), PTI’s Mike Wilbon was at it again today, once again taking a jab at Kentucky. Today Wilbon said that Kentucky fans were “out of control” with their criticism of this team early on in the season. Then Wilbon once again said that Calipari would be best to get out while he can. I’m not saying that Kentucky fans weren’t critical of this team, but… was it not the national media that took the most critical tone at the lowest points in the season?
And in conclusion, I think Alex Poythress put it best…
“Hopefully we will be remembered as champions. We are so close. To get here and not fulfill our goal would be heartbreaking.” (H/T Aaron Smith)
By Ally Tucker on ©9:37 pm
Coach Cal tweeted a picture of the Kentucky players in front of Dirk Nowitzki’s locker (he is a self-proclaimed Kentucky fan). Nowitzki has made it known that had he gone to college instead of straight to the NBA, Kentucky would have been his landing spot. The players gave Dirk a little love, AND showed off some new “Succeed and Proceed” t-shirts.
That didn’t take long. At all.
They’ve only spent a week on the practice field but the football team has already done something they couldn’t do during Mark Stoops’ first season: outgrow their growing pains. It seems a bit redundant, but it cannot be overstated how much more comfortable the team is this Spring. “It’s WAY different: there’s more energy, there’s more chipiness and eagerness. We come to practice ready to play,” said sophomore nickel/safety Blake McClain.
Stoops sees a much more physical and efficient team than last year and he likes the pace they’ve established at practice. Stoops told his team today, “We’re a lot better, we’re miles ahead of where we were and we need to continue to go miles further to be competitive in this league.”
Last season the players and coaches were getting acclimated to the system and working with one another. After a year, the biggest hurdle has been crossed, leaving more room for improvement. “We’re polishing things more now because we know the coaches and we know the schemes. We’re not really learning; we know what the coaches want us to do,” Bud Dupree said today.
Last season we saw many new guys get thrown into the fire immediately. For Jason Hatcher it was an even bigger jump at times, playing a position he had never played before as a stand-up outside linebacker. The experience and offseason has paid off, “I’m a lot more comfortable standing up. Last year was a real struggle for me. My athleticism helped me a lot but this Spring I’ve been learning the fundamentals of standing up,” Hatcher said, “I kind of hope we get to do more 3-4 in the games this year because my comfortability is there more than it was last year.”
Not everything is the same as last year. The safeties have a new coach, with Craig Naivar replacing Bradley Dale Peveto, but surprisingly not much has changed. Systematically, there are not new concepts, and for Blake McClain there isn’t too big of a difference between the two, “You know they kind of have the same personalities. They’re both always fired up on the field, jumping around, and they both have the little (hair) cut. He’s (Naivar) a high energy guy just like coach Peveto.”
You might find it hard to believe that things can be that much better after just one offseason, but that really doesn’t matter. What matters is that the players believe in their improvement, one Spring practice at a time.
A few other tidbits
- Injury Report. Jojo Kemp sat out of practice once again today, but the injury has nothing to do with his offseason surgery and Stoops believes he’ll be ready to go tomorrow. Jalen Whitlow had taken a few snaps off earlier this week, but that issue has been resolved with Whitlow participating 100% today.
- The new guys have started to settle in after their first fully-padded SEC-caliber practice Wednesday. Mikel Horton improved and TV Williams made his first big impression on Mark Stoops, “TV caught the ball in space and made some nice moves. You saw that elusiveness he brings. He’s a little guy but he’s electric at times and saw a few plays today where he stood out.”
- Every time I’ve mentioned Regie Meant on the site, I’ve called him ‘Mean Meant.’ Stoops has often talked about Regie’s mean streak, but is he really that nasty? When asked today if he was a mean guy, he answered with a cold and firm, “Yes.” The mean man is a freshman starter on the defensive line, but that freshman had an entire year to learn the system as a redshirt. It also gave him the opportunity to get bigger. It’s one thing to see more muscles when you look in the mirror, but in Meant’s case he’s actually had to buy bigger clothes.
By Will Lentz on ©8:00 pm
Not necessarily related to the post, but Zach Bohannon taking selfies with every final four coach made me laugh.
For those of you that don’t know, I moved out to Los Angeles about a year and a half ago. I miss Kentucky for a variety of reasons, but never more than I do during this part of the year. The Big Blue Nation certainly is everywhere, but outside of the bluegrass it can get pretty diluted. Not only that, but finding someone to talk college basketball with year round? Nearly impossible.
