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February 13th, 2018

Kole Cottam Looks to Break Out in 2018

Getty Images

It may seem strange to talk about a guy who hit .319 in 2017 as a potential breakout candidate, but 2018 very well could be the year of Kole Cottam.

The uber-talented junior catcher from Knoxville made great strides in his approach at the plate during his sophomore season. Cottam’s on-base percentage rose 43 points while his strikeout to walk ratio dropped. His home run total rose from one as a freshman to seven as a sophomore. After UK’s season concluded, Cottam continued to hit well in the wood-bat Cape Cod League where he hit .277 in 20 games.

“I ended up last year doing pretty well, and I tried to build on that,” Cottam said. “I just tried to take what I learned in the back half of last year and the summer and early fall and keep going forward and make some improvements on the field in the spring.”

At 6’3” 225, Cottam is perhaps the strongest player on the team, and he uses that strength to spray the ball to all fields. UK will need Cottam’s prowess at the plate in 2018 as they try to replace the likes of Evan White, Riley Mahan, and Marcus Carson in the heart of the lineup. Those around the program expect Cottam to carry a lot of weight at the plate this season.

“Kole Cottam is a guy that’s much improved, and from all areas of his game, from mentally, physically, the way he carries himself, all of that is better,” Nick Mingione said at Media Day. “I look for him to have a very, very special year for us.”

 

Cottam showed his feel at the plate in the back half of 2017. After collecting five hits in three games in the SEC Tournament, Cottam went 5/11 in elimination games in the Lexington Regional. The biggest of those five hits came in the Regional Championship against NC State. Tied at five in the seventh inning, Cottam ripped a two-run double off the right-field wall to send UK to their first Super Regional. Cottam’s double was arguably the biggest in school history, but the junior is looking forward to 2018.

“It does motivate me a lot to try to pick up where I left off,” Cottam said. “I’ll always think about that, but that’s something I got to put behind me and hopefully have a few more this year.”

Cottam is one of only three returning players that appeared in more than 50 games last year. UK lost 69 percent of their offensive starts after last year, but Cottam believes that both he and the offense will pick up where they left off in 2017.  “I think we can do something special,” Cottam said. “Just like last year, there’s a lot of question marks in the beginning, but I think we’re really going to shore that up and show everybody the offense we have and that production that we can make.”


Mary Jo talks to Kentucky Olympian Simidele Adeagbo on Hey Kentucky!

Tonight, Matt Jones and Mary Jo Perino played Fill in the Blank on Hey Kentucky, talking about some of the most important topics of the day. They discussed Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer coming together, tobacco, UK’s Football Ad’s cost, the unveiling of Obama’s portrait, and Olympic sensation Chloe Kim’s Dad.

The star of the show, however, was Bella, the reader of the day.

Check it out here:

Also, Mary Jo talked to Kentucky Olympian Simidele Adeagbo about competing in the Olympics this year and making a comeback from falling just short in the past.

Take a look:

For the entire episode and more Hey Kentucky, head on over here: http://wp.me/p7TGZa-1FB


NEW: Tubby Smith and 1997-98 National Championship team featured on new Maker’s Mark bottle

 

The 2018 edition of the University of Kentucky Maker’s Mark bottle is officially here.

Here’s an exclusive look at the label for the new Maker’s Mark bottle that will honor the Tubby Smith and the 1997-98 National Championship team.

The label talks about the team’s success and overcoming the odds:

“In his very first season as the University of Kentucky head coach, Tubby Smith took the 1997-98 team all the way to the top. A 78-69 win in the finals over the Utah Utes gave UK its seventh national championship. The Wildcats ended the season with a 35-4 record, despite being one of the only teams ever to win a championship without a First-Team All-American or a future NBA Lottery pick.”

Maker’s Mark has a partnership with Keeneland to produce five University of Kentucky bottles that started back in 2016. The first three honored Adolph Rupp, Joe B. Hall, and the 1996 National Championship squad.

The final bottle of the collection will release in 2019, which will almost certainly celebrate John Calipari and the 2012 National Championship.

What do you guys think?


Kentucky Basketball Valentines You Can Print Out For Your Date

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.

Last year we provided some UK valentines and this year we’re back with an updated set.

To keep up with The New Circle Circular, like the Facebook page or follow Harold Leeder’s Twitter Account.


