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Doug Gottlieb is apparently interviewing for the Oklahoma State job

Today in “Strange,” college basketball analyst Doug Gottlieb is reportedly interviewing for the Oklahoma State head coaching job, according to Jeff Goodman:

Gottlieb has worked for ESPN and CBS, and he recently agreed to a deal with Fox. He does not have any college coaching experience, but sources told ESPN that athletic director Mike Holder is intrigued by the idea of Gottlieb and his potential.

The Oklahoma State job is now open after Brad Underwood left to become the head coach at Illinois after only one season. Gottlieb is an Oklahoma State alum and has been mentioned for the job in the past. Oddly enough, as Goodman notes, the news comes on the same day that Gottlieb started his new job with FS1.

Trading working with Cowherd to being a Power 5 college basketball coach with no experience? Sounds just crazy enough to happen.


LaVar Ball takes shots at UK’s chemistry and De’Aaron Fox (for real this time)

(Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports)

(Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports)

LaVar Ball may not have called Friday’s game with Kentucky a tune-up for the Final Four like we thought, but as predicted, he continues to run his mouth. This morning, ESPN’s Ian O’Connor interviewed Ball, father of UCLA star point guard Lonzo Ball, and he actually DID take some shots at Kentucky and De’Aaron Fox ahead of Friday night’s game. (For real, this time.)

“I already said UCLA will win the national championship, and I’m not going backwards on it now,” Ball said. “With Zo, the chemistry that UCLA has is better than what Kentucky has.

Fox got the best of Ball in December’s matchup, with 20 points, 9 assists, and 2 turnovers to Ball’s 14 points, 7 assists, and 6 turnovers, but Ball Sr. sounds confident that won’t happen this time around.

“He can’t mess with Zo,” Ball said of Fox. “You can have 40 points and Lonzo can have two points and make the game winner, and I’m going with him. You had more points, but look at who won the game. I guess [Fox] really didn’t outplay him. It’s a team sport. All my boy is worried about is his team winning.”

Ball also said that his son should go first in the NBA Draft, while De’Aaron Fox isn’t top five material.

“I don’t know if he’d be in the top five of the draft for me. I want a bigger, stronger guy.”

More from Ball, including why he plans to have his younger sons attend UCLA “even if you put in Bobo the Clown in as coach” over at the Worldwide Leader.

[ESPN]


The 7 most important parts of Calipari and Stoops’ contract extensions

The 7 most important parts of Calipari and Stoops’ contract extensions

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If you missed the post directly below this one, UK just extended John Calipari and Mark Stoops’ contracts by two years. The extensions will keep Calipari at Kentucky through the 2023-24 season and Stoops the 2022 season. There’s A LOT going on with each deal, so I spent some time boiling each down to the most important parts, starting with Calipari’s:

1. John Calipari isn’t getting a raise

Normally, when you think contract extension, you think raise, but it’s important to note that for Calipari, the extension is just that. Cal was already scheduled to begin making $7.75 million next season and $8 million in the 2018-19 season; this deal just extends his old one by two years.

2. The only incentive in his contract remains the APR incentive

One of the unique things about John Calipari’s contract is, that while most coaches have incentives, such as payouts for making the tournament, winning championships, etc., he only has one: meeting the school’s mark for the Academic Progress Rate, or APR. In fact, this extension raises that APR threshold from 950 to 975 beginning next season. What does Calipari get if his players meet the mark? $50,000.

3. In 2022, he and the AD will meet to see if they need to raise his salary

While Calipari isn’t getting a raise, the amendment adds a compensation review in June 2022, when he and the athletic director will meet to determine whether or not he should get a raise. If they decide he should, a new amendment (and perhaps a new extension) will be negotiated.

4. Calipari can leave UK without paying anything

Always of note is the buyout clause. While UK would owe Calipari $5 million if they decided to terminate his contract, it’s worth pointing out that should Cal decide to leave, he would owe the school nothing. That’s not new.

5. If UK wins 7, 8, or 9 games, Stoops’ contract extends another year

Not only is Stoops extending his contract two years, if the Cats win at least seven and no more than nine games in a season, the terms of the agreement will extend one year; if UK wins ten or more games, it will extend two years. For each additional automatic extension year, the total guaranteed compensation will increase by $250,000 from the immediately preceding year.

