Holiday movies tend to be very hit or miss. Some of the best movies of the year are released just before and around Christmas to garner buzz before the Awards season begins. Other movies are intended to draw in big audiences, but tend to fall short of expectations. Last week I saw a movie that falls into the “best movies of the year” category. Silver Linings Playbook was touted by many as a quality movie led by two strong acting performances from Bradley Cooper and Kentucky’s own Jennifer Lawrence. The reviews were spot on. The movie found a way to shed light on mental illness using two characters who you found yourself rooting for amidst their struggles. Cooper’s father in the movie, played by Robert De Niro quickly became my favorite character. His touches of OCD which centered around his love for the Philadelphia Eagles created a great/hilarious sub-story to the friendship being built between Cooper and Lawrence.
Bradley Cooper has been in a number of movies, many of which I have found entertaining (either for comedic value or his face). For my money though, Silver Linings Playbook was his best. Cooper was an impressive mix of funny and serious, showing his acting chops in a different role than usual. Cooper’s character’s life steers off course as he essentially loses everything he knew in his life. He is forced to move back in with his parents after a stint in a psychiatric hospital. The family dynamic blended between the characters is absurd yet provides plenty of laughs. Jennifer Lawrence had a breakout performance as well, earning impressive critical acclaim for her role. If you haven’t had the chance to see this movie yet, take the time to do so. It will be one of the 4-5 movies you hear about non-stop in the next month as the nominations and awards ceremonies are discussed on a regular basis. Oh and happy 37th birthday to Bradley Cooper.
And now on to the news and views of the day…
—- Unfortunately we are entering a weekend without a Kentucky basketball game. The 8 day break is the last breather for John Calipari and his Wildcats before they begin the grind of the SEC schedule (*not necessarily the TEAMS but the more routine 2 game per week schedule). Between climbing back from a 17-point deficit against Louisville and a balanced and impressive performance against Eastern Michigan on Wednesday, the momentum seems to be building for this young team to hit their stride in conference play. The point guard situation has been solved. Alex Poythress is “halfway home.” Willie Cauley-Stein has emerged into a potential double-double type of player on any given night. Nerlens Noel and Ryan Harrow have begun to create a nice 1-2 defensive punch on the exterior and interior for Kentucky. And Kyle Wiltjer and Julius Mays are creating an outside shooting threat. This team feels about 1 1/2 steps away from where they really need/want to be for the first few SEC games… —- Step 1: Archie Goodwin. Calipari has set Ryan Harrow on the right path with a lot of individual attention before practices. Alex Poythress was his next major project with the individual sessions, and he seems to be moving in the right direction. As we’ve spoken about before here on KSR, Goodwin has had his moments of absolute brilliance. When he’s being aggressive and finishing in the paint, as well as hitting from the outside– he’s as good of an offensive weapon as this Kentucky team has. When he’s out of control driving to the lane, or giving up on plays on both ends of the floor– he can be very frustrating. My guess is that after Calipari gets Poythress exactly where he needs him to be, he will turn his attention to Goodwin. Again, while Goodwin has been beyond impressive at times, I think he can be even better and much more consistent. — The 1/2 step: Alex Poythress. His 16-point second half performance in which he showed more confidence and assertiveness led Calipari to say in his post-game commentary that Alex was “halfway home.” Poythress has been the focal point of Calipari’s attention this past week, and likely will be again in the 8 day stretch before the Vanderbilt game. By all accounts Poythress has begun to “turn the corner.” Something is telling me that the Vandy game will be Poythress’ breakout game…in his home state.
-In his first 5 games, Harrow shot 26.1% from the field. In his last 4 games, he’s connected on 50.9% of his field goal attempts. In the same amount of games, Harrow has gone from a 9.1% 3-point shooter to a 60% 3-point shooter.
-In his first 6 games, Cauley-Stein averaged 3.8 rebounds. In his last seven, he’s pulling down an average of 7.7 rebounds per game.
-In his first 5 games of the season, Poythress averaged 18.4 points per game. In his last 8 games, he is averaging 11.3 points per game.
—- Calipari has the team staying close this weekend even though they don’t have a game until next week. The team will practice twice tomorrow. According to Nerlens Noel though, the team enjoyed dinner together tonight before catching a movie together. Any guesses as to what the movie choice might have been? Let’s look at some the odds of some of the available movies:
“Not Fade Away” Odds: Similar to the odds that Vanderbilt is selected to host a ESPN College Game Day for basketball again
“Promised Land” Odds: Similar to the odds that John Calipari does NOT say “I like my team” at least 3 more times this season.
“Django Unchained” Odds: Similar to the odds of Kentucky, Florida or Missouri being 1 of the teams to win the SEC men’s basketball regular season title
“Les Miserables” Odds: Similar to the odds of John Short ever picking the Wildcats to lose a game
“Silver Linings Playbook” Odds: Similar to the odds of Mark Emmert wearing a #TeamNF bracelet
“This is 40” Odds: Similar to the odds of Doron Lamb arriving in a city and NOT tweeting “who up?”
