It’s been about 32 hours since Marcus Lee announced he was withdrawing his name from →
By Nick Roush on ©May 24th, 2016 @ 10:00pm
Before they were signed on to play Kentucky, Malik Monk, Bam Adebayo and De’Aaron Fox were competing against one another. Months after the annual Top 100 Camp, Courtside Films has released this unseen footage of the future teammates facing off against one another.
It’s hard to tell who is the most impressive. You be the judge.
By Trey Huntsman on ©May 24th, 2016 @ 9:30pm
Kentucky will likely have their season end the same way as 2015. The BatCats lost in the first round of the SEC Tournament for the second straight season with a 5-2 defeat against Alabama. UK never led as Alabama jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second inning. Evan White’s solo home run and Riley Mahan’s RBI double cut the lead to one, but Will Haynie’s two run bomb in the 9th ended all hope for UK.
Zach Logue pitched well in 5.2 innings for the Cats. The sophomore allowed two earned runs and three total in the third inning. An error by Mahan and some infield confusion led to a bases loaded jam with one out. Logue walked in a run before Hunter Webb drove two runs home on an RBI single to center. Nick Eicholtz would not need anything else on the mound. Eicholtz allowed two runs on three hits in 6.2 innings for the Tide. He held Kentucky’s offense at bay outside of White’s homer and a small rally in the 7th. Dorian Hairston walked and advanced to second before Mahan doubled down the line to score him.
Eicholtz was pulled in the 7th and Matt Foster entered. Foster and Thomas Burrows shut down UK’s offense for the remainder of the way. Haynie destroyed all hope with a monster home run ball to left field in the top of the ninth. It was the only blimish on a great performance by Zach Pop. Both Logue and Pop competed well in the biggest games of their young careers.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) May 25, 2016
The loss will likely end Kentucky’s chances of making the field of 64. Kentucky is now 32-25 (15-16) on the season and will have an RPI around 60 after tonight. Their are many questions moving forward about returning players and coaches, but don’t make any assumptions at this point. Aaron Fitt answered questions about coaching positions at UK and he was spot on. It’s always tough to lose the first game of the conference tournament, especially when a team has as many errors as they had hits in a loss.
By Matt Jones on ©May 24th, 2016 @ 9:12pm
We are coming upon KSR’s 11th Anniversary this fall and sometimes I can’t help but feel as if time just keeps passing by. That is especially true when I find pictures like the one above…this was around 2006 or so when we first decided to start promoting KSR at UK Football games. The crew above included most (although not all) of the early writers, the KSR girls who walked around tailgates promoting the site (in custom-made jerseys that were not of the highest quality) and a random guy who I don’t know (the guy on the far right). We were kind of a rag-tag bunch back then, I was much chubbier and had worse hair (if that’s possible) and we had no idea what was to come. But in many ways those were the most fun days as we just wrote whatever wanted, consequences be damned. It was a great time to be a blogger, back when no one knew what that even meant.
But now things are slightly different as social media has changed everything and the rise of KSR means that we have to be careful what we say because it does have repercussions. Posts that were made back then (such as the epic time when Drew’s account was legitimately hacked and someone posted something that were it to come out now, we would be the subject of nationwide Twitter scorn), would be received very differently now. And with that comes the rise of stories that are handled much differently at this point. Case in point, the rumor that went around the internet this weekend about trouble with UK Football. Back in the day, stories about what was going on “behind the scenes” in UK sports almost always started on the internet, and usually on message boards. These discussion threads often contained people that legitimately knew what was happening behind the scenes and posting under made-up pseudonyms (such as Freshshava, TCCat, CarolinaWildcats and some dude named Magloire52), news came out that virtually always beat the major media sites. I got my start on such forums and I will always have soft spot for them. What happened over time usually was that a poster would come with information, everyone would be skeptical and if it proved true, then said poster would get vaunted “Insider” status and be believed more in the future. It was a meritocracy of sorts and those that really knew what was going on (which usually meant they talked to an equipment manager, former player or Tubby’s secretary) became the real go-to people of UK’s internet world. Plus if something was too outlandish, message board moderators could delete it and police the worst of the excess. It was free-flowing but with a bit of control.