6. Look at all these incentives

By the 2022 season, Stoops will be making $4.75 million/year, but the real change to his contract comes in the incentives. He will make…

  • $50,000 if the football team wins six games and participates in a non-SEC affiliated bowl game
  • $100,000 if the football team wins six games and participates in an SEC-affiliated bowl game
  • $100,000 if the football team participates in the SEC Championship Game
  • $200,000 if the football team wins the SEC Championship
  • $200,000 if the football team participates in a “New Year’s Six” bowl game (Rose, Sugar, Orange, Cotton, Fiesta or Peach)
  • $300,000 if the football team participates in a CFP semifinal game
  • $400,000 if the football team participates in the national championship game
  • $500,000 if the football team wins the national championship

These incentives were already included in Stoops’ contract, but are worth mentioning:

  • $250,000 for each win beginning with the seventh win of each season
  • $50,000 per semester in which the team grade-point average is 2.75 or higher

7. Stoops now has a buyout

As I determined last fall, there was no buyout clause in Stoops’ old contract, meaning if he left UK on his own volition, he wouldn’t owe the school a dime. That has changed. Should Stoops decide to leave, he would owe UK $1 million, while if UK terminated the agreement, they would owe him 75% of the remaining guaranteed compensation on his contract.

To view Calipari and Stoops’ contract extensions for yourself, click the links below

 


Photo via USAToday

BREAKING: John Calipari and Mark Stoops agree to two-year extensions on their contracts

Photo via USAToday

Photo via USAToday

Here’s some excellent breaking news. UK just announced that John Calipari and Mark Stoops have both agreed to two-year extensions to their contracts. The amendment to Calipari’s contract extends his deal from March 30, 2022 to March 30, 2024, while the amendment to Stoops’ contract extends his deal from June 30, 2020 to June 30, 2022. Calipari will make $7.75 million for the 2017-18 season and $8 million for each season thereafter. Stoops’ contract provides for total guaranteed compensation of $3.5 million for the current year. The total increases $250,000 in each successive year, including the two years added as part of this amendment.

“John has achieved consistent championship-level performance at Kentucky,” Barnhart said. “No one in America is better suited for everything that comes with being the coach here. Not only has he attained incredible success on the court, he is also a leader in our community and in college basketball. We have been blessed to have him and Ellen here for the last eight years and we are blessed they will continue to call Kentucky home.”

“The last eight years at the University of Kentucky have been a terrific ride,” Calipari said. “This extension shows our full commitment to each other. I believe this school is the gold standard and I’m so thankful and blessed that this university has given me this opportunity at this point in my career.”

“The last four years have been a grind for Mark and his staff, but he has never wavered in his commitment to building Kentucky football into a consistent winner,” Barnhart said. “While the work isn’t close to finished, we believe Mark is the coach to take us there. We are thankful to Mark and Chantel for all they have done to this point and we look forward to our program’s bright future under his leadership.”

“I want to thank Dr. (Eli) Capilouto, Mitch Barnhart and the Board of Trustees for their continued support,” Stoops said. “When we came here, doing a rebuild in a challenging situation, I said that full support from everyone involved was imperative and we have always received that.  We needed great commitment, we’ve had great commitment and we’re continuing to get great commitment.”

Interestingly, the only incentive included in Calipari’s contract is related to the Academic Progress Rate, or APR. This amendment increases the threshold for the incentive from 950 to 975 in single-year APR beginning with the 2017-18 season. The bonus will remain unchanged at $50,000.

While Calipari’s contact extension doesn’t include a raise (he was scheduled to start making $8 million/year in 2018-19 anyways), the amendment does adds a compensation review in June 2022, at which time he will sit down with the athletic director to “evaluate market conditions related to the compensation of other intercollegiate coaches.” Should they determine he’s not making enough compared to other coaches, a new amendment will be negotiated.