Kentucky looking to capitalize on size advantage vs. Auburn

@AuburnMBB

Tennessee and Texas A&M exploited Kentucky’s weaknesses inside, but tomorrow night, the Cats will face an Auburn team whose tallest starter is 6’7″. Kenny Payne told reporters he’s hoping that size advantage will inspire a big performance from his big men vs. the Tigers.

“I think our advantages are going to be our length, our athleticism. They are not a tall team. They are basically, it looks like, three or four guards and a forward. Their tallest guy is 6-7, 6-8 that is playing minutes. We have to take advantage of that. That means offensive rebounding, that means stuff around the baskets.”

Someone who can really use his size to his advantage is Nick Richards. For every good play the 6’11” big man gives Kentucky, there’s been a baffling one to offset it, which is proof to Payne that it’s all in his head.

“I just think Nick needs to play confidently. Another way of saying it is get out of your own self’s way. You’re trained. You are walking in the games, playing a good game. So what happens when you step on the court?…What changed in your mind mentally that made you have self-doubt. That’s what the challenge is with him. He’s a good player and he needs to go out there and believe in him the way we do.”

After watching film of Kentucky’s “terrible” performance vs. Texas A&M, Hamidou Diallo stressed that the Cats can’t just rely on their size tomorrow night; to win, they’re going to have to match Auburn’s effort, which hasn’t always been easy for this group.

“They’re not very tall, but they play really hard. So it makes up for itself. They play really hard and we’re just going to have to go out there and compete. With length or without length, we’re going to have to play. They’re going to be there trying to battle us, playing really aggressive and they’re a good team. They’re capable of beating us and I think they’re the best team in the conference right now. So it’s a really big game for us right now and we’re just going to have to come out and try to fight for the whole game. All 40 minutes.”

“We have to be strong,” Payne added. “We have to be the aggressor. We have to go after them. We really have to go out and play desperate basketball and confident basketball, which is really important.”


Watch out, Kentucky had a TEAM MEETING

One of the greatest certainties in sports is the all-important players-only meeting during a losing streak. Sure enough, Quade Green told reporters today that Kentucky’s players had a “talk” on the bus after Saturday’s loss to Texas A&M, their third straight.

“My aspect, I think I’ve done a poor job [of leading],” Quade said. “Poor job trying to get the team together. Ever since we lost to Texas A&M, as a team we talked together so we’ve been on the same page ever since. Ever since that loss talking on the bus ride, we’ve been on the same page now.”

Assuming the team flew out of the airport in College Station, that bus ride only took maybe ten minutes, but those ten minutes were apparently full of REALIZATIONS and HARD TRUTHS.

“We’ve just gotta get back to our winning selves, really. I don’t think anybody on this team really lost three in a row in their previous years of playing basketball. It’s just a hard thing for all of us, even Coach Cal. We’ve gotta come out with some fight.”

It’s only a matter of time before we start hearing the Breakfast Club is back.


Immanuel Quickley okay after injury scare

Future Kentucky point guard Immanuel Quickley had a scary moment in last night’s game vs. Mount Saint Joseph’s, going down with an apparent knee injury late in the fourth quarter. Thankfully, he’s okay, but was reportedly on the ground for a few minutes before getting up and walking off under his own power:

Have no fear; at his McDonald’s All-American Game jersey ceremony this afternoon, Quickley assured reporters he’s fine.

“I’m good, I’m good, I’m feeling better,” Quickley told USA Today High School Sports. “Nobody wanted to see me go down.”

@TheTeamBBC

What does Quickley make of Kentucky’s recent struggles?

“I’m not concerned,” Quickley said. “Coach Cal is a really good coach and I think the last time they struggled like this was the (2013-14) team that had Julius Randle and the Harrison twins and they made the Final Four. (This year’s Kentucky players) are freshman and they’ll get used to the grind.”

Kid knows his stuff. Drew will have an in-depth profile on Quickley for you once he returns from vacation, so stay tuned…

[USA Today High School Sports]


UK Football had the biggest home attendance increase in the SEC

Here’s a surprising stat: Kentucky had the largest increase in home attendance in the SEC last season. According to Saturday Down South, the football Cats drew in over 2,800 more fans per game than they did in 2016, an increase of over five percent.

The most attended home game of the year? Florida, with almost 63,000 fans in the stands, followed by Tennessee and Missouri. I’d rather eat nails than relive the Florida game, so let’s look back on the win over Tennessee, a much happier time in Kroger Field:


Is Wenyen Gabriel the solution to Kentucky’s scoring droughts?

