Jarred Vanderbilt has arrived, ladies and gentlemen. You can put all of your worries, doubts →
Basketball Season Coverage
Twany Beckham has forged quite the path for himself since his time at UK. Now, he’s sharing his story through a new website, which debuted today.
After suffering a back injury in his senior year, Beckham was forced to face a future without basketball, a struggle he documented in his 2013 book, Full Court Press – Conquering Adversity Under Pressure. Now an inspirational speaker and the Wellness Director for the Kentucky Employees’ Health Plan, Beckham plans to write regularly on his blog to share his unique perspective. Giving up on his dream of being a professional basketball player wasn’t easy, but as he writes in his first blog entry, he’s fallen in love with his new life.
I love planting the seed that inspires people to dream and go after those dreams with 100% dedication. Preparation, planning and a focus forward has turned into my main points of emphasis. It appears that no matter what leg of the journey your life is on, or whatever socioeconomic realm you fall into, a storm will hit you when you least expect it. The question will be – are you prepared for that storm when it hits? What pre-planning approaches have you taken? For me, I always made sure to take my schoolwork seriously and value every single relationship along the journey.
Congrats, Twany. Go check out his new website, TwanyBeckham.com and keep an eye out for his upcoming video series, “Behind the Life.”
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 09th, 2018 @ 11:45am
As expected, Texas A&M big man Robert Williams will play tonight after recovering from the flu; however, Jon Rothstein is reporting that Aggies junior guard Admon Gilder (meniscus) will likely also play. Duane Wilson (knee) is doubtful.
Gilder suffered the knee injury vs. Savannah State on December 13 and hasn’t played since. His absence, along with DJ Hogg (missed three games due to suspension), Robert Williams (one game due to illness), and Wilson (missed the last two games due to injury), has made the Aggies a shadow of the team once ranked fifth in the country.
Here’s how the Aggies have performed with and without Gilder, per Texas A&M’s game notes:
|Season||With Admon (10 games)||Without Admon (5 games)|
|Points Per Game||82.6||68.8|
|Opp Points Per Game||64.2||72.4|
|Opp FG Percentage||35.9%||42.0%|
|3-PT FG Percentage||39.4%||21.3%|
|Opp 3-PT FG Percentage||24.4%||40.8%|
In 10 games, Gilder is averaging 12.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 3.7 assists. Having him and Robert Williams back is a very big deal for the Aggies. The Cats better be ready.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 09th, 2018 @ 11:15am
Going to the Texas A&M game tonight? Remember to “Paint Rupp Blue and White.” Check out the seating chart above and wear the corresponding color.
Want to go to the game? Unbelievably, there are still tickets left on Ticketmaster. You should also take advantage of UK’s three-game mini-pack. Pick three of the following five weeknight games and you’ll have the chance to sit in exceptional 200-level seats at Rupp Arena.
- Mississippi State — Jan. 23
- Vanderbilt — Jan. 30
- Tennessee — Feb. 6
- Ole Miss — Feb. 28
That’s one heck of a deal. Click here and purchase your mini-pack while supplies last.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 09th, 2018 @ 10:30am
After a string of impressive performances, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is now considered a first-round NBA Draft prospect by ESPN.
Shai came down to Earth a little bit vs. Tennessee, but in the three games prior, he averaged 21 points and looked every bit the best player on Kentucky’s roster of NBA hopefuls. His scoring, hustle, and freakish seven-foot wingspan have sent his stock soaring. In his latest rankings of the Top 100 NBA prospects, Jonathan Givony bumped Shai from 47th to 26th.
Despite his recent slump, Kevin Knox is still 10th on the list, followed by Hamidou Diallo at 20th. Nick Richards fell from 28th to 44th, right ahead of PJ Washington at No. 45 and Jarred Vanderbilt at No. 46. Robert Williams, Texas A&M’s star big man Kentucky will face tonight, is No. 12.
Check out the entire list for yourself at ESPN.
