Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow landed their second consensus four-star prospect for the class of 2019 and their third commitment from the city of Louisville this afternoon.
Moore high school defensive end JJ Weaver picked the Wildcats over Purdue, Louisville, and Tennessee along with a host of other Power Five programs. The 6-foot-6, 240-pound hybrid defensive end projects to play the Jack linebacker spot currently filled by Josh Allen and once played by Bud Dupree.
Here, we’ll be diving into the Hudl tape and summer camp highlights to tell you what to expect from the blue-chip prospect. The South Florida native who recently moved to Louisville has a very high ceiling and could be next in line at the outside linebacker pipeline Mark Stoops is building in Lexington.
When watching JJ Weaver play football on tape the first thing that jumps out is his motor. The defensive prospect plays hard on every snap and is constantly seen hustling to the football. Here you see him fight through two blocks and make a tackle downfield. At the next level, Weaver will have some work to do when it comes to technique and consistently beating offensive tackles. But in his position he’ll be tasked with setting the edge. That means constantly fighting through multiple blockers to maintain outside leverage. To do that takes effort. Playing with that consistently is not something you can teach.
In JJ Weaver’s high school tape, its hard to find explosive plays of him rushing the passer due to the level of teams Moore is playing against. When Weaver’s senior Hudl tape is released will get some better examples, but thanks to the camp circuit we found some evidence.
Going up against four-star LSU commit Anthony Bradford, JJ Weaver flashes a big boy move. Due to his wide stance off the ball, the offensive tackle must gain depth at the snap to defend against the speed rush. He does that, but that is when Weaver’s athleticism takes over. The tackles quick and wide step gets him off balance and Weaver comes back with a power move.
This could potentially turn into his best pass rushing move as he progresses. Weaver has the frame to get up to 260-270 pounds. When he gets there the power element will be a huge part of his game.
There’s more to JJ Weaver’s game than just power. Here he shows off some flexibility in his pass rush. Once again the offensive tackle over extends himself due to the fear of the speed rush. Weaver comes back with an inside move that would’ve created an instant pressure in a game like situation. As he grows as a pass rusher, it will be essential to create counterpunches.
After seeing the monster season Josh Allen put together just a few years after Bud Dupree went in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, it is easy to see why JJ Weaver wanted to head east to Lexington. The Wildcats’ defensive staff has proven they can develop the outside linebacker spot as well as anyone. Weaver knows he will be put in a position to succeed by Mark Stoops and his staff.
Weaver is probably going to get too many unfair comparisons to Josh Allen early. The fact of the matter is that Weaver is more of a defensive lineman than linebacker. He’s not going to be a player you can really drop into coverage. Where he is going to do his damage is taking on blocks and causing disruption along the line of scrimmage. Expect him to put on some major strength and weight in UK’s strength program. A move to full-time defensive end is a possibility.
From all accounts, Weaver is a very hard worker. If he comes in with a strong mindset and can physically hold up at the line of scrimmage he’ll have a chance to play as a true freshman. However, to be his best he needs to add on weight and improve his raw technique. That will take time. You cannot coach his motor and frame. Kentucky landed a good football player who should be another very productive player in the front seven.
By Nick Roush on ©November 30th, 2018 @ 3:52pm
Kentucky’s 2019 recruiting class just added an elite athlete on the edge.
In front of an audience at Louisville Moore High School, J.J. Weaver celebrated his birthday by committing to Kentucky over Louisville, Tennessee, Miami, Cincinnati and Purdue.
A consensus four-star recruit, the 247 Composite ranks Weaver as the No. 24 defensive end in America. He’s the 20th commitment in the 2019 class, which will move up to No. 30 in the national rankings. The seventh-ranked prospect from the state of Kentucky, the Cats now have commitments from four of the top ten players in the state. Jared Casey could be the fifth when he decides next week.
You don’t see many high school players in Kentucky built like J.J. Weaver. Originally from Broward County, Florida, the outside linebacker/defensive end is 6’6″ 240 pounds, but he does not let his size slow him down. Explosive off the edge and agile enough to drop back into pass coverage, Weaver has all of the tools to become a dominant defender. Now it’s up to Brad White and Matt House to turn him into a complete player.
There’s much more to come from Weaver’s announcement. Stay tuned.
By TJ Walker on ©November 30th, 2018 @ 3:15pm
During today’s media opportunity associate head coach Kenny Payne assessed his thoughts on sophomore PJ Washington and his importance to the team. He summed up what Washington means to this group better than I could with a million T.J.’s Takes. Payne nailed it.
“Contrary to most people I believe that P.J. Washington is a dominant basketball player that is super talented that can put this team on his back,” Payne said. “But for whatever reason there’s inconsistencies there. He has to handle that. He has to control that. He controls his own destiny, not us. We want him to play like he played those three games when he was dominant. Every game. That’s his test.
