Kentucky Sports Radio

University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.

Top Story

Featured Stories

Photo by Chet White, UK Athletics

20 Things We’re Thankful For This Year

thanksgiving

Ahh, Thanksgiving. That wonderful time of year when it’s socially acceptable to go back to the buffet for thirds–and oh yeah, reflect on the things in life for which we are truly thankful. In the Big Blue Nation, you’ve got the five standards: basketball, Calipari, bourbon, a sober ride home from Keeneland, and Kentucky Sports Radio, but this year, I’ve come up with a few more…

Aaron Harrison game-winner vs. Michigan

1. Aaron Harrison

…and his cajones. Without Harrison’s heroics, it’s hard to imagine what this season would be like. Would the Twins still be here? Would Willie? Thank God we don’t have to know.

2. Seriously’s GIFs on the live blog

The KSR live blogs are always entertaining, but Seriously took things up a notch when he started posting random and hilarious GIFs. The secret to Seriously’s talent is his timing, and he’s become such a staple of the live blog that when he’s not able to participate, we all do this:

3. UNC hypocrisy exposed

Although the NCAA has yet to hand out their punishment, the UNC academic scandal was finally exposed this fall, leaving entitled Tarheels everywhere grasping for straws. As I’m sure Fake Barney will tell you, there is no greater joy than seeing a North Carolina fan attempt to justify 18 years of academic fraud by saying “everyone does it, we just got caught.” Seriously? Hush.

4. Our Funkhouser friends

Our friends on the Funkhouser pop culture blog are doing work, and if you don’t already have it bookmarked, you should. Tomlin’s article on “cutting the cord” on cable TV still makes me consider doing it every now and again.

UKNBA

5. The NBA Cats

All 19 of them. Not only are former UK players taking over the league in numbers, they’re dominating every major statistical category.

Photo by Aaron Borton | UK Athletics

Photo by Aaron Borton | UK Athletics

6. Dancing Guy

Darren Moscoe, aka “Dancing Guy,” has been a staple at UK games for years, and when Rupp slips into a coma as it often does, nothing gets it stirring more than “Mony Mony.” Even if his rail slides make us slightly uncomfortable, there’s no denying that Dancing Guy makes Rupp Arena a more entertaining place.

CalDroppingMic

7. Swaggy Cal

Because this season, there isn’t any other kind.

creanwhaa

8. Tom Crean

Please keep ruining Indiana.

Photo by Chet White, UK Athletics

Photo by Chet White, UK Athletics

9. Hope

In retrospect, the win over South Carolina isn’t as impressive as we thought at the time, but beating Spurrier and the Gamecocks under the lights at Commonwealth was a special moment for the football program. We may have a long ways to go, but we’re just getting started, bro.

10. The SEC Network

Sure, they still struggle to keep the camera on the ball sometimes, but thanks to them, we get to see the Cats on a legitimate TV network a lot more often. Bonus points for putting a mic on Cal during basketball games.

11. Ryan Lemond

We’ve loved Ryan Lemond for years, but he truly came into his own in 2014. Body Shapes Medical helped Ryan become Skinny Ryan and now, he’s truly flourishing in his role as the lovable, goofy sidekick/hype man. UK even trusted Ryan to emcee the halftime festivities at Rupp, and so far, he’s tackled the UK mascot and broken his glasses, all while damning the man by wearing his KSR gear. What will Ryan do next?

12. A renovated Commonwealth Stadium

A stadium with actual character and amenities coming to you soon in Fall 2015.

13. Snapchat

A KSR insider tip: if Drew Franklin’s Snapchat story is longer than 80 seconds, it’s 90% likely I’ll have the morning shift the next day.

Photo by Clay Jackson

Photo by Clay Jackson

14. Kentucky’s chrome helmets

When Kentucky football finally became cool.

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 5.26.30 PM

15. Matt Elam carrying the American flag

Or the Kentucky state flag. Is there a more beautiful sight?

© Mark Zerof | Getty

© Mark Zerof | Getty

16. Leadership

The evolution of Andrew Harrison has been one of the underrated storylines this season. After struggling last year, Andrew finally found his way during the postseason and is the clear leader of this team, despite having a different point guard being on the floor half of the game. Andrew hasn’t always enjoyed his experience at UK, which makes his smile even sweeter this season.

Darrell Bird | CatsPause.com

Darrell Bird | CatsPause.com

17. Resilience

Senior defensive end Bud Durpee could have left for the NFL after last season, but decided to come back to help Mark Stoops rebuild the Kentucky program. Dupree spent the summer in the weight room with Erik Korem, and as a result, became even more of a freak athlete. Throughout the Cats’ slide this season, I couldn’t help but think of Dupree’s wish for at least one celebratory plane ride home before his college career ends. If Kentucky does beat Louisville on Saturday, Joe Craft better charter his private jet for Dupree’s victory tour.

Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

18. Teamwork

Five players working together towards one goal is enough for most teams. Six players is great, seven ideal. But ten, twelve if you count the platoons’ sixth men? The ’96 team played ten players, but how Cal’s doing it, giving each player roughly 20 minutes of playing time each? That’s unheard of.

celebrate1brothers3

19. Celebrations

Because chances are if the team looks like they’re having fun, they’re having fun.

20. Unfinished business

See you soon, Indy.


The KSR Secret Home-And-Home Series Revealed: UCLA!

UCLA head coach Steve Alford spilled the beans to ESPN.com on the top secret home-and-home series KSR teased you about on the radio last week. It’s a deal with UCLA that would send Big Blue Nation to California next season. UCLA would then come to Rupp Arena in 2016, making it three straight years we’ll see the Bruins.

Josh Hopkins, you live in Los Angeles, your thoughts?


© Mark Zerof

Nine notes from something that’s becoming unbelievable

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

I mean, what can you say? For the sixth game in a row, Kentucky steamrolled their opponent and looked pretty much invincible. Behind strong defense, guard play, and a couple of hot-handed freshmen, the Cats took care of business before Thanksgiving break, rolling UT-Arlington 92-44. Let’s break down every beautiful second.

Once again, it was a balanced affair

Platoons promote balance, and so far this season, it’s worked. Tonight, six Cats scored in double figures, and no Cats played more than 21 minutes. To Cal, that says it all. “The story is you have ten guys sharing minutes. That’s the whole story,” Cal said. “Why is that happening? Because they’re allowing it to happen. Is anybody being hurt by this? No.”

There were some tweaks with the platoons, but Calipari said that’s because he told the players to sub out their teammates if they weren’t playing with energy. “Now, they must respect the minutes they’re getting,” Cal said. “If not, they’re going to get less because the guy on the bench is just going to go in for him, say I’m not giving you minutes if you’re not going to play. Compete. Quit being tentative. Play hard, or I’m going back in.”

© Mark Zerof

© Mark Zerof

Karl Towns finally had the complete game he’s been looking for

Karl Towns has been impressive on defense so far this season, but we’ve yet to see him show off his skills on offense like he did in the Bahamas. Towns recorded his first career double-double tonight, with 13 points off perfect 5-5 shooting from the floor and 11 rebounds. He also had four assists, three blocks, and a steal. Maybe the most impressive part? He did that all in 17 minutes. “Karl really played better today,” Cal said. “But now he’s missing free throws.” Something tells me you’ll see KAT in the gym late tonight.

