How could we not dedicate tonight’s post to Josh Teater, the Danville native and Morehead State grad who tied for second in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Monday afternoon? Teater is not only a huge Kentucky fan, he’s a fan of the site as well. Teater was second to only Tiger Woods with a score of ten under, which is by far his highest finish since joining the PGA Tour. For it, Teater will bring a $536,800 paycheck home to Lexington.
We first really became aware of Teater’s fanhood during the Free Enes movement, when he wrote “FREE ENES” on his golf shoes during a tournament. Since then, Teater has been a BBN force on Twitter, tweeting his love for the Cats and striking up a friendship with Rich Brooks, with whom he golfs and probably takes scenic pictures frequently. As you can see in the picture above, Teater even wore a Kentucky jersey during the Shell Houston Open days before the National Championship game, which he saw in person at the Superdome.
Congrats, Josh. Consider these news and views the cherry on top.
Monday was a huge day for both major sports at Kentucky, so let’s dive right in.
— For yet another week, the Cats did not receive any votes in the polls, but they have an opportunity to change that Tuesday night, when they take on Ole Miss in Oxford. I feel as though we’ve been saying this a lot lately, but this is the biggest game of the season thus far for the Cats. They’re three point underdogs to the fighting Marshall Hendersons right now and if they manage to pull of an upset, it would be a statement win to sit right atop their NCAA Tournament resume. If they lose, the climb to the tournament gets a little bit steeper and the margin for error narrower. Kentucky will likely be without Willie Cauley-Stein, who will travel with the team to Oxford, but is doubtful to play. Cal said that while Willie is making progress, they don’t won’t to rush him, and his chances at returning for the Texas A&M game are looking better by the day.
— Ole Miss leads the SEC in scoring with 80.3 points a game, beating teams by a margin of 16.4 points, second only to Florida. They’re currently riding a nine-game winning streak and coming off the dreaded Thursday-Saturday-Tuesday turnaround, one of the few hopeful signs for the Cats’ chances Tuesday night. Despite his team’s status as the favorite, Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said that his squad still has the hunter’s mentality and is ready to take advantage of the opportunity in front of them: “Kentucky in your building, the most storied program in all of college basketball, our guys will be excited about that. Now hopefully we play well.”
— Of course, the key to the Rebels/Black Bears (which do I call them? I’m confused.) playing well is Marshall Henderson, the trigger-happy trash talker who transferred from junior college after stints at Utah and Texas Tech. Henderson leads the league in scoring with 19.2 points a game, and has absolutely no fear from behind the three-point line. On Monday, Cal told reporters he expects Henderson to shoot thirteen threes, and because of his play, has the “ultimate green light” from Kennedy to shoot at will. How do you defend that? The Cats will put Archie Goodwin on Henderson, with Ryan Harrow rotating over to give Goodwin relief if he needs it.
— It will be a big task for Archie, who has drawn the ire of the fan base lately, prompting Cal to write a letter to the fans in his defense on Sunday. Cal said that Archie is the first in the gym and the last to leave, so you can’t fault his effort. According to Cal, Archie is in the process of changing the way he plays in order to become the team player the team needs: “He just doesn’t have the right mindset, doesn’t know shot selection, plays out of control, because that’s how he’s always played…Right now, he’s a killer, but sometimes he’s killing us.” Cal once again compared Archie to DeAndre Liggins, who went through a similar transformation, which took him to the NBA. Could guarding Henderson be the challenge that Archie needs to spark his competitive spirit? If so, it would not only lead to a statement win for the Cats, but a statement game for Archie as well.
— Part of that path includes talking back when Henderson inevitably starts yapping. Cal challenged his team to “get mad” and talk back if Henderson talks smack to them. We’ve seen glimpses of that from various players throughout the season, but all of the Cats will need to roar to have a chance at pulling off the upset. My advice? They need to start taking all of Henderson’s insults personally.