“I think he understands it more. I think he’s capable of being our best defender or one of our best defenders. I really think the game he got all the rebounds right after Nick (Richards) had the 19 rebound game. During that game he was telling Nick, ‘I’m getting your numbers. I’m beating 20 rebounds or 19 or whatever that number was.’ I think he’s the type of player that when he’s at his best our team is like really good. Personally, not coaching staff wise, personally I think when we play great or we lose… I hate to say it to you guys in the media, I look at (PJ). When our team energy isn’t right, I look at him. When our rebounding ain’t great, I look at him. When we’re not playing great offensively or defensively, when the game is tight. What has PJ Washington done? Is he in foul trouble? Is he playing with energy? That’s just me.”
Washington is averaging 12.6 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. He didn’t reach Richards’ season-high 19 rebounds in that game against VMI, but he did finish with a 19 point and 18 rebound double-double. The game before he finished with a season-high 25 points against North Dakota. But in his last two games he’s combined for just 14 points and 15 rebounds.
When asked why he said “contrary to most people” Payne went into more detail:
“He’s a solid, good college player, and that’s good enough. That’s not good enough. Not for this program. Not for who and what his talent is. I will challenge PJ Washington to max out. To give us 110 percent, not just 100. It’s easy for PJ to give 85-80 percent and be a good player. He will not reach what he’s trying to attain by giving 85 percent. He has to give 110 percent and if he does, again I don’t like to put it on one player, this team becomes dominant.”
And UK could use 110 percent PJ Washington tomorrow. The Spartans of UNC Greensboro are 7-1 on the season with its only loss coming at LSU where they lost 97-91. Payne doesn’t expect an easy win tomorrow and expects to see the Spartans dancing in March.
“To be honest, I believe just from watching the games I’ve watched we’re playing an NCAA team, a tournament team that is very capable of beating us,” Payne said. “We’ll have to play with the same intensity we played the last game with. Be energetic, athletic and focused on defense for long stretches because they don’t make many mistakes. They are really good at shooting the ball, they’re really good at passing the ball. A true test to being an excellent offensive team is being a good passing team. They are a good passing team. Their guard play is really good. Again, we’re playing an NCAA Tournament team.”
When reports surfaced this week that UK offered five-star forward Jaden McDaniels the reports weren’t wrong, but the offered happened months ago. Kyle Tucker of The Athletic spoke with McDaniels’ trainer, Cartiea French-Toney, who said the offer was old news.
“He was offered by Kentucky months ago. He just never put it out there for the public to know,” the trainer said. “He’s not that type of kid, seeking attention like other kids who’ll say, ‘Oh, Kentucky wants me! Coach Cal came to see me!’ He’s not going to make a social media post about it. That’s not him. He just wants to play basketball. But you don’t make the trip two times to Washington and then have him on an official visit if you haven’t already offered him. That’s a lot of time invested in a kid you haven’t offered. That’s a long flight to make twice if you aren’t serious. Coach Cal doesn’t really recruit the West Coast much, and part of that is it’s hard to ask a kid to leave here and go all the way to Kentucky, but if your goals and aspirations are aligned with what Kentucky does, it can be the right fit and right situation.
“Kenny Payne told me, ‘We’ve never had a dude like him before. We’ve never recruited a dude like him before. He’s different.’ And they’re excited about the possibility of seeing what they could do with a 6-10 kid on the wing who can get the rebound and become the point guard.”
French-Toney makes a good point. It was clear that McDaniels was a take for Kentucky and although the kid himself never confirmed it, UK would have accepted a commitment the day Calipari made the trip to see him.
McDaniels is down to UK, UCLA, Washington, Texas and San Diego State and it’s unclear when he will make a final decision despite taking all five of his official visits.
Tucker also spoke with Matthew Hurt’s father, Rich Hurt, who said that his son won’t be making a final decision until the spring. Hurt takes his first official visit to Kentucky this weekend.
But if you read the entire article it reads pretty well for Kentucky. Hurt talks about what they’re looking for in a school and having to put up 15-20 shots isn’t important. Sounds similar to a Calipari pitch.
You can check out the entire article HERE. Tucker does a great job breaking down how adding McDaniels/Hurt could completely change the way Calipari plays.
Happy Friday, folks! One of the hardest work weeks of the year is close to completion and it’s another huge UK sports weekend. Sadly, for the first time in weeks and only the second time since August, there’s no Kentucky football. However, we will get UK’s bowl specifics and that’s exciting from a football perspective.
But we do have futbol! And volleyball! And basketball galore! UK’s soccer and volleyball teams look to advance in the NCAA Tournament and John Calipari’s Cats look to improve on their six game winning streak.
Let’s get to it.