As for Stoops, the amendment to his contract includes an automatic extension opportunity, so that if the football team wins at least seven games in a season but no more than nine, the term of the agreement will extend one year. If the football team wins at least 10 games, the term of the agreement will extend two years. For each additional automatic extension year, the total guaranteed compensation will increase by $250,000 from the immediately preceding year. The incentives in his contract have also changed. Stoops will receive…

  • $50,000 if the football team wins six games and participates in a non-SEC affiliated bowl game
  • $100,000 if the football team wins six games and participates in an SEC-affiliated bowl game
  • $100,000 if the football team participates in the SEC Championship Game
  • $200,000 if the football team wins the SEC Championship
  • $200,000 if the football team participates in a “New Year’s Six” bowl game (Rose, Sugar, Orange, Cotton, Fiesta or Peach)
  • $300,000 if the football team participates in a CFP semifinal game
  • $400,000 if the football team participates in the national championship game
  • $500,000 if the football team wins the national championship

These incentives were already included in Stoops’ contract, but are worth mentioning:

  • $250,000 for each win beginning with the seventh win of each season
  • $50,000 per semester in which the team grade-point average is 2.75 or higher

If UK terminates Stoops’ contract for convenience, they will pay him 75% of the remaining guaranteed compensation on the contract. Should Stoops terminate the contract, he will pay UK $1 million. Meanwhile, should UK terminate Calipari’s contract for convenience, they will owe him $5 million.

But that’s not gonna happen. Congrats, guys.

Calipari Contract Terms Stoops Contract Terms


WATCH: Anthony Davis predicts Kentucky will beat UCLA by “at least” 12

WATCH: Anthony Davis predicts Kentucky will beat UCLA by “at least” 12

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Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday may play for the same team now, but on Friday, they’ll be cheering for opposite sides when Kentucky takes on UCLA. In that spirit, the folks at Pelicans.com put together this fun video of the two talking trash, although it might be the mildest trash talking I’ve ever seen.

“We kind of owe UCLA,” Davis said. “They beat us early in the year in Rupp, which we don’t take too kindly. We’re going to see them Friday and try come back and beat them when it counts.”

“We’re not worried,” Holiday, who played for the Bruins from 2008-09, said.

Davis wore his Kentucky jersey into the Pelicans arena on Sunday to support the Cats and said he will again on Friday.

“It’s not going to be a hard game,” Davis. “It’s going to be pretty easy for us. We’re going to win by at least 12. We’re going to win by at least 12. I think we’re locked in. We’ve got a lot better players.”

Holiday, whose little brother plays for the Bruins, came back at Davis by mentioning all of UCLA’s great shooters, to which Davis quipped, “Who, the Ball kid?”.

Honestly, I’m more partial to Davis’ trash talk back at the McDonald’s All-American Game in 2011. But, I hope he’s right.


Bruce Pearl: “I’m concerned for Kentucky”

Bruce Pearl: “I’m concerned for Kentucky”

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Normally, Bruce Pearl has nothing but nice things to say about Kentucky and John Calipari, but for some reason this season, he’s not very high on the Cats, despite the fact that they beat Auburn by 20. Last month, Pearl said Florida was the only SEC team he thought could make a run in the NCAA Tournament, and this morning, he casted some more doubts on Kentucky’s chances vs. UCLA. On The Dan Patrick Show, Pearl said he was “concerned” about Kentucky vs. UCLA and the Cats must defend better or the Bruins will blow them out.

“Well, the good news for Kentucky is they’re defending better than they’ve been defending and that’s always been the key to John Calipari’s teams in the sense that he’s going to have incredible talent, they’re going to play very unselfishly, they’re going to play fast so you have to be really good in transition defense. Fox is incredible pushing the break. Bam Adebayo is a freak athlete. Monk being as inconsistent as he’s been from the perimeter is a concern, but the one thing that John Calipari has them doing now that they haven’t done all season long is defend and if they don’t do a better job of defending UCLA, UCLA’s going to put 100 on them and run away from them. But, Kentucky did defend well against Wichita State, they had to kind of grind that one out.”

“In the first meeting, Lonzo Ball did not play well. He had 7 assists, 6 turnovers. UCLA turned it over 18 times. They’re not going to do that in the second match. The last two times UCLA has played Kentucky, they’ve put up a lot of points and shot 53%. I’m concerned for Kentucky. If they don’t defend better, they’ll get beat, and it could be a good margin.”

So, to beat UCLA, Kentucky has to defend better. Also, water is wet, but he has a point. To listen to Bruce’s comments yourself. click the link below, go to hour two, and fast forward to the 27:15 mark. He also defends LaVar Ball.

