Jon Hood has had has fair share of ups and downs. Coming to Lexington as a heralded recruit under Billy Gillispie, Hood has been a fan favorite — as any long-tenured Wildcat should be — but particularly because he is a homegrown Kentucky boy. He is the only current player on the roster that has played under Calipari since his start, and has continued to provide leadership and experience to all four of the teams he has been a part of.
In his early years Hood was overshadowed by the likes of DeAndre Liggins, Darius Miller, Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb. He rolled a four-wheeler, and suffered a torn ACL during summer workouts prior to the 2012 season, which forced him to miss the entire year. He used a medical redshirt to become a better player off the court, and serve as another set of eyes on the bench. Despite rarely getting a chance to play significant minutes, Jon Hood has stuck with his Kentucky teammates and sustained a positive attitude throughout his lowest of lows.
Now with a real opportunity to play significant minutes, just when things were on the right track, Hood came down with a respiratory illness which put him out of Saturday’s game and sent him back home for the holidays, ahead of the rest of the team. Surely he will bounce back quickly, but can’t we all feel for Jon Hood? The injury bug, for the most part has avoided Calipari’s Cats (knock on wood). Maybe our Jon Hood is just the team’s punching bag? How else do you explain the bad breaks to such a good kid? Sure, players have freak accidents, and plenty of players have suffered injuries throughout the season. But Jon Hood, our poor Jon Hood… For a guy who has waited his turn for this long, his karma deserves to be better.
Allow this post to stand as a tribute to Jon Hood: Kentucky’s Friendliest Punching Bag.
With the game smack-dab in the middle of the day, news was a bit skimpy. But here are your notes from Saturday.
When you consider Rick Pitino is the Crypt Keeper — a man who should be hard to read and willing to withhold information — he may be the worst person on the planet in subtlety. Earlier in the week KSR had your very first Kentucky-Louisville preview. At the time, Rick Pitino was standing by Gorgui Dieng being sidelined, still recovering from his wrist injury. In the most unsurprising turn of events, in his pre-Western Kentucky press conference, Pitino hinted that likely will not be the case any longer…
Eric Crawford of WDRB in Louisville says Pitino revealed Dieng has been able to throw and catch passes in practice. More importantly, Dieng’s parents are flying in from Africa for the Kentucky game. It doesn’t take a scientist to read between the lines on this one.
Coach Calipari was downplaying next week’s game against Louisville tonight in the post-game. He says his team needed to play a team like Marshall, a big physical group that pushed the Cats around. When a reporter asked him to clarify if that was in reference to “the game next week,” Calipari said:
No. Just for us. Who are we playing next week?
Might be Louisville, I believe.
We’re playing Louisville? Whoa, that’s going to be a hard game. I’m worried about my team right now.
Kyle Wiltjer said of the Louisville game, “It’s just a huge rivalry with the fans and we just want to treat it like another game and get ready for them”
Same old story for both sides, as it is in most rivalries. Don’t show your hand until it is game time.
On the national college basketball scene there were two notable upsets involving a few teams you need to keep your eye on come March. In downtown New York, the Temple Owls knocked off No. 3 Syracuse 83-79, led by Khalif Wyatt’s 33-point game. Temple is not typically one of those major underdog teams, but one that often flies under the radar. The Owls were coming off a 10-point home loss to Canisius.
Later in the day, 16th-ranked New Mexico suffered its first loss of the season to Summit League contender South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits could sneak into the tournament and shock some unsuspecting teams if they continue to progress through conference play. There is nothing to suggest they are a Cinderella yet, but you cannot ignore a team going into The Pit in Albuquerque and leaving with a win.
Two other “upsets” happened, going purely by national ranking. No. 9 Kansas held off No. 7 Ohio State, thanks to Jayhawks freshman Ben McLemore and his 22 points. Kansas won the game 74-66. The Buckeyes have now lost its only two games against ranked opponents, also falling to Duke in late November.
Finally No. 12 Missouri won bragging rights against No. 10 Illinois for the second consecutive season, taking the neutral-site game being played in St. Louis, 82-73. Laurence Bowers, Jabari Brown, Alex Oriakhi and Phil Pressey each scored in double-figures for the Tigers.
The victory for Missouri marks a high-point for the Southeastern Conference today, a day which the conference as a whole will want to forget. Among the most embarrassing were home losses by Ole Miss to Indiana State, Alabama to Mercer, and Texas A&M to Southern. Also around the league, Florida lost to Kansas State, LSU lost to Marquette, and Auburn lost to Winthrop. Thank goodness Kentucky escaped this ugly day in the SEC.
UK Hoops made the most of its trip out West, extending the winning streak to nine games Friday. The 7th-ranked Wildcats marched over UC Santa Barbara 66-38 after knocking off Pepperdine 80-62 in Malibu earlier in the week. A’dia Mathies paced the team with 19 points. The women’s basketball team improves to 10-1 on the season, and comes back home to play Alcorn State on December 28.
Aaron Rodgers is packing up his bags as quarterback of the Green Bay Packers are moving on to become head coach of the women’s soccer team at Ohio University… Wait, what? Not Aaron Rogers? Oh, right. After spending three seasons as assistant coach at Kentucky, our Rodgers is getting a new gig. He was announced as head coach at Ohio on Saturday, after helping current Kentucky coach John Lipsitz in three successful seasons. Congratulations to him and his family on the promotion.
That’s all for now. Sweet dreams, Big Blue Nation. We’ll see you in the morning.