A group of men from all over the country will be living out our dreams for three days beginning Thursday at noon when the John Calipari Fantasy Experience kicks off with a tour of the Wildcat Coal Lodge. From there, they’ll go on to their tryouts in the Joe Craft Center where the six coaches (Seth Greenberg is one of them!) and their assistants (NBA players!) will evaluate the talent and then draft their teams for the camp. The teams will work out with UK’s strength and conditioning coaches; use the showers and locker rooms; travel on team buses; receive their own Nike shoes and gear; and live the life of a UK basketball player during their stay. Coaches will show film and yell at campers for not boxing out or getting beat backdoor, just as if the games actually mattered. If that’s not real enough for them, it’ll really sink in when the camp’s championship game is played Saturday in front of 10,000 people in Rupp Arena. It will be after the 1996 game, before the NBA alumni game tips off. That’ll be quite the story to tell the grandkids.
I’m lucky enough to be a fly on the wall for three days, so I will be wandering around the camp, shooting video, and laughing at our own Matt Jones as he laces up the official UK sneakers to try his hand at being a basketball star. I’ll post pictures and stories at the end of each day and I’ve already told Matt that I won’t be sugar coating his game. I’ll call it like I see it. If he gets dunked on, you will know about it; If he airballs, you will know about; and if he scores 15 points, I was across the street getting lunch.
I’m really looking forward to being KSR’s eye on the court for reports from the camp and Matt’s statistics. I think you’ll enjoy following along and will consider signing up next year if you have 10 grand sitting around.
With all that said, I have a lot of work to do before it starts so let’s run through this Wednesday’s edition of the News and Views.
Forcing turnovers. That’s what Kentucky football has focused on this week in practice. Joker Phillips said it has been an emphasis in practice all fall, but the Cats have only managed to force one turnover in the first two games. They’ll need to improve on that stat to create more opportunities for the offense if they plan to win ball games.
“We have put an emphasis on stripping the ball and attacking the ball when it is in the air,” Phillips told reporters after Wednesday’s practice. “We do need some turnovers. We need some short fields whether it be defense or the special teams area where we return a punt or kickoff to get short fields. It has become really, really hard to drive the ball.”
Western Kentucky had four turnovers last weekend against Alabama. Kentucky’s defense isn’t Alabama, but four turnovers would be nice.
If Kentucky is going to force turnovers, Bud Dupree will be a key part in making it happen. As we learned earlier in the week, Dupree will start at weakside linebacker, but don’t expect him to be there long. It’s looking like Dupree is only keeping the seat warm until freshman linebacker Khalid Henderson is ready to take over. Dupree will move back to the rush linebacker position once that time comes.
Linebacker coach Chuck Smith said, “(Henderson) is starting to really shine a little bit and we’re wanting to give him more and more reps to see if indeed he is going to be a guy that is going to start leading the pack. He has all the tools. He can run, he can hit, but he’s really got great leadership skills. He wants to take ownership of that position.
Dupree also gave Henderson a little love. He told reporters that Henderson is further ahead than he was as a freshman at this point.
Good news for UK’s offense: CoShik Williams is healthy and will start on Saturday. Raymond Sanders and Jonathan George will back him up with an occasional carry or two for Dyshawn Mobley.
Josh Clemons is still out.
Coach Cal and Northwestern Mutual held a press conference on Wednesday morning to officially announce the addition of the Final Four floor to Kentucky’s locker room renovation. The plan is to use the center court piece as the center oval of the locker room with the two free throw lines positioned at the locker room’s entrance. Calipari said it’s more of a recruiting tool than it is motivation for the guys getting ready to go play. He thinks it’ll say a lot to recruits and their families when they visit Rupp.
Cal will sign the remaining pieces of the floor and auction them off to fans with 100% of the money raised going to pediatric cancer. They estimate over 100 pieces will be signed for the online auction.
Cal hit his ring finger on the microphone as he adjusted it before speaking at the press conference, creating a loud noise over the system. “Ah, these national championship rings are always getting in the way.”
I don’t think he’s done with this ring story. He’ll get the last laugh over Roy Williams at UNC. Just wait.
Speaking of UNC, Tyler Hansbrough’s mom resigned from her job of using the school’s money to travel and sleep with a school administrator. Meanwhile, her ex-husband, Tyler’s dad, is living in Bowling Green, Kentucky. We’re on #TeamMrHansbrough.
#shoutout to DeAndre Liggins for signing a deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Terms of the deal were not disclosed but I hope there isn’t a clause saying Liggins must help Orton with his online homework.
That’ll do it for now.
Can I get a Go Cats?