Hot air was blowing outside Commonwealth Stadium. Inside, a ticked-off group of Wildcats played their →
Basketball Season Coverage
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 26th, 2016 @ 2:10pm
Big Blue Madness campout doesn’t officially start until early Wednesday morning, but that’s not stopping some fans from getting a head start. Check out the scene on the Avenue of Champions across the street from Memorial Coliseum, where fans have been gathering all weekend:
Here’s a picture of the first set of chairs on Friday:
Fans will be allowed to cross the street to stake out their spots at 5 a.m. Wednesday morning. If you’re planning on camping out, keep UK’s new space restrictions in mind:
I have a feeling this year will be especially nuts.
From David Bowie to Prince to Pat Summitt and Muhammad Ali, 2016 has already been a rough year for celebrity deaths. Then came last night’s news that Arnold Palmer passed away at the age of 87. Palmer won 92 tournaments and seven majors during his career, but his legacy will be bringing golf to the masses. Palmer popularized the sport in the 1950’s and 60’s much in the way Tiger Woods did in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. People my generation or younger will always remember Palmer as the grandfatherly type who opened each Masters alongside Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, but in his prime, there was no one cooler than “The King.” He was the sport’s first superstar, moving golf from the country club to the mainstream, becoming a popular pitchman, spokesman, and ambassador. Palmer flew his own plane and had his own drink; simply put, he made golf cool.
I could never do Palmer justice, so, on a sad morning, I’ll let ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi do it:
Now, here’s what you can see on KSR today…
Mark Stoops will address the media at noon
After a rough week of rumors and criticism, Mark Stoops has to feel a little bit better about life today. Saturday’s win over South Carolina was the most critical of his career, and, even though Kentucky will likely get slaughtered at Alabama this weekend, there are reasons for optimism for the rest of the season. The defense turned in their best performance of the season, the running game looked excellent vs. a good South Carolina defense, and Stephen Johnson is managing in Drew Barker’s absence. Check the site at noon for a live stream of the press conference and a bit later for Nick’s recap.
Can’t wait that long? A new depth chart drops around 11 a.m. Maybe it will give us some clarity on injuries (Cole Mosier, Dorian Baker). Maybe not.
Alabama favored by 34.5
The line opened at 31 yesterday and has already moved to 34.5. After watching Nick Saban take no mercy on his alma mater Kent State in Saturday’s 48-0 win, honestly, that sounds about right.
If you missed it in the post directly below this one, Richmond native Damien Harris tweeted (then deleted) that this weekend’s game will be “personal”:
Why punch down, Damien?
It’s NBA Media Day
Players report to training camp today, which means we’ll see lots of pictures and quotes of our former Cats in their new homes. John Calipari being John Calipari, he couldn’t help but get a humble brag in last night:
Good luck to all the NBA players, esp. our 30 guys reporting to NBA training camp Monday. It’s an exciting time of year for all. Go for it.
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) September 26, 2016
I can’t wait until Coach K joins Twitter to tweet something similar later today.
Jacob Tamme and the Falcons take on the Saints
Not interested in tonight’s presidential debate? Flip over to ESPN to watch Jacob Tamme and the Atlanta Falcons take on the New Orleans Saints at 8:30 p.m. Tamme’s making Boyle County proud so far this season, with 11 catches for 126 yards and one touchdown. Something tells me Monday Night Football will be way more civilized than what goes down between Trump and Hilary tonight.
Happy trails to Charles Osgood
Unlike many CBS “Sunday Morning” fans, I did not grow up watching the program (we were an NBC news household); however, at some point in my adulthood, watching it became a thing. Maybe it’s because the show’s 90 minutes of soft-spoken features were soothing for the occasional hangover or I enjoyed seeing what bowtie Charles Osgood would sport each week, but “Sunday Morning” is now as part of my Sunday routine as my extra big green coffee cup and setting my fantasy football lineup. So, it was with a sad heart that I tuned in yesterday morning to watch Osgood’s final show. After 22 years as host, Osgood is retiring, a well-deserved move for the 83-year-old Emmy and Peabody Award winner. As I learned during his farewell show, Osgood’s path into the sunset includes a gorgeous villa in the south of France, but I will be sad not to tune in to see him deliver the news of the week, more often than not in verse. Watching “Sunday Morning” is a healthy dose of perspective to help reset me for the week. Osgood, Jane Pauley, Mo Rocca, Lee Cowan, Nancy Giles, David Edelstein, and the CBS writing staff put together some of the most fascinating features in news today, a refreshing break from the hyperbolic 24/7 CNN/Fox News/MSNBC news cycle. Pauley was named the show’s new host, and although I can’t wait to see what spin she puts on it, Sunday mornings just won’t be the same without Charlie and his bowties.
