On Saturday afternoon, I sat down and wrote an entire post about how no matter →
By Nick Roush on ©March 23rd, 2017 @ 2:30pm
The NBA draft gurus have had mixed opinions on Kentucky’s three freshmen phenoms — De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Bam Adebayo — throughout the year.
Projected lottery picks in the preseason, they’ve touched all corners of the first round this season. Ahead of the Sweet 16, the spotlight is providing plenty of love from ESPN’s Chad Ford and Draft Express’ Jonathan Givony.
Considered the third-best point guard in the draft, Fox’s exceptional play as of late has him near the top five, falling at No. 6 to Sacramento. Malik Monk is one spot ahead of Fox, going fifth to Philadelphia. Near the bottom of the mock draft is Bam Adebayo. Givony places Bam at No. 30 to Utah.
Ford is all in on Kentucky’s trio. After knocking Bam out of the first round in the middle of the season, Ford now has all three Wildcats in the Top Ten: Fox at No. 3, Monk at No. 4 and Adebayo at No. 8. There’s one caveat to Ford’s decision-making — he only includes players participating in this week’s games.
By Nick Roush on ©March 23rd, 2017 @ 1:30pm
— Keeping terminology consistent under Matt House. The new defensive coordinator has a similar scheme to what the Wildcats played a year ago, but it’s not exactly the same. House is trying to adapt his system to the calls D.J. Eliot used.
“At the end of the day you try to keep it as close in terminology as you can, because here’s what you don’t want to do,” House said. “We got a lot of kids who are first year players. You don’t want ’em to come back and learn a new language.”
— Good news from the D-Line. The weakest link on the 2016 defense, Derrick LeBlanc’s unit is currently rolling through nine players, three strings deep, to see who can fight for the right to be first on the field.
It’s encouraging to hear early praise from redshirt freshman Kordell Looney and sophomore T.J. Carter. The biggest difference between this year and last year is who is in charge. LeBlanc’s style is much different. In individuals with Jimmy Brumbaugh, there was usually a lot of standing around while Brumbaugh went from person-to-person to provide instruction. There’s no standing around with LeBlanc, and much less yelling. That is saved for position group meetings.
— A “rusty” Darius West. The safety is moving around well after suffering a 2016 preseason leg injury, but Matt House said he’s still getting his feel back on the football field. “(He’s) Maybe not as fast-thinking as you want. Maybe not as quick to anticipate.”
To make up for lost time, West has spent an extensive amount of time in the film room with Coach Clinkscale to iron out the mistakes.
— Watch action from the indoor facility.
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) March 23, 2017
— Emerging outside linebackers. Denzil Ware and Josh Allen have locked down their starting spots. The concern entering this season is who is behind them. Last year their depth was extremely thin. Now Dean Hood is seeing growth from JUCO transfer Jordan Bonner. Jaylin Bannerman has been a treat, but an illness kept him out of a few practices, forcing Jamar “Boogie” Watson to take all of the Jack linebacker reps. Watson has been splitting time on both sides, but Hood said the workload while Bannerman was out has been beneficial to Boogie.
— Courtney Love’s Pup is a Beast. Technically, he’s a King; that’s the name of his pit/boxer mix. I’m not sure how we got on this topic, but it’s probably the best interview I’ve had in four years of covering Kentucky football.
He brought King from Nebraska, and he’s become best friends with Greg Hart’s pup. Naturally we had to show pictures of each other’s dogs. I’ll always believe my pups are better, especially considering King is a Steelers fan.
Hear everything Matt House’s gravely voice had to say after the jump.
By Nick Roush on ©March 23rd, 2017 @ 12:45pm
The LaVar Ball beat continues to grow. Today’s appearance on First Take might be the most boisterous we’ve seen Ball, thanks to the loud-mouthed Stephen A. Smith.
Watching Ball and Stephen A. scream at each other is not an ideal way to spend a morning. Give me nails, a chalkboard and Russian films on a projector at Chem-Phys and I’d be much happier. It was tough, but I made the sacrifice for the great readers of KSR. I love you all and would do anything for you. If this doesn’t prove it, than I don’t know what will.
