It was another wild and news-filled week around Big Blue Nation and KentuckySportsRadio.com. If you →
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The NBA playoffs are in full swing and Saturday proved that home court advantage might not be all it’s cracked up to be. With all of the home teams except for the Thunder losing, the playoffs are off to an intriguing start. The biggest “upset” of the day came when the #1 seeded Indiana Pacers fell hard to the 8-seeded Atlanta Hawks. I’ve always said that believing in the Pacers is kind of like believing in Gonzaga. I wouldn’t do it. Today marked a few more expected results with the Spurs handling the Mavericks and the defending champion Heat holding off a hard fought defensive effort on LeBron James by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. MKG did a stand up job, but foul trouble caught up with him and LeBron took over from there.
The most exciting performance of the day came from former Wildcat John Wall of the Wizards. Wall has become the young leader for the Wizards, leading them to the playoffs for the first time in his NBA career. Wall helped the Wizards top the Bulls in Game 1 of the series by contributing 16 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists.
Now on to the news from a rather quiet sports weekend…
—- Easter weekend gave us a taste of what the news flow can be like in the off-season heading into the summer. With most of the Kentucky basketball players who have yet to make decisions heading home to spend time with family for the holiday weekend, the news was a bit dry. Here’s a brief rundown of where the Kentucky basketball decisions stand as of now:
James Young declared his intentions to enter the NBA draft right before the weekend started. Young is projected as a top 20 pick by most services.
Willie Cauley-Stein and Marcus Lee have both announced that they will be returning to Kentucky next season.
Julius Randle, the Harrison twins, Alex Poythress and Dakari Johnson have still not made a public decision yet.
—- The only real interesting tidbit of news to come out of this weekend regarding the decisions were a few quotes by the Harrison twins and their father, Aaron Sr. A report from FOX out of Houston made it sound like the decision has not been made yet and the two are still weighing their options. Late this week it looked as if the feedback being given to Andrew and Aaron from the NBA wasn’t quite as positive as they had hoped. But the Harrison’s father shot down any rumors that a strong lean was being made either way at the moment.
“We are probably midway,” Aaron Harrison, Sr. said. “We got to make a decision here in the next six or seven days anyway, but we’ve sat down and had one or two conversations about it and had some prayer about it, but that’s pretty much where we’re at….. They’re not leaning either way.”
Their father also said that they are still awaiting more feedback from NBA teams before making a decision.
Aaron and Andrew both had some reflective words about the season as well as a few thoughts on where they stand at the moment with their thought process.
Andrew: “Of course we didn’t end it like we wanted it to. The run we had, it was amazing. It was like no other really. It was one of the best times in my life in the tournament, just having a great time with my teammates.”
Aaron: “It’s basically my career really. Don’t leave anything out. Think about all the angles and everything that goes into it and just try to make the best choice for your family.”
On returning for a chance to win a championship: “Yeah, that’s a factor, but I think it’s more about us personally and not about winning a ring or anything like that. It’s just more personal because it’s my career, it’s my life.”
On the surface, it could seem easy to take Aaron’s comments as a negative, but how can you blame a kid for making such a huge decision for personal reasons? With the potential of injuries, monetary factors, the randomness of college basketball (Kentucky as an 8 seed and UCONN as a 7 seed duking it out for a championship), some of the lure of trying to win a championship has to be put to the wayside for more personal/business reasons.
—- The second biggest piece of news from the weekend was the tattoo heard round the Bluegrass. I’m not sure that’s the best representation of Willie Cauley-Stein I’ve ever seen, but it certainly is the best only representation I’ve ever seen of Willie Cauley-Stein on a calf.
With that said, it’s not the best calf tattoo I’ve ever seen. Tomlin wins that one…
I’m disappointed that no one seems to care about my Matt Heisenbuttel tattoo anymore. pic.twitter.com/iFfe9JVySF
— C.M. Tomlin (@CM_Tomlin) April 19, 2014
—- Tennessee basketball looks close to naming a new head coach. Michael White of Louisiana Tech is the frontrunner at the moment, with some rumors swirling that the deal has already been done. White has had great success at Louisiana Tech and though he’s not a “big name,” he’s thought to be one of the up and comers.