Now things have changed. Message boards aren’t quite as popular as they once were as people have instead moved to the world of social media. Blogs such as KSR can still be centers of UK-related information, but now any individual can push their “news” or “scoop” via Twitter and with just a couple of Retweets, it can enter the public’s mind. Without the “status” of a media platform or a history of postings as with message boards, there is no way for the public to know for certain whether the individual knows what s/he is talking about and thus rumors that would have once been quickly dismissed, now take on a life of their own. This happened with the UK football rumor over the weekend and put me (and others that cover UK in a difficult spot). After speaking with people around the program, I am convinced that there was no truth to the rumor in any fashion. But as the days went on, I kept getting asked about it more and more, thus showcasing to me that it was spreading. So what do you do? If you say nothing (as I chose to do from Saturday through this morning), then people see that silence as proof of “something going on.” A look at any UL message board today will show threads of UL fans convinced that the rumor must be true because “UK reporters aren’t saying anything.” I have received 20 different versions of the comment “you report on UL scandals but ignore the Football one at your school!” on Twitter from #L1C4 fans in the last few days. This mindset ignored the possibility that (GASP!) the whole thing was just made up to begin with and silence was considered proof. Such is the world we live in.
So today I tweeted out that there was nothing too it…others soon followed with similar agreement and to any reasonable reader, the whole thing can be put to bed. However others said to me, “you mentioning dignifies it and makes more people look up to see what was being said.” This is no doubt true and I am sure there are many of you that have done the same thing. But I am not sure how else to handle the situation…in today’s world there are no newspaper editors, message board moderators or blog writers who can make a rumor go away. If people want it to proceed it will…so it seems the only way to make it disappear is to acknowledge it…a PR 101 mistake in the old days that now seems to me to have been turned on its heels.
All of this brings me to the UK Hoops issues of the last few weeks. Everywhere I have gone people over the last month, people have asked me some form of “So tell me what’s REALLY going on with UK Hoops.” There is a distinct mindset shared by many…maybe even you. With all the dismissals and departures and the team down to just a few players and a new staff something MUST HAVE happened that is a bombshell that people don’t know yet. I will be honest, I thought the same thing as the story first broke. But I have spent a good deal of time over the last two weeks talking to former players, administrators, reporters and others trying to find if there is something else really going on…and honestly I just don’t think there is. In fact, if I were to summarize what I think caused the UK Hoops issues, it is this:
Matthew Mitchell over the last couple of years got away from what made him have success. In a number of different areas, his management of the program dipped because of mistakes in judgment and action. He spent less time around the players as he became involved in secondary issues and spent more time with his family. He relied on his (new) Assistant coaches to fill in for his role when he wasn’t around and because he didn’t cultivate those relationships properly either, they did not fill those voids. Mitchell has always been a tough coach, but like Calipari has/had with Orlando Antigua and Kenny Payne, Mitchell relied on his Assistants to be “good cops” to his “bad cop.” His initial assistants did that well but the more recent ones did not, in part because their relationship with him was not strong. As he drifted from the team, he wasn’t able to see morale/player issues developing and the success on the court made him ignore/dismiss the problems that he did see. Over time the situation grew worse and when four players left last year, rather than deal with the overall change, each was dismissed as “an individual problem.” Then when it happened again this year and a staff overhaul occurred as well, reality smacked everyone in the face. He lost his team and now has to work to get it back.
