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One Year Later

One Year Later

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Nearly a year ago I opened my laptop to write a KSR post highlighting Buckhorn High School’s unlikely voyage to the Sweet 16. Several hours later I had unintentionally finished a story that chronicled the last days of my dad’s life.

“Big Fred” went Home on April 3 at 1:39 p.m. Surrounded by both his kids and my momma when he passed, he went peacefully. Fred Maggard Sr. had very few priorities in his golden years; faith, family, and following his Wildcats were the only three that I was aware of, everything else was merely a peripheral distraction. I still can’t believe it’s nearly been a year.

March was our favorite month. He was a guard on one of the most storied Kentucky high school basketball teams in the Commonwealth’s proud history. The 1956 Carr Creek Indians won the state championship and did so with style. Big Fred hit two last-minute shots to secure Creeker wins as they marched through a loaded field to bring home the big trophy. Books have since been written about that team’s accolades. Memories of Kentucky’s golden era of high school basketball are still being shared today.

Harlan County, Pikeville, and Perry County Central advanced to this year’s Sweet 16. The three mountain teams will even play in the same session on Wednesday night. I like that. Big Fred would have loved it. You see, my dad and I had an annual state tournament tradition. In a friendly competition, we’d both complete tourney brackets and then compared our predictions. No money was bet as the higher stakes of “I was right, you were wrong” meant way more than dollars and cents. He won most years. He said that he was better at picking the champs because, unlike me, he had actually won a state tournament. On many occasions he’d point to his ring finger as to ask, “I got one, where’s your big boy?” I guess we could be classified as slightly competitive folks. This went on for over thirty years. I miss it. I miss my dad.

One of the last things my dad asked me was the same thing he’d asked a hundred times before. “How’s your job going?” I struggled to answer. Big Fred was a hardworking man, spent forty plus years in the coal mines. His idea of day’s work and what I was doing a year ago were polar opposite. I had a hard time describing that on a daily basis I monitored Twitter, wrote articles for the internet, and talked football for a living. Regardless, he seemed proud even if I wasn’t exactly picking slate off a mining belt.

This past year has flown yet it also has seemed like an eternity. I go back and forth on how I actually feel. During the first months after his funeral, I caught myself picking up the phone to call and tell him about a new adventure or to simply strike up a conversation. That stopped after a couple months. But, I often ponder which UK related news would have interested him. Here are a few I think my old man would have liked:

— Stephen Johnson. Dad would have absolutely loved the unheralded junior college quarterback who led the Cats to a 7-5 regular season record and a New Year’s Bowl. He would have admired the fight in the underdog and would have assuredly respected Johnson’s background and how prayer led to the healing of an early childhood disorder. Most of all, Big Fred respected clutch athletes, or those that performed their best in biggest moments. He’d frequently describe them, and himself, as having ice water in their veins. I can imagine him mumbling the same phrase that Stephen Johnson said just before throwing a touchdown pass on UK’s opening offensive series against the Cardinals.

— Speaking of Stephen Johnson, he would have really enjoyed the Cats’ Governor’s Cup win. Big Fred never wasted time hating an opponent other than Tennessee. But, beating the 11th ranked Cardinals in their home stadium would have brought on smiles and most likely a little trash talk if he could have found a UofL fan in Corbin.

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— Maci Morris’ continued accomplishment in Lexington would have led to several proud conversations. Maci was his favorite UK basketball player. He never missed an opportunity to remind me just how much Maci reminded him of her dad. Big Fred thought the world of Maci’s pops, Lewis Morris. Lewis was a skilled, tough-guy athlete in his day that took me under his wing at Cumberland High School. My dad always appreciated that. Plus, Maci is a mountain kid doing good in the big city. Appalachians love their athletes that wear the blue and white.

— Dominique Hawkins’ SEC Tournament would have delighted the old man. He loved Kentucky Basketball, but he admired Kentucky-raised Wildcats even more. I could hear it now, “See son, what did I tell you. We’d be 38-0 if Cal would have played that Hawkins kid more.”

I could keep going. But, I have to keep in mind that readers may not think these stories are very interesting. I guess what I’m trying to convey is that the University of Kentucky has brought the BBN several extraordinary moments over the course of a year. So as the Cats start their journey through the brackets, take the time to enjoy the ride with loved ones. I’d imagine several that read this have their own “Big Fred”. March is a special time in the Bluegrass. March was our favorite month.


Dominique Hawkins: “This is the funnest group I’ve been around all my four years here”

Dominique Hawkins: “This is the funnest group I’ve been around all my four years here”

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Dominique Hawkins has been a part of some great teams during his four years at Kentucky, but after the Cats’ run in the SEC Tournament, he told reporters that this squad is the most fun he’s been around, which is some seriously high praise.

This is the funnest group of guys I’ve been around since I’ve been here for four years. Everybody is just coming together. We have a great brotherhood on and off the court.”

More fun than the 2015 squad that went 38-1? When asked about it again, Dominique doubled down.

“Like I was saying, this is the funnest group I’ve been around all my four years here. Everybody just loves each and everybody. As the freshmen came in, they didn’t come in shy at all. They were ready to meet the guys and just able to communicate with us as well. I’m not a really talkative person, but they turned me into a talkative person. When I’m around them I want to talk. I know, right? Just when I’m around them they make me want to talk and talk about basketball and other stuff we always talk about.”

Hawkins also doled out kudos to sophomore Isaiah Briscoe, who he said is the most vocal guy he’s ever seen in a huddle or timeout.

“It starts off with leadership. Isaiah (Briscoe), he’s our leader. I’ve never seen a guy so vocal in the huddles and timeouts. He motivates me in the timeout huddle. He tells us we need to get this stop, we need to make these plays and all the freshmen are growing up. They know what they need to do to prepare themselves for the games now.”

Quotes like this make me feel really good about this squad. So do videos like these of them celebrating the SEC Championship:


Tuesday’s Top 10: UK Hoops staying home, Swaggy Cal & Vanilla Ice in a UK jersey

Tuesday’s Top 10: UK Hoops staying home, Swaggy Cal & Vanilla Ice in a UK jersey

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To see more pictures from the SEC Tournament by our talented photographer Michael Huang, check out our Facebook page.  