“We don’t see each other as a basketball team,” Karl said on the radio after the game. “We look at each other as a family. Willie, Dakari, they are my brothers.”

Devin Booker’s hands are still red hot

After going 1-for-11 from behind the arc in the first three games, Devin Booker has been on fire, shooting 12-of-17 from three-point land in the past three games. Booker led all scorers for the second game in a row, with 19 points, including five threes. In the first half, he had just as many points as the entire UT-Arlington team. Even more, Calipari said that Devin’s buying in on defense, which has changed his game completely.

Most surprising stat of the night: Dakari’s free throw shooting

Coming into the game, Dakari was 12-25 from the free throw line. Tonight, he was 12-14. What was the difference? Maybe it was the Yip Lady, or maybe it was some cold hard truth from Cal. “I’m happy for him, he does want to play and he knows I’m not playing him at the end of the game if he can’t make free throws,” Cal said. Whatever it was, it worked. Keep it up, Dakari.

Josh Hopkins was the Y, and it was great

A dream fulfilled.

Even sick, Alex found a way to help

Tonight was Alex Poythress’ first game back from illness, but you could tell he was still under the weather. “Alex was sick today, you knew he was going to struggle,” Cal said after the game. Even so, Poythress pulled down nine rebounds and had four blocks and four points, and seemed to come to life a little bit in the second half. The three spot is really the only one still in flux on both platoons, but at least that gives us something to nitpick.

UT Arlington’s coach is like the voice inside our head

After the game, UT-Arlington’s head coach Scott Cross joked that, for his squad, at least it was “all downhill from here.” Cross said it was impossible to prepare for UK’s size, even if he made his guys stand on chairs. Then, he said the little thing we’re all thinking but still too scared to say.

“I think it is very possible for them to go undefeated,” Cross said. “The way they’re playing right now, I find it hard to believe that anybody could beat them right now.”

I think that calls for some dunks.

How can you not root for this?

As I said earlier, I’m not sure there are words for what we’re seeing this team do right now. Defensively, this is something special, and tonight, Calipari said they can still be better. “This team has a chance to be one of those teams you talk about defensively – like of all-time, if they choose to be,” Cal told reporters. Let’s take a minute to sit and appreciate that.

The best part is the stuff you won’t hear from many national writers: this perfect storm is happening because the players want it to. “In this day and age, every one of these kids has pro aspirations and pro potential, and they’re draftable players, and they’re doing this for each other. This is crazy,” Cal said. “In our society, where everybody talks about the me and mine and narcissism and all that, why wouldn’t you root for this to happen and be good?”

No really, how can you not root for this?


Mark Zerof | USA Today

Kentucky sneaks past Montana State, 86-28

Mark Zerof | USA Today

Mark Zerof | USA Today

That, my friends, was a lopsided basketball game. Montana State, a team that recently lost to Grand Canyon by 16, made the long trip to Lexington for a shot at the nation’s best and it did not go well for the Bobcats. Not at all. UK held them to 19 percent shooting on 61 attempts in the entire game. Blocks, there were plenty of them and some were violent. The official count credits UK with 12, though it seemed like 80. It was a 40-minute defensive performance from the boys in blue and white.

Let’s discuss a little bit of it, shall we?

 

UK held Montana State to 28 points. Twenty. Eight. Points.

It was the lowest point total from an opposing team since the invention of the shot clock. Take a second to process that one. No UK opponent was as bad at scoring the basketball in one game. And somehow, please tell me if you know, this same Montana State team scored 78 points against UCLA last weekend. That tells me fans should be pretty confident about the game in Chicago next month.

Montana State went over 13 minutes without scoring.

There were no bigger Montana State fans in the world than the 22,000 people wearing blue in Rupp Arena. Rarely do you see Big Blue Nation passionately cheer for the visiting team, but that was the case during the second half when the poor Bobcats couldn’t add to the scoreboard. We knew right away the game was headed that direction when Montana State couldn’t get the ball up the floor. It was laughable for a second, then it became sad because it was so unfair.

It was a rough start for Kentucky, believe it or not.

You wouldn’t know it by looking at the final score but the Cats got off to a very poor start. They went 0-for-10 from the field to begin the game and actually trailed by one point at 2-1. Coach Cal said, “We score one point in the first four minutes. Come on, are you kidding me? Now we were good enough to hold them to two, but that’s ridiculous. And again, we have got to work on that. We can’t start games like that.”

Montana State made one more field goal than Kansas, so there’s that.

Just another reminded of how truly special that win in Indianapolis was.

Book ‘em Devin.

After scoring 15 points against Boston Friday night, Devin Booker’s hot hand continued with 18 points to lead all scorers on Sunday. Booker held a late game lead over Montana State, the entire team, at 18-17 with a little over seven minutes left, but he fell in the end, 28-18.

The freshman has been putting in a lot of work on his shot before and after practices. He made some changes to his footwork and it’s been very clear the hard work is paying off.

The 2012 block record is in serious jeopardy.

Kentucky holds the NCAA record for blocks in a single season with 344 in 2012, the Anthony Davis season. That team averaged 8.6 blocks per game on the year. Assuming this team plays 40 games, and that’s a very realistic assumption, it will break that record if it keeps up its current pace of 9.8 blocks. They’re on track for 392 right now.

Alex Poythress recorded another DNP.

Calipari expects Alex to practice on Monday and return to action Tuesday night against UT Arlington. He’s been missed but it’s been a blast watching Dominique Hawkins get more PT.

If Sam Malone isn’t your favorite player on the team, well, I don’t know what’s wrong with you.

I’ve watched this well over a hundred times and I’m not slowing down.

You gotta get that board, B-Long.

Dan Issel joined us on the KSR pregame show and he was great.

Ryan and I called up Kentucky’s all-time leading scorer from the radio bullpen to help us close out the pregame show. Issel had a lot of good things to say, especially when I asked him if he could play in a platoon system. “No, I have to play more than a half,” he said. You can listen to the entire interview below:

And with that, I’m off to enjoy my Sunday night.

Go Cats, everybody.


(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Eight notes from a letdown rout

After flying high after the rout over Kansas, the Cats needed to be pulled back to Earth a bit, and tonight, the Boston Terriers tried their best to play the spoiler. Of course, UK still won by 24, but that seems to be a pattern this season: even with an incomplete performance, the Cats are big and strong enough to cruise. Let’s go through the highlights.

Hangovers are real, yo

The first half wasn’t pretty. As predicted, UK jogged out of the gate after the huge win over Kansas, and to their credit, the Terriers were truly pesky, nipping at the Cats’ heels like the friskiest of Jack Russells. “We did not fight in the first half,” Calipari said. “I expected a letdown, I was just hoping it wouldn’t be too bad.” After the game, Boston head coach Joe Jones acknowledged that his squad may have caught Kentucky at a good moment after the thrilling win over Kansas.”I thought it was always hard to get up for a game like this when they had such a big game and they played so well in that game,” Jones said. “I was using everything at my disposal.”

Jones is a character and obviously loved the spotlight of UK’s stage. After he was done with his press conference, he “accidentally” tried to walk into the wrong locker room, joking “Is this Kentucky? I’m going to change teams.”

Really, can we keep him?

