By Aaron Torres on ©November 14th, 2018 @ 10:00am
Look, I know it hasn’t been a great few days for the folks who follow Kentucky sports.
And really it’s easy to understand the frustration surrounding the basketball team. Three months ago, the Wildcats looked like an unbeatable juggernaut in the Bahamas, a team that seemed destined for a Final Four and potentially the school’s ninth national championship. Three months later they look like a team that is going to struggle to finish in the middle of the pack in the SEC.
Of course we know that’s not reality. But it is how they look right now.
The good thing is (and this is just my opinion) that Kentucky isn’t broken. Yes, they have flaws, but everyone does this time of year. Yes, the coaching staff needs to figure out how to use their players, but that’s totally normal.
More than anything though, you know what this team needs: Tough love. To quote the movie Major League, “We’re coddling these guys” or at least we were after the trip to the Bahamas. These guys believed their press clippings. They believed they were invincible and unbeatable and destined to get to Minneapolis. After getting punched in the mouth by Duke and holding on to survive against Southern Illinois they learned the hard way that’s not the case.
So yes, this team has been torn down. And now it’s time to build them back.
Here are four things that have to change for Kentucky to reach their potential this season.
It’s time to start Quade Green and Immanuel Quickley together in the backcourt
I know I wrote this exact same last week, but it’s worth repeating here: As soon as I saw Ashton Hagans trot out for the opening tip against Duke I knew Kentucky was in trouble. Seeing Hagans in the starting lineup indicated to me that Calipari was more concerned with matching up with Duke (and in turn putting his best defensive guard on the floor) rather than playing his best starting five. Calipari got burned and even on Friday against Southern Illinois only dipped his toe in the water with his best lineup. He replaced Hagans with Quickley, but still brought in Green off the bench.
As I said on my podcast Tuesday, Quade Green/Immanuel Quickley were by far the most effective backcourt for Kentucky in the Bahamas. Have been again tonight. Wouldnt have mattered against Duke but should be the starting backcourt going forward, with Hagans and Herro off the bench
— Aaron Torres (@Aaron_Torres) November 10, 2018
Well two games in, we’ve seen enough and the bottom line is that Kentucky’s best starting lineup features Quickley and Green on the floor together. And they should be out there in the starting lineup tonight when Kentucky plays North Dakota.
There really is no other way to put it: Those two on the floor together have been Kentucky’s most effective offensive group. They were in the Bahamas, and they were late in the Southern Illinois game, when Kentucky needed an offensive spark and these guys combined to rip off eight straight points. It was that little jolt which ultimately got Kentucky over the hump and got them the win.
Now I already know that some would question that lineup and say “Yeah, but those two struggle on the court together defensively.” Honestly, I see where you’re coming from. At the same time, what’s the point of having your best defensive lineup out on the court to start the game if your offense is so bad that you’re going to fall behind by double-digits anyway?
There is no reason, which is why these two should start against North Dakota. Starting them also allows…
It’s time to bring Tyler Herro off the bench
Please don’t take this is as me attacking an 18-year-old kid. I’m not. But at the same time, all these players came to Kentucky to be challenged and pushed, and behind closed doors, I promise you John Calipari is being brutally honest with them. So it only makes sense that I’m honest too, and right now here is the honest truth: Herro isn’t helping Kentucky much on either offense or defense right now.
For whatever reason he appears to be more comfortable coming off the bench, and that’s not just my opinion but fact. Remember, in the Bahamas Herro averaged 17 points per game on a ridiculous 59 percent shooting from the field – an insane percentage for a player who does most of his damage from beyond 15-feet. Yet since arriving back on the mainland, Herro is shooting an abysmal 24 percent to start the season. And please don’t tell me it was all Duke – Herro also went 0-6 against Southern Illinois too.
So yeah, he is really struggling. To me it seems like the college game is coming at him too fast, which by the way, is perfectly normal. Just as an example, I remember talking to John Calipari when I was writing my book “One and Fun” and Coach Cal mentioned to me that even John Wall – a future NBA All-Star – got overwhelmed during his one season at Kentucky. So it’s natural that Herro would do the same. Calipari said as much at Tuesday’s press conference when he said that Herro is “Still trying to feel his way out.”
So while Herro figures things out, what better way to get him relaxed and in his comfort zone than bringing him off the bench? Do that and Herro doesn’t have to focus on both offense and defense, but instead, can worry about what he does best: Getting buckets. And like so many young players, I’m guessing once his shots fall, his defense will suddenly look a lot better too.
Plus, by bringing him off the bench you really are helping the team in every way. You’re putting your best offensive backcourt on the floor (Quickley and Green) while also adding instant offense off the bench. Herro’s lack of defensive presence is also mitigated by playing with Ashton Hagans, the team’s best perimeter defender. In turn, Hagans’ lack of offense is mitigated as well.
This one is a no-brainer. Make Herro comfortable again and the shots will start falling. Bring him off the bench.
If P.J. Washington is hurt, let him sit – but if he can play, he’s got to… PLAY
Right now I feel like I’m in an episode of the Real World– that’s right, I stopped being polite and starting getting real. And boy does it feel good!
And in my quest to stay real, I’ve got to ask: What the hell is up with P.J. Washington? Right now, he’s playing with the excitement of a 60-year-old man about to get a proctology exam, and with the same sad expression on his face my dog makes every time I leave the house. I thought basketball was supposed to be fun! Only you’d never know it watching Washington who is averaging just 5.5 points and four rebounds per game right now. Woof!