Kenny Payne talks today:
UK associated head coach Kenny Payne will talk to the media today along with select men’s basketball players. Oh, the mystery! Who could the select men’s players be?!
In all seriousness, Payne will preview UNC Greensboro around 2 p.m. We’ll have you covered here at KSR.
— Chad (@ChadBlue83) November 30, 2018
The UK signee dropped 53 points last night against Scott and sadly it only gave his season average a half-point bump. Allen started the season scoring 52 points but followed that up Thursday by dropping 53 points in a loss to Scott.
The video above was his buzzer-beater at the end of the first half. UK fans are going to love the Kentuckian during his time at UK.
Weaver makes a decision:
This afternoon we’ll find out where four-star defensive end J.J. Weaver will play his college football. All signs point towards UK for the 11-fingered Moore star.
Nick Roush will have coverage on KSR. The decision is set for 3:30 p.m. Learn more about Weaver below. Did you know he has one hand that has six fingers? We have pictures!
UK met with an important commitment:
The Cats’ staff met with Toledo native Cavon Butler on Thursday. The three-star defensive tackle is currently a UK commit, but his Crystal Ball is predicting a flip to the homestate Buckeyes. All eight predictions expect a flip and he most recently checked out Ohio State’s campus.
Let’s hope this visit keeps him in blue.
— Cavon Butler (@CVon01) November 30, 2018
Soccer looks to advance to the College Cup:
The men’s soccer team looks to advance to the College Cup, soccer’s equivalent of the Final Four, tonight against No. 11 Maryland. No. 3 UK has been the biggest surprise this season and they’re one win away from adding to an already historical season.
The game is at 6 p.m. tonight at The Bell in Lexington. Between volleyball and soccer, go out and support your Tournament Cats.
UK Volleyball starts its NCAA Tournament run:
And the Cats earned the honor to host the first two rounds. Kentucky plays in-state foe Murray State in the first round. UK was rewarded for winning/going undefeated in conference with the No. 10 overall seed.
If the Cats can advance they will play the winner of East Tennessee State or Purdue later this weekend.
7:30 p.m. at Memorial Coliseum. Be there (or The Bell).
TopGolf passed in Louisville:
The Metro Council voted 20-3 to rezone the Oxmoor site for TopGolf! It’s officially official! After months of “debates” (the older folks in Hurstbourne getting worked up, mostly) the zoning has officially been changed.
The Council did vote a mandate stating if TopGolf goes bankrupt they will be financially responsible to remove the polls that hold up the netting for the driving range to be removed. A TopGolf rep told reporters that mandate won’t be a deal breaker.
From a zoning and Metro Council point of view things are complete, but the only current hiccup moving forward is a current lawsuit and another potential lawsuit from tonight’s decision.
You can read more about those lawsuits HERE.
These people in the audience are standing now. Not sure why. pic.twitter.com/79cmL0umJh
— Marcus Green (@MarcusGreenWDRB) November 30, 2018
The KSR Tour starts in London:
Come see Matt Jones and the boys as they set off for the Northeast to watch the Cats play Seton Hall on 12/8 at Madison Square Garden. The trip will be full of laughs and so will today’s show, so send them off in you’re in the area.
By Drew Franklin on ©November 29th, 2018 @ 11:00pm
The University of Louisville needs a head football coach. It had one, but he sucked and nobody liked him because he was a jerk so he was let go before the season ended. The plan from there was to hire Purdue’s Jeff Brohm, who, according to UofL football message boards, was to be the second coming of Christ. Brohm was going to save the program and Louisville was going to win 50 straight national championships under his guidance, according to the fan base. But Brohm looked at the sh*t storm that is the Louisville football program and said, “Nah, I’m good on that. I’ll stay here at Purdue and not suck.” Those were his exact words, I think.
Now Louisville’s coaching search is in panic mode. Brohm was the first and only name on its list of candidates, but his name was crossed out in permanent marker and covered with white out and then the paper was wadded up and soaked in gasoline and lit on fire because it’s never happening. Sorry.
So who’s next? You can’t play football without a head coach. Somebody has to take the job. I do not know who Vince Tyra will turn to, but because I am a good person, I have some suggestions he should consider:
1. Lorenzo Ward
Last head coaching job: Louisville (Interim), 2018
Ward went 0-2 as Louisville’s interim head coach to end 2018, losing those two games by a combined score of 108-20. Both losses came at home by the way.
A simple solution to Louisville’s problem would be to remove his interim tag and give him more time to put his mark on the program. His offense showed a lot of potential and the university will save on moving costs and paperwork.
2. Butch Jones
Last head coaching job: Tennessee, 2013-17
Butch Jones needs his own team again. He currently serves as an analyst for Alabama, whatever that means, but he was born to be a head coach. Give him what he deserves, Louisville. He’ll take you to the “championship of life.” It’s the biggest championship you can win, so he said at Tennessee.
