I can hear you now: “When did Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf become UK fans?” Look a little closer…there you go. See that three goggle? Don’t worry, it took me a minute, too.
It’s been a busy Monday, so let’s get right to it…
— At his pre-South Carolina press conference, John Calipari echoed his comments earlier in the day about his team being in flux and their struggles to embrace the physical nature of the game. He went as far to call the team “soft,” singling out Archie Goodwin, Ryan Harrow and Alex Poythress for their lack of mental discipline and tendency to “play for a little bit, then just stop.” Cal said that their softness has become a liability: “when it really gets rough and tough, we got a couple guys that just can’t be in the game, and that’s what hurts you.”
— Poythress in particular balked at talk about this team being soft while taking questions from reporters. Why? Cal chalked it up to embarrassment: “It’s embarrassing when you say to a guy, ‘You’re soft.’ So when I tell them, ‘You’re not tough enough, strong enough,’ that’s embarrassing.”
— Cal used Kyle Wiltjer as an example of a player whom he had to call out for poor play that used that criticism as fuel towards changing his game for the better. Now? “Kyle Wiltjer changed his mental attitude toward practice; he loves walking in. He’s changed how he approached practice, his habits in practice, and it’s changed him. Now they’ve all seen it, but here’s what it is: really hard. ‘I think I can still get what I want without working.’ No, nothing in life is that way. Anything worth having is a dogfight to get. Stuff that’s free and all that stuff, it’s not worth having anyway.”
— Ryan and Archie’s softness means some of their minutes may go to Willie Cauley-Stein. Cal said he didn’t play Willie in the second half on Saturday because of how well Nerlens was playing, which may mean that the days of the Twin Tower lineup are over (thank god). Excuse me while I go pour out a little ketchup and mustard for it…
— One player Willie won’t be taking minutes from? Nerlens. “Nerlens deserves to play, he needs to be on the floor. You can’t say, ‘I’m going to take 15 minutes from Nerlens.’ Ain’t happening.”
— Why not? Because Nerlens is a beast, that’s why. He won both SEC Freshman of the Week and Sports Illustrated’s National Player of the Week for his performances against Ole Miss and Texas A&M. Here’s what Seth Davis has to say about the “Human Eraser”:
This is the first time in the long, storied history of the Fast Break that our POW went through an entire game without scoring a single field goal. That’s how good Noel was in all other aspects of the game last Tuesday night at Ole Miss. It was a performance for the ages — Noel had 12 blocks, seven rebounds and two assists in the Wildcats’ season-turning victory. The most impressive aspect was the fact that Noel played the final 10 minutes with four fouls. Noel is obviously not a polished offensive player (especially from the foul line, where he is shooting an unsightly 53.6 percent), but he followed that up by scoring a season-high 19 points (to go along with 14 rebounds, three assists and two blocks) in UK’s overtime win at Texas A&M. Noel is getting more confident every time he steps on the floor, which is why this young Kentucky squad is rounding into form.
— For the first time in a month, the Cats received votes in both polls. Kentucky received four points in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll, putting them at #38, and 21 votes in the AP Poll, which put them at #34. Kent Taylor reports that seven AP voters had UK on their ballots this week, with Hugh Kellenberger of the Clarion-Ledger ranking them the highest at #20. Don’t call it a comeback.
— Signing Day is so close I can taste the fax toner. Don’t forget that tomorrow at 1 p.m., Franklin County star Ryan Timmons will announce his decision. We’ll have a live stream of the announcement on the site and maybe if you’re good, a live blog.
On today’s show, Matt, Ryan and Drew were all in studio to recap the Cats’ OT win over Texas A&M, the latest in football recruiting, and of course, the Super Bowl. Have a listen at TalkRadio1080.com.