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Isaac Humphries honoring former teammate with his shoes tonight

Isaac Humphries

If you notice some writing on Isaac Humphries’ shoes tonight, here’s the reason: according to @OlgunUluc, the Australian big man is honoring his friend and former teammate Arran Bannatyne, who passed away last weekend. Isaac posted this picture of himself writing “RIP Arran” and the date of his birth and death on his shoes a few hours ago:

Condolences to Isaac and the Bannatyne family. Twenty is way too young…


Can Anything Good Come From Tonight’s Game?

Sandwiched in-between a difficult road win at Georgia and a duel for first place in the SEC against Florida, tonight’s road trip to Missouri is by definition a trap game.

The Tigers are are just 2-12 in the SEC, second to last in the league, and their best quality win was a one-point loss to eleventh-ranked Xavier.  The game will not tip-off until 9:00, but a black-out will surely create the best atmosphere that arena has seen all season.

Been there, done that.

What makes this “trap game” even more of a trap, is that nothing good can come from this.  As T.I. once said, “You either you lose or you lose.”

If Kentucky blows out Missouri, it’s expected.  Any significant improvements made will be brushed aside.  Instead of praising them, most will credit the result to Missouri’s ineptitude.  It should not be the case, especially with just two weeks left in the regular season, but that is how most will perceive their performance.

Even if Kentucky wins by double-digits, they will not get credit for winning on the road, even though the Cats are just 5-3 in true road games.  In those eight games, the point differential is just +30.  For some, Kentucky could win by double-digits on the road for only the second time this season, but if they don’t cover there’s hell to pay.

If Kentucky loses, prepare for anarchy.

Luckily, not even Kim Anderson is confident that will happen.  “We have to play a near perfect game in a couple aspects to be able to hang with them.”

There are some things the Cats can work on tonight — pick-and-roll defense, on-ball defense, playing with pace offensively and offensive rebounding — but in this trap game, it’s unlikely anyone will leave satisfied.

 


Missouri school newspaper warns fans that halftime act will be more entertaining than tonight’s game

How pessimistic are Missouri fans about tonight’s game? In the preview of the game for The Missourian, the school paper, student columnist Rick Morgan said the halftime act, the famous acrobat Red Panda (whom Nick profiled earlier), will likely be more entertaining than the game itself:

Fans at Mizzou Arena will be wise to enjoy this entertaining spectacle at halftime. It is unlikely that the actual basketball game will be nearly as memorable. Kentucky is a consistent national power projected by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi to be a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats have four players who average more points per game than Missouri’s leading scorer (junior forward Jordan Barnett).

Morgan really doesn’t hold back on the Tigers, who have been horrible, yes, but beat Vandy by 20 a few weeks back:

The Tigers are heavy underdogs in Tuesday’s game against Kentucky. Fans are encouraged to wear black, but it’s debatable how much this will matter against the Wildcats. Regardless of the final score, fans will at least get to enjoy the presence of Calipari, future NBA players and one of the most stunning halftime performances in the game.

Ouch. I hope he’s right.

[The show comes to town Tuesday when Missouri faces No. 11 Kentucky]


Kentucky vs. Missouri Preview: What We Can Learn from Vegas

Kentucky vs. Missouri Preview: What We Can Learn from Vegas

 

It’s time to preview tonight’s match-up against the Missouri Tigers. I am not a basketball mind in the least. When it comes to breaking down and previewing games based on player match-ups and hardcore X’s and O’s, I am utterly useless. I leave that kind of stuff to the people who know what they’re talking about. So if you’re looking for an in depth scouting report for tonight’s game, you’re in the wrong place. I prefer to take a little different approach.

I’m a numbers guy, I prefer to preview games and make predictions based on the numbers and odds provided by our good friends in Vegas. Vegas has proven time and again to be incredibly accurate in predicting game outcomes. So when it comes to previewing games, I like to first look at what Vegas has to say.

(If you already know how gambling stuff works, you don’t need to read this part).

For those who don’t know how it works, various casinos in Vegas dump a bunch of raw data from each team into equations which are then calculated by computers, which then spit out a score projection. This score projection is used in determining the “point spread.” It’s all based on numbers, there is no bias involved whatsoever. When a point spread has been determined, people can then bet on one of the two teams, and depending where most of the money goes, the casinos will then adjust the spread accordingly. That’s pretty much the gist of it.

I previewed tonight’s game against Missouri based on the numbers in Vegas. These numbers can more often than not give us a relatively good idea of what to expect out of our boys tonight. Tonight’s spread, as of right now, is as follows:

ukspread

Vegas has set the Cats at a 16-point favorite over Mizzou with a projected score of 88-68. Missouri is one of the worst teams in the SEC, and possibly the nation so a large spread was expected. Taking into consideration how bad Mizzou is and UK’s recent positive momentum, picking the Cat’s to cover seems like a no-brainer. Even though Kentucky is projected to cover, I don’t think it’s as easy of a pick as it seems when considering some other vital pieces of information.

Kentucky originally opened as a 16.5 point favorite, and that since has been bet down to 16. 61% of the money in Vegas has gone towards the Cats. Typically, the spread goes up when a majority of the money is being bet one way, but in the case of the Cats, the spread went down. For the non-gambling crowd, this is a classic case of “reverse line movement” also known as “smart money.” Typically, when there is reverse line movement, a large wager by a single individual or gambling syndicate has been placed on the team the lesser amount of the money is going to, in this case, Missouri.

In the 2016-2017 season, betting on reverse line movement has about a 60% success rate, meaning betting against the public money works more times than not. So what does this mean in terms of tonight’s game? I wouldn’t be too confident in taking the Cat’s to cover that 16-point spread although I believe it will be close. So if you are expecting an absolute blowout tonight, the numbers suggest it could be closer than you think. Manage your expectations accordingly. Let’s hope Kentucky can defy the odds and leave Columbia with an impressive display of dominance. What does Vegas know anyway?


WARNING: This New ESPN Promo will make you Sick to your Stomach

WARNING: This New ESPN Promo will make you Sick to your Stomach

Screen Shot 2017-02-21 at 3.12.53 PM

The Worldwide Leader does man great things to promote the sport of college basketball.  Often times it benefits Kentucky, but this time it does nothing but incite anger in the bowels of my soul.

Every time they showcase the ACC, ESPN highlights the conference’s four Hall of Fame coaches: Roy Williams, Jim Boeheim, Mike Kryzeweczhewzski and Rick Pitino.  Name a more hatable quartet.  I’ll wait.