After a lot of time spent looking into the UK Hoops situation, the above is my conclusion. But there will be many who simply dismiss this offhand. I understand that mindset. But as I recently said at an event, I would equate the problems over the last two years to the dissolution of a relationship. Sometimes when two people break up, it is because of an explosive event, like one spouse cheating on the other. However most of the time, there isn’t a moment, but rather a gradual parting of the two parties due to small acts or mistakes that add up over time. Not every divorce is scandalous…many end because of the slow, methodical act of simply falling out of love due to a culmination of events that viewed individually, might be relatively minor. That is what I think happened with the UK Hoops program and Matthew Mitchell. The relationship became frayed slowly over time, not in one major scandal.
Is that the answer that the Internet (and many fans) want to hear? Maybe not. It is a lot more fun to speculate online, assume the worst conspiracy theory and then when its your rival, bring them down with continued innuendo. But often the truth is much more boring than most wish it would be. People focus on the UL scandals that I have talked about over the last few years (Ware/Behanan, Pitino/Sypher, Katina-Ramsey-Pitino-Behanan-Montrezl-T-Will-Minardi Hall ceiling-Coach Mike…well you get the idea) but they overlook the many I have been told that I never mentioned because I thought they were likely false. But that is just my filter and the filter for others, especially in the social media world, may be much different. The days of ignoring rumors or waiting for verified sources to dismiss fan chatter are basically gone…once people talk about it, then it becomes a story, whether or not it is true. To me the best way to handle it, is to acknowledge and deal with it. That is the new reality for media and those in the public eye, as the two situations with UK Football and UK Hoops have shown these last few days.
By Nick Roush on ©May 24th, 2016 @ 7:45pm
Five-star forward P.J. Washington is the latest Calipari recruit to include the Cats while cutting his list.
Findlay Prep’s finest is considered the #23 prospect in the nation and #8 small forward by the 247 Composite Rankings. Their Crystal Ball favors Kentucky more than any other school, with Texas as a not-so close second.
Washington told 247 Sports back in April that Kentucky is near the top of his list, along with three other schools he plans on visiting: Michigan State, Texas and North Carolina. Here’s what he said about UK after taking an unofficial visit in late March:
“It’s a great facility,” Washington recalled. “I feel like it’s one of the easiest ways to get into the league. I feel like it’s almost everybody’s dream to go there. I want to see how they are going to do next year definitely and I’m going to take an official there.”
Two weeks after coming to Lexington, John Calipari returned the favor by visiting Washington’s home. Calipari has obviously made him a priority and you can see why from watching just one of Washington’s many highlight reels below.
When the Cats didn’t make Michael Porter Jr.’s Top Five, Washington became much more important. It’s good to see he’s feeling that love from Kentucky.
By Nick Roush on ©May 24th, 2016 @ 7:15pm
Salt has been thrown on the wound. Former Wildcat forward Batouly Camara has committed to play for UCONN, according to the New Haven Register.
During her freshman season, Camara averaged 5.1 points and 4.3 rebounds in 18.3 minutes per game. That might not seem like much, but don’t be fooled; Camara exponentially improved throughout the season, finishing the final 13 games as a 6’2″ starter at power forward.
In related news, former assistant Tamika Williams-Jeter has found a new job as an assistant coach at Penn State.
Losing players hurts. Losing a half dozen players hurts even more. Losing one that’s good enough to play for UCONN…OUCH.
By Nick Roush on ©May 24th, 2016 @ 6:45pm
We’ve been waiting for the basketball team to get in on the Running Man Challenge. It’s not the entire team, but it’s a nice start.
While traveling abroad in China, Dominique had a day at the beach in the city of Sanya on China’s Hainan Island. Hanging with his former Madison Central teammate, Sweet 16 hero and Kentucky Wesleyan star, Ken-Jah Bosley, the two wasted no time, busting out the running man while playing in the sand.
— Dominique Hawkins (@Dhawk_25) May 24, 2016
There’s no denying it — D-Hawks got dance moves. Hopefully it’s inspiration for the rest of his teammates.
By Drew Franklin on ©May 24th, 2016 @ 6:00pm
Isaiah Briscoe wrapped up his final pre-draft workout earlier today in Atlanta. Afterward, he took to Instagram to thank the Hawks for having him and to tell his fans, “this whole process has been fun i enjoyed every part of it. now its decision time.”