In the midst of their babbling, this was the only reference to tomorrow’s game between UK and UCLA.
Stephen A.: “You ain’t gonna be on the court tomorrow night to help UCLA either!”
Ball: “You better be there to help Kentucky!”
If you’re the kind of person who wants to see more (I don’t know how you would) you can find it here.
By KSR on ©March 23rd, 2017 @ 12:00pm
[Ed. note: Mitch Davis is a Kentucky fan living in Memphis and kindly offered to pass along some recommendations for fans heading down to the South Regional this weekend. If you also have tips on where to eat, drink, and hang out in Memphis this weekend, please add them to the comments.]
By MITCH DAVIS
Welcome to the 901 Big Blue Nation!
First off, welcome to Memphis, Kentucky fans! I have waited my entire life to say that and it feels pretty amazing to finally have the opportunity to do so. I compiled a list of all things Memphis, from our delicious restaurants to our rich music tradition. So without further ado, here is the list divided into categories based off different sub topics.
Around the arena: Blues City Cafe, Tin Roof, BB Kings, Majestic Grill, Kooky Canuck’s, Silky Sullivan’s, Rendezvous, Huey’s
Around Memphis: Central BBQ, Tops, Germantown Commissary, Gibson’s Donuts, Bryant’s Breakfast
Things to do or sights to see
- Bass Pro at the Pyramid
- Memphis Zoo
- Overton Square
- Shelby Farms
- Tanger Outlets in Southaven
- Mud Island
- Civil Rights museum
- The Peabody
- Tom Lee Park along the Mississippi River (very cool views)
I have also attached a list from the “I Love Memphis” blog with recommendations for patio and outside seating throughout Memphis: The Ultimate Memphis Patio List: 100+ Places To Eat and Drink Outside « I Love Memphis
With that being I welcome you to my home, Memphis, Tennessee. I hope we all leave the FedEx Forum Sunday with a ticket to the Final Four in hand, and that all of you have a great weekend!
By Brett Bibbins on ©March 23rd, 2017 @ 11:30am
Another night full of NBA games, and another set of double-doubles for former Kentucky Wildcats. Last night, it was John Wall and Enes Kanter racking up the stats to represent the Bluegrass State. Let’s see how these two stacked up last night, as well as all of the other former Cats in the NBA.
John Wall, Washington Wizards (104-100 win over Hawks)
The huge slam on the run out by Wall.
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) March 23, 2017
Wall with the lob to Bradley Beal for the oop.
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) March 23, 2017
Enes Kanter, Oklahoma City Thunder (122-97 win over 76ers)
Kanter with the slam in the post.
19 points in 12 mins
a steal, a block pic.twitter.com/q0YEpd38JO
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) March 23, 2017
Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento Kings (116-98 loss to Bucks)
Love watching WCS fly through the air for a slam.
Okay, Trill 👀 pic.twitter.com/AtiSUm026W
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) March 23, 2017
Skal Labissiere, Sacramento Kings (116-98 loss to Bucks)
Skal had his first career NBA start last night, but unfortunately the only time he was in a highlight was when the Greek Freak denied him at the rim.
Giannis making life difficult for Skal Labissiere. pic.twitter.com/ViwJ11MMrB
— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) March 23, 2017
Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets (126-113 win over Cavaliers)
Take a look at all three of these treys from “the blue arrow”.
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) March 23, 2017
And don’t forget, the kid can take it to the rack as well.
— NBA.com (@NBAcom) March 23, 2017
DeAndre Liggins, Cleveland Cavaliers (126-113 loss to Nuggets)
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Hornets (109-102 win over Magic)
It was a milestone type of night for MKG, reaching two big marks for his hustle stats.
— Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) March 23, 2017
— Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) March 22, 2017
Jodie Meeks, Orlando Magic (109-102 loss to Hornets)
Rajon Rondo, Chicago Bulls (117-95 win over Pistons)
Trey Lyles, Utah Jazz (108-101 win over Knicks)
Here is tonight’s NBA schedule to tune in to watch your favorite former Wildcats:
- Phoenix Suns at Brooklyn Nets, 7:30pm ET
- Toronto Raptors at Miami Heat, 7:30pm ET on NBATV
- Los Angeles Clippers at Dallas Mavericks, 8:30pm ET
- Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs, 8:30pm ET
- New York Knicks at Portland Trail Blazers, 10pm ET
By Nick Roush on ©March 23rd, 2017 @ 11:00am
Breathe if you’ve heard Bam Adebayo is a lot like Dwight Howard. Apparently Bleacher Report is the only one who had not heard of the comparison, one that’s been said so much it annoys the living hell out of Adebayo.
The outlet put together their best comparisons for Sweet 16 draft prospects and their NBA counterparts. The first is hardly noteworthy, but it’s interesting to see what they said about UK’s other two dynamic freshman.
De’Aaron Fox — Jrue Holiday
Fox’s ability to get to the rim, his late-season shooting improvements and defensive prowess all bring back memories to the Pelicans’ best guard when he entered the draft out of UCLA in 2009.
Running the offense is De’Aaron Fox’s main job with Kentucky since the Wildcats have plenty of capable scorers for him to defer to. But an NBA team might be just as interested in how he can flip the switch over to a more aggressive style that has him call his own number and get to the hole, making him an intriguing combo prospect.
Malik Monk — C.J. McCollum
Their comparison to the Portland Trail Blazer is purely based off Monk’s ability to get buckets.
If he finds a way to become more consistent with that shot or learns when not to settle for jumpers and becomes more interested in getting in the lane, our comparison to McCollum will fit. Since entering the NBA in 2013, he actually has better splits on the road than in Portland.
If he doesn’t make those adjustments, Monk might end up more like a Lou Williams or a J.R. Smith—the kind of player who can explode one night but be ice-cold the next.
By Nick Roush on ©March 23rd, 2017 @ 10:15am
Nelson County’s Jeff Goodman (no relation to the guy with the stupid face on ESPN) knows a thing or two about college basketball. Don’t believe me? Check his bracket. Goodman correctly picked 47 of the first 48 games.
“I’ve been saying it’s 40 percent knowledge and 60 percent luck,” Goodman told Yahoo Sports. His lone miss in the first round: he picked Minnesota to beat Middle Tennessee State.
Kentucky fans should cheer for Goodman’s bracket to succeed, until the last game. Goodman picked West Virginia to beat the Cats in the finals. However, he does have a second similar bracket in his office pool, with Kentucky beating Bob Huggins in the National Championship game.
“The sleeper I’ve been telling everyone all year long about is Bob Huggins [and West Virginia],” Goodman said. “I was trying to cover my bases.”
Read about the asphalt foreman’s picking process and see his full bracket at Yahoo Sports.
By ShopKSR.com on ©March 23rd, 2017 @ 9:45am
Posted in Main
Your Kentucky Wildcats will be tipping off in the Sweet 16 tomorrow night against UCLA. Are you game day ready!? The KSR Shop and Kentucky Branded are here to help you wear some fun while we dance! Get a Beat UCLA or a Yabba Dabba Blue shirt now. Head to ShopKSR.com to pick up our newest shirts to help you cheer on the ‘Cats!
By Nick Roush on ©March 23rd, 2017 @ 9:45am
Matt, Ryan, Drew, Shannon and Daniel the Cameraman made their Drive for 9 in the Paul Miller Ford Expedition to Memphis last night. Hear about the first leg of their adventure and what is to come by listening to this morning’s edition of KSR.
Join in on the fun by calling (502) 571-1080.
By Nick Roush on ©March 23rd, 2017 @ 9:00am
Are you looking for the perfect spot to watch the NCAA Tournament this weekend? Take your family and friends to Barleycorn’s! Barleycorn’s has over 30 beers on tap, jumbo wings with 10 delicious sauces, sandwiches, salads, and our famous handcrafted burgers!
If you need another reason to get over to Barleycorn’s, how about this promo they’re running right now!? Now through April 3, bounce back in to Barleycorn’s for a FREE order of chicken tenders when a player scores 30 or more points in a single Men’s NCAA Tournament game!