That said, when I landed at my current job I found one other college basketball fan in the office – Adam McKibbin, a content writer for our company and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin.
Needless to say, the past week at work we have spent a majority of our time sending cautiously optimistic IM’s and easily forgivable snippets of trash talk. So when it came time to get my post together for tonight, I figured what better way to cover Wisconsin than by hearing a little about them from one of their own? He and I exchanged some questions about the game, and below we’ve got the answers.
If you’re looking for hard core analysis headed in to the game, move along. But if you want fans bantering with each other (and if you’re at KSR, that ought to be up your alley), check it out.
Questions from me, to Adam:
Q: As college basketball fans, we’ve all heard that this Wisconsin team is different from the last few – though admittedly I didn’t take that in to account when filling out my bracket. What makes this Wisconsin team a LEGIT title contender?
A: This year’s team is, yes, more athletic and more versatile on offense than years past. Past-Badgers often had to control the pace (to a glacial pace) to stand a chance against great teams – and they beat some great teams, but it was hard to string several of those games together in a tournament. This year’s team was able to hang 85 on Oregon, with five players in double figures. They have multiple guys who can get hot from the perimeter and/or create shots, which hasn’t always been the case. We don’t have any players who have to take jump-shots when shooting free throws this year, so that’s pretty cool. They had a few inexplicable losses, but have tended to rise to the occasion against elite teams, beating three of the #1 seeds (Florida, Virginia, Arizona).
With that said, the differences are probably overstated a little bit. This isn’t the reinvention of some moribund program like Minnesota (no offense to the NIT champs). The Badgers have laid some tournament eggs that will haunt me to my grave, yes, but they also had the misfortune of running into the wrong Cinderellas sometimes; they were bounced by an 8th-seeded Butler team that wound up in the national championship, they were shot out of the 2008 tournament by some scrawny kid from Davidson named Steph Curry, etc. This year’s team has been very healthy, too. So luck plays into it a bit.
Q: Who is Frank the Tank, and why should we be scared of him?
A: Kentucky scared of Kaminsky? Not bad for a guy who averaged 4ppg as a sophomore last year. He can score from anywhere and usually find holes even when surrounded by length and muscle. He’s played well against elite defenses, obviously most notably in his domination of Arizona. He’ll be a factor even if his outside shot is cold, which can’t necessarily be said about some of his teammates. He usually avoids careless fouls and isn’t going to be psyched out. The press likes playing up his goofiness, but I’d expect he’d have a chip on his shoulder; he obviously wouldn’t have been deemed worthy to wear a Kentucky jersey. Maybe the signature game of his career already happened. Maybe not. There’s a historic precedent for happy endings for Frank the Tanks. You should also be scared of his deadpan wit.
Q: As someone who is just now paying attention to Wisconsin basketball, Bo Ryan seems like the kind of guy who is old and crotchety, but just barely missing out on the endearing side of ‘grandpa Bo.’ Am I wrong?
A: Objectively, I think that’s fair. He’s kind of a goof, too, when he’s not snacking on the souls of referees.
Q: If you were given an unlimited budget and a crew – what reality show are you producing with this years Badgers?
A: If you send me back to Madison with an unlimited budget, you’re going to get some amazing footage (if you ever hear from me again) and that crew is going to have the time of their GD lives. It will take Bo Ryan approximately two seconds to veto his team’s involvement in any capacity, but I’ll try to get Russell Wilson to tweet his support. I’m mad at you for making me daydream about this.
Q: Prediction for the game?
A: I had a nightmare that Kentucky won by 7 and I am 100% ridiculous enough to try to do some sort of stupid reverse-jinx with my prediction, so… Kentucky by 7!
Q: And here’s one we can both agree on. Tom Crean – best coach for Indiana to have, or worst?
A: BEST. Give that man coach-tenure. We Badgers of course aren’t very fond of Marquette, either, although we now welcome their alums to our bandwagon (feels just like football season), so it was special that Crean was able to stay close to us when he left Marquette. Fun fact: Coach Crean is 4-15 against Bo Ryan.
Questions from Adam to me:
Q: Who deserves the most credit for this very timely Kentucky blossoming? What the hell is happening here?