Even worse, everything that made P.J. Washington well, P.J. Washington last season is gone. The edge, the anger, that chip on his shoulder isn’t there. In the past, you could always expect one thing from Washington and that was mental toughness.
And on Friday night we might have finally gotten the reason why Washington has struggled so much. Following the Southern Illinois game, Calipari claimed that Washington is still recovering from a finger injury and surgery in the spring.
Here was Calipari’s exact quote:
“You know what, he’s struggling a little bit. And he’s still — he had an operation on that hand, and I don’t think right now he’s confident enough yet in that hand. But my thing is, forget the hand, just run and go crazy and play with unbelievable energy and get away from what you look like in other areas. Just make easy plays and fly up and down.”
My first thought here is this: Again, didn’t he get that surgery back in June? While I credit Calipari for defending his player (like any good coach should) if Washington is that banged up, how did he play so well in the Bahamas? Because I’m pretty sure he averaged 14.5 points and 7.5 rebounds there. If his hand was fine then, when did he re-injure it?
But let’s say that Calipari is 100 percent telling the truth. The second part of the quote is still important, which is what Calipari said on the back-end: Even if the hand is hurting, it’s no excuse not to play hard. The one thing that made P.J. Washington, P.J. flippin’ Washington, last season was his motor, his energy and mental toughness.
And it’s all lacking right now.
That’s also why maybe my biggest proposed change for Kentucky is this: If Washington really is hurt, tell him to sit out and get healthy. Tell him to do what he needs to do to get back 100 percent.
But if he is going to step on the court, there will be no excuses for effort. It’s OK to miss a shot or two. What’s not ok is the lack of hustle, the lack of fight, the lack of energy.
Again, if he’s hurt he should sit. But if he’s going to play… he’s got to PLAY!!!
Which leads me to…
Get more reps for E.J. Montgomery and Nick Richards
This is kind of a trickledown effect of figuring out what is up with P.J. Washington. But if Washington doesn’t want to play or can’t go hard, get the guys playing time who deserve it. And right now those guys are Reid Travis, Nick Richards and E.J. Montgomery. Washington has the most talent of all four – but right now he either isn’t physically capable of playing at his peak or mentally isn’t there.
Whatever the case, it’s time to play the players who deserve it.
By the way, you know who isn’t slacking? How about Richards, the guy who just grabbed 19 rebounds the last time he took the court. Think Richards is playing with effort and energy? Because I’d say that he is indeed. And hopefully Richards will see the court a bit more going forward.
Then there is Montgomery, who – you could argue – outside of Keldon Johnson has been this team’s best player. He’s averaging 9.5 points and five boards, which doesn’t sound great on paper until you realize he’s playing just 19 minutes a game. That averages out to about 19 points and 12 boards per game over a full 40-minute game. He’s also shooting 57 percent from the field, a solid number when you consider he has taken the second most shots on the team behind only Johnson.
So while he’s playing well and his other teammates are struggling why not get him more reps?
Which also leads me to my conclusion. And in reflecting back on the big picture with Kentucky this team, things really aren’t as bad as everyone thinks. Yes, they need work and no they’re not a finished product. No team is at this point.
But they do need work, and they do need change – in lineups, playing time and attitude.
Hopefully it starts tonight.
By Drew Franklin on ©November 14th, 2018 @ 9:55am
Kentucky will play its third basketball game of the season tonight against North Dakota, and what to expect from the Cats will be a big part of today’s KSR show.
Join in on the fun by calling (502) 571-1080 or send a text to the KSR Texting Machine at (859) 300-3264.
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By TJ Walker on ©November 14th, 2018 @ 9:00am
Wake up, it’s gameday! The Cats return to Rupp Arena to take on North Dakota for a late 9 p.m. tip and it’s going to be a busy day for Kentucky Sports Radio.
We’ll have plenty of gameday coverage, more talk from the football coaches/players as they prepare for Senior Day, and plenty more.
Let’s get to it!
The Cats take on the Fighting Hawks:
And folks, North Dakota is undefeated. The Fighting (tony) Hawks beat DIII Northland College in the opener and then Milwaukee in a nailbiter on Saturday night.
Despite North Dakota’s hot start the Cats should have no problems tonight. Kentucky is eight days removed from the shocking blowout to Duke and it’s clear that loss impacted Kentucky on Friday against a scrappy Southern Illinois team.
But UK ended that game against the Salukis on a 26-13 and the first sense of momentum since the Bahamas. We’ll have a scouting report for you this afternoon and the normal game coverage you’ve grown to love.
The Cats desperately need a “feel good” game and Vegas thinks they get it tonight. UK opened as a 26.5 point favorite, but Drew Franklin is staying away. So he says…
Stop by KSbaR before the game:
Folks, it’s for a good cause. The picture above gives you all the details but everyone at KSR would appreciate you stopping by for a good cause.
In Kentucky 1 in 6 people are unsure where they will get their next meal. We’re talking about Kentuckians, our neighbors and our family. Give what you can to help make a change.
If you can’t go KSbaR, CLICK HERE to donate, but if you can make it we’d love to see you.
Get those fax machines ready:
Ah, the humble fax machine. It seems to only be used during college signing ceremonies and good news for you fax machine stock- the fall signing period starts today. Kentucky commit Tyrese Maxey will be the first to officially join UK’s 2019 class when he signs at 10 a.m. CT.