Barleycorn’s has three locations in Northern Kentucky – Cold Spring, Lakeside Park, and Florence – and is open seven days a week! For hours and information, follow them on Facebook or visit Barleycorns.com. Get over here!
Pardon me for the cliched title, but as soon as I saw it Tweeted, that stupid song will not leave my head. Most of the KSR crew made it to Memphis last night with the help of Tom T. Hall and Missing Richard Simmons. I’ll be holding down the fort until Mrs. Tyler arrives later today. Here’s what’s happening around the Big Blue Nation:
Open Practice at the FedEx Forum
The Cats will be the last team to take the floor for their open practice. It begins at 3:00 CT. If you’re in town you won’t want to miss it. Coach Calipari and a few players will speak before the event and KSR will be there to provide updates as they happen.
The Sweet 16 Starts Tonight
Feeling nervous? Don’t. You can watch the season end for four other teams first, starting tonight just after 7:00.
- 7:09 on CBS: Oregon vs. Michigan in Kansas City
- 7:37 on TBS: Gonzaga vs. West Virginia in San Jose
- 9:45ish on CBS: Kansas vs. Purdue in Kansas City
- 10:05ish on TBS: Arizona vs. Xavier in San Jose
I don’t even know what to think about the first game of the night, but I will stay up late to see the strange matchup of Purdue post-players and Kansas guards.
Entering the tournament, I never thought I’d say, “I can’t wait to see what happens in the West Region,” but here we are. Huggins’ Press Virginia looked terrific in the first two games. Now they get a perennially overrated Gonzaga who actually doesn’t look overrated. Following that game we get the Miller Bowl, which you won’t hear about 25 times during tonight’s broadcast.
Bulletin Board Material from LaVar Ball
We may have jumped the gun a bit, but it was inevitable. The dude simply can’t help himself. Hear’s what he told ESPN’s Ian O’Connor about the Kentucky game and his son’s matchup with De’Aaron Fox:
“He can’t mess with Zo,” Ball said of Fox. “You can have 40 points and Lonzo can have two points and make the game winner, and I’m going with him. You had more points, but look at who won the game. I guess [Fox] really didn’t outplay him. It’s a team sport. All my boy is worried about is his team winning.”
He also took a shot at Kentucky’s team chemistry and stuck to his guns, reiterating that UCLA will win the National Championship.
“I already said UCLA will win the national championship, and I’m not going backwards on it now,” Ball said. “With Zo, the chemistry that UCLA has is better than what Kentucky has.”
NBA Draft Declarations
Once teams are eliminated from the tournament, it becomes draft season for players around college basketball. A ton of big-names threw their hat in the ring. Some will stay in the draft regardless, but others may return for another year.
- Duke: Jayson Tatum
- Louisville: Donavan Mitchell, Deng Adel, Jaylen Johnson
- Wake Forest: John Collins
- Texas: Jarrett Allen
- SMU: Semi Ojeleye
- Cal: Ivan Rabb
New Contracts for Kentucky’s Coaches
John Calipari and Mark Stoops added two more years to their existing contracts. Not a lot changed for Cal, but Stoops received a ton of new incentives. See them all here.
New SEC Football Stadium Policies
Leave your fannypacks at home ladies and gentlemen, the SEC has gone clear. You’ve seen the policy at many other stadiums; now it’s a league-wide policy.
At Arkansas, this policy is in effect but with a twist: guns are gucci. Fannypacks are forbidden, but guns are welcome starting in 2018. A new Arkansas law will allow you to take your gun to more places, including sporting events. Alcohol is too dangerous to sell at SEC football games, but firearms are fine. What could go wrong?
More Spring Football
The Cats are currently on the field for Spring Practice number five, their final tune-up before Saturday’s scrimmage, the first of the spring season. There’s a lot at stake in the first scrimmage. Will the vets be able to hold down the spot on the depth chart, or will they be surpassed by young stars? Hear about it by listening to the latest edition of The Depth Chart Podcast, but listener beware, we talked a lot of basketball.