The love-feast is sickening.

For many, the Rick Pitino draws the most hate but I concede too much ill-will for what he accomplished at Kentucky.  Personally, no one is more despicable than Jim Boeheim.  He’s an overrated nose-picker who can’t coach man-to-man defense.  For my Father, it’s the “rat-faced” Coach K and for my Uncle Pete it’s ‘Ol Roy (his impression is spot-on).



Ten Facts About Missouri Basketball

Rick Sugg | Kansas City Star

Rick Sugg | Kansas City Star

Kim Anderson is the Head Coach

I know what you’re thinking, “Is that a man?”  Yes, Kim Anderson is the name of a man, even though the only other notable man named Kim rules North Korea.

Anderson was a standout for Mizzou in the 70s, named Co-Big Eight Player of the Year in 1977.  He served as a Missouri assistant in the 80s and the 90s for 13 total years in two different stints.  Prior to taking the head coaching job at his alma mater, Anderson led the Central Missouri Mules to two NCAA D-II Final Fours and a National Championship in 2014, his final season.

The secret to Anderson’s success?  His fiery personality in pregame speeches.

Props to the SEC Network for doing its best to show the “most loyal fans” and not all of the arena’s empty seats.

Kim Anderson might have been a Football Coach

Anderson appears to be Hayden Fox’s assistant coach at Minnesota State.  The resemblance is striking.

They are bad at Basketball

Mizzou is 7-19.  Starting in December they went on a 13-game losing streak that included losses to Lipscomb and Eastern Illinois.  Even though they’re 2-12 in the SEC this season (wins over Arkansas and Vandy), they’re not last in the SEC.  That honor belongs to Johnny Jones and LSU.

In Anderson’s three years at Mizzou, the Tigers are 26-63.

Mizzou has Lost 33 Straight Road Games

Their last road win came against their former coach, Arkansas’ Mike Anderson, on January 28, 2104. Lucky for them, tonight’s game is at home.

Their Coaches Fought Georgia’s Coaches

Famous Basketball Alumni

DeMarre Carroll: The best former Tiger currently on an NBA roster, Carroll cashed in on the Atlanta Hawks’ 2015 success by signing a $60 million deal with the Raptors.  Until today, I had no idea Carroll played at Mizzou, but he helped them get to an Elite Eight in 2009 under Mike Anderson.

Melvin Booker: Devin’s dad was an All-American and Big Eight Player of the Year in 1994.

Kareem Rush:  Rush led Mizzou to the Elite Eight in 2002, a feat only done five times in school history.  He played professionally for ten years before calling it a career.

Larry Drew: Before he coached to the Atlanta Hawks to three playoff appearances from 2011-2013, Drew was a point guard at Mizzou.

Jordan Clarkson: A first team All-Rookie Selection in 2014, Clarkson averages 13.7 points per game for the Lakers this season.

They need some Muscle

After they turned into Protest U in 2015, enrollment took an 8 percent hit, with the worst decline coming from out-of-state undergrads, a 12 percent drop.

The Program is on Probation

Wherever Frank Haith goes, he leaves behind a trail of NCAA violations.  Mizzou is Haith’s latest victim.  After a booster handed out impermissible benefits, Haith was fired, the school vacated wins, lost two scholarships and is on NCAA probation until August of this year.

The Border War is No More

NCAA sanctions hurt Mizzou basketball, but losing the rivalry with Kansas might have done more to destroy their identity.  The oldest rivalry west of the Mississippi began on the basketball court in Columbia in 1907, but the hate between the states stems back to before the Civil War. Without providing a full history lesson, “Bloody Kansas” (also known as the Border War) was a violent time on Missouri’s western frontier as people fought over the legality of slavery in the new state of Kansas between 1854-1861.

When Mizzou left the Big 12 for the SEC, the rivalry ended after 267 meetings.  The teams each won their final home game of the rivalry in 2012 as top ten teams.  They have not played since, leaving a noticeable  void in the Missouri basketball basketball.

Jordan Barnett is their Best Player

Brett gave you a complete roster rundown earlier today, but if you only know one name, know Jordan Barnett.  A transfer that’s only been eligible for 17 games, he leads the team in scoring (12.3) and rebounds (6.3).  Barnett scored 23 points for the second consecutive game to lead the Tigers their last win over Vanderbilt.


Pregame Scouting: Missouri Tigers

Pregame Scouting: Missouri Tigers

7410_missouri_tigers-mascot-1986

After a hard fought game in Athens, where the Kentucky Wildcats picked up a solid W over the Georgia Bulldogs, the Cats travel to Columbia to take on the Missouri Tigers tonight at 9pm ET. Sandwiched between the big road game at Georgia and the absolutely huge home test against Florida, the Missouri game could not come at a better time for a few reasons. On top of giving the squad an easier game than the last two have been, the team also should be able to work on anything they’ve been struggling with, as the score should be lopsided form the get go.

Kentucky and Missouri have also faced each other 9 times in basketball before tonight, with Kentucky winning all of the previous match ups. Tonight should be no different. The Tigers host UK sporting a 7-19 record, including a 2-12 record in the SouthEastern Conference. This is familiar territory for the Tigers, who had a 3-15 record in the SEC last season and a 10-21 overall record, which somehow might actually end up being better than this season.

Despite their poor record, the Tigers have been in positions to win a few more games than the scoreboard shows. They have a one point overtime loss to Xavier, a 4 points loss to Ole Miss, a five point loss to Auburn, a five point loss to Georgia, a two three point losses at the hands of Texas A&M and Alabama. That list includes six of the eight losses by 5 points or less that the Tigers have suffered this season. A few shots fall for them or don’t fall for the opponent, and the Tigers could easily be 15-11 rather than 7-19. But almost’s don’t count in basketball, and certainly haven’t helped Missouri this year.

Let’s take a look at the potential starting five for Kim Anderson’s squad tonight.


Puryear_Kevin_C_T

#24 Kevin Puryear, Sophomore Forward, 6’7″

Kevin Puryear was named to the 2016 SEC All-Freshman Team last season, after posting the best scoring season by a Missouri freshman in 23 years. He started every game last year for Kim Anderson, and has started every game so far this season as well. Despite not being a highly touted recruit, he’s going to be the best player on Missouri’s team for the next few years most likely.

The sophomore is the team leader in points scored and rebounds on the season. He’s averaging 11.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game through this year. He’s a versatile forward who can step away from the basket and knock down a jumper, but his three point percentage isn’t great. Puryear hits 29.5% of his 3’s and 75.3% of his free throws. Last year, he scored 10 points in 19 minutes in the Tigers’ loss to the Cats.

