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LaVar Ball gets technical, pulls team off court against Immanuel Quickley

That’s it. I’ve had it with LaVar Ball. Some of it’s funny. The branding is good and we’re talking about him all the time or whatever, but this is too far (again).

Today, Ball and one of his little bitty Balls, LaMelo, received technical fouls in their game against UK target Immanuel Quickley out at the Adidas event in Las Vegas. Ball then demanded the official, a female, be replaced or he and his team would walk.

For some reason that needs an explanation, Ball got his wish and the female was replaced with a male official so the game could continue.

After the switch, Ball was then asked to leave the floor, according to reports, but he did not comply. He kept up his LaVar Ball ways, shouting, “She needs to stay in her lane because she ain’t ready for this.”

The game was then called off as the Big Ballers walked off the court with two minutes left in the first half, giving the win to Immanuel Quickley and Team BBC.

Video and reaction can be seen here:

Here’s why this sucks for everyone not named LaVar Ball, who got the attention he so desperately craves:

The game was billed as a big head-to-head matchup of Quickley and LaMelo Ball, considered to be two of the best point guards at the event, and everyone was robbed of the competition. The Balls were probably scared of getting exposed by a better point guard, per usual.

But even worse than that, the game was an opportunity for the guys who aren’t named Immanuel Quickley or LaMelo Ball to play on a big stage in front of several scouts and coaches so they can earn their way into college, too.

Instead, LaVar Ball showed his ass again and robbed two teams full of kids with college basketball aspirations of a big moment to prove themselves. Oh, and he offended women, again.

Immanuel Quickley can be heard screaming, “This is bullshit!” in the video above.

It’s bullshit indeed.


Friday’s Top 10: Quickley, Football Media Day and lots of other Shittu

It’s FRIDAY!!!

And you definitely read that meme in Morgan Freeman’s voice. I know I did. Go ahead and read the entire Top 10 in his voice too…

 

1. The potential “package deal” played each other again last night.

Immanuel Quickley and Zion Williamson went head-to-head again last night, with Williamson’s team getting the best of Quickley’s, 84-59. Williamson went for 29 points and nine rebounds; Quickley’s night was much quieter, although he did hit this floater over his buddy (and future college teammate, hopefully).

You can watch a replay of the game here.

2. Quickley v. Ball today in Vegas.

It’s not quite the national draw of Williamson against Big Baller Brand, but Kentucky fans should get excited about their next point guard (probably) taking on LaMelo, Lavar and the Evil Empire today in Las Vegas. It’s an 8 am local tip for the guys, so it’ll get going around 11 am on the East Coast.

PUNISH HIM, Immanuel.

3. UK Football Media Day is Sunday.

Kentucky is mixing it up this year (with the new practice rules) and beginning its fall camp on a Sunday, which means we — the capital J, Journalists — will be grinding on a Sunday. Kentucky-Sports-Radio-dot-com will have all of the coverage from media day here on the site throughout the whole day, so join us after church as we bring you a ton of preseason football coverage throughout the afternoon, night and all the way up until the first kickoff in September.

4. Isaac Humphries found a new basketball home, at home.

In case you missed the exciting news, Isaac Humphries signed a contract with the Sydney Kings of the National Basketball League. He turned down opportunities from the Adriatic League, Italy’s Serie A, Germany’s BBL, and the Greek Basket League, among many others; deciding instead to begin his professional career in his hometown, where he can be with friends and family. A two-and-done at UK, Humphries went undrafted last month, then was signed and cut by the Washington Wizards prior to his first summer league game.

5. Basketball team taking a break from summer workouts.

Wednesday night’s #MidnightStrong workout in Commonwealth Stadium was the Wildcats’ last for a couple of weeks. You should check out the photo gallery from the night on UKAthletics.com and then get really, really, really excited about this basketball team. They’re all in much better shape than you or I am this summer.

6. John Calipari going to Canada, eh?

Vegas was fun, but it’s time for Calipari to move on to the Great White North in search of more talent for his basketball program. Calipari is expected to attend yet another AAU event this weekend; this time, with all eyes on a rising star in the 2018 class: Simi Shittu.

Interest in the five-star forward is high on Kentucky’s end — how high, you ask? Well, Cal is leaving several of his other targets in Sin City to take a closer look. The hope is Shittu will be the next talent to slide down that recruiting pipeline from Canada to Kentucky, joining the likes of Jamal Murray, Trey Lyles, Mychal Mulder and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. (And Drake, I guess.) Molson for everyone if this kid commits one day.

7. Karen Sypher to be released from prison today.

She’ll be surprised to learn that nothing at Louisville changed during her seven years behind bars. They’re all still scumbags, just as they were in July 0f 2003 when Rick Pitino gave her that quarter of a minute of passion that changed both of their lives forever.

8. Tweet De Jour: 

9. NFL training camp is underway.

It’s a big summer for contract guys like Avery Williamson in Tennessee and then NFL hopefuls like Boom Williams in Cincinnati, Marcus McWilson in Oakland, Farrington Huguenin in Pittsburgh and many others. We’ll keep close tabs on all of the former Wildcats as they battle for spots this preseason. We’ll also remind you, often, that the Titans are going to the Super Bowl.

10. One more radio show without Matt Jones.

There is one more show to go within Matt’s five-week vacation. Survive it, and then KSR returns to its regularly scheduled programming on Monday. It’s Ryan Lemond and me (so almost a regular show) plus a special guest appearance by Jeff Ruby in the second hour. Give us a call and a listen, if you will.


