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Chet White | UK Athletics

UK Softball Loses Heartbreaker in Super Regional

Chet White | UK Athletics

The Kentucky softball team entered the seventh and final inning with a 5-2 lead, three outs away from forcing a decisive game three at Oregon in the Super Regionals.  They left the seventh inning on the ring side of the acoreboard.

Oregon scored four runs on four hits in the top half of the inning to end the Wildcats’ season with a 6-5 loss.

Kentucky scored early with two runs in the first inning. Abby Cheek’s homerun in the bottom of the fourth gave the Cats’ all the momentum, but it would not last.

Oregon got on the board in the top of the fifth when Meagan Prince was called for an illegal pitch with the bases loaded. It was the first of many questionable calls from behind home plate. UK Twitter nearly imploded in the seventh when the strike zone got tighter, and tighter, and tighter, until Oregon took the lead.

Despite the tough loss, Coach Lawson’s team deserves to be commended for another excellent season (39-19), one that ended just short of the program’s second College World Series appearance.


Soaring Up Draft Boards, De’Aaron Fox will Work Out with Lakers, Sixers

Soaring Up Draft Boards, De’Aaron Fox will Work Out with Lakers, Sixers

With the first pick in the NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics are expected to select point guard Markelle Fultz.  That’s what is expected, but it could change.

Jordan Schulz of Bleacher Report shared some inside information about the former Kentucky point guard on Twitter: “There are multiple teams in the lottery who feel De’Aaron Fox — not Fultz or Ball — is the top PG in the draft. Continues 2 rise.”

If Fox doesn’t fly all the way up to No. 1, he still could surpass Lonzo Ball and head to Los Angeles with the second pick.  According to Mark Medina, Fox will work out with the Lakers and the Sixers, who hold the No. 3 pick.  The workouts are expected to take place between June 11 and the 17th, about a week before the draft.

Fultz has been the consensus No. 1 overall pick for months, but a lot can change before June 22.


Can Kentucky’s 2018 Team Shoot?

USA Basketball

During the 2017 preseason, college basketball prognosticators liked what they saw in the Cats, with one exception — Kentucky’s outside shooting ability.  The players laughed it off in interviews.  “Are you serious?” was a common response to the question.  The players proved the prognosticators wrong by shooting over 35 percent during the season.

Eight minutes after the Diallo news broke and four minutes before he confirmed it on Twitter, we heard that question about next year’s team for the first time: “Can anybody on Kentucky’s team shoot?”

Steve Jones of The Courier-Journal was the first to ask it, but he will not be the last.  This year’s skeptics have much more evidence to point to this year than they did last year.

Improving Shooters

Since Kevin Knox committed, an overwhelming majority of fans believe he will be able to play the two-guard next year because of his ability to make shots from long-range.  Would they be saying that if they knew Knox only made 25.8 percent of his threes in EYBL play last year?

adidas

Knox and Jarred Vanderbilt share a similar build.  Knox is the better offensive player.  Vanderbilt is the better defensive player.  Knox’s shot looks better when it leaves his hands, but a year ago neither were consistent outside threats.  The good news: a lot has changed in a year.

Knox’s three-point shot dramatically improved from the summer into his senior season, shooting 35 percent from three during his high school season for Tampa Catholic.  At McDonald’s All-American practices, Knox and Vanderbilt’s improved shooting ability from long-range was the greatest takeaway from recruiting reporters and analysts in the stands.  Vanderbilt’s change was the most impressive.  His unorthodox form didn’t change, but he extended his release point and added more rotation to the ball.

This pair can knock down open shots, but Calipari can not rely on them to be his primary outside shooting weapons.

Slashers

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Hamidou Diallo are both lengthy athletes who will make their money on their ability to get to the basket.  Diallo dunks, while SGA creates contact before a soft floater rolls through the rim.

From behind the three-point line, SGA is another player who improved throughout his senior season.  He finished the season shooting 31 percent from behind the three-point line.  Not too shabby.  He was even better in the Derby Festival Classic; he missed just three shots in the game and won the three-point shooting competition.

Diallo is a curious case.  We haven’t seen him shoot a competitive basketball shot in about a year, so I’ll tell you about the first time I saw him play.

