Good evening, very late evening, and welcome to your Wednesday News and Views. It was a long day for me here at the KSR office, but I’m still going strong off the chicken parmesan fumes and I have a lengthy final recap from UK basketball Media Day 2013 for you before we go night-night. And instead of boring you with a couple paragraphs about Gravity (I’ll save that for next time) or a random celebrity who celebrates a birthday today, I’m just going to toss the News and Views honoree privileges to a young Rob Ryan, back when he roamed the New England Patriots sidelines. As Eye on Football pointed out earlier today, he looked EXACTLY like Kenny Powers. It’s uncanny. I can’t stop looking at it.
Now, let’s knock this out so I can watch Sunday night’s Eastbound and Down before we do it all again Wednesday morning…
Everyone is either improved or better than expected.
Every time Coach Cal talks about this year’s young team, he mentions someone new as “improved” or “better than expected.” When talking to the media at Media Day 2013, he spoke highly of the bench players and confirmed the recent rumor that NBA scouts are raving over James Young.
“Everybody that walks in the building, the guy that they’re saying is the standout is James Young, like every day,” he said. “We’ve had NBA scouts in here every day. They’re all speaking about him.”
From there, he said Jon Hood and Jarrod Polson are getting better; Marcus Lee is better than he thought; Derek Willis is better than he thought; and Dominique Hawkins practiced well yesterday.
Who on this team is he disappointed with??!!
Calipari doesn’t talk about 40-0 with this team, but he wants it.
Coach Cal has been open about wanting perfection for a long time now, not just heading into this season. He wants to coach a 40-0 team before he retires. Will it happen? He doesn’t know, but they’re going to play every game to win. He said he is teaching the mentality that every game matters, whether it be Michigan State, North Carolina or Auburn. “The way we do this is a process.”
He won’t call this team the No. 1 team in the country.
When asked if this group is worthy of the preseason No. 1 ranking, Cal dodged the question by saying he hasn’t seen anyone else. When asked if they’re anything like previous No. 1 teams he has had in the past, he said they’re too inexperienced to tell, but he admits they’re good.
“We’ll be the most inexperienced team in the country, but we’re really talented,” he said. “We’ve got great size and speed and skill. Will we be a great defensive team and rebounding team, and will we share the ball? If we do that, we have a chance to be one of the best teams in the country.”
So, yeah, it sounds like the No. 1 team in the country. He also said they’re much deeper than his most talented team, the 2009-10 team, which is very scary. That teams weakness was shooting; this team’s weakness, if any, will start to show once the season begins.
He likes his team.
He can barely say it without laughing these days.
He’s working with Julius Randle away from the basket, much like Patrick Patterson.
Randle has the build of a power forward but Calipari is asking him to play 20 feet away from the basket to develop his game, much like he did Patrick Patterson in 2010. Playing Randle seven feet under the basket might win college games, he says, but that’s not helping him for the future. They’re working on driving the the ball and jump shooting, and when to do each one. It’s going to take some time, but look out when Randle puts it all together. He’ll be unstoppable.
Randle’s work ethic is on a level Calipari has seen only once before.
Only Brandon Knight put in the work Coach Cal is seeing from Julius Randle right now: “I come in last night. I’m in my office about 11:00. 10:30. He’s in there shooting. This morning, I hear blup, blup, blup, and I look out my window in the morning, and he’s got a full sweat going, and he’s going to practice today. So when you ask me, does he have a chance at [National Players of the Year]? Yes, he does because of that. The only kid that worked like that that I’ve had has been a Brandon Knight, who willed himself in the league, willed himself to be a top five, six, seven pick because, physically, you look at him and there’s no way, but he willed himself. [Randle] has got that body and he does it.”
Think Randle is a little tired of all the Andrew Wiggins love? Sounds like it to me. He’s coming for that Naismith Award and No. 1 pick.
A “ridiculous” non-conference “event” to be announced soon.
Calipari said they’re unsure about renewing a deal with the Champions Classic, then hinted at another event he called “ridiculous” that they plan to announce in the next two weeks to a month.
Marcus Lee likes to text his teammates and coaches to keep them motivated.
Lee admitted he’ll occasionally text his teammates and coaches to keep them going. He said it’s to make sure they’re not forgetting who they are and they’re always together.
After Coach Cal gave the team last weekend off, he said he got a text from Marcus Lee saying, “Coach, I cannot wait to practice. How are you feeling?”
And that’s one of the many reasons he’s already a KSR favorite without playing a single game.
Alex Poythress has a whole new demeanor.
He still has to prove it on the court, but right now Poythress says he has a whole new demeanor. He approaches the game differently this year, with more aggression, while trying to be more of a leader. He has also improved his game offensively and loves the improved chemistry and competition in his sophomore season.
“I feel like it is going to be a good year.”
Derek Willis may or may not have dunked on Julius Randle and Dakari Johnson.
Coach Cal bragged about Derek Willis dunking on Julius Randle and Dakari Johnson at the same time — he said he stopped practice after the play — in the return of the Helmet Cam, but the problem is, not everyone remembers it happening that way. Randle firmly said, “That did not happen.” He remembers blocking Willis’ attempt and the ball bouncing back in off the backboard Johnson remembers it as a hard layup that rattled in.
Dunk or not, it was a big play for Willis and Alex Poythress confirmed Calipari did indeed stop practice after the dunk that wasn’t really a dunk.
There will be a lot of dancing at Big Blue Madness.
After talking to almost all of the players about their introductions at Friday’s Big Blue Madness, it’s clear this group is ready to put on a show. I couldn’t get any of them to get specific — aside from Derek Willis telling me he’s coming out to Eminem’s “Berzerk” – but the smiles on their faces told me they’re ready for a good time.
E.J. Floreal hinted to KSTV that Jarrod Polson is the player to watch this year during introductions. Others told me to keep an eye on Tod Lanter, although Tod told me he still doesn’t know what he’s doing. Regardless, there’s a buzz among the players about their intros and as many as six or seven of the guys are planning to dance for the fans Friday night.
And Marcus Lee will break the internet if he does the Terio dance.
Doug Gottlieb defended his preseason Top 25 on Kentucky Sports Radio radio.
James Blackmon will not announce his decision on October 22.
Blackmon’s tentatively scheduled press conference on October 22nd is no more. He will visit Indiana some time after taking in the sights and sounds of Big Blue Madness this weekend.
This doesn’t change KSR’s prediction that Blackmon will end up at Kentucky.
Rich Brooks stopped by football practice to pump up the team.
Switching over to football news, former UK head coach Rick Brooks was a special guest at Tuesday’s practice. He had some words of encouragement for Mark Stoops, who said Brooks reminded him of the dark days during his time at UK and that it’ll get better. Stoops said, “[Brooks] was actually telling me that, I forget what year it was, the year they took a thumping by LSU and they had a bye week and they came back and won five of their next six. So that was good to hear. I’m not getting that far ahead of myself; I’m worried about one. I would just like to get one, but it was good to hear that. And I think that’s where he started turning the program. It just clicked and it turned and they had some good success from there. So it was good to hear those stories and just visit with him.”
The update on Jalen Whitlow is there is no update on Jalen Whitlow.
Stoops said he’ll give us an update every three or four days when they see how Whitlow’s left ankle is healing.
That’s all for now, folks. Thanks for stopping by.