—- And let’s not forget that the Kentucky football Spring Game (and plenty of other UK sports goodness) is just around the corner…
By Ally Tucker on ©April 20th, 2014 @ 9:30pm
Conventional wisdom points to Pittsburgh assistant Barry Rohrssen being the replacement for Orlando Antigua on John Calipari’s Kentucky staff. Rumors have been circulating out of Pittsburgh for over a week now, and Kentucky took down the assistant coach job opening post on Friday. Rohrssen is known for his recruiting prowess, highlighted by the commitment of 2016 5-star/4-star (depending on the service) guard Mustapha Heron to Pittsburgh. One would have to think that if Rohrssen does in fact switch to Kentucky’s staff, Heron might consider making the move. Calipari has watched Heron play before. Heron is rated as the #15 player in the class of 2016.
Heron is a 6-4 guard out of Waterbury, Connecticut. Heron was recruited by UCONN, Florida, Kansas, Providence, Syracuse and Vanderbilt.
Check out some of his highlights below…
By Corey Nichols on ©April 20th, 2014 @ 8:30pm
Well it wasn’t a bad weekend at all for the Kentucky men’s baseball team, who won their first two games at Texas A & M a combined 17-7. Unfortunately, the solid stretch was soured when they couldn’t pull off a sweep of the Aggies, dropping today’s game 14-2 after a blistering 5-run first inning barrage from A & M.
The Cats were looking for their 6th ever SEC road sweep, and 3rd ever against “a team not named Vanderbilt or Tennessee.” Check out all of the info from UKAthletics.com.
The Cats resume play in Lexington on Tuesday against Tennessee Tech, before resuming SEC play this weekend.
By Aaron Perkins on ©April 20th, 2014 @ 7:30pm
Over the weekend, the Kentucky Track & Field teams competed in the Kentucky Relays. They won a total of 8 events, 5 by the women and 3 by the men; lead by Raymond Dykstria’s second ranked javlin throw. His throw beat the stadium record by more than 12 feet. Newcomer and previously two-time SEC champion Cally Macumber was impressive her first time in a Kentucky uniform. She won the mile in a time of 4:50.13. Here are some more notable finishes from the weekend:
- Alisha Adair won the 200m with a time of 23.91, a new personal best for her.
- Dezerea Bryant easily won the 100m dash with a time of 11.55.
- Lea Nugent won the 100m hurdles over fellow teammate Kayla Parker with a time of 13.41
- Andrew Evans, who was competing on his Senior Day, won the discuss throw with a distance of 60.87m/199-8.
- Charles Moushey placed second in the pole vault with a clearance of 5.20m/17-0.75. It ranks just an inch under the UK freshman record.
Kentucky’s next event will be the SEC Outdoor Meet, which will be held on May 15-18th. It is the first time since 1996 that the SEC Outdoor Meet has been held in Lexington. Go CATS!
(Stats and info from ukathletics.com)
By now you’ve heard about the NBA’s push to raise their own age limit from 19 to 20, effectively changing “One and Done” to “Two and Through” nationwide. Even if it’s passed, though, the earliest it could be implemented is 2016, which means that Karl Towns, Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, and Trey Lyles don’t have to worry about it at all. If they want to go after one year, they’re free to do that, guaranteed.
But the 2015 class? Well, that’s where things get interesting. Because the 2016 NBA Draft could be subject to the 20-year old age limit, the 2015 class could be the first to have to stick in college for two years. What does that mean? Well, to put too fine a point on it, that means we need to get good players next year. Duh, right? I mean, isn’t that the goal every year? “Talent over experience” and all that? But really, in 2015, that goes beyond important: it becomes mandatory.
Remember that Cal said that if he could keep players for more than a year, he’d stick around a while longer. Why? Because it’s easier to keep a good team! It’s just that simple. And 2015 could very reasonably be the year that starts.
So how are we doing?