A: Honestly? No one really knows. There’s a top secret ‘tweak’ to the offense that Calipari implemented right before the SEC tournament, which was apparently just telling the guys to start hitting their shots. Just about every player has stepped up in new ways, but most notably Dakari Johnson. Early in the season he was a step slow and didn’t seem to commit to what Calipari was preaching, but he’s become a monster on the boards and almost unstoppable when he gets the ball down low. Unless you foul him. He is utterly stoppable from the foul line, but let’s keep that between us. Forutnately, Dakari’s emergence coincides conveniently with the loss of our sophomore big man, Willie Cauley-Stein.
Q: From an outsider’s perspective, the narrative seems to be that Kentucky wins at will when they “play the right way” or whatever. What, if anything, makes you worry that they’d return to old bad habits while playing in a billion-dollar spaceship?
A: The thing that makes me worry the most is kind of related to the earlier question. There’s nothing we can point to that specifically made this team click, so you know – “easy come, easy go” is a fear. And then, of course as you mentioned, playing in a giant stadium is bound to make Aaron Harrison and James Young miss early on. Fortunately our guys get a lot of points in the paint, so if our jumpers are off, we should still be able to find ways to score.
Q: If UK wins and then prevails against Florida or UConn, how do you think this year’s team will be remembered compared to champions past? UK has had some wire-to-wire juggernauts, but I’d assume a team like this would be almost more satisfying to root for in some ways. Of course, the Badgers have never really put a juggernaut on the court, so I’m not sure how this works.
A: It is a little tough to say. Heading in to the season, we were predicting a possibility of going 40-0… so up until the Wichita State game, many fans were chalking the season up to an utter disappointment. That said, I’ve heard a number of fans saying they would take this tournament run over heading in to tomorrow nights game 38-0 any day. And I think that’s where we’ll find the truth. Final Four runs are more exciting when they come as a surprise – if this team wins it all, they won’t be viewed in the same way as the dominant 2012 team lead by Anthony Davis, but they will cement their place as the Galaxy Quest of Kentucky teams – never give up, never surrender.
Q: Thinking about the upcoming NBA draft, what needs to happen in order for you to finally declare allegiance to a pro team? Boogie and Randle twin-towering in Sacramento?
A: Great question! And I would love to hear some of the other Kentucky fans thoughts on this. I’ve been struggling for a while to find a team in the NBA to consistently follow and root for, and I think you’re right Adam. It’s going to take two marquee Kentucky players to earn my allegiance. The closest we have right now are the Pelicans with Anthony Davis and role player Darius Miller, but I saw a mock draft putting Randle in Boston with Rondo… and that would do it.
Though if Wall and Boogie somehow end up on the same team, Lexingtonians will disassemble their houses to build an arena downtown for that team.
Q: Of all the potential hypothetical names for John Calipari’s hair product, which would make you happiest? How about Rick Pitino’s?
A: Calipari already has one book called “Bounce Back” and another called “Refuse to Lose” – those easily morph in to a hair product slogan. “Refuse to Lose your hair and get your youthful Bounce Back, with John Calipari’s hair glue – just one pass through and you’re done.”
As far as Rick Pitino goes? Not possible. Can’t sell a hair product that firmness can’t last all day.
Q: Let’s talk about the scouting report that really matters: fanbase partying. Badgers fans bring incredible tolerance to the table, passed down through generations and sharpened by Game of Thrones-ish winters. They will drink hard to celebrate and drink harder to drown a loss. What should they know about their new pals from Kentucky when they meet on the wild, world-famous streets of Arlington, Texas?
A: Perfect. I think Wisconsin and Kentucky fans would get along great in any other setting. Y’all like beer, we like bourbon. Y’all like cheese, we use approximately 100 lbs of it on every hot brown. The thing about Kentucky fans though? They’re good people. Come in with a give-and-take and a desire to have a good time and talk about basketball, and you’ll have a friend for life. Just make sure you stay away from anyone claiming to be from Kentucky, wearing red and brandishing Crown Royal – they are Louisville fans, and they will get you arrested.
Q: And your prediction for the game, sir?
A: I haven’t had any dreams predicting the results on Saturday, but it’s hard to bet against a Kentucky team that seems to have finally put all the NBA talent together in to a cohesive team (and I didn’t, in fact I bet for them). I expect it to be lower scoring than our past games, but I also expect Frank the Tank to come back to earth a bit as well against the hugeness of Dakari Johnson and the length and athleticism of Marcus Lee. Let’s say… 68-62 Cats. And then I’m only one game away from winning our office pool.
