Brandon Priddy writes for The Smoking Musket, West Virginia’s SB Nation site, but he’s also →
Bob Kravitz of WTHR in Indianapolis has a warning for those who hate Kentucky. Don’t read the column where he explains you should be cheering for the Wildcats.
Kravitz does make a great point and one many Kentucky fans have made throughout the year. This is exactly what you want out of a team. They are playing defense-first basketball and many stars have given up minutes and numbers for the greater good of the team. However, because it says Kentucky on the front of the jersey it’s been bad for basketball. What if this was Arizona or Virginia instead?
The other point Kravitz brings up is how people accuse Calipari of running a bad program because of the one-and-done rule. Let’s remember, that’s a NBA rule and not something the NCAA can control. Wouldn’t Tom Crean and Matt Painter take Trey Lyles in a heartbeat? You think Missouri or Michigan would be happy to have Devin Booker?
So, welcome aboard the bandwagon, Bob. Just save room for some others.
Numerous people are saying Rick Barnes has been fired from the head coaching job at Texas. This isn’t necessarily surprising as Barnes has massively underachieved with a ton of talent. Maybe, this just goes to show that you also have to be a great coach when you are a good recruiter, cough cough USBWA voters.
CBS’ Sam Vecenie poses an interesting debate though. Is Texas a top five job from a coach standpoint? There’s not much pressure as it’s a football school first and has a ton of money to spend.
Just getting to Staples and Rick Barnes is out. That's a top five job in America for coaches, I think.
— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) March 28, 2015
For what it’s worth, I agree with Vecenie as he’s not saying it’s a top five program, but rather if you’re a coach you want to go here.
The two names being thrown around are the obvious ones in Gregg Marshall and Shaka Smart. This absolutely makes the Alabama, St. John’s and Tennessee jobs less desirable and should lead to some mayhem in the coaching carousel.
Barnes was the head coach in Austin for 17 years, going 402-180 but made just one Final Four.
It’s officially go time, just look at Sam Malone. Tip is just under three hours away yet I know you’re ready to listen to the gang. Just tune in to the KSR Pre-game show to hear Matt and the crew talk about the Elite Eight game against Notre Dame. Will it be a repeat of the West Virginia game? How will Kentucky use it’s massive size advantage and depth to help secure a win? Will Willie Cauley-Stein have another monster dunk? How’s Aaron Harrison’s finger? The list goes on and on, but who am I to stop. Just listen to Matt and friends.
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News coming from the UK football team just now. Ben Roberts of NextCats just tweeted out that Kordell Looney has committed to the Wildcats.
Three-star defensive tackle Kordell Looney has committed to Kentucky.,
— Ben Roberts (@NextCats) March 28, 2015
Stoops and company continue to go into Ohio and win recruiting battles, which is pretty impressive. Looney is the No. 35 recruit in the state of Ohio and comes in at 6’3″ and 286 pounds. UK was the first major school to offer Looney, but he marks the 10th commitment from the Buckeye State for the Class of 2016. Kentucky now has seven of the top 40 prospects in the state.
In a quick break from basketball talk, let’s take a look at Big Blue Nation’s favorite football player. SB Nation’s site Canal Street Chronicles discuss Bud Dupree going to the Saints with the No. 13 overall pick. The writer talks about Dupree’s hardworking nature as one of the main reasons he wants to see New Orleans take Bud. He uses this quote as a prime example:
“I wear uniform number 2 because I’m trying to be number 1 but I am working like I am number 2″. – Bud Dupree, via the UK Athletics website.
This is high praise for Dupree, who has been on a tear since the season ended. At the NFL Combine, Dupree measured in at 6’4″, 269 pounds before running a 4.56 40-yard dash and dominating the vertical and broad jumps at 42 and 138 inches respectively.
Take a quick break from all the basketball stuff and read the article, pretty impressive to hear someone beg for their team to draft a Kentucky player. Best of luck to Bud Dupree as the draft process continues.
By Courtney Sealey on ©March 28th, 2015 @ 4:00pm
The original title of this AP article is “Confident Cauley-Stein is thriving in mentor role with the Wildcats”, however I think it is more about how Willie has found his confidence on and off the court and less about the players around him.
