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Basketball Season Coverage

Nerlens Noel talks Skal, Cal, and BBN reunions on KSR

Picture via ZagsBlog

Nerlens Noel is in Kentucky this week to host some basketball camps, and was nice enough to call in to the show to chat and catch up with Matt, Drew, and the KSR family. Right before Nerlens came on, the rumor came out about the Sacramento Kings pursuing John Calipari, so Matt asked Nerlens if he believes Calipari will retire at Kentucky or leave for the pros. (Fortunately, this conversation ended up being all for naught.)

“From what I know, I know Coach Cal is an honest guy, I think he’ll stay in Kentucky, but you never really know,” Nerlens said. “That’s a process he’ll probably have to think about. Why leave here?”

Our thoughts exactly. Especially with another excellent freshman class coming in, headlined by Skal Labissiere. Nerlens is familiar with Skal, whom he coached in a high school all-star game a few years back (pictured above). What can Kentucky fans expect from the Haitian Sensation?

“Oh man, he’s a great kid, great, great kid,” Nerlens said of Skal. “I think Kentucky’s going to have another potential top three pick. He’s just a great person, he’s going to come in every day and put in the work and help this team in any way possible. He’s going to make the state proud.”

Six more Kentucky players joined the league last week, bringing the total number of Cats in the NBA to 24, 25 if Aaron Harrison makes a roster this summer. That’s a lot of la familia reunions throughout the season.

“Oh man, it’s amazing,” Nerlens said. “Especially to go back-to-back nights against Kentucky guys. One night you can play DeMarcus or John or Anthony. I think it’s all John Calipari’s work. He’s done so much for us and our families. It’s all compliments to him and all the hard work we put in.”

Hopefully for many, many more years to come. Thanks to Nerlens for coming on the show. His interview comes during the second segment of hour two:

While you’re at it, listen to hour one:

Cal shoots down Kings rumor: “I WILL BE AT KENTUCKY”


Just like that, here comes John Calipari on the white horse to make us all feel better. Cal sent out this statement seconds ago:

For the 100th time, I have the best basketball coaching position in the world. I am not looking for any other coaching position. Since he bought the team, Vivek Ranadive and I have talked on and off about DeMarcus Cousins. Vivek has asked me what I thought about DeMarcus and I told him he would be an all-star, and I was right. In the last two weeks, we’ve also talked a bunch about the draft and on draft day, obviously because of Willie Cauley-Stein. At no time has Vivek offered me a job. I will be at Kentucky.

That last part in tweet form because it was awesome:

Yahoo says the Kings want John Calipari

Hey, you know what we don’t need? Another John Calipari to the NBA rumor! Unfortunately, we just got one from Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who cites league sources that say the Sacramento Kings are “probing” John Calipari to gauge his interest in taking over the franchise’s front office and coaching jobs:

Calipari has been communicating with owner Vivek Ranadive and other members of the Kings ownership group in recent weeks, league sources said. Calipari has listened to scenarios with which the Kings could offer him complete control of the franchise’s fledgling basketball operations to go along with coaching, league sources said.

Woj says no formal offer has been made, but the Kings are well aware it may take $10 million+/year to get Calipari to consider leaving Kentucky.

Usually I dismiss these rumors, but when it comes from Woj…Boogie, Willie, and possibly Bledsoe? Uggggh.


Tyler Ulis dunked tonight

Tyler Ulis dunked tonight

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 9.11.27 PM

Tyler Ulis and the rest of his boys played some pick-up tonight at the Seaton Center and Ulis was kind enough to share this footage of him dunking, something every 5’9″ guard aspires to but very few achieve:

Yall happy? #BBN #BeSpecial

A video posted by Tyler Ulis (@t_ulis3) on

Another view, from Snapchat sources:

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It could get crazy again, guys.

Where Are They Now: James Blackmon Sr.

Where Are They Now: James Blackmon Sr.


The McDonald’s All-American, Parade All-American, Scholastic Coach All-American, USA Today All-American, and Mr. Basketball runner-up in the state of Indiana chose to play basketball at Kentucky with offers from other multiple elite basketball schools.