I don’t know about you guys, but after watching Kentucky click into gear vs. Arkansas in the SEC Tournament, I’m grinning like Bam Adebayo in that picture up there. There’s no better week in sports than the first week of the NCAA Tournament, and tonight, the games will officially begin with the first four in Dayton. Before we get to that, let’s run through today’s agenda.

1. UK Hoops is staying home, plays 13-seed Belmont Friday

Last night, the ladies received their tournament draw and will host 13-seed Belmont in the opening round Friday at noon in Memorial Coliseum. Given all the offseason issues, it’s pretty impressive that Matthew Mitchell’s squad has a chance to play their four games at home to make it to the Final Four. Friday’s game will tip off at noon on ESPN2, making for a nice warm-up for the men’s team vs. Northern Kentucky at 9:40 p.m.

Check out the rest of their bracket here.

2. Calipari was hyped on his call-in show

Ain’t no Calipari like a swaggy Calipari, and between giving Jay Bilas grief over defending Duke on ESPN’s bracket special and last night’s call in show, you can tell he’s feeling good about his team headed into the tournament.

“I’m excited. You can tell I’m jacked up to play basketball,” Cal said. “There’s been so much growth with this team…These kids are focused right now. They’re locked in so we’re getting better.”

On the SEC Coaches Teleconference, he raved about how his team has come together in recent weeks.

“They’re coming together. They’re buying into the defensive end. They’re riding a hot player and guys aren’t fighting it. Bam getting better. De’Aaron is getting better. Dom and our bench, Wenyen and Mychal and Isaac, we’re coming together. We’re still not where we want to be, but we’re coming together and I’m pleased with all of them.”

3. The Ringer thinks Kentucky will win the title

Joe Lunardi aside, the national media seems to be sleeping on Kentucky, but not The Ringer’s Mark Titus and Tate Frazier, who picked the Cats to upset the Villanova Cats in the National Championship:

@ringer

@ringer

You can watch them break down their choices here, here, and here.

4. Malik Monk made the USBWA All-America 2nd Team

Another day, another award for Monk, who was named to the U.S. Basketball Writers Association All-America Second Team yesterday. It’s the third straight season a Wildcat has made the USBWA All-America teams. Willie Cauley-Stein made the first team in 2015 and Tyler Ulis landed on the second team last season.

Here’s a list of Monk’s accolades so far:

  • SEC Player of the Year (AP)
  • SEC Newcomer of the Year (AP)
  • SEC Freshman of the Year (Coaches)
  • All-SEC First Team (AP/Coaches)
  • All-SEC Freshman Team (Coaches)
  • USBWA All-America Second Team
  • Sporting News All-America Second Team
  • Sporting News Freshman All-America Team
  • USA Today All-America Second Team
  • NBC Sports All-America Second Team
  • USBWA District IV Player of the Year
  • USBWA All-District IV Team
  •  Jerry West Award Finalist
  • Wooden Award Finalist

Speaking of those last few awards…

5. Don’t forget to vote for Malik Monk for the Wendy’s Wooden Award

Monk is one of 15 finalists for the Wooden Award, given annually to the top player in college basketball. You can help him win it by retweeting the tweet below:

You can also vote for Monk to win the Jerry West Award for the nation’s best shooting guard at HoophallAwards.com, so get to it.

6. Here’s your first look at the Final Four court

@MarchMadness

@MarchMadness

Will it be covered in Kentucky blue and white confetti three weeks from now?

7. John Wall and Karl Towns ruled the NBA last week

Congrats to John Wall and Karl Towns, who were named NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for their performances last week. Wall led the Wizards to a 4-0 week, averaging 29.8 points, 11.3 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.5 steals. Towns averaged 29.0 points on 63.3 percent shooting and 12.3 rebounds as the Timberwolves went 2-1. It’s only the second time in NBA history that players from the same school have won both conference player of the week honors.

Last night, they didn’t slow down, Wall putting up 27 points and 5 assists and Towns 39 points and 13 rebounds. Meanwhile, both Skal Labissiere and Willie Cauley-Stein started for the Kings, combining for 29 points and 14 rebounds. We’ll have more in the BBNBA Roundup in just a bit.

8. Vote for the Kentucky basketball managers to beat Louisville

The UK basketball managers have their own games going on as they hope to make it to Phoenix to compete in the championship of the 2nd Annual Manager Games Postseason Tournament. Right now, they’re pitted against Louisville in the first round, and voting for them to beat the Cards is the easiest and smartest thing you’ll do today:

Last I checked, Kentucky was up 60/40, but go vote, vote, vote.

9. Here’s Vanilla Ice in a Kentucky jersey

I have no idea the context behind this picture nor why I follow Vanilla Ice on Twitter (wasn’t he live-tweeting a hurricane last year?), but I saw it scroll across my feed and it entertained me. According to the Google, Vanilla Ice is actually an Arkansas fan, but maybe he really liked Wayne Turner back in the day. Or, maybe that picture is current (with a retro Instagram filter) and he lost a bet. Regardless, I like it.

10. Here’s the schedule for the First Four

The NCAA Tournament officially begins tonight, which, if you’re anything like me, means you’ll tune in to the games out of sheer excitement only to get bored and remember you’ve got something else on the DVR. That may not be the case in the second game, which pits Kansas State vs. Wake Forest. Here’s the schedule:

  • 6:40 PM: #16 Mount St. Mary’s vs. #16 New Orleans, TruTV
  • 9:10 PM: #11 Kansas State vs. #11 Wake Forest, TruTV

Let the games begin!


10 Things to Know about Kentucky’s run in the South Region

10 Things to Know about Kentucky’s run in the South Region

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Late Friday night, Kentucky will begin its quest for its ninth national championship, and while, as a diehard fan, you’ve probably already broken down the bracket every way you know how, I spent my afternoon charting out this Cats’ path to the Final Four and am ready to share my thoughts. Sure, Kentucky’s draw isn’t ideal, but upon further examination, it could be a lot worse.