— Congrats to Nerlens Noel, who won the SEC Freshman of the Week award for the second straight week. There aren’t enough superlatives for Nerlens, but Andy Kennedy may have had the highest praise for him on Monday when he said that he thinks Nerlens has a better presence around the basket defensively than Anthony Davis. We’ve been taught to shy away from such comparisons, but at this point, they’re impossible to avoid, especially since Nerlens is only six blocks shy of Anthony’s record-breaking pace. In addition, he’s the only player over 6’5″ who ranks in the Top 15 nationally in steals. Sounds like a pretty good candidate for Defensive Player of the Year to me, right UK?
— You know it’s a busy day when the news that Kentucky is renewing its rivalry with North Carolina comes halfway through the night post. On Monday morning, the university announced that starting next season, the Cats will travel to Chapel Hill and host the Heels the season after. The renewal was expected, as Cal wanted to take a year off in order to balance the schedule so that the team will play Louisville at home the same season it plays North Carolina on the road and vice versa. In true Cal form, he tweeted that “We are always looking for great neutral-site games as well.” Ball’s not in your home court, Crean.
— There was so much football recruiting news that we have dubbed the day as “Blue Monday.” With signing day little over a week away, Mark Stoops and his staff got two new commitments on Monday: Alexander Montgomery and Marcus McWilson. Montgomery, a three-star wide receiver from Florida, chose the Cats over Louisville. Why? Montgomery visited Louisville this past weekend and said he liked the atmosphere at Kentucky better, and notably, that “they never talk down anybody” (sound familiar?). Montgomery said that despite the critics who say the Cats can’t win in the SEC, he doesn’t buy it: “But we can start something new. This recruiting class is going to start something.”
Four-star safety Marcus McWilson echoed those thoughts, telling the Courier-Journal that the pieces are falling into place for something big in Lexington: “We’ve got something going on great. The coaches are definitely ready. The players are ready for more opportunities, ready to make a change in the program and ready to get the job done. We’re going to shock the nation and go from there.” McWilson decommitted from Nebraska last week to follow Vince Marrow to Kentucky, strengthening the program’s ties in football fertile Ohio.
— Can I get a “Stooooooooooooops”?
— If that weren’t enough, Jason Hatcher says he is not visiting Louisville this week and is done taking his visits. Hatcher attended the UK/LSU game on Saturday and is believed to be down to the Cats, the Cards, and USC. If Hatcher commits to Kentucky, part of me wants to grab my UK flag, drive to Louisville, and run a lap around their campus, something I haven’t felt compelled to do since last year’s Final Four. (Of course, fear of being shot, stabbed, or being pelted with Crown Royal bottles keeps me at bay.)
— Blue Monday wasn’t just an exciting step forward for this recruiting class, but it was the beginning of another chapter in the burgeoning Stoops vs. Strong rivalry. While Alexander Montgomery chose the Cats over the Cards, three-star linebacker Keith Kelsey, Jr. did not. Kelsey was down to Kentucky, Louisville, and South Florida, and announced his decision to attend Louisville in quite the dramatic fashion–by putting on a UK hat and saying “I think that I will be attending the University of Kentucky to be a Wildcat. Psyche. I’m a Louisville Cardinal, baby. Go Cards!” First off, who still says “psyche”? That stirred up the rivalry to the point of pure troll infestation in the comments section, and along with Montgomery’s commitment, Hatcher’s decision, and several other recruiting battles, signals the Cats are getting ready to hold up their end of an otherwise lopsided affair.
Right, Jaleel Hytchye?
@prospectcard dude did you forget Louisville was the same way up to 3 years ago…the people who criticize our success is who fear us
— Jaleel -UK Commit-(@TheRealLeel_9) January 28, 2013
— We’ve only just begun. There’s still eight days to go until signing day and several more recruits ready to pull the trigger, including James Hearns, Ryan Timmons, Jeff Badet and JoJo Kemp, who will announce his decision on Friday.. I’ve got a “G” and I’m sitting on an “O,” let’s GO!
HUGE day coming up, with the Cats’ big game in Oxford, more recruiting news, and all the Marshall Henderson hate you can handle. Be back soon.