Kentucky has essentially two ways to guard the bigs that start for Missouri. Puryear measures in at 6’7″, but he does weigh 243 pounds. He’s probably a better match up for Bam Adebayo as far as size goes. However, he plays more of a mobile, outside game than the other starting forward for the Tigers. I think UK will use a combination of both Bam and the Wenyen Gabriel/Derek Willis duo to guard Puryear. Missouri is a team that UK could shut down the other four guys on the court, and make Puryear try to beat them on his own, which won’t happen.

Phillips_Terrence_C_T

#1 Terrence Phillips, Sophomore Guard, 5’11”

While Kevin Puryear was one of two Missouri Tigers to start every game last season, Terrence Phillips is the other. Also a sophomore, Phillips played his high school days at Oak Hill Academy, but is a native of Orange County, California. He holds the career assist record at Oak Hill, and was one of the best freshman passers in Missouri history. His 107 total assists put him just 10 behind record holder and Tiger legend of the early 2010’s, Phil Pressey.

As you may have guessed from the assist numbers in his past, Phillips is the true point guard for this Mizzou squad.He leads the team in assists with 4.5 per game, as well as gives the team 9.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, and a team leading 1.4 steals. His assist numbers make him the third best passer in the SEC behind Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox and Florida’s Kasey Hill. He’s shooting 35.5% from behind the arc and 74.4% from the charity stripe on the season.

Last year, Phillips finished with 8 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals against Kentucky. It was a really strong outing, if you consider that he was matched up against Tyler Ulis, and that the Tigers only totaled 54 points and 28 rebounds. Phillips will match up with De’Aaron Fox tonight, who outsizes Phillips by 4 inches and around 10 pounds.

Walton_K_J_C_T

#11 K.J. Walton, Sophomore Guard, 6’3″

K.J. Walton is the third of four sophomore starters for Missouri this season. Coach Kim Anderson has used this season to build his young players to prepare for a better next couple of seasons, and K.J. Walton is right in the fold to be a part of that rebuild. Walton started 7 games last season, but has already started double that amount this season.

Walton is averaging 7.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 1.3 steals per game on the season. Despite playing the two-spot on the floor for the Tigers, Walton isn’t much of an outside shooter, making 5 of his only 20 three point shot attempts on the year. Walton will take the majority of his shots from cuts to the basket and straight-line drives, as has been part of the Missouri offense for years.

The sophomore will most likely be matched up defensively with Kentucky sophomore Isaiah Briscoe. Briscoe is Kentucky’s best on-ball defender, and would pair best with the Missouri player who will spend a lot of his offensive time driving to the basket. After a rough game on Saturday at Georgia, look for Briscoe to try to bounce back offensively as well and take advantage of the extra weight he has over Walton.

Woods_Russell_C_T

#25 Russell Woods, Senior Forward, 6’8″

Russell Woods is the lone senior both in the starting lineup and on the entire roster for Kim Anderson’s Missouri team. Woods is in his second season at Mizzou after playing his first two years for John A Logan Junior College in Carterville, Illinois. In high school, he attended Simeon Career Academy, where he was teammates with former Duke Blue Devil and current Milwaukee Buck, Jabari Parker.

Woods wasn’t a huge statistical contributor last season, only averaging 2.8 points and 2.7 rebounds per game. However, those numbers have increased in a starting role this season. He’s putting up 7.4 points and 4.7 rebounds this year in 22 minutes per game. The issue for Missouri is that Woods is their biggest starter at 6’8″, but he doesn’t offer a huge offensive post presence. He can’t be relied upon for a ton of offense because when he gets fouled, he only hits 58.8% of his free throws.

The Chicago native played 18 minutes against the Cats last year, but did not score and only managed one rebound against the week front line Kentucky had. As I mentioned earlier, UK could use Wenyen Gabriel and Derek Willis on Woods, as he isn’t as strong as Puryear in the post. But Coach Cal may use Bam here, to keep the Gabriel and Willis as perimeter defenders on Puryear instead.

VanLeer_Cullen_C_T

#33 Cullen VanLeer, Sophomore Guard, 6’4″

Cullen VanLeer is the fourth and final sophomore starter for the Missouri Tigers this season. He started just 3 games all of last season, but tonight will mark VanLeer’s 17th start this season. VanLeer played only 17 minutes per game last season, scoring 4 points and grabbing 1.2 rebounds per game. His minutes have increased to over 25 per game with the starting role this season.

VanLeer is not afraid to let it fly from behind the arc, as 108 of his 132 shots on the season have been from 3-point land. VanLeer is averaging 5.4 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game, while shooting the deep ball at a 31.5% clip. As evidenced by only staying on the perimeter, VanLeer has only taken 20 total free throws in 26 games this season, but he has made 17 of those 20. He scored 7 points, dished out an assist, and pulled down a board against UK last year.

The Pacific, Missouri native would most likely be guarded by Malik Monk in tonight’s game. His perimeter oriented game is good for the sometimes defensively-challenge Monk, and the fact that he won’t be under the basket will allow for Monk to get out on the break like he desires. The good part for UK is that VanLeer won’t be able to stop Monk in transition if they were to be in a one-on-one situation. Monk should have a solid scoring game tonight, against a team that doesn’t have the defenders to match up with his skill or athleticism.


After losing to Kentucky 88-54 last season in Rupp Arena, the Tigers could be looking to keep this game close to seek some revenge. Unfortunately for Kim Anderson and the Tiger faithful, they just don’t have a set of guys that can keep up with UK. I hate to say before a game that Kentucky is going to blow someone out, because I think it just leads to let down once the game begins, but there is absolutely no reason that Kentucky should not win this game by 20+ points. And it really shouldn’t even be that close. UK was a 16 point favorite as of last night, and I’d bet the house on it that they cover that tonight.

Go Cats. Beat Tigers.

@BrettBibbinsKSR


Tuesday’s Top 10: Emotional Boogie, Rapping Trebek and Kentucky/Mizzou

Tuesday’s Top 10: Emotional Boogie, Rapping Trebek and Kentucky/Mizzou

The only time the arena will be filled all season.

The only time the arena will be filled all season.

Yesterday was pretty wild.  Get caught up with all the shenanigans from Monday before you begin to prepare for a late Tuesday night with your Kentucky Wildcats.

The Three Biggest Stories from Monday

The Kentucky fan’s dream team of Davis and Cousins in New Orleans dominated the sports news cycle around the country.  Last night Boogie said an emotional goodbye to the city of Sacramento.

