Two Matt Jones night posts in a row? Surely we jest! Oh no, Tuesday is the birthday of the head honcho around these parts, Matthew Harper Jones, and we’d be pretty terrible employees if we let it go unnoticed.
Even as someone who writes for this site, it’s often easy to take it for granted. Who knows, without KSR, we may not have characters like Fake Barney, Not Jerry Tipton, or holidays like Louisville Hate Day. On the brink of another season of Kentucky sports, take a minute to say thanks for this small piece of internet real estate, without which we may never know if there was news about Jai Lucas or Patrick Patterson.
Happy birthday, Matt. I hope your day is full of barefoot walks, Diet Coke, Qdoba, Conway Twitty, and wrestling videos. Give the birthday boy some love in the comments section.
— On Monday, Joker Phillips held his first weekly press conference of the season, and for a coach many think is on the hot seat, he seemed as cool as a cucumber. Joker was relaxed and confident with the media, playing up Kentucky’s underdog role against Louisville and praising the performance of Max Smith heading into the season opener. Instead of tightening up under the pressure from the media and fans, Joker appears loose and ready to roll the dice, an attitude we’ve seen since his appearance on KSR earlier this month. Attitude is everything with UK football this season, and Joker’s positive, upbeat approach will only boost his team’s confidence headed into a game where they really really need it.
— Also encouraging were Joker’s comments about play calling, which he says will be more aggressive than last season (a pretty manageable feat considering). Instead of draw plays on third and long, Joker said that they’re ready to open it up and get a little frisky:
“We’ve got to take shots. We’ve got to take more shots calling plays. We want to stretch the field.”
Sure, for now it’s just talk, but if there’s an iota of a chance that the play calling gets more creative, I am all for it. Last season’s offense was so boring I had to buy no-doze in bulk. All in favor of this new “balls to the wall” approach, say “aye.”
— The Cats will have to face the Cards without Josh Clemons, who will sit out this week’s game as his knee recovers from being scoped last week. The news was expected, but Joker said that he is “very confident and comfortable about the running back position.” The Cats are enjoying more talent and depth there than in recent memory, a blessing considering that the team with the most rushing yards has won the Governor’s Cup going back to 1994 (h/t to Kyle Tucker for that little factoid).
— Max Smith is ready to be your quarterback. The sophomore said he knows he needs to come out and prove he’s worthy of the role, although he already has one big vote of confidence from his head coach. Joker said that Smith has been very impressive in practice lately, particularly with his accuracy, and although his one weakness may be his mobility, he can “beat you with his arm; he can beat you with his mind.” Jedi mind tricks, anyone?
— Good news! Workers in downtown Louisville discovered the site of Karen Sypher’s conception. You know, in case you were curious or something.
— Julius Randle “narrowed” his list of schools to ten on Monday, and the Cats are in the pack, along with Texas, Kansas, Baylor, UNC, Duke, Florida, NC State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. He also announced plans to take an official visit to Florida on October 6th. Julius, I hear Lexington is quite nice on October 12th. We’ll save you a seat.
— Louisville Hate Week got off to a rousing start on Monday when Makayla Epps, daughter of former Cat Anthony Epps, committed to Matthew Mitchell and UK Hoops after previously committing to the Cards. Even better? She plans to wear #25, just like her dad. Makayla, one of the nation’s top 2013 prospects, was not available for comment, but did give this glance in Louisville’s general direction:
— Curious as to what the NCAA found when they went digging around Nerlens Noels’ high school a few weeks ago? Apparently they visited Ryan Sweeney, one of Nerlens’ BFFs and shockingly, didn’t find any skeletons. According to Michael Sweeney, Ryan’s father, NCAA reps and officials from UK interviewed Ryan for almost an hour, during which they learned that 1) Nerlens is a good family friend who has visited the house several times; 2) Nerlens went to Florida with the family once on vacation; and 3) he also visited Ryan at his college, Florida Atlantic University, and the family paid for his ticket. Just in case there was any confusion, Sweeney told the Providence Journal, “I will say we are not boosters of Kentucky.” Sweeney said he wasn’t sure why the NCAA wanted to talk to his son, but he “got the sense that everything was fine when the meeting was over.” He also would like Pete Thamel to clean up the mess he made when camping out on his lawn.
— Remember how Indiana had too many players and not enough scholarships earlier this summer? So does Matt Roth, a fifth-year senior who is now the odd man out in Bloomington. Roth already graduated with a bachelors and masters, but has a year of eligibility remaining; however, that won’t help his cause with Crean, whom Roth saw on Saturday at a basketball camp. The two spoke briefly, but Crean never addressed Roth’s status with the team directly, instead telling him to feel free to use him as a reference on job applications. From there, Roth “put one and one together there” and is now scrambling to find a job after being told to keep his options open in case things changed. Ouch.
— Speaking of, two days until #LouisvilleHateDay. Bring your pink tank top.
That’s all for now. Matt and crew will back bright and early to talk Cats vs. the Cards and blow out some birthday candles. See you then.