Josh Pastner’s Relationship with Coach Cal
The Georgia Tech head coach and former assistant under John Calipari joined my friend and UK Student News broadcasting legend Clayton Abernathy on KSTV. Pastner praised Cal’s coaching pedigree and discussed how difficult it was to replace him at Memphis.
Nick Richards Completes his High School Career
Just like Karl-Anthony Towns and Isaiah Briscoe, Nick Richards finished his high school career winning the New Jersey Tournament of Champions. Looking ahead, he told Adam Zagoria what he’ll be doing for Kentucky next year.
“Some of the things that Bam is doing now,” he said, “I do that here. I’m gonna see what they want me to do.”
You’ll hear more from Richards next week at the McDonald’s All-American Game. I’ll be in Chicago to see UK’s four signees — Richards, Quade Green, Jarred Vanderbilt, P.J. Washington — and their final two targets — Kevin Knox and Mo Bamba.
Bellarmine is in the Final Four, Again
Scotty Davenport is doing his best Coach Cal impression at Bellarmine. The Knights beat the Colorado School of Mines by 20 to advance to their fourth Final Four in seven years. They’ll take on Fairmont State tonight at 7:00 to keep their hopes alive for the program’s second national title.
By Nick Roush on ©March 22nd, 2017 @ 11:00pm
Those two words are the best best way to describe Malik Monk’s game. The freshman phenom from Lepanto, Arkansas has never disappointed. Kentucky has seen many great scorers, but Malik Monk gets hotter than characters on NBA Jam, achieving unprecedented awesomeness in Las Vegas against North Carolina by dropping 47 clutch points for the win.
A steamrolling locomotive who’s never seen a bad shot, Monk gets his. In high school, he never stopped shooting. John Calipari said he’d get tired watching him shoot so many shots. “How is he raising his arm again?”
They aren’t always falling, but they eventually will, just ask Florida (30 points after halftime), Georgia (31 after halftime) and South Carolina (30 after half).
Sometimes Monk takes bad shots, until they go in. The King of “No, No, No! YES!” shots, he might be a better shooter with a hand in his face than left wide open. To enjoy his greatness, you must learn to trust that Monk will be fine. Just give him some time and the once-in-a-generation scorer will eventually figure it out. In the meantime, he’ll throw in a few gym-clearing, SportsCenter Top Play dunks.
Until he got to the last game of the season.
For the first time in his Kentucky career, he didn’t reach double figures. After scoring just six points at Texas A&M, he only scored two points in the opening round of the SEC Tournament. Since the Texas A&M game, he’s hit just 5-of-26 threes (19%).
Many described it as a slump. Monk took question after question after question after question after question after question after question after question after from reporters about his shooting slump, but stayed the course.
He failed to hit a three-pointer against NKU, but I was not worried. “Shooter’s shoot,” and Monk continued to look like Malik Monk, his shots just weren’t falling.
Then, he didn’t look like Malik Monk.
WHAT IN THE WORLD WAS THAT?!?!?!?!!
Monk had a two-step advantage on Shamet and two other Shockers. This is the part where we hold our breath, anticipating the death of an opponent with a poster that would make Michael Jordan proud. Even if Shamet’s life didn’t end with a dunk, Monk’s high-flying acrobatics guaranteed an amazing, finesse finish.
We didn’t see either. We saw Malik Monk hesitate. The dude best defined as a “dog” hesitated. Instead of fight, we saw flight, and a missed layup.
It got worse.
Two possessions later, Monk got the ball in a much more comfortable position: off a staggered screen with an incoming ball screen from Derek Willis. The pop from Willis for a three would ensure a wide open lane, best described as “playtime” for the prolific scorer.
He hesitated, again.
Drawing Bam Adebayo’s defender, instead of taking and making a soft floater down the middle of the lane or dunking on his face, Monk opted for the floating lob to Bam, a pass Adebayo confused for a shot.
For the first all season, this question was valid: “What is wrong with Malik Monk?”
Malik Monk doesn’t hesitate. He goes 100 percent. Like a bull in a china shop, Monk’s eye are always on his favorite prize: buckets. But that didn’t happen at the start of the Wichita State game.
Malik Monk didn’t look like Malik Monk.
