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A Look Back At The Misleading Blue-White Games Under John Calipari

matthews-blue-white

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about the Blue-White games over the years, it’s that, though fun to watch, they can be very misleading. Fans should not take tonight’s game as a sign of what’s to come in 2017-18. Too many times we’ve seen guys explode for a ton of points, only to disappear within the offense during the regular season.

That’s just how it works: the Blue-White game is merely a dress rehearsal to showcase what weapons Calipari has at his disposal for the upcoming run.

And, unfortunately, the game has a history of being a very inaccurate indicator of how individual players will perform when the score matters.

Take a look back with me, if you will.


2016


Last year’s game was the appetizer to what was ahead from Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox. The two guards combined for 57 points, while Isaiah Briscoe led the way with 39 points on 14-of-30 shooting and a game-high 10 assists.

Mychal Mulder’s night was the most misleading (if there was a misleading performance last year) with 18 points on 4-for-5 shooting from outside.

Watch the highlights:


2015


The 2015 Blue-White game saw the White team snap a 13-year losing streak to the Blue. Starting for that White squad were Tyler Ulis, Mychal Mulder, Charles Matthews, Marcus Lee and Skal Labissiere; and for the Blue we saw Isaiah Briscoe, Jamal Murray, Derek Willis, Alex Poythress and Isaac Humphries.

Labissiere led both sides with a game-high 18 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. We never in a million years thought his season would go the way it did, with the hype surrounding him after that first scrimmage.

Alex Poythress, Charles Matthews and Jamal Murray weren’t far behind in scoring with 17 points each, then Isaiah Briscoe with 16, Derek Willis with 14 and Marcus Lee and Tyler Ulis with 10 apiece. It was the most evenly distributed scoring in a Blue-White scrimmage under Calipari.

Other notables:

— Poythress hit 3-of-4 three-pointers.

— Tyler Ulis’ 15 assists gave us a preview of what was to come.

— Attendance of 15,007 was the second-highest in Blue-White history.

Watch the highlights:


2014


The 2014 Blue-White game was, without question, the most competitive of its kind. That one featured the two “platoons” and came after the Cats had already played games against professional teams in the Bahamas. You could say it was one of the toughest games they played all season, and it was against each other.

Karl-Anthony Towns, who had 20 points and 13 rebounds, said afterward, “It’s just scary to think that the other team is actually part of our team.”

Devin Booker was the leading-scorer with 22 on 9-of-11 shooting, with his only two misses coming on his only two three-point attempts.

Other notables:

— The Harrisons combined for 34 points for the Blue team in the win.

— Dakari Johnson showed off a new, leaner physique. He had 13 points and 14 rebounds playing for both sides, but missed eight of his nine free throw attempts.

— Brian Long went 1-for-1 from outside for his three points.

Watch the highlights:


2013


The Cats opened our eyes in the 2013 edition of the Blue-White game and had several fans (me included) thinking absurd thoughts about what that team was capable of doing. Of course, things didn’t pan out the way we had hoped during the regular season, but the end result was a trip to Dallas for the Final Four.

James Young led all scorers in the 2013 intrasquad scrimmage, tallying 25 points for the Blue squad in a dominant offensive performance. Defensively, he gave us all false hope with several hustle plays and a game-high seven steals.

For the White team, Derek Willis took MVP honors with 21 points and eight rebounds. The Kentucky boy was 5-for-6 from downtown, leading everyone to wonder if Kyle Wiltjer would be missed at all. Willis hit one three-pointer in the regular season.

Other notables:

— Julius Randle matched Willis’ 21-point, eight-rebound outing.

— Aaron Harrison added 19, including 3-of-4 from downtown

— Dakari Johnson recorded a double-double with 16 points and a game-high 11 boards, playing for both the Blue and White teams.

— The Blue team started four freshmen: Andrew and Aaron Harrison, James Young and Julius Randle, alongside Willie Cauley-Stein.

Watch the highlights:

 And how can we forget E.J. Floreal dunking on Julius Randle? Play of the Game:

 Randle said, “He got me.”


2012


2012 gave us the UK debuts of Willie Cauley-Stein, Nerlens Noel, Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress, Ryan Harrow and Julius Mays, the only Kentucky team to not reach the NCAA tournament under John Calipari. Goodwin was the game’s leading scorer with 32 points, but he needed 22 shots to do it. That selfishness was a taste of what we’d see from Goodwin that season, although he was the only one trying to make something happen at times, as you remember.

