We’ve analyzed how the team did on the field Saturday, now it’s time to turn →
Basketball Season Coverage
CoachCal.com’s “Meet the Wildcats” series rolls on, and freshmen Trey Lyles is up. The BBN doesn’t know a lot about Lyles, who has been sidelined with a mysterious leg injury, but he opens up in Eric Lindsey’s piece, talking about how eager he is to get back on the court and the hobby he has that clears his head: puzzles. Lyles says he works puzzles all the time and once put together a 3,000-piece puzzle of Elvis.
Lyles also talks about why he chose Kentucky over Louisville, and I think you’ll like his answer:
“Coach Cal just stuck out more to me for what he’s able to do and how much he cares for us,” Lyles said. “I came here quite a few more times than I went to Louisville, so I just felt more comfortable here. Just the family atmosphere. All the guys get along. Everybody’s always together. The fans really helped out a lot. Having great people that back you really helps out a lot.”
Check out CoachCal.com for more great quotes from Trey, who will be back on the court very soon.
A Congratulations is in order for Mr. EJ Floreal. After one walk-on season, Floreal has been rewarded for his hard work by receiving a scholarship from John Calipari. He didn’t have any numbers or miraculous plays to point out (except for the dunk in the Bahamas, that was awesome), but he did prove that he’s much more than the track coach’s son: he deserves to be on the court.
EJ brings the intensity to every practice, along with this:
That’s scholarship worthy if you ask me.
The college football season is finally here. Texas A&M and South Carolina are kicking off the season in style, on the brand-new SEC Network as we speak. The two schools are moving on without the services of Johnny Manziel and Jadeveon Clowney. It’s yet to be determined how difficult it will be for each school to replace its big star, but this has me thinking … in recent history, which Kentucky football and basketball stars have been most difficult to replace after their departures?
We’ll consider “recent history” to mean any player since the start of the Rich Brooks and Tubby Smith eras. This is not a list of the best players Kentucky has had during this period, although they are probably all in the conversation. It’s a list of players who have been the most difficult to replace. Much of the list has to do with the talent, or lack thereof, that followed each star.
Let’s begin, in chronological order:
The Hefty Lefty was the third of a trio of good QBs at Kentucky. Tim Couch passed down the torch to Dusty Bonner for a solid 1999 campaign, but the job was Lorenzen’s from 2000-2003. Lorenzen threw for 2,221 yards and 16 TDs with eight INTs in 2003, the first year of the Rich Brooks’ era. He was primarily replaced by Shane Boyd, who totaled only 1,328 passing yards with seven TDs and nine INTs in 2004. Lorenzen’s loss could also be felt in the 2005 season as Andre Woodson took time to develop into the great QB that he would eventually become in 2006 and 2007.
Hayes was a key player in the best four-year run of the Tubby Smith era. When Tayshaun Prince’s eligibility expired after Hayes’ freshman year, most expected UK to regress in 2003. Instead, the Cats went 32-4, ran the table in the SEC and earned a No. 1 overall seed. With Keith Bogans gone the following season, 2004 was also thought to be a rebuilding year. Wrong again. Although the Cats were upset by UAB in the second round, Kentucky went 27-5, earned a No. 1 seed and was ranked No. 2 in the final regular season AP poll. The one constant key to the success of Kentucky through these years was Chuck Hayes. As a senior, he averaged 7.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists, along with 10.9 points per game in 2005. The next two seasons without Hayes, Bobby Perry led Kentucky’s forwards with just 3.9 and 3.5 rebounds per game. The Cats had to rely on their point guard, Rajon Rondo, for a team-leading 6.1 rebounds per game in 2006. That was the first of four straight double-digit loss seasons.
Kentucky easily replaced and improved in almost every area in John Calipari’s first season. John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe and company joined an NIT team and instantly turned it into a Final Four contender. The one key part they lost from 2009, however, ended up being the one thing they needed most in the NCAA Tournament. Jodie Meeks’ outside shooting wasn’t replaced and it may have been the one thing that stopped the Cats from winning it all in 2010. Meeks made 117 three-point shots at a percentage of .406 in 2009. In 2010, the Cats’ two best long-range threats combined for less made threes than Meeks made alone the year before. Darnell Dodson made 50 threes at a percentage of .347 and Eric Bledsoe made 49 (.383). And in that final game against West Virginia, those two combined to make 2-of-14 and the team made just 4-of-32 from long range.
