In addition to the two stories we’ve already written from John Calipari’s Friday press conference, here are five things Cal said following UK’s between-games practice in Jacksonville. The other two quotes can be read here and here.
1. He respects Wofford’s head coach for giving Fletcher Magee a green light to launch.
Calipari said, “You’ve got to give it to Coach Young who says (to Magee), you have the green light, now respect it, and I’m going to take some of these because I know you’re going to make some. Then I heard that he is absolutely in the gym hours on end shooting those shots that you’re talking about, that he’s in that gym, which is why the coach says, all the time you’re in there, and that’s the shots you’re taking, you deserve to be able to do it in a game.”
Cal told his team to make it difficult on Magee, but don’t foul.
2. He sees a lot of his younger self in Magee.
“You know who I saw in him and how he played? I thought — and the closest I could get to him is how I used to play, which is I just used to shoot every ball like that. And I thought, you know, I saw myself doing those kind of things, and I know I was rated 41st — there were 40 college coaches better than me as — I’ll go one-on-one right now; let’s go. You’ve got guys older than me that said they were better — come on. I’m just kidding. Come on.”
For a guy who claims to not read anything, he sure is focused on that ranking of all the coaches as players.
3. He knew all along the committee would put Kentucky with Wofford.
Because it’s never easy for Kentucky in the NCAA tournament, Calipari knew the selection committee would give him Wofford in UK’s second game.
“I called this,” he said Friday. “I knew we’d be playing this team, and my team knew, because I told them before, we would be playing Wofford because you and I know how hard this game will be, especially with PJ out, how hard a game it’ll be for us.”
Reporters who were at Calipari’s house on Selection Sunday have confirmed that Cal called the Wofford pairing before the bracket was revealed.
4. Regarding his paranoia that the committee is out to get him, he said his “give-a meter” is he just doesn’t care.
A reporter noted Calipari didn’t complain as much about UK’s draw and the start time of its games this year, then asked, “Do you think that the paranoia of the world against John Calipari may have been ratcheted down a little bit this year?”
Cal replied,” I’d just say is it paranoia if you turn around and a guy is chasing you and you can see the knife? I’m not sure that’s paranoia. You just run like hell.”
“I think as I get older, I could care less, he added. “My give-a meter is I just don’t care. We go on and do what we do. The crazy thing it’s never really had an effect on me, on my programs. It just hasn’t. And maybe they’ve figured out, “Eh, forget about him, we’re not hurting him, let’s go hurt somebody else.”
5. This tournament can launch a player’s NBA draft stock, but it is also very hard on them.
“I’ve had a bunch of guys do that,” Cal said, when asked what a good NCAA Tournament can do for a player’s NBA stock. “But it’s not just our guys, it’s everybody. These kids are all being evaluated this three-week period. Believe me when I tell you, it overrides anything that’s happened all summer.”
“That’s why I respect these kids, because not only is the tournament there, the National Championship there, their own being and their own family and all this stuff that these 19 — my guys are 19-year-olds, have to deal with. I tell my guys, I tell them all the time, I respect you guys so much, and then you have like social media and you have the clutter and you have the lists and you have all the other stuff, and they’ve got to block all that out and play. It’s not for funsies. It’s for real.
“So that’s why this tournament is what it is. You just don’t know. We want to say, well, we know that team is — you don’t know. This is hard for these kids.”
By Drew Franklin on ©March 22nd, 2019 @ 4:30pm
Following Friday’s practice in Jacksonville, Kentucky opened its locker room for the media to come in and swarm all of the players for questioning. Reid Travis is always open and honest in his interviews, so I got video of him talking about the challenge in guarding Fletcher Magee, what he expects of himself in his second tournament game, and the least on PJ Washington.
On Wofford’s Fletcher Magee:
“He’s impressive, in just the film that I’ve seen, the way he can contort his body and hit shots. He doesn’t get open looks because obviously his reputation follows him, as far as a great shooter. There is always a hand on him, always somebody in his face, and he is still able to knock down shots at a high level and put up a lot and really put them on runs. It’s impressive and it’s really going to be a challenge for us defensively, one we haven’t faced all year, as far as a deadly shooter like that.”
On the status of PJ Washington:
“I know how injuries are, it’s day-to-day in that sense. Obviously it’s a precaution and they’re wanting him to heal the right way. When it feels right, he is going to come back right. But I don’t put too much thought in it. I trust him and the doctors that, when he’s ready to go, he’ll be ready to go.”
Hear more from Reid Travis:
By Nick Roush on ©March 22nd, 2019 @ 4:01pm
Nick Richards ended his first NCAA Tournament press conference with a bang.
Before the players left the podium to make way for John Calipari, Richards was asked one final question: “Wofford doesn’t have a post over 6’7,” do you think you all have a size advantage?” Richards gave an honest response.