Last July I was at the Peach Jam for the first time.  After figuring out the lay of the land, I found a spot in the corner to see Hamidou Diallo play.  A couple easy fast break dunks were impressive, but I wanted to see how the No. 1 shooting guard in the nation shot the ball.  I was disappointed, to say the least.  I spent the entire game trashing his flat shot.  He didn’t take many from deep because he didn’t need to, he could simply get to the rim, but every time he did launch a three, I was prepared to see it clank off the rim.

I actually enjoyed his awfulness for awhile, then proceeded to look through the program to find out where I needed to go to see the next candidate for “best shooter in the class.”  A close game for Diallo’s New York Rens, I couldn’t leave until the fat lady sang.  With about ten seconds remaining, Diallo’s team was trailing by three points.

“Okay, Diallo.  Show me what you got,”  I thought to myself.  He showed me he has ice in his veins.  Facing a triple team on the left wing, all he needed was a subtle jab to create enough space for a turn-around.  The fade-away three from 30 feet barely touched the net on its way through the rim.  He pumped his chest on the ground while the crowd erupted.  Hami’s opponents didn’t stand a chance in overtime as he carried his team to victory.

Just like every part of his game — excluding his vertical leap — the jury is still out on Diallo.

Quade and Baker

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Jemarl Baker was targeted for his three-point shooting ability, but based purely off senior season numbers, he will not be the best shooter on the team next year.  Baker made 34 percent of his threes; Quade Green knocked down 38 percent of his three-pointers.

Baker can earn playing time by entering the “knock down three-point shooter” role, but it took Mychal Mulder a year at Kentucky to get comfortable on the floor.  Feeling comfortable won’t be a problem with Quade.  In fact, Quade’s biggest problem might be getting too comfortable.

At his best running the floor and creating for others, his step-back jumper is his primary weapon to get points.  Great at creating contact to get space, the ball looks good every time it leaves his hand inside 12 feet.  When he gets beyond the three-point line, he’ll stress you out.  Like Tyler Ulis, he prefers three-pointers that are five feet behind the line.  Unlike Ulis, he shoots the ball from behind his head.  It’s odd, but it keeps defenders from blocking his shot and it still goes in 38 percent of the time.

Green will hear comparisons to Ulis all year long. “I’m trying to be better than Tyler (Ulis).  I’m going in with a different mindset: be the best player I can be and be better than all the point guards that ever came through there.”

Calipari needs Quade to be one of the best shooting point guards he’s ever coached.  There are other options, but finding consistency from behind the three-point line could be the Cats’ Kryptonite in 2018.


2017 Stanley Cup Finals Preview

2017 Stanley Cup Finals Preview

With all of the excitement that the Nashville Predators have brought to the south, I thought I’d bring you the basics and and a few key match-ups when they face off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Finals, starting this Monday on NBC at 8:00 p.m.

First thing’s first. I obsess over hockey like Freddie Maggard obsesses over football. I could talk about how rolling four lines out can wear a team down. How the neutral zone trap almost pushed the Ottawa Senators into the Finals. Dive into the numbers of how Nashville’s depth on the blue line is difficult to defend.

Would some of you get it? Absolutely. Are most people lost from those last few sentences? I have no doubt. The most important fact is that now you’re here and enjoying the Preds run through the playoffs. So jump on the bandwagon, there is plenty of room.

  

Goaltending – Pekka Rinne vs. Matt Murray

There is the old baseball analogy that a hot pitcher can carry a team in the playoffs (1988 Dodgers, San Francisco Giants 2014 i.e.), and the same came be said about goaltenders in the NHL. Matt Murray was thrust into the roll of starting in last years playoffs as a rookie. He responded by being steely eyed between the pipes, pushing his team to a championship.

This year Murray, once again, has proven to be a calming force in a tight game. Technically flawless, Murray has lost a few games through no fault of his own. While not flashy, he keeps it simple and follows the puck well.

Pekka Renne on the other hand has been hotter than a firecracker. Renne pushed aside 38 shots in game 6 against Anaheim to earn Nashville their first trip to the finals. Tall, lanky, and flashy are just a few of the words to describe Renne. It remains to be seen if Renne can shut down the Penguins like he has shut down the Blackhawks, Blues, and Ducks.

Advantage – Renne (slightly)

 

Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel vs. P.K. Subban, Mattias Ekholm

Defense wins championships, right? This will be put to the test from the opening face-off. Malkin leads the playoffs in points, and his sidekick Kessel is third. While Sydney Crosby is the bigger name, the Malkin-Kessel line is the larger threat to produce scoring.