James Blackmon Sr. totaled 866 points, 314 rebounds, 271 assists and 149 steals, while starting three out of his four years as a Wildcat. Blackmon played in the 1984 Final Four as a freshman and served as co-captain during his senior year.

Blackmon was drafted 94th overall in the 5th round of the 1987 NBA Draft to the New Jersey Nets. However, Blackmon never played a game; he was cut following a trade that put the roster over the limit. Blackmon went on to play overseas, where he spent the next eight years playing in the CBA and the World Basketball League.

After hanging up his basketball shoes, Blackmon decided to give coaching a try. In 2004, Blackmon was hired as the head coach of Bishop Luers High School in Fort Wayne, IN. Blackmon took over a team that had a combined record of 7-33 for the prior two seasons. Blackmon spent nine seasons at Bishop Luers, where he won back-to-back Class 2A State Championships in 2008 and 2009.

In 2011, Blackmon was hired by his alma mater, Marion High School, before announcing his resignation as the head coach and his plan to return to Bishop Luers. However, in April of 2013, Blackmon accepted the head coaching position at Marion. This time it was a permanent.


In his first season as the head coach at Marion, the Giants went 18-5 and lost in the sectional semifinals. This previous season Blackmon and the Giants completed their season with and 15-10 record, losing in the first round of the sectional tournament.

Blackmon met his wife, Sailaja Blackmon, at Kentucky and the two have three sons; James, Vijay and Jalen. The Big Blue Nation is familiar with Blackmon’s eldest son, James Blackmon Jr., who currently plays for Indiana University. Blackmon Jr. was recruited by Kentucky, but chose the Hoosiers to stay in his home state. Blackmon Jr. broke his father’s school record by scoring 54 points in a game. Blackmon Sr. was able to have the opportunity to coach his son, James, in all four years of his high school basketball career; three years at Bishop Luers and one year at Marion.

Blackmon Sr. continues to coach at Marion High School, where he is looking forward to the 2015-16 season.

Cal’s flag comments really got people talking today

Cal’s flag comments really got people talking today

In case you’ve been off social media all day, on this morning’s SEC Basketball Summer Teleconference, Jerry Tipton asked John Calipari whether or not he believes the Confederate flag and statues of Confederate generals should be displayed across the South.

The question understandably caught Cal off guard, and he responded that, even though the state of Kentucky doesn’t display the Confederate flag, he believes it should come down. He later clarified those remarks in a post on social media, saying he doesn’t think there is any question that the flag should be taken down.

As you might imagine, Cal’s remarks led to quite a few responses on his Facebook page (almost 800 as of this post). Most of them aren’t worth reposting here, but some are pretty entertaining. Here’s a small sample…

Some fans agreed with Cal:


Some fans may not have agreed with Cal, but respected his right to express his opinion:


Some people think he needs to STICK TO BASKETBALL. (These people probably say the same thing about KSR.)

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Whoa, John, harsh.

This person clearly didn’t understand the situation:


This person is lost:


These fans reserved their fire for Jerry Tipton:

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These fans think Cal “doesn’t get it” because he’s from the North:

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This guy thinks Cal should be fired:


This one thinks Cal’s a sheep:


Some fans wondered why the uproar since Kentucky doesn’t fly the Confederate flag:

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While we’re at it, Steve wants to hear Cal’s response to this civil matter:


I’d like to hear that, too.

This fan has the right idea, but the wrong media affiliation and the incorrect use of “nefarious”:


I think you’re going for “notorious,” Wanda, but good job, good effort.

These fans are so upset they’re going to root for Louisville now:


Speaking of flags…


For some reason, David Timothy’s response really makes me laugh.

Is the Tennessee marketing department drunk?