The game against Wichita State quickly turned into a knock-down, drag-em-out, defensive struggle. With refs opting not to use their whistle against contact inside, at one point in the first half six minutes past before a whistle was blown and subs could enter the game.
The conditions for Monk to work out of his funk were not ideal. Still, Malik Monk found a way to be Malik Monk, but differently than Kentucky fans had ever seen him.
The second half grind gave neither team a decisive offensive advantage. With his shot still not falling, Monk used his skills elsewhere. A block, a defensive rebound, an assist, then another. Finally, Monk found a way to make a shot: at the free throw line. The two made free throws with just under six minutes to play were just what he needed.
The Cats looked like they might fall apart. After building a significant lead, De’Aaron Fox fouled Shamet on a three-pointer. The mistake shook the momentum the Shockers’ way, now trailing by just two with 2:30 minutes to play.
Malik Monk proved he’s still a killer.
Monk didn’t need any space. He didn’t need to hit a bunch of shots. He just needed to hit one. He was not finished.
The Shockers were not fazed, immediately answering with a three of their own. Fox responded with a ferocious dunk. The game was turning into a back-and-forth offensive battle…or so we thought.
After Monk’s jumper rattled around the rim, Wichita State needed a bucket to take the lead. Monk couldn’t do enough, we thought, until he iced the game.
Monk followed the incredible blocked shot by nailing two clutch free throws, the final points of the game. The volume scorer helped get the win not be scoring, but with assists and defense, as noted by Tom Leach on the radio broadcast after Monk’s block.
“Those two things you mentioned might pull him out of the slump he’s in,” Mike Pratt said.
Even if it doesn’t, we saw Monk transform into a complete player against Wichita State. His shot wasn’t falling, but it didn’t keep him out of the game. De’Aaron Fox got layups by driving at Monk. He made defensive stops and eliminated second chance opportunities. He made Kentucky better without scoring 20 points.
They say the Cats can’t keep winning without 20 points a game from Monk, but I think the Cats can keep winning with this version of Malik Monk.
By Colleen Wagoner on ©March 22nd, 2017 @ 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
Now. On to the tweets:
#10 JD Gregory
— JD Gregory (@jdgregory32) March 22, 2017
This would only happen in Lavar’s dreams.
#9 Andrew Cassady
"You can't outrun my boy. Don't play that game." LaVar Ball 🤔 pic.twitter.com/i2bFL42x1q
— Andrew Cassady (@AndCassady) March 22, 2017
Put him on skates, De’Aaron!
#8 LaVar Ball
— LaVar Ball (@NotSueWylie) March 22, 2017
This is fake news if I’ve ever seen it.
#7 Mohamed Ali 35-5
— Mohamed Ali 35-5 (@MohamedAmri9) March 22, 2017
All other years didn’t happen. BBN promises that.
#6 Titanic Hoops
2011 Sweet 16
Brandon Knight hits the DAGGER to beat Ohio State and UK advances to the Elite 8!
It's much better with Titanic music! 🏀🚢🎼 pic.twitter.com/k0Pk2NeFnm
— 🚢Titanic Hoops🏀 (@TitanicHoops) March 22, 2017
Harrellson’s tip out was low key brilliant basketball.
#5 Not Jerry Tipton
19 years ago today in the Elite 8, Duke led UK by 17 with 9:34 left. Then Mills & Padgett hit from outside, Wojo died and Coach K cried. pic.twitter.com/T1MNtjmIzv
— Not Jerry Tipton (@NotJerryTipton) March 22, 2017
#4 Rick Cothern
— Rick Cothern (@rick_cothern) March 22, 2017
Dancing Guy has officially made it.
#3 Jeff Ruby
— Jeff Ruby (@TheRealJeffRuby) March 22, 2017
Jeff Ruby coming in HOT.
#2 David Cornett
— David Cornett (@DACats86) March 22, 2017
Y’all can have other states. But we own Ohio. Good luck.
