It can be hard to keep up with all the changing trends in Kentucky sports these days. Therefore, in order to keep you informed on the latest happenings in the Big Blue Nation, I chart the trends of the week, from basketball to football to every ridiculous little thing in between. Keep up with what’s hot and what’s not with KSR’s Trend Watch!
Rising faster than Kevin Stallings’ cholesterol count
Finishing — With five minutes left, the Kentucky/Tennessee game could have gone either way. Against Texas A&M the Cats folded in the final five minutes, but against the Vols, they dug their feet in fought back. Sparked by two crucial back-to-back threes from Julius Mays, the Cats were able to put away Tennessee and save their season. Let’s hope that spine travels with them to Alabama for upcoming games against Auburn and the Crimson Tide.
Goodwill — Over the past week, Nerlens Noel visited the Lexington Special Olympics Basketball League and John Calipari spent some time with Zach Pickard, a five-year-old boy diagnosed with Progeria, an accelerated aging syndrome. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the drama of Kentucky sports, especially this season, but pictures like the one below bring everything back in perspective.
Is it a little dusty in here or is it just me?
Comebacks — John Wall returned to the court Saturday night after being sidelined for several months with a knee injury. Wall seems to be back to his former self, posting 14 points and 10 rebounds in Wednesday’s game against DeMarcus Cousins and the Kings. Everyone do a little John Wall dance in his honor today.
Trash Talk — One of the many things Cal wants to see more of from his team is trash talking. This team is pretty mild by prior teams’ standards, but against Tennessee, things finally got a little bit chippy, which Cal not only welcomed, but encouraged: “If I see someone talking to one of my players and they’re not challenging back, I’m not happy. You gotta be a man.” There are a lot of quiet personalities on this year’s squad, but they’ll have to come out of their shell to fight off any further upsets and make it to the tournament. With five losses, the Cats are no longer the invincible, intimidating force they once were.
UK Hoops — The ladies absolutely crushed Mississippi State last night, winning by 53 points. With a 17-1 record and number five ranking, they’re off to the best start in the program’s history. They’re about to move into the tough part of their SEC schedule, but with the way the girls are playing so far, we may be cheering for them longer than we are the boys.
Kyle Wiltjer and Julius Mays — Both Wiltjer and Mays have busted through their slumps. After possibly the worst game of his career, Kyle bounced back to score 17 against Tennessee, and even more, showed off a fierce new attitude. For the first time ever, Kyle asked Cal to draw up a play for him on Tuesday night, and continued to do so until Cal had to tell him to back down. Mays might have saved Kentucky’s season with a pair of back-to-back threes against the Vols, and his smile afterwards was so bright it could have lit Rupp Arena. With Willie Cauley-Stein injured, the Cats will need Kyle Wiltjer to step up and possibly back in to the starting lineup.
Nerlens Noel — Noel is playing the best basketball on the team right now and many are calling him the top prospect in this year’s draft. He flirted with a quadruple-double last Saturday. A QUADRUPLE-double. Cherish him while he’s here, folks…
Kentucky football — For the seventh week in a row, Kentucky football is trending up. Why? Kentucky’s 2013 recruiting class is rising in the rankings, with more highly touted prospects on campus this weekend. 4-star DE Jason Hatcher is even giving the Cats another look, showing the shift in many highly-rated recruits’ perception of the program. With the $110 million renovation to Commonwealth Stadium moving through the State Legislature, Stoops is putting together the pieces to reshape Kentucky into a contender in the SEC, a prospect that seemed impossible three months ago.
Colonel McBee’s letters — It’s hard not to notice Skylar McBee. The mustachioed Tennessee guard has taken his retro look to another level this season by growing a beard, making him look less 70’s porn star and more 1860’s Civil War Colonel. We spent a good part of the live blog on Tuesday coming up with letters “Colonel McBee” would send home to his mother. Here’s one of our favorites from the comments section this week:
‘Dearest Mother…’tis cold here in Lexington. I have seen little action in this battle and now watch as my comrades fall to the feral force they call the ‘Flat Top Feller’. As much as I hate to say it, I fear this battle will end in defeat. Tell Father to feed my chickens and tell dearest Anabelle to keep the ring I gave her. My sincerest regards, your son, Colonel McBee’
Falling like snow on cedars
Kentucky’s postseason plans — After a disappointing loss at home to Texas A&M and a close game against Tennessee, Kentucky’s NCAA Tournament resume isn’t looking too hot. Could this be the season the Cats have to win the SEC Tournament to make it in?
Archie Goodwin — We love Archie, but we really love the Archie that thinks before he acts and passes the ball to create opportunities for his teammates. More of him and less of the out of control ball hog who showed up on Tuesday, please.
Willie Cauley-Stein’s knee — The blast heard round the Bluegrass this afternoon was news that Willie Cauley-Stein injured his knee and his status for this weekend is “to be determined,” Get well soon, buddy. 🙁
Manti Te’o — Has anyone had a worse week than Te’o? At best, he’s perceived as a naive sucker who was duped into thinking his best friend was the love of his life online, and at worst, he’s an attention-seeking liar who manipulated the country’s sympathies for Heisman votes. Either way, even the 70-year-old woman in the grocery had a joke about him this morning.
Pete Thamel — Thamel was the first major reporter to write about Te’o after his girlfriend’s tragic death. Yet, Thamel somehow missed the fact that Lennay Kekua, which Te’o spent a good part of his interview talking about, didn’t even exist. Did he notice any red flags? Sure. Thamel admitted that he didn’t find any record of Kekua at Stanford, where Te’o said she was enrolled or any notice of her death, including an obituary. But because Manti was such a nice kid and everyone spoke of Kekua so highly, he “wrote around it.” Think that would happen if it were Nerlens Noel he was interviewing instead? At least the rest of the world is catching on to Thamel’s antics.
Te’oing, or posing with an invisible girlfriend, is the latest meme to hit the web. It’s so popular, even Tony Vanetti’s doing it! Maybe she’s responsible for the lime green walls?