Yes, Mike Hartline. Hartline wasn’t as beloved as the other players on this list and was often unfairly criticized, but it’s been four years and Kentucky has yet to replace his production or go to another bowl game. He had one of the strongest seasons in the SEC as a senior in 2010. Hartline threw for 3,178 yards, 23 TDs and 9 INTs. He led the SEC with 268 pass completions and finished second in passing yards. In 2011, the year after he graduated, Maxwell Smith led the team with just 819 passing yards.
In addition to losing Mike Hartline, Kentucky lost one of the greatest all-around players in its history in 2010. Randall Cobb did everything in his three years in Lexington. He spent time at QB while Hartline was developing or injured, made a huge difference in special teams, and developed into a 1,000-yard receiver as a junior. He totaled 1,441 yards from scrimmage that season. No player played a bigger part in helping Kentucky reach five consecutive bowl games than Cobb, who kept the streak going for three more years after Andre Woodson, Stevie Johnson, Jacob Tamme, Wesley Woodyard and company had departed after the 2007 season. There hasn’t been another player step into his shoes, but to be fair, there likely never will be a player like him again.
Danny Trevathan and Winston Guy
The bowl streak was snapped in their senior year, but they also helped end the losing streak to Tennessee in their final game. These two kept Kentucky competitive with a five-win season in 2011, despite an offense that was struggling to adjust to the losses of Randall Cobb and Mike Hartline. The two combined for 124 solo tackles and 263 total tackles. The duo of Avery Williamson and a young Bud Dupree fell short of those numbers with 226 total tackles between them in 2012. In the win-loss column, Trevathan and Guy’s absence showed as the Cats went from five wins to two and Joker Phillips was on his way out.
The 2012 National Championship team
It wouldn’t be fair to name just one or two players from the 2012 National Championship team that were toughest to replace. The reality is Kentucky lost its entire team and completely started over again in 2013. Anthony Davis’ freakish skill set couldn’t be replaced even by a healthy Nerlens Noel. Darius Miller’s veteran presence was gone. MKG’s work ethic was nowhere to be found. Doron Lamb’s deadly shooting was missed. Terrence Jones at his best was a beast. And we would have loved another year of Marquis Teague at point guard. All six players lost that season are worthy of this list and none of them were able to be replaced in a 2013 season that ended sadly and bizarrely in Moon Township, PA.
Agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments section below.
You may remember Casual Gamer Reed from his various appearances here on KSR. He is a huge UK fan who likes to predict UK games and talk about the Cats (while wearing UK gear). He bills himself as “the #1 UK fan on YouTube. Here is an example of some of his work:
Well it turns out that besides talking about UK, Casual Gamer Reed also does product reviews. And the Comedy Central show “Midnight” has found him amusing…the good news is that he is wearing a UK hat during his national debut. Check it out (about 1:30 into the video)
The Cats have five Sunday games this season, which could cause some serious conflicts for all you NFL fans. This morning, UK announced that the November 16 game against Buffalo will tip at noon on ESPNU, which makes things slightly easier on the DVR.
If you’re wondering, DeWayne Peevy told us earlier this summer that UK scheduled so many non-conference games on Sunday this year because attendance was down during late weeknight games at Rupp.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©2:00 pm
During his second interview with John Calipari during the Fantasy Camp, ESPN’s Seth Greenberg asked him about the team’s performance in the Bahamas and where they go from here. Cal said he’s taking a few days off (hence the sunbathing we saw yesterday) and that he’s given his team three tasks while he’s gone: 1) take conditioning and training to another level, 2) work on your skills, and 3) play pick-up games.
