Basketball Season Coverage
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 07th, 2018 @ 4:15pm
Vegas has spoken and Kentucky opened as a seven-point favorite vs. Seton Hall in tomorrow’s game at Madison Square Garden. The line has already moved to six.
Kentucky’s on a bit of a hot streak when it comes to spreads, covering the last two in a row. Speaking of the Cats, they arrived in New York earlier this afternoon, practicing at Baruch College. (Madison Square Garden is hosting the Z100 Jingle Ball tonight.)
Friday NYC practice pic.twitter.com/9lkuOZuWYz
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) December 7, 2018
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 07th, 2018 @ 3:00pm
Here’s a fun stat: Kentucky is undefeated in Madison Square Garden under John Calipari.
The Cats are 4-0 in the famous arena since Cal took over, beating UConn back in 2009, Kansas in 2011, Michigan State in 2016, and Monmouth last year. Overall, Kentucky is 13-3 in Madison Square Garden, and can move the winning streak to five tomorrow vs. Seton Hall.
Reid Travis and EJ Montgomery spoke to reporters yesterday, and although both have played in Madison Square Garden before, said they were looking forward to being back on basketball’s biggest stage.
“It’s crazy,” Travis said of playing in the Garden. “It’s crazy. When you’re walking through the halls and you see all the pictures of people that have done concerts there, the big games that are there, you can just feel it. When you get in the building, there’s a different feeling about it. I’m excited to get back there and just feel that feeling and just try to put on a good game on Saturday.”
Montgomery, whose high school team played in the Dick’s National Championship game at the Garden, agreed.
“I won that game, so I’m hoping to get another win. As a high school (player), it was very big. All the greats that have played on that court, it was a special moment.”
After being embarrassed in their first neutral site game this year, Travis said the team is anxious to show what they’ve got (even if it’s vs. Seton Hall, not Duke).
“Very excited. Anytime we can kind of get away and play at a big neutral site like that and play against another big-time program, we’re excited for it. We’ve had a good week of prep, preparing ourselves and really think this is a big game to put ourselves on the right step as we go into more non-conference games.”
Let’s hope for another big performance in the Big Apple. Until then, I’m going to relive my favorite Madison Square Garden memory, Kentucky’s win over UConn back in 2009:
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 07th, 2018 @ 12:00pm
It’s too early for Bracketology, but it’s also a Friday, so what’s the harm in having a little hypothetical fun? Andy Katz just released his new projections for the NCAA Tournament, and I’ll be honest, I don’t mind Kentucky’s draw one bit.
Katz has the Cats as the three-seed in the South Region, with Michigan as the one-seed and Texas Tech as the two-seed:
Michigan is good, but put Kentucky in Louisville and I like their chances, even against 2018 West Region MVP and former Cat Charles Matthews.
Katz’s four one-seeds: Gonzaga, Duke, Virginia, Michigan. Tennessee is a two-seed and Auburn is a three-seed. Check out the entire thing at NCAA.com.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 07th, 2018 @ 10:00am
Kentucky looked better than it has all season in the second half vs. UNC Greensboro thanks in large part to Ashton Hagans. The freshman guard thrived in his role as defensive stopper, holding the Spartans’ hot-handed Francis Alonso to only three points in the second half after he scored 19 in the first.
“It was game-changing,” Reid Travis said of Hagans’ defense yesterday. “When he can disrupt the other team’s point guard like that, make them go into different sets and disrupt like that, it’s going to be big for us because it brings energy to everybody. When you have someone on the ball that’s doing what he’s doing, everyone kind of picks it up, starts to talk more, starts to get more active. So the more he does that, the better our team defense is going to be.”
Is Hagans’ defense the catalyst this team needs to go to the next level? Travis believes so.
“Yeah. He can spearhead it for sure. When he’s out there leading it with his energy, making big plays, doing things like that, you have no choice but to follow suit. When you’ve got five guys on the court doing similar things to what he’s doing, I think that’s really a great defensive team. So we’re all trying to thrive to get to that point.”
