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
Bobby Petrino – It takes one heck of a person to overshadow Kentucky’s first official basketball game of the season, but somehow Bobby Petrino has done it. After his father spilled the beans that Petrino is interested in the Kentucky job (or, any SEC job), it’s all you guys have talked about. For the first time in recent memory, readers on the site favored Petrino updates over basketball posts, which with mere hours left until the Cats’ opener, is mind boggling. Whether or not Petrino’s interest in Kentucky is sincere (many think the comments were a ploy to entice Auburn to make him an offer), he’s certainly on fans’ minds this week.
The pressure on Mitch Barnhart — The news about Petrino being interested in the job put Mitch Barnhart in a corner. The fan base is divided about Petrino, with some calling for Mitch to hire him on the spot to others basically holding up crosses and throwing holy water in Petrino’s general direction. It is widely known that Barnhart does not want to hire Petrino because of his baggage, but the outcry from the fans this week forces Petrino to at least talk to him. Further, rumors of Gene Chizik’s upcoming departure in Auburn speeds the situation up to the point that if Auburn snatches Petrino up, many fans will resent Mitch for not doing it sooner. Right now, Mitch is in between a rock and a fanbase.
Joker Phillips — “Wait, didn’t he just get fired?” Yes, but the past week has shown that no one has handled a firing with more class than Joker Phillips. After the news broke that he would no longer be Kentucky’s head coach, Joker Phillips had a decision to make: finish out the season or let someone else coach the final two games. Intially, Joker didn’t want to coach the last two games in fear he would be a distraction to the players, but after the outpouring of support and gratitude from the BBN in the days following his firing, he changed his mind. Joker bravely faced the media on Tuesday and showed nothing but love for the Big Blue Nation, calling Kentucky the place that “made him a man” over his career as player, assistant coach, and head coach. Joker said that although he’ll no longer be on the sidelines, he will continue to buy season tickets and cheer for the team regardless of who takes his former job. Unfortunately, Joker as head coach didn’t work out, but once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat. #PackCommonwealth
Hurricane Sandy Telethon — Sometimes, we are reminded that life isn’t all about basketball. Wednesday night was one of those times. Cal and the team helped WKYT put together the a telethon to raise money for the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, raising near $1 million dollars, a check for which Cal will present today at the Barclays Center. Cal’s decision to help out with the telethon mere days before the Cats’ opener against Maryland in NYC demonstrates the program’s commitment to charity that we’ve seen time and time again, going back to the Hoops for Haiti telethon back in 2010. I’d say he “get it,” but that doesn’t even begin to cover it. Also, kudos to the Big Blue Nation for answering the call and whose contributions will help thousands of people in need.
Nerlens Noel — Nerlens had his best game as a Cat so far against Transy, leading the team in scoring with 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field. Even better, it wasn’t all off dunks. Noel showed off the newest weapon in his arsenal, a silky smooth hook shot that he must have learned from Kyle and the boys down at the YMCA. Cal said Noel has become the hardest worker in practice, which is clearly translating on the court during games. Let’s hope he keeps it up tonight against the Terps.
I’m sure @NoelsFlatTop appreciates that.
Julius Mays — Mays had a great game against Transy until he knocked knees with a defender and had to come out. Thankfully, the injury looked far worse on television, and Mays will play tonight against Maryland. That is excellent news, because the Cats will need his “veteran” presence and shooter’s touch more than ever.
Kentucky football — Nothing says a fresh start like a coaching search. Even better? Thanks to Bobby Petrino Sr., Kentucky football has received a fair share of publicity from the national media, which is never a bad thing. Brent Pease and David Cutcliffe have told reporters that they haven’t been contacted by the Cats, with Pease going as far to say that he sees a lot of potential in the program. Sure, we may not be the best job in the SEC, but the fact that we’re being talked about at all by the national media is a good thing.
Kentucky’s second half against Transy — Let’s face it: the first half against Transy on Monday was U-G-L-Y. Transy was hitting their shots, the Cats looked out of sync, and paint probably peeled from the locker room walls during Cal’s halftime speech. Fortunately, the second half was as pretty as the first was ugly. The Cats held Transy to only ten points and finally found a groove on offense.
Darius Miller – Miller got his official first start in the NBA, stepping in for an injured Austin Rivers on Wednesday night. Miller may have only scored five points, but he gave Cal another talking point: “Darius Miller went from our sixth man to a starter in the NBA. Come on, that’s crazy!”
Falling like Fireball shots at Jack Demsey’s
Indiana’s self-respect — Indiana made rings for making it to the Sweet 16. Even more embarrassing? On one side, they engraved “27 wins, defeating #1, #2, & #5.” Just when you thought they couldn’t be more pathetic, they go and do this. #IULOL
We get it, Mitch. You like Joker and it was a tough decision. You don’t need to get all Lones Seiber on us.
Kyle Wiltjer — Kyle had a tough night against Transy. His threes weren’t falling, and he didn’t seem to make much effort to score any other way. Cal was so unhappy with Kyle’s performance in the first half that he benched him to start the second, along with Ryan Harrow. In comments to the media, Cal said that he’s been on Kyle to broaden his game offensively and be more aggressive on defense. Hopefully Kyle rises to the challenge tonight.
Ryan Harrow’s immune system — Harrow was sidelined from practice on Wednesday due to flu-like symptoms, and was listed as questionable for tonight’s game on Thursday. His condition has improved to the point that he is now probable, but that hasn’t stopped me from sending Vitamin C and chicken noodle soup to Brooklyn.
Austin Rivers — Last Friday night, Rivers accidentally elbowed Anthony Davis in the head, giving him a minor concussion that forced him to sit out Wednesday night’s game. Karma clearly has a unibrow, because Rivers also sat out the game due to a sprained left index finger. Both will play against MKG and the Bobcats tonight.
Bobby Petrino Sr.’s ability to keep a secret — Bobby Petrino’s dad took his son’s job in his own hands on Wednesday by telling The Courier-Journal about Petrino Jr.’s interest in the Kentucky job, which apparently caused some drama in the Petrino camp. Petrino Sr. was about to tell us more, including which school Petrino has already met with, until his wife scolded him and made him hang up the phone. Hope you like sleeping on the couch, buddy.
TREND OF THE WEEK: The coaching search rumor mill — News of Petrino’s interest in the UK job really got the rumor mill churning on Wednesday, sparking alleged Bobby Petrino sightings and secret meetings. Like with anything, pics or it didn’t happen, but the rumors have been endlessly entertaining so far.