A short month and a half ago, we all saw a side of Willie Cauley-Stein we had never seen before. WCS was always a strange, but yet still lovable player on our team. Still. We never understood the inner workings of his mind. His strangeness and the way he stands out has turned him into one of our favorite characters over the year.
In case you missed it, here is the ESPN College Gameday special I am talking about:
Just like we have fell in love with Willie, the players have too. Now in his junior year, he is a mentor and big brother to the underclassmen who have came after him.
Calipari has always sat his players down at the end of the season and talked about what is best for them – staying or the NBA. For Willie, he only had to say one thing to Cal to let him stay a part of the Wildcats for another year.
“I said that day after we lost that I have never won a championship before,” Cauley-Stein said. “I’ve never won anything or any crazy awards and I’m coming back to fulfill that spot in my heart. To fulfill that emptiness.”
Now Willie says he is on a mission. (a quote we had a post on yesterday). That mission may have took longer than expected, but he has finally reached the potential Calipari saw in him .
One that has taken longer than expected in the NBA prep school that doubles as Kentucky basketball under Calipari. Unlike many of his teammates, Cauley-Stein arrived in Lexington less a sure thing than a curiosity. He had the raw materials. What he lacked was the confidence required to mold his game into something better than the sum of his considerable parts.
You may not know this (har har), but Willie played football in high school, so his love for basketball has had to develop over the years.
And perhaps that’s the most important step in Cauley-Stein’s development. He admits he spent two years wondering if he belonged. It took being around “alpha males” like Julius Randle and twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison to play with swagger.
“He’s getting it,” Payne said. “It just happens in stages. It happens in flows. Hopefully somewhere down the road he gets it totally, he keeps it and he never loses it because that athlete is special.”
The story is a great one. Read the entire article here.
Shootarounds just ended for the Cats as they prep for tonight’s game. The Cats always end practice with a half-court shot and this time it was ended by Robic. Watch this hilarious video of Robic showing them how its done.
— KYwildcatsTV (@KYwildcatsTV) March 28, 2015
It was a cold, windy morning, but it didn’t keep a couple hundred fans from the Tim Couch Practice Fields to watch Shannon Dawson’s offense put on a show. There wasn’t a better way to start an Elite 8 day. Here’s a rundown of today’s offensive awesomeness.
1. The running game works, with a little misdirection
Shannon Dawson’s running game looks completely different than Neal Brown’s, and it’s not because Jacob Hyde is lining up at fullback. Today was filled with big plays from all three backs, getting into open space easier than ever before. It wasn’t because the line was blocking better or the backs were running faster; they were successful because of the scheme.
Neal Brown believed too much in the old-fashioned lead play. If the offensive line didn’t drive their man out of the hole, the play was dead in the water. When Dawson ran the drive-block plays early in practice, they weren’t very successful either. Today’s big plays came out of misdirection in the shotgun, using fake screen passes and pulling guards to bait the defense before the running back found a huge hole to bust through.
A little rundown of the best runs of the day…. Jojo’s cutback near the end of practice was good for 60+ yards or so, outdoing his big 30 yeard touchdown run from earlier. Mikel Horton was the first to make an eye-opening play today, nearly running an 80-yard touchdown before getting caught inside the 10-yard line. Boom brought as many Booms as usual, but his most surprising was a wheel route down the sideline for 60+ yards.
Simply put, they’re a lot more fun to watch make moves when in open space.
2. Patrick Towles is confident
Towles’ role is a bit different this year, commanding total control of the offense when it comes to communicating the plays. It’s helped them move much faster and I believe it’s made him more aware. When the defense tried to throw him off guard with the blitz, he countered by getting it out of his hand quickly, or changing the snap count to draw the defense offsides.
The deep ball wasn’t executed too well today, but I can let it slide considering it was their first big scrimmage of the year (and the cold weather had guys a step slower). What Pat had going for him was the 10-18 yard pass, hitting deep outs, comebacks, and squares routinely. Just when the defense thought they had a stop, he’d hit Garrett Johnson or CJ Conrad in the middle of the field for an easy first down.
His confidence is probably what’s most important. The defense was starting to get a little chummy, when Pat decided to tuck it and scramble. Not allowed to take him down, they shoved him out of bounds. He still won that round, “That was a first down,” Pat said.
