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Matt’s Notes: Losing to Seton Hall Edition


I pulled onto my street in Louisville last night at 2:38 am, after an 11 hour drive across Ohio/Pennsylvania swing-state interstates that seemed as if it would never end. Due to my new gig with ESPN doing the NFL Pre-game show, I find myself paying attention to NFL games with an attentiveness that I used to reserve only for UK affairs. 10 straight hours of NFL play by play (I highly recommend NFL Radio Channel 88 on Sirius/XM on Sundays….it is basically Red Zone with local broadcasts of the teams and you get some great homer cheering during the big plays) were exciting, but it was the last three that had my mind racing. We have had an amazing last few months around these KSR parts. We have seen the radio show expand, the TV show has reached record ratings, the website has received a huge Football bump and we opened a sports bar that has been a great success. It has been continued growth on all levels and I couldn’t be happier about what everyone around KSR has accomplished.

But I also realized that there is one thing that I do miss…I do miss the intimacy that defined KSR when we first began in 2005. Spending these last 10 days with Chris Tomlin (the only writer left who started with me back then) reaffirmed to me how special and unique this entire enterprise has been. We started from Hubby’s basement and now we do shows from the US Embassy Residence in Ottawa, Canada. It truly is a dream. But at the core of this entire enterprise, was just this….me at a keyboard, writing my thoughts and sharing them to people across the Big Blue Nation. In recent years I have all but stopped writing and I truly do miss it. I will never be able to recreate the output I once did, and with the work of Tyler/Drew, etc, there really is no need. But I do miss sharing my random thoughts and hope to add to them going forward. I have had this goal before and have usually flamed out (writing is hard…much more so than Radio and TV) but long trips listening to Tyler Childers give a man confidence. I hereby endeavor to write more…if not every day, at least once a week. And if I don’t…well I will buy you a drink (or hummus) the next time I see you at KSBar.

With that, some thoughts:

KSR Staff Changes

If you read the site earlier, you know this is the last week that TJ Walker will be writing for KSR as he leaves us to move onto another career as a real estate appraiser. While figuring out the value of Matt Bevin’s estate is much different than figuring out the meaning behind Tyrese Maxey’s Instagram posts, I am certain TJ will have a great deal of success as his work ethic and intelligence are of the highest rate. He has been a great addition here at KSR and helped us refocus our efforts in recruiting, once the lifeblood of this site. We appreciate his time with us and wish him nothing but the best…and if he hears scoop in the coming months, he will always be welcome to share it here.

With every loss, there must be a gain and so we are also happy to use this opportunity to announce the hiring of Jack Pilgrim as a full-time KSR Staff writer. Jack has been with us since his Sophomore year of College and now gets to join us as a full-time career. His work output is outstanding and I know of virtually no other student who has spent as much time balancing schoolwork, an outside job, volunteer activities and actually having fun as Jack has. I knew from the first day he began writing for us that I wanted him to eventually end up as a full-time staffer. That begins this week and we couldn’t be happier. Jack will focus on recruiting, but have a presence in many areas and we here at KSR are lucky to have him with us.

With his addition, we move Maggie Davis (who is also a tremendous talent both now, and for the future) up to our Sunday Editor and will continue to add to our staff in the coming months. We expect 2019 to be a huge year of growth for KSR and we are glad to have you along for the ride.

Madison Square Garden Misery

In 2005, I watched the Kentucky-Michigan State basketball game sitting by myself in my apartment in Raleigh, North Carolina, desperately living and dying with each shot. When Patrick Sparks’s rim-bouncing three miraculously fell in the basket, not only did Austin, Texas erupt, but I went outside and screamed with glee as loudly as I have ever made a noise in my life. It still to this day remains the only time I have ever uttered a primal scream in my entire existence and I think of it often every time I see a fan acting out at a sporting event. It still to this day remains the most improbable big shot in UK history (considering the physics of it) and the follow-up fist pump to Billy Packer only makes it more amazing.

