Part two in an eight part series previewing the 2014 Kentucky Football Wildcats. Cats hope →
Basketball Season Coverage
John Calipari filled the last remaining spot on his basketball staff at Kentucky Friday when the school named former Auburn coach Tony Barbee as special assistant to the head coach.
But interestingly, on the Jalen and Jacoby podcast July 25, ESPN analyst and former NBA player Jalen Rose would neither confirm nor deny rumors that he was contacted by Kentucky to fill one of those vacancies.
“There are a few college coaches that I would consider working for,” Rose said. “John Calipari is one of them.”
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UK officially named Tony Barbee its “special assistant to the head coach” today. The former player and assistant under Calipari will fill the position left open by Rod Strickland when Strickland followed Orlando Antigua to South Florida.
“Tony has been a part of my basketball family for over 20 years,” Calipari said in a release from UK. “I’ve had the pleasure of watching him grow up and mature with this game since I started recruiting him when he was 16 years old. I’m thrilled with the knowledge and experience he brings to this program and our staff and am looking forward to working with him again.”
Barbee said, “I’m so excited to reconnect with my coach, mentor, and friend Coach Cal on his staff at Kentucky. I can’t wait to join the Big Blue Nation in its quest for No. 9.”
People always reminisce about some of the great games of the past 25 years for Kentucky. Games like Duke in 1992 and 1998, the Final Four game in 1996 against UMASS, and even losses in classic NCAA games like Michigan State in 2005 or Arizona in 1997. But there are a couple games that I don’t think get enough mention sometimes for their quality, clutch moments, and key figures becoming legends. I like to post some of those highlights, or in this case a full game, over the summer just to wet your beak coming into next season.
One of those games was the 1998 Final Four game against Stanford. Everybody remembers the Elite 8 against Duke and the national championship against Utah, but the game that was sandwiched in between those could have easily been the game that ended that season. Stanford played quite well and had the Cats down double figures early before another late UK comeback pushed the Cats into a 3rd straight title game. Enjoy the entire broadcast of that 1998 classic while on your lunch break or after work:
One of our two KSR editors, Tyler Thompson, is on vacation this week so being the good boss that I am, I volunteered to pick up a night post tonight to try and take some of the load off Drew Franklin. Tonight’s post was supposed to be a simple affair, in which I reviewed the state of Kentucky basketball recruiting, Mark Stoops’ comments today at the KSR Tour and the overall awesomeness of Slice Rohrssen. But then, like the evil dictator that he is, Coach K had to come out of nowhere and ruin my night. With one rumored decision, Coach K has once again topped my list of most disliked people in this great country. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported tonight that after Camp Team USA has been completed, it is expected that Coach K will pick Mason Plumlee to represent the team at the World Cup of Basketball over Demarcus Cousins. I want you to read that sentence again, this time with focus and if you are drinking, when you have become sober. Demarcus Cousins is reported to likely not make Team USA because Coach K prefers MASON FREAKING PLUMLEE!!!!
That sounds made up right? Like if you were going to create a “Coach K is the worst and favors mediocre white Duke players over talented skilled professionals,” Onion piece, you would probably title it “Coach K picks a Plumlee over Boogie,” wouldn’t you? It can’t be real. Coach K can’t favor a reserve averaging 7.4 points and 3.8 rebounds a game over Demarcus’s 22 and 15, can he? Demarcus Cousins is legitimately one of the top 5-8 big men in the NBA. His numbers this season probably should have made him a third team All NBA center and most people who know the game say he is about to have a 2-3 year breakout that could put him (along with Anthony Davis) as a potential All Star starter. And Mason Plumlee…well he was a decent reserve on an underperforming Brooklyn Nets team. Yet Coach K would rather have that Plumlee, Mason..or maybe its Miles, who heck the knows the difference, instead of Demarcus “you can’t guard me” Cousins. Sure thing K.
