Two of the all-time winningest programs in the history of college basketball will meet for →
Good news for your favorite boating enthusiast: according to John Calipari, Jon Hood returned to practice today. Hood has been sidelined with a head injury the past few weeks, but Cal was happy to report that he was back at practice this afternoon. No word on if he’ll travel to North Carolina.
Lake hair, take care.
Do you remember Teague’s struggles, or his play in the Final Four? Be fair to these freshmen–they could be Teagues.
Well, it hasn’t been easy going through the first few weeks of the basketball season, thanks in large part to “freshmen being freshmen.” It’s old hat by now; we know the drill. The shooters have been infuriatingly inconsistent, the defense has lapsed into stagnation, and Julius Randle still isn’t getting the ball enough. But whether or not they get it together (smart money and Rex Chapman both say they will), there’ll be some decisions to make at the end of the season. Randle is probably gone no matter what, but what does Dakari Johnson do? And Aaron Harrison, who might slip out of the lottery due to some small early struggles?
Who better to give them advice than a UK one-and-done who experienced similar struggles early on? Marquis Teague is that guy, and right after leading a comeback effort for the Bulls, he dropped a knowledge bomb or two to SNY.tv that our freshmen might be interested in:
It’s a difficult process, especially if you’re a late pick and going to a team that might already be good and you don’t get a chance to play right away. You’ve been playing your whole life and then you have to get used to not playing as much or at all. That’s tough to deal with if you’ve been ‘that guy’ your whole life. It’s a huge adjustment.
Sound familiar? All the guys on this team have been used to playing as the go-to guy on their squads. Coming to Kentucky has changed that, and there’s always a learning curve. But if the college curve is difficult, what will it be like in the NBA? Marquis Teague has had his run-ins with the D-League, and is only on the Bulls roster currently because of yet another injury to Derrick Rose. Is that what these guys want?
There’s obviously still a lot of time to work their way back into the lottery, but for anybody on this team not named Andrew Harrison, Julius Randle, and Willie Cauley-Stein, a second (or third) year might be the best thing for everyone. Still, there’s nothing saying that going in the late first round is terrible. According to Teague:
“I have no regrets on anything I’ve done. I feel like I’m on a good team, I’m developing and I still feel like I made the right decision.”
In a perfect world, we’d want these guys to play their way into the lottery, because it’s not only good for them–that sort of play typically means team success. That has to start Saturday against North Carolina, in their first true college road game.
Kennedy Meeks is a top freshman for the North Carolina Tar Heels but his bruising 6-9, 290 pound frame seems more suited for the gridiron than the court. Nevertheless, it surely sends folks in Chapel Hill back to the days of Sean May wearing the Carolina blue, and that worked out well for them. The four-star center from Charlotte has played solid minutes for the Heels this season, but none have been more solid than in the team’s two biggest upsets over Louisville and top-ranked Michigan State.
On the season Meeks is averaging just a little more than 14 minutes per game, and he’s using those minutes wisely, scoring 8.5 points per game and hauling in nearly 7 rebounds. To put that in perspective, Kentucky’s Dakari Johnson is averaging more than 10 minutes per game and he’s only logging 4 points and 3.5 rebounds in his time.
But what makes Meeks a concern this weekend is his performances against Louisville and Michigan State – two major upsets for the Tar Heels that nobody saw coming. Against U of L and MSU, Meeks averaged 21 minutes, 14 points, and 9.5 rebounds. That kind of production from a freshman off the bench might not seem like a big deal to Kentucky fans, but it is. Stopping Kennedy Meeks will be crucial for the Cats to come away with a victory in the Dean Dome on Saturday.
Meeks shoots at a high percentage in the paint and he gets to the line. In the two games against the Cardinals and Spartans, he shot at a .785 percent clip and got to the free throw line 11 times. In his other six games this season he only shot .642 percent and attempted 16 free throws.
In addition to offensive output, his big body allows him to excel at rebounding, and for such a big guy, he has excellent court vision. One of his strengths is lobbing outlet passes off a defensive rebound for a wide open, some might say cherry-picked layup. Meeks had a number of these against Louisville and he played a role in breaking the Cardinals’ press over and over again.
Meeks is short for a true center, so Cauley-Stein will have the height advantage in the paint, but Julius Randle may need to provide support to account for his girth. Watch for double-teams down on the low block, as Randle might have a hard time body-to-body. Cauley-Stein will need to help on the weak-side getting deflections with his long reach to neutralize the scoring threat.