Other notables:

— Willie Cauley-Stein and Nerlens Noel combined for 12 blocks in the game.

— Jon Hood scored 17, exposing the poor defense of a sophomore Kyle Wiltjer.

— Wiltjer scored 28 points with nine rebounds.

— Alex Poythress scored 25, while Ryan Harrow posted 20 and a game-high six assists.

— Goodwin missed a free-throw to send the game to overtime.

Watch the highlights:


2011


Terrence Jones stole the show in 2011, a game that included six future NBA players, by scoring a record 52 points and hauling in 16 rebounds. After the scrimmage, Calipari told reporters, “Terrence Jones right now, I’ll tell you, if there’s a better player in the country, I’ve got to see him. Maybe that guy’s in our gym. I don’t know. But if there is somebody better than Terrence, I’ve got to see it.”

Little did Cal know — or maybe he did — Anthony Davis would soon become the best player in the country and lead Kentucky to the national championship the following spring. Davis scored a quiet 27 points opposite Jones with 13 rebounds and four blocks for the White team.

Other notables:

— Doron Lamb scored 31 points for Jones’ Blue team, while Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 21 with 10 rebounds and seven assists.

— For the White, Kyle Wiltjer chipped in 17 with five three-pointers to go with 24 from Darius Miller and 19 from Marquis Teage.

Watch the highlights Jarrod Polson dunk:


2010


One year before Terrence Jones made history for the most points scored, Brandon Knight set the record with 37 points. Knight out-shined the freshman version of Jones in the 2010 Blue-White box score, but Jones still put up big numbers with 29 in the win for Blue while showing off incredible versatility in his game. It was Knight who was the record-setter, but Jones was the talk of the state after their UK debuts.

Lost in the excitement of the new freshmen: Josh Harrellson hauled in 26 rebounds and earned a Twitter suspension a few days later. Jorts tweeted, “Just amazing to me I can’t get a good job or way to go.”

You may remember, the tweet almost sent him home from the Lodge. Cal was very close to kicking him off the team and the 2011 Final Four run never would’ve happened.

Other notables:

— Apparently no one had a YouTube account in 2010.

— Enes Kanter was not free; he sat courtside in an Undertaker t-shirt:


2009


The first Blue-White scrimmage under John Calipari gave us the most shocking individual Blue-White performance of Cal’s era, and maybe ever.

In a game that showcased three current NBA max deal players and five other future leaguers, the leading scorer was none other than one Darnell Dodson. Dodson scored a game-high 26 points, one better than John Wall’s 25 and two better than Patrick Patterson’s 24. He went on to average just under six points per game before transferring to Southern Miss after the season.

Other notables:

— Wall added 11 assists to his 25 points.

— DeMarcus Cousins fell just shy of a double-double with 16 and 9.

— Eric Bledsoe scored 14 with nine assists, splitting time between the two teams.

— A record 14,060 fans showed up for a first glimpse at the new Cats and Cal’s Dribble-Drive offense.

Darnell Dodson, ladies and gentlemen.


Bad guy DeMarcus Cousins wins NBA Community Assist Award

To those who don’t really know him, DeMarcus Cousins is a terrible person and the bad guy in the NBA.

But to those who do, DeMarcus Cousins is as kind and as generous as anyone in the league, which is why we’re not surprised Cousins is the recipient of the inaugural Offseason NBA Cares Community Assist Award.

The award recognizes an NBA player for his work in the community from the end of one regular season until the start of the next. This past summer, Cousins participated in numerous charitable events in Alabama, New Orleans, Sacramento and South Africa, including “Boogie’s Block Party” in his hometown of Mobile.

“Giving back to those in need is something that has always been a big part of my life,” Cousins said in a release. “The NBA has given me a unique platform that helps me connect with the people I really care about in the community. I am so thankful for this recognition and extremely blessed to have the opportunity to touch people’s lives.”

Go Boogie.


Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

BBNBA: Dakari Johnson’s NBA debut and first points

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Last night only featured three total NBA games. However, as usual, there were multiple former Kentucky Wildcats to look for in the action, as four UK guys took the floor.

As it pertains to UK fans, the most important was probably Dakari Johnson getting his first regular season NBA minutes, points, rebounds, and steal. The guy has worked so incredibly hard to earn his way on to the Oklahoma City Thunder roster and the BBN should be extremely proud to call him one of our own.