Ryan Lemond tackled the UK mascot at halftime

In case you haven’t been to a game yet this season, Ryan Lemond now handles halftime festivities, emceeing halfcourt shots. Tonight, the UK mascot made the halfcourt shot, and Ryan tackled him in celebration.

Yes, those are zippers on his back pockets. Zipper pockets on the jeans! Mark this down as a show topic for Monday.

Boston got chippy

The second half escalated quickly. Boston stayed right with Kentucky for the first ten minutes thanks to several fouls from the refs, which sucked up any life in Rupp Arena. The officials called a double technical on Aaron Harrison and Cedric Hankerson, and another technical on Nathan Dieudonne. Boston clearly wasn’t scared of the Cats, jawing and scrapping until the end. In fact, UK only won the rebounding battle by five; however, the Cats opened it up with about seven minutes left, cracking BU’s 2-3 zone by going to their strengths: length and lobs.

Andrew Harrison got mad

Andrew Harrison only had eight points tonight, but I’d argue he shifted the momentum in the second half. After the refs tried to choke any and all rhythm from the court, Andrew got mad, driving the ball, drawing a foul, and sinking two free throws. He followed that up with a beautiful lob to Willie Cauley-Stein. Andrew also had five assists, second to only to Devin Booker, the star of the game. UK shared the ball better than they have all season tonight with 24 assists, the most in a game since dishing out 28 vs. LIU-Brooklyn in 2012.

Speaking of Harrisons, Aaron had a lot of these, too:

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Devin Booker took over

Remember when Devin Booker finally found his shot vs. Kansas? That hot streak continued tonight, and in the second half, it seemed like Devin couldn’t miss. He finished with 15 points off 5-8 shooting, 4-6 from behind the arc. Even better were Booker’s seven assists, a team high. Booker admitted that getting his shot to go down vs. Kansas was a huge confidence boost. “Finally got to see a shot go in. so, that was good,” Booker told reporters afterwards. “Shooters keep shooting. I feel like I kind of shot myself out of it and from here on out I’ll be good.”

Still looking for a full performance

It seems crazy, but we still haven’t seen a complete performance from the Cats. Tonight, the offense finally flowed in the second half thanks to Aaron and Devin, but the defense struggled. On defense, Calipari said that against Kansas, UK looked like a “January team,” whereas tonight, they looked like a “November team.” He also issued his standard disclaimers, warning that this team isn’t as great as everyone is making them out to be. “We all expect this team to be world-beaters every time out, and let me say this, folks: they’re not going to be,” Cal said.

I get Cal’s point, but the fact that it’s only November and the team looks this good and still has room to improve has me heading to bed happy. These quotes from Boston head coach Joe Jones help. “They have so many guys that someone is gonna get hot. They are so good,” Jones said. “Even though it was a close game, they were playing as a team. You can win big that way.”

“They’ve got a chance to get better and better. That’s the scary thing.”

Really, let’s keep him.

Meanwhile, in Athens, Georgia…

@D00bin

LOL. No, you don’t.

This dunk by Dominique Hawkins is all you need to see

Dominique got the start after Alex Poythress sat out because of illness, and made the most of it with this dunk, the first of his career at Kentucky. “Now people know I can dunk. I feel like I’m the best dunker on the team,” Dominique said.

There’s no topping that. Enjoy the rare Saturday off.


10 Things To Know About The Boston Terriers

Until I looked at the schedule around noon today, I’m not sure I could’ve told you who Kentucky had on the schedule tomorrow night. I might’ve said Boston, maybe, but I don’t know. I’m still in celebration mode from Tuesday night. Go Cats.

However, eventually we have to move on and focus on the challenge ahead, so tonight I buckled down and did some research — like, looking up who Kentucky plays — on the upcoming opponent.

Do you know much about Boston University basketball? If the answer is no, and I assume it is, you’ll feel much more informed after you read all of the important information I dug up below. Thank me later.

*****

1.) The Terriers are 1-1 on the season.

Northeastern defeated Boston University in TD Garden in the season opener, 71-65. Northeastern then went on to beat Florida State in Tallahassee two days later, so they’re no joke.

Boston bounced back last night against Norfolk State with a 71-63 win in Norfolk to move back to .500 on the young season.

2.) Boston competes in the Patriot League.

The Patriot League is a conference made up of private institutions of higher education and two U.S. service academies, Army and Navy. Outside of the Ivy League, it is the most selective group of higher education institutions in NCAA Division I and has the highest student-athlete graduation rate for both the NCAA graduation success rate and the federal graduation rate.

A few other notable colleges in the conference are Bucknell, Holy Cross and Lehigh, the latter being the team that upset second-seeded Duke in the NCAA tourney a few years ago.

3.) The Terriers were the preseason conference favorite six of the last seven years, but begin 2014-15 at No. 6.

It is the lowest preseason conference ranking for Boston in its history, sharing the honor with sixth-place starts in 1999 and 2000. The Terriers opened the season with three brand news starters, in addition to more roster turnover across the board. Only two players returned from a season ago.

So they’re new.

4.) The school’s colors are scarlet and white.

Scarlet is a fancy word for red. It was originally called torch red in your crayon boxes until Crayola changed it to scarlet in 1998.

5.) According to the American Kennel Club, the Boston Terrier is an “All-American” dog.

“It is a lively and highly intelligent breed with an excellent disposition. Conveying an impression of determination, strength and activity, he is short-headed and compactly built, and must be black, brindle or seal with white markings.”

Fun fact: Helen Keller had a Boston Terrier named Phiz, given to her by her classmates, and that has absolutely nothing to do with tomorrow’s basketball game. Joan Rivers, Warren G. Harding and Gerald Ford also owned Boston Terriers, another useless fact.

6.) Starting guard Cheddi Mosely played AAU basketball with Karl Towns and new UK signee Isaiah Briscoe.

Mosely was a member of the 2013 NJ Playaz AAU squad, one of Tomlin’s favorites at the Peach Jam. The year before, Cheddi suited up for IZOD — yes, IZOD has an AAU team — with one Karl-Anthony Towns.

Mosely was the seventh-ranked recruit in the state of New Jersey’s 2014 class.

7.) The last time the Terriers played the No. 1 team, they lost by 17.

Boston opened the 2005-06 college basketball season with a trip to Durham to face No. 1 Duke in Cameron Indoor. That Blue Devils team featured J.J. Redick, Shelden Wiliams, Greg Paulus and Josh McRoberts.  Boston held a first half lead for nearly 12 minutes but fell in the end, 64-47.

8.) Rhett the Boston Terrier got his name from “Gone With The Wind.”

Because “no one loves Scarlet more than Rhett,” says the novel.

Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.

9.) Starting forward Nathan Dieudonne is from Louisville.

Dieudonne was named Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball and Gatorade Player of the Year in 2012 after leading Trinity to its first state title in school history. He was the MVP in the state title game and finished his senior season with 14 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.3 assists per game.

Now a junior at Boston, he started 34 of 35 games in 2013-14 and is coming off an 11-point outing in last night’s win over Norfolk State.

10.) Boston opened up as a 29-point underdog against Kentucky.

I’ll take the Cats for all of the money in my bank account, please.


Closing the book on an awesome Tuesday night in freezing Indianapolis

Closing the book on an awesome Tuesday night in freezing Indianapolis

@HowardWKYT

KSR has had plenty of coverage from last night’s game here on the site, including opinions from both Matt and Tyler, but as the only KSR representative in attendance last night, I’d like to write a few words myself, if you don’t mind. (We have to justify the hotel and travel expenses.)