As we are all well aware, Kentucky is 0-8 in games in which they’ve had a five-minute or longer scoring drought; as we are all also well aware, that must stop if the Cats hope to make any kind of noise in March. Assistant head coach Kenny Payne told reporters getting the offense moving is objective number one for tomorrow night’s game at No. 10 Auburn.

“The challenge is, there’s four, five, six-minute stretches in games where we’re not producing, where we go four minutes without a basket, where we got five minutes and they score seven out of eight possessions. We’re not good enough to make that up. We’re just not. We’re a good team, but when you give teams baskets, literally give them baskets, and it’s going to come down to a two, four, six-point game, you look back at the game and those four-minute spurts, those five-minute spurts that have happened multiple times throughout the game were killing you.”

Payne agrees with Calipari that one way Kentucky can get the offense flowing is by getting the ball to Wenyen Gabriel more.

“Wenyen is a good player and he gives us everything he has. When you look over the last four or five games, I think he’s averaging two or three shots. Here’s a kid who can make jump shots for us. We desperately need shooting. He can do that. So we’ve got to get him on the floor and it’s on not Wenyen but the other guys, when he’s open, to get him the ball in the shooting pocket so he can relax and shoot the ball.”

Between Calipari claiming he’s ditching his rotation to these comments about Wenyen, I think there’s a decent chance Wenyen gets the start tomorrow night.


Auburn opens as heavy favorite vs. Kentucky

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images North America

As expected, Kentucky will be the major underdog in Auburn tomorrow night. Vegas has spoken and Auburn opened as a 8.5-point favorite vs. the Cats. In ten minutes, that’s already moved to 9.5.

Will it be double-digits by game time?


Kentucky coaches to players: “Go prove people wrong”

Given Kentucky’s struggles right now, you might think the last thing they need is a road game at No. 10 Auburn; not according to this coaching staff. Today, assistant head coach Kenny Payne said tomorrow’s game is the perfect opportunity to see what this group is made of.

“If you’ve been around Cal long enough, you realize opportunity. This is a great opportunity to go into a hostile environment with a bunch of young players, freshmen and sophomores and go steal one. That’s the game plan. Go take one from them. They’re not going to give it to us. Without a doubt, they’ve been one of the best teams in this conference. They’ve only got two losses in conference. Everything would say we’ve got our hands full; so, go prove people wrong.”

Will losing three in a row be the slap in the face these players need to rise to the challenge? Payne hopes so.

“They’re getting a lesson there are no excuses at Kentucky. There is no, ‘My stomach hurts, I don’t feel good, I’m fighting the flu, I don’t have it tonight.’ There is no, ‘The referee gave me a bad call.’ There is no, ‘I was open and he didn’t pass it to me.’ The end result of all of this is, we brought you here to be winning basketball players, and that’s why you’re here. That’s your DNA or you would not be in this program.”

This staff is well-versed in dealing with freshmen, but after the first three-game losing streak of the Calipari era, Payne said they’re not backing off on holding players accountable for the mistakes, even if it hurts their egos.

“You have to hold these young people accountable. You have to make sure that you love them, that you — and, I hate to say the word — hit them in the face or hit them with reality. That means challenge them. Get after their butts. When you’re not playing hard, when you’re tired, that’s not acceptable, and we’re going to get after you for that…We’re going to challenge you as a freshman to think like a senior.”

Claw back vs. a top ten opponent or shrink further into the shadows? Tomorrow night will tell us a lot.


LIVE: Kenny Payne Previews Match-Up with Auburn

Kenny Payne is giving John Calipari a break.  In a few moments UK’s associate head coach will be at the podium to preview Kentucky’s road trip to Auburn.  Watch it all go down, courtesy of KY Wildcats TV.


Martin County Water District Manager Announces Retirement

The manager of the Martin County Water District has announced his retirement.

According to WYMT, Joe Hammond announced his retirement at this morning’s Martin County Water District meeting.  The district is now searching for an interim general manager.