Dontaie Allen will sign on Friday, but in somewhat of a surprise twist Kahlil Whitney is not planning on signing in the fall period. But don’t panic. His mom shared the details with KSR on Tuesday.
Once a recruit signs with a school, the school can officially talk about the recruit publicly, but be patient with UK. The Cats generally don’t release statements on their signees until the end of the period or when they feel all their commits have signed. So, it’ll likely be another week before we hear Calipari comment on Maxey and Allen.
Below is a look at where UK stands in the fall signing period:
We’ll hear from UK’s defense today. Coaches and players will speak with the media as UK prepares for its last home game of the season against Middle Tennessee.
Folks complaing about UK’s offense has dominated radio shows, social media and websites since the Tennessee loss, but Kentucky’s defense has taken a step back the last two weeks. It certainly hasn’t been as bad as the offense, but giving up 24 points to Tennessee wasn’t ideal for the Cats.
It will be the last time we will see a good chunk of this defense play at Kroger Field, so I’ll be anxiously awaiting to hear what they think about Senior Day and how the team is responding after back-to-back losses.
Speaking of football:
Our rivals to the west seem to be Jeff Brohm or bust, as you know. But it seems like Vegas is leaning more towards Brohm than bust. Here are updated odds on Louisville’s coaching search from Uncle Bo(voda)
Fresh odds for replacing Bobby Petrino, hot off the presses, per Bovada:
Jeff Brohm 10/11
Neal Brown 4/1
Ryan Day 9/2
Brent Venables 6/1
Luke Fickell 11/1
Dino Babers 12/1
Matt Campbell 12/1
Jason Candle 16/1
Scott Satterfield 16/1
— Jeff Greer (@jeffgreer_) November 13, 2018
Wandale makes a jump:
A big jump. 131 spots! He’s the No. 114 player in America according to 247 Sports, the highest ranked player in Kentucky and the nation’s No. 2 all-purpose back.
And he’s a Cat. Although I’m a little concerned that Mark Stoops’ is literally trying to already hold him back in the picture above.
In all seriousness, the kid is going to be a stud and what a great job by UK’s staff to keep him home. Read more about his new ranking HERE.
SEC Fever on Tuesday night:
It was a mostly good night for SEC basketball on Tuesday. LSU handed Penny his first loss as Memphis fell in Baton Rouge by nine. Penny’s squad looked formidable and played LSU tough, but man, Will Wade’s bunch is vastly underrated. They have size and athleticism on the frontcourt and a great scoring point guard in Tremont Waters. LSU is probably behind UK, Auburn and Tennessee, but not far behind.
Tennessee beat a pesky Georgia Tech bunch 66-53 to move to 3-0 on the season. Georgia Tech probably isn’t making the NCAA Tournament, but they’re a decent group and it was a solid win by UT.
USC picked up its second win of the season against Norfolk State 81-64 in a game I did not watch.
Tom Crean provided the SEC its lone loss on Tuesday. Classic. Georgia fell at Temple 81-77. Get used to it, Tommy boy.
Louisville’s TopGolf passed another hurdle:
Another win for TopGolf in Louisville as the Planning, Zoning and Annexation Committee voted to send the project to the full council. Now there is one final vote by the Metro Council on Nov. 29th. Once it passes that it will be a full-go!
However, the Hurstbourne curmudgeons won’t have it. Some residents are going to file a lawsuit today against Metro government over the planning commission’s approval of the TopGolf lighting plan for the Oxmoor Center. Despite two long hearings and a vote they want to drag this out until they get their way. Not happening.
Still the GOAT Halloween costumes.
By Brent Wainscott on ©November 13th, 2018 @ 11:00pm
After five weeks of lethargic offense, Mark Stoops and his staff decided to hold practice under the lights of Kroger Field on Tuesday night. In hopes of reenergizing a team that has looked drained since the bye week, and to bring the game mentality to the practice field. According to the players and coaches, this did cause them to be more energized at practice today. Practice how you play, and this offense needs to play with energy, so I’m not knocking it.
Eddie Gran said the offense looked much better today, but there’s still a lot that needs to be fixed. Check out today’s practice notes and how the offense is looking to minimize their mistakes in these final two weeks.
Getting back to Urgency
The theme from Eddie Gran today was all about five words: Urgency, Mentality, Physicality, Attacking, and Hunger. Backing off of what Benny Snell said in Knoxville on Saturday, Gran also feels like a lack of hunger has been a critical problem in this offense.
“I’m not gonna panic, it’s about urgency,” said Coach Gran. “We’ve been in urgency before. We say urgency, don’t panic just have a sense of urgency about what you have to get done to get things right. Coaches, players, but let’s not panic about it. We got to get better at the little things.”
Gran would continue to say, “There’s been a difference in everybody. Talk about physicality, talk about an edge, we can talk about urgency. It’s from the whole group. I’m not putting it on them it’s on me.”
Offensive Struggles Stem from Inconsistency
It’s clear the offense has seen a significant drop off since the first half against South Carolina, but where exactly does it stem from? Eddie Gran believes most of the mistakes are coming from inconsistency.
“We gotta be more consistent, that’s the biggest thing,” said Gran. “Getting back to that physicality and not talking about it throughout the week. We gotta come with an edge every week. We gotta be more consistent.”
Gran would explain that you might have a guy make a few plays while other players are messing up, but as soon as the players messing up gets their problem corrected, the guy making players earlier will slip up. Gran would own up to the offense being inconsistent, and say it takes a mentality to get back to cohesive consistency.