By now you’ve read all of the quotes and seen all of the stats, but I have a few stories and takeaways from what was an exciting scene in Indianapolis. Allow me to ramble for a bit and then we’ll close the book on Kentucky’s annihilation of college basketball’s fifth-ranked team.

*****

A Duke fan projectile vomited at my feet as soon as I walked in the door.

I wasn’t a hundred steps in the building when I ran into Mark Krebs in the concourse area on the main level, about to put in work on a Papa John’s pizza. I said hello to Mark and started to tell him about the massacre we would soon witness, until a young man in a black Carlos Boozer jersey came sprinting through the entrance to Section 1, directly toward us, with his hand over his mouth. There was no escaping what was about to happen.

Forgive me if this is too descriptive, but it came spewing through all of his fingers — there was no catching this flood — and across the concourse floor, right up toward my feet. There was so much of it and it covered so much of Bankers Life’s nicely polished floor. I mean he really let out some fluids.

Now, most people would be very upset in this situation, however, I am not most people. (I think I’ve been angry twice in my life.) I began laughing, as one should when a Duke fan can’t handle their booze in public, as several UK fans broke into PUUUUUKKKKEEE chants right on cue. The poor guy, now 20 pounds lighter, tried to run for the border but he couldn’t escape the ongoing PUUUUKKKKKE taunts as I watched him stumble around the corner, covered in his own dinner.

It wasn’t the ideal way to begin my evening in the arena, but once it dried on the bottom of my shoe, I was glad it happened.

Coach Cal took Krebs back to the locker room.

It wasn’t all pizza and dodging vomit for Mark; Cal pulled him out of the crowd and took him back to the locker room after the win. It’s good to see he loves being around all of his former players, not just the ones with max deals in the NBA.

World Wide Wes was in town.

Because of course World Wide Wes was in town. Here he is with a fan outside the arena:

@KyleD_Riggs

He was also spotted in Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles and Buenos Aires last night.

To the woman wearing the UK scarf on the big screen during the Dance Cam…

I felt a connection between us when you were dancing, while I ate stale popcorn and beef jerky out of my backpack on the other side of the building. Did you feel it, too? It’s like we were the only two people in the entire arena. Nothing else mattered. Time stood still and all I could see was you and all I could hear was the sweet sounds of Pharrell Williams. It felt so invigorating. Tell me it was mutual. Tell me that moment, that moment when our souls met, was the beginning of something special. Something real.

You’re my #WCW today and forever. Marry me? Please?

There was a line to get in Tin Roof by 3:30 pm.

You people are crazy.

I won’t mention any names, but the two people I rode up with were two pregame shots of Fireball away from outscoring Kentucky:

fireball

Which reminds me… WHO ORDERED THE CHICKEN & WAFFLE NUGGETS AND WHY DIDN’T I GET A BITE????!!!!

The media room meal wasn’t free and you would’ve thought it was the Apocalypse when everyone found out it cost eight dollars.

There isn’t a whinier group of people than the media at a big event like the Champions Classic. If I had one dollar for every time I heard someone complain about having to pay for the food, I would’ve had enough money to order St. Elmo takeout for all of them, and told them to choke on it. Seriously. Some of those people acted like the poor girls working the buffet were asking for the severed head of a firstborn child for access to the nacho bar. It’s eight dollars. Cheap, no, but fans are paying 12 bucks for a bratwurst 200 feet above you, and they’re not getting reimbursed. Get over yourself. You’re not that important, some most of you aren’t at all. You get paid to write about sports. Pull out your wallet like an adult and purchase the meal if you’re hungry.

I heard SO MUCH of this:

“What do you mean we have to pay?”

“Hey man, did you hear? The food isn’t free.”

“I can’t believe we have to pay for dinner here.”

“They charged us last year too. Unbelievable.”

Since when did going to work come with a free meal? From the bottom of my heart, and I mean this, I hate everyone who complained and wish awful, awful things on their appetites and bank accounts. And they’re lucky I’m not mentioning names.

Rant over.

Shout-out to Larry Vaught and Darrell Bird.

I was seconds away from death by frostbite when I was rescued by Larry Vaught and Darrell Bird outside the arena prior to the game. I had done a full lap around the place, looking for the media entrance, and was ready to accept my fate when they found me and led me inside. I honestly thought it was the end. You know when Jack is saying goodbye to Rose in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean as the Titanic sinks in the distance? That was me, maybe colder. Then Larry and Darrell appear out of nowhere and I’m able to live to see another day. Thanks, guys.

And in my defense, the media entrance was hidden and the tiny sign on the door was in Spanish. Let’s do something about that, Bankers Life.

Richard Branson cheers for KU and he might’ve cried a little bit after the game.

thor-kansas

Not to kick a Thor impersonator when he’s down, but this guy was having a hard time dealing with the loss when I saw him in the back after the game. Poor guy was emotional. I wanted to tell him to cheer up because he has a bright future on the midwest independent wrestling circuit, but I was too busy taking selfies for my SnapChat story. Priorities, ya know?

There were far too many Indiana fans at the game.

First it was a fat man wearing plaid shorts and an IU basketball t-shirt — may I remind you it was freezing outside — and I thought, okay, one doucher snuck in to do douche things, whatever. Then I saw another and another and another until I realized they’re all inside to catch a glimpse at good basketball.

Coach Cal was walking around like this:

The postgame media scene was full of shock and disbelief.

No one had Kentucky winning that game by 32 points and there was nothing but looks of utter disbelief in the back as stats and game notes kept coming out throughout the night. I sat next to Pat Forde and Dana O’Neil, two of Cal’s biggest haters, and even they couldn’t come up with something negative to say. Kentucky shut all of the naysayers up and I sat back, propped my feet up, and enjoyed watching the scene in the media room. (Some of them looked really hungry, too.)

What a night in Indy.

Cats.


GIFs from last night, beatdown edition

GIFs from last night, beatdown edition

cal-fistpump

Fourteen hours and four cups of tea later, I’m still not over that win. The Cats didn’t only beat Kansas, they demoralized them. There were so many great moments during the game that narrowing them down to a handful of GIFs was nearly impossible; however, I’ll take any excuse to watch that game over again, so I stepped up to the task. How badly did John Calipari want that win? His near violent fist pump headlines this week’s edition of GIFs from last night.

Alex may only have had four points, but he kicked off the block party with these two swats:

alexblock1

alexblock2

How excited was Cal when UK extended the lead to 24-9 in the first half?

cal-hyped

He was so swaggy he just laughed off the bad calls:

humgiddygiddy

After Jason King told us about Willie’s frequent insecurity, it was nice to see him dunk with authority:

willie-dunk

Read Cal’s lips after this bogus foul on Willie Cauley-Stein:

calscream

No, really, read his lips. I can’t tell what he’s saying.