After the blockbuster trade in the offseason that brought him to Nashville, P.K. Subban has become a legitimate star. Don’t believe me? Ask Tyler Thompson. Paired up with Ekholm, this defensive pair leads in both offensive prowess and shutting down the opponents top lines. Can they slow down Pittsburgh’s offensive juggernaut? That remains to be seen.

Advantage – Pittsburgh  (more…)


One Mock Draft has Three Cats in the Lottery

Mock drafts are much more palatable now that we do not have see Hamidou Diallo in them.  Normally I stick to Draft Express and Chad Ford, but on this slow news Saturday it’s time to broaden our horizons, starting with a mock draft that’s bullish on Bam Adebayo.

NBADraft.net

4. De’Aaron Fox – Phoenix Suns
8. Malik Monk – New York Knicks
14. Bam Adebayo – Miami Heat

I want to agree with this mock draft, but I can’t.  Why in the world would the Suns draft another Kentucky guard?  They already have seven (maybe even more).  Monk probably won’t fall that far, and if he does, Lord help him.  Getting drafted by the Knicks might be worse than a quarterback who gets drafted by the Browns.

While we’re at it, here’s a few more mock drafts from around the internets.

The Sporting News, Sam Vecenie

5. De’Aaron Fox — Sacramento Kings
8. Malik Monk — New York Knicks
28. Bam Adebayo — L.A. Lakers

Sports Illustrated’s Andrew Sharp

3. De’Aaron Fox – Sacramento Kings (via trade)
5. Malik Monk – Philadelphia 76ers (via trade)

NBC Sports’ College Basketball Talk, Rob Dauster

4. De’Aaron Fox – Phoenix Suns
6. Malik Monk – Orlando Magic
27. Bam Adebayo – Brooklyn Nets


Take a Peek at the John Calipari Bobblehead

The Legends’ muse.

After KSR Night at the ballpark, the Lexington Legends are calling in the closer: John Calipari.

Fans lined up in the rain to be the first to receive the bobblehead.  Of all the bobbleheads in the world, few are as spot on as this one.  Well done, Legends.  Well done.

@LexingtonLegend 


Coaching Team USA’s U19 Team Could Help John Calipari Land Romeo Langford

Indy Star

Last year Shaka Smart coached USA’s U18 team to a Gold Medal in Chile.  The opportunity to coach Mo Bamba is (probably) one big reason why Bamba committed to Texas nine days ago.  Could something similar happen between Kentucky and Romeo Langford?

The top-ranked guard in the 2018 recruiting class from New Albany, Indiana spoke with Rivals’ T.J. Walker today about his invitation to camp with Team USA’s U19 team.  Langford said it could give Kentucky an advantage in his recruitment.

“Somewhat if you think about it. I’ll get to know him a little bit more. I would be spending a lot of time with him.”

Moving forward, Langford said what will help differentiate the local schools recruiting him — UK, UofL and IU — is how comfortable he is with the coach. “Now it’s just getting to know the coaches more and becoming more familiar with them. It’s about being around them and seeing how I fit.”

 

Langford and Calipari already have a “pretty good” relationship.  If Calipari coaches him for a few weeks this summer to build a stronger rapport, it might be awfully difficult to turn down Kentucky next spring.

[Cats Illustrated]


Two Fantastic Stats About the NFL Cats

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

At Kentucky Sports Radio, the blog never sleeps.  We blog till we fall.  However, finding original statistical concoctions in said blogs are few and far between.  That’s not the case at Pro Football Focus.

While I use my fingers to count how many days till football season, they’re crunching next level numbers.  Even though the Cats in the NFL don’t receive the same hype as the NBA Cats, they’re pretty damn good.

Defensively, UK’s linebackers are some of the best in the business.  The Cats have three of the ten best run stoppers in the NFL.  According to PFF’s Run Stop Rate, a metric I don’t entirely understand, Avery Williamson is at 10.6 percent, Wesley Woodyard is at 11.4 percent and Danny Trevathan is at 12 percent.  What those numbers mean, I do not know exactly, but I’m pretty sure it translates to “don’t run it their way.”