Execution leads to Explosiveness
Widespread criticism of Kentucky’s offense has been “they’re too conservative,” dating back to every coordinator I can think of post-Hal Mumme and outside of Neal Brown. While some of them deserved that criticism (Shannon Dawson), I believe it’s not necessarily the play calling that leads to less-explosive plays, as much as it is the execution of the plays that are being drawn.
“Plays here and there that we’re missing are really killing us right now,” said CJ Conrad. “Nothing’s changed, in my opinion, with what we’re running. We’re calling the same plays, and we’re calling the right plays. Just plays that we were making at the beginning of the year, right cuts, right blocks, we were making those things. The last three games we haven’t…It’s just small stuff that’s very fixable, but it shows up on Saturday.”
Eddie Gran also says that he has the players to make those explosive plays, it just goes back to detail.
“They’ll be better this week; everybody will.” – Eddie Gran.
Want to Check Out everything else said at today’s practice? Watch Below.
By Maggie Davis on ©November 13th, 2018 @ 10:30pm
The one and only Big Mick is a meaty masterpiece in its own right. Composed of two quarter-pound patties* of never-fresh, frozen, mostly beef raised close to the processing plant. Only McDowell’s has the frosted beef and processed cheese to give you a major reason for the afternoon trip to the secret bathroom only you and Debra know about on the 9th floor that is under construction.
You can be a part of McDowell’s KSR Top 10 Tweets by using hashtags like #KSR #BBN or #KSRtop10. You can also nominate tweets by mentioning them with the hashtag. If we like what we see, it could be posted the next day.
If you are interested in sponsoring KSR’s Top 10 Tweets, please contact us at Via Email.
What a Coincidence basketball season started and work brings me to Lexington this week #BBN
— Richard (@ScudderPerform) November 13, 2018
That’s a nice coincidence.
#9 Brendan Chai
— Brendan Chai (@BrendanDraconus) November 13, 2018
Ain’t that the truth.
#8 Wes Ledford
— Wes Ledford (@wesledford) November 13, 2018
#7 Nick Bowman
— Nick Bowman (@3_goggles) November 13, 2018
It really is Ryan’s fault!
#6 Stephen Kirck II
— Stephen Kirck II (@skirck) November 13, 2018
Good for Boogie!
#5 Brandon Darland
— Brandon Darland (@brandond373) November 13, 2018
#4 Ray J. Vaske
— Ray J. Vaske (@outRAGEous02) November 13, 2018
— Jay (@_bandsomejay) November 13, 2018
That’s the spirit.
You know things are bad when your coworkers who are UT fans give you pitying looks instead of gloating over the win. They know how bad UT is, but on Saturday, we were worse. Signed, miserable UK fan in Nashville @KySportsRadio @DrewFranklinKSR
— AmandaLBradley (@LgallyBrunette) November 13, 2018
Well this is sad.
#1 Keith Bell, Jr.
Ultimately, this is what makes being a fan matter and fun. We care, I don’t think some totally understand how much we care. But just because you are not in the same career path or ability as some, doesn’t make your opinion matter any less. We all care about #BBN
— Keith Bell, Jr. (@BigBlueSmiley79) November 13, 2018
#BBN for life.
By TJ Walker on ©November 13th, 2018 @ 9:00pm
Did you see Part I of Hey Kentucky’s interview with Rep. Andy Barr? Before you watch the rest of the interview catch up with Part I HERE.
Barr and Matt Jones talk President Trump, the border wall and the current state of American politics. Barr defeated retired Marine Lt. Col. Amy McGrath a week ago to win the KY’s Sixth Congressional District race.
It’s a fun conversation between people that don’t always see eye-to-eye politically, but respect the other’s opinions and views.
Watch the entire episode HERE.
By Harold Leeder on ©November 13th, 2018 @ 8:30pm
Editor’s Note: The following was written by Harold Leeder, editor-in-chief of The New Circle Circular, Lexington’s #1 source of fake news you can’t count on.
On election day actor and local community member Steve Zahn dressed as a revolutionary soldier and made his rounds in Lexington encouraging people to vote. But now some neighbors are concerned as he’s continued to be sighted wearing his colonial costume.
“I thought maybe it was for like a role he’s working on.” said resident Jessica Talbot. “Like those method actors who completely commit to their characters. Like Daniel Day Lewis or Wesley Snipes.”
Circular staff investigated further by accessing Zahn’s IMDB page which shows an upcoming project listed as Robodog. An animated family comedy about a robotic dog. Not a period drama about the American Revolution. Ben Franklin’s nickname, Robodog, is apparently coincidental.
The actor has caused a few disturbances since the election. He interrupted the Lafayette High School Marching bands practice by limping across the football field playing a fife.
He was seen pouring a can of Arizona Tea into the pond behind Lexington Green.
And at the Kroger off of Tates Creek road demanding a U-Scan tell him if it was still “loyal to the King”.
We met with Local Steve Zahn expert Dr. Leonard Ainsley at his research facility/studio apartment covered in Saving Silverman and Strange Wilderness posters.
“This is an exciting development in the lore of Zahn. Whereas before we would catch glimpses of him doing mundane tasks such as pumping his gas or waiting for a carryout pizza, this is the first time we have been offered a glimpse of his talent in the wild.”
Dr. Ainsley then asked us if we knew Mr. Zahn and could give Mr. Zahn his script for Sahara 2 and 3.
“They would be filmed back to back.”