Numbers:

 

PlayerResult PointsFG (3FG)Reb.Ast.StealsBlocksTOs+/-Mins.
Enes Kanter105-84 loss to Thunder105-10 (0-1)71304-2122
Dakari Johnson105-84 win over Knicks42-3 (0-0)40100+03
Patrick Patterson105-84 win over Knicks00-2 (0-2)00001-17
Julius Randle108-92 loss to Clippers94-8(0-1)61012-2518

 

Highlights:

Schedule:

  • Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers, 7pm ET
  • Cleveland Cavaliers at Milwaukee Bucks(DeAndre Liggins), 7pm ET on ESPN
  • Atlanta Hawks at Charlotte Hornets(Malik Monk, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist), 7pm ET
  • Portland Trail Blazers at Indiana Pacers(Alex Poythress), 7pm ET
  • Detroit Pistons at Washington Wizards(John Wall, Jodie Meeks), 7pm ET
  • Orlando Magic at Brooklyn Nets, 7:30pm ET
  • Utah Jazz at Minnesota Timberwolves(Karl-Anthony Towns, 8pm ET
  • Sacramento Kings(De’Aaron Fox, Skal Labissiere, Willie Cauley-Stein) at Dallas Mavericks(Nerlens Noel), 8:30pm ET
  • Golden State Warriors at New Orleans Pelicans(Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Darius Miller, Rajon Rondo), 9:30pm ET on ESPN
  • Los Angeles Lakers(Julius Randle) at Phoenix Suns(Devin Booker, Eric Bledsoe, Tyler Ulis), 10pm ET

@BrettBibbinsKSR


The Funkhouser Situation: Episode 7

Chris Tomlin and Lee Cruse are back for another excellent edition of The Funkhouser Situation.  KSR’s pop culture podcast touches on a variety of topics from the week, including…

 

—  Are the new Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees any good?

—  Take ’em or leave ’em: which Hollywood celebrities they can live with and without.

—  Is Taylor Swift fun to hang out with?

—  Netflix series recommendation: Mindhunter.

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 “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.


KSR is at the Bluegrass Stockyards (Friday Show Thread)

KSR is at the Bluegrass Stockyards (Friday Show Thread)

Get ready for a wild show from the Bluegrass Stockyards as Matt and Ryan talk sports from inside the ring. The radio tech on site told me, “It’s gonna be a show that’s talked about for a while.”

They have lots to give away, too.

Join in on the fun by calling (502) 571-1080 or send a text to the KSR Texting Machine at (859) 300-3264.

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Love surprises? The mystery sale is here at the KSR Shop!

Love surprises? The mystery sale is here at the KSR Shop!


The KSR Shop and Kentucky Branded are having a mystery sale! Who doesn’t love surprises.  Click on reveal the deal to find out your special surprise deal.

Now is the perfect time to stock up on warmer UK and KSR apparel for football and basketball season. Come check out our new KSR sweatshirts and plenty of other UK jackets and pullovers. The mystery sale is this weekend only at ShopKSR.com.

[Love surprises? The mystery sale is here at the KSR Shop!]


Today on KSR: It’s Blue-White Game Day!

Today on KSR: It’s Blue-White Game Day!

Hello, all. Welcome to Friday’s edition of the morning wake-up. Let me tell you some of what’s ahead for the day. Sound good? K.

The Blue-White game is tonight.

Can you believe it’s already basketball time? I can’t. I’m all worried about Kentucky’s football game at Mississippi State tomorrow and then basketball sneaks in to steal our attention for the night. Tickets are still available too, so you’d be crazy to not go see what John Calipari has for the upcoming season. Buy those tickets for five bucks each here.

GREAT NEWS: Jordan Jones, Charles Walker are back.

Mark Stoops had said he expects all players to be ready to go after the bye week, and now we know the two injured starters — linebacker Jordan Jones and wide receiver Charles Walker — are indeed ready to go tomorrow.

One negative piece of injury news, though: Jordan Bonner will miss significant time at linebacker. Boogie Watson will now move back over to the outside to relieve him.

Come live blog with us tonight.

Basketball live blogs return tonight at 7 pm with the Blue-White game and then we’ll do it again tomorrow at 4 pm for the football game. This is our busy season as the two sports cross paths and we hope you’ll join us as we grind it out.

Dan Wetzel: “Rick Pitino fails in first interview after being fired.”

Read Wetzel’s opinion here.

The new Free Money Podcast came out last night.

Get your fix:

Free Money with Matt and Drew: Episode 8

This is not a good look for Julius Randle.

KSR is at the Bluegrass Stockyards.