Offensively, two former Kentucky pass-catchers have some of the best hands in the League.  Last season, only five NFL players were targeted more than 30 times without a drop.  Two of them were Wildcats.  Randall Cobb had 60 catchable targets; he did not drop one.  Jacob Tamme’s season ended early, but before it was finished he proved he’s a sure-handed tight end, failing to drop one pass in 30 targets.  Hopefully some of this year’s Cats are taking notes.

98 days till football season.


Jim Bunning Passes Away at 85

One of Kentucky’s greatest has passed away.  Hall of Fame pitcher, Kentucky Congressman and Senator Jim Bunning passed away today at age 85.

In Bunning’s 16-year Major League career he accumulated 2,855 strikeouts, the second-most in MLB history at the time of his retirement.  His best day on the mound came on Father’s Day in 1964 when he threw the seventh perfect game in MLB history.

After his retirement from baseball, he dedicated his life to public service.  Bunning spent 12 years representing Kentucky’s 4th District in the House of Representatives before spending 12 more years in Washington as Kentucky’s junior Senator from 1999-2011.  He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996.

The grandfather of former Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles, KSR sends our condolences to the Towles’ and all of their family during this difficult time.


Cynthiana is Creating a Joe B. Hall Mural

Hall Final w crop WEB

This isn’t what the mural will look like, but you can imagine.

Former Kentucky coach Joe B. Hall will be honored by his hometown of Cynthiana with a 35-foot tribute on Main Street.

The Main Street Mural will be painted on the Masonic Lodge Building, diagonal from Joe B. Hall Court, a name for a street that could be confused with basketball’s playing surface.  The Herald-Leader reports it will be painted by Sergio Odeith, the Portuguese artist who created The Walking Dead Mural last year.  He will begin painting July 20.  If weather cooperates, they tentatively plan to unveil it on July 26.

Before he was a radio star with Denny Crum, Joe B. took Kentucky to three Final Fours and brought home the Championship trophy in 1978.  He also was a recording artist.  There are many great songs on the album Kentucky Calling Me, but the best might be the cover of “Good Ole Boys.”

If you’d like to hear a more serious side of Coach Hall, his four part conversation with Oscar Combs about his life is fantastic.

You can hear the rest here.


Stephen Johnson Graces the Cover of Lindy’s SEC Preview

Stephen Johnson Graces the Cover of Lindy’s SEC Preview

@LindysSportsMag

Stephen Johnson and a player he dominated into submission are on the cover of Lindy’s Regional SEC Football Preview cover.  Johnson is the predominantly featured quarterback because he’s the superior player.  I’m just surprised they could find a picture of the red-clad quarterback where he’s actually holding onto the football.

Johnson is the second Kentucky Wildcat to make the cover of a college football preview magazine.  Benny Snell is featured on the cover of Athlon’s regional preview.


UK Athletics

UK Softball Drops Game One at Super Regionals

UK Athletics

It was a rough night on the diamond for UK Athletics.  Shortly after the baseball team fell to South Carolina 3-1 in the SEC Baseball Tournament, the Kentucky softball team lost to Oregon in the first game at the Eugene, Super Regional.

The Cats were shutout by No. 3 Oregon, falling 4-0.  The score looks worse than it actually was.  Meagan Prince kept it close at 1-0 until the Ducks opened the door in the sixth inning.  They scored three runs without a hit, taking advantage of errors and walks.  The Kentucky offense produced just three hits.

Kentucky can extend the series to a third and final game with a win tonight.  The first pitch in Oregon is at 7:00 on ESPN2.


Memorial Day Saturday’s Top 10

Richard Vogel | AP

Congratulations!  You made it to summer.  The three-day holiday weekend honors our fallen soldiers and acts as the de facto start of the summer season, even though there’s still technically three more weeks of spring.  Kick back, relax and enjoy the wonderful weekend while I keep you entertained on Kentucky Sports Radio dot com.

BatCats Eliminated

When you think of summer, you think of baseball.  Unfortunately, you can’t think of Kentucky baseball today.  Nick Mingione’s Cats were eliminated in the SEC Tournament by South Carolina yesterday.  They beat the Cocks to start the tournament, but couldn’t put the pieces back together after taking a late-night whoopin’ from LSU on Thursday.

Bye-Bye National Seed

Kentucky got one win in Hoover, but they probably needed more than that to secure one of the Top Eight seeds in the country.  There’s still a slim chance, but they likely won’t be able to have home field advantage in the Super Regional.  You know what that means?  Kentucky could play at Louisville for a chance to go to the College World Series.