Benny Snell sees UK’s preseason ranking, disagrees, lights rankings on fire

Benny Snell sees UK’s preseason ranking, disagrees, lights rankings on fire

Benny Snell got his hand on a copy of USA Today’s College Football Preview and it’s pretty safe to say he didn’t see eye to eye with whoever contributed to its preseason rankings.

Once Snell saw his Kentucky Wildcats ranked No. 71, he dropped the paper to the pavement and lit it on fire, while recording it all on SnapChat.

And because nothing is safe on SnapChat, a UK fan page recorded a video of the video on Instagram for it to last forever.

See for yourself:

@iambennysnelljr, is not letting us be ranked 71st in the nation! #BBN

A post shared by UK Videos #BBN (@ukvideos) on

Love it. That’s the attitude Kentucky football needs and has lacked over the years.


We created LaVar Ball…and now we have to live with him

It’s hard to believe that a few years ago, no one had heard of LaVar Ball; now, he’s everywhere, and we only have ourselves to blame.

Last night, the biggest attraction in Las Vegas wasn’t at the MGM Grand, T-Mobile Arena, or the countless pool parties sloshing up and down The Strip; it was at the Cashman Center, a convention center and sports complex on Las Vegas Boulevard north of Fremont Street. By now, you’ve read about the crowd, which reached capacity hours before the main event, to the point that even LeBron James was told to stay away. Thousands more watched online via a Facebook Live stream, which now has over one million views. What did they come to see? LaVar, his youngest son LaMelo, and the Big Baller Squad take on Zion Williamson’s SC Supreme. But, if we’re being honest with ourselves here, they were really there for LaVar.

In the swift span of two years, LaVar Ball has become basketball’s ultimate entertainer. Like the Kardashians, he has somehow become the topic of everyone’s conversation without actually doing anything of merit. When you strip away the talk, the branding, and the hysteria, all you’re left with is a man with a big mouth and three talented sons (whether you like it or not, they have talent). By refusing to keep his mouth shut, LaVar has appealed to the worst in all of us: that morbid curiosity that makes you look at a car wreck. He is sports’ new id in that he says and does whatever he want, and even though every fiber of our being tells us not to, we listen. And click.

“LaVar Ball says his son is better than Steph Curry.”

Click

“LaVar Ball says he would beat Michael Jordan one-on-one.”

Click

“LaVar Ball says De’Aaron Fox is only famous because of his son.”

Click

“LaVar Ball says Kentucky is only a tune-up game for the Final Four.”

Aha! See what I did there? As we became painfully aware back in March, that’s not a real quote from LaVar, but man, it sounds like one.

LaVar is the epitome of a social media superstar because half of the reason we listen and click is so we can judge. LaVar has thoughts and people have THOUGHTS about those thoughts what better way to express them than Twitter and Facebook? “He’s the worst dad in sports!” “He’s the worst dad in the world!” Both of those statements may be true, but each and every one of us that reacts is feeding the frenzy. Readers complain that we post about LaVar too often, but numbers show that those posts get more views and drive more conversation than almost any others. And so the monster grows. It’s a sad reality rooted in the sad reality of our times.

I’d like to think that most people crowded into the Cashman Center last night to see Zion Williamson, a YouTube superstar in his own right; however, a good portion of that crowd was also there to see LaVar. Would he forfeit the game like he did last weekend? What would he say? What would LaMelo do? Would Lonzo be there? Heck, I bet Vegas even took prop bets on whether or not LaVar would be thrown out or get a technical (he delivered on the latter, by the way). The entire circus was made better by the fact that it was actually horrible basketball. Aside from highlights from Zion and LaMelo (who had more misses than makes), it was cringe-worthy, which perfectly encapsulates what AAU has become over the past ten years: all flash, no fundamentals. Yet, the stands were packed, with probably ten different mixtape outlets filming it all for posterity. It’s being called the biggest AAU game of all time, and, not surprisingly, a rematch is already in the works.

It’s not a coincidence that, over the past few years, the lines in basketball have been blurred between sport and spectacle. A lot of that has to do with the new “superteam” era in the NBA, the one-and-done age in college basketball, and the fervent search for the next “it” player in the high school ranks; however, a lot of it also has to do with social media. More than ever, people are skipping, clicking, and sharing. If something’s too long or boring, we skip it; if something’s flashy, we click it; if something’s controversial, we share it. In all realms of today’s society, media has become so saturated that people only care about the stories that provoke opinions because when it comes down to it, we just want to hear ourselves talk.

LaVar is a star; but like it or not, it’s because we made him one. And now, we have to live with that.


Isaac Humphries signed with Australian pro team

isaac-humphries

Isaac Humphries’ has found a home, his old home, for the beginning of his professional basketball career.

The former Kentucky big man has returned to his native Sydney, Australia to play for the Sydney Kings of the National Basketball League. It’s a one-year deal, worth an undisclosed amount, but it was enough for Humphries to pass up his NBA hopes and move back to be around his friends and family.

More from Fox Sports Australia:

Humphries received offers from teams in the Adriatic League, Italy’s Serie A, Germany’s BBL, and the Greek Basket League, among others, but ultimately decided on the Kings; an organisation that had been openly recruiting him for the better part of seven months.

