We did this a few weeks ago when Samford came to Commonwealth to play football, so we won’t go through the entire song and dance again. Before we get started, a special Know Your Enemy shoutout to Karl-Anthony “Big Cat-Skills to Pay the Bills-Baby Face-Dominican Dirk” Towns. Welcome to the Big Blue Nation, fella.
Contrary to popular belief, Samford isn’t all that interesting. If you missed it the first time and are interested in learning about Birmingham, AL, the Bulldog cheerleaders, and famous people associated with Birmingham you can catch up on that HERE.
Let’s hit the high points relevant to the basketball game. Their coaches, their players, and their basketball history.
Coaches of Interest:
Head Coach, Bennie Seltzer- Seltzer played his collegiate basketball at Washington State and made assistant coaching stops at Oklahoma, Marquette, and Indiana before landing his first head coaching job at Samford this past offseason. He is a Tom Crean disciple and has been drawing on his former assistant coaching experience a lot this season. A whole lot.
Assistant Coach, Scott Padgett- Once a Cat, always a Cat. Though his days in Lexington got off to a rough start academically, Padgett ended his career as an incredibly decorated alum. He was a four time SEC tournament champion, the 1999 SEC Tournament MVP, a member of the 1997 NCAA runner-up and a member of the 1998 NCAA champion. He had an 8 year NBA career spent mostly with the Jazz and Rockets.
As you probably remember, Padgett got his start in coaching on John Calipari’s first coaching staff at Kentucky. He then moved on to join Steve Masiello at Manhattan before settling in at Samford in April of 2012.
Video Coordinator, Charles Newton- While most video coordinator’s will go unrecognized by opposing fan bases, Charles Newton will not. Charles is the son of Martin Newton and grandson of former UK Athletic Director C.M. Newton. He went to Lexington Catholic High School and played in college at Tennessee Tech.
Tim Williams- A 6’8″ freshman from Chicago, IL. Williams is leading the Bulldogs in scoring with 15.6 per game while tacking on 8.4 boards. He had 15 points and 6 rebounds against Louisville
Raijon Kelly- Kelly is a 6’4” sophomore from St. Paul, Minnesota. He comes in averaging 13 points and 3.6 assists. He’ll play against UK’s platoon of struggling point guards tomorrow night. Hopefully he can get them back on track for us.
They compete in the Southern Conference. Samford has been to two NCAA tournaments, in 1999 and 2000.
They have struggled so far this year, coming into the game with a 1-6 record. Bennie Seltzer is less than amused by their play thus far.
The Cats and Bulldogs last met on December 20th, 2011 in Rupp Arena. Doron Lamb led the Cats with 26 points in a lopsided 82-50 in for Kentucky.
UK needs this game right now. Samford has no seniors on their roster and are led by a freshman and sophomore in Williams and Kelly. After two straight losses and being unranked for the first time in Calipari’s tenure, the Cats need a game in which they can build their confidence back up.
I’d like to see Harrow get most of the minutes at point guard tonight. Him having a good game and building confidence is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING that can happen for this team right now. He has to play point guard for this team to reach it’s potential. Sure, Archie CAN play point. But he is going to be much more effective if he can concentrate on scoring. It’s time for Ryan to step up and there is no better time than tonight. That’s what I’ll be watching for.
Regardless of how frustrated you may be as a fan, think about the Brandon Knight/Jorts team that made the Final Four. They were frustrating to watch early in the year, too. However, they continued to get better and better. Though this team is even younger than that team, this team has more talent thus more room for improvement. After all, Cal likes his team. But don’t think for a second he has a magic wand. He doesn’t.
WE WON THE NATIONAL TITLE 8 MONTHS AGO. Keep enjoying that.