3. Lee Corso
Last job head coaching job: Orlando Renegades (USFL), 1985
Since Louisville likes to re-hire its former coaches, why not give Lee Corso another look? After all, he did take Louisville to its second-ever bowl game in 1970.
4. John L Smith
Last head coaching job: Kentucky State, 2016-Present
Like Corso, John L. Smith needs another look. He led the Cardinals to five straight bowl appearances and back-to-back Conference USA titles in 2000 and 2001. So what if he told his team at halftime of the 2002 GMAC Bowl that he’s leaving for Michigan State? He’s a proven winner, and at 70 years young, he’ll inject much-needed energy into the program.
5. Howard Schnellenberger
Last job head coaching job: Florida Atlantic, 2001-2011
Brohm was the hometown hero Louisville wanted, but Schnellenberger is the hometown hero Louisville needs. He built the program once and he can build it again today.
And if he turns it down because he’s 84, try Ron Cooper.
6. Clint Hurtt
Last job head coaching job: None
A former Louisville recruiting coordinator, who was responsible for bringing Teddy Bridgewater to the ‘Ville and was named 2011 National Recruiter of the Year, Hurtt should get a call. Never mind all of those NCAA sanctions from paying players at Miami, he’s a changed man and he is doing a great job as the assistant head coach of the Seattle Seahawks. Plus his penalties from the NCAA ended in 2015 so he’s good to go.
7. Art Briles
Last job head coaching job: Estra Guelfi Firenze (Italy), 2018-Present
Former Baylor head coach Art Briles recently took a job in Italy, but we all know he’d jump at the opportunity to get back into America football. Most programs wouldn’t even consider a guy who covered up a campus-wide sexual assault scandal involving multiple players, but this is Louisville we’re talking about here, not some place with morals.
8. Hugh Freeze
Last job head coaching job: Ole Miss, 2012-16
Freeze lost his job at Ole Miss over strippers and hookers. Need I say more?
9. Bobby 3.0
Last job head coaching job: Louisville, 2014-18
So Bobby 2.0 didn’t go as planned. It started well, but ended poorly, to say the least. But wait ’til you see Bobby 3.0. He caddied for his granddaughter and he’s a changed man this time. Plus he’s an offensive genius. He’ll have Louisville back to prominence in no time, once he has a little time to bring in his own players and system.
10. Papa John Schnatter
Last job head coaching job: Papa John’s Pizza, 1984-2008
Who better to put butts back in the seats of Cardinal Stadium, than the man who put the seats in Cardinal Stadium? Papa John Schnatter is Cardinal Stadium. He is University of Louisville athletics. And dare I say… Peyton Manning as his offensive coordinator?
Better ingredients, better football. Papa John’s.
By TJ Walker on ©November 29th, 2018 @ 10:30pm
After dropping 52 points in his senior season opener it would be understandable if Dontaie Allen couldn’t top that performance in game No. 2. 52 points is a tough total at any level, but especially high school basketball where there isn’t a shot clock and the games are only 32 minutes.
And after his second game 52 points is yesterday’s news. The future Cat dropped 53 against Scott. Allen’s Pendleton County fell 83-73 but it was a close contest.
Part of that 53-point performance was this shot heading into the half:
— Chad (@ChadBlue83) November 30, 2018
Allen was the Mr. Basketball favorite heading into the season and his odds are even better after two games.
I can’t wait to watch this kid play at Kentucky and kudos to John Calipari and UK’s staff for getting a commitment from Allen this summer. Allen signed during the early signing period.
One of the state’s top players could become a Kentucky Wildcat. J.J. Weaver will announce his decision tomorrow at 3:30. KSR will be at Louisville Moore High School for complete coverage of the announcement. Before he makes his decision, here’s what you need to know about Weaver.
1. Kentucky’s Top-Ranked Uncommitted Prospect
This year the state of Kentucky has produced an unprecedented amount of football talent. Eight players are considered four-star prospects by the 247 Composite Rankings. Wandale Robinson is the only one currently committed to Kentucky, but the Cats could land Weaver and Jared Casey.
Weaver is considered the state’s seventh-best prospect. He’s a Top 25 defensive end and just outside of the Top 300.
2. An Incredible Pass-Rusher
Weaver has the perfect combination of size and athleticism. He’s 6’6″ 240 pounds and can play with his hand in the dirt or as a stand up outside linebacker. His power easily dominates opponents, but he moves well to track opponents downfield (or split out at wide receiver for Moore). Whether he’s lined up against a guard or a tackle, he’s had success getting to the quarterback.
3. He Witnessed Josh Allen’s Dominance
Weaver officially visited Lexington when the Cats beat Vanderbilt 14-7. He was treated to a special performance by the man who plays his position, Josh Allen. The All-American had eight tackles and two sacks, including the strip sack in the final minute that secured a Kentucky victory.