I hope you all enjoyed our Wisconsin/Kentucky collaboration. If you get a chance, thank Adam on twitter (@TheRedAlert) and make sure to treat him nicely when we send the Badgers packing Saturday night.
The 2013-14 season is almost over, and Kentucky is still 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 a whole bunch of teams, 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:
*If You’re Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band): After consecutive nail-biting wins over Wichita State, Louisville and Michigan in the NCAA Tournament, Kentucky fans were shocked. How could a team featuring 7 McDonald’s All Americans such as UK be in close games with three teams featuring a grand total of 1 McDonald’s All American? Yes, that’s right. Of the roughly 40 players on the rosters of WSU, UofL and UM, only one of them was a Burger Boy: Louisville’s Wayne Blackshear. If the Cats continue to struggle against teams with inferior talent, their time in this weekend’s Final Four figures to be brief.
*Blame it on Texas: In Sunday’s Elite Eight game vs. Michigan, Kentucky reserve Marcus Lee was a revelation, scoring 10 points and grabbing 8 rebounds. This, of course, leads to several questions, such as “why hasn’t John Calipari played him more? Is it because he is a bad coach? It must be because he’s a bad coach, right?” Despite the fact that he has been relegated to the end of the bench all year, Lee became the first player on the team to score on four put-back dunks in one half all season, probably. And it isn’t like this type of contribution from Lee wasn’t expected from Coach Cal, as he told the Californian before the game that he would play a big role in the contest. And as curious as they were about Lee’s absence all season, UK fans had another question on their collective minds once the final buzzer sounded. Will Marcus Lee transfer? So far, he hasn’t publicly stated otherwise.
*Deep in the Heart of Texas: After a season filled with trials, tribulations and losses, UK has finally started playing up to its potential and now finds itself in this weekend’s Final Four. This does not bode well for Kentucky. It was expected over the last few months that the Cats would return several players from this year’s team. However, this March run has made that particular scenario highly unlikely. Had Kentucky lost to Kansas State in the Round of 64, one assumes the Harrison twins, Alex Poythress, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee, James Young, Willie Cauley-Stein and Julius Randle would have all returned next year. However, each of these players has come up big at one point in the NCAA Tournament, thereby improving their draft stock, while at the same time hurting UK’s chances to be really good next year. As the Cats face off against Wisconsin in tomorrow’s national semifinal, Kentucky fans will likely be wanting them to not play well.
* On this date: On this date in 2014, Rick Pitino is trying to figure out some way to convince Montrezl Harrell to return to school.
Sports Illustrated columnist Joan Niesen sat down recently with Julius Randle’s high school coach, Chris Mayberry.In the interview Mayberry said he coached Randle for two years and knows him well.
“I think Coach Calipari (and his staff), obviously they know way more than I do about basketball, but as far as Julius is concerned, I’d say that the longer that Coach Cal works with him, he’s going to see that he can give him more freedom,” Mayberry, who’s now head basketball coach at The First Academy in Orlando, said. “That’s how he plays his best basketball, is to have the freedom to do some things. He’s going to make some mistakes, but he can do so many good things.”
Of course, since Cal was ejected from the South Carolina game, he has relaxed his coaching style on the floor bringing back more fun to the game. Cal has given the players more freedom on the court. Since then the Cats have shot off to greatness, proving everyone that said they couldn’t make it wrong.
Mayberry also said during the regular season Randle wasn’t fitting into the puzzle, but now Randle has adjusted his play to be a part of the puzzle instead of him being his own man.
“To be the best player he can be, Randle has to fit into his team, and early in the year, that wasn’t the case for any of Kentucky’s teenage superstars. Now, the pieces are fitting, and Randle just might be the glue that holds Kentucky’s grip on a title together.”
Since Coach Cal took over, Kentucky has that one player who holds the mold together each year (Wall, Knight, Davis, Noel), and their play has determined how that team has done that year. While the first three teams were a success, the entire mold fell apart in 2013 when Noel was injured.
Maybe Mayberry has a point? What do you think?
Read the full article here.