[The Dan Patrick Show]


Bing predicts Kentucky will beat UCLA

Bing predicts Kentucky will beat UCLA

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KenPom predicts Kentucky will beat UCLA by two, while FiveThirtyEight’s fancy algorithms give the Cats a 68% chance of beating the Bruins to advance to the Elite Eight. Another computer model is also feeling good about Kentucky’s chances on Friday night. According to Bing, Kentucky has a 53% chance of beating UCLA:

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How did Bing come to this conclusion? By using its intelligent machine-learning technology to analyze social and search signals, plus more than a decade of college hoops statistical data, per its website. Per Bing, the Cats will win because they commit far fewer turnovers and fouls than the Bruins. That seems like an overly simplistic breakdown of this game, but hey, I’ll take it.

[Bing Predicts]

UPDATE: As “IstandUPatGames” notes in the comments, Bing apparently uses the rule of 71. See, it is real!


Jay Bilas: Kentucky is the third best team left in the tournament

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A while back, we gave our pal Jay Bilas some grief when he didn’t list Kentucky among his seven teams that could win it all. Bilas eventually added the Cats to that list, but after the first weekend of games, he’s feeling even better about Kentucky’s chances. In the latest “Bilas Index,” Bilas ranks Kentucky third among the teams left in the tournament behind North Carolina and Kansas.

“The Wildcats are playing much better defense, which was the only thing standing in their way of being a title winner,” Bilas writes. “Bam Adebayo has 28 rebounds in the NCAA tournament, the most in the field and the most through the first two rounds of an NCAA tournament in Kentucky history. Adebayo is the third Kentucky player to have a double-double in each of his first two career NCAA tournament games (Julius Randle in 2014, Frank Ramsey in 1951).”

All of that is great, but as Bilas points out, Kentucky still has “the toughest draw of the No. 2 seeds” ahead of them, starting with a rematch with UCLA and another potential rematch with North Carolina in the Elite Eight. Speaking of the Bruins, Bilas ranks them fifth. Fellow SEC brethren Florida and South Carolina come in at #13 and #16, respectively.

Check the rest out at ESPN Insider.


Photo by @JoshEllisCI

Wednesday’s Top 10: Packing for Memphis

Photo by @JoshEllisCI

Photo by @JoshEllisCI

One of the best parts about March are the signs and banners that pop up around Lexington when Kentucky makes a run. As you can see above in this picture by Josh Ellis, they’re starting to show up around campus. This is a tradition KSR wholeheartedly encourages, so please send us pics; and for those of you making them, be creative. It’ll be tough, but if we’re lucky, we’ll get one that tops this 2014 classic:

With that good mojo in mind, let’s roll through today’s agenda.

1. The team leaves for Memphis

After a few days in their own beds, the Cats are off to Memphis for the Sweet 16, which means John Calipari is returning to the city he used to call home. Calipari has been back to Memphis on his own accord since leaving the Tigers, but this will be the first time he’s returned with his squad. Eight years later, Memphis fans are still bitter over Calipari’s departure, so his return to the city is definitely a story going in to the weekend. Cal still has plenty of friends in Memphis, so I expect for him, it will be a happy homecoming. He’s used to tuning the haters out anyways.

2. Part of the KSR crew leaves for Memphis as well

Matt, Ryan, Drew, and Shannon are also taking off for Memphis this afternoon, and if the Cats play their cards right, they won’t be back in the Bluegrass until Kentucky wins the national championship. Meanwhile, I’ll be making the three-hour trek to Memphis on Thursday morning because I want one more night in my TempurPedic bed before switching to whatever mattress they have at the Holiday Inn in downtown Memphis.

3. Coming to Memphis Thursday? Come to the open practice

John Calipari and players will address the media at 2:30 p.m. CT on Thursday and take the court at FedEx Forum from 3:00 to 3:50 p.m. CT. It’s free and open to the public, so if you’re in the area, come on out. We’ll see you there.

4. KenPom has the Cats winning

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If you believe in KenPom, maybe this will give you an extra boost of confidence going into Friday, although, man, that’s a slim margin. I’m going to take solace in the fact that UCLA’s defensive efficiency is 76th, while Kentucky is 8th because that makes me feel better about it.