“It’s a really good advantage for us. They’re not even as athletic as all three of us,” he said. “Their bigs are really skilled around the basket. They know how to move on the floor, but we’re just better than them overall I think. The advantage is our way, in my opinion.”
The soft-spoken center isn’t the type of guy to publicly trash-talk another team. Calipari couldn’t believe it, but didn’t necessarily hate it.
“What are you doing Nick? But it’s okay, if you speak, now what? Back it up,” said Coach Cal.
“I love his confidence, now I want to watch you do that. Now get out there and do it. I want Nick to be more confident, but on the court.”
?BULLETIN BOARD MATERIAL?
— Eli Gehn (@EliGehnLEX18) March 22, 2019
By Nick Roush on ©March 22nd, 2019 @ 3:52pm
As expected, P.J. Washington will be sidelined for Kentucky’s second game of the NCAA Tournament.
After alluding to Washington potentially missing a second consecutive game in his Abilene Christian postgame press conference, this afternoon in Jacksonville John Calipari confirmed Kentucky would be without P.J. against Wofford.
“You and I know how hard this game will be, especially with PJ (Washington) out.”
After Calipari slid that line in, he elaborated on Washington’s condition.
“What they’re going to do at some point is cut the cast off and say — they just thought it would heal faster,” Calipari said. “I know there’s conspiracies. I’m telling you, it was negative in every x-ray, MRI. We even did an RIM. It’s a sprain. You guys that know me know I’m overly cautious because it’s these kids’ careers and I get it. I know this, he really wants to play. But I also want to feel comfortable that if he gets on the court, there’s nothing he can do to himself. The doctors pretty much said that. It’s just, when is he healed enough that he can go?”
Hopefully the answer to that question is, “before UK plays in the Sweet 16 in Kansas City,” but only time will tell.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 22nd, 2019 @ 3:08pm
John Calipari and select players are about to preview tomorrow’s game. Tune in below starting at 3:10 p.m. for Kentucky’s turn at the podium and stick around for Wofford head coach Mike Young and the Terriers at 3:55 p.m.
By Nick Roush on ©March 22nd, 2019 @ 2:00pm
C.J. Conrad is back where he belongs, on a football field.
The former Kentucky tight end went through two and a half weeks of highs and lows. His emotional roller coaster finally came to a screeching halt when he learned his football career was not over.
“It was tough for me and my family over the past couple weeks, so when me and my mom headed up to Boston on Monday, just to hear that,” he paused, searching for the right words, “you have no idea. I’m so happy to be out here.”
At the NFL Combine in Indianapolis doctors discovered an undiagnosed problem in his heart. Medically disqualified from the event, his football career was in jeopardy of ending before it even started.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Conrad said. “I handle that stuff okay, it’s just more of seeing my family upset that crushed me to see my parents heartbroken. Managing that over the last couple weeks has been tough, but (I’ve been) staying busy with my teammates. This university is amazing. The medical staff, coach Stoops, my teammates, Josh, who I got to go on the signing tour with, keeping me busy through these last two weeks. It could’ve been really bad for me, but I feel — I’m just so happy to be out here.”
Once the specialist cleared Conrad to return to football activities, he immediately went to work. Initially, the plan was to push back all combine activities until April 8, but after four solid days of workouts, he was prepared to run routes for NFL scouts and general managers at this morning’s pro day.
“I think they were a little surprised that I was able to do what I did today. I don’t think they expected me to workout.” He added, “I didn’t know I was going to until probably this morning.”
He didn’t test in the drills, but C.J. Conrad is doing work running routes. pic.twitter.com/2pSO2Upmrl
— Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) March 22, 2019
Today was less about wowing scouts and more about getting back to normal. After a tumultuous two weeks off the field, just getting back onto the field with his teammates helped him overcome that final emotional hurdle.
“It’s been a tough two and a half weeks, honestly. It really tested me a lot, but just to be out here with my teammates, it means everything.”
Conrad still plans on competing in a pro day alongside Mike Edwards in April. Until then, he’ll gladly be busting his butt in preparation to make sure his name is called in the NFL Draft.
“I’m just excited to get back to work. I’m not tired of all of this. I’m ready to move on. I know God put me in this position. Everybody has their own story and that’s my story now,” he said.
“It’s so amazing. I have no one else to thank but God and my family…Now I gotta clear my head and get back to the thing I love, football.”
By Zack Geoghegan on ©March 22nd, 2019 @ 1:30pm
Good afternoon, folks. KAT’s bad games are better than anything I can do at a “high-level”. Let’s talk NBA.
