Is it just me or does it seem like this has been a long two days? The waiting for the SEC Tournament will finally come to an end after this beautiful Wednesday and we will again be full of all kinds of basketball goodness to discuss and debate. Until then, though, we should spend the middle of our week supporting Coach Calipari in the one goal for the program he’s been unable to achieve yet in two years on campus. In the Sports Illustrated piece made public Tuesday, Calipari was quoted as having wanted to institute a “Bash Wednesday” through his Twitter account, which would allow him to fire back at those people who have attacked him over the years. The idea was ultimately shot down by Dean Wormer or whoever is running the athletics department these days, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give Coach a little of what he wants today. We’re declaring this the first official Bash Wednesday of the Calipari era. You can express your beef with anyone and everyone in the comments section or by taking it to Twitter and tagging it with #BashWednesday. Whoever has the most entertaining public display of frustration with BTI will win a lifetime supply of respect. And that’s why the day even exists in the first place, right?
Now onto a few UK notes…
– On Tuesday, Coach Cal spoke quite a bit about how he hopes that his team can ride the momentum of winning their last three games and getting a bye in the SEC Tournament into strong showing in postseason play. While it can certainly come across as simply a coaching cliche, we’ve seen this season that momentum and confidence has been particularly important to a young group of players who haven’t always shown they can pull together and dig themselves out of a hole when they need it. In the last three games, they did a lot to correct those issues, but they still appear to be a team that is able to let both positives and negatives snowball. As of now, they appear to be as loose and confident as they’ve been all year. Collectively, that can make a major difference in a tournament setting. Individually, it can mean even more. Outside of Brandon Knight, who has remained relatively consistent, Kentucky’s players seem to play great basketball in bunches, with Terrence Jones being the most obvious example. If confidence and emotion can continue to be the best indicators of sustained momentum, the Cats could be coming into a stretch of their best basketball of the year. That, of course, was the goal for Calipari all along. They seem to be clicking at the right time.
– Thought it might be Bash Wednesday, there’s nothing but love around here for DeAndre Liggins, who now will be referred to only as “Warlock”. In Tuesday’s meeting with the media, the junior forward again flexed his defensive muscles and displayed the type of confidence you want from your veterans at this point in declaring that he’s ready to take on Chris Warren again after feeling like the Ole Miss guard got the best of him earlier this season. Liggins went on to add that “If I had the chance to play Kemba Walker and the guys that beat us, it would be different.” He also said that he has no friends on the court and that he has no regrets over his trash-talking Sunday, saying he got in Scotty Hopson’s head and it affected his game. You have to love the confidence and swagger, especially at this time of the year. Eric Lindsey has a nice write-up on Liggins on UKAthletics.com.
– Tuesday also brought some postseason awards love for the Cats as Terrence Jones, Brandon Knight, Doron Lamb and DeAndre Liggins all received some All-SEC recognition. The awards were all well-deserved, but you can’t help but think it’s a little odd that the SEC coaches picked a total of 17 players for the two All-SEC teams. As one writer noted on Twitter, nearly 30% of the starters in the conference are now boasting an all-conference award. When you look at it like that, it seems a little goofy. When you consider Doron Lamb was beat out by Brian Williams for Sixth Man of the Year, it’s not surprising. Blame Stansbury. That makes it easier.
– In two separate stories, both Billy Gillispie and John Calipari were recipients of some positive PR. Coach Cal’s story in Sports Illustrated was the most intriguing of the two, as S.L. Price took on anyone and everyone who had, for lack of a better word, “hated” on Coach Cal. Billy Gillispie’s profile in Rivals, though, was probably the more necessary of the two with the possibility of a new job again presenting itself this offseason. For a guy like Gillispie, who not only lost a job, but did so with a stream of embarrassing headlines and then a stint in a rehab facility, positive press is the first major step in making him hirable. No matter how badly a school’s administration or boosters will want to hire him, he will face detractors on some level because of his recent history and by painting himself so beautifully as someone deserving of another chance, he already won half the battle. (Insert G.I. Joe music here)
– Despite his weekly support of the SEC’s bubble teams and his continued reminding of the media that his team struggled against those who might be looking in from the outside of the NCAA Tournament, the possibility of the SEC gettin more than four teams in the tournament probably hinges on the Cats. The two teams now sitting outside most projections after spending some time in the tournament are Alabama and Georgia and they’ll likely face off Friday for the right to face the Cats on Saturday. The Tide probably has a better shot at crashing the dance thanks to their run through the SEC, but will still be sweating it out Sunday evening if they can’t beat Kentucky. They’ll get no sympathy from Calipari, who has been very vocal about wanting to improve his own team’s seed with a run through the SEC Tournament, but it does provide an interesting twist for the conference and the coach who has been the loudest supporter of those teams teetering on the bubble.
– Fresh off his visit to Kansas, Kentucky target Braeden Anderson said that it was tough not to commit to the Jayhawks after an extremely good visit to Lawrence. He’ll still visit Kentucky and it’s far from over, but it does again speak volumes about what the world already knows. You can’t underestimate the “wow” factor of the Bowersock Dam. Big time!
– Remember back when Villanova was projected to be a four seed in a region with fifth-seeded Kentucky? My, how things can change. At least they’ll get a home game in the NIT.
– What do Jim Tressel and Bruce Pearl have in common? Thanks to this week’s developments, more than just a questionable wardrobe. Tressel was suspended two games and fined $250,000 for failing to report violations by his players. SportsByBrooks has the emails that got him busted.
That’s it for now. Make sure you stick around throughout the day as we finally finish off our final day of waiting for the SEC Tournament to start. Matt will be by to get things going at 10am on Talk Radio 1080. Until then, bash away. I love you. See you in a few….