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Basketball Season Coverage
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©October 30th, 2014 @ 10:00pm
The new LeBron Soldiers. Last week, UK Equipment unveiled the custom Kevin Durant “KD7″s:
Which do you prefer?
Also, in case you missed it, LeBron’s intro at the Cavaliers game tonight:
And, of course, the chalk toss:
By Drew Franklin on ©October 30th, 2014 @ 1:00pm
UK Basketball accepted Andy Dalton and Andrew Whitworth’s “Layup for Lauren” Challenge issued earlier this week and passed it along to Anthony Davis, Darius Miller and the New Orleans Pelicans. Watch the video above as each member of the team attempts to make a layup with their non-dominant hand after spinning around five times.
To learn more about the “Layup For Lauren” Challenge, watch Lauren explain it in the video that started it all:
Mount St. Joseph College moved its season opener to this Sunday to accommodate Lauren, a freshman who has been given a terminal diagnosis and worried she might not be able to play on the originally scheduled date of November 15. Her one wish in life is to play in a college basketball game.
If you see Devin Booker skydiving, buying a lottery ticket or giving blood today, it’s because he can. He’s 18 now. The freshman shooting guard is the third member of the UK basketball team to celebrate a birthday this week, meaning Mrs. Ellen is running out of brownie batter and Cal has to tweet about it:
One of the youngest players in the country turns 18 today. Happy birthday, @DevinBook!!! Hope you're enjoying those brownies from Mrs. Cal.
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) October 30, 2014
So if you run in to Devin at the fireworks store or at the bank opening his own checking account today, be sure to tell him Happy Birthday. Next week, he gets to vote.
Happy Birthday, Devin!
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©October 29th, 2014 @ 5:00pm
A popular debate among fans and pundits is what school deserves the title of the best college basketball program of all time. Everyone has an opinion, and there have been several articles written on the subject, but today, Fansided.com has one that ranks Kentucky #1 based on cold hard facts.
Fansided ranked the 75 best college basketball programs of all time using a weighted point system. Before we get into what Daniel D. Zillmer wrote about the Cats, let’s examine the system they used:
Here’s the top five:
1. Kentucky Wildcats: 932 Points
2. Kansas Jayhawks: 858 Points
3. UCLA Bruins: 782 Points
4. North Carolina Tar Heels: 742 Points
5. Duke Blue Devils: 560 Points
And a few of Zillmer’s comments on the Cats:
I guess they deserve to be called BIG Blue Nation after all as no college basketball program has been more consistently great than they have been all-time. Enjoy the title Wildcats fans, but beware, the Jayhawks aren’t far behind and the Bruins and Tar Heels could make a run at the No. 1 spot sometime, too. But for now enjoy it as you’re the No. 1 college basketball program of all-time and going to be the No. 1 ranked team when the 2014/15 season tips off. Not bad BBN, not bad.
Read more at Fansided.com.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©October 28th, 2014 @ 8:00pm
After Tyler Ulis dazzled fans in the Bahamas, UK’s guard play has been a popular topic of debate in the Big Blue Nation. Andrew Harrison is a typical Calipari point guard: big, physical, and capable of muscling into the lane for a shot or to pass it back outside. Ulis is small, fast, and can thread the needle with his passes. Two players, two totally different styles.
So far, John Calipari has found a way to showcase both point guards via the platoon system, but I’d argue there was a three minute stretch in the second half last night that proved Andrew Harrison is the superior guard for this squad. In those three minutes, we saw Andrew’s evolution from the indecisive, sloppy freshman to the confident, assertive sophomore that not just understands Cal’s system, but thrives in it.
Let’s break it down.
14:52: Andrew drives in for an easy floater with the assistance of Willie Cauley-Stein.
14:33: Andrew drives the lane again, drawing a foul. He nails both free throws.
14:10: With passing lanes blocked to the inside, Andrew evaluates the floor, and with the help of another Willie screen, steps to the top of the key for a three.
13:49: The most impressive play in this stretch, and Andrew didn’t even score. Andrew gets the rebound, flies down the court and passes it out to Dominique Hawkins, who kicks it back out to Andrew, who drives the lane again and impressively finds Hawkins across the court for a three. This was the best ball movement of the entire night.