Aggies Bring a Losing Streak to Rupp
Once ranked as high as No. 5 in the country, Texas A&M has lost three straight games and fallen out of the Top 25. The first loss was a brutal, unexpected 22-point loss on the road to an underachieving Alabama team. They then fell to Florida at home before Tremont Waters’ buzzer-beater handed the Aggies an upset loss at Reed Arena.
The Texas A&M team we will see tonight looks completely different than the team from the last three games. Dealing with injuries, a suspension and the flu, A&M has started seven different lineups in the last seven games. Tonight they are expected to be at full strength; of course.
Jarred Vanderbilt Update
For the first time, John Calipari gave an encouraging statement about the injured small forward’s progress. While lamenting his team’s toughness on his call-in show, Coach Cal gave unprompted praise for Vanderbilt’s contributions at practice.
“Jarred changed the practice today. He was so physical…It will be nice to get him back.”
Just when I had given up on seeing Vanderbilt this year, Cal does this? DON’T TEASE ME!
Tale of the Tape
TV, Radio, Vegas
The Cats are 7-point favorites at Rupp Arena. Dan Shulman, Jay Bilas and Laura Rutledge will be on the call for ESPN when the game tips-off at 7:00. You can get ready for the game when the KSR Pregame Show stats at 4:30 on 630 WLAP. That’s one place you can find Tom Leach and Mike Pratt’s call. You can also hear the game on Sirius-138 and XM-191.
Where to begin? The poor, heartbroken Georgia fans; the Alabama kicker who folded when the entire nation knew he would; the first National Title OT in 15 years; Tua time? Alabama’s come from behind overtime National Championship win was so incredible, it’s hard to be mad that the Evil Empire got another title. Enjoy all of the calls from what will become a timeless college football play.
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) January 9, 2018
And enjoy this catastrophic meltdown from a Georgia fan.
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) January 9, 2018
Josh Allen is BACK
The Kentucky outside linebacker is the first to officially announce he will return for his final season at UK. Viewed as a second to fourth round selection in 2018, he could jump into the 2019 first round with an excellent senior season for Mark Stoops’ defense.
How much does it help UK? Freddie believes Allen will become the school’s all-time sack leader this fall. That’s kind of a big deal.
Mike Edwards is expected to make a decision in the next day or two, just ahead of the January 15 deadline.
The KSR Football Podcast Recaps the 2017 Season
Freddie, Drew, Jared and I will pick up the mics this afternoon to record the KSR Football Podcast’s 2017 season review and we want to answer your questions. Tweet them @RoushKSR and I will make sure your voice is heard as we wrap up Mark Stoops’ second consecutive seven-win season.
Drive Safe, Folks
Currently in downtown Knoxville pic.twitter.com/POPmfXados
— Jon Arde (@jon_ard) January 8, 2018
By Jack Pilgrim on ©January 08th, 2018 @ 10:35pm
This afternoon, John Calipari reported injured five-star forward Jarred Vanderbilt is now practicing with the team, and looks pretty darn good.
In fact, Coach Cal said he had to change the way he ran practice and how the team operates because he was so impressive, proving the impact had to have been pretty substantial.
No one knows when he’ll suit up for Kentucky for the first time, but it’ll be sooner rather than later.
After the news, ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg sent out words of encouragement on Vanderbilt’s potential impact for the Wildcats.
“When I saw him this summer, I thought he was the most impactful player in the gym,” he said. “Rebounded, played hard, willing passer, had a floor game, and extremely unselfish.”
Greenberg was in attendance as a head coach in the John Calipari Fantasy Experience, an event KSR has the privilege of covering each year, and we actually got to see the open practices Greenberg is referring to. And he’s absolutely right.
After a rebound, Vanderbilt had the ability to grab the ball and take it from end to end for easy scores. His ball-handling was superb, and his length around the basket was extremely difficult to stop. When Hamidou Diallo, Kevin Knox, and Vanderbilt were on the same offense, the combination of length and athleticism was overwhelming for the defense.
For a team that dominates in the transition, Vanderbilt is the perfect addition.
Here’s what else he brings to the table:
Length on defense
Calipari told reporters at UK Media Day that Vanderbilt was the best shot blocker on the team, and his presence on defense was the biggest thing the Cats will miss in his absence. Usually known for his offensive skillset in high school, this news came as a surprise.