Tennessee guard Josh Richardson was drafted by the Heat in the second round last Thursday. Bully for him, exciting times, right? The Tennessee Basketball Twitter account sent Richardson this bizarre congratulatory message on Friday that I’m still trying to figure out:

Even Richardson thought it was weird:

Tennessee basketball is like the really short kid with the backwards hat who tries WAY too hard to be cool in high school. Just…stop. Oh, sorry: #stop

Recent poll finds UK fans outnumber Louisville fans 66% to 19% in Kentucky


Public Policy Polling recently surveyed the state on a number of different issues ranging from politics to fried chicken and, of course, sports. In news that won’t surprise us, UK’s fan base is still much, much larger than UofL’s. 66% of the 1,108 registered voters said they cheer for Kentucky, while only 19% admitted they cheer for Louisville. Sixteen percent responded “not sure,” aka sissies/non-sports fans.

Of the Kentucky fans polled, 83% said they approve of the job John Calipari is doing as coach (5% disapprove). Rick Pitino received similar remarks from Louisville fans, with an 82% approval rating (4% disapprove).

On the football side, 50% of the UK fans polled say they approve of Mark Stops’ job so far, with 8% saying they disapprove and a substantial 42% responding “not sure.” The jury’s still out on Bobby Petrino too, with 51% of Louisville fans saying they approve, 9% disapprove, and 40% not sure.

Other interesting results:

  • When asked to pick their favorite fast foot chicken chain, 35% of those polled picked Chick-Fil-A, followed by KFC with 33%.
  • 47% said they believe KFC’s Colonel Sanders would be a better US Senator than Mitch McConnell
  • Only 33% of those polled have a favorable opinion of mint juleps (although 39% were “not sure”)
  • 56% think Secretariat would beat American Pharoah in a race

Check out all the results by clicking here.

Bo Ryan will retire after next season

In news that reminds me I’m still not over The Loss, Wisconsin announced that Bo Ryan will retire after next season. Rumors have been swirling on social media about Ryan’s retirement this morning, and he confirmed the news in a press release.

“Back in the spring, in the days after the national championship game, (UW Director of Athletics) Barry Alvarez and I discussed the possibility of me retiring,” Ryan said. “I’ve always been told tht is not a decision to make right after a season is completed. Barry Thankfully encouraged me to take some time to think about it and I have done that. I considered retiring this summer or coaching one more season.”

Coming off back-to-back Final Fours with the cupboard practically bare, you have to wonder why Ryan didn’t just go ahead and retire after this season, but I guess he wants a farewell tour. Just no more Final Fours, please.

[NBC Sports]


Pat Riley reminds reporter he’s a Kentucky Wildcat, is tired of his Duke worship

This morning, the Miami Heat introduced former Duke forward Justise Winslow, who may have been the steal of the draft at #10. Heat president Pat Riley and head coach Erik Spoelstra were alongside Winslow, now the third Duke player on the Heat’s roster (Luol Deng and Josh McRoberts).

In a gag-inducing bout of Duke worship, a reporter asked Riley how it felt to get another Duke guy and whether or not “there’s a specific thing about a guy that’s played at Duke” that appeals to him. Riley doesn’t flaunt his status as a former Kentucky legend a lot, but his response was priceless.

“I’m a Kentucky Wildcat, first of all,” Riley said to laughter from the crowd. “Same qualities, probably.”

Riley went on to praise Mike Kryzlkj;aoiwerj and Winslow, but it’s clear where his loyalties lie.


Calipari says Alex is two to three months from being back

Are you ready for an Alex Poythress injury update? Because I’ve got one, courtesy of John Calipari on this morning’s teleconference.

“He’s good,” Cal said of Alex. “He’s only five months out. He needs another three months, or at least two months, and we’ll see from there.”

In fact, Cal said that Alex is doing so well at rehabbing his leg that his other leg needs to keep up.

“He was so physically strong, the doctors are amazed that, around his leg, the one thing he’s got to do. He’s working so hard on that leg that was repaired, the knee, that the other leg’s got to catch up now. The strong leg, the healthy leg.”

Only a matter of time until he’s doing this again:

Calipari: “I hate to say it, but it could be crazy again”


John Calipari talked about more than Confederate flags today on the SEC Summer Teleconference. With Jamal Murray now officially on the roster, Cal told reporters — you guessed it — he likes his team.

