Basketball Season Coverage
By Jack Pilgrim on ©August 10th, 2018 @ 10:45pm
Two games down, two more to go.
The 2018-19 Kentucky Wildcats are currently participating in their Big Blue Bahamas foreign trip, where they have taken down the Bahamas National Team and San Lorenzo de Almagro. Both games have been had in Kentucky’s favor by a significant margin, winning game one by a final score of 85-61 and game two 91-68.
It’s a trip that has (thus far) followed in the footsteps of Kentucky’s 2014 adventure to the Bahamas, where they played a total of six games, coming away with victories in five. Their lone loss came against the Dominican Republic National Team, a unit comprised of grown men and numerous professional basketball players. Even in defeat, the Cats looked like juggernauts at the college level.
It was step one of what developed into one of the most historic seasons in college basketball history.
And by the looks of things, at least as shown in their most recent edition of the Big Blue Bahamas trip, we could be in for yet another special season.
So the Cats obviously play two fewer games this time around, so the comparison will be Kentucky’s first two games this year and their first three games of 2014.
Dominican Republic national team (participated prior to 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. Ranked No. 26 in the FIBA World Rankings at the time)
Puerto Rico national team reserves
Champagne Chalons-Reims Basket, a French first-division club team
Game One vs. Puerto Rico – 74-49 victory (Aaron Harrison was the leading scorer with 15 points, followed by Karl-Anthony Towns and Alex Poythress with 10 points each)
Game Two vs. Champagne Chalons-Reims Basket – 81-58 victory (Towns led the team with 19 points and 10 rebounds, Poythress added 16 and eight. Eight Wildcats finished with at least five points)
Game Three vs. Puerto Rico – 93-57 victory (Poythress led Kentucky with 15 points and 10 rebounds, Marcus Lee added 14 points and seven rebounds. Four players finished with 10-plus points)
Average margin of victory: 28
Puerto Rico was arguably Kentucky’s easiest opponent of the week, so the stats are slightly skewed. It was the reserve team, and the Cats dominated accordingly. CCRB kept it relatively close for a while in game two, though the Cats pulled away easily. It was the first time John Calipari experimented with the platoon system, rotating in five players at a team in four-minute increments. Trey Lyles and Willie Cauley-Stein sat out due to injury, so we didn’t even get to see the capability of the full roster at the time.
Calipari did a ton of roster mix-and-matching, seeing which rotations worked the best and which players had chemistry with one another.
Much more dunking, highlight plays than we’ve seen thus far in 2018.
Bahamas National Team (No. 59 in FIBA World Rankings)
San Lorenzo de Almagro (Three consecutive championships in the Argentine National League (2015–16, 2016–17, 2017-18), Super 4 Tournament champion in 2016-17)
Mega Bemax (Deemed “European Kentucky” for its ability to put players in the NBA, Serbian Cup Champion in 2016, semifinals last year, NBA star Nikola Jokic played with the team before heading to the states, six NBA draft picks over the last three years)
Team Toronto (Top select Canadian players put together by coach Roy Rana, led 2019 U19 Canadian team to the gold medal at the FIBA World Championships)
Game One vs. Bahamas National Team – 85-61 victory (Nick Richards led the way with 19 points, with Tyler Herro not far behind with 16. Keldon Johnson added 11 points, while PJ Washington scored 10. Nine players finished with 16-plus minutes)
Game Two vs. San Lorenzo de Almagro – 91-68 victory (Tyler Herro led Kentucky with 22 points, followed by PJ Washington with 15. Six players finished in double figures, eight players with 16-plus minutes)
Average margin of victory: 23.5
Though Coach Cal swears he will never run a platoon system again, he has been rotating in two or three players at a time this year, even with Jemarl Baker out both games and EJ Montgomery out game two. It may never be a full five-in, five-out like 2014-15, but he has the talent to do massive rotations, and he’ll likely come close at times. It wouldn’t surprise me to see three or four-man rotations as the season progresses.
Compared to the 2014 Bahamas trip, this team has been more team-oriented, working on crisp passing and efficient play. Less “highlight” plays, more fundamental basketball.
Like 2014, we are soon finding out this team rises up against elite competition and has little to no weaknesses. Calipari is experimenting with three-big lineups, small-ball, and more. He knows this team will be talented and versatile.
I’d argue this schedule is tougher than the last trip down, specifically with tomorrow’s opponent, Mega Bemax. That will be a major test for the Cats.
Part two will be released following Kentucky’s fourth game on Sunday afternoon.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©August 10th, 2018 @ 7:00pm
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Believe it or not, the Big Blue Bahamas trip is already halfway through.