If you missed Osgood’s farewell show, click here to watch it in its entirety. See you on the radio, Charlie.
“Hey Kentucky” premieres tonight
We’re all excited for Matt’s new venture, so if you’re in the Lexington area, tune in to LEX18 at 7:30 p.m. to see it for yourself. The show will also be available online after it’s over. Later on, I’ll share some of the test episodes Matt did last week to get you ready.
Radio in an hour…
By Drew Franklin on ©September 23rd, 2016 @ 5:00pm
It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that John Calipari is Kentucky’s highest-paid public employee. The Cats’ head basketball coach earns almost seven million per year from the university and every single one of those dollars is well deserved. Give him more if he wins it all again this year.
But, did you know Cal is one of the highest-paid public employees in the entire country? The good people at 24/7 Wall Street dug up the top-earning public employees in each state and Cal ranks third in America. Only Nick Saban and Jim Harbaugh earn more, which clearly shows college coaches are bringing in the majority of the dough. In fact, all but 11 states have a college coach at the top of their list.
From 24/7 Wall Street:
During the 2014-2015 season, University of Kentucky men’s basketball head coach John Calipari led the Wildcats to 38 straight wins without a loss, the best start in school history. His $6.88 million annual salary is the highest of any public employee in the state. Kentucky is the only state in the Southeastern Conference whose top-earning public worker is not a college football coach.
Coach K, the only college basketball coach making more than Calipari, is not a public employee as Duke is a private university.
Every day, it seems like there’s a new story about the racial tension gripping this country. From the riots in Charlotte to the shooting in Tulsa and protests at sporting events, there’s no denying we’re living in a racially charged time, which is why last night was so important. Last night, Kentucky unveiled a statue honoring Nate Northington, Greg Page, Houston Hogg, and Wilbur Hackett Jr., four UK football players who broke the color barrier in SEC Football. By now, you’ve hopefully heard their story, which for too long went untold. Not anymore. In front of an audience of friends, family, and fans, Northington, Hogg, Hackett, and Page’s brother Melvin were honored by the school they so bravely represented. I wasn’t able to be there, but could feel the moment’s importance even through the live stream. Here’s a video recap of the event courtesy of KyWildcatsTV:
As fans, it’s easy to get wrapped up in things like wins and losses; however, last night reminded us why sports really matter. Not only do they give us a platform to have fun and use our God given talents, they provide an even playing field that highlights injustice in a way that words and rhetoric just can’t. When those four men gave blood, sweat, tears — and in Page’s case, his life — to play the sport they loved, I’d like to think a message was sent across the South. Even if their story got lost in the shuffle over the years, that message resonates just as powerfully today. And, as fans, how lucky are we that they were wearing Kentucky across their chests when they did it.
With that healthy dose of perspective, let’s move on to today’s agenda.
I’m already nervous about tomorrow night
Kentucky takes on South Carolina tomorrow night in a crucial, crucial showdown. Not only do both teams need a win if they want to even dream of a bowl, it’s starting to feel more and more like it’s a make-or-break situation for Mark Stoops. It’s been a rocky season so far for Stoops and staff, and honestly, this week has been worrisome for me. Oddly enough, it’s not Stephen Johnson taking over for Drew Barker that scares me; I have more faith in UK’s offense than I have all year. I’m more concerned with Stoops’ comments about how his defense is struggling to grasp the staff’s schemes. In year four, isn’t it time to stop blaming the players for not getting it and take some responsibility for the issues yourself?
Before I go off too much on this, I just really, really hope they win. If not, well, things could get pretty interesting.
Kentucky is still a 2.5-point favorite
The game opened as a pick’em and Kentucky’s home field advantage is giving them a bump thus far. Honestly, I have no idea what to expect tomorrow, so don’t look to me for betting advice.
It’s UK Athletics Hall of Fame Weekend
Rich Brooks, Wesley Woodyard, and Chuck Hayes are among the six new inductees to the UK Athletics Hall of Fame, along with James Johnson (wrestling), Molly Johnson-Belcher (softball), and Bernadette Madigan-Dugan (cross country/track and field). The six will be honored tonight in a reception and will be introduced tomorrow during the game. I can’t wait to hear the ovation for Brooks, Woodyard, and Hayes.
Any chance the refs would notice if Woodyard put on some pads and went out on the field?? NOBODY TELL.