Official visits provide the perfect opportunity to show off the best parts of the football program. In Weaver’s case, it also showed him “this could be you in a few years.”
4. A Florida Native
Weaver has played high school ball in Louisville, but he grew up in Broward County. The county that encompasses Ft. Lauderdale produces a ton of talent, including two 2019 commits, Nik Scalzo and Nik Ognenovic. His Florida roots are one reason why Miami is a finalist.
5. Kentucky has all the Momentum
Weaver’s final six featured Miami, Purdue, Tennessee, Cincinnati, Louisville and Kentucky, but earlier this week he told Larry Vaught that he’s down to the Cards and the Cats, his leader. Ninety percent of the Crystal Ball predictions are for UK. Vince Tyra will conduct an in-home visit tonight, but after Monday’s meeting with four UK coaches, it’s going to take a lot to kick the Cats out of the driver’s seat.
Weaver’s right hand has an extra appendage. The six-fingered hand is quite the sight to behold.
A closer look:
I have so many questions: Does it help him? How does he wear gloves? Is it possible to give somebody the middle finger if you have six?
All of those questions and more will be answered when Weaver announces his college decision tomorrow afternoon.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©November 29th, 2018 @ 3:48pm
Josh Allen’s incredible senior campaign continues to turn heads. Yesterday, the Kentucky pass rusher was named one of five finalists for the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, and today, Mel Kiper has him fourth on his new NFL Draft Big Board, up five spots from No. 9.
“I pegged Allen before the season as a potential Day 2 pick, as he broke out in 2017 with seven sacks, 66 tackles and an interception,” Kiper writes. “He has been underrated in this class, and now he has a chance to be a top-10 pick. Allen is disruptive, and he has the length that NFL teams love as a 3-4 outside linebacker. He has 14 sacks this season, including a three-sack game against South Carolina, and has forced five fumbles.”
The rest of the top five: Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa, Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, LSU linebacker Devin White, and LSU cornerback Andraez Williams. Speaking of White, he rode his horse around Death Valley today:
— DEVIN WHITE 4??0?? (@DevinWhite__40) November 29, 2018
— taryn antoine (@TarynDeshay) November 29, 2018
Devin White’s love of horses is a great story for another day, but for now, I’m just here, appreciating Josh Allen. These stats from UK are incredible:
- Leads the Southeastern Conference and ranks third nationally in sacks (14.0)
- Leads the league and ranks 11th nationally in tackles for loss (18.5)
- Tied for the NCAA lead in most forced fumbles (five)
- Broke Kentucky single-season (14) and career records (28.5) for sacks
- 12 of his 14 sacks have come in the second half, including eight in the fourth quarter
- 11 career forced fumbles tie former Wildcat and current Chicago Bear linebacker Danny Trevathan for UK’s career mark (forced fumbles stats available since 1988)
- First-Team Mid-Season All-America by The Associated Press, ESPN.com, Pro Football Focus and The Athletic
- Three-time National Defensive Player of the Week
- Four times SEC Defensive Player of the Week this season, including two wins he clinched with a sack, fumble, and UK recovery on the final possession
- 84 total tackles, six QB hurries, four pass breakups and two fumble recoveries
- Current finalist for the Nagurski Trophy, Bednarik Award and Butkus Award
- Current semifinalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy
Not bad for a two-star who might have ended up at Monmouth.
By Nick Roush on ©November 29th, 2018 @ 2:00pm
“Explosive” is not one word you would use to describe Kentucky’s offense in 2018.
As Eddie Gran broke in a first-time starting quarterback, he leaned on Benny Snell. It worked well enough to win nine games, but the Cats struggled to stretch opposing defenses. Kentucky ranked last in the SEC in explosive pass plays and 108th in the nation in passes of 20 yards or more. To change that, Kentucky has recruited one of the fastest players from the city of Louisville, Demontae “TaeTae” Crumes.
“They want me to help on the outside lane, be a deep threat,” Crumes told KSR Wednesday afternoon. “I know I’m a deep threat. That’s where I cause the most damage at, but then again, I can also get hit on short routes and turn five yards to ten. I feel like I can be used anywhere.”
A three-star wide receiver from Butler High School, Crumes’ fastest official 40-yard dash time is 4.3 seconds. That’s enough speed to take the top off a defense. It was a big part of Vince Marrow’s recruiting pitch that sold Crumes on UK.
“I don’t know how to explain it, but he was cool,” Crumes cracked a smile when talking about Coach Marrow. “We just really started connecting. He told me real stuff. Everything he said, he meant.”
Some schools simply told TaeTae they were interested, while Marrow and Michael Smith pointed out exactly where and how he would be used and why they needed him at UK.
