Bill Self has become a household name at KSR. I like to think of him as that “cool” uncle you have who wears a leather jacket, big smile, and attempts to keep up with the “kids’ lingo,” but deep down, you know it’s all a little fake, right down to the wig tape at his temple. Over the years, Self has been very complimentary of the Cats, calling last year’s squad a “special special team” of “hard rockin’ dudes” after we beat them in New York. However, after we beat them for the National Championship, Self sang quite a different tune; months later, he still couldn’t admit that the Cats were the better team that night, telling the crowd at Kansas’ Midnight Madness festivities “They didn’t beat us. We ran out of time.” …Whatever you have to tell yourself to get by.
Last summer at the Peach Jam, KSR discovered Self’s little secret: he wears a wig. Now, there’s no shame in getting a little help in the hair department, and Self has managed to keep the fact that he’s bare up there under his hat for quite some time. Bill, put on your party piece, because this year is the big 5-0. Don’t get too close to the candles with that thing.
‘Twas a slow news day in the Commonwealth, but the Louisville game is right around the I-64 corridor. So, with three days left until the big matchup at the Yum Center, here are three things the Cats must do to pull off the upset:
Control the guard play — For the past three years (and the past four wins), the Cats have bested the Cards due in large part to strong guard play from John Wall, Brandon Knight, and Marquis Teague. Louisville’s Peyton Siva and Russ Smith know what it’s like to lose to Kentucky; Siva in particular has an impressive set of scars. Siva and Smith are also one of the reasons the Cards are so successful. So far this season, they’ve combined for 62 steals, or one for every eleven minutes of play. Ryan Harrow had his best game as a Cat against Marshall on Saturday, and it will take all of his poise, confidence, and skill to keep Kentucky’s upset chances alive. It will also take a consistent performance from Archie Goodwin, who must show more control if he hopes to have an impact.
Hit open shots — The rims were pretty chilly at Rupp when the Cats beat Marshall. For Kentucky to beat Louisville, they will have to make the easy shots they’ve been missing, especially from behind the arc. If Kyle Wiltjer can hit his threes, it will create opportunities in the post for Nerlens Noel and (hopefully) Alex Poythress. Even if shots are missed, the Cats must control the boards and take advantage of second-chance points, a tall task against Louisville’s formidable interior defense.
Keep cool under pressure — We’ve established that the Cats have nothing to lose on Saturday. The pressure is all on Louisville, specifically Rick Pitino, who has a Calipari-shaped white elephant sitting in his living room. The Yum Center will be packed with rowdy dirty birds with three years of crowing built up in their system. This young team, specifically Ryan Harrow, must maintain their cool in enemy territory, something they failed to do at Notre Dame. More so, they have to keep the fire they showed against Marshall going and play with passion, or it will be a long night in the Chicken Bucket.
And now, for the news:
— After weeks of “will he, won’t he” drama, Gorgui Dieng WILL PLAY against the Cats on Saturday. Rick Pitino confirmed the news after Dieng went through a full contact practice and evaluation on Wednesday. In other surprising news, the world is round and water swirls the other way around the toilet bowl in Australia.
— The DeMarcus Cousins saga continues in Sacramento. Cousins did not travel with the team to Portland for their game against the Trailblazers. CBS Sports NBA blogger Matt Moore suggests that the Kings’ ownership and management wanted Cousins back, but the coaching staff and team aren’t so happy about it. ESPN’s Chad Ford thinks Boogie may find a new home in Boston with Danny Ainge and the Celtics. Ainge has never shied away from controversial players, and there are trade possibilities for the Kings. If that doesn’t happen, the Pistons, Mavericks, and Miami are also interested.
— Future Cat James Young had a big night, scoring 27 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in his team’s win in the Motor City Roundball Tournament. That was good enough for MVP honors. In other UK signee news, Marcus Lee is averaging 18 points, 20 rebounds, six blocks, and four assists per game. 20 rebounds?! Wow. Get it, boys.
— The rosters for the NFL Pro Bowl were released on Wednesday, and shockingly, Randall Cobb was not included. Cobb, a sure lock for the NFC kick returner, was snubbed in favor of Leon Washington. The ballot is a combination of votes from players, coaches and fans. So far this season, Cobb has amassed 1,256 yards returning kicks and punts, while Washington has only 1,056 yards (and eyes that aren’t golden). In other Cobb news, Green Bay will continue to use him as the primary returner next season. Head coach Mike McCarthy said that despite the higher risk for injuries that come with returning kicks (Cobb is nursing a sprained ankle right now), they can’t lose Cobb’s explosiveness at the position.
— Finally, this Twitter exchange between Jeff Goodman and South Carolina coach Frank Martin made me chuckle:
@goodmancbs r u still n a bad mood? U could’ve moved 2 south carolina instead u chose 2 stay n new England winters. It’s the holidays, smile
— Frank Martin (@FrankMartin_SC) December 27, 2012
That’s all for now. The gang will be LIVE from Bearno’s Pizza in Jeffersonville, Indiana on Thursday morning, so cross the river and have a slice with your KSR fam.