#1 Dustin White
— Dustin White (@theWHITEdustin) March 22, 2017
By Nick Roush on ©March 22nd, 2017 @ 10:05pm
By Chad Lashbrook on ©March 22nd, 2017 @ 9:45pm
Image via Coady Photography
Each week leading up to the first Saturday in May I will assess the leading contenders for the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby, ranking the “elite eight”, recapping the most recent prep races, and looking forward to the upcoming race(s) of the weekend. Follow me on Twitter @chadlashbrook for additional thoughts on KY Derby preps and other major thoroughbred races.
We have some shake-up to the Elite Eight this week following last weekend’s surprising result at Oaklawn Park where trainer Todd Pletcher unseated Bob Baffert, who had won 6 of the last 7 runnings, from his Rebel Stakes throne. Malagacy, a son of 2011 Preakness Stakes winner Shackleford, upset the heavily favored Baffert trainee American Anthem and Bob Lewis winner Royal Mo with a solid, if not spectacular, 2 length victory. The win necessitates Malagacy’s inclusion on this list as well as the dismissal of both American Anthem and Royal Mo after their dismal performances. Without further adieu, your Kentucky Derby Elite Eight for the first week of spring:
# 1 – McCraken shipped from south Florida to Kentucky and posted a splendid 5 furlong work-out at Keeneland on Monday in one minute flat. His reputation was flattered when the horses he beat in the Sam Davis came back to sweep the first four spots in the Tampa Bay Derby. The Ghostzapper colt’s strong works indicate the ankle flare up that kept him out of a start in the Tampa Bay Derby is no longer an issue. He is expected to make his final Derby prep in the Bluegrass at Keeneland on April 8th.
# 2 – Gunnevera returned to the work tab on Saturday with an easy maintenance breeze, his first recorded move since his Fountain of Youth success. The son of Dialed In is expected to make his next start in the Florida Derby on April 1st.
# 3 – Tapwrit jumps two spots this week despite being idle. The feeling is that the company he has kept this year may be among the strongest groups of horses in the country. The form of the Sam Davis, where he finished 2nd to McCraken, was upheld in the Tampa Bay Derby despite the appearance of a couple highly regarded new shooters. His win in that spot and the belief that he simply has more stamina than Practical Joke elevate him above that foe and into the top 3.
# 4 – Practical Joke has a very impressive resume, as was mentioned last week, and deserves his spot on this last based on his accomplishments to date. He put in a solid half mile breeze at Palm Meadows training center on Saturday in :48 and 3, his first work since his runner-up effort in the Fountain of Youth. Trainer Chad Brown is still contemplating this colt’s next start – either the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park or the Bluegrass. Wherever he ends up, going 9 furlongs for the first time should give us a good line on whether he will be able to handle the 10 furlong distance of the Kentucky Derby several weeks later.
# 5 – Malagacy remained perfect winning the Rebel Stakes on Saturday in just his 3rd lifetime start. It’s difficult to tell how much stock should be put into this race. West coast invaders Royal Mo and American Anthem were relative no-shows, finishing 9th and 10th respectively. Smarty Jones Stakes winner Uncontested faded to eighth after leading through the first 6 furlongs. Regardless of whether those horses just had off days or maybe are not as good as once thought, Malagacy is now an undefeated son of a Classic winner with a 2-turn Grade 2 stakes win on his resume. His next start will likely come in the Arkansas Derby, and he is so lightly raced that we should expect to see further improvement there.
By KSR on ©March 22nd, 2017 @ 9:30pm
During the month of March, even the football guys gotta talk a little basketball, but it’s not what you might think. Fresh off the KHSAA Sweet 16, Freddie talks about his time covering the games at Rupp Arena. There he stumbled upon one of our biggest fans, head coach of Scott High, Steve Fromeyer. The coach joins the program to discuss a variety of topics before the crew gets to football. Highlights:
— If a player leaves Kentucky for a prep school, are they still considered a Kentuckian?
— How Jake Ohmer got recruited by Rick Stansbury.
— A former football official, Fromeyer has a different outlook on referees as a head coach.
— The message Eddie Gran is sending to his veteran receivers.
— Freddie compares QB play before Stephen Johnson as “Hot and cold, like a Motel 6 shower.”
You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes, streaming on Podbay, or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.