Will Steve Zahn return to his normal dress and blend back into modern life? Or is this a start of a new trend. A return to colonial fashion. Some seem to embracing the fashion for reasons other than political.
Lee Cruse, who recently had his hair dyed orange and a T shaved into it after failing to pay for his Orange Theory Gym membership, immediately saw the benefit of a powdered wig. As of press time Cruse had gone full gentlemen french dandy and was seen on TV wiping tears from his powdered face with his perfumed handkerchief as the humane society sat a puppy on top of his harpsichord.
Basketball Recruiting Q and A: Let’s have some fun with UK basketball recruiting, past, present and future
By TJ Walker on ©November 13th, 2018 @ 8:00pm
Good evening KSR! This was a popular feature I did during my days at Rivals where subscribers would ask questions and I would answer them to the best of my ability. Certainly you all know how mailbags work, right? I’m bringing that same energy to the KSR Basketball Recruiting Q&A, except this time no one has to pay for it! Let’s have some fun and if your question wasn’t answered tweet me or send me an email. I gotcha.
How many recruits have you gotten wrong? Prediction for the 2019 class, including potential reclassifications?
— Cody Lockhart (@lockhart_uk) November 13, 2018
Cody starting off with a banger! I have gotten many recruitments wrong. I did tell Cody that the stipulation would be that I’m only including UK recruits and I’m only counting at the time of their decisions or shortly before (I explain below). But for example, I was told that Tyler Herro wasn’t going to be a UK target by someone close to UK’s staff and a couple weeks later he was hot and heavy with Kentucky and it was clear that I was told wrong and the kid was going to UK. So, I’m going by decision day to make myself look smarter.
Let’s start when I started
2013– Andrew Wiggins (I thought FSU would be the choice but no one had any clue. Even Bill Self said he was surprised when Wiggins picked KU. I bet Bill. I bet you were $urprised.)
That seems to be it in 2013. We did break the Harrison’s to UK story at CI (shoutout to Corey Albertson)
2014– This was another strange class. Probably the strangest since this year. At times Emmanuel Mudiay and Stanley Johnson seemed like locks for Kentucky. The Cats made a strong push for Kelly Oubre but more parent drama there. At times I thought all three would end up at UK but before their decisions it was clear the Cats weren’t the leaders.
Trey Lyles (One of my few misses where a kid actually picked UK. I thought he was going to Louisville until a couple hours before the decision)
James Blackmon (Everyone in the morning thought he was going to UK, but the Cats landed Devin Booker instead and Blackmon had a change of heart. Whoops)
2015– Jaylen Brown (I thought he’d be at Kentucky but on Oaks Day in 2015 he picked California)
Cheick Diallo (I wasn’t confident in his recruitment. Weird, weird recruitment. The Kansas pick wasn’t a major shocker, but the timing was strange)
Jamal Murray (I had no clue. Hours before the decision I guessed Kentucky but it was just a guess, so not really wrong but I didn’t have the in here)
Carlton Bragg (The timing surprised me and UK seemed to be in a great spot for a long time, but things quieted down when he randomly announced for KU)
2016– Markelle Fultz (I didn’t think it would be UK but I was surprised by the Washington pick and the timing)
Bam Adebayo (The night before/the morning of it was clear it was going to be UK, but a week before that would NOT have been my prediction. So, again I wasn’t technically wrong by the time of the decision but it was tough to follow before he announced)
2017– Marvin Bagley III (I didn’t think it would be UK but I thought he’d stay in L.A.)
DeAndre Ayton (I didn’t think it would be UK but I wasn’t 100 percent sure it wasn’t Kentucky the day of the announcement)
Mohamed Bamba (I still don’t know how UK lost out on Bamba)
Kevin Knox (I didn’t confidently say he would end up at Kentucky, but I gave UK a much better chance than the majority of other analysts. Still an L for me)
R.J. Barrett (I didn’t think it would be UK, but my guess was Oregon)
Zion Williamson (See above, except I thought it would be Clemson. Duke, man)
So far so good. There was a time I thought UK led for Oscar Tshiebwe and Scottie Lewis, but as decision day neared it was clear neither would be Cats, as we talked about on KSR.
15 surprising commitments and more to come! Weird thing is I remember where I was when finding out/watching every single one of these commitments. This job.
As for my prediction on the 2019 class?
Grad-Transfer to be named later
Just remember to ask me a day or two before these guys commit.
What prank of Jim to Dwight do you most want to do to Nick?
— Bobby Reagan (@BarstoolReags) November 13, 2018
Easily the best prank. I love the detail, the time it took for Jim and the shock from Dwight and Erin. Nick is gullible enough to believe a prank like this and I’m going to get him one of these days.
Is McDaniels our best bet for a big guy? Looks like we busted on Wiseman and Carey.
— New Party (@RDSUK) November 13, 2018
I think as of today that’s what I’d go with. Hurt or McDaniels. I’m still not giving up on Wiseman or Carey, but there’s no denying the Cats don’t have the momentum as of today. Obviously the Wiseman stuff is well documented, but the Carey recruitment is head scratching. Kentucky at one point had the momentum and looked like the team to beat (folks close to UK who are usually optimistic said this but it was also verified on by EYBL sources) then after the Duke visit that UK was momentum was gone. The weirder part was there’s still a chance he doesn’t even pick Duke and ends up at Michigan State! So, what happened at Duke that made Carey cool on Kentucky? Again, don’t count out Calipari but I’ll need some positive news in those recruitments before believe UK is the leader again.