Today’s show is at the Fayette County Farm Bureau at 4561 Ironworks Pike Lexington. The guys are there for two hours of live KSR with a ton of giveaways for fans who attend.

Go Cats.


This Weekend at Keeneland, presented by Pocket Aces Racing

Message from our sponsor:

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The third weekend of October marks the last full weekend of racing for Keeneland’s fall meet.  The weather forecast looks perfect, and you can take off after the feature on Saturday and still get home in time to catch the second half of Kentucky’s game at Mississippi State.  Here is a preview of some of the most interesting races of the weekend:

Friday’s 6th race is a maiden special weight for three-year olds and up going a mile and an eighth on the main track.  This looks like a good spot to play against the two likely favorites and hope for a decent price in the first leg of the pick 5.  Commandeering and Fireball Shot are 2/1 and 5/2 on the morning line respectively.  They are a combined 0 for 18 to begin their careers.  I always prefer horses in these experienced maiden races that do not have such a proven record of failure.  Total Cooperation cost Midwest Thoroughbreds over half a million dollars at the 2015 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.  A colt by two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Tiznow out of a stakes winning daughter of Belmont and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, A.P. Indy, he was bred with stamina in mind.  He stretches out around two turns for the first time, and trainer Tom Amoss wins 30% of the time under such circumstances.  With enough speed to secure good position from the outset, Total Cooperation looks like decent value at that 5/1 morning line or better.

The 7th on Friday drew an overflow field of turf sprinters.  Each of the ladies in the main body of the field has earned over $100,000 in her career thus far.  It is a very deep field, and the winner could come from anywhere.  There is a rather provocative jockey move worth noting.  Fair Point is a deserved 3/1 morning line favorite.  She has earned nearly $470,000 in her career and is a Grade 3 winner.  She was the runner-up, beaten just a neck, in the Grade 3 Franklin Country here last fall and exits a troubled 4th place effort in the Kentucky Downs Ladies’ Sprint where she finished just a neck behind Morticia, who won this year’s Franklin County just one week ago.  The Smart Strike mare has been ridden by Jose Ortiz in each of her 19 career starts.  Yet Ortiz (who rode Browse to victory in Wednesday’s feature for Fair Point’s trainer Shug McGaughey) takes off the 3/1 favorite to ride 20/1 shot Dreamin for Mike Maker in this spot.  Dreamin is a stake winner on the dirt and exits a middle of the pack 5th place effort in a starter allowance at Kentucky Downs.  She is 0 for 3 lifetime on the grass.  Ortiz has been one of the best young riders in the country over the last several years and you have to believe he knows something about this filly that we cannot see on paper.

Race 8 features a solid field of 10 first level allowance runners going 8 1/2 furlongs on the main track.  If Total Cooperation does win race 6, that bodes well for Battle Colors, who beat him by nearly 4 lengths in his debut at Churchill last month.  Battle Colors has the look of a horse that could turn into something quite nice.  He was purchased at the OBS March 2yo Sale last year for $240,000, a large sum of money for any horse, but particularly for one by the stallion Biondetti, as his 2yos averaged only $29,000 this year and his yearlings average less than his advertised $4,000 stud fee.  Tom McGreevey, bloodstock agent for owner Fox Hill Farms, has one of the keenest eyes in the business, and this horse broke his maiden first time out in a very professional manner.  He has a solid local breeze in preparation for this start and appears capable of taking another step forward.  If Fireball Shot wins the 6th, that speaks well for Tarpon Bay Road, who beat that rival several weeks ago at Churchill.  It took him 8 starts to break through with his maiden victory, but he made a big step forward that day and deserves a shot in here.  Uncle Mojo looks like he might have the speed to wire this field, though he may be less keen than in his previous starts as Todd Pletcher removes the blinkers for this start.  Gain Ground is another interesting prospect.  The Tapit colt is making his first start on dirt and adding blinkers – both are high percentage plays for trainer Eoin Harty.  Cedartown is another that merits strong consideration.  He has never been worse than 2nd in 4 prior starts and has improved markedly in his last two starts once stretched out to two turns.