3. Even in a scrimmage, Stoops wasn’t letting the Refs off easy
Jeff Badet received some contact from Kendall Randolph on a fade route in the end zone. Randolph didn’t get his head around quickly, making it an easy pass interference call for both referees. Still, Stoops wasn’t satisfied, “That ball wasn’t catchable,” he pleaded. “The ball was under thrown five yards. Ain’t no way he’s making that catch. It’s not a flag.”
The man has his DB’s backs.
4. Red Zone Weapons
Let’s see if this scene sounds familiar. The Cats have let an SEC opponent get into the Red Zone, but have stuffed the run two plays in a row. Now third down, they can get out of there with a field goal if they can just get one more stop. The next play a 6’6″ receiver makes an easy fade catch for a touchdown over Kentucky’s smaller cornerbacks.
This year WE GET TO TURN THE TABLES! Blake Bone could have played better today, but still had two easy touchdowns from inside the red zone. Another weapon we haven’t been used to in awhile is a great pass-catching tight end. C.J. Conrad is only six practices into his college career, but Sweet Jesus he’s going to make an impact on the field. He had two touchdown grabs off play-action rollouts that appeared effortless. The only time I saw him drop a ball was after four people hit him in the middle of the field (it hurt me he got so many times).
5. Jeff Badet is faster than you
I never realized how fast Jeff Badet was until watching a practice a few weeks. Today, he surprised me yet again. Someone around the team was telling me, “I didn’t think he could get faster, but after injury he somehow got faster.”
His route-running is exceptional as well and will help him make a push to start at outside receiver. I also appreciated his improvisation, diving for a nice catch after the ball was tipped at the line of scrimmage.
6. A little something, something on the defense
I decided not to say much about the defense because their butts were thoroughly handed to them after a solid start. But it’s still worth mentioning Ryan Flannigan’s improvement. He’s thinking less, helping him react quicker. I was unsure if he’d be a suitable Will linebacker, but his play today proved me wrong.
Here’s how the starting front seven looked, from left to right: C.J. Johnson, Melvin Lewis and Farrington Huguenin. At linebacker: Denzil Ware, Josh Forrest, Ryan Flannigan and Jason Hatcher. The secondary is pretty fluid, but A.J. Stamps, Blake McClain and Kendall Randolph will all play big roles.
The NBA Cats must have felt inspired from the performance of their young brothers against West Virginia Thursday, because they went off in each of their games last night. Look at this break down of the NBA Cats last night:
By Courtney Sealey on ©March 28th, 2015 @ 1:15pm
This picture was seen today on SportsCenter. No idea when it was taken, (and I haven’t found it on KSR from the past) but I am assuming it was middle school. It’s hard to tell since Andrew Harrison looks like a full grown man and Ulis, well, he looks like a smaller version of himself now.
Ulis kind of makes Harrison look like Mamadou Mdiaye a bit.
For the seventh time in the Gary Henderson era, Kentucky has knocked off the #1 team in the country. A 5-4 upset over LSU on Friday night improved Kentucky’s record against #1 teams to 7-7 under Coach Henderson. The win did not come easy as the game rolled into extra innings.
LSU got the ball rolling with two runs in the second inning to take the first lead of the game. RBIs by Jake Fraley and Chris Sciambra put Kentucky starting pitcher Zack Brown in an early hole. Brown managed to work out of that inning and keep the score at 2-0 into the seventh where Kentucky’s offense woke up. LSU starter Jared Poche’ didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning, but Kentucky found five hits off Poche’ in the seventh. Dorian Hairston started the inning with a double. Thomas Bernal collected one of his three hits on the game with an RBI single to score Hairston. Later in the inning, Connor Heady singled to bring home Bernal and tie the game. Kentucky had an opportunity with two outs to take their first lead of the game. Kyle Barrett came through in the clutch with an RBI single to score Greg Fettes and give UK a 3-2 lead.
LSU quickly responded in the bottom half of the seventh. After a throwing error by Bernal, LSU scored to tie the game at three. The unearned run would lead to Brown not picking up a decision on the mound as he exited after 6.2 innings. Dylan Dwyer came on to finish the seventh and pitch into the eighth for Kentucky. Both team’s bullpens were able to shut down the other’s offense leading into extra innings. A duel began between Kentucky’s Zach Strecker and LSU’s Jesse Stallings in the extra frames. Strecker went three innings out of the bullpen, allowing four hits and an unearned run. Stallings was fantastic as well before he reached the 12th inning.
