Good morning, my KSR family, and welcome to your the start of your holiday week here at KSR. Around these parts, our eyes are affixed to the world of roundball at the moment as the Cats get ready to finish off their last two non-conference cupcakes before looking to bid farewell to a great year of UK athletics with a win over that glorified junior college down I-64. The rest of the world, though, continues to to focus on the pigskin and the rush to the NFL playoffs. On Sunday, a day where a punt return provided the afternoon’s most spectacular finish, it was a 71-yard kickoff return by a 313 pound offensive lineman that stole the show. The Patriots’ Dan Connolly, a former undrafted free agent, took a bouncing Packers kickoff just before the two minute warning in the first half down to the four yard line with a healthy mix of deceptive speed, a stiffarm and a shifty cutback. It sent the Gillette Stadium into a frenzy and left Chris Collinsworth in need of a cold shower. The play will probably be played over hundreds of times on ESPN this week, but you’ll have to excuse a certain 310 pounds of glory in Connolly’s locker room if he’s not impressed. You gotta score on that, big fella!
Now onto some UK notes…
– For the second time in a week, the big news of the day involved UK’s coach and a little international flavor. Just a few days after earning a nomination for a United Nations peace award, Coach Cal was the subject of rumors saying that the Dominican Republic was interested in him coaching their national team and that the interest might be reciprocated from UK’s coach. A couple of sources confirmed Sunday that Coach Cal does indeed have some interest in taking the reigns of a national team that includes Al Horford and Charlie Villanueva and could add Trevor Ariza and (gasp!) Fransisco Garcia and Edgar Sosa. It is far from a done deal and it wouldn’t be fair to say Coach Cal’s interest is anything more than just an initial curiosity at this point, but there are a few reasons that the opportunity could be appealing to Kentucky’s head coach, one of them being Orland Antigua. We’ll get into those more later on Monday.
– After Friday closed with no news on the Enes Kanter situation, everyone turned their eyes toward the start of the business week on Monday in hopes that the NCAA would finally release their ruling on the eligibility of the Turksih big man. There is still no indication that the news will come on Monday, but that doesn’t mean we won’t hear anything. Coach Cal said on Friday that a decision should come “soon” and the NCAA spokesman confirmed to Jerry Tipton that they are trying to work toward a quick resolution. Most people close to the program still believe it should be resolved before Christmas, so keep refreshing and get your Twitter updates set up on your phone.
– There is a notable piece of basketball recruiting news, though it doesn’t involve Trevor Lacey or DeAndre Daniels. Surprised? Adam Zagoria reported Sunday that Ricardo Ledo will visit for the Coppin State game and then follow that with a visit to Louisville for the UK game. Ledo is ranked by Rivals as the #2 shooting guard in the 2012 class and the seventh-best prospect overall. He visited UConn, his home state school, on Friday.
– For everyone who has wondered how Joker Phillips will handle co-defensive coordinators, there was some clarity over the weekend. Phillips announced that, though he will have the same title as Steve Brown, Rick Minter will be in charge of the defense. Phillips said that he decided to place one guy in charge after talking with Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, who is famous for his co-coordinators, and that he expects Steve Brown to return next year despite the apparent demotion. For his part, Minter said all the right things and said that he looks forward to working with Brown and that they have a tremendous amount of respect for each other. He also said he has no clue when it comes to calling the defensive plays. Not really. But you were hoping he did, weren’t you?
– Minter also gave some clarity into the 4-3 or 3-4 debate by saying UK would run the “Wildcat defense” for the time being, including the bowl game in which Minter will call the defensive plays. Unfortunately, Minter did not mean that he was going to have Randall Cobb lined up at different spots raising hell. Instead, he said that, while they might make some changes in what they do at some point, the immediate plan is to continue to run the 4-3 that this team has been recruited and coached to play. He added “We don’t want to force a square peg into a round hole.”
– On Sunday, UK held their final open practice of 2010 and Joker Phillips was pleased with his team’s efforts, calling it “a good practice” and praising the team’s enthusiasm. Phillips said that they haven’t spent a lot of time preparing for Pitt specifically, choosing instead to focus on getting Morgan Newton ready and working on winning the turnover battle. The defense spent the 11-on-11 session trying focusing on getting takeaways, which allowed the offense under Newton on to focus on protecting the ball.
– Though the weekend was highlighted by a number of important visitors, Kentucky did welcome two familiar names into the program. Tim Patterson and Max Smith began practice on Saturday with the team as “grayshirt” enrollees. Patterson, a linebacker from Central, is still recovering from a knee injury suffered at the end of his high school season while Smith, a quarterback who delayed his enrollment after UK went over the scholarship limit, participated in practice. He did not transfer to a junior college, though some numbnuts might have written that in this exact space earlier.
– The SEC got another boost in basketball credibility over the weekend. As Tennessee continues to flounder against their cupcakes, Florida knocked off #6 Kansas State on Saturday in a strange game that saw the Gators start the game with seven scoreless minutes.
– I’m not sure if you saw this or not because I don’t think anyone posted it on this site Sunday, but make sure you check out this DeMarcus Cousins article on Fanhouse. It’s awesome. And it has a cool video. And I bet you haven’t read it or seen it yet. Because no one has posted it on here yet.
That’s it for now. Stay tuned throughout this fine Monday for all kinds of UK goodness. We’ll discuss the Calipari-Dominican Republic story some more and I’ll breakdown the NFL prospects of a few Cats with the help of Wes Bunting of the National Football Post. It all gets going with Kentucky Sports Radio on 1080 AM at 10 am. Make sure you stick around. See you in a few…