What is preventing Coach O from coming back?
— Slone Alley (@BClions7_alley) November 13, 2018
Well, the easy and obnoxious answer is that UK’s staff is full and Orlando Antigua has a nice job at Illinois. I kid, Slone. I understand the question and there is some truth in the obvious answers. Antigua will not be an option for John Calipari until a spot opens up on his staff and as of right now there isn’t a spot available. If a spot opens up I would expect UK to at least reach out to Antigua, but that’s a lot of ifs. I also don’t expect Calipari to fire anyone.
Something a lot of people don’t know is that Calipari didn’t give a complete blessing for Antigua to take the South Florida job. Cal didn’t hate the job, but he didn’t think USF would commit to its basketball program and that’s a big thing supposedly when Calipari considers head coaching jobs for his assistants. He feels like Tony Barbee was given a raw deal at Auburn, a place that has neglected basketball for most of its history. Supposedly Calipari wasn’t mad at Antigua and didn’t blame him, but he wasn’t 100 percent convinced it was the best spot for Antigua and it’s my opinion that Calipari wanted Antigua to be a little more selective. But there is no bad blood. It certainly explains why Kenny Payne hasn’t wasted his time interviewing at bad jobs. I don’t get the sense that Antigua leaving Cal once would eliminate a possible reunion, but interesting all the same.
Do you know what happened between EJ Montgomery and the Duke guys that made him come to Kentucky?
— T.J. Pierce (@TJPIERCE14) November 13, 2018
This has been slightly overblown over the months, but Montgomery didn’t want to play with R.J. Barrett. It seems clear that Montgomery wasn’t in love with how things went down when Barrett joined Montverde Academy and he didn’t want to be teammates with Barrett again. I have never heard that Montgomery had a bad experience with Williamson or Reddish. I think there was some friendly trash talk at the McDonalds All-American game, but maybe it was more personal to Montgomery? The knock on Barrett is that he’s the shit and he knows it. He expects all the touches and is extremely critical to teammates. Those were the AAU/high school rumors, but so far so good at Duke with him playing selflessly with Williamson and Reddish.
I did hear that when Barrett committed to Duke that the Blue Devils staff had to call/meet Reddish and tell him everything would be OK and he would still be featured. Supposedly Capel smoothed everything over.
What happened in the Jaylen Brown recruitment? Seemed like a lock to UK and randomly picks Cal.
— Chad Boyd (@CBoydlife) November 13, 2018
That one was really bizarre. Kentucky thought they were landing Brown. He committed to California during his senior season award ceremony or banquet ceremony where there were no media members and it came out of left field. From what I’ve gathered from folks close to UK is that he wanted to do something different and he wanted to create his own path. A rebel, if you will. Everyone thought he was going to go to UK where he would be another five-star player and a one-and-done. He curved everyone by picking Cal, even UK’s staff. Every so often you’re going to get a kid that’s going to spurn the bluebloods because they don’t like people telling them what they have to do to be successful. To be young again.
Do you think Cal needs to change his way he recruits kids. Like a Jay Wright kind of recruiting method. Like focus on 3 top elite recuits and fill the rest with role players that stay 4 years. Because what UK has going on now doesn't work no more.
— DavidWood (@DavidWo69869849) November 13, 2018
I wrote a column last February after Williamson picked Duke saying that Calipari needed to do this, but it’s not that easy. Kentucky’s sell right now is to get to the NBA early and if you’re being recruited by UK then that tells kids they have an avenue to the NBA sooner than later. That’s why so many people (myself included) think UK leads after they offer a kid because the kid is so flattered. For the five-star, top 10 kids it’s not such a big deal, but for sophomores or juniors that land an offer it’s really a big deal for the kid or family. I’m not sure how Calipari offers a kid but says “Well, now kid, you’re gonna be here a little longer than others.” Cal never promises anyone a one-year path to the NBA, but instead talks about working hard and following the plan and they may be able to get there. But kids hear that and think NBA and I don’t blame them.
So, I’m not sure how Calipari changes his pitch. I think every year he needs to go after a four-star target they like that is ranked 40-60 and they do need to be honest with the kid and his family. The NBA will be on the table, but if he has to stay a few years he will be successful, too. There are so many talented bigs UK has overlooked because they were worried about the impact they would make their freshmen year. Thomas Bryant, Udoka Azubuike, and Moses Brown just to name a few (there are several more).
I think the bigger issue is the culture that if you don’t leave after a year you’re a failure. UK’s trying to change that but there’s only so much they can do. Peer pressure goes into seeing good friends sign with agents while you’re still walking to biology class and living in a dorm. I’m not sure how UK makes it cool to stay behind while your roommate chases a dream you’ve had for 12-15 years. Sure, the G-League life sucks and being the big man on campus seems cooler to you and me, but money talks.
TJ I’m your favorite so please answer. If we miss on all top 5 recruits, do we make changes in coaching? What are the chances of Carey and Wiseman? And do you still think we get Mcdaniels and Hurt? (From your favorite MIN drinker)
— Jason ? (@Darezay) November 13, 2018
I’d be shocked if Calipari were to fire Joel Justus or Tony Barbee. Cal loves both those guys and both do a lot of really good things for Kentucky, both in recruiting and with the team. Calipari is incredibly loyal and he’s not going to give up on a friend who’s working hard. Now, if Justus or Barbee were just sitting around not recruiting that would be a different story. Justus has done a great job in Wiseman and Hurt’s recruitment, but these kids can only pick one school.