Let’s jump right into my take on the South Region, starting with a St. Elmo’s shrimp cocktail and a look at the bracket:

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1. This is a really fun region

Just look at the different coaches we’ve got in this bracket: John Calipari, Roy Williams, Steve Alford, Gregg Marshall, Archie Miller, Mick Cronin. Heck, even little Richard Pitino is in there, along with one of the trendiest coaches in college basketball right now, Middle Tennessee State’s Kermit Davis. Add in Malik Monk, Lonzo Ball, and Justin Jackson and you’ve got some major star power in the South.

2. America will root for Wichita State if they play Kentucky

This Wichita State team isn’t nearly as good as the squad that Kentucky upset in St. Louis back in 2014, but if they make it past Dayton (no small feat) and Kentucky beats Northern Kentucky, get ready for all of America (outside of the Commonwealth) to get on the Shockers’ bandwagon. Not only are they playing big, bad Kentucky, there’s the whole “revenge” factor for the 2014 upset, which is especially easy to rally around when you consider their mascot looks like this:

I mean, who doesn’t love a shock of wheat with a face on it? That thing is so weird it’s lovable.

3. Wichita State/Kentucky would also be the Mychal Mulder Bowl

As our own Drew Franklin outlined for you a few weeks back, the plan was for Mychal Mulder to go to Wichita State. Gregg Marshall started recruiting Mulder at Vincennes University before anyone and Mulder would have signed with the Shockers if not for a rule from his coach prohibiting players from signing with schools in the fall of their sophomore year. So, Mulder had to wait until the spring, and by that time, he had a new suitor named John Calipari. Game over.

So, keep that story in mind should the Shockers and the Cats make it to the second round; you know Mychal will.

4. Middle Tennessee State will beat Minnesota (and maybe Butler)

Looking for a 5/12 upset? Look no further than 12-seed MTSU, which is led by the aforementioned new star on the block, Kermit Davis, who may end up filling one of the coaching vacancies in the SEC if the Blue Raiders make a run. MTSU pulled off one of the biggest upsets of last year’s tournament by knocking off 2-seed Michigan State and haven’t let up this season, rolling to a 30-4 record, which includes wins over Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. Need more reasons to root for them? Their star player’s name is Giddy Potts and they’re playing Richard Pitino’s team. Go Blue Raiders.

5. I’m going to eat more than one St. Elmo’s shrimp cocktail

Why did I want Indianapolis for Kentucky’s opening rounds? You’re looking at it: the famous St. Elmo’s shrimp cocktail. The spicy treat has been known to set mouths on fire, and even if I have to sit at the bar by myself, I’m going all in.

6. Indy will be insane

Kentucky and Louisville may not be in the same region, but they’re both playing their opening round games in Indianapolis, which will make Naptown a bizarre battleground with no actual battle. It’s not like the two teams are playing each other, but given what happened the last time the two teams were in Indy, that probably won’t do much to squelch the hostility.

7. I feel better about the potential Sweet 16 UCLA rematch that I probably should

Yes, UCLA beat Kentucky in Rupp, but remember how weird that game was? It was early in the afternoon, Kentucky didn’t play a lick of defense and just seemed…off. The Cats had no energy, in part because the player that often brings the most energy to the team, Isaiah Briscoe, had no energy, which he went to Calipari’s office to apologize for afterwards. Back in December, Willis and Hawkins weren’t contributing at the same level they are now, specifically Willis on the boards. Willis has turned into one of Kentucky’s most reliable rebounders, a sentence I never thought I’d type. With Willis helping to contain TJ Leaf, Briscoe engaged, and a little bit of vengeance coursing through their veins, I like Kentucky’s chances vs. the Bruins.

8. We’d have to get LaVar Ball on the show

Lonzo Ball’s outspoken dad is everywhere these days, so would he come on KSR to talk about his son should the Cats and the Bruins meet again? As Ryan Lemond said loudly enough for all of Jeff Ruby’s to hear on Saturday night, DOES A FAT BABY FART? I’d love to hear LaVar and Matt go back and forth, especially since LaVar said today that he would have killed Michael Jordan one-on-one back in his day. Ha!

9. If Kentucky makes it, Calipari’s return to Memphis will be a story

If the Cats make it to the Sweet 16, it would be Kentucky’s first time playing in Memphis since John Calipari left the Tigers to come to Lexington in 2009. As you may remember, that was not the easiest of breakups for Memphis fans, most of which still hold a grudge for Cal. I know Cal’s gone back to the city of on his own since 2009, but this could make for an interesting storyline. We may even have to make a field trip to the Memphis basketball offices to visit The Door and do a podcast with Les Smith, the beloved reporter who helped us keep watch:

10. Bring on UNC

Yeah, we may have preferred Gonzaga, but I’ll take another game vs. North Carolina if it’s even half as entertaining as the first. Obviously, Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox were great vs. the Tar Heels in December, but as I just said about the UCLA rematch, Kentucky is a different team now. Derek Willis and Dominique Hawkins combined for only three points and three rebounds vs. the Heels in Vegas, while Wenyen Gabriel had four points. That questionable four spot that haunted Kentucky early on and during the conference stretch doesn’t seem so questionable now.

Plus, is everyone forgetting that UNC scored only 43 points vs. Virginia only two weeks ago and lost to Duke by 10 on Friday? The Tar Heels are talented and they do have experience, but if Kentucky makes it to the Elite Eight, they’ll be rolling on a wave of momentum that could be hard to stop. Count me in for another classic. Also count me in for ribs at Rendezvous and breakfast at Brother Juniper’s.


Kentucky/Northern Kentucky will tip off Friday night around 9:30 PM on CBS

Kentucky/Northern Kentucky will tip off Friday night around 9:30 PM on CBS

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Well, it’s going to be a long St. Patrick’s day for all of us. CBS just announced the tip times for Thursday and Friday and Kentucky/Northern Kentucky won’t tip off until about 9:30 p.m., after the conclusion of Dayton/Wichita State. The game will be televised on CBS, with Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery and Tracy Wolfson on the call.