Today, our photographer Dr. Michael Huang found his way onto the CATamaran with the basketball team, where he was able to snag some exclusive footage for KSR.
The end result is pretty awesome.
Take a look at the Kentucky team bonding boat trip through Dr. Mike’s lens:
We got some videos, too:
— Michael Huang (@DrMikeUK) August 10, 2018
For the entire photo gallery, check it out below:
By TJ Walker on ©August 10th, 2018 @ 4:30pm
Kentucky assistant Joel Justus told Jon Hale of the Courier0-Journal that Ashton Hagans will be a “really, really good,” once he figures out one thing- playing without the ball.
In an exclusive with the CJ (READ THAT HERE), Justus notes how Hagans has only known how to play with the ball, but once he becomes comfortable playing off the ball he can become a special player for his college and future NBA careers. Remember, Hagans should be enrolling in his senior year of high school and now he’s helping lead the best team in college basketball.
“He’s going to be really, really good when he figures out what to do when he doesn’t have the ball,” Justus said. “Ashton has always played with the ball. You know what? If I was coaching him in high school and on the grassroots circuit, I would have put the ball in his hands as much as possible, but that’s not what it’s going to be in the NBA. “What we’ve got to do here is train him and get him used to playing with other really good players, playing off the ball, being ready to attack when he gets the ball and then being ready to catch and shoot so he’s a threat as much with the ball as he is off the ball.”
The rest of the article is a good read about Hagans’ development, why the Cats recruited him and what else Hagans likes to do on the court. Check it out on the off day before Hagans and the boys return to the court tomorrow.
Hagans will become more comfortable as his career progresses, but it’s awfully impressive how far along he is defensively.
By KSR on ©August 10th, 2018 @ 12:00pm
You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast feed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.
Today’s episode is brought to you by:
By Nick Roush on ©August 10th, 2018 @ 11:00am
Kentucky basketball fans who could not make the trip to the Bahamas did not get to see all of the Cats’ match-up with San Lorenzo del Almagro. When the power outage knocked out the SEC Network, cameraman Daniel Dunston rose to the occasion.
You may have seen some of Matt’s Periscope, but that cannot compare to Daniel’s excellent camerawork. Enjoy 41 minutes of Kentucky basketball that only few could see until now.
The Cats are enjoying some well-deserved time off the basketball court.
To celebrate Kentucky’s only day off in the Bahamas, the team hopped on a boat to cruise the Caribbean for some much needed R&R. A perfect time to take a nap, John Calipari is making sure nobody wakes up with a sunburn.
Coach Cal isn’t wasting a beautiful day to sleep.
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) August 10, 2018
Cue The Lonely Island.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©August 10th, 2018 @ 8:00am
It’s been several hours since Kentucky’s 91-68 win over San Lorenzo de Almagro and I’m still wired. It’s late here, but I can’t sleep yet, so allow me to share my thoughts on one of the wildest, most unpredictable and giddy nights I’ve had in some time.
When the lights went out, this team turned on
Kentucky looked good when the lights were on, but they came alive when Tyler Herro shot them out. When asked if they would like to call the game with Kentucky up 18 points, the players refused, insisting the game go on. I was in the pool of reporters interviewing Tony Barbee after the game, and he impressed the significance of the moment, telling us that in the four years he’s been part of the staff (including the 38-1 season), he’s never seen a more competitive group.
That’s no more reflected than what happened a few hours later, when…
After the big win, players went BACK to the gym
Quade Green started a trend. After the sophomore guard went back to the court to shoot for two hours following Kentucky’s debut, his teammates followed. Tyler Herro went to the court for two hours Thursday morning, and last night, PJ Washington, Immanuel Quickley, Jemarl Baker, and Keldon Johnson joined them:
— Darrell Bird (@DarrellBird) August 10, 2018
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) August 10, 2018
I realize it’s August, but this bodes well.
What happened when the cameras went off
Matt periscoped most of the happenings when the power went out, but a few things worth noting:
- Dan Dakich and a group of children appeared on the court to conduct an impromptu coaching clinic. Seth Greenberg joined them and the broadcasting duo had the kids run up and down the court, which was a little odd, but well-intentioned, I guess?
- John Calipari announced the game would go on without the TV cameras. Old school manual scoreboards were brought in and the announcer notified teams on the PA system when there were 10 seconds on the shot clock.
- Tom Leach called all the action via cell phone. He is a true professional.
- The SEC Network blamed Matt and KSR for it all for some reason.
- Maybe I shouldn’t have asked for those power strips.