“Isaac was presented with a number of options over the last few months,” Humphries’ agent, Daniel Moldovan, told foxsports.com.au. “From the (NBA) G League, to Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, and Serbia, but after evaluating all options, the situation in Sydney ticked all the boxes.

“The opportunity to play alongside three Boomers in Brad Newley, Kevin Lisch, and Jason Cadee, as well as be coached by Andrew Gaze seemed like the perfect first stop for him.

Humphries went undrafted this summer after his two-and-done run in Lexington, but signed with the Washington Wizards for the summer. He was then cut only a day before he was set to play his first summer league game in Las Vegas, which was enough for him to pack his bags and move home to pursue other options.

Many fans criticized Humphries for leaving Kentucky after only two seasons of eight minutes per game, but some behind the scenes have said this is exactly what Humphries wanted and expected this summer: a return to Australia to make a living playing basketball.

Good luck to him.

(And damn you, Luke Maye — you stole his NCAA tournament shine.)


Thursday’s Top 10: #MidnightStrong at Kroger Field, Midnight AAU Madness in Vegas

If you’re feeling a little tired, maybe you’re a little sluggish around the office this morning, don’t complain to John Calipari’s basketball team because no one had a night quite like them.

Coach Rob Harris met the Cats at Kroger Field at 11 pm late Wednesday night for some summer conditioning that lasted up until midnight. Video from the @KentuckyMBB feed shows how hard they worked under the lights and what great shape the players are already in with another two-plus months to go before we get to Big Blue Madness.

See more video from the late workout via @KentuckyMBB on Twitter.

Let’s go…

1. Almost 80,000 people watched Zion Williamson versus LaMelo Ball on Facebook last night.

The Zion Williamson v. Big Ballers adidas Uprising game out in Las Vegas almost didn’t happen because the crowd was out of control, long before the game ever tipped. LeBron James wasn’t let in. College coaches were trapped in the lobby. The building was way over capacity inside the gym and out, hours before the game, per several accounts from those on the scene. It wasn’t until the Las Vegas police stepped in and removed several screaming teenagers and fans that the game was able to proceed. CBSSports.com’s Gary Parrish wrote that, in his 15 years of doing it, “I’ve never seen anything close to what I saw Wednesday night.” Many others said the same thing. It has been labeled the biggest AAU game ever — all because, whether you like it or not, LaVar and LaMelo Ball are rock stars. And Zion Williamson is a freak of nature.

So what happened?

2. Zion Williamson’s team won.

As expected, the Big Ballers couldn’t contain Zion Williamson. The No. 2 overall prospect in the 2018 class went for 31 points and eight rebounds in SC Supreme’s 104-92 win over the Big Ballers. Across the way, LaMelo Ball had 36 points on 10-of-27 shooting from the field. Williamson sealed the game with this steal-and-dunk off a Ball pass:

Plenty more to come from this insane game later today.

3. John Calipari was also in Las Vegas last night.

Also from Las Vegas, although far away from the adidas game madness: Calipari watched Louis King go for 41 points in the Nike event, alongside his Team Final (PA) teammate and fellow UK target, Cameron Reddish.

Reddish has his Kentucky offer and his time with Cal in Egypt may have turned the tables in UK’s favor in his recruitment; however, King, though also very interested in UK after his time in Egypt, has yet to receive his offer. Ya gotta think one will come soon.

4. Immanuel Quickley was great last night, according to our friend Evan Daniels.

Quickley will visit Kentucky on September 15, but you should already have that in your calendar by now.

5. Another Meet The Wildcat today?

With two new Meet The Wildcat features in the last two days, will we get a third today? Tuesday we watched Jemarl Baker play CATS against Rex Chapman; yesterday it was Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s turn in the spotlight. Maybe we’ll get another one today.

6. The USMNT won the Gold Cup last night.

While many of you were pregaming for the Zion-LaMelo AAU showdown for the ages, our nation’s men’s national soccer team defeated Jamaica to win its sixth CONCACAF Gold Cup. It took a goal in the 88th minute from rising star Jordan Morris to break a 1-1 tie and give the Yanks the last-minute victory.

Up next for the USMNT: qualifying for next summer’s World Cup.

7. Missed Connection: Help @Vertrees tweet find an old friend.

Big Blue Nation, we need help locating the young man in the striped shirt in the photo below, shared in an SB Nation story looking back on the 2007 national champion LSU Tigers (and how Kentucky beat them).

The man in the gray t-shirt is @Vertrees and he asked that we help him find the identity of the human being that was on his back during the celebration, in hopes that they can one day recreate the photo. So, let’s help @Vertrees find his long-lost friend who he never really knew in the first place, but would like to meet this fall, some 10 years after they shared a moment.

8. I don’t watch baseball, but consider me a new fan of Adrian Beltre.

Watch what happens when Beltre is asked to stand in the on-deck circle:

One time in high school I was told to move across the classroom because I was talking to the people around me prior to a test. I had written all of the vocabulary words on the desk, so I picked it up and moved it across the room with me. Just wanted to get that off my chest, in case you’re wondering why I did that, Mrs. Barnett. I’m sorry.

9. Want to advertise with KSR? Sponsorship of our football photo galleries is a good option.

KSR’s 2017 UK Football Photo Gallery packages are now on sale. We have mini season, full season, and title sponsorship options. Don’t miss your chance to have your business featured alongside the work of our award-winning photographer, Dr. Michael Huang. Email ksrads@kentuckysportsradio.com for more package info.