5. LeBron James joins the anti-LaVar Ball camp

While LaVar Ball may not have said Kentucky is merely a tune-up game for the Final Four for his son’s Bruins, he’s still said a lot of dumb stuff recently, and yesterday, the most famous basketball player in the world told him to keep his family’s name out of his mouth. After Ball said that his sons are set up better for future success than LeBron’s children, James responded.

“Keep my kids’ name out of your mouth, keep my family out of your mouth,” James said. “This is dad to dad. It’s a problem now.”

LeBron James strikes me as someone you don’t want to be your enemy. As we’ve said a lot, I feel for Lonzo and his brothers.

[Sports Illustrated]

6. Rajon Rondo got his 6,000th assist last night

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After taking in the Kentucky/Wichita State game on Sunday, Rajon Rondo went to work last night, getting his 6,000th career assist (the fifth most among active players) in the Bulls’ 122-120 loss to the Raptors. Say what you will about Rondo, but that’s pretty impressive:

7. Vote for PJ Washington

The future Cat is up for The American Family Insurance ALL-USA Boys Basketball Player of the Year award and this poll on USA Today’s High School Sports site factors in, so do him a favor and vote, please:

Vote for PJ Washington For ALL-USA Player of the Year

Right now, he’s behind Marvin Bagley III and Trevon Duval, but the BBN has yet to meet a poll we haven’t dominated, right?

8. While you’re at it, vote for Malik Monk

Monk is one of 15 finalists for the Wooden Award, given annually to the top player in college basketball. You can help him win it by retweeting the tweet below:

You can also vote for Monk to win the Jerry West Award for the nation’s best shooting guard at HoophallAwards.com, so get to it.

9. The Unforgettable Fairytale

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Author Temple Stites has an exciting treat for UK fans that he would love to share with you today.

25 years ago, The Unforgettables inspired us all. That season, and the Greatest Game Ever Played, inspired a young father, who is a lifelong member of the BBN, to want to pass this story of grit and determination on to his young son.

Problem was, the little guy couldn’t yet follow basketball. He was more interested in knights, duels, and castles. So his dad decided to write an epic knight’s tale inspired by the Unforgettables.

“The Unforgettable Fairytale” is a new children’s book filled with heroic knights, jousts, a Tournament of Knights, honor and ultimately, redemption.

This is our story and I think you’re going to want to share this book with your kids and grandkids. And you’ve got to see how beautiful this thing is.

Please go to www.theunforgettablefairytale.com and use promo code KSR to save 10% off the book. That’s www.theunforgettablefairytale.com to share this inspiring tale with your little wildcats.

10. The winner of the KSR Best Callers Bracket is…

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JT! This proved to be a much more difficult decision than we all anticipated, and going in, I’m not sure we would have predicted the results, but matchups matter, right? Listen to The OTT Podcast to hear our reasoning. To listen, just subscribe to “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes or stream on Podbay.

Radio in an hour…


Mar 4, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Lavar Ball, father of UCLA Bruins guard Lonzo Ball (2), looks on in the stands before the game between the UCLA Bruins and the Washington State Cougars at Pauley Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

We Screwed Up

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This isn’t what I want to be writing late on a Tuesday night, but facts are facts. We at KSR screwed up earlier today by posting a post that attributed a quote to Lavar Ball about Kentucky being a “tune-up” game for UCLA in prep for the Final Four. As a journalist for the website “For The Win” discovered today, that quote doesn’t seem to have come from Lavar Ball at all, but rather is attributable to an anonymous Twitter egg that posted it earlier today. Normally we attempt to verify everything story or quote that we cite, but it is clear that process failed in this instance, causing us to make a mistake. Looking at the author’s story (which seems to be mostly correct, with one small error), it is clear that when our writers were researching the post, we didn’t do the due diligence necessary and for that, we apologize.

Looking into this tonight, it is fairly clear how it happened. Our writers saw a post on another UK blog that attributed the quote to Ball and said it came from a “LA Radio Show.” When they saw this citation, we went with the story without verifying it ourselves. That was a mistake. I personally wasn’t part of the decision but when I saw the post on the site, I tweeted out the link and that tweet caused it to be go viral nationally, putting more attention to the fake quote. It was a breakdown on a number of levels for us…from the decision to use the other UK blog as a source, to not verifying the quote ourselves to my decision to tweet it out without checking with the writers first. All in all, we all messed up and we apologize.