Kentucky’s offense had been relatively quiet in the final two innings and in extras. Stallings had been cruising through the lineup before Barrett singled with two outs in the 12th. Following Evan White being hit by a pitch, Ka’ai Tom came to the plate with runners on first and second with two outs. Tom drove a 1-2 pitch down the right field line to score both Barrett and White. Tom’s RBI double gave Kentucky a 5-3 lead heading into the bottom of the 12th.
Just like the 7th inning, LSU managed to begin another rally in the 12th. Two errors by Kentucky allowed LSU to cut the score to 5-4. Kentucky closer Spencer Jack was brought on to end the threat. Jack got a groundout to end the game and solidify a 5-4 win for Kentucky.
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) March 28, 2015
-Starting pitcher Zack Brown was phenomenal in his third consecutive Friday start. In his 11th career start, Brown went 6.2 innings and allowed three runs while striking out three.
-Evan White extended his hit streak to nine games while Kyle Barrett extended his to eight games.
-Zach Strecker picked up the third win of his career after pitching three innings and not allowing an earned run.
-Ka’ai Tom did not have a hit in his previous four at-bats in the game before his RBI double in the 12th inning. Tom now has 26 RBIs in 2015.
-LSU’s Alex Bregman and Connor Hale combined for one hit in ten at-bats against Kentucky pitching on Friday. Neither of LSU’s big run producers drove in a run against UK.
-Over 11,000 people were at Alex Box Stadium to see Kentucky knock off LSU in Baton Rouge.
By Courtney Sealey on ©March 28th, 2015 @ 12:30pm
Who would have thought it would be a Sam Malone heavy day?
Yesterday, Jim Rome did a radio CBS Sports Minute dedicated to Sam Malone where he confessed his love for Malone in 60 seconds. All of BBN, especially the ladies, love Sam Malone but I don’t think we have ever been able to describe in in the perfect way Jim Rome did. Click the link below to hear it.
3-27 Jim Rome CBS Sports Minute
Jim Rome is the man hahaha http://t.co/oQhZPubeJl
— Sam Malone (@SamMaloneuk13) March 28, 2015
I imagine this is how the #1 ranked LSU baseball and softball teams felt last night after they fell to the Cats in both match ups. The baseball team strung it out to 12 innings and the softball team tossed seven to both pull out the wins. Here is a break down of the matchups:
The Cats (17-9,3-4) fell behind early after LSU brought home two runs in the second inning with RBIs from Jake Fraley and Chris Sciambra. LSU Jared Poche’ was working on a no hitter, before the Cats broke that up in the fifth inning. The Cats then collected a total of five hits in the top of the seventh, givinig them at 3-2 lead. The Tigers tied it after a throwing error.
The game stayed at a standstill until the bottom of the 11th, when the Tigers rallied on a leadoff single from Jake Fraley.
Jared Foster then rolled a ball into the hole on the left side, with shortstop Connor Heady ranging to his right and his off-balance throw sailing wide of the bag. Greg Deichmann then grounded into a double play that pushed Fraley to third base with Mark Laird at the plate. After UK intentionally walked the bases loaded with two outs, Conner Hale ripped a line drive in the gap on the right side, plunking Alex Bregman with the hit, ending the 11th inning.
At the top of the order, Kyle Barett smacked a single throughout the right side of the field and Evan White forced him to second after a hit on a 3-1 pitch. Ka’ai Tom hit a 1-2 offering, skipping the ball over the head of first baseman and bringing in two runs for the 5-3 lead. LSU scored one in the bottom of the inning, but it was not enough to overcome the Cats’ late rally.
Junior pitcher Kelsey Nunley did work for the Cats, tossing seven innnings with three strikeouts and only one run, with catcher Griffin Joiner leading the offense with a 3-for-3 night with two runs batted in and a HR. This victory over LSU is the first-ever for the No. 15 Cats over a No.. 1 ranked team in program his tory.
Kentucky (22-8) handed LSU (32-2) its second loss of the season, marking the Wildcats fourth win over a ranked foe. Here is a neat little breakdown UKathletics did.
Maise Steed went 2-for-3 in the game, extending a hitting streak to five games. Christian Stoke went 1-for 3, while Breanne Ray scored the game winning run in the third inning on a sacrifice fly.