10. Today’s show is in the hands of our contest winners.

With slight caution and a little hesitance, we hand over the KSR microphone to our winners of the KSR guest host contest. Owensboro’s David Clark, Stephen Turner and Brandon Ward will host the first hour and then Brian Ross and Josh Sharpe will take over from a studio in L.A. in the second. Good luck, guys. Please don’t break anything or piss anyone off.


28 Fun Facts About the Kentucky Football Team

28 Fun Facts About the Kentucky Football Team

Football is upon us, which means it’s time to get to know the 2017 Kentucky Wildcats. As I do ever year, I scoured the UK Football Media Guide to find fun facts about the players, and I must say, this year’s crop of Cats did not disappoint.

Did you know…

• Redshirt freshman running back Asim “AJ” Rose is an Eagle Scout

• Sophomore defensive end TJ Carter used to be involved in the sport of fencing

• Redshirt freshman defensive lineman Ja’Quize Cross has almost 100 pairs of sneakers and enjoys customizing shoes? Other than playing in the NFL, his dream job is to own his own shoe store.

• Senior offensive guard Nick Haynes is an accomplished bowler who has bowled five 300 games? (Meanwhile, senior quarterback Stephen Johnson bragged that he bowled a 225, which, in his words, is “better than Alex Montgomery.”)

• Redshirt freshman cornerback Zy’Aire Hughes was born with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and the doctors brought him back to life

• Senior noseguard Jacob Hyde can wiggle his ears and do cartwheels

• Freshman wide receiver Lynn Bowden’s nickname is “Six”

• Junior linebacker Jordan Jones loves watching “Jersey Shore”

• At 6-4, 275 lbs., redshirt freshman kicker Tyler Pack claims to be “quite possibly the largest kicker in the country”

• Junior cornerback Chris Westry has over 300 photographs covering a wall in his room of people he cares about in his life

• Senior wide receiver Charles Walker is a ping-pong champion

• Redshirt freshman linebacker Jamar “Boogie” Watson is a great tap dancer

• When freshman defensive lineman Chris Whittaker was four years old, his mother saved him from drowning

• Sophomore offensive tackle Landon Young is learning to play the banjo

• Freshman outside linebacker Alex King started playing football after he saw pictures of his mom on a youth football team when he was young

• Sophomore running back Benny Snell’s favorite meal is peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with banana

• Freshman quarterback Walker Wood’s theme song in life is “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus

• Freshman quarterback Danny Clark’s pregame routine is listening to Johnny Cash

Other than the NFL, their dream job is…

• Redshirt freshman center Drake Jackson: To be an astronaut

• Freshman running back Bryant Koback Jr.: To be a mechanical engineer specializing in the oil industry

• Redshirt freshman linebacker Jaylin Bannerman: To work in fashion and design his own clothing line (He sews, too)

• Freshman quarterback Danny Clark: To work on custom muscle cars

• Junior cornerback Chris Westry: To work at Google

The last time they were starstruck was…

• Senior linebacker Courtney Love: When Courtney Love (the singer) mentioned him on Twitter and on “Late Night with Seth Meyers”

• Sophomore linebacker Elijah Barnett: When he met Tim Couch

• Junior wide receiver David Bouvier: When he saw Coach Stoops

If they had to choose one player to be stranded on an island with, they would choose…

• Junior linebacker Josh Allen: Jordan Jones because he would find a way to get them rescued and provide entertainment

• Senior cornerback Kendall Randolph: Kash Daniel because Kash would catch all their food and build them a boat.


Kentucky Football 2017 Statistical Benchmarks

Kentucky Football 2017 Statistical Benchmarks

Pic by Food+Tech Connect

2016 presented inconsistencies along several statistical classifications. For example, Kentucky ranked first in the SEC’s 4th down conversion category but finished dead last in punting and turnover margin. Remarkable.

This post will analyze three statistical categories: Non-Negotiable Improvements, Advantage Developments, and Sustains. Each category will highlight statistical collections that must be vastly improved, somewhat increased, or simply maintained. First, we’ll define the categories:

  • Non-Negotiable Improvements are self-explanatory. For UK to enjoy a successful season it must address and immensely improve upon the listed statistical classifications.
  • Advantage Developments examine actions that were not listed in the upper half of the league but needs to show some improvement in order for Kentucky to better its win/loss record from a year ago.
  • Sustain is easy. No change, continue status quo, keep on keeping on, keep on truckin’; you get the picture.

Pic by USA Today

Non-Negotiable Improvements

Turnover Margin

2016: Recovered 8 fumbles, intercepted 13 passes for a +21 margin. Conversely, UK lost 16 fumbles, threw 12 interceptions for a total of -28. Combined, it formulated a -7 total turnover margin (14th or last in the SEC).

2017 Goal: This number needs to be in the +2 level at a minimum. Mid-pack in the league was a +3 a year ago. This digit’s reduction will assist most all other statistical areas of concern. Last year’s turnovers twisted potential blowout wins into nail biters (Vanderbilt) and potential close game victories into losses (Georgia).

Punting

2016: 61 punts, 2335-yards, 38.3 yards per, allowed 125 return yards for a 2-yard average, kicked 5 touchbacks which equaled a total 34.6 net yards per punt (SEC-14th)

2017 Goal: Again, just shooting for mid-level production, a 39-40-yard net punt average would greatly improve field position and ease strain on the defense. Strategic, inside the ten-yard line punt placement also needs immense upgrading. Regardless, punting has to drastically improve.