A photo posted by Isaiah Briscoe (@zaaay_) on
Briscoe also had workouts with San Antonio, both Los Angeles organizations, Minnesota, and Brooklyn, his hometown team.
He and Marcus Lee have until tomorrow’s early-entrant deadline to return to school.
Please come back.
By Trey Huntsman on ©May 24th, 2016 @ 5:00pm
7:26: Cats fall 5-2 after going 1-2-3 in the 9th. UK’s season likely over.
7:16 Will Haynie crushes a two-run bomb and Bama leads 5-2. UK may have just watched their tournament hopes sail over the left field wall.
7:06 Reks strikes out swinging to end the 8th and strands White at first. Pop back out on the mound with Hjelle in the pen.
7:00 Rally time
6:55 Pop works a 1-2-3 top of the 8th. Pompey, Heady, White due up for the Cats.
6:48 Cottam grounds out, but UK gets one back in the 7th. Pop back on the mound for UK.
6:43 Clutch double by Mahan scores Hairston from second and UK is now down by one. Eicholtz’s day is done as Matt Foster comes on in relief. Great performance by Eicholtz in the biggest game of Alabama’s season.
6:31 Pop gets a groundout and Bama leaves ’em loaded. At the stretch, it’s 3-1 Bama. Could be a huge momentum shift with Fishin’ In The Dark playing at The Met.
6:30 Bama has the bases loaded with two outs. Vincent at the plate facing Zach Pop.
6:14 White walks but Alabama turns a sweet double play to end the inning. Lewis still out on the mound.
6:08 Lewis allows a single but strikes out the final man of the inning. Cats have four innings to find two runs.
6:03 Logue’s day is done after 5.2 innings. He allowed three runs on six hits. Justin Lewis in from the pen with a runner at first.
5:55 Riley Mahan singles but the Cats can’t scrap anything else in the fifth. Still 3-1 in the sixth with Logue at 86 pitches.
5:46 Another error puts a man on first, but Logue works around it. Logue is through five as UK still trails 3-1. McNeill, Mahan, Cottam due up in the fifth.
5:32 Evan White leads the bottom of the fourth off with a home run over the left field wall. UK finally on the board against Eicholtz.
5:29 Logue allows a bunt single but Holcombe pops out on a bunt to end the top ofthe fourth. Top of the order due up for UK.
5:22 Going to the fourth, still 3-0 Bama. Justin Lewis and Brad Schaenzer jog to the bullpen with Logue over 60 pitches.
Gunnar McNeill hitting a cool .098 in his last 81 at bats.
— Derek Terry (@DTerryRivals) May 24, 2016
5:15 Logue strands a man at third to end the third. Eicholtz retired nine straight to open the April matchup against UK. He’s been tough to this point.
5:10 Bama is all over Logue right now. The Tide already have four hits and have reached on two errors. He’s leaving pitches over the heart of the plate and their barreling it up.
4:59 It could have been worse, but it could have been a lot better. Two RBIs by Webb gave Bama a 3-0 lead. Logue got a strikeout and a grounder to short to end the frame.
4:53 RBI walk gives Bama the lead in the second. A blown call at second and two singles loaded the bases with one away. Still only one out with the bases loaded for Hunter Webb.
4:42 Nothing going for the Cats in the first. Two groundouts and a deep drive by Shelby result in three quick outs for Nick Eicholtz.
4:37 Very smooth inning for Logue in the first. Two groundouts to the mound and a slow roller to first on eight pitches in the first inning. White, Reks, Shelby due up in the bottom half.
4:34 Logue gets a groundout to start the game and we are underway.