But as a great moment as that is, in my memories it doesn’t sit with pure joy. For along with Sean Woods’ free-throw line heave against Duke, Anthony Epps straight-away 3 pointer versus Arizona and James Young’s insane UCONN dunk, its memory is forever intertwined with the result of the game…in all cases a loss. In fact, with the exception of Aaron Harrison’s insane three-point string in 2014, it is oddly the case that the best shots in UK history have often come in losing efforts. Keldon Johnson’s halfcourt-heave on Saturday was just the injection of adrenaline this fan base needed to jumpstart the season. Well until it wasn’t. See since the Duke game, I have been shocked at the lack of energy around this UK basketball program. A combination of excitement over football, the lack of star power, the rise of Duke as the “cool” program of the day, a schedule lacking in fun and the deflation of unmet expectations has produced the largest sense of malaise I have seen since Billy Clyde was stumbling his way through 2009. Fans aren’t attending games (the fact that there are $15 seats for the game against Utah on Saturday is insane to me), our basketball conversation on the radio has been sparse and with the loss of top 5 recruits more commonplace, even the solace of recruiting can’t snap us out of our issues. With one beautiful heave from mid-court Keldon Johnson seemed ready to change that narrative. Now it goes into the dustbin of great moments in losing games and our fan base looks for a new reason to care.

I am not sure how to totally diagnose what is wrong with this group. The Sophomores haven’t improved to the degree they need to, our Point Guards all have defects that make playing any of them a choice in which defect will be spotlighted, Tyler Herro cant make a shot, Reid Travis is the team’s best player but is a step slow and can be exploited on Defense and John Calipari seems unable to connect with a group of good kids whose future seemed so promising. The Bahamas now looks to be a bit of a curse on this group, setting the standards high and giving them the burden of high expectations for a fan base that desperately wants/needs to be top dog again. I am unready and unwilling to give up…Calipari’s team turnarounds in 2011, 2014 and 2018 should have taught us that. But something is clearly missing with this group, not only on the court, but off in the connection with BBN. The back-to-back end of December contests against North Carolina and Louisville can bring everyone back…but losses could make the situation only worse. Trust Cal I do…but getting the team to call a timeout, run an inbounds play or simply guard the three point line would most certainly make it easier.

Feeling Better about Football Recruiting

College Football recruiting is not for the faint of heart. Kids commit/decommit and flip allegiances multiple times and it can cause even the most patient of us to become extremely frustrated. I can freely admit that the decision by Wandale Robinson to switch from UK to Nebraska one week after saying to me on TV that Nebraska was eliminated was head-scratching and bizarre. However I am a big believer that kids should go to school wherever they want and if the process that gets them there is convoluted, so be it. Since that decision though, many UK fans have thrown up their hands and said “WAKE ME WHEN THEY SIGN” and assumed that every UK commitment is going to flip. Case in point, JJ Weaver from Louisville, a 4 star talent who visited UL this past weekend, after committing to Kentucky. He posted the above picture and many UK fans wrote me, already assuming he was soon to be a Card. With that in mind, a few recruiting notes from me, someone who is admittedly not a UK football recruiting guru, but sometimes gets some good info:

1. I still think JJ Weaver will be a Cat. I believe him when he told Dave Lankford of Rivals.com that he visited as a favor to Vince Tyra (who had been nice to him when Bobby Petrino was not) but that he is still 100% committed to UK. The folks in Lexington still feel very good about him, and so do I.

2. I think UK is going to finish this class strong and probably keep all of their other commitments. Wandale was a unique situation and those around Lexington believe he always wanted to go to Nebraska but the pressure made him initially pick Kentucky. If that is true, I am glad he made the decision he did.

3. UK will get one Transfer that everyone who follows UK football will know…it could occur any time, although my guess is next week. I have said this for about a month and it is still the case. The only new scoop I have is that a 2nd transfer who is slightly lesser known to UK fans, but maybe equally (or more) important is considering transferring as well. If both come, it will be a huge coup.