Just in case you need a reminder of why Andrew is the leader, this amazing “and one”:

andrewandone1

Afterwards, the normally stoic Andrew couldn’t help but let some emotion out:

andrewcelebrate

Karl Towns took it old school with this sky hook:

karlsky

Derek Willis gets buckets:

willisthree

And then there was all of the brother keeping:

bk1

brothers1brothers3


(Photo: Darrell Bird, 247Sports)

The Anatomy of a Beatdown

(Photo by Darrell Bird, CatsPause.com) 

Since the summer, all of the talk in college basketball has been whether or not John Calipari’s platoon system will work. ‘They have too much talent,’ the pundits said. ‘Those players will never be satisfied only playing 20 minutes a game.’ Even after Kentucky won five games against professional teams in the Bahamas, the chatter still continued. ‘Wait until the regular season,’ they scoffed. ‘The rationing of minutes will mess with team chemistry.’ When Kentucky beat Grand Canyon by 40, they stayed quiet; when Kentucky struggled against Buffalo and “only” won by 19, they pounced. ‘Calipari’s already abandoning the platoon system!,’ they cheered, failing to mention that Cal only strayed because Karl Towns was in foul trouble. ‘It’ll never last!,’ they rejoiced.

Tonight, the haters were silenced. Kentucky blew Kansas out of the water in icy Indianapolis by a final score of 72-40. The beatdown was so bad that Bill Self asked for vodka in the postgame press conference. UK’s platoons rolled over the state border and pummeled Kansas with smothering defense, holding them to 19.6% from the field and only 12 points in the second half. What was UK’s battle plan? Let’s break it down.

It was a nervous start

By the time the game finally started at 9:30 p.m., everyone was a bundle of nerves, including the players. It seems crazy to say now, but the first five minutes of the game were a mess, with both teams playing sloppy and bodies flying all over the place. The white platoon came in and steadied things a bit, and when the blue platoon came back in at the 11-minute mark, it was over. Kentucky went on a 10-0 run to stretch the lead to 15, and when they let up on the gas a little bit in the last few minutes of the half, Kansas made a small comeback to narrow the gap to ten going into intermission. It didn’t last.

How appropriate that MKG was in the stands for this defensive performance

Appropriately, MKG was in the stands for this amazing defensive performance

It took Kansas 5 minutes and 21 seconds to score in the second half…

…and that was only on a free throw. It became very clear early on that Kansas was incapable of driving on Kentucky, and at times, look downright terrified as they looked into the paint. Kentucky had 11 blocks, which is also the same number of field goals Kansas made the entire game. The block party was so raucous that Jay Bilas joked during the broadcast that the Cats had carpel tunnel from all the blocked shots they were getting.

As mentioned earlier, UK held Kansas to 12 points in the second half, or 13% from the floor. We haven’t seen that kind of defensive performance since 2012, which is particularly appropriate because MKG was in the stands. “We kind of bum-rushed them a little bit and every time they looked there were more tanks coming over the hill. It wasn’t substitutes; it was reinforcements,” Cal said. “Here they come. It kind of gets to you a bit, and I think that’s what happened.”

You know Calipari’s happy when he breaks out quotes like this about his defense: “What we did is we really covered for each other. We had the helper helping the helper.”

humgiddygiddy

It was a balanced affair

The crazy part? UK didn’t even play well offensively. Eleven Cats scored and no Cat scored more than eleven points. You know it’s an odd night when Dakari Johnson is your leading scorer. Dakari had eleven, followed by Andrew Harrison with ten, the only two Cats who scored in double figures. “We have a long way to go offensively. We have to figure out how to get more motion. Today, we jammed it in, but we won’t be able to do every game,” Cal said, telling reporters he anticipates future opponents using more zone to make the Cats shoot from the outside. That being said, Kentucky missed a lot of gimme shots and jumpers, and once those start to fall…

bbnlike

Brother Keeping to the max

When he arrived at Kentucky over five years ago, Calipari was labeled the king of the one-and-dones, the soothsayer of the selfish AAU prima donnas. Kentucky has been branded the NBA factory, where kids stop for one season before getting their check, and outsiders want you to believe they don’t care about school, fans, or each other.

The platoon system smacks that stereotype right across the face. This season, Calipari is asking his players for the ultimate sacrifice, and in the first real test, it worked. “There’s no way if we didn’t have solid, selfless kids to do what we’re doing and giving them half a game. We’re playing them half a game and they’re accepting it,” Cal said after the game. “Unless they allow us to do this, we can’t do it. And that showed today what we’re about.”

Tell me, are these the faces of selfish players?

phpFwUEXrimage B2xyE6BIEAA47W7 B2xtS0ZIQAAi70P B2xukYMIUAAS07K happycats

It’s only November, and yes, there’s a long way to go, but man, it’s going to be one hell of a ride.


10 things to know about the Kansas Jayhawks

10 things to know about the Kansas Jayhawks

RICH SUGG The Kansas City Star

Tomorrow night, Kentucky will take on Kansas in the Champions Classic in Indianapolis, and to get ready, let’s get to know the 2014-2015 version of the Jayhawks.

Like Kentucky, they lost two great players to the pros, but have key returning veterans

Kansas and Kentucky had similar roster turnover during the offseason, with Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid going first and third in the NBA Draft. Like Kentucky, they have some key returning players (junior forward Perry Ellis and sophomore guard Wayne Selden) and another crop of talented freshmen (Cliff Alexander, Devonte Graham, Kelly Oubre). While freshmen-laden teams are the norm at Kentucky, having freshmen as the core of his squad is something Bill Self’s still getting used to. Self has called this group his youngest and most inexperienced team ever.

They only beat UC Santa Barbara by ten points

Yes, Kentucky didn’t look great vs. Buffalo yesterday or at times vs. Grand Canyon on Friday; however, Kansas didn’t exactly shoot the lights out in their opener either. In fact, the Jayhawks only beat UC Santa Barbara by ten points. For most of the game, Kansas looked choppy and awkward, thanks in part to UCSB’s zone, and struggled to contain Alan Williams, who could be an All-American candidate. Kansas only made three of its first ten shots and went more than five minutes without a field goal. The Shiver’s Matt Scott called it “brutal basketball to watch.” Sound familiar? Eventually, Kansas figured out UC-Santa Barbara’s zone and got their act together, thanks in part to a stellar performance by a freshman, which should also sound pretty familiar.

Devonte’ Graham has been their most impressive freshman so far

Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre are by far the most heralded of Kansas’ freshmen, both McDonald’s All-Americans who were recruited by Kentucky; however, it was Devonte’ Graham who stole the show Friday night. Like Tyler Ulis against Buffalo, the freshman guard helped save Kansas from an upset with a team-high 14 points on 5-8 shooting, including a key jumper to spark a 9-0 run in the first half. More importantly, he showed poise beyond his years and steadied the ship when Kansas’ starting guard Frank Mason picked up two early fouls.

They’ve got a Ukrainian on the team

Freshman guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk is from Cherkasy, Ukraine, which means he’ll get the Mike Krzrylakjsdfl;kajsdf treatment during the live blog. Ain’t nobody got time to correctly spell that. Mykasldjfa;d (see? Already an improvement) speaks three languages and also played ping pong in high school. Since coming to the States, he’s already managed to hurt himself in the most American way possible: eating too much Halloween candy.

Kelly Oubre didn’t have a great opener

The freshman only played four minutes and sat the entire second half during Kansas’ opener. When asked about it after the game, Self said Oubre’s limited playing time was intentional. “It was a coach’s decision,” Self said, “just trying to do what’s best for our team. It’s not a knock to Kelly. It’s just, he’s young.”