[32-40] Timberwolves – 106 @ [32-39] Hornets – 113
- Karl-Anthony Towns had his worst statistical game in damn near two months. He still posted 21 points and 16 rebounds against the Charlotte Hornets…. He also tacked on six assists and two blocks for good measure, but his injury-riddled Wolves squad fell on the road. This was Towns’ 48th double-double of the season, tied for second-most in the league with Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets. Utah’s Rudy Gobert leads the league with 57.
- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist sat out this game for Charlotte with a concussion after bumping his head with another player on Tuesday night’s game. Malik Monk poured in 14 points and four rebounds on 5-10 shooting (4-7 from three) in 18 minutes.
- Devin Booker led the BBNBA in scoring on Thursday night, dropping 26 points in a 20-point loss to the Detroit Pistons. Booker shot 8-15 from the field and 2-5 from deep in addition to five rebounds and three steals. Booker’s Suns scored a mere 38 second-half points with only six of them coming from the former Kentucky guard. Phoenix has now lost four of it’s last five games.
- De’Aaron Fox and the Sacramento Kings recovered from they’re demoralizing 28-point blown lead against the Brooklyn Nets by dominating the Dallas Mavericks, 116-100. Fox contributed 15 points, nine assists, and a season-high four blocks. Willie Cauley-Stein shot 5-8 from the field for 10 points while corralling a career-high 18 rebounds in 31 minutes.
- DeMarcus Cousins went for a 19-point, 11-rebound double-double on 8-12 shooting to go along with four assists and two blocks in 26 minutes as the Warriors made light-work of the Indiana Pacers.
- Lastly, Jamal Murray and the Denver Nuggets escaped the nation’s capital with a five-point win over the Washington Wizards. Murray posted 15 points and four assists on 7-14 shooting. Which is good, but now it’s time for some potentially bad news for all you Trey Lyles fanatics out there. After he sat out nine straight games with a hamstring injury, Lyles was cleared to play last Thursday. He has yet to appear in a game since then. The Nuggets head coach, Mike Malone, recently talked about shortening his rotation as the playoffs approach with Isaiah Thomas already receiving the short end of the stick (although, for good reason). Malone hasn’t explicitly stated that Lyles is out of the rotation, but it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure this one out. If Lyles doesn’t start seeing some minutes in the coming games, don’t expect to see him playing in any playoff games.
- Check out the full stat sheet below.
|Devin Booker (PHX)||98-118 L vs. DET||26||8-17 (2-5)||5||2||3||0||5||-15||32|
|Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN)||106-113 L @ CHA||21||7-17 (2-4)||16||6||1||2||4||-7||34|
|DeMarcus Cousins (GSW)||112-89 W vs. IND||19||8-12 (0-1)||11||4||0||2||3||+22||26|
|Jamal Murray (DEN)||113-108 W @ WAS||15||7-14 (1-4)||4||2||0||2||1||-10||26|
|De'Aaron Fox (SAC)||116-100 W vs. DAL||15||6-13 (1-4)||3||9||1||4||1||+25||33|
|Malik Monk (CHA)||113-106 W vs. MIN||14||5-10 (4-7)||4||0||0||0||2||0||18|
|Willie Cauley-Stein (SAC)||116-100 W vs. DAL||10||5-8 (0-0)||18||3||2||0||1||+14||31|
|Trey Lyles (DEN)||113-108 W @ WAS||DNP-CD||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Jarred Vanderbilt (DEN)||113-108 W @ WAS||DNP-CD||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|John Wall (WAS)||108-113 L vs. DEN||DNP-CD||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Alex Poythress (ATL)||117-114 W vs. UTA||DNP-Ankle||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (CHA)||113-106 W vs. MIN||DNP-Concussion||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
TONIGHT IN THE NBA
7:00: Grizzlies @ Magic (Briscoe-out)
7:30: Clippers (Gilgeous-Alexander) @ Cavaliers (Knight)
7:30: Nuggets (Lyles, Murray, Vanderbilt) @ Knicks (Knox)
7:30 (NBATV): Thunder (Diallo, Noel, Patterson) @ Raptors
8:00: Spurs @ Hornets (Kidd-Gilchrist, Monk)
8:30: Heat (Adebayo) @ Bucks (Bledsoe)
10:30: Nets @ Lakers (Rondo)
Ian Eagle is one of our favorite announcers, and during Kentucky’s open practice on Wednesday, took some time to catch up with Matt for Hey Kentucky. Chances are you missed last night’s show because it aired at the same time as the game, so check out the interview below:
Want more? Here’s the entire episode:
By KSR on ©March 22nd, 2019 @ 12:45pm
The University of Kentucky Federal Credit Union has been a proud partner of the Big Blue Nation for over 80 years! As a locally owned business, we are a proud supporter of the University of Kentucky Wildcats and all its fans. Whether you are a UK employee, student or fan, there’s a place for you at UKFCU! We are a full-service financial institution offering a wide array of products from checking and savings accounts, to credit cards and mortgages. And with your accounts you have access to mobile & online banking, wallet pay and over 65,000 free ATMs. All while typically offering better interest rates on deposits and loans, and having less fees on your accounts.