The last thing the Cats need is for Kennedy Meeks to get going the way he did against Louisville or Michigan State. Kentucky cannot afford to lapse defensively, especially on fast-break opportunities. North Carolina is one of the quickest teams in the country and they thrive off easy buckets in transition. Meeks is a key to getting that part of their game going. In big games, it seems the Tar Heels go as Meeks goes; so he should be a priority for the Wildcats on Saturday.
By Drew Franklin on ©4:00 pm
Join us at Cobar (upstairs at Coba Cocina, 2041 Richmond Road, Lexington, KY) after 4 pm on Saturday to watch the UK versus North Carolina game and sign up to win one of 2 great prizes.
Simply purchase dinner, tapas, or one of our fantastic $5 handcrafted Wildcat or Blue Mist Margaritas and be entered to win: 1). UK Basketball tickets (awesome, lower arena tickets for the Belmont game on December 21st) and a $100 gift card to Coba, or 2). a $500 Genesis Diamonds gift card courtesy of Tom Leach and Genesis Diamonds.
These two drawings will be held on or by Monday, December 16th, and you do not have to be present to win.
Coba and Cobar…The place to be for UK Sports
— Good afternoon, Cats fans. How are we? Good, good. That’s great to hear. I hope you’ve all taken five minutes out of your day to listen to Chester’s radio call on KSR this morning. If not, you can scroll down to hear it in its own post. Chester is very passionate about UK sports, as we all know, and he’s worried the university’s focus on academics is taking away from athletics. He has several good lines in there, like the one about students who can “read fast,” my favorite from the call. I see several of you have taken offense to Chester’s complaining, but it’s best to just laugh at it. It’s quite funny.
— Another ICYMI: Our own Matthew Harper Jones started a discussion on The Cats Pause message board, asking for suggestions to improve the game experience for fans in Rupp Arena. If you think you have something to contribute, head over there and offer up your ideas and he’ll pass it all along to UK. You’ll need to create an account if you haven’t already, but it’s free and worth your time as we’ll be doing similar posts on the board in the future.
— The fine people at Sports On Earth, as opposed to Sports Off Earth, a very unsuccessful sister site, Kentucky is the best coaching job in college basketball. The author, Will Leitch of Deadspin fame, writes:
1. Kentucky Wildcats. Has only slipped into the this top spot in the last couple of years under John Calipari, and Robert Morris will remind you to wear the crown warily. Anyone who has ever attended a neutral court game involving Kentucky knows the power of this fanbase.
Kansas, Duke, North Carolina, Louisville, Indiana, Texas, UCLA, Michigan State and Syracuse make up the rest of the top 10.
— In football news, UK center Jon Toth has been named to the All-SEC Freshman team by the league’s coaches. Shout-out to Jon for the honor.
— For you New York Cats fans out there, Saturday’s game watch party with NYC UK alumni has been moved to Merrion Square on 2nd Ave @ 95th Street. The fun will return to Jack Demsey’s for the Belmont game. Plan accordingly.
— If you’re gonna do it, do it in the wrong basket…
James Young is not impressed.
— It looks like North Carolina is going to be without P.J. Hairston for Saturday’s game. If you had told me that before the season, I would’ve laughed hysterically in your face. I guess P.J. won’t be back for Kentucky.
— Today’s podcast comes to you from Courtesy Acura in Lexington where Matt Jones and Ryan Lemond recorded today’s show and gave out UK tickets and a signed John Calipari Stadium Frame print. Have a listen on TalkRadio1080.com.
You’re looking at the “White-Out” t-shirt fans in the Dean Dome will receive when they arrive to Saturday’s game. It’s a Jordan brand tee with the words “Take Flight” underneath the logo.
Quick question… Why do teams have a “White-Out” for big games? It just makes the away crowd stand out. Why not use the team color? Can they not have a Baby-Blue-Out?
Wear your bluest blue, UK fans. I know you’ll be there.
Matt started a thread over on The Cats Pause message board asking for suggestions on how UK can improve the fan experience in Rupp Arena during basketball games. He asked two simple questions to get the ball rolling:
1. What would you change/improve about Rupp to make the fan experience better?
2. What do you think is the MOST important change that has to be made if you could only choose one?
He plans to gather up all the input we receive from UK fans and forward it along to UK, hoping to assist in improving the overall experience on game days. If you think you have something to contribute, join the discussion here.