Its a headline and story so baffling that it almost defies belief. Look at these statistics comparing the two big men:
So the numbers aren’t even in the same ballpark. Now some may say, “but Matt, Mason is a good team player and Demarcus is a trouble maker!” Says who? What has Demarcus done that has really “caused trouble?” Yes, he has had a temper in games and has a number of technicals. But if he is on Team USA and he is in that mode, guess what he will do…be on the bench? And whoever would come in and take his place would certainly be much better than Mason Plumlee. But what has Demarcus ever done off the court to be a team chemistry killer? What teammates has Demarcus had that are not fans of him as a player? And would he not be on the same team as guys who are friends of his and former Calipari players like Anthony Davis and Derrick Rose (and possibly John Wall). One of the things that we learned long ago at Kentucky is that Demarcus excels based in part on those around him. What could be better for him, and what role could he serve better in, than on a team of other top talents with a common goal, all the while actually winning games.
I could break down the International game and tell you why Demarcus would also play well in that style (he is tough, rebounds, is physical and can hit a mid range jumper). Give me a skill that Miles Plumlee has that Demarcus Cousins does not…you can’t. The reality is that there is no explanation for a Plumlee over Demarcus except the Duke connection. Plumlee is not one of the top 40 big men in the NBA and putting him on the team would be the utmost in Duke favoritism over skill. Over the years we have seen Coach K shun top talent to put floor slapper in the game that are often scrappy, but underachieve in big games (hello Lehigh and Mercer). But to have those same odd decisions while with Team USA, that seems bizarre at best.
The only good thing about this decision? It once again confirms to me that Coach K is the worst. Over the years, Coach K had slowly backed down from his sole perch atop my disliked list that he climbed up in 1992 (sharing it with Laettner). Between saying the occasional nice thing about UK, winning at a high level and leading the USA to a gold medal (all the while praising Anthony Davis as the next star of the NBA), had slowly made me forget that at Coach K’s core is a black hole. He is the coach of the least likable team in basketball history, full of players that are spoiled and snotty, and helped in their success by an adoring media and a constant badgering of officials that borders on psychological warfare. I had forgotten that K, the one who looks like a rat and makes your blood boil during home games in Cameron Indoor. He had been replaced by the humble Coach K who lost to Mercer and then looked noble entering their locker room and congratulating them after the embarrassing upset.
Not anymore…picking Plumlee over Boogie reminds us that all good Coach K moments are a facade for the real Coach K. The real Coach K favors Duke and the worst of humanity over Boogie, the Big Blue Nation and all that is good. I had forgotten that I hate Coach K, but leave it to the Brown eyed Blue Devil to remind me by replacing a great American on the team of the Red, White and Blue. You won’t fool me again K…you are the worst.
Tonight a late report from Cats Illustrated cites sources as saying that Tony Barbee will become a new Administrative Assistant on the UK staff, likely in the position left open by Rod Strickland’s departure. You may remember that Barbee was last the Auburn head coach and worked for Calipari at Memphis prior to that job. More as it comes tomorrow, the day in which Cats Illustrated suggests it will be released.
Up first, Karl Towns.
The freshman big man leads off this summer’s ‘Meet The Wildcats’ series with confessions of owning four lint rollers — he hides one at the Wildcat Lodge check-in desk — so he’s always looking fresh around campus. “I want to look like the best-looking guy possible,” he told Eric Lindsey.
Then Towns goes on to talk about being the youngster on the Dominican Republic National Team three years ago and what that experience did for his game.
He also opens up about his family, academics and several other aspects of his life that’ll make you like him even more than you already do.
Check it out.
New UK assistant basketball coach “Slice” Rohrssen made his first public and first radio appearance this morning at KSR’s tour stop in Lexington and he knocked it out of the park. You’ll have to hear it all for yourself to catch his quick wit and great personality; I can’t do it justice here in writing. (Congratulating Big Brother on the success of his show was hilarious.)
When Slice wasn’t cutting up with Matt and the fans, he told the story of sending Joe B. Hall a letter in the 80s, asking if he could come to Lexington from New York to pick his brain. Coach Hall, who was at the top at the time, responded with a letter inviting a young Slice to come down and work a summer camp. Now here he is, some 25-30 years later, working as an assistant at UK.