3rd Down Defense

2016: Opponents converted 80 of 180 3rd down attempts for a 44.4% success percentage (SEC-13th)

2017 Goal: 39% would provide Eddie Gran’s offense with more possessions which could translate to additional points. 39% ranks in the middle of the SEC. Plus, getting off the field has been a struggle for Stoops’ defense throughout his tenure. Personnel shortages have greatly impacted this deficiency. 3rd down defense improved down the stretch in 2016 which could act as a precursor for this number to drop even further.

Rush Defense

2016Opponents had 576 carries for 2966-yards, 25 TDs. 5.1 yards per attempt and 228 yards per game ranked 12th in the SEC.

2017 Goal: A realistic goal and more likely a blue lensed view would be for the Wildcats to allow 195-200 yards per game. Lack of proven defensive line depth significantly factors in this estimation. However, UK has an upper-level linebacker corps and secondary which includes the conference’s top two returning tacklers: LB Jordan Jones (109) and Safety Mike Edwards (100). I’m least confident in rush defense improvement than all other statistical projections within this study.


Pic by Kansas City Star

Advantage Developments

Quarterback Sacks

2016Kentucky produced 21 QB sacks for a -171 yards (SEC-11th)  

2017 Goal: A conservative 29. 83% of last year’s sacks came from the linebackers. Josh Allen and Denzil Ware combined for 12.5 a year ago. That total was more than Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith combined for in their last season in Lexington. Factor in LB Jordan Jones, Jamar “Boogie” Watson, and a potential rookie or two and 29 is easily an attainable goal.

The Cats had several close call sacks during which the quarterback escaped pressure in 2016. The most important number here is the aforementioned 83%. The defensive line and select defensive backs will need to increase its contribution in order for total sacks to increase by eight.

Tackles for Loss

2016: 69 tackles for loss for -277 yards, averaged 5.39 TFL per game.  

2017 Goal: 80. This column has varied over the years. From 54 in Stoops’ first season to 65 in Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith’s last season in Lexington. 2015’s 53 TFLs was last in the league. Kentucky’s jump to 69 a year ago was quite impressive but not surprising with four explosive linebackers. Matter of fact, LB Jordan Jones (15.5 TFL) and LB/DE Denzil Ware (12 TFL) are the league’s number one and three returning leaders in this category respectively. 

Scoring Offense

2016: Scored 49 touchdowns, 44 extra points, two 2-point conversions, 16 field goals for 390 total points, 30 points per game (SEC-9th) 

2017 Goal: 35 points per game. A decrease in turnovers will increase scoring opportunities. Couple that with a sustained, efficient Red Zone offense and it’s easy to envision UK adding five points per game.

Scoring Defense

2016: Allowed 50 touchdowns, 48 extra points, one 2-point conversion, 19 field goals, 407 total points, 31.3 points per game (SEC-11th)  

2017 Goal: 27 points per game. With question marks surrounding its defensive line, projecting the Wildcats to decrease its total points per game by four-points per game is a realistic approach. This number isn’t as much of a reflection of an ineffective defense but more out of respect to offenses it will face. Many are expected to light up scoreboards. Missouri, Georgia, Louisville, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and even Florida are all projected to possess more offensive weapons in 2017. Expect several shootouts.


Pic by SEC Country

Sustains

Offensive 4th Down Conversions

201612 out of 16 attempts, 75% (SEC-1st)

2017 Goal: More of same

Rushing Offense

2016: 560 carries, 3044 yards, 5.4 yards per carry, 30 touchdowns, 234.2 yards per game (SEC-3rd)

2017 Goal: Continued success. The Cats will be in more shootout games this fall. Its ability to maintain line-of-scrimmage management and a physical run game will be the separating factor that could catapult Kentucky to an improved win total. Ramifications of losing Stanley Williams will be quickly identified.

RB Benny Snell is an established, 1000-yard rusher. Finding a rotation behind Snell will be paramount. Promising freshmen AJ Rose and Bryant Koback are capable, fast, and powerful. Sihiem King is a change of pace and direction back that could get quality carries.

QB Stephen Johnson is the key to the Kentucky rushing game. He must be able to present the threat of an RPO (Run-Pass-Option) to keep additional defenders from stacking the box. In addition, a higher completion percentage of short to intermediate pass plays can also act as a preventer from opponents focusing solely on stopping the run.

Pass Defense

2016: Opponents attempted 352 passes, completed 202, 13 interceptions, 57.4%, 2679 yards, 7.6 yards per, 20 touchdowns, 206.1 yards per game (SEC-5th) 

2017 Goal: Projecting a number here is difficult. This category will be greatly impacted by pass rush and an increase of quarterback sacks. UK has talented cornerbacks and an elite safety. It has a top-5 SEC secondary. However, numbers are driven by exterior influences. 

Red Zone Offense

2016: Converted 36 times from 42 trips to Red Zone, 85.7%, 25 touchdowns, 11 field goals

2017 Goal: Sustain success and become more diverse

Field Goal Percentage

2016: Attempted 19 field goals, converted 16 for 84.2% (SEC-3rd)  

2017 Goal: Kicker Austin MacGinnis is one of if not the best kicker in the history of the University of Kentucky. Enough said.


What does all this mean?

Numbers don’t lie. 2016 was an anomaly as Kentucky was last in turnover margin and punting yet won 4 SEC games. Depth, experience, and player development are all catch phrases that could be displayed in hard data in 2017.