Willie Cauley-Stein was a popular man during today’s media session, and told reporters that his ankle was about “70-80%,” but hasn’t been able to put a lot of pressure on it. It’s looking unlikely that he will play, and Willie admitted that would be “heartbreaking”:
“(It’s) Definitely (emotional), it’s the NCAA Tournament. This is what you come to school for and this is what you work so hard for. To have it taken away from you, it’s heartbreaking. But, you have to lose yourself in your teammates and be happy for what they are accomplishing and enjoy the ride that comes with it. After we won the Louisville game, you think to yourself, ‘how perfect the next two games would have been to play in?’ You can easily say that, but it could also be a blessing in disguise.”
Willie also said that he believes he actually injured himself first in the Kansas State game, and was favoring the ankle all week leading up until the Louisville game, when he injured it further. He was able to get a few shots up during the team’s open practice, but said he hasn’t been able to run on the ankle yet.
Never say never, right?
After playing extremely limited minutes all season long, then coming into the Michigan game and being a surprise factor, could Marcus Lee be the X-factor again in tomorrow’s Final Four game? When Marcus came into the game against Michigan, they looked unprepared for him and probably had little about him on the scouting report. If Marcus Lee hadn’t come into the Michigan game and played the way he did, I might be writing a preview post on next season. Instead, we live to fight another day as we play Wisconsin tomorrow for a spot in the National Championship game.
Tomorrow’s game would have been perfect for Willie. He could go out to the perimeter and defend Kaminsky while covering him in the post as well. Unfortunately, we don’t have him, so a combination of Marcus and Dakari will have to do.
Marcus may not be as big as Kaminsky, but he is long. He did a great job of keeping his hands high and contesting shots against Michigan; he let the game come to him. He was patient and capitalized on the opportunity given to him, something he needs to repeat tomorrow. When Marcus is in the game tomorrow against Wisconsin, he doesn’t necessarily need to be an offensive threat, but needs to look to draw fouls on offense when given the chance. If the Cats can get Kaminsky in early foul trouble and out of the game this would give Kentucky the edge on the inside, which would be a big plus for Kentucky while possibly affecting him mentally in the 2nd half. With Marcus’ quickness and shot blocking ability as well as guarding Dakari all week in practice, he should be prepared to guard Kaminsky when needed. Crashing the offensive glass and getting put back dunks aren’t bad either. Look for Dakari to start on Kaminsky, but if he starts to knock down 3’s, look for Marcus to try and take that away.
Unfortunately, Marcus won’t have the element of surprise on his side this game. I can see it now, as soon as he steps foot in the game, the Michigan game highlights will role and the questions of why he hasn’t been playing will come out of the mouths of the analysts calling the game. With the spot light on him and a Wisconsin team more prepared for him, will Marcus step up to the challenge?
John Robic ended the half court contest before anyone else got a chance after today’s practice, hitting his first attempt from the center of AT&T Stadium. Calipari and his bad hip threw up a poor attempt to start the game and then Robic ended it seconds later.
Good sign for Saturday night?
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©4:00 pm
Cal and the players spoke to the media for about 35 minutes this afternoon, and after I recovered from almost being run over by a golf cart, I took some notes for you. Enjoy…
Succeed then proceed!
If you missed it earlier, “succeed and proceed” is Cal’s new catchphrase for “one-and-done.” Spread it around like wildfire. Put it on t-shirts! Cal knows you will.
“You cannot proceed until you succeed. Succeed and then proceed. It will be on t-shirts.”
It’s already trended worldwide. Even the Iron Sheik likes it:
“The job at Kentucky ages you”
Cal talked a little bit about his hip, which he says will have to be replaced after the season. “I’m just limping bad,” Cal said, but added it’s not just his hip. “The job at Kentucky ages you, it’s not my hip. I look at the press conferences I had five years ago, I didn’t look like this.”
Cal watches The History Channel instead of listening to the haters
Matt asked Cal what this tournament run meant after so many reporters had come after him when the team lost to South Carolina. Cal insisted that he doesn’t listen to the haters. In fact, he chooses to watch The History Channel.
“I literally watch History Channel. I’ve been watching this Alaska stuff. Have you been watching that? It’s really good,” Cal said. “Zero Under or whatever it was called. I don’t listen to it. I could care less. I’m not 35. I’m 45 now.”
(It’s called “Life Below Zero,” and it’s on the National Geographic Channel.)