Now, if an assistant coach takes a head coaching job position that could open up an assistant spot. Maybe that happens after this season, but no one is getting fired. The Slice experiment didn’t really work for the Cats and he wasn’t fired, but did end up going back home for another assistant spot…
Do you think Coach Cal will make any adjustments to his recruiting pitch in the near future?
— Suzanne Smith (@KentuckySuzanne) November 13, 2018
Hey, Calipari doesn’t need advice from someone who’s missed like 15 recruitments in seven years, but here’s some questionable advice from your favorite basketball recruiting analyst at KSR:
- Stop with the Kentucky isn’t for everyone pitch. Kids who have never been told and parents who think they have the next LeBron rarely find that attractive. Cal’s pitch isn’t a lie, but maybe he should play the game a little more?
- Start recruiting/offer kids earlier. Only once has UK offered a kid super early and he committed and fell in the rankings. Charles Matthews. He’s doing just fine for Michigan and will be drafted this June. Building relationships earlier goes a long way and I’m not sure having “offers mean something” is as impactful as the staff thinks.
- Negatively recruit. UK’s doing more of this over the years but it used to be a zero tolerance policy. Penny’s never been to the NCAA Tournament, had a draft pick or won a conference game. UK should let the Wiseman family know the risks involved in first year head coaches.
- Grad-transfers. UK landed Reid Travis but Cal needs to cool it on his grad-transfer take. Go scoop up the best player you can regardless if it hurts another coach. I expect this to happen more frequently for Kentucky.
First of all, how dare you?
What type of impact do you expect Dontaie Allen to have at UK?
— Hunter Baize (@baize13) November 13, 2018
I expect Allen to follow the Darius Miller path. I know that’s lazy since both are wings and are Kentuckians, but I wouldn’t expect too much from Allen in year one, but I love his potential and what he can be later in his career. He must get better defensively and he needs to try and shoot 40 percent or higher from deep. If he works on those two things than the sky is truly the limit. I do really love his versatility offensively and think as long as he’s patient and works hard he will be a fan favorite.
How bad was Bolden’s mom?
— Adam Coleman (@AdamColemanKy) November 13, 2018
I love these questions. I had a few questions like this but next time I’m going to answer more because I think the answers are more entertaining than me guessing UK’s class or trying to figure out what an 17-year-old kid will do in five months. I know that’s my job and I have educated guesses, but recruiting is wild and changes constantly.
And the reason I didn’t answer more of these types of questions today… well, that’s what we in the biz call a tease. Let’s do this again soon.
Bolden’s mom lived up to her billing. She truly did want the best for her son, so I can’t fault her too much, but she did NOT think highly of the academic side of UK. I remember once I called her for an interview and here’s how the gist of the conversation went:
“Mrs. Bolden, this is TJ with Rivals. I was wondering if you had a minute to talk about your son?”
“Yes, UK’s Rivals site.”
“Oh, UK? Kentucky?”
“How’d you get this number?”
“Marques actually texted it to me.”
“Did you try his dad?”
“Melvin actually said to talk with you.”
“Well you’ll need to talk to Marques about UK. I haven’t spoken with them.”
He had already officially visited UK and the Cats had been in several times to speak with Bolden and the family. The mom just wasn’t feeling UK and couldn’t be convinced otherwise by Kentucky’s coaches. It happens. I’m told eventually UK’s staff stopped trying to convince here and specifically pitched Melvin and Marques. Wild stuff.
Thanks for the questions and remember to tweet me if I didn’t answer your question: @TJWalkerKSR. We’ll do another one soon.
By TJ Walker on ©November 13th, 2018 @ 7:25pm
It’s been a rough 10 days for UK Athletics. The Cats’ SEC East chances ended when UK dropped its first home game of the season against Georgia and the Cats followed that loss up with a stinker at Tennessee.
Kentucky dropped from No. 11 to No. 17 in the CFP rankings after Saturday’s disappointing 24-7 loss in Knoxville.
Four SEC teams are ranked ahead of the Cats (No. 1 Alabama, No. 5 Georgia, No. 7 LSU and No. 13 Florida).
I still don’t understand why Florida is being ranked above the Cats. Both have three losses and one for each team is against Georgia. However, UK beat the Gators AT the Swamp, and UK won at Mizzou. The Tigers stomped Florida in Gainesville two weeks ago.
Florida did beat Tennessee in week four.
Whatever. Beat Middle Tennessee and Louisville and all will be well.
By TJ Walker on ©November 13th, 2018 @ 7:00pm
Kentucky commit Kahlil Whitney won’t sign in the fall signing period, his mother Chanel Tillmon tells KSR.
“It won’t be within the next week but he will be signing in one of the periods,” she said via text.
The next signing period isn’t until April 17 and goes to May 15. But don’t panic. He isn’t having second thoughts or thinking of backing off his commitment, but going to school in New Jersey and his family being in Chicago the plan is to wait to sign until a later date.
And if the family changes their mind he has until Nov. 21 to send his papers to UK.
Signing a national letter of intent is a binding agreement between the player and the school, making their commitment officially official.
Fellow UK commits Dontaie Allen and Tyrese Maxey will sign this week, allowing John Calipari to talk about both publicly. Maxey will sign tomorrow at 10 a.m. CT at his school and Allen will sign on Friday afternoon.