If you asked a UK fan from the state of Kentucky and surrounding region, the second-biggest story would be “Cowherd’s an ass.”  However, if you were on the elliptical in the gym and looked up to see OTL on ESPN, you would see Jay Bilas discussing Calipari’s postgame comments on college coaches being dismissed during the season (if that scenario sounds oddly specific, it’s because I’m referencing myself).

The dichotomy is interesting.  The regional outrage at Cowherd is merited.  After refusing to give him attention until after 11:00 p.m. last night, my insides churned as Cowherd talked down on my beloved Cats.  That feeling compares to the surprise when I heard Calipari ask a crowded press room in Athens, “We’re firing coaches in midseason…Are you shitting me?”  A man that doesn’t like to curse didn’t give a damn.  The scope and power of Cal’s words are more profound than I previously believed.

The news cycle changes quickly.  With a game against Mizzou tonight, all of these stories will quickly go away.  Is it good or bad or both?  I don’t know.  The only certainty is that I gotta quit watching The Newsroom late at night or I’ll continue to subconsciously rant about the philosophy and current climate of the media industry.

Alex Trek’s Rap Game is 💯

That got a little heavy.  Let me lighten things up with the best Jeopardy category ever.

But wait, it gets better.

There’s a New Hey Kentucky, The Bachelor

You probably missed that fantastic Jeopardy category because you were busy watching the latest installment of Hey Kentucky, The Bachelor.  If you missed it, re-watch it here, and if you’re in Louisville, you no longer have to watch it online.  Beginning last night, Hey Kentucky! is airing every night at 10:00 on WBNA-21 in Louisville.

Kentucky Plays Mizzou Tonight

I’m not are why they’re actually making them go through with it.  To say “Mizzou is trash” wouldn’t adequately describe the state of their basketball program athletic department.  After some early success on the football field, the Tigers have given the SEC nothing except a coerced trip to St. Louis for the SEC Tournament in 2018.  If the Cats can’t win tonight, they can’t win another basketball game ever again.

All the Info on UK/Mizzou

It’s a late starter that gets the rare SEC Network treatment.  Adam Amin, Joe Sundvoid and Laura Rutledge  will have coverage from Columbia, starting at 9:00.  The No. 10/11 Cats are 16-point favorites. The tale of the tape:

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The UK Women are in the NCAA’s Top 16

The NCAA placed Matthew Mitchell’s team at No. 15, a four-seed, with just three weeks of basketball left until Selection Monday.  The men’s committee only released one preview of the bracket, while the women received three early looks.  Kentucky was a four-seed in two of the three previews. They return to action Thursday at 7:00 against Miss. State for Senior Night at Memorial Coliseum.

I Can’t Get Crocodile Rock Out of my Head

After hearing the Elton John jam at a piano bar Saturday night, I can’t stop singing, humming and whistling the catchy tune.  I’ve tried all the tricks to get it out of my head, yet Crocodile Rock persists.  Luckily, I’m a big fan of the song.  For those who hate it, I hope the “Laaaaaa, la, la, la, la, la,” is immediately imprinted on your brain.

Jarrett Allen Killed a Guy Dunked the Basketball

I can’t say he “killed a guy” when Bob Huggins almost died on the sideline.  That’s insensitive.  Huggins fell to his knees in the first half after he apparently began having issues with his defibrillator.  The good news: Huggins is fine.  He returned to the sideline for the second half.  However, one of his player’s is not fine, not at all.

College Basketball on TV Tonight

The first game on this list could have an impact on Kentucky’s chances for an SEC regular season title.

  • 7:00: South Carolina at No. 13 Florida on ESPN
  • 7:00: Oklahoma at No. 9 Baylor on ESPN2
  • 7:00: Clemson at Va Tech on ESPNU
  • 7:00: Auburn at LSU on SEC Network
  • 9:00: Ole Miss at Miss. State on ESPN2
  • 9:00: Indiana at Iowa on ESPN

KSR Starts in an Hour

Get with it or get lost.


The Good and The Bad of Isaiah Briscoe

The Good and The Bad of Isaiah Briscoe

brisc

Big Blue Nation is becoming a fan base divided in its opinion of Isaiah Briscoe.

After a not-so-good game down in Georgia — after which John Calipari joked (but maybe didn’t) that he told Briscoe, “I’m glad you fouled out” — some are beginning to wonder if Briscoe’s minutes-per should be reconsidered.

That’s not to say Briscoe isn’t a good player; no one believes that. But in a stretch that has seen solid, consistent play from Dominique “Old Reliable” Hawkins and a good game from Mychal Mulder, there is a legitimate debate that maybe Briscoe should take a seat whenever he is in a funk, as he was in Athens.

In the postgame press conference following that game, John Calipari said, “We got a couple guys I gotta sit down with and talk to and figure out like, ‘Look, if this is who you are, you gotta take a step back.’ We gotta go with the guys that are playing. We got four games left. This ain’t like, ‘Okay, we’re in midseason, you’re good.’ This is like, ‘You gotta figure this out.’”

It’s safe to say Isaiah Briscoe is among those “couple guys” Calipari was referring to, and with only four games left until it is win-or-go-home in the SEC and NCAA tournaments, Calipari and Briscoe are running out of time to “figure this out.”

In the meantime, have a look at what, in my personal opinion, makes Briscoe good and what makes Briscoe bad.

 

THE GOOD: He gives his all.

There isn’t a player on the team who fights harder than Isaiah Briscoe. You know you’re going to get effort from him every night, whether he is scoring or not, on both ends of the floor. He hustles, crashes the glass and doesn’t back down from anyone.

THE BAD: He can’t shoot.

Though it has improved since his freshman season, Briscoe is still a pretty horrible shooter. He’s missed 17 of his 20 three-point attempts in his last 10 games (a 15 percent clip); and in Kentucky’s last five games, he is 1-for-10 from outside and 7-for-17 from the foul line.

LAST FIVE GAMES
Game FGM-FGA 3PM-3PA FTM-FTA
@ Florida 3-10 0-1 0-2
vs. LSU 4-9 1-3 5-6
@ Alabama 5-11 0-1 1-7
vs. Tennessee 6-10 0-2 0-1
@ Georgia 4-12 0-3 1-1
TOTAL 22-52 1-10 7-17

In that five-game span, Briscoe made only one two-point basket that wasn’t a layup.

THE GOOD: He defends, rebounds.