Both teams will continue the battle against the Tigers today. Baseball is this evening at 7:30, while the girls have a noon start time in Lexington. Get out and enjoy the game if you can.
Hi. It’s me again this morning. I figured since the Cats won last Saturday, I should do the shift again to keep the mojo going. Cats face the Fighting Irish at 8:49 tonight on TBS and the pregame show will start around 6:15.. Until then come back to KSR for updates throughout the day. Let’s start off with some links:
– Guess what day it is? That’s right. Open football practice day. The practice starts in 30 minutes, so If you’re in Lexington make your way to the practice fields and go and support the team. Here are some details about the practice.
– Only two games to talk about today, Arizona vs. Wisconsin and Notre Dame vs. Kentucky. Still. Since I always put a schedule in my morning post, here it is.
– Kentucky canceled practice for an NBA Draft suit fitting, but I think it was worth it. According to this source, Cal insisted the boys see a tailor so they would all get an early start to the suit game. Also, that source is the Onion and its totally fake, but still funny.
– An SB Nation affiliate posted a story on how Kentucky would be an underdog compared to the greatest college teams of all time. They said they would even be underdogs to the 2012 Kentucky ream. They used quotes from former Vegas oddsmakers and other gambling experts to come to this conclusion. I personally hate comparing teams from different years since they cannot play each other, but I’m sure the comment section will probably see a debate.
– The funny thing bout Kentucky coverage is that within hours of each other one media will say one thing and another the exact opposite. So here is an AP writer who thinks the Cats are the greatest team ever.
Crazy to think that shot was a year ago in the Elite Eight, but here we are today. Let’s hope for the same result, but hopefully a little less drama.
Big Blue Nation vs the Nation
That’s how it’s going to be tomorrow according to Notre Dame’s head coach Mike Brey. During today’s press conference Brey said that the Irish will be America’s team when they take on Kentucky. It shouldn’t be that shocking of a comment as there’s a clear line of people who want to see Kentucky go 40-0 and those hoping for a loss.
Karl-Anthony Towns Gets It
The kid might just be a freshman, but you could argue no one has embraced the culture at Kentucky more than Karl-Anthony Towns. He was quoted today at the press conference saying “I think that’s the biggest joy I have is the fact that I still get to play with my brothers. Like I said, we love each other tremendously and it’s one of those things, it’s not even the fact about playing another game, it’s an opportunity to play another game with my brothers.” He’s a special player and person.
Little Guy with a Ton of Swag
Leave it to the one many people would least expect to be the ‘swaggy’ talker of the group, but it was Tyler Ulis who still had some harsh words for our friends from West Virginia. Ulis told Tyler Thompson today that Kentucky wanted to beat West Virginia by 50 because they felt disrespected. If this keeps making Ulis dish out assists and not turn the ball over, go for it young fella.
Diamond Stone Wants to be a Turtle
Five-star center Diamond Stone committed to Maryland tonight via Twitter.
I Am Committing To The University Of Maryland🐢⚫️🔴 #Terps
— All Eyes On Me (@Diamond_Stone33) March 28, 2015
He was once a Kentucky recruit, but chose Maryland over Wisconsin, UCONN and Oklahoma State. I guess Kentucky can’t have ALL the five-star recruits.
The Coaching Carousel is Going Round and Round
Big news today in the SEC as Tennessee fired Donnie Tyndall this morning. Tyndall, who just completed his first year in Knoxville was let go presumably for an investigation when he was the head coach at Southern Miss. Steve Lavin was also fired today from St. John’s. There are plenty of big name programs out there that should have some interesting hires this offseason.
Louisville Joins Kentucky in the Elite Eight
I think we all can admit it’s pretty impressive that Rick Pitino has Louisville in the Elite Eight again, with a 10-point win over North Carolina State tonight. This team has struggled all season scoring and obviously lost starting point guard Chris Jones. Might just have to start penciling in Kentucky teams in the Elite Eight all the time now.
Kentucky Opens as an 11-point Favorite
It shouldn’t shock anyone, but Kentucky will be favored by double digits tomorrow. If you’re in a certain city in the desert, the Wildcats opened giving 11 points to the Irish. Cats by more than 11.
We’ll be back at it tomorrow at 10 a.m. Until then here’s a picture of three goggles in front of Touchdown Jesus.