It can be hard to keep up with all the changing trends in Kentucky sports these days. Therefore, I’m debuting a new segment in which 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
The future – Even though we’re only in the early signing period, Kentucky secured it’s fifth-straight #1 recruiting class on Thursday when the Harrison Twins, James Young, Marcus Lee, and Derek Willis made their commitments official. On top of that, Cal says he plans to add “one or two” more recruits to the class, which turns all eyes toward their three remaining targets: Julius Randle, Andrew Wiggins, and Aaron Gordon. Despite reports to the contrary, the Cats seem to be in a good position with all three.
The Coach O Connection – One reason the Cats continue to dominate the recruiting scene? Coach Orlando Antigua. Several recruits have gushed about “Coach O,” including Julius Randle, who called him “my man,” (along with Kenny Payne) and Karl Towns, who bonded with Antigua when he was on the Dominican Republic National Team. Cal is king, but Coach O is a huge factor in Kentucky’s recruiting success.
Catlanta – Ain’t no party like a Catlanta partaay. The Big Blue Nation absolutely dominated the Georgia Dome (and the surrounding bars) on Tuesday, and even though the Cats lost, managed to have one hell of a good time. STATS was packed at 10 a.m. for the morning show, with over 200 Big Blue fans in attendance. There was definitely a postseason vibe in the air, which is appropriate, since the Final Four will return to Atlanta in April. The lady working the sports apparel stand in the CNN Center put it best as I purchased yet another Kentucky shirt: “See y’all soon.”
Alex Poythress – After a quiet preseason, Alex (and his courage) roared back onto the scene against Duke, scoring 20 points and dunking all over the place. With every dunk, rebound and drive, Alex’s confidence soared, and the team looked best when he was on the floor. Cal called Poythress “a beast” and said that he’s tired of seeing the “cute” stuff from him: “Get the ball by the guy and dunk on somebody.” Get it, manchild.
#PackCommonwealth – Tomorrow, both the fans and the team have an opportunity to put a good end on a horrible season. The team will get a chance to get a much-needed win and celebration, and the fans can show the seniors and Joker their appreciation. Regardless of what you think of Joker’s job performance as head coach, he has dedicated his life to the program, and has remained classy since his departure was announced. Also, a good showing from fans during the last home game will look good to potential head coaches mulling over their options.
Kentucky’s celebrity entourage – If you missed it, LIL WAYNE was in the house Tuesday night. The hip-hop star apparently mocked the Duke players courtside all night, which either means he just hates Duke or he likes the Cats. Either way, I can’t stop thinking how much his face tattoos must have hurt.
Flatter than a Flat Top (No change)
Kyle Wiltjer – Wiltjer returned to form against Maryland, with 19 points, six rebounds, three blocks and two assists. He earned SEC Player of the Week honors, which may be why Duke clamped down on him so hard Tuesday night. Kyle struggled against Duke, but look for his stock to rise over the next few weeks against inferior opponents.
Falling like Louisville’s shooting percentages
Ryan Harrow’s Immune System – We’ve entered Week 2 of Ryan Harrow’s mystery illness, which many have speculated is mono. Cal said they still aren’t sure what ails Harrow, but that he refuses to play him until he’s 100%. Get well soon, Ryan. We need you.
The point guard position – With Harrow out, Cal scrambled to find solutions for the point guard position, ranging from Archie Goodwin to Julius Mays to Jarrod Polson. While Polson was the hero in the Maryland game (more on that later), the Cats needed a steadier hand at point guard against Duke. Here’s hoping Harrow heals and can return to the court soon, or Cal will have to make some serious adjustments.
Flopping – The fact that Duke likes to flop is not news, but Calipari called them out for it during halftime of Tuesday night’s game, saying “We know they’re flopping all over the place. In the NBA, they’d all be suspended.” Cal later said he was joking, but the comment made national news, bringing the issue of flopping to light on both the college and professional level. We’re watching you, Duke.
Maryland fans – While Kentucky fans dominated the Georgia Dome, Maryland fans dominated the Barclays Center on Friday night. Not only, but they were mean. All week, we’ve heard reports of how rude Maryland fans were, which just goes to show that crabcakes and football aren’t everything in life.
Bobby Petrino – The coaching search rumbles on, but one thing most local media are agreeing on is that Bobby Petrino will not be the next head coach at UK. No one but Mitch Barnhart knows for sure, but that’s been the most consistent news in the coaching search this week.
TREND OF THE WEEK: Jarrod Polson – Ryan Harrow was out against Maryland and the Cats needed a hero. Who would have thought it would come in the form of Jarrod Polson, the 6’2″ guard from “Nickelsville” that has been known more during his time at UK for his boy-band looks than his skills. Polson lived every Kentucky fan’s dream on Friday, sparking a team of all-stars to victory and stepping up to the line to clinch the win. Few things have ever made the Commonwealth so happy as Jarrod’s unlikely heroics, and although he struggled against Duke, no one will ever yell “SHOOOT” at him again.