Of the Cats’ starting five, Briscoe is the best defender and the second best on-ball defender on the entire team, behind only Dominique Hawkins. Briscoe often draws the assignment of guarding the other team’s best offensive weapon and he has done a pretty good job in that role. His D is arguably his best part of his game.

Briscoe is also a quality rebounder given his size, with 5.4 rebounds per game for the third best rebounding average on the team. He puts that wide frame and lower body strength to good use on the block to get in position for loose balls.

THE BAD: He is turnover prone.

Briscoe leads the team in turnovers and it has been a huge problem over the course of the last month. Aside from his one turnover in the win over Tennessee last week, Briscoe is on a streak of games with three, six, four, three, four and four turnovers.

Overall, Briscoe’s 42 turnovers in conference play is the fifth-worst total in the SEC.

THE GOOD: He can drive, draw fouls.

When he isn’t turning it over or taking ill-advised jump shots, Briscoe is as good as they come at taking it to the rim and either finishing or drawing a whistle. Nobody can bully and maneuver their way to the rack like Isaiah Briscoe when he has a full head of steam.

However, when he isn’t getting the call, as we’ve seen a lot lately, his driving can do more bad than good. And when he is getting the call, he has to make the free throws.

THE BAD: He doesn’t fit within the offense.

Kentucky’s halfcourt offense is best when De’Aaron Fox and Bam Adebayo are playing a two-man game with room to work, while the shooters, namely Malik Monk, are ready to catch and fire. But with Briscoe’s inability to hit shots as a guard, defenses are packing the lane and leaving him unguarded around the perimeter, which (a) clogs things up for Fox to drive; and (b) dares Briscoe to shoot, which rarely ends well.

Briscoe is too much like Fox in that he needs to be driving and not shooting, so having him out there with Fox often has an adverse effect on production. Neither he nor Fox can shoot, at all, and it’s never good to have two guards on the floor at the same time who can’t hit outside shots. Without the threat of a shooter from one of those two guard spots, the driving, which is the strength of the backcourt, is taken away. That is why we’re seeing those long-range two-pointers that make you want to rip your hair out. They’re having to settle for those because the defense is packing it in.

While I’m on the subject, I think this is Kentucky’s biggest problem offensively and probably worthy of its own post on here some other time. But in short I’ll just say I don’t think Fox and Briscoe’s games complement each other as they should. They have the same strengths and weaknesses, and Briscoe loses out because Fox is the true point guard, the better floor general and lightning fast with the ball in his hands.

THE GOOD: He has single-handedly won games.

If we’re going to criticize Briscoe for his mistakes, we have to acknowledge the fact Kentucky would have two or three more losses without him.

First, the Cats don’t win at Vanderbilt without Briscoe. With Fox and Monk in foul trouble in that game, Briscoe scored a team-high 23 points with seven rebounds and five assists in 39 minutes played. Every time Vanderbilt made a big bucket in the second half, Briscoe responded on the other end to silence the crowd.

Briscoe also shined in the close call at home against Georgia, in which he had 23 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. And then at Alabama, Briscoe scored seven straight points when the Tide tried to mount a late comeback.

THE BAD: His attitude.

There are some concerns from NBA scouts that Briscoe may have a little bit of an attitude problem. I had heard the same from a couple people I know in AAU circles when he first got to Kentucky and I’ve heard it from some people around campus since he’s been at UK.

We’ve even seen glimpses of it in games, whether it be arguing with officials or getting involved in unnecessary extracurricular activity with an opponent, and it’s not the best look for your presumed leader.

Of course, an attitude can be good — I love a confident trash-talker — but not always. As someone who hears more than most sitting courtside at Rupp, I can tell you there isn’t a player on the court who whines more to officials throughout a game. In those circumstances when things aren’t going his way, I think the attitude hurts him, and in turn, hurts the team.

THE GOOD: He has one of three triple-doubles in school history.

It’s hard to knock a guy who has done that.

THE BAD: He is too short for his position.

Going back to the fitting within the offense thing, Briscoe is a guard who is in his second season out of position because there are two better guards on the team. Last year it was Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray who pushed Briscoe over to the three; this year it is De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk. He’s become a small forward in a college point guard’s body.

If not for Ulis and Fox, maybe Briscoe is great penetrating point guard with good shooters around him to make up for his own shooting insufficiencies. But that’s not the case as he has been asked to catch and shoot on the wing, rebound, and guard guys much taller than him, at 6-foot-2.

He’s a small small forward.

THE GOOD: He is one hell of a basketball player.

Is he playing out of position? Yes. Does he throw off the offense? In my opinion he does. Does he drive into “No Man’s Land” along the baseline and immediately turn it over? Absolutely. Does he need to become a better shooter? Yes, yes, yes. Has he ever thrown one alley oop that hit its target? Not that I can remember.

But through all the flaws one can highlight in his game, Isaiah Briscoe is still a guy you want on your team. He is going to defend. He is going to hit the boards. He is going to give 100 percent on each end. He is going to get physical inside despite being the smallest player in the paint and he is capable of taking over a game when he is able to drive and get whistles. Just ask the folks in Nashville or Tuscaloosa about that one.

At the end of the day, Isaiah Briscoe is going to do much more good than bad. But with Kentucky in its current state, the question is how much Briscoe is too much Briscoe when he isn’t at his best.


What they’re saying about Boogie to New Orleans

@PelicansNBA

@PelicansNBA

The pairing of Kentucky’s elite post players was the biggest story in the sports world today.  It was covered in a variety of angles from essentially every sports media institution.  Instead of wading through it all by yourself, let this post get you caught up.

If you’d rather see the reaction from players instead of writers, The Washington Post’s blog has you covered.    Speaking of the The Washington Post…

The Washington Post’s Josh Plano

While the rise of the positionless player in the NBA is well documented, New Orleans is now presented with an interesting spacing conundrum. Cousins and Davis represent two of the league’s premier big men, athletes that draw ample attention — and frequent double teams — in the half-court offense. They’re rare breeds who oscillate between the two frontcourt positions, power forward and center.

Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver

For New Orleans, the trade opens a new era with Cousins and Davis as a fascinating big man duo. This isn’t a traditional old school Twin Towers approach, as Cousins can stretch out to the three-point line and Davis is comfortable operating far away from the hoop. Both face questions regarding their defensive impact, and pairing the two together could produce stretches of mismatches against spread lineups. But this is a gamble that a shaky ownership group, a beleaguered GM and a helpless Davis all badly needed. Cousins’s arrival should spark interest in a team that’s been stuck for years, it should improve New Orleans’ pitch to future free agents (“We’ve already got two stars”), and most importantly it gives Davis reason to believe that his heroic efforts aren’t in vain.