With that, I will call it a night…we will be back on radio tomorrow, with an announcement about our $5,000 Bowl Challenge game, looking ahead to Utah and more. And later this week, for the 3-4 of you who care, I will write about my trip this weekend to see “Hamilton”, which was amazing. Adios

Article written by Matt Jones

59 responses to “Matt’s Notes: Losing to Seton Hall Edition”

  1. KYcats11

    Yes, all of the writers you have hired are terrific and I enjoy reading them daily. But, nothing is better than the old-fashion posts from Matt giving us the run down on what’s big in the World of Kentucky Sports. Definitely look forward to these types of posts more often.

    1. WildcatCam

      True. I miss Matt’s news and views…

    2. catheaven

      For me the website isn’t the same unless Drew and Tyler happen to be writing. I don’t check in multiple times a day anymore-maybe once a week now. I do miss Matt’s writings and really enjoyed this one. And I’m totally hooked on the show. Listen everyday, every pre and post game show. I love Drew, Ryan, and Shannon. But the show isn’t the same when Matt’s not there. I get disinterested quickly. Got to say my peace, Matt, before you make your political decision this next year. . . You are about the only democrat I have any respect for. You don’t come across to me as a 2018 liberal. You seem to look at both sides of issues and are fair minded, even if it doesn’t go along with the current democrat mantra of the day. That is rare. Haven’t seen that since JFK. IMO, Washington would eat someone so morally ethical alive. But what bothers me more is the survival of KSR if you went to Washington. You have built something truly amazing that brings such joy and happiness to the people of KY. You are KSR and I’m so proud for you of what has been built. This thing is truly amazing and brings people in KY together. I look forward to your show everyday, and I know I’m one of many. Please think long and hard about leaving what you have created for the greater good of people in KY to get involved in that mess in Washington. I’ve gone TV and radio silent in our home with all the political mess that out there. The bright spot of my day is getting on my computer to listen intently to KSR. Thank you for your creation.

  2. kentucky1998

    When’s the next Matt Jones Podcast?

  3. N-UR-i

    You should hire me as the “Typical Venting KY Fan” lol

  4. Cincy Cayt

    Great post! Don’t worry about basketball, the fan enthusiasm will be there as we approach March. I think in a way this is a sign of fans learning to adapt to the Cal model.

    1. east-ky-boy

      We don’t like the cal model is the thing

    2. 4everUKblue

      We? You don’t speak for everyone.

  5. Blue Jesus

    Ah, the annual MJ pledge to write more! Much like with football recruiting I would love to see it but I’ve been scorned too many times to get my hopes up!

    Kidding, of course. You’re a busy dude, I know. Would love it if you wrote occasionally though… as KYCats11 said, nothing better than an old fashioned Matt rundown, with a few book or movie recs sprinkled in.

  6. StuckinLville

    The tweak needs to be taking Herro out of the starting kine line up. He seems to have less pressure on him when he’s coming off the bench and the flow of the game is already established.

    1. WatchutalkinboutWillis

      Agree with this.

  7. DHBsr64

    Matt – Long time reader, but we need more of this. Outstanding post. Where have you been!!

    1. Kerosenerag

      Just because he works on a job broadcasting the NFL doesn’t mean he’s not a patriot. That’s just false!

  8. ukcats1776.90

    matt Jones would sell out for the nfl. once they started disrespecting the flag, matt jones became a fan

    1. east-ky-boy

      Lol as all liberals do

    2. ChanceyPantz

      I know right? How dare a sports journalist and radio personality take a job with the most well known and largest sports news organization in the world, to do a radio show about the most popular sport in America!

  9. BLUEDOUG65

    Yes enjoy it anytime Matt can write . Talented guy who took a great product with a great fan base and gave us what we needed KSR

  10. brainesman

    I feel like this transfer has to be Russ Yeast. There’s not many guys on other teams that most UK fans will know

    1. ky1988

      But he won’t be able to make an impact for one full season.