12:37: Andrew got a lot of criticism last year for his passing, but this nifty little bounce pass to Karl Towns was pretty great.
12:08: Another great decision by Andrew, who showed off that mid-range jumper that we saw in the Bahamas.
Nine points, one assist and one rebound in three minutes. Even more, during the brief six minutes Andrew was on the sidelines, he was coaching his teammates:
Now if we can just get him to wear his contacts, we’ll be set.
By Drew Franklin on ©October 28th, 2014 @ 12:00pm
NBA scout today who has seen both teams told me Kentucky is "way better" than Arizona–and Arizona will be No. 2 or No. 3 in the preseason.
— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) October 28, 2014
So you’re telling me, according to at least one NBA scout, Kentucky isn’t just “better” than the No. 2 team, Kentucky is “way better.”
Oh boy. That’s encouraging. Good luck to everyone else.
(Davis also called Derek Willis the best 12th man in the history of college basketball.)
By Drew Franklin on ©October 28th, 2014 @ 11:15am
We learned a fun fact about two of Kentucky’s big men while talking to Karl Towns after last night’s Blue-White game. Little did we know, Towns and Dakari Johnson were teammates long before the University of Kentucky was in the mix. Towns told us, “It’s funny that we played together in second grade and now, all of the sudden, we’re teammates again.”
It came up after Towns called Dakari “the bear” inside the paint, a nickname that hasn’t stuck but might now. When asked what it’s like competing against Dakari day in and day out, he said, “It’s very difficult. He’s the bear. You’ve got to go against the bear.”
“He’s a bear down there. He’s a bruiser,” Towns added. “I’m just playing around. He’s like my brother. It’s funny.”
1.) How in the world did anyone get a rebound over Karl and Dakari in second grade?
2.) We have to call Dakari “the bear” now, right?
Join me in wishing a special double Happy Birthday to Big Blue Nation’s favorite set of twins, Aaron and Andrew Harrison. The brothers from Texas, born one minute apart, make up Kentucky’s starting backcourt and they’re back for a second season to complete the mission they began last season as freshmen. Today they turn a cool 20 years old and I’m sure they’d love to hear from you in the comments section or on Twitter: @AaronICE2 and @DrewRoc5.
So Happy Birthday, guys. Enjoy those brownies from Mrs. Cal!
By Bryan the Intern on ©October 28th, 2014 @ 9:00am
Yesterday we learned of the hard news that Marquis Teague had been released by the Philadelphis 76ers, leaving his NBA future in doubt. In 2 seasons on 2 different teams, Teague had played in 88 games, starting just 3 of them. He averaged 2.3 ppg and 1.4 apg in his career. It appears unlikely Teague will find another spot with a team, although you never know. All told, Teague is one of the few UK guys under Calipari that have had no success in the NBA. But did he make the biggest mistake of all the players who left early in these 5 years? It probably all depends on what you consider successful.
On the one hand, Teague did make 2.1 million dollars in those 2 years. There is never FAILURE when you make that much money. But at the same time, you have to wonder if another year of college would have improved Teague’s draft stock, thus garnering him more money in his initial rookie contract, likely putting him on a worse team and thus giving him more playing time earlier. Plus, the point guard class in the following NBA Draft (2013) was not exactly strong. The first point guard taken was 9th and that was Trey Burke. CJ McCollum and Michael Carter-Williams followed right after. Shane Larkin was taken just outside of the lottery. If Teague had stayed for the 2012-13 college season, he would have likely flirted with the lottery. Because let’s not forget what a trainwreck that team was, but for Teague that would have meant more of a chance to lead an offense, something he didn’t get a chance to do in 2011-12.
I think very few people could argue that Marquis Teague couldn’t have used another year of college ball. But was his early departure the worst decision of the Cal era? I would think that along with Teague there are really only 2 other options: Deandre Liggins and Daniel Orton. For Liggins, many say it was simply a financial decision. Liggins needed to start making money to take care of his family. Was his game really NBA ready? Of course not. But I am also not sure how much his game was going to develop after another year. And look, even though his NBA career was short-lived, he still make 1.2 million dollars. He accomplished what he needed done.