Seton Hall’s Myles Powell will be Hagans’ next challenge. Louisville was able to beat the Pirates last weekend by limiting Powell, who averages 22.4 points off 45% from the floor and 35% from three, to 6-19, 2-12 from beyond the arc. Kentucky accidentally had the wrong player on Alonso at the start of last week’s game and got burned. I have a feeling Hagans will be on Powell from the beginning, a task Calipari wants to see if he can carry out for the full 40 minutes.
“Ashton is being more confident because of how he’s playing on defense,” Cal said. “I just told him, if you really like playing, then be that guy. You’re going to play a lot. If you don’t like playing, go over there and joke around a little bit. Do your stuff, make the hardest pass you can make, and then come over here and cheer like crazy.’”
You got this, Ashton.
TRANSCRIPT: Everything John Calipari said from today’s press conference, presented by More Than A Bakery
By TJ Walker on ©December 06th, 2018 @ 6:30pm
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On other players alluding to Ashton Hagans’ defense kick starting the defensive effort for the other players …
“Yeah, and Tyler Herro who anticipates better than anybody on the team and is playing with more defensive confidence. And what’s it doing to him offensively? It’s building his confidence and now he’s become a confident player. How was he for the first couple of weeks of the season? He wasn’t real confident because he was getting killed on defense. Ashton is being more confident because of how he’s playing on defense. It’s just going to be a step at a time. Immanuel (Quickley), we just need him to be more aggressive, to react more and process and just react to stuff versus the processing because it slows him down.”
On getting the team to buy into the mindset of defensive intensity …
“Well, we’re going every day. I’ve got the treadmill revved up. If anybody goes half speed, get on the treadmill. I’m not going to fight you. Just get over there. If it becomes we’re in the middle of a drill and practice went from two hours to two hours and 10 minutes because we’ve had to wait on you, if it keeps happening I’m going to go to two and a half hours because we’re going to wait. You’re going to do it and then you’ll come back over and work. That should be short-term stuff for us as a program. This is acceptable. This is not. Now make it part of who you are and then you move on. I just have to raise the bar on what and how we’re going to have to play. At the end of the day, if we’re a defensive-driven team we’re going to be pretty good. If we’re not, we’re not going to be very good. When will you start working on turnovers, Coach? After we get the defense right we’ll start thinking about turning it over too much. Right now we just can’t throw too much at these guys. We’re doing drills that are really basic, fundamental. Should have been learned a long time ago, but that’s fine. That’s where we are.”
On Nick Richards’ practices this week …
“Better. He had blocks yesterday. He did some good stuff yesterday. Really, really good. I was happy for him.”
On playing only three post players …
“They’ll know in practice how they’re playing. I’m going to talk to all four of them and explain why I’m doing what I’m doing and what led me to this. You can’t have two guys not play well on the floor. Like, two not playing and competing. Now, they’re getting minutes. But, when you only have three and that one guy doesn’t bring it and you only play him 15 minutes, you’re okay. That’s been the issue. You can’t have two of the four not absolutely diving on the floor for every ball, and that’s why I went with three. My chances of having two out there were better, and you see it. If they all four play and we start playing four and they’re competing, I’m good with that. But, I’m not doing it right now. (I’ve) got to coach to win. I’ll deal with the egos later. Again, I like the fact that they’ve got to compete for their time.”
Calipari details how Ashton Hagans can stay on the floor and other tidbits from his Thursday presser
By TJ Walker on ©December 06th, 2018 @ 3:10pm
John Calipari met with the media on Thursday to discuss UK’s road trip to New York City. The Cats will take a seven game winning streak into its Saturday matchup against Seton Hall for a noon tip.
Calipari spent time discussing how he wants more out of his players, praising some and criticizing other. We’ll post the entire transcript soon, but here are some of the tidbits from Thursday.