We’re interested to see what everyone can come up with. I’m all in for a Kiss Cam, personally.
The first returns from the 2014 NBA All-Star voting are out and Anthony Davis leads all former UK players in votes with 149,579, good enough for sixth place in the West frontcourt. Davis trails Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love and Tim Duncan; DeMarcus Cousins is way down in 12th with 60,923 votes.
John Wall has the fourth most votes in the East backcourt, behind an old man in Dwyane Wade, a solid pick in Kyrie Irving, and Derrick Rose, a guy who is out for the season after playing in only 10 games in 2013. Wall should be higher up on that list, but then again, NBA All-Star voting is a popularity contest, not performance-based.
Here’s how it looks for the UK guys…
1. Dwyane Wade (Mia) 396,279
2. Kyrie Irving (Cle) 365,712
3. Derrick Rose (Chi) 272,410
4. John Wall (Was) 124,851
5. Ray Allen (Mia) 99,464
6. Rajon Rondo (Bos) 80,889
7. Deron Williams (BKN) 44,282
8. George Hill (Ind) 42,536
9. Evan Turner (Phi) 33,605
10. Mario Chalmers (Mia) 32,996
1. Kevin Durant (OKC) 607,407
2. Dwight Howard (Hou) 295,120
3. Blake Griffin (LAC) 292,925
4. Kevin Love (Min) 275,506
5. Tim Duncan (SA) 217,271
6. Anthony Davis (NO) 149,579
7. Pau Gasol (LAL) 133,199
8. LaMarcus Aldridge (Por) 132,818
9. Andre Iguodala (GS) 109,745
10. Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 89,093
11. Chandler Parsons (Hou) 77,179
12. DeMarcus Cousins (Sac) 60,923
13. David Lee (GS) 60,015
14. Kawhi Leonard (SA) 55,023
15. Omer Asik (Hou) 53,827
You can do your part in helping them move up the list by voting here. You can vote once a day, so don’t be shy about it.
Hello there, friends. I hope you’re all well. Look, I can tell it’s the holiday season because you have all that snow in your hair! Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you hadn’t been outside. I’ll sit over here, okay?
Friends, I know I don’t have to tell you that this weekend our Cats take on the villainous North Carolina Tarheels in Chapel Hill. It’s a rivalry as old as the hills around here: two storied college basketball programs and two revered modern basketball coaches. Of course I’m talking about Cal and Roy Williams, the latter a thorn in our side once at Kansas and for the last ten years in North Carolina. Oddly enough, I’ve recently been reading Roy’s 2009 book Hard Work: A Life On and Off the Court and I’ve learned that Roy’s aw-shucks, rural-gentleman demeanor – one reason no doubt the fine folks of North Carolina and, previously, Kansas, love him so much – lends itself to a great many words of wisdom. So today I thought I’d share some of the actual quotes from Williams’ book and we could all get to know him a little better. Sound fun? Let’s do it then, shall we? And have a great weekend, gang.
“At the end of each season, I hear some of my critics in the media say ‘Oh Boy, Roy’s going to cry again’…I’m probably too emotional. I went through a stretch at Kansas where I actually tried to talk myself into not crying, but it just wasn’t me. I just can’t help it.”
“I try to pick my battles about when to argue with an official. After all of my years as a referee in intramurals, I know how hard the job is, so I’ll only protest when I’m sure I’m right.”
“When it comes to mentoring my players, I look at myself like a teammate. I am playing as hard as I can every day to get them to believe in what I believe in: that there’s a right way to conduct yourself, there’s a right way to answer people, there’s a right way to dress when you go to a restaurant or get on a plane, and there’s a right way to play basketball.”
“We like to describe ourselves as a ‘family,’ and Wanda and I like to treat it that way. When recruits come on their visits, Wanda will fix breakfast at our house…if we’re not playing in the final of our conference tournament, Wanda makes brownies and banana pudding and the players come over to watch the NCAA selection show.”
“One time Ed Hightower called me after a game in my hotel room. ‘Hey Roy,’ he said to me on the phone, ‘you know, I think you were right about all those calls you were arguing about. I’m real sorry about that. I should have listened to you more out there.’ Sometimes it takes a while but if you have faith in people, they usually come around.”