Here are all the tip times:

NCAA First Four – Tuesday, March 14

Tip (ET) Network Site Game Play-by-Play/Analyst//Reporter
6:40 p.m. truTV Dayton I Mt. Saint Mary’s vs. New Orleans Brian Anderson / Clark Kellogg // Lewis Johnson
After conc. I truTV Dayton II Kansas State vs. Wake Forest Anderson / Kellogg // Johnson

NCAA First Four – Wednesday, March 15

6:40 p.m. truTV Dayton I NC Central vs. UC Davis Spero Dedes / Steve Smith / Len Elmore // Ros Gold-Onwude
After conc. I truTV Dayton II Providence vs. USC Dedes / Smith / Elmore // Gold-Onwude

First Round Games – Thursday Afternoon, March 16 (Noon-6 p.m. ET)

Tip (ET) Network Site Game Play-by-Play/Analyst//Reporter
12:15 p.m. CBS  Buffalo I Notre Dame vs. Princeton Verne Lundquist /Jim Spanarkel // Allie LaForce
12:40 p.m. truTV  Orlando I Virginia vs. UNC-Wilmington Ian Eagle / Steve Lavin // Evan Washburn
1:30 p.m. TNT Milwaukee I Butler vs. Winthrop Carter Blackburn / Mike Gminski / Debbie Antonelli // Lisa Byington
2:00 p.m. TBS Salt Lake City I Gonzaga vs. S. Dakota State Andrew Catalon / Steve Lappas // Jamie Erdahl
After conc. I CBS  Buffalo II West Virginia vs. Bucknell Lundquist / Spanarkel // LaForce
After conc. I truTV Orlando II Florida vs. East Tennessee State University Eagle / Lavin // Washburn
After conc. I TNT Milwaukee II Minnesota vs. Middle Tennessee State Blackburn / Gminski / Antonelli //

Byington

After conc. I TBS Salt Lake City II Northwestern vs. Vanderbilt Catalon / Lappas // Erdahl

First Round Games – Thursday Evening, March 16 (6:30 p.m. ET-Midnight)

Tip (ET) Network Site Game Play-by-Play/Analyst//Reporter
6:50 p.m. TNT  Orlando III Maryland vs. Xavier Eagle / Lavin // Washburn
7:10 p.m. CBS  Buffalo III Villanova vs. Mt. Saint Mary’s/New Orleans Lundquist / Spanarkel // LaForce
7:20 p.m. TBS Salt Lake City III St. Mary’s vs. VCU Catalon / Lappas // Erdahl
7:27 p.m. truTV Milwaukee III Purdue vs. Vermont Blackburn / Gminski / Antonelli //

Byington

After conc. III TNT Orlando IV Florida State vs. Florida Gulf Coast Eagle / Lavin // Washburn
After conc. III CBS  Buffalo IV Wisconsin vs. Virgina Tech Lundquist / Spanarkel // LaForce
After conc. III TBS Salt Lake City IV Arizona vs. North Dakota Catalon / Lappas // Erdahl
After conc. III truTV Milwaukee IV Iowa State vs. Nevada Blackburn / Gminski / Antonelli //

Byington

First Round Games – Friday Afternoon, March 17 (Noon-6 p.m. ET)

Tip (ET) Network Site Game Play-by-Play/Analyst//Reporter
12:15 p.m. CBS  Indianapolis I Michigan vs. Oklahoma State Jim Nantz / Grant Hill / Bill Raftery // Tracy Wolfson
12:40 p.m. truTV  Tulsa I Baylor vs. New Mexico State Kevin Harlan / Reggie Miller / Dan Bonner // Dana Jacobson
1:30 p.m. TNT  Greenville I Arkansas vs. Seton Hall Brian Anderson / Chris Webber // Lewis Johnson
2:00 p.m. TBS  Sacramento I Oregon vs. Iona Spero Dedes / Steve Smith / Len Elmore // Ros Gold-Onwude
After conc. I CBS Indianapolis II Louisville vs. Jacksonville State Nantz / Hill / Raftery // Wolfson
After conc. I truTV Tulsa II SMU vs. Providence / USC Harlan / Miller / Bonner // Jacobson
After conc. I TNT Greenville II UNC vs. Texas Southern Anderson / Webber // Johnson
After conc. I TBS Sacramento II Creighton vs. Rhode Island Dedes / Smith / Elmore // Gold-Onwude

First Round Games – Friday Evening, March 17 (6:30 PM, ET-Midnight)

Tip (ET) Network Site Game Play-by-Play/Analyst//Reporter
6:50 p.m. TNT Tulsa III Kansas vs. NC Central/UC Davis Harlan / Miller / Bonner // Jacobson
7:10 p.m. CBS Indianapolis III Dayton vs. Wichita State Nantz / Hill / Raftery // Wolfson
7:20 p.m. TBS Greenville III Duke vs. Troy Anderson / Webber // Johnson
7:27 p.m. truTV Sacramento III Cincinnati vs. Kansas State / Wake Forest Dedes / Smith / Elmore // Gold-Onwude
After conc. III TNT Tulsa IV Miami vs. Michigan State Harlan / Miller / Bonner // Jacobson
After conc. III CBS Indianapolis IV Kentucky vs. Northern Kentucky Nantz / Hill / Raftery // Wolfson
After conc. III TBS Greenville IV South Carolina vs. Marquette Anderson / Webber // Johnson
After conc. III truTV Sacramento IV UCLA vs. Kent State Dedes / Smith / Elmore // Gold-Onwude

Irish coffee, anyone?

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Dominique Hawkins savoring his big moment

Dominique Hawkins savoring his big moment

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What a day for Dominique Hawkins. Not only did Hawkins have a career-high 14 points to help Kentucky win its 30th SEC Tournament title, he was named to the All-Tournament team, a well-deserved honor for the senior who’s become a major role player for this squad. When you think about it, it’s hard to write a better script for Hawkins, whose famous smile was contagious in the locker room.

“It feels good,” Dominique said of his big day. “It feels great to win another SEC title and bring it back home to Kentucky.”

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How could the day have been any better (other than him winning SEC Tournament MVP, an honor which went to his teammate De’Aaron Fox)?

“I guess I could have made all my shots, that would have been better. I feel like I did play really well. And I want to thank my teammates, they encouraged me to make plays and Coach is always telling me to play with confidence.”