But, he does have this tattoo…

…which looks like it should be on the cover of an RL Stine book. In a contest of ugly tattoos, which one wins: this one or the mushroom cloud tattoo on Willie’s neck?

Bill Self really likes to talk about Kentucky and Calipari

Bill Self has been talking about Kentucky a lot lately, but then again, so has everyone in college basketball. Last week, Self raved about UK’s talent to USA Today. “There’s not a talented team in the last several years like Kentucky is going to have on paper,” Self said. “You have nine McDonald’s All-Americans. They have more McDonald’s All-Americans than the Lakers.”

In the same article, SMU head coach Larry Brown said that if you take UK’s first and second teams and split them up, they’d be #1 and #2 in the nation, and that Calipari “should go 45-0 with that talent.” When asked about Brown’s comments, Self said what we’re all thinking: why is Brown puffing Cal up for a fall? “Who knows what Larry’s doing; he may be mad at (Cal) about something,” Self said.

But back to praising the Cats. We like that. “Their program is so tradition-rich. It’s the bluest of the blue bloods. Ours is right with them,” Self said. “It’ll be fun. There’s a lot of history there.” I’d change that “right with them” to “right after them,” but hey, nice sentiment.

I can’t help but like their throwback jerseys

 

Normally adidas craps the bed when it comes to jerseys, but these throwbacks are pretty sweet. Or, maybe the designers at adidas just save all of their ugliest designs for Louisville, which I’m totally fine with.

Bill Self Bill Self’s toupee is the most interesting man thing in the world

This promo ran before Kansas’ annual Late Night in the Phog festivities and features Self dressing up as Ron Burgandy from “Anchorman,” which included him wearing a hairpiece on top of his hairpiece, by far the most interesting part of the promo for me.

Remember when Cliff Alexander’s dad did this?

cliff.0

I know Aaron Flener does. Not awesome enough for you? His dad can also do 360-degree dunks at age 40:

Wow.

They haven’t beaten Kentucky in 7 years

The last time the Jayhawks got the best of the Cats was the 2007 West Regional in Tubby Smith’s final game as coach. Since then, Kentucky has beaten them twice, first in the 2011 Champions Classic in New York, and of course, later that season in the 2012 National Championship.

Let’s push that streak to three tomorrow night.


The Cats got the wake up call they needed today

The Cats got the wake up call they needed today

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

Heading into this weekend, John Calipari said he wanted his team to be tested and face some adversity. He got his wish today. In a game all of us expected to be a rout, Buffalo didn’t just hang with the Cats, they outplayed them in the first twenty minutes, leading by five points headed into halftime. After the nightmare that was the Tennessee game, it was all starting to feel like a cruel joke, but thankfully, Kentucky got its act together and clamped down on defense, holding Buffalo to only 14 points in the second half, winning by a score of 71-52. Let’s run though the headlines so you can get back to football.

The first half was horrendous

Truly awful. I don’t know if the Cats were just sleepy or distracted trying to set their fantasy football lineups, but they might as well have not shown up. UK shot an atrocious 34% from the floor in the first half and let Buffalo totally control the tempo of the game. The most troubling part of the first half was how bad UK looked on both sides of the floor. “We were also disconnected offensively. Wasn’t just defense. It was both,” Cal said. “They had more energy than us. We were always a step behind.” UK’s woes were punctuated by Justin Moss’ filthy dunk on Willie Cauley-Stein:

The crowd reactions say it all:

B2lgY_8CEAA5HiX

The Cats looked so bad that one of Cal’s assistants suggested they scrap the platoon system

Kentucky looked so out of sync early on that someone on Cal’s staff suggested they abandon the platoon system altogether; however, Cal is still standing by his strategy. “Somebody on my staff said, ‘Do you want to …’ Stop. We’re playing how we’re playing.” Calipari did shake up the platoons today because Karl got in foul trouble, and even played Tyler Ulis alongside Aaron Harrison, which proves he’s willing to go with Tyler if Andrew’s not having a great day. For the foreseeable future, Calipari is sticking to the platoons, but it’s good to see that the lineups aren’t in cement.

Defense led the way in the second half

Down by five, I can’t imagine the locker room was a happy place at halftime. Calipari said he told his players that he was happy they were being embarrassed by Buffalo. “You know what? I’m happy this happened. And if you don’t start playing, you’ll lose, and I’ll be happy about that.” The Cats responded by turning up the defense, holding Buffalo to only 14 points off 4-19 shooting in the second half. It was like the team remembered how tall they are, protecting the rim and forcing ten turnovers. Bobby Hurley called UK’s defense in the second half “overwhelming.” Calipari said that’s the team he wants to see. “I want you to know they scored 14 points in the second half. That means we all defended. No one broke down,” Cal said. “The whole team had great energy in the second half. What we were in the second half, that’s who we should be.”

Three freshmen led the team in scoring

In a game in which they were tested, you would think the veterans would steady the ship; however, it was three freshmen that led the Cats in scoring today. Tyler Ulis and Trey Lyles had twelve points each, followed by Devin Booker with ten. “We subbed three freshmen in there and they executed down the stretch,” Cal said. Trey Lyles was particularly impressive, sparking a 9-0 run at the start of the second half with a three, a steal, and a dunk. And, Cal keeps reminding us that Trey still has a ways to go to catch up after being out all summer. “Trey Lyles gives us, on that second unit, unbelievable scoring ability,” Cal said. “He’s just learning to run fast. He’s just learning to play fast, yet be in control. This is a great team for him to play on.”

Tyler Ulis also provided a spark with 4-5 shooting from behind the arc and six assists. After a cold streak, it was good to see Devin Booker finally find his shot. Meanwhile, it just wasn’t Karl Towns’ day. Karl fouled out with only three points, but Cal said he told him not to sweat it. “What I said is if you didn’t play well, next game; move on. Whatever you thought, you thought you played well, it’s next game. I looked at Karl, next game, Karl.”

Alex came in like a wrecking ball

After a rough first half, Alex woke up and roared in the second with two spectacular back-to-back dunks to cap off a 8-0 run. That one above is almost enough to make me forget about Willie getting crammed on.

Thank goodness for wake up calls.

Was it the pretty blowout we all wanted? Definitely not. But it may be exactly what this team needed. Right, Cal? “For us to be able to have a game like this, this was a big time game for us. We needed this. We needed a team that could beat us on the dribble, that wasn’t afraid, that played physical, that had an inside presence.” Cal said. “We probably need another hit in the mouth. Let’s see where we are.” So let’s relax. It’s only November.


Andrew Bruckse | UT Athletics

From Bad to Worse

Andrew Bruckse/ UT Athletics

Andrew Bruckse/ UT Athletics

After four consecutive weeks of thorough ass-whoopins, we should have seen this coming.

The blowout loss at LSU wasn’t a surprise.  You couldn’t have asked for more from the Cats against #1 Mississippi State.  Losing at Mizzou was painfully bad, but the Cats managed to one-up that loss by getting blown away for 3 quarters in a 63-31 loss at home against Georgia.  The four-game losing streak was rough, but the #BBN believed the Cats could find their inner-MOJO against rival Tennessee.  Unfortunately, not much changed.

Tackling had been bad for the Cats, but the missed opportunities in the open field occurred more often than not.  Stopping the rush was out of the question.  The Cats started faster than normal, but stupid mistakes prevented them from doing anything with their early momentum.  Even when the Cats perfectly executed a flea-flicker, the UT defense had better pass coverage.