    2. ClutchCargo

      Making an immediate impact was not implied.

  11. ky1988

    Any idea who the football transfers he is talking about.

    1. OplusS

      Hello… Xavier Peters

    2. Cincy Cayt

      Reigelsberger

    3. ArmyCatFan

      I think both of these are solid guesses. But I think it’s more likely a WR or DB. L’Christian “Blue” Smith maybe? DE isn’t our biggest need but bringing in a talent like Peters with a guy who plays one of those two positions would fit that description for sure!

  12. catsfan1995

    Love the post, Matt! Hope to see move of it. Go cats!

    1. Matt10

      Here, here. I second that!

  13. Ledgeman

    Matt, thanks for writing this post. Hope you can write more. I do understand there is only so many hours in a day. Keep up the good work man. Loved the NY tour! Fun to listen and to watch. Don’t know how you’re going to decide to run against evil empire. Wish you would in some ways but Wish you would just keep this KSRvrun up. Old baloney head II needs to go though!

  14. CopenhagenCat

    I feel like im watching Tubby ball. Its hard to even get excited about a basketball game. Its sad i love my Cats. But its pathetic.

    1. ky1988

      The thing about tubby he didn’t make it to final four as many times as Cal. And Cal title is Cal’s title. Tubby Title is Ricky P title.

    2. WildcatCam

      Bologna…Tubby was the coach, his title. They have the same amount!

    3. CATandMONKEY

      Total BS on 1998 being Rick’s title. Tubby coached them. Tubby’s title . Anyone still parroting that fallacious nonsense is either being willfully obtuse to gain attention or they are a failed product of our special education system.

    4. njCat

      Average end of regular season ranking if Cal’s teams is the same as Tubby’s – 12th. Besides a couple of improbable final 4 runs their records are very similar. In fact most of Tubby’s teams were more fun to watch.

    5. RC

      Tubby NEVER made it back to the FF after the ’98 Title. Not once. To compare Tubby’s run at UK’s to Cal’s is absurd. Tubby Smith is a gentleman by all accounts but his resume pales next to Cal’s.

      The ’98 Title is Tubby’s. He coached those guys and that roster wasn’t nearly as talented as the ’96 or ’97 squads. But the Tubby Magic faded quickly as his recruiting philosophy left us far behind the other elite programs. I’ll never forget hearing that Tyler Hansbrough was a lock for UK and grew up a Cat fan over in Missouri. But he winds up at UNC only to become the ACC’s all time leading scorer.

      I was also at the game in Athens, GA where UK led by 17 at the half only to lose. Tubby actually drew up the potential game-saving play for Sheray Thomas, which should be all the evidence anyone needs to understand that Tubby Smith had his limitations and wasn’t a fit at Kentucky.

      Tubby and UK will always have 1998. But that’s where the romance should end. Good man. Average coach.

    6. 4everUKblue

      I agree with you RC. Tubby made it to the FF one time, oddly enough it was with the players recruited, initially coached and trained by Pitino, the fact that Tubby never got another sniff of the FF tells me he was only able to get there and win with Pitino’s players. Copenhagen you’re an idiot!

    7. 4everUKblue

      nj I think you need to do some more research if you think Tubby’s success is similar to Cal’s also I remember the Tubby teams well and none after the 98′ season was much fun to watch, especially with Sal on the team.

    8. antiquefurnitureandmidgets

      It’s funny how the players who actually won that championship unequivocally say that it’s Tubby’s championship but so many petty UK fans simply won’t accept it.

    9. Iamheasyouarehe

      If he had done it with his players he recruited trained and coached initially I would gladly accept it, but lets face it, none of his teams had the heart of that 98′ team, all Pitino’s teams had heart when he was at UK, Tubby’s not so much.