Dominique has turned it on the past month, becoming a pivotal piece of Kentucky’s puzzle, infusing the team with much-needed toughness and grit. It’s been a long four years, but Dom said he knew his time in the spotlight would come.

“Coach is always telling me to be patient, be patient, my time is coming, and I trust him. I’ve been in this program, I know if you start playing well, good things will happen for you.”

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The loudest roar in Bridgestone today was when Dominique was named to the All-Tournament team, and he admitted that he wants to savor this moment.

“No, I haven’t,” Dom said when asked if he’s checked his phone.” I don’t have it with me either right now.”

What will greet him when he does check it?

“A lot of messages, Twitter blowing me up, Instagram. I just think it’s going berserk pretty much. I don’t know. I probably won’t even open it until tomorrow to be honest because everybody’s going to want me to respond today, so I’ll just tell them I’ll respond tomorrow.”

Enjoy the moment, Dom. You certainly deserved it.

 


Kentucky is a 2-seed in the South Region, plays Northern Kentucky in Indianapolis on Friday

Kentucky is a 2-seed in the South Region, plays Northern Kentucky in Indianapolis on Friday

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Well, it’s almost what we expected. Kentucky is the two-seed in the South Region and will play 15-seed Northern Kentucky in Indianapolis on Friday. North Carolina is the one-seed in the East, UCLA the three-seed, and Butler the four-seed.

The entire East Region:

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Kentucky Runs Away from Arkansas with the SEC Championship

Kentucky Runs Away from Arkansas with the SEC Championship

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Kentucky continued its winning ways with a commanding 82-65 victory in the SEC Championship, bringing the trophy back to Lexington for the 30th time behind a complete team effort.

De’Aaron Fox was too quick, only contained by early foul trouble.  Malik Monk did Malik Monk things after a slow start, from deep threes to breakaway dunks off made baskets.  Bam Adebayo was a steady, patient presence in the post.  Last but not least, Dominique Hawkins gave the type of energy and effort that made every Kentucky fan proud.

All four finished in double-figures.  Fox led Kentucky with 18 points, Monk and Adebayo each had 17 points and Hawkins finished with a career-high 14 points.

The game was chippy to start, thanks in part to a little pregame trash talk from the Arkansas sideline.  The Razorbacks took advantage of UK’s sloppy play to take an 18-17 lead ten minutes into the game.  The Cats needed energy, and they got it from their scrappy senior.

Hawkins created turnovers for easy buckets to help Kentucky surge ahead of Arkansas for good with a 14-4 run.  Kentucky took control, built the lead up to 19, but Arkansas didn’t quit.  The Razorbacks’s late run cut the Kentucky lead to nine with 1:30 remaining.  Of course, Hawkins was the one to provide an unlikely dagger, creating a turnover with an offensive foul that stole all of Arkansas’ remaining momentum.

Kentucky will enter the NCAA Tournament on an 11-game win streak, the second-longest winning streak in the John Calipari era.  It’s Coach Cal’s fifth SEC Championship title and the program’s 30th.  All other SEC schools combined have 27 SEC Tournament Championship titles.

champ

 


Alabama Hangs Around, but Kentucky Wins 79-74 to Advance to the SEC Championship

Alabama Hangs Around, but Kentucky Wins 79-74 to Advance to the SEC Championship

monk-bama

Alabama would not go away, but Kentucky found a way to win and advance to the SEC Championship.

It was another slow start from Kentucky, but the Cats quickly responded.  Hovering around a ten-point lead, Alabama made a significant run in the middle of the second half to cut it to one with 6:17 to play.

Then, De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk balled.

Monk got out of his shooting funk to score 20 points.  Fox continued his fantastic play since the regular season finale, leading all scorers with 28 points.  The Kentucky defense tightened up to hold Alabama without a field goal for four crucial minutes down the stretch, allowing the Cats to clinch the five-point victory.

 

Kentucky will play the winner of Vanderbilt/Arkansas tomorrow at 1:00 ET.

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YAHTZEE! Tight End Brenden Bates Commits to Kentucky

Cincinnati Moeller tight end Brenden Bates has committed to Kentucky.  The four-star 6’5″ tight end is a considered Top 225 player in the junior class by Rivals and 247 Sports.

Recruited by Vince Marrow, Bates chose Kentucky over Cincinnati, Louisville, Duke, West Virginia and Indiana among others.  He is the fifth commit in the class of 2018, the second from the state of Ohio.  The addition of Bates will move Kentucky up to No. 17 class in the 257 Composite Rankings.

After Reigelsperger committed, he celebrated with Blue Smith, Vince Marrow and Brenden Bates.

After Reigelsperger committed, he celebrated with Blue Smith, Vince Marrow and @BatesBrenden.

As C.J. Conrad and Greg Hart near the end of their Kentucky careers, tight end is a priority position in the 2018 recruiting class.  It doesn’t get much better than Bates.  The lengthy pass-catcher excels in the slot, bringing the trademark versatility we’ve seen during Conrad’s first two years at Kentucky.  Last year for Moeller, a Cincinnati Catholic school powerhouse, he caught 15 passes for 224 yards (14.9 avg.) and a touchdown.  Watch him do work:


Kentucky Defeats Georgia 71-60 to Advance in the SEC Tournament

Kentucky Defeats Georgia 71-60 to Advance in the SEC Tournament

briscoe-georgia

After an uncharacteristically fast start from the Wildcats, Kentucky cruised to a double-digit victory over Georgia, their third and most decisive victory over the Bulldogs this season.

For the second straight game, Malik Monk couldn’t buy a basket.  Monk’s only two points came from a dunk, but Isaiah Briscoe and De’Aaron Fox provided plenty of offense from the backcourt, scoring 20 points apiece.

In the post, Derek Willis (11) and Bam Adebayo (10) combined for 21 rebounds, but they were more impressive on the defensive end.  Adebayo held Yante Maten to just 12 points and Willis blocked 4 shots.  J.J. Frazier was the Cats’ Kryptonite all year, but not tonight.  He got hot late in the first half, but was contained the rest of the game, finishing with just 15 points.