He also talked about his longtime relationship with Coach Cal and the expectations for the upcoming season. He told Matt he is going to be like Betsy Ross sewing that ninth banner here at Kentucky.
Have a listen…
Coach Cal is in Las Vegas for the next few days, working the Team USA Basketball Fantasy Camp. Today he swung by USA practice to catch up with some of his former players: John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and Derrick Rose.
Andy Glockner snapped this photo of Cal cutting up with Wall and Rose during a break in the action. I bet he’s telling them how good his new crew is in Lexington.
So you heard Jon Rothstein’s report from UK basketball practice and you’re still a little skeptical of his high praise and higher expectations. No worries. Today we followed up with Dino Gaudio of ESPN, who is equally impressed by what he witnessed in the Joe Craft Center.
Gaudio was a guest on Kentucky Sports Radio radio this morning and he said he believes Kentucky is as talented of a team as he has seen in the last decade. And just think, he is seeing them now, in July, without Willie Cauley-Stein and Trey Lyles.
Gaudio also said, with a drastically improved set of twins and an improved Dakari Johnson inside, the Cats will run the table in the SEC this upcoming season. He loves Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker, too.
Hear for yourself:
Or listen to the entire show from Maysville:
By Drew Franklin on ©10:53 am
Matt tracked down another college basketball analyst who had the pleasure of seeing the Cats practice this week and he invited him on this morning’s show for his take on the squad. This time it was Dino Gaudio, who told Big Blue Nation they should be “crazy excited about this team.”
Gaudio followed that up with a bold prediction, saying, “I don’t want to put a jinx on them, but I’m pretty sure nobody in the SEC will beat (Kentucky) this year.”
“These guys are as talented of a team as I’ve seen in the last ten years,” he added.
Jon Hood is catching heat from some UK fans on Twitter for a tweet he sent about Scott County basketball coach Billy Hicks following the KHSAA’s death penalty to Cordia. Hood tweeted:
So if Cordia is getting in trouble for recruiting, when does Scott County and the famous Billy Hicks get sanctioned?
— Jon Hood (@jonnylightning4) July 29, 2014
Only difference between them both, is that Cordia was reckless and didn't seem to care. Scott County was/is sneaky.
— Jon Hood (@jonnylightning4) July 29, 2014
Today he explained it:
“Look I said what I said as a general statement. I said what everyone has been saying for years, but never would publicly. I wasn’t attacking anyone, again, just a general statement. I haven’t run my mouth at all. I will not. As far as the people talking about being classy you all are the ones attacking me. I said my piece and now I’m done. Let it go and it goes away, keep bringing it up and it stays.”
General statement, huh?
With Jaylen Brown set to visit one week from today, UCLA is really going out of its way to show him how washed up its basketball program is these days. Pauley Pavilion, where the Bruins play their home games, is currently submerged after a huge water main break earlier this evening. The court is likely ruined, much like Brown’s NBA potential if he commits.
This one is pretty awesome. The 2013-2014 season in review…complete with music, highlights and a Chester call for the ages. Check it out…you will love it from UKCatFan8
We’re going to have to put Jon Rothstein on the payroll if he continues to churn out exclusive content at the rate he has over the past 24 hours. This morning, Rothstein followed up his KSR interview with a Q&A session with John Calipari for CBSSports.com. It is very wordy, so I’ll share with you an excerpt before sending you on your way to take it all in yourself.
Here, check out this little bit about whether or not the returning players impacting his decision to turn down the NBA:
It had to do with me getting them more prepared. So now you have four kids who said they need us and me to prepare them for the rest of their lives. If I came back after that and left, it’s a tough move. That was solely the reason. Now people are saying that I’ll never leave here. You know what, maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll be in this position every year. I’ll be happy as hell if that happens, because that means my team comes back. And then when you have guys say that I’m going to leave, my thing is, ‘If you were offered X amount of dollars, would you leave?’ And I stayed.
Cal also talks in length about the title game; the rivalry with Louisville; expectations for the Harrison twins; this year’s depth across the board; and the hardest part about coaching at Kentucky. Check it out.