Kevin Knox will take his official visit in January for the Kansas game
John Calipari has been zeroing in on the 6’8″ small forward in recent weeks, and last night, Knox announced he will take his official visit to Kentucky for the Kansas game on January 28. He’ll go to Duke first (October 28-30), followed by Florida State (January 7-9), Kentucky, and North Carolina (February 4-6). Duke’s been the favorite for Knox so far, but there’s been a lot of buzz in the Cats’ direction recently. I can’t think of a better atmosphere than the one in Lexington that weekend, so bring it on.
Check out this old picture of Kenny Walker, Rex Chapman, and Rock Oliver
Dwayne Peevy shared this gem last night. I know Oliver played at Cincinnati and worked for Rick Pitino when he came to Kentucky, but I didn’t realize the three overlapped enough to take this great picture. Regardless, it’s reason enough to use one of the best GIFs in UK Basketball history:
Rob Harris has taken over for Oliver as the head strength coach, but Rock’s still on staff as the Student Engagement & Development Director.
Listen to the latest episode of The OTT
WKYT’s Jennifer Palumbo joined me this week to talk about what’s going on with the football team, next month’s UK Basketball Clinic, and the tight-knit fraternity that is the Lexington media. There’s a lot of opinions and scoop in this one, so be sure to check it out as you move through your Friday. While you’re at it, check out the latest KSR Football Podcast and The Depth Chart podcast, all of which are on the Kentucky Sports Radio feed on iTunes or Podbay.
KSR is at Newks on Richmond Road
Still time to get down there to hear the big Chester vs. Darryl debate about UK Football. Are you Team Chester (eternal optimism) or Team Darryl (rational pessimism)?
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 22nd, 2016 @ 9:00pm
On this week’s episode of The OTT, I interview my good friend Jennifer Palumbo from WKYT. Jennifer joined me for an hour to talk about UK football, UK basketball, and how she ended up in Lexington twenty or so years ago. Highlights include…
— What the heck is going on with the UK Football program?
— Why this is the make-or-break game for Mark Stoops
— The UK Basketball Women’s Clinic on October 23 at Rupp Arena
— Her WKYT family and how Rob Bromley almost wrecked an RV on the way back from New Orleans in 2012
— How she got into a fight with a UofL football fan who also cheers for UK Basketball at the gym
…and much, much more. We also talked about the new sponsor for The OTT, the Bluegrass Box, a quarterly subscription and gift box that curates high quality, handmade products from local makers around Kentucky. To try it out, go to www.thebluegrassbox.com and use the “TYLER” promo code for 10% off your first subscription order!
A big happy birthday shoutout to former Kentucky big man, Dakari Johnson! Strawberry Dakari(pronounced dacquiri) turns 21 today in another case of how in the world is he still so young.
Johnson played two seasons at the University of Kentucky, where he averaged 5.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. While those stats don’t seem like much to write home about, you have to keep in mind, Dakari played back up to Willie Cauley-Stein his freshman and sophomore years, as well as Karl Towns in his sophomore year. He averaged those stats in only 15 minutes per game.
Dakari was a fan favorite and one of the best interviews on the team during his time as a Wildcat. Everyone join me in wishing the big fella a happy birthday! I’m sure Johnson has big plans for his 21st, and hopefully they involve some of his hilarious dancing. Cheers to you 4-4!
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) September 22, 2016
By Drew Franklin on ©September 22nd, 2016 @ 2:47pm
Kentucky has finalized its remaining game times to complete the 2016-17 basketball schedule. The five new times that were absent from the initial schedule release are:
Nov. 11 vs. Stephen F. Austin – 7 p.m. on SEC Network
Nov. 20 vs. Duquesne – 9 p.m. on ESPN
Nov. 23 vs. Cleveland State – 1 p.m. on SEC Network
Nov. 25 vs. UT Martin – 7 p.m. on SEC Network
Dec. 7 vs. Valparaiso – 8 p.m. on SEC Network
The entire schedule can be found below:
By Drew Franklin on ©September 22nd, 2016 @ 12:23pm
Chuck Hayes will be inducted into the UK Athletics Hall of Fame tomorrow, but first, he chatted with Metz Camfield over at CoachCal.com about the honor.
Hayes told Cal’s website, “I still can’t believe it. I’m in shock, I’m honored, I’m humbled to the utmost. I just can’t believe it. One, I can’t believe it’s been that long since I’ve been in college. Two, there are so many great student-athletes that have come through the program and university, and they chose me to join this exclusive class. I’m honored.”