Kentucky’s already on the board with Top-15 player Charles Matthews, a 6’5″ shooting guard from Chicago who committed in February. That’s a fantastic start. But who else is considering UK? How about the #1 and #2 Centers (Stephen Zimmerman and Diamond Stone), #1 Power Forward (Ivan Rabb), #1 Shooting Guard (Malik Newman), and #3 Small Forward (Montaque Gill-Ceasar), among others. Interestingly, there isn’t a point guard ranked in the top 20 of ESPN’s Super 60, so we’ll have to see how our point guard situation works out by that point. My suspicion is that we’ll start a sophomore Tyler Ulis to kick off the 2015 season, but we’ll see how things work out.
We always keep a close eye on recruiting, and with 2014 almost completely wrapped, it’s time to turn our attention to Matthews and his future teammates. We almost always have bragging rights in the recruiting period with Calipari, but in the 2015 class, we could be getting something even better: sophomores.
Think about that.
Russ Smith either had too much fun celebrating his birthday yesterday, or not nearly enough. He was spotted signing autographs at 4th Street Live sporting this new ‘do, which closely resembles the locks our own Willie Cauley-Stein sported earlier this season.
And remember WCS before you try to make fun. Don’t be quick to judge; that’d be like the pot calling the kettle blond.
But we can at least call him “Rusqo,” right?
The UK Baseball team won their first conference road series of the season, taking the first two games of the three game set, 6-3 and 11-4 before dropping the finale 14-2. The series was highlighted by junior A.J. Reed’s NCAA leading 15th and 16th home runs of the season. The two wins on the weekend bring the Cats to 26-14 on the season and an even 9-9 in the SEC, good for second place in the SEC East.
Game 1: UK 6, A&M 3
UK and Texas A&M entered the ninth tied at three. With two outs and the bases loaded, left-fielder Ka’ai Tom singled in the go ahead run and first-baseman Thomas Bernal added two more insurance runs as the Cats took the opener in College Station. Tom and Bernal were responsible for all six Wildcat runs with Bernal going three-for-five and four RBI on the night.
A.J. Reed earned his seventh win of the season in ten Friday night starts. The left-hander worked eight innings and started the ninth before yielding to Kyle Cody, allowing three runs on nine hits, striking out four to just one walk on 113 pitches. Cody would takeover with a runner on in the ninth and would need just seven pitches to earn his fourth save of the season.
Game 2: UK 11, A&M 4
After allowing an Aggie run in the opening frame, the Cats would score the next eleven runs as third baseman Max Kuhn and A.J. Reed each went four-for-six at the plate, combined for six RBI, and each hit a home run in the series clenching rout of the Aggies. Reed’s homer, a two run shot in the seventh, was his nation leading 15th of the season.
Sophomore Dylan Dwyer earned his second SEC win in as many starts as the Murray native worked six and a third innings, allowed just one run on five hits and struck out four.
Game 3: A&M 14, UK 2
A&M’s bats finally woke up in the series finale as the Aggies scored five runs in the first inning, all with two outs, to deny the Wildcat sweep. A.J. Reed highlighted the afternoon for the UK with his NCAA leading 16th home run of the season with two outs in the first.
All in all, it was a good week for the Cats as they won three-for-four on the road, including a 4-2 win on Tuesday at Louisville to sweep the season series. They will return home for four games this week starting Tuesday against Tennessee Tech before welcoming Ole Miss, third in the SEC West, for a three-game weekend series.
UK softball clinched the series win against SEC foes Arkansas despite dropping game three, 8-0. The Cats are now 38-9 and 13-6 in SEC play and before the loss on Sunday against the Razorbacks, the Cats had won 10 consecutive games, which was the second longest streak in program history. The longest winning streak in School history came earlier this year when the Cats started the season 12-0.
UK took game one against Arkansas on Friday night with a come-from-behind effort and a game winning home run from sophomore infielder Nikki Sagermann. The Cats were down three runs entering the bottom of the fifth inning before the Cats started a rally and scored three unanswered runs, two coming from a throwing error and one from a fielding error. The Cats went on to hold Arkansas’ offense off and Nikki Sagermann belted a solo homerun over the center field wall in the bottom of the ninth to take the victory 4-3. Sagermann also hit a game winning solo homerun last Sunday at Ole Miss to seal the deal in the extra inning win.