- Calipari isn’t afraid to shorten the rotation. Against Greensboro Nick Richards played a season low one minute, where he picked up a foul and committed a turnover. Calipari will use a short rotation moving forward if need be. “I like the fact they have to compete for their time.” After all, this isn’t communism. (Cal surprisingly didn’t say that today)
- “Reid’s not even the same player he was back int he Bahamas. he’s so different and so much better.” This wouldn’t be the last time that Calipari would praise Reid Travis.
- Calipari said the team is working everyday on their off-the-ball defense. Cal even went on to say they are having to take time to teach his players were they need to look when they’re playing defense. Yikes. “(This is) stuff they should have had before they came here.” Not to criticize Cal, and I know it was probably a hyperbolic statement, but why did it take until December for him to realize some of his guys didn’t know where to look on defense?
- Cal wasn’t finished ripping some of his players’ defensive abilities. He said UK may as well be playing four-on-five when Keldon is defending off the ball. I do agree that Keldon has been somewhat disappointing defensively.
- When convincing himself not to panic, Calipari remembers the ups-and-downs from last season. He mentioned how UK should have been in the Final Four and admitted every year that he moves too fast but it ends up where he needs to slow down and go back to the grind, referring to thinking his team is ready to take off, but realizes they’re not where he thought they were. “And it’s a grind, but I’m in a good frame of mind to help my team and help these guys.”
- Calipari said that Ashton can be UK’s defensive stopper and if he does that he’s going to play. “If you want to play then play this way,” Calipari said. Interesting, answering the same question Calipari said that if Hagans wants to “joke around” then he’s not going to play and he can cheer on UK from the bench. I believe it’s the first time that he’s mentioned guys goofing around. Regardless, it’s clear that if Hagans locks in defensively he will be on the floor.
- Cal joked that a few of his players are in the conversation as the worst passers he’s ever coached. He said no one is the worst on the team, but a couple are in the conversation. Someone asked about Tyler Herro jokingly calling himself the best passer Calipari has coached and Cal laughed “Have you seen some of the passes he’s thrown?” Hey, Herro is only averaging 1.5 turnovers per game. Five players have more turnovers on the season.
- But he did praise Herro. he said that’s come a long way defensively and that his “anticipation” is the best on the team and it’s translated into his offense.
- Finally some Seton Hall talk. Calipari said it will be a 40 minute game on Saturday and if a player can’t stay disciplined for 40 minutes he will be benched. He’s still trying to figure out a roster and rotation that leads to 40 minutes of success.
- Calipari complimented the IQ of UK basketball fans. He said fans in this state want teams that compete, play hard, are unselfish and obviously they want winners. He said fans know what good basketball and bad basketball look like. He believes his team is getting there. “They’re starting to accept it.”
- Other coaches (not sure the level) visited UK’s practice this week and one coach came up to Calipari after a practice to praise Travis. He told Calipari that Travis never takes his eyes off him when Calipari stops a practice to teach, “he’s on a mission.” Cal wants his teammates to do the same, but then complimented his entire team. “We have really good players. Don’t think we don’t.” Then he went into a spiel about how they constantly need to compete and if they don’t fight to win they won’t play.
By Aaron Torres on ©December 06th, 2018 @ 1:45pm
Today is Thursday, December 6th, which means that – as hard as it is to believe – we have reached the one-month point since the start of college hoops season. It really is incredible to think about how much has changed since that first night of the season in Indianapolis, when Kansas beat Michigan State and… well, actually, as best I can remember that happened in Indy that night.
Like Urban Meyer, I must be suffering a bit of memory loss.
Regardless, it’s incredible to sit here one month into the season and think about how much things have changed in the weeks since that opening night. Contenders that weren’t contenders a month ago have emerged, other teams have fallen, and Duke has gone from “print up the undefeated t-shirts” good, to just another really solid college hoops team at the top of the sport.
So one month into the season, what have we learned? Here are 10 things:
There are no great teams, but a whole lot of good ones
It’s pretty clear that five weeks into the season, there is no team like the 2014-2015 Kentucky Wildcats, a club that is overwhelmingly better than everyone else in the sport. But in their place however are a lot of really good teams, and a couple that more closely resemble Villanova last year, a 30-4 club in the regular season that rode upperclassmen and a handful of good-but-not-elite NBA Draft prospects to the national title. There really are about seven or eight teams that feel a cut above the rest to me.