—- We may be without a UK game this weekend, but the recruiting news buzz has picked up this week. Earlier today a recruiting analyst named Joe Davis reported that “one college coach who has been involved with Dakari Johnson since its initial stages , told us he believes UK is a done deal for him.” Drew Franklin said the same thing in a post yesterday. Just saying. —- John Calipari took some time away this evening (before two practices with the team tomorrow) to go watch Andrew Wiggins and Emmanuel Mudiay play in Wheeling, West Virginia. The announcer at the game recognized John Calipari for being in attendance at the game. He then congratulated Calipari on his national title. Florida State’s head coach Leonard Hamilton was not in attendance, so the announcer didn’t get the chance to congratulate Florida State on their 61-56 loss to Mercer earlier this season. —- Emmanuel Mudiay finished with 18 points, while Andrew Wiggins chipped in 16. Mudiay’s coach said that UK, Baylor and SMU are the schools recruiting him the hardest. 2015 Forward Elijah Thomas impressed the Kentucky coaches tonight as well. His 18 point (on 8-10 shooting) performance to lead his team past Huntington Prep was enough to increase the level of interest from Kentucky’s side. Calipari will be back in town again tomorrow night to watch Dakari Johnson play. Lock it up, Cal. Lock it up. —- With the non-conference slate of games nearly complete for the SEC schools, ESPN bumped Kentucky up to #2 in the SEC Power Rankings this week. Here’s how the Top 5 in the SEC look heading into the opening games next week: —- The Kentucky football team is setting up for a huge couple of weeks in the world of recruiting. Mark Stoops and company have wooed some impressive young players to take visits to Lexington in the coming weeks. Ben Bradley was on campus today. Bradley is a 6’2″, 315 lbs. 4-star defensive tackle from Hutchinson Community College in Kansas. Bradley had previously committed to Tennessee but decided to de-commit last week. Bradley is now considering the Cats along with Auburn, Missouri and Nebraska. Bradley will announce Monday following a visit to Auburn after his trip to Lexington. He plans to enroll in classes to be eligible to play right away. Come on down, big fella. —- At least 18 other recruits that we know of will be visiting Kentucky’s campus in the month of January. Mrs. Tyler Thompson outlined the list of recruits earlier today on the site— almost all of which have 3 or 4 stars next to their names. If that doesn’t get you excited about Kentucky football, I don’t know what will. —– Stoops and his coaching staff seem to be trying to get a large number of these recruits on campus together during this month. You would have to think that having these talented guys in Lexington together sends the message to all of them that Kentucky is serious about bringing in a strong crop of players. Here’s to hoping that these guys are ready to be a part of the face of the new future of this program. —- The hard work and recruiting connections in Ohio continue to make waves for the new Kentucky staff. Mikel Horton, a 4-star running back from West Chester, Ohio just picked up a Kentucky offer today according to his personal Twitter account. The number of times I’ve heard the words “four star” used in the past month surpasses the number of times I heard it over the past 3 years.
—- Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey said before his team’s game with the Kings tonight that DeMarcus Cousins was having “an all-star type season.” Cousins responded promptly with 8 points, 3 rebounds and 2 steals in the first 8 minutes of the game. Cousins went on to record his 5th straight double-double (he reached his double-double by the 3rd quarter). Cousins gave the Kings every reason NOT to trade him tonight, while giving every team in the NBA a reason to covet him. Cousins finished with 31 points (season high), 20 rebounds (tied career high), 4 assists and 2 steals.
—- Congratulations to former Kentucky Wildcat QB and last season’s UK grad assistant Andre Woodson. Woodson accepted a position on the Morehead State coaching staff as the wide receivers coach. Woodson initially interviewed for the quarterback coach position. For Woodson the position is a step in the right direction, making the move from a graduate assistant to a full-time member of the coaching staff.
—- And last but not least…KSR College is looking for a new writers for the spring and summer semesters. Interested candidates need to be in either college or graduate school, have the ability to attend events on UK’s campus and an interest in writing about UK sports and topics surrounding UK sports in the coming year. You don’t have to be a student at UK but you do need to be at a college close enough to UK so that you could be sent to Lexington for events (Transy, Centre, EKU, etc). We are especially interested in those that are SUPER CREATIVE, FUNNY, ENTERTAINING or UNIQUE in their viewpoints. If you are interested in applying, the turnaround is quick. We need (a) A resume, (b) a writing sample of a story/blog post you have done or have created for this opportunity and (c) your class/work schedule. All of this needs to be submitted to [email protected] by SATURDAY at NOON. We will be doing interviews in Lexington the weekend of January 12th and picking the staff soon thereafter. This is a great opportunity for all of those who are interested in writing/covering sports. You will get a forum to get your writing published and for those that excel, the potential to work on the regular KSR site in the future.