We might’ve found what it is that is holding this team back, Cats fans. They don’t dance enough. It sounds crazy, I know, but the proof is in Tuesday night’s game against Texas A&M.
During the KSR pregame show, we talked in length about how much fun the 2009-10 and 2011-12 teams had, and how this team lacks that energy before and even during games this season. We reminisced on the days of John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins strutting their way to the court during the Cat Walk, only to be topped by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s moves two years later. Everyone was always clapping and laughing, having a grand ol’ time, in the minutes leading up to the tip.
This team, however, hasn’t done that. They tried at times, kind of, but it never had that same feel as it did with the other, fun-loving teams. But last night, right on cue, I watched James Young and Julius Randle “hit their Nae Nae” (it’s the new thing) coming out of the locker room as the team clapped their hands around them. It wasn’t much and not a whole lot different than before other games, but I saw smiles I haven’t seen and they all appeared to be more relaxed. I even guaranteed the live blog readers the team wouldn’t come out flat because of the new attitude in the hallway that carried over to the layup line. The theory proved to be true, too, as the Cats hit a three-pointer on the first possession and finally, FINALLY, got off to a good start against the Aggies.
It’s all in the dancing, people. I’m telling you. The Cats just need to relax, take a deep breath, and then dance like no one is watching. It changes everything.
Show them how it’s done, MKG…
Up next: Georgia
UK basketball gets one more home game before its pivotal five-game stretch and the Bulldogs of Georgia are that next opponent. Mark Fox’s team is 4-1 in the SEC with wins at No. 21 Missouri and at Arkansas (where Kentucky couldn’t get it done) and sitting in a tie for second place with the Cats in the SEC
East. As always for UK home games, this is a must-win game, but it means even more as it is the last game in Rupp before UK plays four on the road — LSU, Missouri, Mississippi State, Auburn — in a 15-day span with a break for Ole Miss at home in the middle.
That stretch is where we learn what this team is really made of, and a convincing win over Georgia on Saturday will send them off with confidence.
Beat the Bulldogs. By a lot.
Coach O subbed in for Coach Cal on the call-in show, talked about Willie Cauley-Stein.
Orlando Antigua got tagged in to handle this week’s call-in show duties, normally aired on Monday nights. Of the many questions Coach O answered, the disappearance of Willie Cauley-Stein was one of the first and biggest on Big Blue Nation’s minds.
“We need Willie to come out and be the dominant player he had been prior to these last games,” Antigua said, acknowledging what we’ve all seen in the last three games, that Willie contributed nothing.
O said foul trouble limited Willie’s opportunities to get some positive momentum going in Wednesday night’s game against Arkansas, and that he needs only a couple good plays here or there to get back on track. He thinks Willie will be fine if he can register a few blocks or easy buckets by keeping up the energy and running the floor.
The Harrisons did not make Chad Ford’s new 2014 NBA Mock Draft.
Chad Ford of ESPN.com updated the first round of his mock draft on Wednesday and Andrew and Aaron Harrison are notably absent from the first 30 picks. That will hopefully change, at least for Andrew, as the season rolls on. If not, that’s not a good sign for Kentucky’s title hopes.
Ford projects Julius Randle coming off the board at No. 5 to the Utah Jazz. He believes Kansas will follow Kentucky’s footsteps from 2012 by having the top two draft picks with Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins going No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. Jabari Parker and Dante Exum are also projected to go before Randle.
Willie Cauley is the only other Wildcat in the lottery at No. 12 to the Minnesota Timberwolves. James Young isn’t far behind at No. 17 to the Chicago Bulls.
This is a discussion to have on down the road, but Willie, Young, and the Harrisons should all seriously consider a return if this is where they stand entering the summer. I doubt any of them will, but the stock of all four would improve with a sophomore (junior for Willie) season. Randle could even earn that No. 1 spot with a second season, but we all know that ain’t happening.
Enough of that talk, though; back to the now…
DeMarcus Cousins named to USA Basketball’s player pool for 2014-16.
He isn’t going to the 2014 NBA All-Star game (don’t get me started on that one, not tonight) but DeMarcus Cousins has been playing well enough this season to earn an invitation to USA Basketball’s summer camp. Boogie and 27 other NBA stars will be eligible to compete in the 2014 World Basketball Cup in Spain and then the Summer Olympics in Rio in 2016.
It’s the third year Cousins has been a part of Team USA training. He was named to the 2012 USA Select Team that practiced against the Olympic team, and he was among 28 young players who participated in Team USA camp last summer.
The entire player pool will be announced on Thursday. Expect Anthony Davis to be on there, too.
Get him on the court and he’s trouble; John Wall messed around and got a triple-double.
Wall scored 28 points with 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a losing effort Wednesday night against the Celtics. It was Wall’s second career triple-double. Rajon Rondo recorded a DNP.
Free NBA League Pass week is awesome.
ICYMI: “The Jimmy Dykes Shoulder Cam”
Jimmy Dykes is one of the better color commentary guys in college basketball, but when ESPN sent him to the baseline and cut to a split-screen of the action, fans were not pleased with how it translated to television. The idea, though probably good on paper, was a complete disaster by all accounts. It didn’t help that Kentucky went on a three-minute drought with Jimmy crouched down under the basket, either.
The “Jimmy Dykes Shoulder Cam” has been mentioned several times since its debut so I won’t drive the nail into it any longer — See what I did there? — but here it is for fans who were at the game and didn’t experience it.
Hey, at least it wasn’t as bad as “Bertha Cam” from 2011.
National Signing Day is right around the corner.
College football’s National Signing Day was always another day on the calendar before Mark Stoops arrived in Lexington. Now it’s one we look forward to every February to see the magic he and his staff pulled off during another year of recruiting. This year Kentucky is all set to reel in its best class in history with a full list of highly-ranked recruits, many of them four-star talents, for a Top 20 class. Matt Elam and a couple of surprises are still out there as well, so football fans have a lot to look forward to on the morning of February 4.
KSR also plans to step up its NSD coverage this year. Our running diaries have always been popular, but this year we will be in the war room with the coaches as the letters come in. I will be updating the website with photos and new signees while Matt and Ryan record the radio show from right next to the fax machine.
It’s less than two weeks away…
Go watch UK Hoops Thursday night and Sunday afternoon, help fight Alzheimer’s.
You should always considering going to Memorial Coliseum to watch the 8th-ranked UK Hoops team, but you can help fight Alzheimer’s by attending the next two games. Matthew Mitchell and his wife Jenna, in conjunction with their Mitchell Family Foundation, will donate two dollars to the Pat Summitt Foundation for every fan in attendance at Thursday night’s game against Alabama and Sunday afternoon’s game against Arkansas.
Pat Summitt gave Mitchell his coaching start in the SEC as an assistant in Tennessee in 1999. Mitchell said he wouldn’t be where he is today if not for Summitt, and that’s why he is contributing to her foundation to help fight the disease. Let’s pack the house so he has to write a big check. I know I plan to attend both games.
Minnesota has the best fans.
My only question is: Why aren’t we at a Minnesota game right now?
That’ll do it for tonight.