The Grade 3 Valley View for 3yo fillies on the turf is Friday’s featured event.  Fault gets the top nod in here as she beat many of these when winning the Pucker Up at Arlington.  She followed that up with a very good 3rd in the Grade 2 Sands Point where she was just over a length behind La Coronel who captured the Grade 1 QEII over this track last weekend.  I’m Betty G has ample speed and could be very dangerous if left alone in front under Julien Leparoux.  Chastise returned from an extended layoff with much improved form when taking a first level allowance field at Saratoga in August.  She faces stakes company for the first time coming in off the preferred 8 week break for Pletcher.  Lovely Bernadette must be respected on the basis of her last two stakes efforts which include a win at Indiana Grand.  She has shown significant improvement since making the switch to grass over the summer.  Dolce Lili is the dark horse in here for turf czar Chad Brown.  It’s difficult to put too much into her wins at Monmouth as the competition was undoubtedly lighter than what she will face today, but disregard Brown in a turf stake for 3yo fillies at your own peril.

Image result for keeneland

Photo courtesy of Keeneland

The late pick 4 on Saturday kicks off with a full field of 12 (plus 2 also-eligible) signed on to contest a 7 furlong maiden race for two-year old fillies in the 7thElusive Truth put forth a solid 3rd place effort in her debut at Churchill last month.  Expect improvement in her second outing for the Asmussen barn.  She appears to have the speed necessary to gain a nice tracking position just behind the expected pace setter Princessof the NylAmerica’s Tale ran 2nd to next-out Grade 1 Alcibiades winner Heavenly Love two starts back over the undulating turf course at Kentucky Downs.  She moves back to the dirt here, but given her pedigree you have to wonder whether she prefers the grass.  Palmilla Moon is eligible to improve with the addition of Lasix for her second start.  She has two good morning works over the Keeneland surface as well.

Twelve fillies will take to the post in Saturday’s 8th race, a 5 1/2 furlong turf sprint.  Smiling Causeway is a logical morning line favorite.  She was runner-up to Grade 3 Franklin County winner Morticia three starts back in a stake at Laurel, and she’s never been worse than second in her 5 lifetime starts.  She faces a tough task in this spot as there are several others signed on that will look to apply pressure up front from the outset.  Cherry Lodge, Touch of Bling, and Delphinia all possess an early turn of foot, and the pace scenario may prove more favorable for a horse that can move from the middle of the pack.  Excessivespending scored a facile victory in her turf debut at this distance two starts back at Ellis.  She followed that up with a credible 4th in the Indiana Grand, and you can trust Julien Leparoux to work out a nice stalking trip.

The Grade 2 Raven Run is Saturday’s featured 9th race for 3yo fillies going 7 furlongs on the main track.  Tequilita may go favored, and deservedly so.  She broke her maiden here at this distance last October, and she’s 3 for 4 lifetime going 7/8ths – with the only loss being a 3rd place finish in the Grade 1 Test.  However, the daughter of Union Rags is far from a lock in this spot as there are a number of these at longer odds that are quite enticing.  Chalon owns arguably the best last race in the field.  She ran second against older fillies in the Grade 2 TCA on opening weekend.  The winner of that race, Finleysluckycharm, will be amongst the favorites in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.  Classy Tune and Miss Sunset have been holding their own in southern California and both will likely contribute to a contested pace.  Nonna Mela has tactical speed and should work out a nice stalking trip under Chris Decarlo for Todd Pletcher.  Pinch Hit has been in good form of late, winning 3 of her last 4 including the Dogwood Stakes at Churchill in her last start.  She came from near the back of the pack to mow them all down in the latter stages of that one and may well see a similar pace scenario develop on Saturday.  Overture won the Grade 3 Indiana Oaks for Bill Mott in July going wire-to-wire.  She cut back to 7 furlongs and found herself 13 lengths behind the leader at the first call in the bullring at Charles Town.  The daughter of Congrats made up more than 11 of those 13 lengths to finish 3rd, just over a length behind Tequilita.  She picks up Jose Ortiz for this engagement and rates as the top selection in this field.

The 7th race on Sunday features what looks like a very well intentioned debut runner for the Andrew McKeever barn.  Antarctic is a royally-bred son of Tapit being sent out for the Niarchos family’s international Flaxman Holdings operation.  His work tab includes several bullets, including a best of 50 gate drill in a blazing :59 flat.  McKeever only wins with 6% of his first-time starters, but this one certainly looks like he could fire fresh.

Sunday’s featured 8th race is the Grade 3 Dowager, a turf marathon for fillies and mares.  Grateful is the top choice.  She won 2 of her last 3 and most recently filled the place position, beaten just a neck in a Grade 3 at Saratoga.  The daughter of Hard Spun is lightly raced and therefore still eligible to improve against this more veteran group.  She has hit the board in all 8 of her starts and looks poised to take another step forward in her second start against graded stakes company.

Best of luck to all who find their way to the windows this weekend.  Check back next week as we close out the fall meet and spend some time with one of the best young trainers in the game, Brad Cox.