While we often joke on the radio show about “facts being optional” on KSR, the reality is that is just a joke and we strive for 100% accuracy. Over the years, I think we have a great record of being the best source for UK information, but mistakes like this aren’t acceptable. Especially on the heels of what went down in Indianapolis this weekend, we should have been much more careful than we were in this case and we clearly were in error. We apologize to Lavar Ball for spreading words he seems to not have said and to the readers and KSR fans for not doing our due diligence. We all make mistakes but considering time, subject and circumstance, this was a big one and we sincerely regret the error.


Why UK will beat UCLA on Friday

Why UK will beat UCLA on Friday

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Kentucky’s loss to UCLA back on December 3 was a much-needed wakeup call. The Cats had just blown out Arizona State in the Bahamas, a performance so impressive that Dan Dakich called it one of the best he’s witnessed in his entire broadcasting career. People were even bringing up the possibility of 40-0. But, UCLA came in and, for the second straight season, exposed Kentucky’s biggest flaws. At the time, Kentucky didn’t play defense, particularly the guards. There was no consistent production at the four spot. There was no discipline. The Cats were cruising by on sheer talent and the ability to run past people, and when faced with a team that was also talented and could also run, they balked. The final score was 97-92, but in reality, it wasn’t really that close.

Fast forward three and a half months and here we are, headed for a rematch in the Sweet 16. Oddly, I feel much better about Kentucky’s chances in this game than I did on Sunday vs. Wichita State. In fact, the more I look at this matchup, the more confident I get. Here’s why.

1. Kentucky plays defense now

Not only did Kentucky let UCLA score 97 points back in December, they let the Bruins beat them in every facet of the game, shooting 53% from the floor, 43.5% from behind the three-point line, and winning the rebounding battle 41-38. Clearly, Kentucky had the offense to compete with UCLA, but they couldn’t get enough defensive stops to take control of the game. We’ve ranted about this team’s defense all season, but here in the past month or so, it’s become one of their biggest strengths. The Cats held Northern Kentucky and Wichita State to 35.6% from the floor and averaged nine blocks and 35 defensive rebounds per game. That, from the same team that essentially let UCLA do whatever they please.

2. Malik Monk plays defense now

Malik Monk’s shot has failed him thus far in the postseason, but he’s channeling his frustrations and energy into the defensive end. Monk, notorious for his poor defense earlier this year, looks like a different player on that side of the ball now; the best example of that is his huge block with 13 seconds left vs. Wichita State that helped the Cats hang on for the win. Kentucky (and Monk) still get burned on straight line drives from time to time, but it’s really encouraging to see the improved hustle, energy, and — dare I say it — pride on the defensive end.

3. Monk is also due

Kentucky’s ability to win games without Malik scoring probably comes to an end this weekend. Bothered by a lower back bruise due to a hard fall vs. Arkansas, Monk has struggled to get his shot to fall all postseason, averaging 31.2% from the floor and only 20% from three-point land. Even though Monk warmed up a little towards the end of the Wichita State, there’s no denying how tentative and gun shy he looked at the start, which is so out of character for a player like him. Will almost a week’s rest get Monk back on track? You better hope so.

WSU-2006

4. Derek Willis is a different player

The mismatch that burned Kentucky the most in December was TJ Leaf vs. Wenyen Gabriel and Derek Willis. As Calipari said afterwards, Leaf dominated the game, putting up 17 points off 7-12 shooting, 13 rebounds, and 5 assists. Neither Wenyen nor Derek could contain Leaf, nor did they contribute much on the offensive end, combining for a paltry 13 points.

“I mean, what Leaf did, he basically dominated the game,” Cal said. “We had no one, unless I was going to go big lineup, which we haven’t done a whole lot, which shows me maybe we have to be prepared for that. But he killed us. Straight line drives, rebounds, making shots. We left him a couple times. He played.”

