The ESPN All-Access series just got even better. Jason King, whom I consider to be one of the most talented sportswriters in the business, traveled with the crew to document his observations for ESPN.com. In conjunction with the series premiere of “All-Access: Kentucky,” King published an in-depth piece on what was going on behind the scenes at Big Blue Madness and the first few days of practice. The article deserves a full reading, but here are a few tidbits to tickle your taste buds:
— Before he went on stage at Big Blue Madness, Nerlens Noel went over to Kevin Massey, the diehard UK fan turned student manager that developed a brain tumor when he was 16. He said:
“What’s up, Kevin,” Noel says, squatting so he can look Massey in the eye. “You gonna be watchin’ tonight? Everything I do out there is gonna be for you. The blocks, the dunks, the shots I make … they’re all going to be for you.”
— During their first practice after Madness, Calipari made the team scream as loud as they could during rebounds. Cal’s thoughts on Alex “Courage doesn’t always roar” Poythress’ scream?
“Oh my God, Alex,” Calipari says, turning to address the rest of his team. “I want to hear your lion, not your lamb.”
— The freshmen are going to have to get used to giving 100% effort 100% of the time…or else:
Later, Goodwin draws Calipari’s ire when he fails to defend Jon Hood on an easy layup.
“Why didn’t you block that?” the head coach says to Goodwin. “You can’t just give him a layup. He’s not going to miss a layup. We just lost the game. We’re trying to win. Everything we do is about winning.”
— Cal apparently has enough beds and couches in his house for the whole team to nap or sleep over, which is apparently what happened after their first Saturday practice.
— Cal walks around his office barefoot.
Go read the entire thing. It’s worth it.