The Vertical’s Michael Lee

Every time Cousins earned an All-Star moment, disarray hijacked it. NBA commissioner Adam Silver recognized Cousins’ overwhelming talents by naming him an injury replacement in 2015, but he spent the entire weekend addressing questions about the Kings hiring George Karl as head coach. Last year, Cousins had to address his ongoing feud with Karl. This year, Cousins avoided any upsetting questions the first two days, then the Kings put him in the awkward position of finding out that he could be traded moments before he was asked about it. “I was happy coming in, but the last day and the last couple of minutes, something had to happen,” Cousins said. “It’s disappointing.”

The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor

Pairing Cousins with Anthony Davis is the most fascinating frontcourt duo of the decade; there have rarely been pairings of two legitimate top-10 big-man talents. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph patrolled the paint for years, while Blake Griffin to DeAndre Jordan’s air show made jumpstarted the Lob City Clippers, but this is different. We haven’t seen this before.

The Ringer’s Danny Chau asked on Sunday: “Is it too indulgent to imagine a 5–4 pick-and-roll with Cousins handling and Davis rolling to the rim?” I hope not. Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry would be shorting himself if he doesn’t take full advantage of all the tactical possibilities this pairing presents. The Brow and Boogie can both handle the ball, shoot outside, dominate inside, and create space off the dribble like guards. While other teams are zigging by going small, the Pelicans are zagging with two of the most purely talented big players in the league.

CBS Sports’ Matt Moore

Cousins has an unbelievable opportunity here. He gets to start over — in a city that will embrace him in a way that few will. You want a redemption story? New Orleans is a great place to find it. You want somewhere that wants its guys a little less than squeaky clean? Try the Big Easy. He joins a good friend and fellow Wildcat in Anthony Davis, who also happens to be a top-10 player.

He gets to change everything about his career. If he keeps his emotions in check (unlikely) and embraces the defensive end, he’s going to have a chance to do real damage in this league. Davis can play power forward next to him, and their combination of scoring, rebounding and passing is going to be a nightmare for opponents.

Fox Sports’ Nate Scott

Davis gets the scoring partner he needed in NOLA and a chance to finally break through and make a splash in the Western Conference. The team is still painfully thin at the wings, and if Jrue Holiday gets hurt again I’m not sure who will play point guard (Boogie, maybe?). They have too many bigs as well — Omer Asik still has three (!) years on his deal.

But Davis finally has a partner in crime, and that might be enough. With Cousins commanding a double-team down low, Davis will have his pick of 15- to 18-footers. And if Boogie wants to step out to the perimeter and take 3s (which he can), Davis will have more room to work inside. This could work extremely well for both of them.

Five Thirty Eight’s Chris Herring

This is less about the trade and more about Boogie in general: nobody in the NBA gets their shot blocked more than Cousins.

Cousins’s shots get blocked 1.6 times per game, which represents a slight decrease from the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, when opponents stuffed Cousins 1.8 times per contest. (He was the most-blocked player in those seasons, too.1) All of which is surprising, considering the 26-year-old’s clear advantages in height, strength and skill.

Cousins’ blunt explanation is fantastic.

Before he was traded, I asked Cousins why he gets blocked so much, and he said that I didn’t have to search for a complicated explanation. “It’s because I can’t jump,” he said. “It’s really as simple as that.”


Kentucky’s Seniors Shine at the Right Time

Kentucky’s Seniors Shine at the Right Time

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John Calipari’s time at Kentucky will be defined by the “one and done” phenoms who gave Lexington one year of elite talent before moving on to the NBA.  The supply of elite incoming talent has been constant.  What separates Cal’s most successful teams from the rest is the under-appreciated, role-playing veteran.

John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins got rebounding and spacing from Patrick Patterson.  The National Championship team got three-point shooting and reliability in the middle of the floor from Darius Miller.  The 38-1 team could use simple defensive principles because Willie Cauley-Stein was a consensus All-American.

Saturday in Athens, Kentucky’s three seniors proved they can do what is necessary to take this Calipari team to the elite level.  Derek Willis, Dominique Hawkins and Mychal Mulder combined to shoot 64 percent from the field (9/14) and 55 percent from behind the three-point line (5/9) for 25 points.  Willis’ game might have been the best, tying a career high with 12 rebounds, but he didn’t see it that way.

“I didn’t think I had a really good game, honestly.”  Willis was disappointed in his defense, especially against the pick-and-roll, after the game in Athens.  “That was definitely getting under my skin. I just tried to do something else and rebounds was the thing I came up with. A couple offensive rebounds at the end and tried to do something.”

On the contrary, John Calipari believed Mulder played his best basketball.

“Mychal’s playing as well as he’s ever played in a Kentucky uniform right now,” Caliper said on Saturday.

Mulder attributes his improved play to increased confidence.  “It’s just having the coaches have trust in me and performing every day on the practice floor. We’ve had a really good few weeks of practice and I feel like that’s where everybody builds their own individual confidence.”

Hawkins knows exactly how Mulder is feeling.

“I would say it (his confidence) is probably the highest it’s ever been since I’ve been in a Kentucky jersey.” Hawkins shared today. “I feel real comfortable on both ends, offensively and defensively. I feel like the ball’s going in for me now.”

It couldn’t come at a better time.  The Cats can’t rely on Fox and Monk to be consistent.  Together, Mulder and Hawkins bond that bridge (so to speak).  Wenyen Gabriel is even more unpredictable, while Bam Adebayo will always struggle with foul trouble.  Derek Willis proved he can fill that void.  This combination is coming together at the right time.

“We understand that our college career is winding down. We’re really just working against the clock and trying to keep our team alive as long as possible on our run in March,” Mulder said today.

The ticking clock is what motivates Mulder to finish strong.

“It really motivates me. You reflect on the years past and all the experiences you’ve had as a basketball player. Just being able to stay in the moment and understand what’s coming ahead of you still, what you still have left to accomplish while you’re still here, that’s something that’s been really important to me. I want to keep striving for those goals and make sure I can accomplish as much as I can while I’m here.”

If the seniors continue to play at a high level in their respective roles, they can take Kentucky to the extraordinary level fans have become accustomed to seeing from John Calipari’s teams.

 


UK still a 3-seed in latest Bracketology; potential rematch with Louisville in Sweet 16?

UK still a 3-seed in latest Bracketology; potential rematch with Louisville in Sweet 16?