UK has several other offers out in the class of 2019 but as of today there are no set plans for any of those players to sign. It appears that James Wiseman and Vernon Carey Jr. are nearing decisions, but no dates have been set. Oregon’s Bol Bol committed five days after the fall signing period but secretly signed his papers before announcing his decision so Oregon was able to include him as part of the fall class. There’s always a chance that happens.
There’s no date set for Isaiah Stewart or Jaden McDaniels and Matthew Hurt and Keion Brooks appear to be leaning towards announcing in the spring.
By Drew Franklin on ©November 13th, 2018 @ 6:00pm
Kentucky failed to cover in its first two games of the season, but Las Vegas still set a huge line for the Cats’ Wednesday night contest against North Dakota.
The line opened at 26.5 points late Tuesday afternoon, according to VegasInsider.com. It’s a pretty high number for a team that has underperformed so far, against a North Dakota team that is undefeated against the spread this season.
I will be staying away from this one. You can do as you please, so long as you do it responsibly.
By KSR on ©November 13th, 2018 @ 5:30pm
The Funkhouser Situation is back! Chris Tomlin returns to find Lee Cruse with a new, horrifically ugly haircut. How did it get there? Lee explains that and much more in this exciting episode. Highlights:
— The one and only choice for Sexiest Man Alive.
— Who doesn’t like Dr. Seuss?
— Is it okay to start Christmasing this early?
— Reaction to the Pete Davidson-Dan Crenshaw moment on SNL.
— MoviePass’ terrible marketing newsletter.
— The Adam Sandler special has a strange new structure, but is it good?
— Do we really need a Game of Thrones prequel?
— A tribute to Stan Lee.
You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to The Funkhouser Situation podcast feed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©November 13th, 2018 @ 5:00pm
On if there was a focal point for the team the last few days …
“Probably going back to some old school. Did it for a couple days before, one day before our last. We had two practices, I believe, maybe one. But I’m going back to – we went too far. Tried to do too much and we didn’t really get established in what we wanted to be. So, hopefully when you watch us you will see a little different team and you’ll say, ‘OK, I get it.’ That’s not their fault; that was me. Maybe I was trying to get ready for a game that I thought was important and move them too far. So now all the stuff that makes us who we are, we didn’t do any of it. So we’ve kind of gone back and just said, let’s just get this stuff down.”
On if he can elaborate a little on what the stuff is …
“Just in all areas whether it’s defensively, offensively, went beyond all the little things that are going to make you good. Anytime I think these kids know something then I’m more than likely making a mistake, and that’s just about every team I’ve coached here. If I think, well they know that, then I’ve made a mistake. Just taking it back a step. Little bit of old school. Some of my practices from past and still a lot of teaching and stuff you’d think they know, but they don’t, and that’s OK. That’s normal here.”
On if it’s the old school UMass teachings …
“Some of it, a little bit. Even some of it is not only that it would become even some of the stuff I’ve done here where I’ve went too fast. I’ve done this more than once. I mean, I’ve gone, moved it and I thought we were fine until you get smacked and then you realize, uh oh, we really don’t even know how to get open. ‘Well, they should.’ Well, they don’t. Stuff that we should know, but it’s not their fault. They’re going to do what I accept they’ll do. They’re usually not going to do a whole lot more then what I accept.”
On if that’s a trap that’s easy to fall into …
“It’s easy. The other side that happens when you’re coaching is you start winning and you put your head in the sand and you know you’ve got issues. But, you’re winning so you don’t want to screw it up. There’s issues. ‘Nah we’re winning.’ Then normally you get beat once, two, three times in a row and then it takes you time to recover from it. I’ve don’t that a few times in my career. More than once, believe me.”
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©November 13th, 2018 @ 4:30pm
Tyler Herro led Kentucky in scoring during the Bahamas trip with 17.3 points per game off 56% shooting from the floor, 44% from behind the arc. Through two games in the regular season, Herro is averaging only seven points off 23.5% from the floor, 12.5% from three. He didn’t have a single point vs. Southern Illinois despite six attempts.
When asked about the freshman’s struggles so far, John Calipari said Herro is still figuring out how to create shots at the college level.
“He’s still trying to feel his way out. We had to do this with Kevin Knox. We had to go through the process with him – here’s how you create shots. It’s not high school. Again, I’ll explain. When you’re in high school you catch the ball and then you try to figure out if you have a shot. As you move up that ladder in this game, you have to see shots before you catch the ball. So, you work to create a shot for yourself is before you catch the ball. Then some of it is, I’m going to go this hard and he’s going to leave his feet and it’s going to give me something. Not catch the ball, what do I have, a dribble for no reason and then shoot a contested shot. Those days are done. Can’t play that way. So, he’s going through that process and teams are not going to give him those easy shots.
“But I’m fine. He and I talked a little bit today. Some of it is I’m happy that he’s going through this because evaluating players when it’s all going good – I want to know when it doesn’t go good, what are you now? How do you play? What do you do now?”
Another player that’s struggling thus far: PJ Washington. On Friday night, Calipari attributed PJ’s five turnovers vs. Southern Illinois to the lingering effects of his hand injury from earlier this year (it was still taped up), but today, Cal said his stance was an issue as well.
“Yeah, he’s just losing balls that some of them he shouldn’t lose. Part of it is he’s playing just way too erect. Be an athlete. Play like you’re a guard. You’re athletic enough to do that, but you have to get down and do it. So, when you look at it there’s a lot of stuff getting through his hands that I would say shouldn’t. He’ll be fine.”