Remember him? Of course you do. He is No. 227 on Kentucky’s all-time leading scoring list, just ahead of Phil Johnson and Reggie Warford. Dodson averaged six points and 14 minutes for Kentucky during the John Wall season while not getting back on defense and allegedly getting into all kinds of mischief, according to message boards and water cooler talk. On Monday night, Dodson played in his first college basketball game since hitting half of Kentucky’s three-pointers against West Virginia, in a Fox Sports South-televised game for Southern Miss. It was his debut/return to the Golden Eagles after pleading guilty to grand larceny last spring. He didn’t play in the first half and I turned it off at halftime. I don’t regret that and I think we can all agree that we’ve already spent too much time talking about Darnell Dodson. Let’s move on.
UPDATE FROM MATT: Drew may have gone to bed, but I have not and Dodson was a star. Darnell had 17 points in the second half and hit a three at the buzzer to beat Arizona State on the road. He was amazing in the second half and showcased how talented he is when his head is on straight. At Kentucky he was a knucklehead, but it looks like a Southern Miss star was born tonight.
UPDATE FROM DREW: I watched. I’m impressed. #DarnellDodsonSaysShutUp
We have a lot to talk about so let’s get to it…
— We’re less than 24 hours away from Kentucky’s game against the Samford Bulldogs and we still don’t know if Terrence Jones will be able to play. Jones sat out of practice on Monday to rest that dislocated pinky. Calipari told the media that he’s unsure if Jones will play Tuesday night but he doesn’t expect to start him without practicing. The team doctor thought Jones would be ready for Monday’s practice but he decided to keep him out another day after seeing the finger. Cal said it’s pretty swollen and black and blue but “he will be fine.” This is one of those injuries that just takes time. Be glad it came during the Chattanooga, Samford, Loyola-Marymount stretch and not at some other point in the season.
— Calipari also spoke about a change in Doron Lamb’s work ethic and how the results are showing on the court. He said Doron is coming in a half hour or 45 minutes before each practice to get in some extra work and conditioning. Lamb says he does it to “try to get sweaty” before practice. “I’ve been working out before practice and after practice, putting shots up, trying to get sweaty before practice, and getting ready for practices between games,” he said. “It starts at practice. You do it in practice and it goes to the games.” The hard work is paying off because Lamb is averaging almost 16 points per game while shooting 50% from beyond the arc this season.
— Doron Lamb isn’t the only player putting in the extra work on his own time; there are a handful of other players doing it too. Four or five players have formed what Calipari called a “breakfast club”, where they get up and work out together followed by a delicious group breakfast. He wouldn’t tell us who is in it but he said the guys you’d expect to be in it are in it. That group includes at least one freshman (gotta be Gilchrist, right?) and he said it was all started by one guy who was doing it on his own before the others joined in. Cal pointed out that Michael Jordan started a breakfast club in Chicago during the ’96-’96 season when the Bulls won a record 72 games and an NBA title. Breakfast Club = Results.
— School is out for Christmas break so Calipari wants his team’s complete focus to be on basketball, basketball, and basketball. He said, “I told them, between now and January 9th, you are playing basketball and you are eating and you’re sleeping. That is it. You are playing basketball or you are eating or you are sleeping. We may go four times a day. You may have breakfast, practice, dinner, practice and go watch film at my house.” The players will get a short break to be with their families for Christmas but it’s all basketball outside of that.
— When the players are eating dinner together at these team meals, don’t expect any of them to pull out a cell phone. Cal said he doesn’t implement a ‘no cell phone’ policy, but the players know to put it away when they’re together. “If I see a guy on the phone, I am like, ‘What are you doing? You want to talk on the phone more than you want to talk to your teammate? Is that person more important than your teammate? Well, then go sit with them. See ya, bye. You don’t need to be here,’” he said. “They have never been taught that way or coached that way and they don’t understand what’s the importance or what’s the big deal. ‘I want to be on my own.’ Good, go to bowling. Golf is a good game. Singles tennis, wrestling aren’t bad. But this is a team sport.”
— Coach Robic was in charge of Monday night’s pre-Samford practice while Calipari, Antigua, and Kenny Payne made a trip to the Sunshine State. The three Kentucky coaches spent Monday night at the City Palms Classic where a number of UK’s top targets played in big games. The marquee matchup of the night was the 10:00 game featuring Shabazz Muhammad, the top player in 2012, against Julius Randle, a top ten 2013 recruit. Shabazz’s Bishop-Gorman lost but he scored 42 points on 14/29 shooting while Randle dropped 26 points and 10 rebounds in the win. It was the second game of the night for the UK staff after watching a head-to-head battle between Nerlens Noel and Amile Jefferson in the 6:00 game. Noel had nine points and 17 rebounds in a blowout win to Jefferson’s 19 and 10.
— Calipari wrote on Facebook that he’ll have a surprise for Big Blue Nation when he returns from Florida. I can only imagine how disappointing this surprise is going to be. My guess is a new Orange Leaf location.
— Back in Tennessee, Alex Poythress scored 47 points with 17 rebounds and nine blocks in Northeast’s overtime win in the State Farm Holiday Tournament. The UK signee is putting up video game numbers so far this season.
— Matt Jones and the KSR radio crew went out to Fairdale for the KSR Christmas Party/King of the Bluegrass basketball tournament on Monday night. The Clear Channel gang was in the house to see Bullitt East and Derek Willis in action. Willis’ team won big over Bardstown with 15 points, nine rebounds, five blocks, five steals, and three assists from the 2013 big man. Rick Pitino, Russ Smith, Chane Behanan, and Gorgui Dieng were also in attendance but they were no match for Matt, Drew The Employee, and Shannon the Dude in terms of celebrity sightings. Derek Willis’ dad was also there, wearing a Louisville hat.
— Switching over to the NBA, Enes Kanter scored his first points for the Jazz on a pair of free throws in the first quarter of Utah’s preseason game against the Blazers. He has six points on 4-of-4 shooting from the foul line with five rebounds at the half. Do you smell a double-double? I do.
— On Monday we learned the sad news that Chuck Hayes won’t be a member of the Sacramento Kings this season. Chuck failed the team physical and the Kings voided his contract. Heartbreaking news for the UK great.
— There were a couple of upsets in the land of college basketball Monday night when Davidson took down No. 11 Kansas 80-74 in Kansas City and LSU defeated undefeated Marquette 67-59. It’s about time a team not named Kentucky or Florida did something in the SEC. I still can’t get over how bad Vanderbilt has been this season.
— Get ready for a big radio show Tuesday morning when Oscar Combs and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray stop by the show. Gray will be talking about that fancy new Rupp Arena plan and Oscar will most likely tell a great story from UK’s past while wearing a cowboy hat. You won’t want to miss it.