Lauren Cumbess started in the circle of the Cats in game two of the series, allowing three earned runs on three hits in the first inning. In the bottom on the inning, Cumbess hit a two RBI single up the middle to cut the lead 3-2 before being replaced by Kelsey Nunley in the second. Nunley pitched the next six innings for the Cats allowing only two runs, one earned off seven hits, and struck out four. The Cats scored two more runs in the second to take the lead 4-3 and the lead continued to increase throughout the game as Krystal Smith hit her second homerun of the season and Nikki Sagermann went 2-for-3 with two RBI and hit another homerun. Sagermann now leads UK with 10 homeruns and 37 RBIs. Nunley recorded the win 7-5 against the Razorbacks which clinched the series win. Nunley is now 19-4 on the season with a 1.85 ERA.
The Cats dropped game three of the series 8-0 in six innings. Shannon Smith got her second SEC start in the circle and loaded the bases in the first inning, allowing three runs to score on one hit. The Cats were unable to produce in the bottom and the Razorbacks led the second inning off with a solo homerun to stretch the lead 4-0. Megan Prince replaced Smith on the mound in the fourth inning, but the Cats were still unable to hold Arkansas offensively as they went on to score four more runs and held UK to a scoreless game.
The Cats will Travel to Bowling Green, KY to play WKU in a non-conference game on Tuesday at 7:00pm before returning home for three day three game SEC series against Tennessee starting Friday at 6:00pm. Game two of the series at John Crop Stadium will take place on Saturday at 5:00pm and will conclude on Sunday at 2:00pm.
By Corey Nichols on ©April 20th, 2014 @ 4:00pm
Doron Lamb has plenty of fans in Lexington thanks to his time as a Wildcat, due in large part to the great-looking long-range jumpers he hoisted up for two years. But long before he was making rainbow floaters look good, he was doing the same thing for Little League.
Who knows if he was a great hitter, but why would you need to be when you look like this?
Who would pay $10 to see Little Doron play baseball today? Get some Big League Chew and head down to the ballpark and see if his baseball game is as smooth as his basketball game. Or his sock game for that matter.
You still love Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, right? Is it dumb that I’m even asking that? So do him a favor and watch him take on the 2-seed Miami Heat RIGHT NOW on ABC.
Plenty of upsets have happened early in the NBA Playoffs (::cough::PACERS::cough::) and there’s nothing keeping MKG and the Bobcats from keeping that going against my beloved Heat. I’m torn. All the same, Go Michael, and Go NBA Cats.
By Ally Tucker on ©April 20th, 2014 @ 2:30pm
Just a few days after watching a coach who led Tennessee within a shot of the Elite 8 walk out the door for the California job, Tennessee basketball has apparently narrowed its search. One of the primary targets according to many reports? Louisiana Tech’s Michael White. If Tennessee fans were unhappy with Cuonzo Martin’s work for the Vols, I’m not sure this hire will fulfill the wishes for a “sexy” name or an exciting hire like Bruce Pearl.
Michael White does have some SEC experience, having played at Ole Miss as well as working for the Rebels as an assistant before being hired by Louisiana Tech. White has been successful at La Tech, putting up a 74-31 record. 56 of those wins have come in the last 2 seasons.
According to sources who have talked to CBSSports.com, the Vols had their sights set on some more A-list coaches, but the attractiveness of the Tennessee job is apparently not high enough to lead to many bites.
“A source told CBSSports.com that Tennessee has informally contact some A-list candidates but that interest hasn’t been mutual. Another source told CBSSports.com that at least one potential candidate expressed no interest only because Tennessee’s roster is in bad shape given that the Vols are losing four of their top five players from a Sweet 16 team.”
What do you think of Michael White as a potential new addition to a struggling SEC’s list of coaches?