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

It’s a new week and Kentucky is holding steady as a three-seed in the East Region in the latest Bracketology from Joe Lunardi. Also in the East: Villanova (1), Purdue (4), and, yes, Louisville (2). Yes, that would mean a potential Sweet 16 showdown with the Cards in New York City.

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I made a promise to myself years ago not to stress out over hypothetical matchups, but that’s one that would do the trick. Lunardi has four SEC teams currently in: Kentucky (3), Florida (3), South Carolina (7), and Arkansas (9). Tennessee’s currently his second team out.

Meanwhile, CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm has Kentucky as the three-seed in the Midwest Region, which ALSO includes Louisville as the two-seed. USA Today’s Shelby Mast thinks Kentucky will be the three-seed in the East, but pits them against 2-seed Florida State in the Sweet 16 (as a side note, how people still consider #19 Florida State a two-seed is beyond me).

Bracketologists gonna bracketology, but I think the real question we’d like to know the answer to is whether or not Kentucky can get up to a two-seed by winning out.


Kentucky opens as a 16.5-point favorite at Missouri

@EmptySeatsPics

@EmptySeatsPics

Vegas has spoken and Kentucky opened as a 16.5-point favorite against Missouri in tomorrow night’s contest in Columbia.

As John Calipari predicted earlier this week, the Tigers are pulling out all the stops for tomorrow night’s game, calling for their fans to wear black. While Missouri’s only averaging about 5,800 fans per game this season, you know the place will be packed tomorrow, especially because…

…the world-famous Red Panda Acrobat is performing at halftime?????

Oh yes, if you’re in the Columbia area and were waffling about going to tomorrow night’s game, that will surely sway you.

By the way, tickets are still available.


8 Notes from Kenny Payne’s Missouri Preview

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Associate head coach Kenny Payne filled in for John Calipari in today’s media opp and, as always, it was interesting to hear his take on what’s going on with the team, especially after Cal gave him and Tony Barbee more responsibility last week. I already shared his thoughts on Dominique Hawkins with you earlier, but here’s the rest of what he had to say this afternoon.

1. About those new responsibilities…

“I wouldn’t say that Cal is taking a step back,” Payne said of Cal’s decision to put him in charge of the offense and Tony Barbee in charge of the defense. “I would say he’s allowing me to talk more about the offensive things that he wants them to do – and basically that’s play together. Share the ball. Move the ball and get penetration off movement. That’s pretty much it.”

2. Wenyen knows he’s been playing poorly

After a 23-point performance vs. LSU a few weeks back, Wenyen Gabriel has fallen back into the shadows, scoring only five points over the last three games. Payne said Wenyen knows he’s been sliding, and after the Georgia game, he asked him what time he’d be running on Sunday, his “punishment” for not playing with confidence.

“The last game, as soon as the game was over, Wenyen Gabriel said, ‘What time do I have to run tomorrow?’ If you’re not on that floor playing with confidence, I’m running you.’ It’s that simple. They know. They know.”

3. Same thing with Isaiah Briscoe

“Lately, I think Wenyen (Gabriel) has a lacked a little bit confidence wise and hasn’t given us what he’s capable of. So has Isaiah. But we need them,” Payne said. “When you shoot the ball, for example if Isaiah shoots the ball and none of his family members believes that shot is going in, and he shoots it like he doesn’t believe it’s going in, he’s running. So he better believe 100 percent that he’s making that shot. That’s a layup, that’s a jumpshot, that’s a free throw, that’s defensive confidence. Whatever it is, he better do it with confidence.”

Or, you run.

4. Bam is struggling to find the balance between being physical and not fouling

Bam Adebayo’s only gotten double-digit rebounds in four games this season, a baffling stat when you look at him. Payne, the Cats’ big man guru, said Bam is shying away from physical play because he doesn’t want to get in foul trouble.

“The best way I can describe it to you is – right, wrong or indifferent – when you’re in foul trouble a lot and you’re afraid to be aggressive, and you become tentative, and you’re worried about what a referee’s going to call or not call, and that takes away from your aggression, that’s going to affect you. He has to get by that. He has to play with aggression whether he has two fouls or three fouls. He just has to be smart not to foul.”

5. How does Bam recognize that line?

“I think it goes back to Bam not getting dumb fouls to be honest with you. It’s just that simple. Sometimes he’s fouling in positions where he’s not getting the offensive rebound and the guy has the ball. Get back. Sometimes he’s being overly aggressive playing post defense against a guy that can’t score on him. He just has to find his way, and once he does that I think he gets more comfortable. And a part of basketball is reading how the game is being refereed. That’s intelligence. If you know they’re calling more fouls than normal then stay away from certain situations. Just be smart about it.”

6. “The kid from Georgia tore us apart”

How do you beat Kentucky? If you watched the Georgia game, J.J. Frazier showed that you just play the pick and roll. Frazier had 36 points vs. the Cats on Saturday, and for Kentucky to avoid being exploited like that again, they must learn to defend the pick-and-roll, which starts with the guards.

“First of all, it starts with the guard. The guard cannot just be standing in front a yard away from the ball handler. So if he’s doing that and he gets hit, he’s done. So now you’re putting the pressure on a guard coming at a big full speed. So we need the guard to connect first. He has to connect to the offensive player, and the big has to keep him in front of him until the guard gets back and fronts him off. Once we do that, we’re really good. If we allow guards to get penetration off the ball screen, it hurts us. To be honest with you, the kid from Georgia (J.J. Frazier) tore us apart.”

Listening, Fox, Monk, and Briscoe?

7. “You can’t ask for anything better” than how De’Aaron Fox finished the Georgia game

De’Aaron Fox had 16 points vs. the Bulldogs, 14 in the final 4:36 of the game – eight of them free throws. Payne said you can’t put a price on Fox’s poise down the stretch.

“De’Aaron Fox has proven that he can finish a game for us,” Payne said when asked about Fox’s gritty late game heroics in Athens. “He’s done it numerous times. He’s a tough guard. Talking to the Georgia coaches, they talked about how well he gets in the lane. It’s just about impossible to keep him out of the lane. He finished the game well. We’re really happy with how we shot free throws to finish that game. That was really good. You can’t ask for anything better than that.”

8. Is that “K” on his pullover for Kenny or Kentucky?

Because if that’s an item of UK merchandise currently for sale, I’m buying it. Not enough Power K in this world.