I’m impressed by Tyler Herro on and off the court
Through two games, Tyler Herro has 38 points (13-21 FT, 4-8 3PT, 8-8 FT), which could easily go to a freshman’s head. On Wednesday, Herro shrugged off his growing mantle as the fan favorite, and when asked again last night, he warmed up to it a tiny bit.
“I hope I’m a fan favorite but I’m just going to continue playing my game and have fun with my teammates,” Herro said.
For as confident as Herro is on the court, he seems humble off it, which is a very good thing.
A post shared by Kentucky Men's Basketball (@kentuckymbb) on
As you can see in the clip above, Herro did the three goggles AND Devin Booker’s reload motion after his threes last night. Keldon Johnson also broke out Jamal Murray’s bow and arrow. Honoring past traditions?
Dr. Mike’s gallery is awesome
How fun is this team? See it for yourself in Dr. Mike’s photo gallery on Facebook:
Big Blue Nation turned up in force in paradise to watch the Cats whip a tough Argentinian pro team SLA 91-68 in the…
I’m not sure what to make of the short-sleeved hoodies.
No basketball today
Today is the blessed day off in the Bahamas, so the team will take a cruise on a catamaran and most of the media plans to take a cruise down the
lazy rapid river. Before we get to that, listen to two hours of KSR starting two hours from now. Given last night, this is can’t miss radio.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©August 09th, 2018 @ 10:25pm
When the lights went out at the Imperial Arena with just under three minutes left in the first half, a decision had to be made: keep playing or call the game. Kentucky was leading 45-27 at the time, so the easy choice would be to call it a night and go enjoy the Atlantis. Not this squad. Tony Barbee told reporters afterwards that the players refused to let the game be called.
“It was hard, the lighting was bad, there was no scoreboard, but it tells you a lot about this team,” Barbee said. “There was a debate going on between the coaches and the people running the event about not playing the second half. Our guys were like, ‘Let’s play. We want to play. We want to finish.'”
Quade Green said the team wanted to play so badly they were willing to do it by flashlights from fans’ cellphones.
“We just wanted to play in the dark. They’re going to have to turn their flashlights on and we’ll play out there. It doesn’t matter.”
Green, who spent two hours in the gym last night after a shaky Bahamas debut, said tonight proved how much this group just loves to play basketball.
“Everybody’s out there hungry and everybody wants to make it. They love basketball. That’s one thing I can say about everybody in this locker room. Everybody loves basketball, from the coaches to the players to the managers.”
Fellow sophomore PJ Washington agreed.
“We didn’t know what was going on. We just wanted to keep playing. Cal said they were going to call the game, but we were just like, ‘No.’ We wanted to keep playing…We just love to play the game of basketball.”
“We were just in the groove, like we’ve been saying for a while, playing against each other,” Tyler Herro said. “Playing against other competition, another team, was something we’ve really been looking for all summer.”
The power outage started shortly after Herro hit his third three, prompting the obvious joke that the freshman shot the lights out. Herro finished with 22 points off 7-10 from the floor, 4-5 from beyond the arc. Yesterday, he was 0-3 from three-point land, and credited today’s hot hand to — you guessed it — extra hours in the gym.
“Just getting to the gym early this morning, getting up shots, much like Quade did. I think spending time in the gym helped me get my shot together.”
When Herro’s hot, it opens up the floor for everyone, so PJ Washington said a priority going forward will be getting the freshmen the ball.
“We talked about him, like he’s shooting the lights out. I don’t remember him missing any of them. We’ve just got to let him keep shooting. We’ve got to keep finding easy ways for him to score. We’re confident in him.”
Exhibition games are rarely memorable, but tonight’s could go down in Kentucky Basketball history as a testament to this group’s competitive nature. Barbee has been on Kentucky’s staff since the 2014-15 season when the Cats went 38-1 and told reporters tonight that this group is the most competitive he’s coached during his time at Kentucky.
“They love to play,” Barbee said. “They love to compete. In the four plus years I’ve been here, I’ve never seen a more competitive group. They compete in practice against each other almost to the point of fighting but it’s a good competitive. It’s just their spirit and they get along off the floor, but when they get a chance to compete against somebody, they’re playing to win.”
By Nick Roush on ©August 09th, 2018 @ 10:01pm
Kentucky had no trouble defeating the reigning Argentinian champions. There were a few technical difficulties along the way, but still plenty of fun moments worth re-watching in Kentucky’s 91-68 win over San Lorenzo de Amalgro.
By Nick Roush on ©August 09th, 2018 @ 9:56pm
You might have missed a good chunk of the game, but Dr. Mike’s camera captured all of the action. See what all went down during Kentucky’s 91-68 win over San Lorenzo de Almagro in game two of UK’s Bahamas tour.