One of the best parts of the Calipari Era has been the fact that there is no shortage of Kentucky players in the NBA to watch once college basketball season abruptly ends. Easter Sunday is no different, there are 4 games being played in the NBA Playoffs today, 3 of which involve former Wildcats.
(2) Miami Heat vs. (7) Charlotte Bobcats — Game 1, 3:30pm ABC
Michael Kidd Gilchrist (CHA) — 7.2PPG, 5.2RPG
(4) Chicago Bulls vs. (5) Washington Wizards — Game 1, 7pm TNT
John Wall (WAS) — 19.3PPG, 8.8APG, 4.1RPG
Nazr Mohammed (CHI) — 1.2PPG, 2.2RPG
(4) Houston Rockets vs. (5) Portland Trailblazers — Game 1, 9:30pm TNT
Terrence Jones (HOU) — 12.1PPG, 6.9RPG, 1.3BPG
Demarcus Cousins may be the biggest enigma in the NBA, but this offseason his development from charismatic but sometimes brash budding star to team leader will take on a much more important role. Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee wrote today on why this offseason will be a huge one when it comes to ending the franchise’s 8-year playoff drought. With teammates and starters Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas eligible to become free agents at the end of the year, Cousins must become the type of superstar player that attracts others to stick it out with him in Sacramento.
Some of Cousins’ former teammates in Sacramento say privately they’re relieved to be away from him and his bullish personality. Many around the league wonder if Cousins will become a player who commands his teammates’ respect in the locker room.
Just as other star players do, Cousins needs to become the team’s biggest recruiter and selling point for free agents. But he must become a respected leader and teammate to persuade players to come to Sacramento.
Cousins’ talent is undeniable, coming off his 4th season in the NBA which he averaged 22.7PPG and 11.7RPG, but his most important star quality is yet to be fully developed. After going through 2 coaches in his first 3 seasons in the league, Cousins seems to be finally realizing his awesome potential under first year coach Mike Malone. However, there is still a ways to go before the draw of playing with Cousins brings other stars to Sacramento with him.
In his last game of the season against the Minnesota Timberwolves, in which he picked up his 16th technical foul that led to a one-game suspension for the season finale, Cousins berated Thomas during a timeout for not getting him the ball. Thomas sat off to the side, smirking during the tirade. Gay finally stood up and reminded Cousins the Kings were winning.
Coach Michael Malone said Cousins has made strides at becoming a better teammate. Cousins also admits he’s learning how to lead in the right way. But there’s only so much professional players will put up with, especially on a 28-win team. Outsiders see Cousins’ 22.7 points and 11.7 rebounds per game and wonder why the Kings do not win more. The Kings were 0-11 without him in the lineup this season.
The Harrison Twins and their father Aaron Sr. spoke with FOX Houston about the possibility of them leaving Kentucky after their freshman years to enter the NBA Draft and where they are in the process. According to the elder Harrison, he sent paperwork to the NBA to have his sons evaluated about 2-3 days ago and they, like the rest of us, are waiting for a response from the league before they ultimately make a decision before the April 27th deadline.
“We are probably midway,” said Aaron Harrison Sr. We got to make a decision here in the next six or seven days anyway, but we’ve sat down and had one or two conversations about it and had some prayer about it, but that’s pretty much where we’re at. They’re not leaning either way.”
The younger Aaron Harrison also says that the prospects of coming back to win a title at UK are “a factor, but I think that it’s more about us personally and not about winning a ring or anything like that.” Don’t expect any surprise leaks out of this family, this decision will be made and known by only them until they announce, and until then….we wait.
Happy Easter Sunday everyone. Heres some links to get you up to speed on the sports world before you stuff your face with ham.
Derby contender Cairo Prince to miss Kentucky Derby after suffering an ankle injury. The horse is being attended to at the Rood & Riddle Clinic in Lexington, KY.
After leading the Washington Wizards back to the playoffs for the first time in 6 seasons, John Wall must now adjust to the intensity of the postseason, just like Isiah Thomas in 1984.
Marshall guard Kareem Canty, who averaged 16.3PPG as a freshman last year will be transferring to join Bruce Pearl at Auburn