4:00 Lineup are up. 30 minutes from first pitch
— Trey Huntsman (@TreyHuntsmanKSR) May 24, 2016
By Drew Franklin on ©May 24th, 2016 @ 4:30pm
I don’t know how much insight Gary Parrish over at CBSSports.com has on the matter, but I hope his predictions are correct. Parrish currently has both Isaiah Briscoe and Marcus Lee returning to school over the NBA in his predictions for the draft’s underclassmen.
Briscoe, he says, is unlikely to get drafted he were to go:
ISAIAH BRISCOE (KENTUCKY)
Briscoe’s plan all along, like most heralded Kentucky recruits, was to spend one year in college before bouncing to the NBA. Problem is, he’s likely not in a position to be drafted this year because he’s a shooting guard who shot just 13.5 percent from 3-point range as a freshman. PREDICTION: Returns to school [Parrish]
Lee will get caught in a fight for playing time back at UK, but the NBA isn’t a realistic option:
MARCUS LEE (KENTUCKY)
Could Lee get caught in a numbers game if he returns to Kentucky, where three five-star frontcourt players are set to enroll? Yes. But the alternative to doing another year of school probably doesn’t involve the NBA. So Lee will likely be back in Lexington even if he’d prefer to be a professional. PREDICTION: Returns to school [Parrish]
For all of Parrish’s picks for the young men still weighing their options, click here.
As for us, we here at KSR have no idea what either Wildcat will do. Often times there is some inside info floating around the office, but we’re all pretty clueless on this one together. Their announcements could come at any moment now or at the very last minute tomorrow.
By Trey Huntsman on ©May 24th, 2016 @ 4:00pm
It’s almost time for the biggest game of the BatCats’ season. UK and Alabama play in the first game of the evening slate, with a probable start time of 5:30 ET. We’ve got all you need to know for the first round of the SEC Tournament.
Zach Logue is on the mound for UK
Coach Gary Henderson announced in the coach’s teleconference that he would go with sophomore Zach Logue on the hill for UK. Logue was the top midweek starter for the Cats for the second straight season. The Ohio-native was 3-1 with a 2.62 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 16 games (eight starts). Last year, Zack Brown started in the first round against Auburn. It would have worked out for Brown to start again, but his 6.08 ERA and 2-11 record is frightening. Logue has made starts against Louisville, Cincinnati, and Indiana this season. He took a hard loss against Louisville when errors put three unearned runs in his stat line. Logue’s best games came against Murray State and Miami when he struck out seven in each matchup. The start of Logue isn’t terrifying because he has pitched twice against Louisville and made several appearances in SEC games.
Eicholtz named Alabama starter
UK will face Nick Eicholtz for the second time in 2016. The junior threw 7.2 innings in Lexington to save Bama from getting swept in April. The Sunday starter gave his career-best performance against UK, which is probably the reason Coach Mitch Gaspard held him for game one of the SEC Tournament.
UK and Bama face off for the the second time in three years
Two years ago, Alabama and UK played in the eight/nine game in Hoover. UK ran away with a 7-1 win on their way to the semifinals in 2014. This is the third straight year that the Cats have been an eight or nine seed in the SEC Tournament, the other time being against Auburn last year. It makes it difficult to advance past the second round as game one plays into the one seed every year.
This is a play-in game for the NCAA Tournament
Coach Henderson, Aaron Fitt, and several other writers have all concluded that the loser of this game is out of the NCAA Tournament. Neither team has a good RPI, but wins in the SEC Tournament would boost that in a hurry. UK currently sits at 55 in the RPI, and Alabama is at 62. The lowest RPI to receive an at-large bid to a regional was UC Santa Barbara at 56. Both of these teams have 15 SEC wins, which would tie for the most ever by a team that didn’t make the NCAA Tournament. Whoever wins this game will move onto the double elimination portion of the tournament against the top seeded Mississippi State on Wednesday. From the second round until the semifinals, the tournament is double elimination. So there will be multiple chances for UK to boost their RPI if they get past Alabama.
Where to Watch
Every game will be on SEC Network this week. Kentucky will play at 5:30 tonight on the SECN. There will be a live diary 30 minutes before first pitch and tweet updates @TreyHuntsmanKSR.