We didn’t see as much of that in terms of blocked shots in practice, but his ability to jump the passing lanes and make things difficult for the opposing offense was certainly there. With that, his team was usually able to convert forced turnovers into easy transition buckets.
As we’ve seen with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, defensive intensity has been the difference maker in several games this year. Adding in Vanderbilt for pass deflections, steals, and blocked shots will be huge for the defense, and in turn, help the offense.
Watching his highlight tapes from high school, the Lamar Odom comparisons are obvious. He’s smooth in transition and in the half-court offense. He loves the mid-range jumper, and as a result, defenders have to close out on his shot. With that, he’s able to draw fouls and head to the line, or extend over the defender to sink the jumper.
While healing his foot, Vanderbilt has been able to work on shooting and his stroke from the free throw line, just adding to his impressive arsenal on offense.
Most importantly, the Wildcats have had a bad problem with players disappearing in crucial times, including some rough cold spells from both Knox and Diallo. With Vanderbilt, the team has another option when things aren’t clicking for the offense to put points on the board.
He wasn’t a finished product when we saw him this summer, and he got a little shot happy at times, but he is a consistent threat to score whenever the team needs a bucket.
When the Cats got in foul trouble late in the game against Tennessee, Calipari had just six scholarship players at his disposal. You’re not going to win many games on the road like that.
With Vanderbilt, Kentucky has a cushion to work with no matter the circumstance. If a player is struggling, Calipari doesn’t have to force him into the lineup. Injury? There’s some coverage. Foul issues? Next man up.
Jemarl Baker still hasn’t practiced, but he’ll only help the cause when he gets added later in the year.
Depth is a concern right now, but with Vanderbilt, the Cats have a little bit of breathing room.
Long story short, Vanderbilt getting healthy is massive for the Cats on both ends of the floor, and the Big Blue Nation should be excited for his return.
Kentucky vs. Texas A&M is the marquee game in the SEC tomorrow night, and in turn, ESPN is sending its A Team. Dan Shulman, Jay Bilas, and Laura Rutledge will cover tomorrow night’s game at Rupp Arena, which will tip off at 7 p.m.
The last time Bilas was in Rupp was for the Harvard game, which Kentucky won 79-70. You probably remember it because he spent most of the second half talking about the Rupp Arena ice cream, which a cheerleader delivered to him during a timeout:
Hopefully tomorrow’s game goes well enough that Bilas can get distracted by the ice cream all over again.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©January 08th, 2018 @ 6:45pm
Thought Josh Allen’s news was awesome? How about some breaking news for the basketball team.
On tonight’s John Calipari Call-In Show, Coach Cal said Jarred Vanderbilt practiced for the first time today, and looked great in the process.
— UK Sports Network (@UKSportsNetwork) January 8, 2018
Calipari said he wasn’t sure when exactly he’d be back, but he said he was very physical today and would be a big help when he suits up for the Cats.
Cal confirms Jarred Vanderbilt is back on the practice court … and has been really good.
“Jarred changed the practice today. He was so physical. … It will be nice to get him back.”
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) January 8, 2018
The Cats always seem to be missing one key piece when they play, and I think they may have found it this afternoon.
Let’s do this thing.
After coming in at No. 21 in the AP Poll earlier this afternoon, Kentucky is No. 20 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. As in the AP Poll, the Cats are the highest-ranked SEC team, followed by Tennessee at No. 23 and Auburn at No. 24.
Fun fact: this is the first time Kentucky’s ever been ranked No. 21 in the AP Poll history. Neat.
Both polls side by side for your comparison:
|AP Top 25||USA Today Coaches Poll|
|1||Villanova (52)||14-1||1,611||1||Villanova (27)||14-1||770|
|2||West Virginia (12)||14-1||1,559||2||West Virginia (4)||14-1||724|
|4||Michigan State||15-2||1,390||4||Michigan State||15-2||679|
|8||Texas Tech||14-1||1,174||8||Texas Tech||14-1||525|
|11||Arizona State||13-2||1,036||11||Arizona State||13-2||449|
Vegas has spoken and Kentucky is six-point favorite in tomorrow night’s game vs. Texas A&M. The line opened at 6.5.