The Cats will face the winner of Alabama/South Carolina tomorrow at 1:00 ET.

Calipari’s press conference is right around the corner.  You can watch it here.  Until then, check out today’s box score.

ga-stats


Five Points Pizza’s Top 10: Beat Georgia

Five Points Pizza’s Top 10: Beat Georgia

FPPad

Are you in Nashville for the SEC Tournament? Do you love pizza? Of course you do. Come taste the best pizza in Music City at Five Points Pizza in East Nashville. Nestled in the popular Five Points district two miles from downtown, Five Points Pizza is the perfect place to grab a slice and a pint, or split a pie with friends. Their New York style dough is made from scratch daily, aged in-house, hand-tossed, topped with their hand-crushed plum tomato sauce and house-shredded mozzarella, and baked to order on bricks in old-school gas-fired deck ovens.

Between the creative daily slice specials, the rotating local beer taps, and the fresh salads, there’s always something new to try at Five Points. And don’t get me started on their famous garlic knots. If heaven was a food, it would be Five Points’ hand-cut New York style dough tied in knots, tossed in olive oil, fresh garlic and parmesan, and served with a side of marinara.

Do yourself a favor this weekend and escape the crowds downtown and grab an Uber/Lyft or make the short drive to Five Points Pizza at 1012 Woodland Street. In a hurry? Grab a slice from their to-go window. Do me a favor and tell them Tyler from KSR sent you.

Five Points Pizza, 1012 Woodland Street, Nashville TN 37206 • HOURS: Sun-Thurs 11 am – 1 am; Fri, Sat 11 am – 3 am • (615) 915-4174


Now that I really want pizza for breakfast, let’s just jump right in, because we’re only four hours from tip.

1. The team will not do a shootaround this morning

Of all of John Calipari’s remarks yesterday, I only found one that was noteworthy: because of the early tip time, the team will NOT do a shootaround this morning. They didn’t do one before the Texas A&M game last week either, resulting in another slow start. Cal said he’s putting the responsibility on his players to get focused before the game.

“They gotta be responsible. They gotta come early. We have an hour to get loose. Get loose. You got an hour. Get up early, have a nice breakfast, don’t go back to sleep, get ready. This is about your responsibility about yourself to our team. So, yeah, I don’t feel that we’ll shootaround.”

This worries me for one reason: on Tuesday, Malik Monk — who had his worst game of the season vs. Texas A&M — preached the importance of shootarounds for early games.

“We didn’t have one at Texas (A&M) and we didn’t have one (vs.) UCLA. Those are the only two games we didn’t have shootarounds, but UCLA I think I played pretty good. Then the Texas game was horrible. I think we need shootarounds, for sure. I think we need shootarounds.”

Hmm. Please don’t let this come back to bite us.

2. Yante Maten will play

Maten played 26 minutes vs. Tennessee yesterday and grabbed 12 points and 5 rebounds. For the most part, he looked good, but the Bulldogs were so sloppy otherwise that Mark Fox worried his “mishandled” Maten’s return.

“I don’t think I managed his reentry into our team as well as I hoped. I thought we were very out of rhythm and had more turnovers at the half than we’ve been averaging the last couple games. We got to bridge that gap a little better than we did tonight.”

3. JJ Frazier wasn’t his best vs. Tennessee, which means he will be today vs. Kentucky

Frazier’s scored 59 points in his two games for Kentucky this season, but was uncharacteristically errant around the rim yesterday vs. Tennessee, going 4-13 from the floor for 17 points. Frazier told reporters he was “awful” vs. the Vols, but we know what he’s capable of against the Cats. Like going off for 36 points like he did in Athens last month.

Not only is today Frazier’s last game against Kentucky, he can help put Georgia on the bubble with a win, so you know he’s going to come out firing.

4. Kentucky’s a 10-point favorite

And I’m not going to lie, that makes me nervous as hell. Or maybe I’m just nervous as hell as is. Sounds like I need a…

5. Swaggy hype video

KyWildcatsTV always manages to make me feel better. While we’re at it, here’s a lighthearted video of the guys hanging out in the SEC gift suite yesterday as well:

Note to self: find that suite.

6. Here’s a look at the updated bracket

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 7.35.42 AM

7. Larry Warford’s headed to the Saints

One quick football note: Add another to the list of former Cats in the Big Easy. After four years with the Detroit Lions, Larry Warford will sign with the New Orleans Saints. As a free agent, Warford was expected to command about $8 million per season, and it appears the Lions just couldn’t afford that. Congrats to the big man on getting paid AND getting to live in New Orleans. That, my friends, is the life.

8. Ladies: Be aware of the Clear Bag Policy

CLEAR_BAG_FLYER_Men

9. Congrats to our #KSRScavengerHunt winner!

We had some valiant efforts to win two tickets to today’s game from Guy On The Corner Tickets, but no one was as creative as Kristen Browning, who photobombed Rob Bromley, did the CATS chant at Tequila Cowboy, requested Wagon Wheel, hung out with the Bang This twins, and when Kindly wasn’t working at Tootsie’s, toasted her picture instead. Congrats to Kristen and her pal, who will bring that enthusiasm to Bridgestone Arena this afternoon:

10. Today’s college basketball TV schedule

Conference Time Game Channel
SEC 1:00 PM Georgia vs. #8 Kentucky SEC Network
3:00 PM Alabama vs. South Carolina SEC Network
7:00 PM Vanderbilt vs. #17 Florida SEC Network
9:00 PM Ole Miss vs. Arkansas SEC Network
ACC 7:00 PM #14 Duke vs. #6 North Carolina ESPN
9:00 PM #22 Notre Dame vs. #16 Florida State ESPN
A-10 12:00 PM Davidson vs. Dayton NBC Sports Network
2:30 PM St. Bonaventure vs. Rhode Island NBC Sports Network
6:00 PM George Mason vs. VCU NBC Sports Network
8:30 PM George Washington vs. Richmond NBC Sports Network
Big 12 7:00 PM TCU vs. #23 Iowa State ESPN2
9:00 PM Kansas State vs. #11 West Virginia ESPN2
Big East 6:30 PM Seton Hall vs. #2 Villanova FS1
9:00 PM Xavier vs. Creighton FS1
Big 10 12:00 PM Michigan vs. #13 Purdue ESPN
2:00 PM Michigan State vs. Minnesota ESPN
6:30 PM Indiana vs. #24 Wisconsin BTN
8:55 PM Northwestern vs. #25 Maryland BTN
Pac-12 9:00 PM Cal vs. #5 Oregon
11:30 PM #3 UCLA vs. #7 Arizona ESPN