WATCH: Kentucky Basketball does the #DriveByDunkChallenge

WATCH: Kentucky Basketball does the #DriveByDunkChallenge

Following in the footsteps of John Calipari, Anthony Davis, and De’Aaron Fox, the Kentucky Basketball team turned in their installment of the Drive-By Dunk Challenge this afternoon. Watch below as Jarred Vanderbilt, Kevin Knox, PJ Washington, Nick Richards, and Jonny David get in on the latest internet craze:

Hey college basketball: hide your kids, hide your rims, hide your coaches, because Kentucky Basketball is coming for you.


Kickoff times announced for the Eastern Kentucky and South Carolina games

Get your calendars out because the SEC Network just announced the kickoff times for the first three weeks of the season.

Kentucky’s home opener vs. Eastern Kentucky on September 9 will kick off at 12 p.m. ET  and their first SEC road game vs. South Carolina on September 16 will take place under the lights at 7:30 p.m. Both games will be televised on the SEC Network.

Your kickoff times for the first three games:

  • September 2, 4:00 PM ET: at Southern Miss, CBS Sports Network
  • September 9, 12:00 PM ET: vs. Eastern Kentucky, SEC Network
  • September 16, 7:30 PM ET: at South Carolina, SEC Network

And the rest of the SEC Network’s schedule for first three weeks of the season:

Saturday, September 2

  • Missouri State at Missouri, 12 pm ET/11 am CT on SEC Network
  • Charleston Southern at Mississippi State, 4 pm ET/3 pm CT on SEC Network
  • Georgia Southern at Auburn, 7:30 pm ET/6:30 pm CT on SEC Network

Saturday, September 9

  • Eastern Kentucky at Kentucky, 12 pm ET/11 am CT on SEC Network
  • UT Martin at Ole Miss, 12 pm ET/11 am CT on SEC Network Alternate
  • Indiana State at Tennessee, 4 pm ET/3 pm CT on SEC Network
  • Alabama A&M at Vanderbilt, 4 pm ET/3 pm CT on SEC Network Alternate
  • Northern Colorado at Florida, 7:30 pm ET/6:30 pm CT on SEC Network
  • UT Chattanooga at LSU, 7:30 pm ET/6:30 pm CT on SEC Network Alternate

Saturday, September 16

  • Louisiana-Lafayette at Texas A&M, 12 pm ET/11 am CT on SEC Network
  • Purdue at Missouri, 4 pm ET/3 pm CT on SEC Network
  • Mercer at Auburn, 4 pm ET/3 pm CT on SEC Network Alternate
  • Kentucky at South Carolina, 7:30 pm ET/6:30 pm CT on SEC Network
  • Samford at Georgia, 7:30 pm ET/6:30 pm CT on SEC Network Alternate

Tuesday’s Top 10: Kroger Field gets real

Tuesday’s Top 10: Kroger Field gets real

Happy Tuesday, everyone. Shoutout to these Kentucky fans and their Temple pal, who repped their teams in Hong Kong recently. Gorgeous picture of what always seems like a surreal part of the world.

Ready for today’s top 10? Because it’s ready for you.

1. The sign is going up at Kroger Field

Fall camp begins at the end of this week, and in turn, things are getting real at the new Kroger Field. Check out this picture from @JenHeraldLeader of the new sign going up on the side of the stadium:

@jenheraldleader

Couldn’t we have come up with a fancier font, guys?

2. Darius Miller signed his deal with the Pelicans

We’ve known about Miller’s return to New Orleans for several weeks, but yesterday, he made it official, signing a two-year deal with the Pelicans. Before turning his sights completely to the new opportunity, Miller took a moment to thank his Brose Bamberg family in Germany for helping him the past three seasons:

The PeliCATS now have four former Kentucky Wildcats on the roster, and if they sign summer league participant James Young, they’ll have five, the most of any team in the league. Let’s do it.

3. Derrick Rose is headed to Cleveland

With Kyrie Irving asking to be traded elsewhere, the Cavs found an immediate solution in the form of Derrick Rose, who agreed to a one-year, $2.1 million deal with Cleveland last night. It’s been a rough few years for Rose in the league, so hopefully he can find his way with LeBron and company.

4. Cats still on the free agency market

Which Cats are still up for grabs as the free agency period rolls on?

  • Nerlens Noel (Restricted-Mavericks)
  • Alex Poythress
  • Terrence Jones
  • James Young
  • Aaron Harrison
  • Isaiah Briscoe
  • Dominique Hawkins

The Clippers are reportedly considering signing Poythress to a two-way contract, so, something to keep an eye on.

5. There was definitely some grumbling about UK raising student basketball ticket prices

Yesterday, UK announced they are raising basketball season tickets $5 per game across the board. This means student ticket prices will go up (from $5 to $10) for the first time since the 1990s. As you might expect, students were none too happy about that, at least according to my Twitter feed. While $10 for a UK basketball game still seems like a deal to me, students complained that the move comes after rising tuition, parking tickets, and an increasingly problematic lottery system.

I’ll be the first to admit it’s becoming easier and easier to stay at home and watch sporting events on TV, but if student attendance at games continues to decrease (higher ticket prices won’t help), those seats won’t be around much longer.