Leaf is still a great player, that hasn’t changed; but, what has changed is Derek Willis. Willis has become a rebounding machine, averaging 7.5 boards over his last eight games. You could always rely on Derek for a big three, but now that he’s attacking the boards and playing defense, Kentucky will rely on him to shut down TJ Leaf.

5. Dominique Hawkins is an integral part of the team now

One of the biggest changes since the UCLA game has been the rotation. Not only has Derek Willis replaced Wenyen Gabriel in the starting lineup, Dominique Hawkins has cemented his place as the team’s sixth man. Dom played 16 minutes vs. UCLA in December, finishing with only five points and one rebound. In the past eight games, he’s averaging 24.8 minutes, and although he may not fill up the stat sheet, his presence is undeniable, particularly on defense. It’ll be interesting to see whom Calipari tasks Dom with guarding on Friday night.

6. Kentucky’s more disciplined

As Calipari has noted time and time again, freshmen are freshmen…until they grow up. Kentucky’s grown up a lot in the past month. They’ve learned to win closes games by being patient and not panicking in the stretch. And, as Malik Monk told reporters on Sunday, the backcourt in particular has matured.

“We’re way more together (than we were in December),” Monk said Sunday. “At that point, we were individuals – somebody would try to take over the game by their self. We’re way more together, pass the ball around and whoever has the hot hand, get him the ball.”

7. Bam is better

Bam actually had a double double vs. UCLA with 18 points and 13 rebounds, but ten of those points came at the free throw line. All in all, Bam was 4-12 from the floor for 33% vs. the Bruins; in the past eight games, he’s averaging 63.5% from the floor, a much-improved clip. Bam will face a tough challenge in Thomas “Feathers” Welsh and Ike Anigbogu, but as his mama said Sunday night, Bam’s going to go at them. (Confession: I may have made this point simply so we can watch the clip of Bam’s mom again.)

8. LaVar Ball won’t shut up

In case you missed it earlier, LaVar Ball, Lonzo’s dad, kept running his mouth when it comes to Friday’s matchup, telling a Los Angeles morning show that Kentucky won’t be able to beat his son’s Bruins by running.

“Don’t try to beat them at running. You can’t outrun my boy. Don’t play that game,” Ball said. “UCLA has too many shooters. You give my boy all them shooters, you out of luck.”

Keep talking, LaVar.

9. Revenge

As we’ve gone over, Kentucky’s made a ton of improvements since December: defense, discipline, Derek Willis. But, the one reason I’ve more confident about this game than any other UK’s played in the postseason? The revenge factor. Thank goodness Wichita State was stupid enough to talk smack on Saturday because otherwise, I’m not sure the players would have “gotten up” enough to beat the Shockers. Motivation won’t be a problem vs. the Bruins. Not only is UCLA a prominent program whose star player’s dad won’t stop making headlines, they beat Kentucky in Rupp this year; for a group of young, talented kids, that’s the number one reason to come out of the locker room looking for blood.


Dan Dakich Joins Matt Jones on Hey Kentucky!

Dan Dakich Joins Matt Jones on Hey Kentucky!

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The Big Blue Nation’s favorite ESPN broadcaster, Dan Dakich discusses this weekend’s Sweet 16 matchup between UCLA and Kentucky with Matt Jones on Hey Kentucky!  Dakich calls it “the game of the weekend,” he shares who will be UK’s difference-makers, and he reveals what he thinks will happen with the head coaching vacancy at Indiana .

Watch the entire episode with Mary Jo Perino after the jump.

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Where will Malik Monk finish in the record books?

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With as many as four games left in his career, hopefully, Malik Monk could climb as high as third all-time for most points in a single season at Kentucky. The freshman ranks seventh and should pass Ron Mercer and Kevin Grevey in his next game. He already passed Jamal Murray for most by a freshman.

Name Season Games Points
1. Dan Issel 1969-70 28 948
2. Jodie Meeks 2008-09 36 854
3. Jamal Mashburn 1991-92 36 767
4. Dan Issel 1968-69 28 746
5. Kevin Grevey 1974-75 31 730
6. Ron Mercer 1996-97 40 725
7. Malik Monk 2016-17 36 721
7. Kenny Walker 1985-86 36 721
9. Jamal Murray 2015-16 36 720
10. Jamal Mashburn 1992-93 34 714

Monk also ranks fifth in three-pointers in a single season at Kentucky. Murray holds that record for most by a freshman with 113 made last year, which is likely out of reach for Monk.