Hammond’s decision comes just weeks after Matt Jones and the Hey Kentucky team made a trip to Eastern Kentucky to spotlight the water problems in Martin County.  When encountered in front of a camera, Hammond denied his identity.  Watch the interaction below:

[WYMT]


BBNBA: Anthony Davis Continues to do Anthony Davis Things

Anthony Davis scores 38 for the New Orleans Pelicans in their win over the Detroit Pistons. (Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Recap

I’m not sure what else there is to say at this point. Anthony Davis is officially the destroyer of worlds. Davis displayed *another* high scoring performance Monday night against the Detroit Pistons of 38 points to go along with 10 rebounds on 58.3 percent shooting from the field. Since the heart-breaking injury to DeMarcus Cousins in late January, Davis is averaging 30 points and 11.9 rebounds per game. Essentially, he is the New Orleans Pelicans entire source of winning. Granted, they’re 3-5 since Boogie went down, but what Davis is doing with a less-than-ideal roster is mind-boggling. Here is your friendly reminder that, yes, Davis is still only 24 years old, and while the talking heads will continue to mention players such as Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid as the future faces of the NBA (and deservedly so), just remember who the real future is.

*Interesting fact of the day* Anthony Davis holds the scoring record in both the Palace at Auburn Hills (59) and the Little Caesars Arena (38), the Pistons home arenas of past and present. Just name the next arena the Palace at Anthony Davis. Little Davis Arena?

It was a slow Monday in the NBA and Davis was no doubt the high point, but Enes Kanter also had a solid game for the New York Knicks. Kanter recorded 17 points and 13 rebounds in a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis have now both missed their last two games (Booker has missed four straight), including the Phoenix Suns’ Monday night blowout loss to the Golden State Warriors, due to hip and back injuries, respectively.

In a bit of unrelated yet kinda related news. Emeka Okafor started for the Pelicans on Monday for the first time in FIVE YEARS. Terrence Jones was originally supposed to join the Pelicans and it was reported that a deal was close to being done, only for the team to change course not even an hour later after the report and sign Okafor instead, who had been out of the league since 2013.

Check out the rest of the stats below.

Stats

PlayerResult PointsFG (3FG)Reb.Ast.StealsBlocksTOs+/-Mins.
Anthony Davis (NOP)118-103 W @ DET3814-24 (3-6)101122+1836
Enes Kanter (NYK)92-108 L @ PHI175-10133101-1033
Darius Miller (NOP)
118-103 W @ DET124-8 (4-7)11002+929
Rajon Rondo (NOP)118-103 W @ DET83-8 (2-5)58013-730
DeAndre Liggins (NOP)118-103 W @ DET21-1 (0-0)01100+95
Devin Booker (PHX)83-129 L @ GSWDNP-Hip Pointer----------------
Tyler Ulis (PHX)83-129 L @ GSWDNP-Back Spasms----------------
DeMarcus Cousins (NOP)118-103 W @ DETDNP-Achilles----------------

Highlights

Tonight in the NBA

7:00: Heat (Adebayo) @ Raptors

8:00: Hawks @ Bucks (Bledsoe)

8:00: Rockets @ Timberwolves (Towns)

8:00 (TNT): Cavaliers @ Thunder (Patterson, Johnson)

8:30: Kings (Cauley-Stein, Fox) @ Mavericks

10:30 (TNT): Spurs @ Nuggets (Murray, Lyles)

Player to watch

Tonight’s player to watch will actually be a duo. Jamal MurrayTrey Lyles, and the Denver Nuggets will take on the San Antonio Spurs on TNT. Murray is quickly becoming one of my overall favorite players to watch in the NBA. Not many guys have as much fun as him while also raining down buckets with the swiftness that he can. His unorthodox shot attempts and passion to be great make for fantastic entertainment every night. Lyles isn’t nearly as exciting, but he’s still damn good and the Nuggets are a better team because of him. A matchup with the Spurs is always tough (even if LaMarcus Aldridge doesn’t play) and it should be a good test for an improving Nuggets team.

Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGeoghegan


DeMarcus Cousins’ Jersey Hangs in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame

Issac Baldizon | Getty Images

DeMarcus Cousins won’t suit up for the New Orleans Pelicans for the rest of the season, but his jersey will be put to good use at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

The week prior to Cousins’ season-ending Achilles injury, Cousins was selected to start in the NBA All-Star Game, in part thanks to an historic performance.  Against the Chicago Bulls he had 44 points, 24 rebounds and 10 assists.  That stat line has only been produced in ten NBA games and it was the first time since 1972. The historic performance is now being commemorated with a display of his jersey and shoes from the game at the Basketball Hall of Fame.

@HoopHall

Check out the highlights from his historic game and dream of a world with a healthy Boogie.