For Orton, I think a good argument can be made he is answer here. I wouldn’t agree though for 2 reasons. First, his relationship with Calipari has been said to have been fairly poor. Continuing that relationship could have been toxic for everybody involved. But secondly and most importantly, the NBA loves big men. The fact Daniel Orton was taken in the 1st round of the draft after the freshman year he had at Kentucky proves that more than ever. And despite the fact he hasn’t made any impact in the league, he did stay on a roster through this season, racking up 2.8 million in earnings in the process. He was able to stay in the NBA 2 years longer than Teague despite being a worse player. That tells you all you need to know about how much the NBA loves centers.
It’a hard to feel bad for a guy that is a millionaire. But I feel bad for Marquis Teague. He won a national title in 1 year as the starter, saw his entire team leave for the NBA and bolted with them. And that is why he came to Kentucky in the first place was for 1 season of college basketball. But in retrospect, Teague would have benefited so much from an extra year of college more than any other player in the Calipari era.
The 2014 edition of the Blue-White scrimmage is complete and it’s hard to believe all of those guys we just watched in Rupp Arena are on the same college basketball team. It seems unfair, really. Karl Towns knows what I’m talking about. After fighting through a gauntlet of size and strength for his 20 points and 13 rebounds, Towns said, “It’s just scary to think that the other team is actually part of our team.”
Scary for Kentucky’s opponents, he means, because Big Blue Nation has little to fear after Kentucky basketball’s annual dress rehearsal in Rupp Arena Monday night. It’s going to be another fun year, no doubt.
So let’s talk about what we saw from the Cats and why it’s encouraging for the future in this evening’s Blue-White postmortem. The stats, scores and game stories are pretty irrelevant, but we still have plenty to digest after a night of exciting basketball.
Dakari Johnson 2.0 is a brand new man.
Arguably the biggest takeaway from the scrimmage is the newly constructed body of Dakari Johnson and how it has completely changed the way he plays. The sophomore is a totally different player now that he’s shed the weight; he’s so much more mobile and agile, allowing him to do things he couldn’t do a year ago. He hustles and sustains effort for longer than he ever could’ve imagined last season.
“I feel much lighter and that’s the main focus,” Johnson said after the game. “The big thing is to run the floor. When you play with guards like Tyler and Andrew, you will get easy baskets if you run.”
“I thought Dakari played great,” said Calipari. “He’s playing with great energy and he’s going after every ball. He has a fight and a fire in him.”
That ‘fight and fire’ is rubbing off on Johnson’s younger teammates, too. Karl Towns told reporters that, not only is the new Dakari difficult to defend, he makes the other bigs better. Towns said, “It makes me a better player and allows me to use my body more and it teaches me things. Going against Dakari, you get to utilize some things that he does so well on the post and it definitely changes my game.”
The one knock on Dakari from the scrimmage: missed free throws. He was 1-for-9 from the stripe, a number that MUST improve if he wants to see significant minutes over the others during the season. Cal said, “You can’t get in there and we’re throwing you the ball and you miss free throws.”
Dakari assured us it won’t be that bad again.
This team is FAST.
You won’t find another team in the country that can run with Kentucky for a 40-minute game this season. Not one. Teams may try and match UK’s speed, but they won’t match the depth in an uptempo game. Cal has hinted at lots of pressing and running the floor, and that was on display tonight in the scrimmage. Both sides pushed the tempo the entire time.
At one point after a made Blue basket in the first half, I caught Tyler Ulis yelling at Devin Booker for not running to inbound the ball so their White squad could quickly drive it back the other way on offense. That tells me the team has already been working hard in the offseason to play fast with the ball. Cal wants it up the court in five seconds with everyone looking to receive a pass in transition. Go, go, go!
Too many turnovers
As per usual in games like this, there were far too many turnovers, many coming by way of Cal’s biggest pet peeve, the one-handed catch. “They’re just sloppy,” Cal said in his postgame press conference. “They’re just not in that mode yet.”
Surprisingly, Andrew Harrison was the most turnover-prone in the game. He turned the ball over six times in the first half and seven times on the night. Andrew said it was because he was playing too frantic and not settling in early in the game. “That is unacceptable; I just have to play better,” he admitted.