The team is now in lockdown mode
Cal said the team went to Julius Randle’s house in Dallas yesterday to hang out, and after that was done, “we’re shutting it down.” The team will be confined to the hotel and the stadium leading up to tomorrow night, but they can unwind at the game room at their hotel. In fact, Cal said he went in last night and was laughing at how much fun they were having playing games, including an old school favorite of mine, Spoons:
“Last night it was so fun for me to come back at 10:30 at night, 11:00 at night and they are all in this game room going crazy, playing video games, doing the car thing, the card games. Spoons, you ever play spoons? They’re in there yelling at each other, and I’m like ‘I have 15-year-olds I’m coaching’. Look at this. But this is what I love seeing. It was really enjoyable.”
By keeping the team under close watch, Cal hopes to cut down on the distractions. He admitted that in December, “all our Texas kids didn’t handle it very well.” Now, the Cats are in “lockdown mode,” and Cal said that especially applies to Julius: “I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a little rattled when the game starts, and it will be my job to calm him down.”
Cal says Julius is getting the Shaq treatment
At the beginning of the press conference, Cal said that Julius Randle has been hacked so often in the post that he’s getting the Shaq treatment: “He’s being played like Shaq was played in college.” Julius was asked how he’s adapted to that (Cal yelled “not good, not good!” in the background) and admitted it’s been difficult:
“It’s definitely hard, it’s frustrating, but I think when you win, it takes the place of that, and you don’t really worry about it. …The biggest thing is you try to learn how to affect the game in different games, and that’s what I’ve tried to learn this year.”
Meanwhile, this picture of Julius has been cracking me up for the past hour:
That kid has the best facial expressions ever.
Let me tell you something, Cats fans. The players were the most upbeat and talkative I’ve seen them all season. When the starters split up into their breakout interviews, I was shocked to see how they handled the bright lights and the one-on-everyone interview sessions. Aaron stood out the most with a swagger he hasn’t shown all year in media settings much smaller than Friday’s Final Four mayhem. It’s clear the guys aren’t as nervous as most first-time Final Four participants should be; they don’t appear to be nervous at all. Now, will that translate to the court? I don’t know. But the boys are having fun in Dallas so far.
A few notes from the player breakouts:
Being from Texas isn’t a home court advantage for Aaron, Andrew and Julius, but playing for Kentucky is.
Aaron Harrison said he doesn’t consider it a home court advantage because he and his brother are from Texas, along with Julius Randle. He said Kentucky’s regular season game in AT&T Stadium is a slight advantage over the three other schools, but not really. But Kentucky fans, maybe they give the team the edge.
“I’m pretty sure Big Blue Nation will be deep out there,” Aaron said of a potential home court advantage. “So maybe we do.”
Blue will be deeper than deep, Aaron.
Derek Willis played Frank Kaminsky in practice.
Dakari Johnson gave away Kentucky’s big practice secret this week: Derek Willis has played the role of Frank Kaminsky. Willis has been simulating the skilled, lanky Wisconsin center for Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee in UK’s practices. Johnson said it has been helpful because Willis can step outside and mimic Kaminsky’s game.
Dakari Johnson is the worst golfer of the bunch.
Aaron Harrison talked about the team’s Wednesday trip to the driving range in Dallas and how it was an eye-opening experience to the game of golf. “We aren’t golfers, let’s just say that,” he said of their poor showing on the range. “Dakari was the worst.”
Let’s watch it again:
Julius Randle on preseason expectations:
“It did get a little crazy.”
The players learned a life lesson this season.
According to Aaron, they all learned that nothing in life is easy, to keep fighting and going as hard as possible, and success will come.
“Stay the course and keep fighting.”
Time for practice!
The Cats are in the building, and Willie Cauley-Stein is still limping. Despite the limp, Wille told reporters in the locker room “don’t count me out yet.” How bad is it? Judge for yourself by watching the video above.
Just before that, I almost got run over by the golf cart carrying Andrew, Aaron, James, Marcus, Alex, and Julius.
Did you guess “succeed and proceed” as Cal’s new term for one-and-done? If so, pat yourself on the back. Cal released his new catchphrase during his press conference this afternoon, telling reporters it will be on t-shirts. “You cannot proceed unless you succeed,” Cal said. “No one wants to put their arms around this and I don’t care if you do or not. Why don’t we make this about succeed and proceed?”
By the way, that suggestion came from the KSR audience. Get ready to hear it ad nauseam over the next few years.