Hayes also had some good things to say about Calipari. He said, “(He’s done an) unbelievable job. He was the right person for the job from the start. … He’s unbelievable. What he’s doing, I couldn’t be more proud.”
Read more from Hayes’ interview here.
Rupp Arena’s brand new video board is going up this week where Big Bertha once hovered over the Greatest Show In College Basketball. The new LED scoreboard is part of the two-year, $15 million overhaul of the technology in the arena, which will be completed in time for Big Blue Madness and the basketball upcoming season.
Have a look at the new board in this preview video from Rupp:
The new Video Board is being installed in Big Bertha's place and we cant wait to unveil the finished product to everyone pic.twitter.com/B9ZEdfp57M
— Rupp Arena (@Rupp_Arena) September 22, 2016
That thing looks pretty awesome. Can’t wait to see the Malik Monk and Bam Adebayo replays up there.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 21st, 2016 @ 5:14pm
In February 2018, Nike founder Phil Knight turns 80, and to celebrate, ESPN is throwing him a 16-team basketball tournament. The event — titled the Phil Knight Invitational, or the PK80 — will take place during Thanksgiving weekend in 2017 (November 23, 24, and 26) in Portland and feature 16 teams: Arkansas, Butler, Connecticut, Duke, Florida, Georgetown, Gonzaga, Michigan State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Portland, Portland State, Stanford and Texas. The teams will be split into two brackets and each eight-team tournament will crown a champion.
If you haven’t noticed, Kentucky is NOT on that list. According to Andy Katz, some high-profile Nike schools — such as Kentucky, Arizona and Villanova — were unable to make the event work because of scheduling conflicts. I doubt ESPN and Nike would put this event together without inviting Kentucky, so for some reason, John Calipari and the Cats turned them down, begging the question…
What does Kentucky have planned for Thanksgiving 2017?
UPDATE: John Calipari confirmed on social media that scheduling conflicts kept Kentucky from participating:
Excited an event has been put together for my good friend Phil Knight. Unfortunately scheduling conflicts didn’t allow us to be a part of it
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) September 21, 2016
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 21st, 2016 @ 4:09pm
By now, you’ve heard about the new center-hung video scoreboard that’s taking Big Bertha’s place at Rupp Arena this fall, one of many much-needed improvements going in at Rupp this summer, along with the new blue air ducts, and, apparently, a newly-designed floor. This afternoon, the folks at Rupp Television gave fans a sneak peek at the floor, which has been sanded and repainted with a new design that will be unveiled at Big Blue Madness on October 14.
— Rupp Arena (@Rupp_Arena) September 21, 2016
From the looks of it, the new (crooked) UK logo will be a midcourt, and the sidelines and endzones will feature a more subtle version of the checkerboard pattern featured on the new uniforms:
When all is said and done, I have a feeling the new court will resemble the court at Memorial Coliseum, which was updated with the new logo and checkerboard last year:
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 21st, 2016 @ 12:00pm
This summer, we’ve talked a lot about the basketball team’s offseason conditioning program, the results of which we’ve seen as pictures have leaked out from photo day. No player may have benefitted more from Rob Harris’ program than big man Sacha Killeya-Jones. Killeya-Jones came to UK as a bit of a project, a 6’10” string bean listed as light as 202 lbs. by some recruiting services last season. Check out these pictures SKJ’s mother shared on Twitter of her son three years ago, and then last week. That’s a growth spurt that would make Anthony Davis proud.
From Team Felton 15U to Kentucky in 3 years! So proud of all your hard work! pic.twitter.com/wGKEmdBhjv
— ((( lakj ))) (@Ley_KJ) September 20, 2016
On the preseason roster, UK listed SKJ at 224 lbs., but as he shared on Twitter a few days ago, he’s already up another 10-12 pounds to 236 lbs. in socks (who knew socks weighed a pound?):
for everyone who still thinks I weigh like 205lbs 🙄💪🏽 pic.twitter.com/g0CBfo2O08
— SKJ‼️ (@The_SKJ) September 19, 2016
In terms of his frame, athleticism, and personality, I have a feeling Killeya-Jones will follow in the footsteps of another big man with a hyphenated last name. Stay in that weight room, big guy.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 21st, 2016 @ 10:17am
Can’t wait until Big Blue Madness to see the Cats? Thanks to ESPN, you won’t have to. For the third year in a row, ESPNU will televise one of UK’s open practice/NBA Combine on October 9 from 7-9 p.m.