“I remember one Christmas morning when Harrison, McAdoo and PJ woke Wanda and I up at the crack of dawn. They just couldn’t wait to see what Santa had brought them. Dexter, Reggie and John had a snowball fight and then we all made cookies and sang carols by the fire. It’s times like that with your family you never forget.”
“One day after a really tough practice, I called Drew [Gooden] over to talk to me. ‘Listen Drew,’ I told him, looking him right in the eyes, ‘if there’s ever a tornado you make sure you get under one of those metal washtubs and wait for it to pass, alright? I’m serious. Okay?’ He nodded; I knew that he understood what I was saying. There’s a right way to survive a tornado.”
“Sometimes to relax before a big stretch of tough games, I like to take the team to see Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede show over at the Pigeon Forge. It’s a real good show, I get a group discount, and everyone gets one of those souvenir boot cups. They’ve got folks jumping through fire, real-life buffalo and the prettiest ladies you’ve ever seen riding on horses. Every time I try to talk myself out of crying, but I can’t. It’s just not me.”
“One time Tyler Hansbrough sassed me and I told him not to do it again. He did, so I made him go out and pick out a switch, then I put him over my knee and gave him a whoopin’ with that switch. He never sassed me again. That’s just how it is with families sometimes. Sometimes you gotta do that.”
“I believe in a loyalty to the people who believe in you. True friends, people who really love you, are few and far between, and those relationships need to be protected and nurtured at all costs because they’re the ones that really matter. That’s why I go with Nike.”
“Once I was mashing some onions with a hammer – the onions were making my eyes tear up – while I watched this movie, and in the movie the Home Alone kid got stung by a bunch of bees and died and I was crying so hard that I couldn’t see and I hit my thumb with the hammer and cried even harder. I know people were probably like ‘Oh no, Roy’s crying again,’ but that’s just me. Like I said, I can’t help it.”
Kentucky Sports Radio’s most passionate caller has a problem with the University of Kentucky’s commitment to academics and how it is affecting attendance at athletic events. Chester believes sports should come before all the research, as he calls it, being done on the university’s campus. He says there is too much emphasis about UK being a research place.
But isn’t school a place for education, Chester?
“That’s bull, that’s bull, well, it’s true.”
Devin Booker’s future UK teammate, Trey Lyles, Instagrammed this video of Booker lip syncing to Chris Brown’s version of “This Christmas.”
‘Tis the season, BBN.
A Kentucky fan used his Twitter device to contact Fox recruiting analyst Evan Daniels last night to ask him where he believes Rashad Vaughn will end up when it’s all said and done. Evan told him he believes UNLV and Iowa State are still in the best shape at this point.
Iowa State leads Vaughn’s Crystal Ball predictions with 41% of the vote, ahead of UNLV (30%), Kentucky (16%), North Carolina (7%) and Minnesota (5%). He has already taken official visits to UNLV, Iowa State and Baylor, and plans to visit North Carolina in February, leaving one other spot for the fifth and final official visit. If Kentucky can get Vaughn on campus, I can’t imagine him choosing Iowa State over the bright lights of Kentucky. UNLV, maybe, but John Calipari isn’t an easy guy to beat on the recruiting trail, as we all know.
We need Vaughn to come on down.
Matt Elam’s recruitment is coming down the final stretch and Kentucky is in position to win the race if things go as planned this week. Mark Stoops, Neal Brown, D.J. Eliot, Vince Marrow, and Jimmy Brumbaugh will all pay a visit to Elam in his Elizabethtown home today, before Elam takes his official visit to the University of Kentucky on Friday with several other members of UK’s 2014 recruiting class.
Elam met with Alabama and Notre Dame earlier this week but will not take any other official visits before announcing his final decision at the All-American Bowl on January 4. That leaves the ball in Kentucky’s court, and I believe Mark Stoops is going to get buckets.
Time to reel the big man in for good.
Judging by his new t-shirt, former North Carolina forward John Henson isn’t a fan of the National Collegiate Athletics Association. Henson, famous for getting his stuff swatted in Rupp Arena in 2011, is on to something here. I’d wear it.