 


Hamidou Diallo: Calipari has “fallen in love” with the zone

Mark Zerof | USA Today

John Calipari famously hates the zone defense, but according to star guard Hamidou Diallo, he’s fallen in love with it after watching his team in practice.

“We’re definitely playing zone this year,” Diallo said. “Definitely. The length is ridiculous and we’ve been playing it great in practice and he’s just fallen in love with it.”

How can Hami tell?

“Every time we start playing in it and he just sees the length when we open our hands up and we just start covering different spots on the court so easily and he just starts smiling.”

Judging by the way Calipari casually dropped in a reference to that zone during his remarks, I’d say Hami is right.

“By the way, I put in a zone and it was 6-7, 6-6, 6-10, 6-9, 6-10 and it was so big,” Calipari bragged. “But we won’t play zone.”

Right.


KSR Top 10 Tweets of the Day

The one and only Big Mick is a meaty masterpiece in its own right. Composed of two quarter-pound patties* of never-fresh, frozen, mostly beef raised close to the processing plant. Only McDowell’s has the frosted beef and processed cheese to give you a major reason for the afternoon trip to the secret bathroom only you and Debra know about on the 9th floor that is under construction.


You can be a part of McDowell’s KSR Top 10 Tweets by using hashtags like #KSR #BBN or #KSRtop10. You can also nominate tweets by mentioning them with the hashtag. If we like what we see, it could be posted the next day.

If you are interested in sponsoring KSR’s Top 10 Tweets, please contact us at Via Email.

#10 lewispoore

A great picture of our MVP.

#9 banion

He’s the best.

#8 Daniel Slone

It took long enough.

#7 Terry Jordon

Bye!

#6 James Murray

Zombie Rick coming in hot.

#5 Patrick Shea

That seems about right.

#4 KY Mudder

*All of us before this morning’s show*

#3 KentuckyDude

That’s how you decorate a baseball bat!

#2 Freezing Cold Takes

Aw, poor thing.

#1 Brandon Harris

Huge congrats to the Harris family!


@MaggieDavisKSR


Photo by UK Athletics

Shai Alexander building case to start at point guard

Photo by UK Athletics

No player has garnered more positive buzz in the preseason than Shai Alexander. The 6-6 combo guard was recruited to play the two at Kentucky alongside Quade Green, but he’s been so good in practice as of late that’s he’s making a case to start at point.

“Oh yeah,” Cal said. “He could start [at point guard]. Quade’s doing fine, too, but they’re competing for [the starting job]. I would say, they’re both going to play.”

Part of the reason Shai stands out is his seven-foot wingspan, second only to Hamidou Diallo among guards in the Calipari era. Calipari says that wingspan is a game-changer on defense.

“With his wingspan and all that stuff, he’s really disruptive. Really disruptive.”

Wenyen Gabriel agrees.

“I’ve said it before. Shai, I really thought he surprised me over the summer and he just kept it rolling ever since. He’s really into this. His focus is right. He’s got the length, all you need. Cal tells him every practice, ‘You have a 7-foot wingspan.’ He’s a talented player and he can shoot the ball. He’s learning the game like the rest of us. We’re still putting the pieces together but I think Shai’s going to be a really good player. Whether he starts or not, he’s going to have a big role on this team.”

Like Calipari, Gabriel said Shai’s wingspan can be a catalyst for the Cats on defense.

“It’s an advantage, definitely, for the rest of us. He’s bothering the point guard, which makes it really hard for the other team to get into it. Our defense really starts with the point guard in that aspect. We all feed off of that.”

Hamidou Diallo agreed that Alexander’s competitiveness has stood out in practice.

“Shai can definitely play point guard,” Diallo said. “He’s a great player. He can play multiple positions, one or two. He’s been bringing it everyday. He’s very competitive. He and Quade have been battling it out everyday. Two great point guards going after each other. Both of them, I feel like, want to see each other play and they’re fighting for minutes.”

Solution: Quade plays point on offense, Shai guards point on defense.