Right now Gonzaga is No. 1, and with good reason. To me, they most closely resemble the Villanova team from last year. If you’ll remember, Villanova had a bunch of pros masquerading as college players and Gonzaga does too, with four veterans on their roster (Rui Hachimura, Brandon Clarke, Killian Tillie and Zach Norvell) who could all hear their names called on draft night. They also have the wins to back it up. That victory over Duke in Maui will likely only get better as the season wears on, and they also have wins over Arizona, Creighton and a last-second victory over Washington on their resume as well. The crazy part is, the Zags aren’t even at full-strength yet with Tillie and Geno Crandall currently sidelined with injuries.
Behind them are a bunch of other teams that feel capable of having what it takes to win the title in March. Kansas is deep and talented (insert your own Adidas/T.J. Gassanola joke here) but still a work in progress. Michigan picked up right where they left off last year (more on them coming), and as much as I’ve been critical of Virginia in the past, they’ve been phenomenal early on. Nevada is undefeated, and yes, good enough to win a title. Duke of course has the two most talented players in college basketball, even if they haven’t been the same since that opening night win against Kentucky.
I’d throw in a few more names behind those teams as well. Tennessee looked REALLY good against Kansas (they controlled that game for about 32 minutes) and although I was critical of them in the preseason, I could see them taking home a title. Auburn can get hot from behind the three-point arc which is all you need to make a deep tourney run. And I haven’t given up on Kentucky and their depth yet either (although obviously the defense needs to improve).
Point being, it’s a wide-open season, where it feels like there is no real separation between the top 8-10 teams in the sport. Which should make for a compelling regular season, and even better basketball once we get to tournament time.
By TJ Walker on ©December 05th, 2018 @ 2:00pm
UK freshman Keldon Johnson was ranked No. 9 in the first Frosh Watch rankings of the season by CBS. Johnson is averaging 15.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game for UK, while player more minutes than any other Wildcat.
There are plenty of other familair names in the top 10. Duke has the top two players in Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett. Former UK targets Romeo Langford comes in at No. 5 and Bol Bol at No. 7. Despite worse overall numbers UNC’s Coby White is a spot ahead of Johnson at No. 8.
Here’s what CBS had to say about Johnson’s first month at Kentucky:
The Wildcats haven’t been as good as expected right away, but Johnson’s done what NBA scouts were counting on. He’s been Kentucky’s most valuable and consistent freshman. Johnson briefly tapped into his dominant streak over the weekend when Kentucky erased a second half deficit at home vs. UNC Greensboro and went on to win by 17. Last season, UK didn’t have a freshman step up and be dominant. Johnson can fill that void in 2018-19.
I don’t disagree with anything that CBS said. Johnson is UK’s best freshman and probably the best overall player regardless of class. We saw UK take a step back when he exited the game on Saturday after hurting his ankle. UK needs Johnson and it’s fun thinking about how dominant he may be come March.
For the entire list of 10 CLICK HERE.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 05th, 2018 @ 11:00am
If you weren’t one of the fortunate souls at the WYMT Food City Mountain Classic in Hazard last night, you missed a miracle.
Down 46-44 to Harlan County, Perry Central’s Dylan Cornett threw up a 3/4-court prayer at the buzzer…and it went in.
Perry Central’s Dylan Cornett full court shot to win the game over Harlan County in the WYMT Classic. Pep section rushes court. Wow.
— Hometown Sports Corner (@WeAreHSC) December 5, 2018
If you’ve got some more time this morning, I recommend watching the entire 12-minute clip of the final moments of the game over at WYMT.com. It’s totally worth it.
By Nick Roush on ©December 04th, 2018 @ 9:30pm
If you think bracket projections are annoying before bowl season, wait until you see what Joe Lunardi’s got cooked up for the Kentucky Wildcats.