“He’s one of the ones who really flipped my choice here,” he said of Smith. “When I talk to them, it’s like men to men. Him and Marrow, when they both came down here, they always talk to me personally.”
Marrow and Smith didn’t just talk football. It’s similar to the conversations Mark Stoops had with Crumes at an in-home visit earlier this week.
“We know it’s going to be about football, but he also talks around it. He talks about my family, talking about what I also could do to help on the field, and we were just talking about games.”
The relationship between the speedy wide receiver and his future coaches has created a bond that will not be broken. As the recruiting season nears a close, some other schools have tried to intervene. TaeTae cannot be swayed.
“I don’t pay any attention to people.” He said he’ll sign with UK in December, “I’m positive.”
Before he committed to Kentucky, Crumes initially pledged his allegiance to Louisville. Like most people in the city of Louisville, Crumes’ family is split between the two teams. TaeTae, his mother and older brother are Kentucky fans. His little brother, uncle and grandmother are Louisville fans. Despite the latter’s fandom, they were happy to see TaeTae avoid that mess.
“They’re all excited I’m going to Kentucky. They all prefer that anyways, especially with what Louisville is going through.”
Before he gets to Kentucky’s campus next summer, he’ll run track for Butler. As a sophomore he appeared in four state championship meets. The goal is to keep his speed, all while improving hip flexibility at his future coaches’ request.
Crumes won’t be the only player from the city of Louisville joining him at Kentucky. Shawnkel Knight-Goff, a friend he’s known since middle school, has already committed to the Cats. Jared Casey and J.J. Weaver have yet to make a decision.
“I’m pretty sure they’re coming,” Crumes said.
There’s an influx of talent from the city of Louisville making its way to Lexington. As UK’s offense moves forward without Benny Snell, Crumes hopes to play a pivotal role as Terry Wilson takes his game to the next level. It’s an opportunity that was once just a dream.
“It’s the place I always wanted to play. It’s something I grew up wanting to rep. Now I have that chance.”
By Jack Pilgrim on ©November 29th, 2018 @ 9:00am
The main storyline for Kentucky’s 90-44 obliteration of Monmouth was centered around the team’s dominant performance on defense, but head coach John Calipari was also quite excited about something he saw on the other end of the floor.
After his team’s 10-make, 42-percent performance from beyond the arc, Calipari was quick to announce it was his best three-point shooting team since he arrived in Lexington.
Not the years with Brandon Knight, Doron Lamb, Devin Booker, Jamal Murray, or Malik Monk in his arsenal. This 2018-19 squad.
“This is the best three-point shooting team I’ve had since I’ve been here,” he said. “We need to take between 18 and 24 threes. I don’t — any time my teams historically have shot 30 threes, we don’t ever win. We just don’t. I don’t know why, the way I coach, the way the system is, the way we do this. But when you have a team like this they should shoot 18 to 24 threes. They really should.”
Wednesday night, the Wildcats reached the latter of that threshold, taking a season-high 24 shots from deep. They made the most threes of the season with ten, and finished with their highest conversion rate at 42 percent (previous high was 39 percent). And they accomplished the feat by spreading the wealth.
Six different players hit three-pointers tonight, two of them being forwards Reid Travis and PJ Washington, and another two hitting multiple shots from deep.
Calipari doubled-down on his high praise, singling out point guard Immanuel Quickley as the only three-point shooter not carrying his weight on the team. For a player that won the three-point contest both at the McDonald’s All-American Game and Big Blue Madness, he needs to step up to give Kentucky the most versatile shooting squad since Calipari has been at Kentucky.
“I’m telling you, it’s the best three-point shooting team I’ve had,” he said once more. “Come on, Immanuel, you can’t shoot 19 percent from the three. No. No. Not when you’re making 60 some shots in practice. Not when you — no, you’re not, you have to, you add him to what we’re doing and he starts making threes, with Quade, with Tyler, with Keldon and our bigs? Because our bigs can shoot. So now you have PJ and you have Reid who can shoot threes.”
Quade Green, who hit a career-high four three-pointers tonight, said his teammates should get credit for finding the hot hand in the overwhelming victory. With ball movement and made shots on the outside, it allowed the post game to develop, as well.
“It felt good, thanks to my teammates to find me when I was open,” the sophomore point guard said. “Thanks to them, I was able to hit open shots. … They play zone so we wanted to get them out of their zone a little bit, make the wings come up in the bottom half so the big men can operate.”
As for Calipari’s “best three-point shooting team” comments, Green said he’s just focused on using his team’s success on Wednesday night to help develop consistency going forward. Still, though, the Philadelphia, PA native couldn’t help but admit he would look into that a bit and follow up later.
“I don’t know, I’ve never looked at it like that,” he said with a laugh. “I’m gonna have to do some research and get back to you on that.”