For fun, check out a chart of the wingspans of the guards of the Calipari Era below:

Player Height (with shoes) Wingspan
Hamidou Diallo 6’5.5” 7’0.25”
Shai Alexander 6’6″ 7’
James Young 6’6.75″ 7’
DeAndre Liggins 6’6.25” 6’11”
Archie Goodwin 6’5.25” 6’9.5”
John Wall 6’4” 6’9.25”
Mychal Mulder 6’4.5” 6’8”
Isaiah Briscoe 6’2.5” 6’8”
Aaron Harrison 6’6.25” 6’8”
Andrew Harrison 6’6” 6’8.25”
EJ Floreal 6’4” 6’7.5”
Eric Bledsoe 6’1.5” 6’7.5”
Marquis Teague 6’2” 6’7.25”
Doron Lamb 6’4.75” 6’6.75”
Brandon Knight 6’3.25” 6’6.75”
Jamal Murray 6’4.25” 6’6.5”
Devin Booker 6’6.25” 6’6.25”
Dominique Hawkins 6’0.25” 6’5.5”
De’Aaron Fox 6’3.25” 6’4.5”
Malik Monk 6’3” 6’3.5”
Quade Green 6’ 6’2.5”
Tyler Ulis 5’9” 6’1.25”

10 Leftovers from SEC Basketball Media Day

10 Leftovers from SEC Basketball Media Day

© Christopher Hanewinckel | USATSI

Yesterday was “SEC Basketball Tipoff,” aka SEC Basketball Media Day, here in Nashville, and now that I’ve churned through the majority of the Kentucky content, I’m ready to reflect on the event as a whole. Simply put, it was a hot mess.

1. The setup was horrible

I had planned on bringing you guys a rundown of each team in the league; however, once I walked in the tiny meeting room they had us in, it became clear that wasn’t going to happen. The room was split in half, with one side set up as a “work room” and the other as the main media area, with small high top tables stationed around the perimeter. Throughout the day, coaches and players came through the room at staggered times, meaning at least two or three people were talking at once, leading to crowding around the small tables and mass chaos on the open floor. TV cameras, cords, tripods, microphones, and large, grumpy reporters were just a few of the obstacles you had to face while switching from one interview to another, and unless you were the height or an actual basketball player or could squeeze through gaps like Benny Snell, there was no getting close to anyone worth talking to.

Media gonna whine, I know, but being smushed up next to a total stranger with a photographer’s hot, smelly breath in your ear is not an ideal way to do anything (legal, at least). When you compare the setup to the palatial spread at SEC Football Media Days in Hoover, it is obvious that, to the league, basketball does not “just mean more.”

2. There was a literal stampede when Calipari walked in

As the day went on, it became painfully obvious how chaotic it would be once Calipari walked in. With no indication from the staff on where Calipari would be placed, reporters and photographers staked their claim around one of the open tables in hopes it would encourage officials to bring him to us. NOPE. At the last minute, they decided to put him across the room, leading to a literal stampede. TV cameras came crashing down as reporters scurried to get a front row spot. Like the nice dufus I am, I stopped to help a camera guy get his tripod and microphone off the floor, which meant I couldn’t even see Cal most of the time he spoke. As you can see in the picture at the top of the post, I ended up watching most of it on John Clay’s iPad (thanks, John!).

That close proximity made it easy for Calipari to reach out and jokingly pat down a few reporters for a wire, much to their enjoyment:

Enough complaining. Some good things…

3. There was free sparkling water!

And, like at any SEC event, all the Sunkist and Dr. Pepper you could dream of. I hear the lunch was also excellent (I’m still “eating clean,” which meant an unwich from Jimmy John’s down the block).

4. Andy Kennedy is a treasure

The only thing that makes this event worth it? Andy Kennedy. The longest tenured coach in the SEC always entertains, and yesterday, cracked several jokes about how dumb Media Day was (TRUTH!), how Kentucky’s always good, and Jerry Tipton. The best was when he was asked about Ole Miss’ beautiful new arena, the Pavilion, which replaced the old, dark “Tad Pad.”

“It is well lit. The AC works. I kind of like the darkness at times. I’m better in the dark. Bada Bing!”

LOL. Never change, Andy.

5. Pat Bradley’s accent fascinates me

The former Arkansas Razorbacks guard is now an analyst for the SEC Network, and, as we discussed a little last season, has the most bizarre accent. He was born in Massachusetts and lives in Little Rock now, so he’s got this weird Yankee twang that he turns on and off while on camera. He occupied an entire corner of the tiny room we were in, so we got to hear lots of his questions, which ranged from challenging Cuonzo Martin to one-on-one in Birkenstocks to how many times Ben Howland has seen Godfather and Godfather Part II (80 times). Unfortunately, this video doesn’t do it justice:

The best part when Bradley asked 21-year-old Riley LaChance how often he shaves. If you’ve forgotten, this is what Riley LaChance looks like:

Speaking of accents…

6. Admiral Schofield’s British accent needs work

The Tennessee big man was born in London, England (at the same hospital where Princess Diana gave birth to Princes William and Harry, in fact), but his British accent could use some work:

Kudos to him for being a good sport. He was the funniest kid we talked to all day.