Colin Cowherd Going off about UK is the Worst of Current Sports Media

Colin Cowherd Going off about UK is the Worst of Current Sports Media

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There was no doubt in my mind when I woke up this morning that Colin Cowherd was going to be a major topic of discussion across Big Blue Nation. After his idiotic comments from Friday (where he basically said all UK players in the NBA were either disappointing or “underwhelming”), the batch of young UK pros had a spectacular weekend at the NBA All Star game. Jamal Murray was named MVP of the “Rising Stars” game, Anthony Davis MVP of the big game and Demarcus Cousins was traded to New Orleans to create a Brow Boogie show the basketball world can’t wait to see. In three days, all the insane ramblings of Cowherd had been proven silly and dismissed by performance, as all reasonable arguments should be. A rational sportscaster interested in fairness and normalcy would have come on the radio and admitted he had just taken a “L” and then tried to laugh it off for the future. We all make mistakes, just as I did when I insisted last season Villanova couldn’t win a title. Reasonable people know sports is ultimately irrelevant in the world and thus when we are wrong, we move forward to the next topic. It is what makes sports conversation great.

Colin Cowherd of course chose the opposite approach. When faced with facts (and criticism) showcasing his points were inane, Cowherd doubled down and went even deeper, criticizing the UK program, its history, players and fans. He turned his entire show into an anti-UK rant and got some in the BBN into a frenzy with his nonsense. The reason is of course obvious. It doesn’t matter whether Cowherd genuinely believes his drivel or not (my guess is he doesn’t). He knew it would get attention and having found a morsel of relevance in a post-ESPN landscape where often his words go harmlessly into the ether, he had to pounce. Cowherd is now a story in the largest college basketball fan base and more people sent me links/reactions to his comments in 1 hour than have collectively in total over the past year-plus since he has moved to FS1. In a modern sports media world filled with non-stop, ubiquitous content, Cowherd had found a way to break through…even on a very small, regional level. He had to pounce and more flaming takes were inevitable.

It is always a struggle here at KSR when national commenters troll the Big Blue Nation. On the one hand, the simplest solution would just be to ignore their comments. Over the years I have leaned towards this policy and it is why the names Jeff Goodman and Pat Forde are read less and less on this site. If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears, did it fall? Since Goodman has moved to the “Insider” section of ESPN and Forde when to the nether regions of Yahoo Sports, their most relevance in the world of UK Basketball is when we bring them up. If we don’t feed the trolls, they can remain in anonymity talking A-10 Hoops or covering random swimming meets. It is objectively the best solution.

However sometimes you can’t help it. Sometimes comments are so ridiculous and platforms so large (such as the 2nd largest national sports network and one of the loudest radio personalities) that “not feeding the trolls” simply doesn’t work. Plus, there is the reality that KSR isn’t above the marketplace as well. Crushing terrible takes and spotlighting the worst opinions of those on the other side is terrific for the bottom-line of every media organization. There is a reason that Fox News finds the dumbest liberals to put on TV so that O’Reilly and Tucker Carlson can crush them…their (conservative) audience LOVES to see them bite the dust. It is the same reason liberals love watching Jon Stewart (or John Oliver) make mince meat out of the most simplistic versions of conservative principles…it is fun seeing those you disagree with take losses. So by highlighting the dumbest anti-UK takes, like the one Cowherd articulates, KSR gets traffic, my radio show gets buzz and we have a collective enemy for us all to hate. In reality, everyone wins.

Scratch that…everyone wins, except those of us that like sanity and rationality. What bothers me about Colin Cowherd is that he represents the worst of what sports (and political) media is becoming. Because there are so many outlets, voices and methods for people to get their information and opinion, the main way to stand out is to say something outrageous. It works in politics (see that dude Milo), it works in Entertainment (see Kanye), it works in sports (see Skip Bayless’s entire “Lebron is Overrated” schtick). Sometimes the outrageousness is based on sheer stupidity. That doesn’t bother me as much. I genuinely don’t get upset when people that I think honestly believe their idiotic statements give them on television (think most celebrities who talk politics, Kyrie Irving on the Earth being flat or the cast of “Fox and Friends” on basically anything). As Forrest says, “stupid is as stupid does” and it isn’t the individuals fault their opinions are dumb…it is our fault for caring what they say. But what really bothers me is when otherwise intelligent people KNOW that what they are saying is ridiculous, but do it just to get attention and make noise. Being ill-informed is unfortunate, if understandable, but being fraudulent is indefensible.

This seems to be the current modus operandi of the hiring right now at FS1. I went to FS1 last year for a tryout and I find the people that work there to be really creative and interesting. They have been innovative with some of their programming choices and I think in the long run, they will find more success. But in the short term, it is clear that their hiring practice is to get relatively smart people (or in the case of Clay Travis, very smart) and have them say things they may not even believe to (a) make waves and (b) cater to the uniformed click bait masses. That is what is so disappointing. Colin Cowherd is not stupid…he knows his points are ridiculous as showcased by how he Yuks it up when Calipari and others confront him. He is very talented on the radio and while he isn’t always my cup of tea, like talents as wide ranging as Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern, I can appreciate his talent. When he gets on a subject that he treats with respect and humor, I find him to be one of the best radio hosts in all of sports. But then there is the trolling side.

Faced with the realities of the current marketplace, Cowherd has to troll to rise up the public eye. He says these comments like his UK rant because no longer on ESPN, he has to make noise. He doesn’t have the advantage of being the first “great” show doing opinion in a given field (think Bill O’Reilly on politics or PTI on sports…both shows that paved the way for an entire flock of less talented copycats), so to make noise he has to be outrageous. He knows his opinions about UK are insane (no one who has risen as far as he is can really believe John Wall is permanently immature and a bad human being because he danced during Pregame warmups six years ago), but he has to say them so someone, anyone will pay attention. When you don’t have the top dog platform (ESPN), you aren’t the originator that built the first loyal following (PTI) and you can’t do anything insanely unique (it is sports talk radio after all), you have to create fake outrage. Cowherd does it, we respond, rinse and repeat.

I wish I could say that the next time Cowherd or someone likes him makes an outrageous anti-BBN statement, we will ignore it. But the reality is I can’t. We all live in this new media world and if you don’t adapt, you die. I remember when KSR started, the mainstream media used to roll their eyes and make fun of us for photoshopped pictures, Live Blogs, “Fans of the Day”, being on social media, mocking media members, embedding goofy videos and everything in between. Now they all do it. Why? Because it works. The same thing is true with Cowherd’s trolling. He does it because it works…the unfortunate thing is he could do better. Alas poor Yorick, he won’t.