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©November 29th, 2018 @ 12:32am
Coming into this game, John Calipari sounded defeated when discussing his team’s defensive woes. A man who prides himself on getting young guys to buy in on defense, Calipari couldn’t help but let out a rueful laugh when asked where he’s setting the bar in practice.
“How about this: The standard defensively (is) let’s just be better than yesterday. Then let’s look at the last game and let’s get better.”
Kentucky’s defense was better tonight. A large part of that was their competition, a winless Monmouth team that was painfully outmatched; however, baby steps are baby steps, and Calipari will take it.
“Better. Better,” Cal said. “We are zeroed in right now defensively on what we have to do. Now, we made some mistakes, but effort and energy — we didn’t scramble as much. We didn’t stop as much.”
The most notable difference on defense was on the perimeter. After allowing 38 threes over the last three games, Kentucky held Monmouth to 2-16 from beyond the arc; in fact, the Hawks only made 16 shots total. More often than not, Kentucky’s players were in the right position and worked together, which is more than we could say for the last six games. Calipari attributed that improvement to a new drill in practice.
“Three stops in a row equals a kill. Now, we had two stops in a row probably eight times, seven, eight, nine, but we had five kills. That’s how you stretch games out.”
It was also refreshing to see Kentucky use their length and athleticism in transition. For that, we have Tony Barbee to thank.
“Tony Barbee said, we got to put in a transition defensive drill because that’s where our issues start. And we did it for two days and we did it today. It was great move.”
Whatever the drill may be, it’s working. Cal said that for the first time, his players took pride in their defense, which propelled them in other areas of their game.
“I told them, this is the best they’ve played and it’s because of what we did defensively. And, as they guard, do you seeing them building their own confidence on offense? When you guard and build confidence in yourself, you’re going to be aggressive on offense too.”
No one proved Calipari right more than Tyler Herro. Herro led all scorers with 16 points tonight, but he also had eight rebounds and five steals. We all scoffed when Calipari praised Herro’s defense on Media Day, but Herro’s energy on defense was the catalyst he needed for a big game on offense. He still gets beat by his man on occasion, but now, Calipari has an example he can use to inspire others.
Keldon Johnson’s listening. In his postgame radio interview with Mike Pratt, he gave the defense a grade of “B.”
“I think we’re steadily improving, but finishing up the full 40 minutes, the whole game plan, talking…If we get the defense, the offense will come.”
Again, Monmouth is not a good basketball team; yet, with the schedule getting considerably harder from here on out, Kentucky needed to beat up on a team to show they can carry over Calipari’s lessons from practice. Speaking of, the work is just going to get more intense at the Joe Craft Center.
“I told them I’m going to be tougher in the practices and lighten up in the games and accept where they are,” Cal said. “We are who we are. I’m not going to try to force it along, we’re not skipping steps. This was a good first step for us.”
By Jack Pilgrim on ©November 29th, 2018 @ 12:25am
For the first time this season, the Kentucky basketball team suffocated an opponent on both ends of the floor, defeating the Monmouth Hawks by a final score of 90-44.
Shooting 57 percent from the floor, 42 percent from three (on a season-high 24 attempts, nonetheless), and 87 percent from the free throw line, things were working on offense. Their effort on defense, however, was what really turned heads in the victory.
The Wildcats allowed the Hawks to shoot just 27 percent from the field, 12.5 percent from three, forced 16 turnovers, and blocked five shots. Nothing came easy for Monmouth, both on the perimeter and in the paint.
“We are zeroed in right now defensively on what we have to do,” Kentucky head coach John Calipari said after the game. “Now we made some mistakes but effort and energy we scrambled, we didn’t stop as much.”
Calipari said the defensive intensity was so high that players were fighting to hold the opposition under four points each stretch to avoid substitution at the next break. It was a positive improvement
“There were times where they left the — they held them under four points and I went to sub and the guys in the game said, what? They don’t have six yet, leave us in. And they stayed in the game. And so they’re taking pride,” he said.
It’s centered around a new system recently implemented by the Kentucky coaching staff. To put it simply, stops equal “kills,” which slowly help spread UK’s lead in games like it did tonight.
“We also added something, three stops in a row equals a kill,” Calipari said. “Now we had two stops in a row probably eight times, seven eight times, nine. But we had five kills. That’s how you stretch games out.”
Kentucky point guard Ashton Hagans, who finished with a season-high seven points to go with two rebounds, three assists, and one steal, said the brand-new system is forcing players to compete at a higher level.
“We heard about it right when we came out, I’m not even gonna lie to you,” Hagans said. “But that made us play more aggressive on the defensive end. He was saying if we keep getting stops, he’s going to leave that group in, call a timeout if they need it, if they get tired. It’s making guys play harder.”
Hagans says they get regular updates on their total kills throughout the game.
“They kept track of the kills on the bench,” he said.