7. Michael Porter, Jr. is a vegetarian

The first player I got to meet was the preseason pick for SEC Player of the Year, Mizzou’s Michael Porter Jr. Considering all the hype around him, I expected him to be a little cocky, but he couldn’t have been nicer. The most interesting thing about him? He’s a vegetarian and always has been, and is now in the process of becoming a vegan. Thanks to some help from a chef from England, Porter and his family — including younger brother Jontay, who reclassified to join Michael at Mizzou — are switching to a raw vegan diet in hopes it will help their on-court performance.

Whenever you hate on Porter this season, remember that, unlike other college kids, there are no late night Taco Bell runs for him. Or real cheese. Have you had fake cheese? For your sake, I hope not.

8. Bruce Pearl couldn’t comment on the FBI investigation

Former Auburn assistant Chuck Person faces six federal charges in the FBI’s investigation into bribery in college basketball. Not surprisingly, Bruce Pearl was asked about it, but couldn’t offer much comment.

“Under normal circumstances, if we weren’t a part of this ongoing investigation, you’d get a lot of comments from me about it,” Pearl said. “But I think because we’ve got something that’s ongoing right now, I just can’t offer my thoughts or opinions, and I hope you understand that.”

9. Everyone else did though

Kyle Tucker made it his mission to ask every coach if their program has been contacted by the FBI, and some took kinder to the question than others. The most annoyed? Frank Martin, who practically went after Kyle.

“Who are you? From? I don’t know if you followed what I said before: We are not under investigation, so since we’re not under investigation, we have no conversations with the FBI. I don’t want to be lumped into something that we have nothing to do with. Lamont worked for me. Lamont is under investigation. Lamont has not worked for me for over a year. We are not under investigation. So I don’t — I did all this; I’m not going to keep talking about the FBI when we have nothing to do with that.”

Yikes. Check out Kyle’s rundown of the other coaches’ responses by clicking here.

10. Wenyen Gabriel hasn’t been to Keeneland

I shared the most ridiculous observation for last. As Kentucky’s session wrapped up, a reporter who covers another team asked Wenyen Gabriel how he liked Lexington, specifically Keeneland. To our astonishment, Gabriel said he’s never been.

“I haven’t gone. Everyone tries to get me to go, but I just feel like I’m going to get bombarded right now. I’m going to wait until I’m not an amateur anymore so I can sit up in a box and do it right.”

Fair enough.


Matt interviews Reggie Thomas on “Hey Kentucky!”

Matt interviews Reggie Thomas on “Hey Kentucky!”

Tonight on “Hey Kentucky!”, Matt interviewed 6th District Congressional candidate Reggie Thomas. Learn more about why Thomas is running and his platform in the interview below:

For the full episode, which includes another visit from Ricky Jones, head on over to HeyKentucky.com.


Free Money with Matt and Drew: Episode 8

Matt Jones and Drew Franklin return to make picks for this weekend’s slate of college football games, but more importantly, KSR’s dynamic duo dishes on what’s gone down at the University of Louisville this week.  Highlights:

— Is Drew enemy #1 in Starkville?

— Matt reluctantly admits that he likes the new UofL assistants.

— What does Phil Steele brag about this week?

— How Drew feels about Tennessee football

— Famous alumni from Miami University in Ohio.  

— Matt offers an exciting giveaway for all loyal Free Money listeners.  

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 “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.


The Depth Chart Podcast: Mississippi State

After a brief break for the Bye Week, Freddie Maggard returns for another exciting episode of The Depth Chart Podcast to preview Kentucky’s road trip to Starkville.  On top of Freddie’s knowledge, the podcast got a little perspective from a superfan who knows the Bulldogs better than anyone.  Highlights:

—  The Cats and the Bulldogs are a lot closer than the Vegas line appears.

—  Freddie found few tendencies, except on critical third downs.

—  Tips for those traveling to Starkville (DON’T FORGET EARPLUGS!).

— Why this game looks a lot like the 2016 UofL game.

—  A Game of Thrones reference all nerds will enjoy.

Editor’s Note: Sorry about the interview quality. For unknown reasons it was on the fritz this week and adds a little too much pop.  Please persevere through it; I promise it’s worth it. 

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 “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.