6. Seth Greenberg gave us a lot of great insight into this year’s team

Yesterday, ESPN’s Seth Greenberg took over the show and gave fans his opinions about Calipari’s new squad, which he says “could be the biggest Kentucky team I can remember.” Greenberg raved about the incoming freshmen class, which he said was “no joke,” but said the success of the team will really fall on the few veterans that are left, namely Wenyen Gabriel.

“The success of this team, in terms of big picture, might be the returning players. How good will Wenyen Gabriel be this year? Will he be that lockdown defender? Will he be that guy that can run and score? Will he be that guy who is that positionless player to lead because you need a guy that can lead a talented group of players. You need a guy who can explain to the freshmen Coach Cal’s intensity.”

For more from Seth, click here.

7. Makayla Epps got some serious ink

The former UK Hoops star paid homage to her home state and alma mater with some pretty impressive ink, which she showed off on Twitter yesterday:

Shoutout to her for using the old UK logo and not the new one. #vintage

8. Couple closing in on quest to visit every Cracker Barrel in America

Your feel-good story of the day: an Indiana couple is closing in on their mission to visit every Cracker Barrel in America. That quest has taken them more than five million miles across the country and to 644 of the 645 Cracker Barrel locations. They plan to visit the final one, located in a suburb of Portland, Oregon, later this year.

I think we know who they’d vote for in the KSR Restaurant Bracket.

9. BTI got married!

Congratulations to our own Bryan the Intern, who took a break from his rants and rumblings to get married this past weekend. Even at his own wedding, BTI couldn’t escape KSR:

10. Today on KSR: Ramel “Smooth” Bradley

Get ready to hear the smooth tones of Mr. Smooth himself. The show starts in one hour.


Commonwealth Stadium is Transforming Into Kroger Field with New Signage

UK Athletics

When UK announced a new partnership on May 1 with Kroger to rename Commonwealth Stadium Kroger Field, they unveiled the picture above, replacing the signage that stood since the renovation in the late 90s close the end zones.  That signage was just a photoshop, not a final product.

For the first time, we can see what the stadium will look like as Kroger Field.  Take a look at the North side of the stadium, nearest to BCTC and opposite of the press box and Nutter Football Training Facility.

@DanPauley14

Pauley’s picture is the first look at the physical changes being made to introduce Kroger Field.  I’m sure we’ll see a few more before the first home game kicks-off on September 9 against Eastern Kentucky.

UPDATE: That was just the start. Jen Smith has provided the internet with another look of the sign, now completed.

 p


Seth Greenberg: “This could be the biggest Kentucky team I can remember”

Seth Greenberg: “This could be the biggest Kentucky team I can remember”

This year’s Kentucky team will be John Calipari’s youngest yet, but according to Seth Greenberg, they could also be his biggest. The ESPN analyst took over hosting duties for today’s show, and shared his thoughts on Kentucky’s upcoming squad, which he believes has all the pieces it needs to make a big run…after some growing pains, of course.

The Veterans

  

“The success of this team, in terms of big picture, might be the returning players. How good will Wenyen Gabriel be this year? Will he be that lockdown defender? Will he be that guy that can run and score? Will he be that guy who is that positionless player to lead because you need a guy that can lead a talented group of players. You need a guy who can explain to the freshmen Coach Cal’s intensity.”

“How much better will Sacha Killeya-Jones be? We know he can score it, can he maintain the intensity? That’s going to be the challenge: how hard will he play consistently? Tai Wynyard, a guy with international experience this year. How important will that be?”

The Freshmen

    

“The freshman class is no joke. It’s always no joke, but this group is really interesting. Diallo is a John Calipari type of player. He plays hard, he defends, he’s electric, he’s competitive; those guys always do well for Cal.”

“I look at PJ Washington. PJ Washington reminds me of the guys Cal had at UMass. Without position, physically tough, draws a line in the sand every play. I saw him at the adidas Nations camp a year ago. He was the hardest playing player at the camp. It wasn’t even close. Every 50/50 ball, every time the ball was shot, he ran the court, he drove it, he was skilled and more importantly, he knew exactly who he was and how he wins.”

“Kevin Knox will be the most skilled player. Kevin Knox is a guy that can knock down shots. He’s got a very smooth, easy game to him. At 6’9″, he can play anywhere on the floor. This could be the biggest Kentucky team I can remember. They can legitimately play a point guard and everyone else 6’9″ or bigger. Knox is just going to be fun to watch because he’s a guy that can be up to get buckets. He’s going to be a guy to knock down shots. You put him and Jarred Vanderbilt on the wings and you’ve got two wings that can absolutely put so much pressure on the defense with their athleticism, their length, their speed, their quickness. It will be interesting to see how John puts this team together.”

“And then a pure point guard Quade Green is a guy who can really set the table. He’s going to have to compete defensively and he’s going to have to learn to compete defensively, but a guy that has an understanding, a feel for the game. The ability to get the ball to guys when they’re open. Green has a chance to be really special.”

“This is a team that, to me, the pieces fit. But, like all John Calipari teams, it’s a process.”

Yes, it is. For more of Seth’s thoughts, listen to today’s podcast, which also features interviews with Dino Gaudio, Slice Rohrssen, Dan Dakich, and Kyle Tucker.