With the new system, Calipari said it was easily the best overall team performance he’s seen all season long. When the defensive intensity ramped up, the offense came along with it, and it resulted in a 46-point smothering on Wednesday night.
“I told them, this is the best we played,” he said. “And it’s because of what we did defensively. And as they guard, do you see them building their own confidence on offense? When you guard and you build confidence in yourself you’re going to be aggressive on offense too.”
In his eyes, it was a great step forward for a team that has been relatively underwhelming thus far in the season.
“You play with that energy, you play with that, it’s easier,” he said. “I told them I’m going to be tougher in the practices and lighten up in the games and accept where they are. We are who we are. I’m not going to try to force it along, we’re not skipping steps. This was a good first step for us.”
No, the 0-8 Monmouth Hawks aren’t very good, but for a team that has struggled so much against lesser opponents this season, it was definitely a breath of fresh air. The players and coaches have been stressing consistency on both ends of the floor all year, and for the first time in seven games, they finally accomplished that.
That was more like it. Kentucky stepped it up in a big way defensively on Wednesday and put together a near 40-minute performance in the Cats’ most complete game of the season.
Here are five takeaways from UK’s 90-84 win over Monmouth.
1. The Win:
Kentucky fans have been waiting to see a blowout win like that. Some folks would have predicted a 7-0 start to the season, but no one predicted anything worse than 6-1. That’s where UK’s at after tonight’s win. No one is complaining about the record but some UK fans have expressed concerns about the way the Cats have won their games and obviously the lone loss was an eye-opener.
But there won’t be too many complaints from tonight. UK rocked Monmouth from start to finish and it was possibly the best performance of the season. The Cats continue to shine offensively and wasn’t overly careless with the ball tonight, but obviously the biggest positive is the defensive performance.
I was starting to wonder if this team would never get there defensively, which I know was probably premature, but at least we finally saw a step in the right direction. Even if it was Monmouth that was important.
The biggest difference I saw on Wednesday evening was UK looked more comfortable finding their guys in transition or covering a teammate’s mistakes. That’s primarily how UK’s been getting lost this season. Kentucky wants to play fast and if that works it means you’re going to speed up the opponent. If you’re speeding up the opponent that means the tempo is going to be quicker. All commonsense but it’s where UK was struggling and allowing opponent’s to get open looks.
That isn’t UK’s only defensive concerns, some guards are getting blown by, but all things considered tonight was better. Monmouth still doesn’t have a win on the season, so we need to remember that, but hopefully UK can continue to build on tonight’s defensive effort.
Also nice to see a team struggle from deep. 12.5 percent with two made threes isn’t good for Monmouth.
I’m starting to fall in love with this group from an offensive standpoint. They can score inside but Calipari was right about how good they are shooting. Quade Green is above 40 percent on the year and hit four threes tonight. Herro is heating up and looking dangerous from the perimeter. Keldon’s shot continues to be a pleasant surprise and the bigs still appear to be a threat from deep. I can’t imagine a lineup that at anytime doesn’t have at least three shooters on the floor, and most times there may be four guys.
That’s going to be tough to guard.
Just because UK had one good defensive performance tonight doesn’t mean they’re turned a corner, and the defense will probably never be top 10 or 20 in the country, but if you’re going to have a suspect defense it really helps to have a great offense. There aren’t too many better than UK in my opinion. And they are just getting started, bro.
Monmouth also played zone, they doubled the block, tried to make Herro catch the ball feet off the three-point line. Again, the Eagles aren’t great, but UK beat them in a variety of ways.
4. PJ Washington:
I guess it was nice to see him take care of the ball a little more tonight, but he’s really had a really tough two game stretch after an amazing three straight games.
Consistency seems like it’s going to be a problem again for Washington, but let’s hope its fixed before the schedule becomes meatier.
Offensively if he scores 19 or 25 points the Cats are going to be tough to beat. But UK won’t be reliant on his scoring. There are other guys that will step up and take care of the points. But UK can’t have this defensive effort from Washington. I think it’s almost all effort because I know he’s talented enough and we’ve seen him have nice defensive stretches (against UT last year for sure). Let’s just hope it’s being disinterested in the opponent because UK needs Washington on the floor but can’t play him when he’s standing around.
5. Moving Forward:
The Cats go to a football scheduling format starting on Saturday where UK will only play once a week. Those games will be on Saturday’s and maybe only one more true cupcake left on the schedule.
It would make UK fans feel warm and fuzzy inside if the Cats did more of the same defensively against UNC-Greensboro like we saw tonight.
But most importantly is all the practices UK will have over the next month. I’m not sure if we’ll get the infamous Camp Cal rants, but we should see a lot of improvement over December. And with only one game a week it means we should be seeing improvements week-to-week.
Nice win for UK tonight but now consistency becomes important.