(Tip of the hat to Rob Dauster)
If you’re in the Lexington area and off work from 10:00 a.m. to noon today, it’d be a good idea to stop by Courtesy Acura in Lexington for this morning’s KSR show. Matt Jones and Ryan Lemond will be there (3701 Nicholasville Road) giving away UK basketball tickets and one signed John Calipari Stadium Frame print during the show from 10:00 a.m. to noon.
Or join in on the discussion by calling (502) 571-1080.
KSR Affiliate List
WAIN (93.9 fm) Columbia
WHIR (1230 am) Danville
WCLU (1490 am) Glasgow
WHOP (1230am/95.3 fm) Hopkinsville
WJKY (1060 am) Jamestown
WLAP (630 am) Lexington
WFTG (1400 am) London
WKJK (1080 am) Louisville
WFMW (730 am/94.9 fm) Madisonville
WFTM (1240 am) Maysville
WKYM (101.7 fm) Monticello
WMSK (1550 am) Morganfield
WLME (102.7 fm) Owensboro
WKYH (600 am) Paintsville
WLSI (900 am) Pikeville
WPRT (960 am) Prestonsburg
WSFC (1240 am) Somerset
WTCW (920 am) Whitesburg
WBTH (1400 am) Williamson, WV
On Delay (ALL TIMES LISTED EASTERN)…
WBGN (1340 am) Bowling Green 3-5 pm
WMTL (870 am) Leitchfield 11am-1pm
WLBQ (1570 am) Morgantown 3-5 pm
WRIL (106.3 fm) Middlesboro Thur 8-10 pm
WPAD (99.5 fm/1560 am) Paducah 5-7 pm
I know we are supposed to support our players at all times (beyond committing crime), but when a player says something so ridiculous that the collective eye roll from opposing fan bases can actually be heard, it has to be investigated. I know my ears perked up greatly when Willie Cauley-Stein made the comment that Kentucky never gets calls after the Boise State win. I tweeted out that UK opponents have been called for 78 more fouls this season, but that wasn’t enough for many of you on Twitter. Many said that 1 stat wasn’t enough to disprove his statement. While I am not sure anything else needs to be said, I went ahead and did more research. I checked out how quickly UK has gotten into the bonus before it’s opponent during the 10 games this season. Below you will see how much time Kentucky has spent in the bonus before it’s opponent makes it to the bonus as well as what time in each half UK has gotten into the bonus:
1st Half- UK: 12:14, UNCA: 7:00
2nd Half- UK: 12:04, UNCA: 6:17
Northern Kentucky (+15:17)
1st Half- UK- 8:16, NKU: Never
2nd Half- UK- 13:01, NKU: 5:50
Michigan State (+6:06)
1st Half- UK: 8:59, MSU: 2:34
2nd Half- MSU: 9:54, UK: 9:35
Robert Morris (+3:03)
1st Half- UK: 7:02, RMU: 6:02
2nd Half- UK: 8:43, RMU: 6:40
1st Half- UK: 2:36, UTA: 2:09
2nd Half- UK: 12:36, UTA: 9:56
Cleveland State (+10:51)
1st Half- UK: 12:55, CSU: 1:31
2nd Half- CSU: 7:41, UK: 7:08
Eastern Michigan (+11:54)
1st Half UK: 12:35, EMU: 6:20
2nd Half UK: 11:07, EMU: 5:28
1st Half- PC: 4:55, UK: 2:34
2nd Half- UK: 9:45, PC: 9:20
1st Half UK: Never, BU: Never
2nd Half UK: 7:03, BU: 6:01
Boise State (+7:31)
1st Half UK: Never, BSU: Never
2nd Half UK: 11:52, BSU: 4:21
All total, that is over 70 minutes of game time that Kentucky has spent in the bonus while its opponent was not in the bonus. Only 3 out of 20 halves this season has the opponent made the bonus before Kentucky.
What irks me about what WCS said is that he sounded like an irrational fan. We all know the guy that immediately goes to the refs being the problem every time his team loses. It’s absurd, but it’s especially absurd from anybody on this team. I don’t want hear that from a PLAYER. I don’t want my guys always looking at the refs thinking he’s getting screwed. But I especially don’t want that when it’s not true. Kentucky gets the benefit of the doubt, and the favorable whistle, in almost every game we play. As we should, considering athleticism often leads to more fouls against the opponent.
But please please please let this be the only time I hear that argument from any player or fan. We are better than those kind of excuses, whether they are true or not. Which in this case, they are not.