Now, get yourself to Tin Roof on Broadway because people have been lined up for hours:


Join the KSR Scavenger Hunt in Nashville with Guy on the Corner Tickets

Join the KSR Scavenger Hunt in Nashville with Guy on the Corner Tickets

nashville

There are many great things to do in Nashville during the SEC Tournament, but what if I told you that you could experience an adventure with KSR and win two tickets to Friday’s first session?  You can do it with the KSR Scavenger Hunt.

You have 24 hours to complete the following 15 tasks in Nashville.  To complete each task, send photographic/videographic evidence to @RoushKSR on Twitter.  Each task should be numbered, followed by the hashtag #KSRScavengerHunt.  You have until 9:00 p.m. Thursday night.

The winner will receive two tickets from Guy on the Corner Tickets to see Kentucky’s first game in Nashville, Friday at noon CT.  The winner will be announced tomorrow night.  If no one completes all 15 tasks, the most creative entries will win the coveted tickets.

It will not be easy.  Just remember, even if you do not win you will get to experience the SEC Tournament in the most ridiculous manner possible.  Good luck!


1. Take a picture with a KSR personality.

2. Start a “C-A-T-S CATS,! CATS! CATS!” chant at a bar. (You better take a video. Don’t be lame.)

3. Take a picture with the Bang This twins

4. Take a Selfie with Slim Whitman.

5. Hear a song from J.D. Shelburne.

6. Find a Missouri basketball fan.

7. Buy a drink from Kindly.

kindly

8. Throw L’s Down at a UofL fan (they’ll be there, trust me)

9.  Boo during the playing of ‘Rocky Top.’

10. Hear a Darius Rucker song at a bar.

11.  Take a picture of the SEC Network set.

12.  Find an SEC Mascot, take a selfie with the mascot.

13.  Ride a mechanical bull.

14.  Throw up three goggles during a live TV shot.

15. Enjoy a delicious slice of Five Points Pizza.

****One bonus point will be awarded for every “celebrity” who is will to take a picture with you, from Dick Vitale to Jason Aldean.  Remember, creativity counts.  


What This Year’s Bourbon Classic Taught Me

What This Year’s Bourbon Classic Taught Me

buffalo-trace

March is a very busy season for the KentuckySportsRadio.com team as the SEC and NCAA tournaments have us working around the clock and out of arena workrooms. So to clear my mind and have some pre-madness fun, I attended last week’s Bourbon Classic in Louisville, one of the premier cocktail and culinary events in America.

The fifth annual Classic, my second, was an absolute blast this year, beginning with a Pappy Van Winkle tasting party on Tuesday, which I could not attend because it was UK’s Senior Night in Rupp Arena. I instead caught up with the Bourbon Classic on Wednesday for late-night drinks and conversation with The Bourbon Review guys, and then stayed for all of the action through Sunday morning.

Let me tell you all about it with these valuable lessons, facts, and other fun things I learned throughout the event:

 

Pickled hot links taste like actual shit.

I first met up with The Bourbon Review team at The Pearl of Germantown during an open night for Bourbon Classic goers. I got to the bar 45 minutes early because they were finishing up a fancy dinner somewhere else, and because I was dying for my own bite to eat after missing lunch and dinner.

As luck would have it, The Pearl doesn’t serve food and I didn’t learn this fact until I already caught an Uber across town and sat comfortably at the bar. But it did have a selection of “small snacks,” as they were described to me by the bartender; one being “hot links” for six dollars.

Hot links? I can do hot links. I like hot things. And links. I have six dollars.

Let me show you what appeared in front of me:

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That is a jar of pickled hot links and I couldn’t take another bite of one of those if my life literally depended on it. I would rather die.

Take a closer look. Lean in. Do you want to vomit? I wanted to vomit. Imagine going all day without eating and then that is your first opportunity at nourishment and filling the growling belly. I may vomit right now. At least one of you probably already did.

Luckily, the guys eventually showed up to The Pearl, they also almost vomited, and then they took me to the Silver Dollar for some very good food.

So, I recommend The Pearl for drinks, not pickled hot links, and then the Silver Dollar for a great dinner.

Buffalo Trace accidentally dug up the foundation of a really, really, really old distillery.

During our first media tour of some our state’s best bourbon distilleries, I learned that, just last year, construction workers at Buffalo Trace stumbled upon the ruins of the old 1873 O.F.C Distillery where Colonel E.H. Taylor Jr. used to make his bourbon. The workers were renovating the property for new event space, but the project was put on hold once the foundation of the original distillery was found. The plans have obviously changed with the new discovery.

old-trace

If you find this interesting, read more on “bourbon Pompeii.” The accidental find is going to become a cool new attraction at Buffalo Trace.

Colonel E.H. Taylor Warehouse C Tornado Surviving Bourbon really exists; it’s not an urban legend.

And we tried it.

The tornado-surviving bourbon is just that: bourbon that survived a tornado. It came to be when a tornado tore apart some of the siding of Warehouse C at Buffalo Trace, exposing those barrels to the elements. Buffalo Trace bottled those barrels as a special bourbon and it is delicious.

There are two new must-see distilleries: Jepthra Creed in Shelbyville and Peerless Distillery in Louisville.

Looking for a new place to see the bourbon-making process in Kentucky? Allow me to recommend the Jepthra Creed and Peerless distilleries, two family owned and operated distilleries that are new to the bourbon world (although the original Peerless dates back to the 1880s). Both have fascinating stories of how they came to be and both have very impressive facilities for tourists and bourbon fans. Check them out.

I look a lot like the nude model hanging up in Proof on Main.

proof-model

Proof on Main was a popular hangout for me all weekend as I was staying in the 21c Hotel downtown. And this portrait hanging on the wall that separates the hotel lobby and the Proof bar really creeped me out.