I know Texas A&M lost its first three games of SEC play, but with Robert Williams (illness) and Admon Gilder (knee) expected back tomorrow, you know the Aggies will play better than they have in weeks.
After missing Saturday’s game vs. LSU, it sounds like Texas A&M star Robert Williams will be back in the lineup tomorrow night vs. Kentucky.
On today’s SEC Coaches Teleconference, A&M head coach Billy Kennedy said he believes Williams will be able to play after recovering from the flu, but doesn’t expect him to be at full strength since he’s missed so much practice. The sophomore — who returned to A&M despite being a projected lottery pick — is averaging 8.4 points and 10 rebounds per game thus far this season.
The Aggies have also been hampered by injury. Junior guard Admon Gilder (knee) missed the last five games with a knee injury, while senior guard Duane Wilson (knee) missed the last two. Kennedy said he’s hopeful Gilder can return tomorrow night, but expects Wilson will still have to sit out. Meanwhile, leading scorer D.J. Hogg recently wrapped up a three-game suspension for an undisclosed rules violation. He scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds in A&M’s loss to LSU on Saturday.
With so many players out, the Aggies definitely got off to a rough start in SEC play, dropping their first three conference games, but as John Calipari predicted this morning, it sounds like they’ll be a few steps closer to full strength tomorrow night.
“Texas A&M has had injuries and illness so everyone in our league knows how good they are. They had, their guards were out for a while. Big man was out this last game with the flu. Robert [Williams] is one of the best players in our league, voted, I believe, Player of the Year preseason. My guess is they’ll all be back so it’ll be a different kind of game. ”
Yes, it will. Hope the Cats are ready.
After his team’s disappointing effort vs. Tennessee, John Calipari spent most of this morning’s SEC Coaches Teleconference talking about toughness.
“When you’ve got a bunch of young guys, it’s the last piece of this. It’s not skills, it becomes, will you battle?”
Calipari’s message to his team yesterday was talent is meaningless unless you have the toughness to maximize it. He echoed a lot of fans when he said that without toughness, some of these guys will not make it at the next level.
“I’ve seen guys who have advanced with less skills and less this, less that, yet they’ve fought and they lasted. Had 15-year careers. If you don’t fight, you’re not making it because it’s too competitive.”
Can we get MKG or Tyler Ulis to come give this group a pep talk?
Check out the transcript after the jump. (Someone asked a question about LSU, which I omitted.)
After an encouraging win over LSU and a very discouraging loss at Tennessee, Kentucky fell four spots to No. 21 in the new AP Poll.
In the wake of a tumultuous week in college basketball, Villanova is the new No. 1 team in the country, followed by West Virginia and Virginia. Crazy enough, the Cats are now the highest-ranked SEC team in the Top 25. Auburn makes its Top 25 debut at No. 22 and Tennessee comes in at No. 24. Arkansas and Texas A&M both fell out of the rankings after back-to-back losses.
|AP Top 25|
|2||West Virginia (12)||14-1||1,559|
Others receiving votes: Notre Dame 121, Florida 85, Texas A&M 62, Ohio State 29, Rhode Island 7, Michigan 5, Baylor 2, Nevada 2, New Mexico State 1, Georgia 1, Arkansas 1
Dropped from rankings: Texas A&M 11, Arkansas 22
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 08th, 2018 @ 12:00pm
How strong is the SEC this year? John Calipari thinks whichever team wins it can still have six or seven losses on their resume.
“This is a six or seven loss league,” Cal said on today’s SEC Coaches Teleconference. “You could lose six or seven and win the league. That’s what it looks like to me.”
“Teams we thought would struggle are leading our league. Teams you thought would be in the middle are up. Teams that have had issues as far as injuries and everything are taking a little step back but they’ll be back.”
A quick check of the standings:
If we follow Calipari’s logic that the SEC Champion will have six or seven losses, how many do you think Kentucky will end up with? Look at the rest of the schedule and leave your predictions in the comments.