Like most of the last five games, there were moments where you thought the Cats had a chance.  But the few positives don’t stack up to the long list of negatives from today’s game.

Andrew Bruckse/UT Athletics

Andrew Bruckse/UT Athletics

The ugliest of the ugly

The defense couldn’t stop a high school team right now.  Tennessee and Georgia aren’t the most prolific offenses in the nation, but they made Stoops’ D look worse than a Hal Mumme defense.  Just through seven quarters of both games, the defense surrendered 1,027 yards and 12 touchdowns, while only forcing one punt.  Making the other team kick ha never been so difficult.

Tennessee only averaged 131 rushing yards per game, yet Kentucky gave up 214 today.  I can understand giving up yards to LSU’s Fournette or Georgia’s Chubb, but letting Jalen Hurd and Josh Dobbs run all over the field is unacceptable.

To the Cats’ credit, they couldn’t catch a break.  After a solid first drive (12 plays, 77 yards for a field goal), Patrick Towles injured his ankle, seemingly keeping the Kentucy offense from doing anything productive for two drives.  With Towles out of the game, Reese Phillips has hit during a throw, leaving the ball high in the air for the Vols to get an easy Pick-Six.  It might have been the most “Old Kentucky” play of the night, good for 7 of the Vols’ 14 points off Kentucky turnovers.  On the flip-side, Kentucky has only forced 3 turnovers during the 5-game losing streak after starting the season as one of the best in the nation at creating turnovers.

It was the first time in 20 years that Kentucky has given up 50 points in back-to-back games.  In that 20-year span, the Cats have given up 50 to the Vols on 8 different occasions.

Embedded image permalink

A Few Bright Spots

Jared Lorenzen was on to something when he picked Javess Blue as his game MVP.  It wasn’t enough to get the win, but Blue was the one guy that kept the Cats in the game.  At halftime, the Cats only had 195 yards of offense.  Blue was responsible for 129 of those yards, making him the 23rd player in UK history with 1,000 yards receiving.

Blue’s best smartest play came near the end of the half.  With only :10 left til half, Blue caught a pass across the middle.  He took a knee immediately, giving Austin MacGinnis 2-seconds to kick a 54-yard field goal, the longest in UK history.  MacGinnis is one of only three kickers in the nation with htree field goals over 50 yards (and he’s only a freshman).  The Cats couldn’t build sustainable momentum in the second half, but Blue’s play and MacGinnis’ leg gave them a chance.

Ryan Timmons received a lot of criticism heading into this week, but he responded how the BBN hoped the whole team would.  Timmons’ stats aren’t jaw-dropping (4 catches, 28 yards), but he made the routine plays in clutch situations.  With the ball inside the red zone, Timmons caught a tough 3rd down catch near the sidelines to keep hopes for a touchdown alive.  Towles ran in a touchdown the following play.

Where do we go from here?

Sitting at 5-1, our hopes and expectations were a little overzealous.  Hindsight is always 20/20, but Kentucky can still muster up a successful season.  Before the season, most of the BBN would’ve been pleased  heading into the Louisville game needing a win to become bowl eligible.  With a Bye Week looming, the Cats have enough time to recover from five straight weeks of losing.

The Cats can’t solve all of their problems in two weeks.  But if they treat Louisville like a Bowl Game, anything can happen.  Just ask Matt Roark.


Both Skal Labissiere and Isaiah Briscoe pick KENTUCKY

Both Skal Labissiere and Isaiah Briscoe pick KENTUCKY

SkalCat

BriscoeUK

2 for 2. C-A-T-S CATS CATS CATS!

More coming all night…


Everything we know about Skal Labissiere’s recruitment

There’s a very good chance 2015 big man Skal Labissiere becomes a Kentucky Wildcat tomorrow night. To say Skal’s recruitment has been bizarre would be an understatement and Gary Parrish’s article about it earlier today brings up even more questions, so I spent my day charting Skal’s journey from Haiti four years ago to his decision tomorrow night.

January 2010: A catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake rocks Haiti. Skal and his family were trapped inside their home in Port Au Prince as it collapsed around them, stuck in the rubble for three hours before being rescued. Eight months later, Labissiere moves to Memphis, Tennessee through the Reach Your Dream (RYD) foundation, a nonprofit organization that identifies and relocates talented kids to America from disadvantaged countries.

So, Skal came to Memphis because of the earthquake? Maybe, maybe not. Gerald Hamilton, who runs the RYD program, claims he had already heard about Skal’s basketball talents and was working to bring him to Memphis, with the final paperwork going through five days before the earthquake happened; however, other articles suggest that Hamilton didn’t know about Skal until afterwards, when Skal’s parents decided they wanted to send him to the US.

[CBSSports.com, Herald-Leader]

August 2010: Skal moves to Memphis to live with Hamilton and his family and starts working on his game, enrolling in Evangelical Christian School. The buzz begins.

October 2012: Skal takes his first unofficial visit to Memphis, who becomes the favorite in his recruitment

November 17, 2012: Kentucky offers Skal a scholarship on the same day he puts up 17 points, 13 rebounds and 9 blocked shots in Evangelical’s season opening win.

November 2013: Skal injures his back, is forced to miss his entire junior season.

July 2014: Skal mentions the possibility of playing overseas ala Emmanuel Mudiay. Gary Parrish reports that Hamilton has made inquiries as to whether or not there is a market overseas for a player like Skal.

[CBS Sports]

August 2014: Skal transfers to Lausanne Collegiate Prep, another private school in the Memphis area. Lausanne has a good basketball reputation and one five-star player on its roster already: Isaiah Stokes, the younger brother of former UT star/current Memphis Grizzlies forward Jarnell Stokes.

The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) ruled Skal ineligible for the 2014-2015 season. Why? He practiced with Emmanuel Christian three times that spring:

But TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress said he’d been informed by ECS that Labissiere had practiced three times this spring, meaning he’d be ineligible to participate in basketball at Lausanne or any other Shelby-Metro school. The TSSAA is the Tennessee’s governing body for high school athletics.

“If he transferred without the family having a bona fide change of address, he wouldn’t be eligible,” Childress said.

[Memphis Commercial Appeal]

September 2014: The TSSAA denies Skal’s hardship application.

September 16, 2014: John Calipari visits Skal, who says “Let’s just say [the visit] went great!”

skal-cal skal-selfie

September 19, 2014: Skal takes an official visit to Kentucky, where he reportedly loves the mattresses. “It was nice. It was really impressive and the level of players he played with was impressive as well,” Hamilton tells CatsPause.com’s Chris Fisher, also mentioning a meeting Skal had with Rock Oliver about how to bulk up his thin frame.

[CatsPause.com]

October 27, 2014: Skal announces he will play for Reach Your Dream Prep this season. Reach Your Dream Prep shares the name of the foundation run by Hamilton, who also coaches the squad. Hamilton created Reach Your Dream Prep so that Skal would have a team to play on his senior year while still taking classes at Lausanne.

A high-school athlete playing for a program outside of the school they attend is not unheard of. Findlay Prep, whose alumni include Rashad Vaughn, Kelly Oubre, and Anthony Bennett, isn’t an actual school; its players attend Henderson International School. However, Reach Your Dream Prep could get Skal in trouble with the NCAA if it’s not funded correctly.

