I have not yet seen “Anchorman 2.” I admit that I want it to be good because I liked the first one and am a huge Will Ferrell mark (he is the best cast member in Saturday Night Live history…I will not debate this). But since it has come out, the reviews I have heard are mixed. People who enjoy the same brand of comedy have given me opinions ranging from “it is excellent” to “I almost walked out it was so bad” (that one was Drew). So my nervousness about the movie continues. There are a ton of great movies out now that I want to see, ranging from “American Hustle” to “Nebraska” to “Inside Lwelyn Davis” to “Her” to “Wolf of Wall Street” to “12 Years a Slave.” All of those movies are of a certain type and I am sure all will meet expectations. But with “Anchorman 2”, I worry about being disappointed. So if you saw it this weekend, let me know where you are on the scale…if you didn’t like the first one or aren’t a Will Ferrell fan, no harm, no foul…but our opinions probably aren’t the same to begin with. But if you are a fan, let me know what you think…I don’t want to be disappointed.
With that, 5 Thoughts on the Weekend:
1. The Last 25 Minutes of the Belmont Game were very Encouraging:
It is so easy to be overwhelming negative about this basketball team and I know there are many fans out there ready to take that attitude. I hear it occasionally on the radio show (a person called into UK pregame very upset that Darius Willis isn’t playing more) and one can see it on message boards consistently. But wishing this team were what it is not, is ultimately unfulfilling for me. I tend to focus on what they are and in the last 25 minutes of the Belmont game, we saw a team that can be great. They extended on defense, attacked on offense and played one of the better stretches since the season has begun. Now part of why they needed that run was because of their inability to guard early, but to their credit, they fixed that as the game progressed. The team played with energy and they continue to improve offensively. Even though the Cats are a very poor passing team, they still rank 6th in offensive efficiency. The Cats are getting open looks (even though they didnt knock them down Saturday) and getting to the basket at will. The level of defense will step up (exponentially) when Louisville comes to town, but I am encouraged that UK will be able to score on the Cards. But can they stop them? Defensively this team still has a long way to go, especially on the perimeter. This team goes as far as the Twins and Young, primarily on defense, take them…and there was at least a small step forward on that side of the floor shown on Saturday.
2. Julius Randle and Willie Were Dominant:
It got lost a bit in the shuffle last night, but the UK big men were special against Belmont. Recognizing the clear mismatch that they had at the position, Willie and Julius attacked and were dominant against the Bruins. They combined to shoot 16-19 from the field, an incredible number, and got easy buckets down the stretch in the second half. What I liked about both of their play, is that they are starting to see exactly how they can both attack. Julius is now driving towards the rim, but not starting so far away and when he gets the ball, he attacks quickly, before the double team can start. Willie has become the best type of garbage point player, getting loose balls, rebounds and becoming dominant on the lob plays. Both of these guys can do what the rest of the players struggle with, get easy baskets. While they will have some games where big men are able to at least compete with them, there will be other games where they are the obvious mismatch. When that happens, they have to be stars and against Belmont, that happened.
3. Some Other Positives Emerged From the Game:
There were other good signs from Saturday, most obviously the play of Dominique Hawkins and Jarrod Polson off the bench. Hawkins has become the best role player on the team, with that role being providing hustle/energy and playing good defense. He was a part of at least three crucial loose ball sequences and in each case, he came away with a huge possession. He has moved into the role of the team’s 7th man, an impressive accomplishment, considering many did not even think he would play this year. Jarrod Polson was HUGE on Saturday, especially in the first half, as he came in when Andrew Harrison hit foul trouble, calmed the team down and helped stem the momentum. There will be games where Jarrod cant match up on defense, but in others, he can be a critical factor. Saturday showcased that he still has the ability to rise to those occasions. I heard some good things about a player developing as a leader on this team (I wrote more about the player here) and the little things that are crucial to team-building (energy from the bench, helping each other during games, etc) continue to improve. These guys are still a long way from where they need to be, but they aren’t regressing. They continue to move forward…the question will be whether they will be far enough along when Louisville comes to town Saturday.
4. I was REALLY Impressed with the UK Crowd:
That was the best crowd of the season Saturday and nothing else has been close. The game was sold out for the first time and the fans that were there provided consistent energy and a lift from the start. Some have said they believe it was because of the student tickets being sold to the public, but I tend to disagree (the student section was loud and full as well…even before the general public was let in). I think it was just that this was the “Christmas ticket” crowd and that usually means a different person in Rupp Arena. The Belmont game is during the holiday break and that means that usually season ticket holders bring different people to games or give them away as Christmas gifts. Thus you get a rowdier and louder crowd that can help ignite the place. Rupp was loud from start to finish, and was especially impressive when the Cats were struggling early. The players fed off the energy and the crowd rattled Belmont for a period. If we could get anywhere close to that consistently, Rupp would be a nearly impossible place for an opponent to get a victory (it is already super hard). Also, a shout out to the UK folks who made some good steps towards improving the environment…better music, some timeout events and a t-shirt cannon that made people excited….all good baby steps to getting Rupp Arena where it needs to be.
5. A Word on the Herald Leader Article:
If you haven’t seen it yet, the Herald Leader ran this article today on me and the growth of KSR. To my surprise, they put it on the front page of the paper (not just sports), and I must admit that regardless of my various issues over the years with newspapers, when someone sent me this picture today, I did think it was very cool:
Overall, I thought the article was generally fair. It focused in my opinion too much on the silly disputes with other journalists (which tends to be of most interest to journalists and not to fans), and too little on the relationship we have with the fans who read/listen to the show. But to be honest, that is what I expected when I did the initial interview with them a couple of months ago. For longtime KSR fans, nothing in there was too new, but Tom Eblen did a good job of tracing the history of how this all started and what we do. To be perfectly honest, my worries were not of the paper “uncovering” anything as I knew there was nothing to uncover. While some like to act as if we are a group of rogues waiting to do something nefarious at every turn, the truth is much less exciting. We are a group of people getting paid to do what we love and having a heck of lot of fun doing it. Rather my apprehension was more along the lines of being worried someone that I considered a friend might say something that would disappoint me. It seems like a silly concern, but it has occurred over the years in public settings and I have learned in time that when your life/character is up for public commentary, you never know what people will say. Instead, the people that know me well (and there aren’t many) that spoke, like Drew, Ryan and Vanetti, showcased why I consider them good friends. I disagree with a couple of contentions in the article (I have never said anything “vulgar” about other journalists on social media that I am aware of and I think the comparisons to Howard Stern are slightly exaggerated) and I do wish he had focused more on the legitimate popularity of what we do (by say focusing on the fact that we were #1 in the ratings in Lexington and Louisville, something never done in either city by a sports show in recent memory). But it was his story, not mine and overall I think I was treated fairly and that is really all you can ask. Plus it gave me two pictures with Calipari and Oscar Combs that I will keep forever…with permission of course.
Tomorrow on the radio. 5 star Football recruit Matt Elam will join me to discuss his UK/Alabama decision. I am very interested to hear him as he discusses the factors that will come into play before he announces his college destination on January 4th.
And remember that we have two radio remotes this week, Thursday at Fan Outfitters in Louisville and then Friday at Bearnos in Jeffersonville, Indiana where we will give away lower arena UK/UL tickets courtesy of GuyontheCornerTickets.com. Come see us.