UKFCU has all the perks of a big bank, but we are local and right here at home. So come on over and learn more about what UKFCU can offer you! Visit ukfcu.org to learn more. Go Big Blue!
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 22nd, 2019 @ 12:30pm
The Journey is back! Our favorite behind-the-scenes web series on Kentucky Basketball made its triumphant return to the internet today to break down the Cats’ first round win over Abilene Christian. Watch below:
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 22nd, 2019 @ 12:00pm
What’s the best way for Papa John’s Pizza to move past the whole John Schnatter drama? Hire one of the most lovable figures in sports. This morning, it was announced that Shaquille O’Neal is joining the Papa John’s board of directors and will also serve a brand ambassador.
Time for a pizza party! I’m excited to join @PapaJohns as a member of the Board of Directors and investor in 9 stores in #Atlanta. Excited to work with Papa John’s team members and customers – more here: https://t.co/PRXG7ORtFk pic.twitter.com/c5uj5BRuQ1
— SHAQ (@SHAQ) March 22, 2019
According to CNN, the company will pay Shaq $8.25 million over three years to endorse their product. He’ll invest in nine Papa John’s stores in Atlanta, adding to his repertoire of restaurants. Shaq also owns a Krispy Kreme franchise in Atlanta, a Big Chicken fast casual fried chicken restaurant in Las Vegas, and “Shaquille’s” restaurant in Los Angeles.
Better Ingredients, Better Spokesman, ooooh-oh Papa John’s?
In the past 12 hours, Fletcher Magee has become one of the darlings of the NCAA Tournament, the plucky David the nation will root for to carry Wofford past the Big Blue Goliath tomorrow afternoon. Who is this guy, anyway? Let’s find out.
He broke the NCAA career three-point record last night
Above all, Magee is a shooter. His seven threes last night took his career total to 509, setting an NCAA Division I record. It was the 15th time in his career he’s hit seven threes in a game. He and Steph Curry are the only Southern Conference players to make at least five threes in an NCAA Tournament game in the past 20 years. Speaking of Steph, Magee is only 11 threes away from breaking his single-season record (162) set back in 2007-08.
He was on Ben Simmons and Antonio Blakeney’s AAU team
Magee was an unranked recruit in the 2015 class, but played AAU with Antonio Blakeney and Ben Simmons, two five-stars Kentucky fans should definitely remember. The three played for Each 1 Teach 1 Elite on the EYBL circuit.
He also played on the FABC All-Star game with Tacko Fall back in 2015:
View this post on Instagram
A post shared by fletchmagee3 (@fletchmagee3) on
And yes, I just shared that picture because I’m fascinated by Tacko Fall
He declared for the NBA Draft last summer
After his junior season, Magee explored the NBA Draft waters, working out for several teams before deciding to return to Wofford. Here he is describing his game to Los Angeles Lakers reporters:
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) May 22, 2018
He’s struggled vs. ranked opponents
Magee’s averaging 20.6 points off 44.6 percent from the floor and 43.3 percent from beyond the arc, but those numbers are lower when you look at Wofford’s three games vs. ranked opponents:
|#8 UNC||L, 78-67||21 points||7-23||30.4%||3-16||18.8%|
|#2 Kansas||L, 72-47||7 points||1-14||7.1%||0-9||0%|
|#17 Mississippi State||L, 98-87||24 points||7-13||53.8%||4-10||40%|
As Todd Harris notes (and logic would suggest), the Terriers as a whole cool down considerably from the outside vs. Power Five opponents:
Wofford vs Power5 teams(5 games) 3pt shooting 50-144 = 34.7%.
Wofford vs non Power5(29 games) 3pt shooting 327-758 =43.1%
— tgh3316 (@tgh3316) March 22, 2019
He’ll have a big cheering section tomorrow
Last night, Magee, an Orlando native, had almost 75 family members and friends in the stands in Jacksonville, a number that will surely grow tomorrow. As Kentucky fans, we’re used to it, but brace yourself because everyone in America will be cheering for him and the Terriers to pull off the upset.
Vegas has spoken and Kentucky is a five-point favorite vs. Wofford in tomorrow afternoon’s game in Jacksonville. The total is currently 138.5.
The line opened at Kentucky -6 late last night and quickly moved in Wofford’s direction. Even without PJ Washington, the Cats easily covered last night’s 20-point spread vs. Abilene Christian. With the hot-shooting Terriers on deck, things are about to get dicier, at least in the eyes of the oddsmakers.