Name Season Games 3-Pointers Made
1. Jodie Meeks 2008-09 36 117
2. Jamal Murray 2015-16 36 113
3. Travis Ford 1992-93 34 101
4. Derrick Miller 1989-90 28 99
5. Malik Monk 2016-17 36 97

Get hot, Malik!


KenPom predicts a very close game

KenPom predicts a very close game

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Friday night’s Kentucky-UCLA Sweet 16 matchup is a pick ’em out in Las Vegas and a one-possession game in KenPom’s Game Predictor.

I dialed up the fancy score generating machine to see what it predicts the outcome will be and it told me Kentucky will win a tight one, 88-86.

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We’ll take that.


The Power of Mojo: It’s Science

The Power of Mojo: It’s Science

 

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The first two rounds of the NCAA tournament are in the books and the Cats have managed to make it to the second weekend unscathed. It’s funny that we, as UK fans, look forward to March Madness all year and when it finally arrives, we are generally miserable. The crippling anxiety that the tournament brings causes us to behave in ways that are both bizarre and irrational. Our superstitious behavior during tournament time is a coping mechanism and almost all UK fans have their own unique superstition. For me, when the Cats really need me in a close game, I sit on the floor Indian style, a spot from which I do not move until the game is over. It’s silly, but it makes me feel as I have some control over the game. Ultimately, what I do in my living room has absolutely zero impact on how the Cats play…or does it?

Science actually may suggest our crazy superstitions aren’t quite as crazy as we think. Ok, we’re going to get a little weird for a moment, so buckle in. Quantum mechanics is one of the two theoretical frameworks that make up modern physics. My understanding of quantum theory is extremely primitive so please bear with me. Quantum mechanics, in a nutshell, is a theory of nature that deals with the behavior of subatomic particles. It allows for all kinds of outlandish ideas you’d never think were possible. One of these crazy ideas is the concept of the “Quantum Mind.” To explain this concept in detail would take much more than the space I’m allotted on this blog.  It is extremely complicated so for convenience sake it’s essentially how our consciousness determines the existence of everything we observe meaning if any form of matter in the universe hasn’t been observed by a conscious mind it literally cannot exist. It’s a tough one to wrap your head around so here’s a link to a video of a smart guy explaining it.

It’s about to get even weirder in here. Physicists have studied this “Quantum Mind” idea through experimentation using random number generators (RNGs) based on quantum tunneling that produce completely unpredictable sequences of 0’s and 1’s. When significant societal events occur, however, these RNGs have been observed to become slightly structured, meaning the sequences of 0’s and 1’s become more predictable. The odds of such a thing happening by chance is about one in a trillion, which suggests the human consciousness could have profound effects on the inner workings of our universe. Using this we can extrapolate that anything we do in any given instant may have an effect on another event occurring in the cosmos. I promise I’m in good mental health and not making any of this stuff up.

So what does all this scientific mumbo-jumbo mean to us Cats fans? Well, mojo could be a real thing, theoretically. I said earlier our superstitions act as a coping mechanism to the anxiety tournament games bring. They put us slightly more at ease. Now that we have this radical idea of the “Quantum Mind” at our disposal I would argue that our loyalty to our superstitions is a good thing. Our collective state of mind as a fan base alone, could theoretically have an impact on any single possession, shot, or even, bounce of the ball during the game. An uneasy mind during tournament time could be a fatal disruption in the universe which could result in a dreaded loss. Now, most of Quantum Mechanics is based on unpredictability and uncertainty, so it’s very unlikely that fans have any impact on the game’s outcome, but it’s possible! (theoretically)

You can believe in these theories or you can think they’re a load of crap, which they very well could be, but I’m willing to consider anything that gives Kentucky an edge in the tournament. I urge you to keep these ideas in mind for the games later this week. No matter how dumb, or irrational your superstition makes you feel, follow through and just do it for the Cats. Don’t be the reason we lose. Stick to your mojo and own it. You just might be the reason we win. It’s science, after all.


To get you through these tough few days without basketball, I made a nice SEC Tournament highlight video to curb your appetite. Nashville was a good time.

Here it is. Enjoy.