Doris Burke, Seth Greenberg and Fran Fraschilla will be on hand to call the action for ESPNU, along with Andy Katz, who will handle sideline reports. The team will go through various agility and shooting drills in addition to 3-on-3 and 5-on-5 scrimmaging, so set your DVRs for your first glimpse of the 2016-2017 Wildcats.
Duke announcing their Pro Days will be on ESPN as well in 3…2…1…
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 21st, 2016 @ 9:00am
Television series based on true events can be tricky things. When I first started Netflix’s “Narcos” last year, I didn’t realize it would be a multiple-season series. Season one moved at a frantic clip, telling the story of Pablo Escobar and how he became the most famous drug lord in history. It moved so fast that I assumed Escobar would die in the finale, because, you know, that’s how his story ends. (If you’re yelling, “SPOILER ALERT” right now, you do realize Pablo Escobar was a real person, don’t you?) Alas, for Netflix, Escobar lived for another season, which just became available a few weeks ago. Four episodes in, I’m happy to report that season two may be even better than season one. I was skeptical about how the writers could stretch Escobar’s story out, but once again, Netflix has surpassed my expectations. Now, what they’re going to do with seasons three and four, I have no clue.
In lesser TV news, “Below Deck” is back and I am very happy about that. Although I’m not sure anything can top the train wreck that was Rocky in the mermaid’s tail last season, there’s some potential with this group, especially when Kate’s girlfriend comes aboard. (If you’re judging me for my TV show taste right now, well, I will remind you that “Everybody Loves Raymond” was once the most popular show on television for some reason.)
And yes, I watch too much television. Let’s go over today’s agenda, shall we?
Stephen Johnson took all the first team reps yesterday
After Mark Stoops said it would take a miracle for Drew Barker to be ready to go for Saturday’s game, Stephen Johnson took all of the first team reps in practice yesterday. Today, Barker will meet with a specialist to have his back evaluated, and although Eddie Gran didn’t rule out Drew being back on Saturday, he told reporters that, as of right now, “Stephen’s the guy.”
Mark Stoops will be on the SEC Coaches Teleconference after lunch, so check back in to read his comments heading into Saturday’s crucial showdown with South Carolina.
Don’t forget about two major football events this week besides the game
Tomorrow at 7 p.m., UK will unveil the new statue outside the training center honoring Nate Northington, Greg Page, Wilbur Hackett and Houston Hogg, the four players who broke the color barrier in SEC Football. Eli Capilouto, Mitch Barnhart, and Northington will all speak at the unveiling, and Hackett, Hogg, and Page’s brother Melvin will also be on hand for what is sure to be a moving event.
This weekend also marks the induction of six new members to the UK Athletics Hall of Fame: Rich Brooks (football), Chuck Hayes (men’s basketball), James Johnson (wrestling), Molly Johnson-Belcher (softball), Bernadette Madigan-Dugan (cross country/track and field) and Wesley Woodyard (football). The entire class will be introduced at the game on Saturday. If you’re on the fence about going, seeing Brooks, Woodyard, and Hayes is reason enough for me.
It’s going to be a battle for spots at Big Blue Madness campout
Yesterday, UK released the full details for next weekend’s Madness Campout, including a map of the new parameters for where you can and cannot camp. As you can see, they’re really cracking down on camping areas, leaving pretty much just the east side of Memorial Coliseum for fans to set up tents. Last night, De’Aaron Fox snapped this pic of the lines now painted on the grass:
If you’re planning on camping out, you better be ready to fight for a spot when the horn goes off next Wednesday morning at 5 a.m.
But, you’ll get to see these guys
Who’s excited for the season? Cause we are! pic.twitter.com/8XzmqJ8TmJ
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) September 20, 2016
Here’s a preview of your 2016-2017 team pic:
What a sweet, sweet reminder that basketball season is almost here.
On the recruiting side…
Calipari visited Hamidou Diallo last night
After visiting him last week, Calipari made the trek to New York City again yesterday to see Hamidou Diallo, considered the best shooting guard in the 2017 class. On Monday, Cal visited John Petty, the fifth best shooting guard in the class, but given the roster overhaul on the horizon, he’d like to have both on the roster next season. According to Adam Zagoria, Cal is expected to check in on New Jersey big man Nick Richards tomorrow. Richards will take an official visit to UK next weekend.
In other recruiting news, big man Wendell Carter cut the Cats from his list yesterday, listing Duke, Harvard, Georgia Tech, and Georgia as his final four. The move shouldn’t come as a surprise since Calipari essentially conceded Carter to Duke earlier this summer.
Now get some work done before the radio show starts in an hour…