  15. catsforthewin65

    Congratulations on the continued success of your enterprise. Its easy for listeners to forget about the actual business behind the show and think that its just some guys having fun. I’m sure it takes a herculean effort to manage all the different moving parts of putting on the radio show and all your other endeavors. Kudos to you and your staff for a job well done and best wishes for continued success in the new year.

    ps.. Matt Jones posts hooked me on the site, glad to hear they will be more frequent.

  16. Just saying

    Glad to read a Matt Jones post. But have to say the NFL is not the place to be. Come back home Matt.

  17. Memphis UK Cat

    Excellent post and loyal listener and reader. Thank you Matt.

  18. ChanceyPantz

    If the transfer is Russ Yeast, I am going to incredibly disappointed.

    1. WildcatCam

      Same.

    2. jimmer

      Same x2

    3. BigolBlue

      Yes

  19. Stitch from Paris

    Thanks Matt. Good to see you back at the keyboard. No worries, Coach Cal will have us going in the right direction by March.

  20. 8 god

    Checking in from Durham, North Carolina, with some perspective for you folks.

    I’ll be honest. Growing up a Kentucky fan, nothing made me happier than winning, and once the Calipari era took off nothing devastated me more than losing. But coming to Duke (for academic and career reasons, don’t @ me) I have seen how the students and the community bounce back from losses. Maybe it’s because it’s NC and people are losing games all the time in Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and Winston-Salem, but when Coach K drops a game he absolutely shouldn’t (see VA Tech in 2015, St. John’s (!) last year) no one ever questioned his legitimacy as a coach, and no one took it out on the players.

    Of course, Kentucky fans have a critical eye that exceeds most of the nerds young and old in Durham, so it’s natural to get frustrated when the product on court doesn’t measure up, but I do wish people would stop bishing and enjoy the Calipari era before it’s too late.

    1. Jiminy Crickets

      They’re bitching Barrett is a ball hog. Until 2010 (another title that should be in Rupp) lots of Duke fans thought K was to old and needed to retire (health issues, bad losses, passing out on the court). WINNING 30 games a year and dropping 3-4 makes a fan base not scream over a loss. Losing 12 and getting beat by KState missing their best player makes a fan base scream.
      Most people did enjoy the Cal era before it was to late, don’t be the guy screaming at disappointed fans about how good we were 4 years ago.

    2. 4everUKblue

      We can always count on Crickets for some negative comments.

    3. michaelb

      And not knowing a diff between to and too.

  21. kuhlkat

    Not surprised TJ Walker got fired. Didn’t really ever have any scoops.

    1. Kat4Life

      I wondered about that

    2. zoupman

      It was horrible the way T.J. recently attacked coach Cal. For that reason, I’m glad he is gone.

  22. bailey000

    Matt you’re a liberal aren’t you??? Don’t answer. I just… Don’t answer.

    1. njCat

      He’s an American and has already done more for KY than Mitch.

    2. 4everUKblue

      EVERYONE had done more for KY than Mitch, except Bevin of course.

    3. Luether

      Yes Jones is a DemocRat – the part of NO and the party of HATE…

  23. Kat4Life

    Matt now commands an “enterprise”…..and when you think about the demands foisted upon him it is understandable that writing for the site might prove challenging. I hope his does post every week…..I miss his take on UK related stuff. Not a big fan of the political stumping.

  24. 3 fan

    Glad to see people with ties to Cats are openly admitting our guards are not very good. At all.

  25. The Real LindaS

    You have had a busy time lately, all interesting, however, I am looking forward more to reading what you have to say about Hamilton. I read the book by Ron Chernow, I could not finish the last few chapters because I know how it ends and don’t want to read it. We could use another Hamilton in these days and times. I think I fell in love with a man who has been dead for over 200 years, but wow, what an exciting time that was, what an interesting man, what an intelligent man. I have tickets to see the show in June and I am so excited. Oh, this is a sports site, too bad, I had to throw in my 2 cents about Hamilton…I guess me commenting on Hamilton is not as bad as the low lifes who have to bring politics in to all of this….Go Cats!