By Drew Franklin on ©May 24th, 2016 @ 3:00pm
Once believed to be a future Wildcat, Michigan transfer Brian Cole has decided to take his talents to junior college. Cole is headed to East Mississippi Community College, not Kentucky, per 247Sports. He had previously been bound for Lexington, where he was originally scheduled to sit out the 2016 season and then have three seasons of eligibility going forward.
Cole signed with Michigan as the No. 1 recruit in the state and No. 65 overall in the entire 2015 class. A wide receiver/safety option, he was the No. 5 athlete in that group.
He will still consider Kentucky after JUCO, according to the report. Still, it’s a tough loss for Stoops & Co. as Cole would’ve really helped after sitting out his transfer year.
By Drew Franklin on ©May 24th, 2016 @ 2:06pm
Jen Smith of the Lexington Herald-Leader is reporting Matthew Mitchell has added Lin Dunn, a Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer, to his coaching staff. The 69-year-old Dunn was a coach in the WNBA from 2000 to 2014 with the Seattle Storm and Indiana Fever after several stops in the college game. She won the 2012 WNBA championship with Indiana and was inducted into the Hall in 2014 with over 500 wins to her name.
Dunn joins Kyra Elzy and Niya Butts as the three assistants under Mitchell, as well as Amber Smith, who was given a special role as player development coach and player liaison. The addition of Dunn completes Mitchell’s staff for the upcoming season.
Next order of business for UK Hoops: dig up these old Lin Dunn masks. And maybe add a player or four.
By Drew Franklin on ©May 24th, 2016 @ 1:30pm
Horse racing took a hit today with news that Nyquist will not run in the Belmont Stakes, the third and final leg of the Triple Crown. The Kentucky Derby winner pulled out of the race with medical complications, which has since been reported as an elevated white blood cell count. Nyquist was already dealing with a high fever, but his trainer had hoped it would get better before next month.
Sadly, the highly-anticipated Round 3 run between Nyquist and Exaggerator is no more. Ratings for the race will likely plummet as the major (and only interesting) storyline has been thrown out.
Now what are we supposed to watch on June 11?
By Drew Franklin on ©May 24th, 2016 @ 12:37pm
ESPN’s Jeff Borzello is the early leader in the clubhouse for this week’s WTF-Are-You-Talking-About Award with his piping hot take on Kentucky being college basketball’s biggest underachiever. Borzello named five teams that have underachieved with success on the recruiting trail, and Kentucky tops the list as his biggest underachiever in the game.
Here’s what he had to say:
Kentucky: Two Final Four appearances, a title-game loss and a 38-0 start to a season — and that’s underachieving? One has to remember, this is all relative to recruiting class rankings. In the past four years, Kentucky has had three No. 2-ranked recruiting classes and the No. 1 class (in 2013). However, the Wildcats missed the NCAA tournament once in that span and then received a No. 8 seed the following year. Injuries have played a factor (Nerlens Noel in 2013), but there’s also been underperforming among the elite recruits. What the last two seasons have shown, though, is that John Calipari is getting more and more accustomed to mixing freshmen and veterans. NCAA tournament absences likely won’t be on the docket moving forward. [ESPN]
“Two Final Four appearances, a title-game loss and a 38-0 start to a season — and that’s underachieving?” is exactly right there, Jeff.
For his next groundbreaking piece, maybe he’ll name all of the programs that would trade places with Kentucky since Calipari has been in Lexington. That’d be a quick assignment.
By Drew Franklin on ©May 24th, 2016 @ 12:00pm
Patrick Patterson, much like everyone else on the planet, is a little tired of LeBron James’ constant whining when calls don’t go his way. Patterson mocked James after James cried to a referee after throwing the ball away late in the first half.
P-Patt is averaging eight points and six rebounds in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Raptors and Cavs will tee it back up Wednesday night in Game 5.