Though disappointed in the two teams’ combined 24 turnovers, Cal shrugged off the notion of it being a long term problem. “It’s typical of trying to make hard plays. We’ll be fine.”
It’s Andrew Harrison’s team.
Turnovers aside, Andrew Harrison played great and backed up Kenny Payne’s comments at the UK combine when he said it is Andrew’s team. The sophomore point guard may not be the biggest star, the highest draft prospect or leading scorer, but Andrew Harrison is UK’s leading leader. That was clear tonight and I don’t expect it to change all season long. He’s the man on this team, his team.
Alex Poythress was not the Alex Poythress of the Bahamas.
After giving us six strong performances against professionals in the Bahamas in August, Poythress digressed tonight against his own teammates. He started the scrimmage very poorly, missing a couple of one-footers around the basket, turning the ball over and playing timid at times on a team he should’ve led offensively. Things did improve once the teams were mixed up, however. He found his shot and made some plays with the twins. But before we jump to conclusions on it being a backcourt/teammate issue, Cal said it was just a difference in wanting to make plays in the second half after not making plays in the first. “I don’t think that had to do with the twins or anything else.”
Cal also said, “Alex has to create his own swagger. It can’t come from me.”
Andrew isn’t wearing his contacts.
Coach Robic, you have some explaining to do…
What will it take to get the twins to wear their contacts?
Tyler Ulis is so fun to watch.
Ulis began the night with back-to-back three-pointers and threw in an assist between his defender’s legs to Dakari Johnson later in the game to remind us just how special he is with the basketball. His court vision and ball control are second to none and he got plenty of “WOWs” from the crowd for his crafty distribution tonight.
But to the people thinking he will threaten Andrew Harrison as the point guard, pump the brakes.
Devin Booker led all scorers on a great shooting night from the field.
Booker led all scorers on the night with 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the field. If you know your Blue-White game history, that means absolutely nothing going forward. Still, a nice, productive night for the freshman offensively, although 4-of-8 from the foul line was very unexpected. I can’t imagine we’ll see him shoot 50 percent at the line in many games this year. He’s too good of a shooter to repeat that.
The SEC Network caught a ton of heat, again.
I was at the game so I was unable to see the television broadcast, but the production was crushed on the live blog. The two biggest complaints seemed to be position of the cameras and the lack of a scoreboard to start the game. Again, I didn’t see it so I don’t know, but the network didn’t do itself any favors with a fan base that’s already had several reasons to complain about programming.
Mark Krebs did a wonderful job, though. I bet we’ll be seeing him on the sideline during SEC Network games this season. Go Mark.
With the loss, the White team drops to No. 5 in the country.
Coach Cal can’t hear the naysayers.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©October 27th, 2014 @ 9:57pm
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©October 27th, 2014 @ 9:41pm
John Calipari’s presser ended on an odd note tonight, when a reporter asked him his policy on redshirting players. Cal said that he would never chose to redshirt a guy on his own, and if a player wanted to redshirt, he’d have to explain to him why.
Then, he gave one of the great Calipari quotes about playing at Kentucky. “You know what’s great about playing here? You only have to have one good year. You only have to have one good year,” Cal emphasized. “No one playing under me has four good years. You only have to have one.”
“One year you have your breakout. ‘See ya!’,” Cal said. “Kids are all on different timetables.” He then listed how each of the players who don’t get to play quite as much contribute. “Do you understand that without Dominique, we probably don’t beat Michigan. He took Stauskas out of the game.” Same goes for Derek Willis, whom Cal said is a “much better player” than he was when he arrived at Kentucky.
Hear that recruits? One good year.
The Blue/White game is never a very polished affair, and the Cats made their share of mistakes on both sides tonight, putting up 24 turnovers. “Sloppy,” Cal said. “They’re just not into that mode yet.” Cal also wasn’t happy with the amount of one-handed catches, which he says “drove me nuts.” Also not great? The mistakes from the free throw line. But hey, it’s October.
Despite the errors, Cal said he’s committed to the platoon system. “I’m committed to it. It’s the best thing for these players, and now we gotta make it the best for our team.” Who will be on each platoon? Cal said he likes the idea of having two freshmen and three vets per platoon for balance, and doubts he’ll ever go with four freshmen on one platoon.