[NBC Sports]

November 5, 2014: Reach Your Dream Prep postpones a game with the Memphis Mustangs because Skal is sick. An opposing coach agreeing to postpone a game because a team’s star is sick is absurd, and raises even more questions about Reach Your Dream Prep.

[92.9 FM Memphis]

Samuel Jean-Gilles (left) and Skal Labissiere (right). Photo via Memphis Commercial Appeal

November 7, 2014: Samuel Jean-Gilles, another Haitian refugee brought to the US with Skal by RYD, tells the Memphis Commercial Appeal that Hamilton moved him to Boston once he heard Jean-Gilles didn’t have potential to be a Division I athlete.

“They [were] guardians for me and they don’t want me anymore,” Jean-Gilles told the paper. “So I guess he did what he had to do. … If I was 6-feet-9, yes, it would have been different. I would have been [a Division I athlete], and he most definitely wouldn’t [have sent] me to Boston. People know what he’s trying to do. … If this is really how he’s trying to make money by using people, if that’s really how he’s doing it, I just feel bad for him.”

[Memphis Commercial Appeal]

November 11, 2014: The Sporting News’ Kami Mattioli interviews TSSAA assistant executive director Matthew Gillespie about Reach Your Dream Prep. Gillespie says he’s never heard of it and it’s not a member school or an umbrella school recognized by the TSSAA, therefore Skal is ineligible to play in any of the state’s postseason play or awards. Officials for the McDonald’s All-American game tell Mattioli Skal is ineligible for that as well.

Also, a request by the Sporting News into RYD’s tax records shows the foundation cannot operate a school as its main or secondary function.

[The Sporting News]

November 12, 2014: Gary Parrish publishes an article quoting Memphis AAU Coach Keith Easterwood saying that Hamilton had contacted him within the last two years to ask how to make money off a basketball player and reports that the NCAA is already planning to investigate Skal’s recruitment.

[CBS Sports]

November 13, 2014: Skal Labissiere announces he will attend __________.


7 takeaways from a fun romp in Rupp

7 takeaways from a fun romp in Rupp

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

I mean, what is there to say? There are wins, big wins, blowouts, and then there was tonight. Kentucky absolutely trounced Georgetown College in their second exhibition 121-52. For the first time since 2011-2012, the Cats are just wailing on their opponents, and even though it was just Georgetown, at times, all you could do was shake your head and smile. This team is laughably good, and we’re just getting started, bro.

Let’s roll through all the highlights…

UK actually got off to a rough start in this game.

Believe it or not, UK did not start this game well. Platoon 1 (Harrison Twins, Alex Poythress, Willie Cauley-Stein, Karl Towns) was slow out of the gate, only leading Georgetown 5-2 at the 15:51 mark. Cal sent in Platoon 2 (Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, Marcus Lee, Dakari Johnson, Trey Lyles), who extended the lead to 16-7. Platoon 1 came back in and went on a 16-0 run, and from there, the game turned into a lobster lob fest. How good was it? Seven Cats scored in double figures even though no player saw more than 19 minutes of action. UK shot 63.9% from the field, had 54 rebounds, and 32 assists.

Hello, Willie Cauley-Stein

There were a lot of stars to choose from tonight, but we need to start with Willie Cauley-Stein. Midway through the second half, there was a great stretch where Willie had an assist, a block, and two dunks in about a minute. Willie showcased his unique ability to defend any player on the team from center to point guard, and every one of his twelve points had exclamation marks on them. “Willie played really, really well tonight,” John Robic said after the game. “What he does at seven-feet tall is phenomenal.”

Aaron Harrison was also amazing, leading all scorers with 17 points, including five threes. After the game, John Calipari compared Aaron to Stephen Curry, and said that he played his best game at Kentucky in terms of confidence. Cal said he was particularly impressed by how Aaron came up to him during the game and asked to defend the point guard. Aaron hasn’t really been known as a lockdown defender, but that’s what Cal is trying to mold him into this season.

Our 6’10” forward had back-to-back threes

Trey Lyles has been the mystery man so far this year, but tonight, he showed why he’s got NBA scouts buzzing with two back-to-back threes. He finished with 14 points and 4 rebounds. Like Willie Cauley-Stein, Lyles’ length and versatility is staggering, but his shooting touch sets him apart from the rest. If you’re not impressed yet, get ready, because Calipari said after the game that Lyles has plenty of room to improve. “Still he’s not offensive rebounding the way he needs to, he’s still not running the court the way he needs to. He’s got to step it up,” Cal said. “He’s where the twins were last year, where he didn’t have the summer. And he just got back into it. And he’s a great kid, and he can really score and he’s really skilled, really skilled. Great hands, shoot the ball.”

Derek Willis even put a nice little bow on it for us

Best 12th man in the country? Easily.

Georgetown’s coach had some strong words

Color Georgetown College coach Chris Briggs impressed. After the game, the former UK graduate assistant sounded like one of us, heaping the praise on the Cats. “They could have beaten some NBA teams tonight. There’s no doubt in my mind,” Briggs said. Then he said the thing most of us are thinking but have been too scared to say out loud. “I honestly don’t see how they’re going to be beat this season. If they play like they played tonight, they’re an NBA playoff team.”

Whoa.

Wait, you mean this can get better?

Despite the back-to-back 100-point performances, Calipari maintains this team has a lot of work to do, especially on defense. “We’ve got to get better. We still have some guys breaking down on pick and roll. Karl has a long way to go, Trey has a long way to go. Devin is really playing hard. I’m really pleased with how hard he’s playing but he’s breaking down, taking chances defensively that he doesn’t need to take,” Cal said.

Cal also warned fans again that UK may lose a few games because of a platoon system, which he said he will reevaluate after 10-12 games. “This after 10 or 12 games, I’ll evaluate, see if we need to tweak anything. And the second thing is at the end of the day is this the best way we can play to go compete for the whole thing and that’s what my job is to evaluate that and figure it out.”

Routs are fun, but it will be nice to see how this thing works against a legit opponent like Kansas a week from Tuesday.

callaugh

Swaggy Cal was the swaggiest

Cal was at his swaggiest after the game, pretty much shaking the TV announcers with joy and kidding around with reporters during his presser. And you really know Cal’s feeling great when he mentions his fictional friend that watches practice. “A friend of mine watched our game last week and said: As soon as your guys realize they can play even harder than they’re playing it becomes scary. It becomes scary.” Even scarier? “We have no seniors. May have this team back next year, we could be really good.” Just stop it, Cal. I mean, really.

Cal even dropped a KSR reference when talking about which platoon he’ll play at the end of a close game. “I’ve asked each staff member to give me a finishing five that we would want to finish off a game with,” Cal said. “And I asked them to give me their opinions. I have my own, but I want to hear what they’re saying. Now that I said that, I’ll probably have seven million suggestions on KSR. I don’t listen to any of them, you do know that, right?” Not surprisingly, that reference fell flat in the media room.

He even let John Robic finish up his radio segment because he had somewhere he needed to be. “John Robic is actually going to take care of the rest of this radio because I’ve gotta go somewhere. I’m going somewhere, and I’m not going to tell you where. No, not recruiting.”

Make Cal proud by giving us your best guesses as to where he went in the comments.