I know we all have Kentucky vs. Louisville on the brain, but let’s not ignore what’s going on in the women’s NCAA tournament where UK Hoops is one win away from the first Final Four in school history. Matthew Mitchell’s ladies will look to advance when they face one-seeded UConn on Tuesday night at at 7:00 PM on ESPN in the Kingston Regional finals. It will be a tough battle for Kentucky, but this isn’t one of those years when UConn is just completely unbeatable. If the Cats shoot anything like they did in the Elite Eight win against Gonzaga, I think they can hang with UConn and set themselves up for an upset. UK shot 57% from beyond the arc in that game.
This is already a historic season for Kentucky’s women’s basketball program and Tuesday night’s game is arguably the biggest game in school history. I encourage you to tune in and cheer them on as we’re on the verge of having two UK teams in the Final Four.
Now, on to the men’s side of things in your news and views…
Is it Saturday yet? The past 24 hours have been dragging along. I just want the game to get here. Unfortunately, we have another 114 hours before Kentucky and Louisville tip off in the biggest game in the history of the rivalry. Coach Cal was on a Final Four teleconference on Monday afternoon to look ahead to the big game, and he gave Louisville credit for their improvement since the two teams met in Rupp Arena earlier this season.
On the Cards’ improvement, Calipari said, “They’re in a nice mold right now about playing the way they have to play to win. I think they’re defending that way. I think they’re playing offense that way. They’re a much better team. I think we’re better too, but when I look at them, I just say, ‘Wow.’ They play very, very aggressive. They’re doing all the things they need to do to put themselves in a position to win, and they’ve done it. They’ve done it in the Big East Tournament and they walk right into this tournament and do the same thing.”
Personally, I don’t like hearing Cal act like this game could be close. I need him, or someone, to come out and say it’s going to be a blowout. He didn’t make it easier on Big Blue Nation’s nerves when talking about Louisville’s defense, either.
He said, “Their zone defense and how they’re playing it and the adjustments they make, I’ve watched some stuff they’ve done against us and I’ve watched some tape of what they’ve done against other people and they kind of morph it into how you’re playing or who they want to play and they do a good job of that. There are times they’ll throw some press at people and it’s rattled some cages. They pressed us here and it rattled us. We just weren’t ready for that kind of having to get open with a couple guys hanging on you, having to be strong with the ball, having to have great spacing. We weren’t ready for that at that time of the year. We were lucky to get out alive in that game. They’re good. They’re a really good team and they’re terrific defensively and they play really hard and they play physical and they do the things they have to do to win.”
Then again, as Cal pointed out, Kentucky was a totally different team on December 31, too. The Cats struggled with the press early in the season and Cal even admitted to not working on it in practice back then. And let’s not forget, Kentucky shot 29.8% from the field in that game and still won by seven.
Tell me it’s going to be okay.
Calipari also spoke about what he’ll do this week to get his team ready for the game, and how this Final Four features three teams that are out for revenge against Kentucky.
“They know every game we play is someone’s Super Bowl,” Calipari said on Monday. “You think about this whole Final Four. We ended Ohio State’s season last year. We opened up the season by beating Kansas. You don’t think they want a piece of us? We beat Louisville earlier in the year. They’re going crazy to beat us. Let me say this, so was Vandy, so was Florida, so was North Carolina. Everybody we play is that way, so it’s not as though this is any different than any other game we play. The other team’s going to play out of their minds. We know it.”
This really is set up for a storybook run to #8. Enjoy it, folks.
Ignore any online rumors saying Anthony Davis slightly tore his ACL against Baylor. We’ve done our best to delete those comments when we see them on here to keep everyone from panicking. I don’t know where they’re coming from, or why people continue to post it, but Coach Cal and Coach Robic both said on Monday that Anthony Davis is fine. He banged knees; it hurt; it’s a non-issue.
The 2012 McDonald’s All-American JamFest was held Monday night in Chicago and Shabazz Muhammad won the dunk contest part of the evening. Muhammad received a perfect score from the judges on two of his three dunks; one coming on a slam off a lob while hurdling over another player in the key and the other coming on a lob off the side of the backboard. UK commit Archie Goodwin finished second in the dunk contest and UK target Anthony Bennett finished third.
After the competition, Muhammad said he will announce his college choice on April 11, the first day of the spring signing period.
The other big name from the class of 2012, Nerlens Noel, could be making his decision any day now. Noel and his mother have been evaluating the three remaining schools — Kentucky, Syracuse and Georgetown — since last Wednesday when Jim Boeheim and John Thompson III visited the family in their home in Everett, Massachusetts. With all of the final pitches and visits out of the way, don’t be surprised if he announces before the end of the week.
As one dominant big man gets ready for college basketball, another one said goodbye on Monday. Mississippi State’s Renardo Sidney announced he will hire an agent and enter the NBA Draft. He’ll be in China by August.
Also from the SEC, the Frank Martin hire at South Carolina is one Kentucky fans should be excited about. Martin will turn that team around and have them competing in no time, which will increase the competitiveness in the SEC. Throw in Missouri and we’re looking at what will potentially be the premier league in college basketball. It’s a great get for the Gamecocks and I’m looking forward to watching the many gamefaces of Frank Martin, twice a year.
In NBA news, the Rockets and Kings played a tight game in Houston on Monday night with Patrick Patterson and DeMarcus Cousins leading the way for their teams. Patterson scored eight of Houston’s final 13 points in regulation and sent the game to overtime with a long jumper with just seven seconds left. Houston would go on to win it in OT behind a team-high 24 points from Patterson. Cousins scored 38 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in the losing effort.
That’ll do it for now. Tune in to Kentucky Sports Radio radio Tuesday morning when Matt and Ryan bring on Dick Vitale and Andy Katz to preview the Final Four.
I’ll leave you with this…