It’s poor form to count your chickens before they hatch, but if Kentucky can secure a Regional Championship at The Cliff, they have an opportunity to be the team to break the Cardinals’ heart for the third straight year in the Super Regionals.  It’ll be a tough ticket for the three-game series, but drinking Cardinal tears will be worth it.

KSR Night at the Ballpark was a Success…

…Except for the Dancing

The Dabs were fantastic, but everything else…not so much.

I think we can all agree that we’ve seen enough of Shirtless Ryan Lemond for one summer.

Wynyard is Going to the FIBA World Cup

There’s been plenty of speculation as to who will play for John Calipari and Team USA in the FIBA U19 World Cup.  We now know that one of John Calipari’s players will be in Egypt, but he’ll be on a different sideline.  Tai Wynyard will represent his home country of New Zealand at the games in July.  Prepare for more haka.

Larry Looks Good in Gold

Former Kentucky offensive lineman Larry Warford got paid this offseason.  In his first action for the Saints, the new move suits him well.

@jkatzenstein

Tip of the Cap to Steve Asmussen

The Hall of Famer became just the third trainer to ever collect 600 career wins at Churchill Downs.  He’s still searching for the ultimate victory at Churchill Downs, but I have a feeling it will not be too long before he’s celebrating in the Winner’s Circle on the first Saturday in May.

You Should Hear Our Latest Podcast

If you haven’t listened to this week’s edition of The Depth Chart Podcast, you’re missing out.  We’ve never received so much positive feedback from one show.  Bill Ransdell and Chris Chenault are fantastic in an hour and a half with Freddie Maggard.  There are plenty of funny stories, like starting brawls against Florida, but there’s also a few emotional moments reminiscing about their former coach, Jerry Claiborne.  Do yourself a favor and make sure you hear it all before the end of the holiday weekend.

I Saw a Snake Kill a Frog

I don’t care how many times I’ve seen snakes kill animals on the Discovery Channel, it’s completely different when you see it in real life.  Not gonna lie, it was equally awesome as it was terrifying.  I’m just glad I wasn’t in the water when it all went down or the emotional stress might’ve prevented me from working today.

Thank You

It’s been a wild week for me.  I knew I was going to be a nervous wreck before asking my girlfriend Brooke to marry me, but I didn’t know I was going to be that nervous.  Since we shared that wonderful moment Wednesday night, the support and love from everyone has been overwhelming.  #Blessed doesn’t adequately describe it.  Moving forward, my fiancee and I are thrilled (and I just called her my fiancee for the first time, WOW).


Diallo named among ESPN’s Top 25 Players in College Basketball

Now that Hamidou Diallo is back on board for a season of college basketball at Kentucky, his name is being tossed around as one of the premier players in the game for the 2017-18 season.

Today, ESPN.com ranked its top 25 players in college basketball, and Diallo was on the list at No. 21.

Here’s what the World Wide Leader’s John Gasaway had to say about UK’s star guard:

21. Hamidou Diallo, Kentucky Wildcats
After enrolling at Kentucky in January, Diallo has a head start on Kevin Knox and the rest of yet another incredibly talented freshman class in Lexington. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard waited to the last minute to withdraw his name from the draft, and now the Wildcats will benefit from his 7-foot wingspan and attacking style. A freshman season featuring a sufficient number of made 3s would likely be enough to put Diallo into lottery territory for 2018.

As for the other 24 players in the rankings, Grayson Allen took the No. 1 overall spot; Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr., a true freshman, landed at No. 2 on the list, behind Allen; and there are a few other notables like Mohamed Bamba at No. 18 and Texas A&M’s Robert Williams at No. 24.

See the entire list here.


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 Via Email

#10 Stoops I Did It Again

Golf in the BBN will never be the same.

#9 Thomas Fowler

When in doubt, blame Laettner.

#8 Lisa In Lexington

KSR is everywhere.

#7 Trevor S

*rolling my eyes at this joke while also laughing a little*

#6 nostalgiaguru

As crazy as this is, I gotta say, this would’ve come in handy a lot during my time as a student.

#5 Amos Herald

BURRRNNN

#4 Arthur Martin

Yeah, don’t think I’ll be seeing that movie.

#3 Patrick Butcher

If only there were an actual school that did this…

#2 Roy Combs

It’s just a coincidence…

#1 WesPikeRealtor

They look like twins.