If you’re one of the proud that still refused to acknowledge tonight as an official part of the NCAA Tournament and were fortunate enough to escape watching Glee with your significant other, you might have been lucky enough to catch the Roast of Donald Trump on Comedy Central. It was a high-brow affair featuring a collection of roast regulars and oddballs like Larry King and The Situation all paying tribute to Trump in a very special way. The star of the show, though, was Snoop Dogg, who launched a hilarious stream of barbs not suitable for print here, but certainly worthy of a search on YouTube. They were obviously written by someone whose head is slightly less cloudy than Mr. Dogg’s, but they were excellent nonetheless. And it helped you forget the NCAA’s ridiculous mistake. We can all support that.
Now onto a few UK notes…
- Over the course of the past six games, the Cats have built a large amount of confidence thanks to not only winning basketball games, but finding solutions to some of the problems that plagued them throughout the SEC slate. They finally closed out some close games. They broke through on the road. They fought back against a physical team and ran them out of the gym. They were able to throttle one of the nation’s best teams with outstanding team defense. Basically, they finally developed into what Coach Cal said they could be all year. If they’re going to take that final step into being a real threat for the Final Four and possibly beyond, they’re going to need Terrence Jones to step forward and add yet another dimension to the offense. Kentucky’s offense has clicked during their six-game winning streak and guys like Doron Lamb, Darius Miller and even Josh Harrellson have supplied buckets. As a team, the flow has never been better. For Jones, though, the six-game streak has brought about different results. In those games, the star freshman has averaged only 11 points on 26 percent shooting from the field and has struggled to find rhythm. To me, it looks like a mental issue, almost like he’s afraid to make mistakes at times instead of just playing. When he has played his best basketball, he’s played loose and emotionally, allowing buckets to snowball and his confidence to build. I expect Calipari to try to get him going early against Princeton and if he can sustain some momentum over the first weekend and finally find rhythm within the offense, this team becomes even more dangerous offensively and can easily give Ohio State fits in the Sweet 16. That’s a long way off still and it all starts for Jones and, conceivably, the entire team Thursday against the Tigers.
- If you’re looking for another reason why the Cats can make a push in the NCAA Tournament, look no further than the improved team defense. The Cats held every one of their last six opponents below their season average for points. The improvement comes from individual players like Doron Lamb and Brandon Knight putting more emphasis on their defensive performance and guys like Josh Harrellson being able to stay out of foul trouble. Even Terrence Jones has taken his defensive game to a new level, giving the Cats as close to a shot-blocking presence inside as they’ll get with their thin and oddly pieced roster. Gettin them to commit to the other end of the floor was a priority for Coach Cal all season and his team bought into it just in time. Against a Princeton team that has struggled against BCS teams and a West Virginia team that has its own offensive struggles, that defensive commitment could be enough to advance alone. They learned how to win a game with defense Sunday in Atlanta. At some point, they’ll have to do that in the NCAA Tournament. Based on the last six games, you have to be optimistic of their ability to do so.
- The only thing close to news Tuesday was the report that Doron Lamb is in a walking boot this week after spraining his ankle in Atlanta. Lamb will play this weekend and, even if his ankle is still bothering him, shouldn’t be too limited. It shouldn’t affect his jump-shooting too much and it didnt’ seem to affect his defense to a great degree Sunday. He’ll likely be short of 100%, but there’s no reason to expect him to be hobbled. Get your goggles ready.
- If you’re in Tampa, don’t forget UK’s open practice starts at 1:30. It will be at the St. Pete Times Forum. Make sure you go. And if you see me lugging around my kids, feel free to volunteer to babysit or something.
- Also, if you’re in the city of Hulk Hogan, individual session tickets are available for those of you who want to attend the game. The tickets are $77 each to see two games, but that at least allows you to avoid buying a book. Not great news for those of you who wanted to dump your tickets to the non-UK session for a considerable chunk of change. You can purchase them through Ticketmaster or at the St. Pete Times Forum.
- If you enjoyed the Michigan trash-talking of Duke in the Fab Five documentary Sunday, you may or may not like Bobby Hurley talking some trash back to Jalen Rose. The way this thing is going, the only way this can come to an end is with a rematch at halftime of the NCAA Championship game in Houston.
- The NCAA Tournament got underway in Dayton (a great city) Tuesday and it also marked the basketball debut of TruTV. The coverage was decent enough, but the commericials are truly awful. In fact, the only way they could get worse was if they just had people saying, “I am TruTV”. Yes, I’m getting fired.
That’s it for now. Make sure you stick around all day as we get all of the Princeton coverage going and finally have some news to report from UK’s open practice and Coach Cal’s statements about the Tigers. As ususal, the fun will get going with Matt Jones on Talk Radio 1080 at 10am. Make sure you check it out. In the meantime, bask in the barrel of handsome that is a young Oscar Combs.
See you in a few…
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Bill Keightley Report : Never to be forgotten.
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