Here’s the rest of this week’s schedule, which now includes UK Baseball coach Nick Mingione on Wednesday:

July 25: Ramel “Smooth” Bradley
July 26: UK Baseball coach Nick Mingione
July 27: Guest Hosts
July 28: KSR Crew


The Joe B. Hall Mural Wants Today’s Top 10

The Joe B. Hall Mural Wants Today’s Top 10

@thebottomlineky

Good morning, friends. You’re looking at the new Joe B. Hall mural in Cynthiana, his hometown, the perfect image with which to start our week. The mural is being painted by Sergio Odeith, the Portuguese artist who created “The Walking Dead” mural in Cynthiana last year. I know I’m not alone when I say that so far, it looks amazing. It’s scheduled to be unveiled on Tuesday night.

It’s a new week, so let’s jump right in.

1. Calipari gave us the video of the weekend

How does John Calipari celebrate the end of a busy trip? By getting in on the latest internet meme, of course. After trips to Philadelphia, Washington, Georgia, and Dallas, Cal did the Drive-By Dunk Challenge in Lexington, giving us the viral video of the weekend:

2. De’Aaron Fox followed suit

#DriveByDUNKChallenge 😂😂😂

A post shared by De'Aaron Fox (@swipathefox) on

I give this challenge one more week before it starts to get annoying. UK NBA players, you’re on the clock.

3. Cal’s office looks nice

@UKCoachCalipari

While Cal was away this summer, he had his office at the Joe Craft Center redone, and it looks fabulous. I especially like the SLAM cover with the stars of his first Kentucky team behind the desk. (UPDATE: Apparently, Cal’s office was redone last fall, not this summer. Regardless, it’s the first time I’ve seen it in a while and it looks nice.)

Anyways, Cal had the team in his office a few times this weekend, first to talk branding (he is the master) and then to meet with Karl Towns, who was on campus for a basketball camp. Speaking of…

4. Karl Towns reminded us we’re still not over the Wisconsin game

The Wisconsin loss is the Laettner shot for a new generation of Kentucky fans, and even two years later, I don’t know if I’ll ever get over it; it’s nice to know that Karl Towns feels the same. While in town this weekend, Karl talked openly about the 38-1 team’s accomplishments, and how that one loss still stings.

“No one’s ever going to do that again… it’s almost impossible. I talked to Devin Booker awhile ago about it. It’s not going to be done again.”

“It wasn’t just the way that we won, it was how we won. I mean, we’re beating teams by 50. UCLA should’ve just walked off the court against us at one point,” Towns said. “It’s no disrespect to any university, but that year was our year.”

Yes, it was. Damnit.

5. Karl and Julius Randle like Kentucky’s chances vs. an NBA superteam

DeWayne Peevy’s proposal to have an NBA superteam, ala the Warriors or Rockets, face off against an All-UK Team in the Alumni Game has everyone talking, including Towns and Randle. Both said the Cats would win easily.

“Of course,” Karl said. “We’d kill anybody. That’s not a question. I don’t know what Julius [Randle] said yesterday, but I’m not as modest. If we get to pick our coach and we get to pick Cal, it’s over.”

“I definitely think we would win,” Randle said, also in town for a basketball camp. “I don’t think it would really be a challenge.”

Gotta love that confidence. Here’s hoping we get to see this hyped up hypothetical showdown on August 25.

6. How will that Kyrie trade affect NBA Cats?

Friday’s bombshell news that Kyrie Irving has requested a trade has the NBA world talking, and several Cats have been rumored to be part of the deal for the Cavs star. One rumor has De’Aaron Fox as part of a trade for Irving, another MKG, and another Eric Bledsoe. Whatever happens, this will be a huge deal, and should a former Cat be involved, they’ll join an immediate contender in the Cavs. Stay tuned…

7. John Wall is about to get paid

On Friday night, news also dropped that John Wall has agreed to a four-year $170 million contract with the Washington Wizards. That’s a lot of money, so big congrats to the man who helped Calipari turn it around in his first year at Kentucky.

8. Football is just around the corner

The NCAA has eliminated two-a-days in the preseason, so training camp will start a week earlier this year, meaning football really is just around the corner. Camp will begin later this week, with Media Day taking place on Sunday. The annual Women’s Clinic took place on Saturday, and while I wasn’t able to make it up to Lexington for the event, Maggie Davis had a great recap for us. Click here to check it out.

9. I can’t believe I wasted an hour watching “Phelps vs. Shark”

To kick off Shark Week, the Discovery Channel had Michael Phelps race a shark. Kind of. Okay, not really at all. Obviously, it wouldn’t have been very safe (or practical) to put Phelps in the same waters as a shark, so the Discovery Channel crew did a bunch of tests to determine the shark’s top speed and had Phelps try to beat it. He didn’t, and it was just as disappointing as it sounds.

In other, more exciting swimming news, shoutout to Danville native and Centre College grad Kyle Poland, who swam around the island of Manhattan yesterday. It took Poland, who swam the English Channel in 2013, seven hours and sixteen minutes to complete the 28-mile swim. That is way more impressive than a fake race against a shark, if you ask me.

10. Today on KSR: Seth Greenberg

Get ready to talk college basketball as we enter Matt’s final week of vacation.


WATCH: John Calipari does the Drive-By Dunk Challenge

WATCH: John Calipari does the Drive-By Dunk Challenge

First Anthony Davis, now John Calipari. It’s official: everyone is doing the Drive-By Dunk Challenge.

After a long day of recruiting, Calipari got in on the latest internet craze, stopping at a fan’s house, jumping out of the car, and dunking on their basketball hoop. The clip is classic Cal, right down to the humblebrag caption:

“HELLO!”