ESPN’s director of Bracketology has completed a new NCAA Tournament projection and it is not kind to John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats. A one-seed in Louisville at the beginning of the year, Lunradi dropped UK like it’s hot after their loss to Duke.
Kentucky is now a projected four-seed in the Midwest with Kansas as the region’s top overall seed.
No need to panic just yet. Kentucky’s still far away from the meat and potatoes of the schedule where they can prove to the committee they’re worth playing close to home in Louisville. Until then, check out the entire projection and direct all of your anger to Joey Brackets.
By Nick Roush on ©December 04th, 2018 @ 4:00pm
After another month of college basketball, Vegas has updated their National Championship odds. As expected, Kentucky did not remain near the top.
Shortly after the Cats suffered a lopsided loss at the hands of Duke, the favorites fell to 7/1. Even though they have not lost since, they’ve taken a backseat to the competition. Kentucky is now seventh at 16/1 to win the 2019 National Championship.
11/12/12 Current Odds (12/4/18)
Duke 2/1 2/1
Gonzaga 12/1 7/1
Kansas 8/1 10/1
Virginia 12/1 12/1
Michigan 60/1 14/1
Nevada 12/1 14/1
Kentucky 7/1 16/1
North Carolina 12/1 20/1
Tennessee 30/1 28/1
Auburn 50/1 30/1
Michigan State 40/1 30/1
Villanova 18/1 30/1
Syracuse 45/1 40/1
Texas Tech 125/1 50/1
Iowa Off the Board 55/1
Oregon 35/1 55/1
Purdue 90/1 55/1
Kansas State 100/1 60/1
Florida State 90/1 65/1
Virginia Tech 90/1 65/1
West Virginia 60/1 65/1
Cincinnati 90/1 70/1
Wichita State 55/1 70/1
Wisconsin 100/1 70/1
UCLA 45/1 200/1
Louisville 200/1 80/1
Maryland 125/1 80/1
Ohio State 125/1 80/1
Texas 125/1 85/1
Mississippi State 100/1 85/1
Indiana 45/1 90/1
Clemson 125/1 100/1
LSU 125/1 100/1
In the odds for National Player of the Year, Zion Williamson is the 9/2 favorite, ahead of R.J. Barrett and Carsen Edwards at 11/2.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 04th, 2018 @ 1:00pm
Last week, PJ Washington’s pink shoes turned heads during Kentucky’s win over Monmouth. We’ve since learned that the shoes, Nike Zoom Rev II TB Promo Kay Yows, are PJ’s way of honoring his grandmother, Susie Tucker, who is battling breast cancer.
I spoke with PJ’s mother, Sherry, who said this isn’t her mother’s first run with cancer. In 2013, she was diagnosed with colon cancer and overcame it a year later, just two months before Sherry’s father passed away. A few months ago, Susie, who lives in Memphis, Tennessee, had a mastectomy and is now finishing up chemotherapy.
“She watches PJ’s games faithfully,” Sherry said. “She’s never been to a game at Rupp, so we’re hoping she feels better soon so we can bring her to one.”
Our hearts go out to Susie, Sherry, and their families. They should be proud of PJ for such a heartfelt tribute.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©December 03rd, 2018 @ 8:30pm
While cruising up to New York City in the legendary Van Issel, the KSR and Hey Kentucky! crew took a pit stop in Bristol, Connecticut to explore the ESPN studios.
Drew Franklin is a regular on the television show, but while Matt Jones was co-hosting his weekly ESPN NFL radio show, Hey Kentucky! needed someone to fill his spot for the day.
Coming out of retirement from his broadcasting career at LEX18, Ryan Lemond came in to pinch hit for the day. During his appearance, Drew and Ryan roamed the ESPN halls to find Stephen A. Smith’s office, say hi to Randy Moss, and make fun of Louisville.
Watch Ryan pretend like it’s 1996 again:
You can watch the entire episode below:
Ryan Lemond back in the television studio for weekly spots on Hey Kentucky?