“I’m excited about our team. I think our backcourt should be one of the stronger backcourts in the country, even though we will be very young, and our frontcourt, athletic and long — 7′, 6’10”, 6’8″, 6′9″,” Cal said. “I mean, our wing play with Charles and Mychal, Alex getting back healthy, Marcus Lee getting his opportunity. I hate to say it but it could be crazy again.

When asked specifically about Jamal Murray, Cal said he’s looking forward to the versatility he brings to the team.

“You know I’ve played all kind of different times, whether it’s smaller teams, bigger teams, longer teams. He is a playmaking guard who can play 1 or 2 and can really score the ball. Great in pick and rolls, can play with Tyler or you could play three guards at times if you chose to do that,” Cal said. “But it’s hard to say you’re gonna do that when you have the bigs that we have in Skal, Marcus and Alex if he’s healthy, along with Charles and Mychal. All of the sudden you have Dom and you have Derek, you have a–we have a good team. I mean, we’re like, ‘Let’s start playing. Let’s throw it up.’

Yes. Let’s.


Jerry Tipton asked John Calipari about the Confederate flag


Leave it to Jerry Tipton to spice up a routine summer teleconference. Jerry asked Cal his stance on the display of the Confederate flag and statues of Confederate generals across the South. After a five-second pause, Calipari responded. Here’s their conversation:

Calipari: “Really? Um, obviously it offends a portion of our society, so people are deciding to take them down. That’s how I feel.”

Jerry: “You would support taking them down?”

Calipari: “Sure. They offend, and I would say do it. But, again, does our state use the Confederate flag, Jerry?”

Jerry: “Well, there’s statue of a confederate general at the old courthouse in Lexington and a statue of Jefferson Davis at the capital in Frankfort.”

Calipari: “Wow. [pause] Since I’m not running for public office, I’ll let the powers that be decide those matters. I was thinking about running for President and I was discouraged from that.”

Jerry: “Thank you.”

Yeah…it got a little weird.

UPDATE (11:32 a.m.): Cal just posted this message on social media about the flag…

“Was just asked a question on a basketball conference call about the confederate flag. I don’t want any confusion. I think we should take it down! I don’t think there’s any question it should be taken down, but again, I’m not running for office.”

That’ll make for some entertaining Facebook comments.


Everyone but Jamal Murray is back in Lexington

A sneak peek at your 2015-2016 Kentucky Wildcats, courtesy of loyal KSR reader @GsVaught, who snapped this shot at the Coach Cal camp yesterday. Jamal Murray (and presumably walk-on Jonny David) should join the group soon.

Chad Ford Says He Would Send His Kid to Play for Calipari

Chad Ford Says He Would Send His Kid to Play for Calipari


Chad Ford is the NBA Draft guru and spends his life getting ready for the day when the Draftees step to the stage and find out their NBA fates. I have always found Chad to be intelligent and have strong insights (except when he said James Young was a good passer), and there is probably no person who knows more about the Draft than he. On Friday, Ford recorded a podcast with Ryan Russillo (who I also like quite a bit) reviewing the Draft and he talked about the UK players and Calipari. While discussing Booker, Ford said, “If I had a kid who was a NBA level player, I would definitely send him to Calipari.” He was agreeing with a point made by Russillo, who had said that Booker would be ready for his NBA role as a shooter since he had a similar role at Kentucky, and noted that no coach better prepared his players to get to the next level and succeed than Calipari.

While some people like to try and ignite BBN in a debate of “Win titles vs the Pros” (I am looking at you Patty Forde), the reality is that both are not mutually exclusive. And no matter where you stand on the issue, comments such as those by Chad Ford don’t hurt as Calipari seeks to get the next generation of future NBA Draft superstars to make their way to Lexington. I would suggest you listen to the comments and the podcast as a whole as it is a good breakdown of the UK guys and the Draft in general.

Chad Ford on Calipari