I sent a pic of it to my mom and she honestly thought I posed nude for a free bar tab.

Jim and Don from Mint Julep Tours are good people. (And UK fans.)

julep-drivers

For me, being in the city of Louisville for four days can be very uncomfortable and potentially dangerous, but it was comforting to meet Jim and Don from Mint Julep Tours, who were our shuttle drivers and fellow Cats fans. We took this picture outside Maker’s Mark to send to their co-workers, all of whom are big Louisville fans, I’m told.

It was very nice to meet you, Jim and Don. Keep those other guys at Mint Julep in line.

Bill Samuels Jr. is a Louisville fan.

I learned this the hard way.

For some reason, I thought Bill Samuels Jr., former president at Maker’s Mark and son of the Maker’s founder with the same name, was a big Kentucky Wildcats fan. Turns out, he likes Kentucky just fine, but Bill Samuels Jr. is indeed a Louisville fan.

That made our introduction an awkward one when I turned to my new friend Sasa from Slovenia and told her to show Mr. Samuels how I taught her the Ls down on the way over for our dinner and nighttime tour at Maker’s. He then let me know he likes Louisville over Kentucky, and I then wanted to crawl in one of his mash tanks and disappear.

There is no better meal than a meal prepared by Dickie Brennan.

dickie-b

I got to know the famous New Orleans chef and restaurateur Dickie Brennan at last year’s Bourbon Classic, when he told me the story of Adolph Rupp recruiting his father, Dick Brennan Sr., to play for Kentucky in the 1940s. If I remember correctly (and the events of that night are a little foggy), Dickie told me an illness in the family forced his father to back out of his commitment to the Wildcats to stay home at nearby Tulane.

Anyway, that UK connection sparked up some conversation over a good cocktail or five around this time last year, and then Dickie hosted a group of mine at his Bourbon House in the French Quarter last summer.

Then this past Thursday, Dickie and his team held a SAVOR bourbon and culinary event at Maker’s Mark and I can’t remember having a better meal. (Sorry, Taco Bell.)

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Not pictured: the cocktail pairings and the mountain of fried oysters and other finger foods that were served first.

Michter’s Celebration is an outstanding bourbon, but a little outside my price range. (Okay, a lot outside my price range.)

During our Friday morning stop to Michter’s Distillery, which normally doesn’t do public tours, company president Joe Magliocco and his team broke out the Michter’s Celebration after our tour of the super-secret facility. You may be familiar with Michter’s Celebration (it was on last Sunday’s episode of Billions), but for those who aren’t familiar, it is a 30-year sour mash whiskey that goes for around $5,000 per bottle.

And let me tell you, friends: it was soooooooooooo good. (And I hope they don’t call me up asking for that $5K.)

After the Celebration, we cracked the seal on the Michter’s 20-year bourbon, valued at only about $1,000 per bottle.

Thank you, Michter’s.

The Bourbon Classic is an awesome week for bourbon enthusiasts or anyone interested in learning more about (or drinking a lot of) bourbon.

I highly encourage all of you to check out next year’s schedule of events and then seriously consider whatever you’re able to attend. It has been named one of the top cocktail festivals in America and it only gets better each year.

The only bad thing about it is the following Monday morning, which I spent shaking and sweating in the fetal position. I blame that jar of hot links.


KSR’s 2017 Guide to Eating & Drinking in Nashville

KSR’s 2017 Guide to Eating & Drinking in Nashville

KSRNashville

I’ve lived in Nashville for over ten years and a while back, started making flowcharts to help Kentucky fans figure out which bars and restaurants to try while in town for the SEC Tournament. As Nashville has grown by leaps and bounds, I’ve had to update and revamp those charts each year to keep up with a mutating Music City. Hopefully, these will help you navigate around town and maybe try something new.

**As a general disclaimer, yes, I realize there are tons of restaurants in Nashville, especially new ones, but these are my favorites. If yours isn’t on the list, don’t be offended. Just add it in the comments section.**

Where to Eat

2017NashvilleRestaurants

(Click to enlarge)

Top 5: The Southern, Jeff Ruby’s, Two Ten Jack, Butcher & Bee, and Five Points Pizza. (Garlic knots FTW)

Where to Drink

2017NashvilleBars

Tips

— Nashville still allows smoking in bars (21+), but fortunately, most bars downtown have opted to go smoke-free. There are still a few smoke pits if you want to light up inside, but major honky tonks like Tootsie’s, Layla’s, Robert’s, and The Stage are now smoke-free. I can’t wait for the day it’s like that everywhere.

— Traffic has gotten really, really bad in Nashville the past two years. If you’re downtown, it’s best to walk, but if you’re staying outside the downtown area or just feel like venturing out (which you definitely should), I recommend using Uber or Lyft. Both are cheaper and more pleasant than cabs, and well worth not worrying about or paying for parking. If you’re driving, use the Waze app to navigate traffic and construction.

Is it your first time using Lyft? Help a sister out and use the code “TYLER380” for a FREE ride up to $20. Same thing for Uber, promo code nrdp8.

— If you want to get around downtown quickly without walking or taking a cab, try JOY RIDE, the free golf cart shuttle service. The drivers are also great tour guides and only work on tips. If it’s raining, I expect they’ll be pretty popular. To order a shuttle, call 615-285-9835 or look for the golf carts scuttling around.

— The Nashville MTA Green Line bus also transports people around downtown Nashville and the Gulch for free, so keep an eye out for it. (It’s green.) You can also rent bikes via the B-Cycle stations around town.

UK fan and KSR friend JD Shelburne will be performing throughout the weekend at various places downtown. Here’s his show schedule:

SECTourneyJD

— Hydrate and pace yourself. It’s a marathon, not a sprint! If you need caffeine and a personal space fix, sneak over to the Bongo Java inside the Omni Hotel (250 5th Avenue South).

— Finally, if you’re going to the games, be aware of the SEC’s new CLEAR BAG policy:

CLEAR_BAG_FLYER_Men

 

Most of all, prepare to have a lot of fun. See you soon.