Cal also talked a little bit about his work with charity and the frantic schedule that comes with being UK’s head coach. As you know, his son Brad is headed up north to prep school, and Cal admitted that he’s having a little trouble adjusting to the empty nest. “For the last two months, I’ve been in a dead sprint, so last night I sit in the chair and I look at my house and it’s empty and I’m thinking this is how it’s going to be and I get emotional. I haven’t had time to think of my son, my last child, leaving the house. My wife did tell me we’re going to be wearing matching sweaters and she’s going on recruiting trips and road games, so I think we’ll get a lot closer now,” Cal quipped.
Is this the next Calipari Christmas card?
While in town for the Calipari Fantasy Camp, ESPN’s Seth Greenberg sat down with Cal to film a few short interviews for ESPN, and couldn’t help but ask about LeBron and the Cavaliers. Cal is a bit exasperated with the question, but played along, telling Greenberg that “fate intervened” for him when four players decided to return to Kentucky in lieu of entering the draft, which made his decision to come back simple.
“Fate intervened for me,” Cal said. “Whatever happened after the season with any teams, at the end of the day, this is where I wanted to be. And you know a big part of it is we had four guys stay, and they didn’t have the chance to say ‘well if you leave, we’ll leave.’ No, you already made a decision to stay. So that weighed on me more than anything else.”
Cal only mentioned four, but I’ll mention six. Thank you, Andrew, Aaron, Alex, Willie, Dakari, and Marcus.
Where in the world is John Calipari today? On a rooftop working on his tan. This afternoon, someone named Ryan Lattanzio posted this picture of himself and John Calipari on Twitter, which shows that Cal is clearly not afraid to sun the guns. Actually, considering he couldn’t work out for an extended period of time because of his hip replacement surgery, Cal’s looking pretty good. I’ll stop there before I creep myself out.
H/t to Busted Coverage
The last few weeks have been pretty good for Kentucky fans, nothing beats getting a sneak preview of this year’s basketball team for 6 games in August. Following the 9-day trip to the Bahamas, this weekend the John Calipari Fantasy Camp was held and although Alex Poythress appeared exhausted…
…Karl-Anthony Towns was the exact opposite…
So with most of the offseason activities coming to a close and school starting up Coach Cal spoke to the media today with a wrap up of everything from the past few weeks, and Kyle Tucker from the Courier-Journal was there with the story.
“When I get back, we’re not going to do team stuff. It will be individual. It will be conditioning, training, and they’ll play pickup games. That’s enough,” Calipari said, adding that injured star Willie Cauley-Stein (ankle) will participate in those activities. “I think what everybody saw (in the Bahamas) was, ‘Wow, when he has some veteran guys back, it looks different.”
It’s also nice to hear Calipari is going to take a few days away from everything after the busy last few weeks, even if it is to drop his son Brad off at school in Massachusetts.
By Ally Tucker on ©4:00 pm
It may not seem like ground breaking news, but Bruce Pearl’s NCAA-sanctioned “show clause” penalty ended at midnight. At 12:01 a.m., Pearl immediately got to work by contacting Findlay Prep’s Horace Spencer, a 6-8 power forward and Top 100 prospect in the 2015 class. Within hours, Spencer had already committed to be an Auburn Tiger and play for Bruce Pearl.
Four-star commit Horace Spencer joins another 4-star guard in Danjel Purifoy, who also committed to Auburn in the last 3 days. Without any restrictions left to work through, Pearl seems to have things rolling in the right direction at Auburn. Within the next 2-3 years, I think it’s safe to assume that Pearl might have Auburn back into the top echelon of the SEC.
By all accounts, all of the Kentucky basketball players have shown a great presence this week at Camp Cal’s fantasy camp. To no surprise however, Karl Anthony Towns has perhaps been the most enthusiastic over the course of this weekend. The Big KAT’s team had a triple overtime game this afternoon, and a few of KSR’s writers were able to capture just some of his excitement for his adopted team this week. The excitement is genuine, and you have to love seeing a Kentucky basketball player care that much to help make this Fantasy Camp experience that much better for the participants. If you couldn’t tell already, I think we are really going to love this guy.
Thanks to Wilder Treadway and JC Ausmus for the great pictures and videos of Towns getting into the game…
(Footage from JC Ausumus of Karl Town’s reaction to the triple overtime game winning shot….)