Here we are again, my friends. Another beautiful Monday morning signals the start of yet another week of Big Blue fun here at KSR. As the Cats get set for a two-game stretch that could likely return them to first place in the SEC East, let’s first stop and give a salute to someone who made a return of his own Sunday night. Michael Douglas, who recently announced he has beaten throat cancer, took the stage at the Golden Globes to give the night’s final award to rousing applause and offered the line of the night. As the crowd stood and cheered, Douglas said, “There’s got to be an easier way to get a standing ovation.” I’m not sure what else there is to say. So, here’s to you, Michael Douglas. This is your KSR standing ovation. You’ve earned it.
Now onto a few UK notes…
– With little to really discuss or analyze following another blowout victory against an overmatched team from the SEC West, some of the talk started to heat up around the subject of the sixth man. It’s a role that Doron Lamb excelled in for the season’s first fifteen games and one that Terrence Jones settled into nicely for the past two. Whatever turns out to be the case from this point on, it’s essentially a non-issue. The team is far too thin on players and the two juggling the role are both far too good to play anything other than starter’s minutes, so it’s essentially just chatter to fill space (and those writing those stories would likely tell you the same). Kentucky clearly benefits from having either Terrence Jones or Doron Lamb giving a spark off the bench. It really doesn’t matter who it is, though. They’ll still get their minutes just the same.
– Another little note from the LSU game that John Robic spoke on after the game was how effective Kentucky’s zone offense was against the Tigers. Robic called it “terrific” and expressed bewilderment at the fact that people don’t give Coach Cal credit for teaching his team’s such a strong attack against multiple zone sets. We’ve seen this team play unselfishly on offense against man-to-man defense all season and, much like they did last year – even against West Virginia, they were able to get good looks for their teammates throughout the entire game. This team is knocking those down. It’s not just the threes either. Kentucky was able to break down LSU’s zone by spreading them out and attacking off the dribble to create passing lanes and pass to open teammates after they attracted attention. And while LSU’s zone is probably not the best they’ll face this season, the Cats proved that they don’t need to be create mismatches or shots off the dribble-drive against only man-to-man.
– Finishing off a whirlwind weekend that had him in Lexington, Atlanta, Dayton and Massachusetts, Calipari did a little recruiting on Sunday. Coach Cal checked in with five-star 2012 prospects Alex Murphy, Kaleb Tarczewski and Andre Drummond at the Spalding Hoops Hall event and took some time to again campaign against summer recruiting. Calipari called it “babysitting” and again championed the idea of allowing coaches to spend the summer months at home with their families or on campus developing the players already on their roster. Many people think that eliminating the summer period would hurt the smaller schools who don’t have the luxury of watching only the players they’ve decided they want (as Cal said he does). Calipari disagreed a bit, saying that the change would allow schools to save some money and that the summer often inflates the reputations of players and they end up playing for schools that don’t match up with their talent level. Limiting recruiting to the high school season would change that.
– If you had the pleasure of enjoying Saturday’s broadcast duo of Carter “I Still Breastfeed” Blackburn and former Alabama coach Mark Gottfried, you got a healthy dose of one great saying. Gottfried referred to Josh Harrellson and Jon Hood repeatedly as “fan favorites”, meaning that he likely didn’t watch Joker Phillips on Outside the Lines this week.
– With a lot of up-and-down news surrounding the program in the last week or so, there was a lot of talk this weekend about the “momentum” surrounding the football team. The return of Danny Trevathan and Winston Guy, along with the commitment of Marcus Caffey and a handful of visitors had many people saying that Joker had things back on track after the Compass Bowl, the departure of Randall Cobb and losing Nick Martin to Notre Dame. But, just as the news that Elliott Porter doesn’t crush that good feeling, the positive news stories don’t wipe away the frustrations of the previous events. The fact is, momentum is not built in a day. It’s not built in a week. It will be built throughout this summer and fall and it’s going to be built within the walls of the Nutter facility. As much as we talk about the fans needing to buy into the Joker Phillips era, what needs to be happening is the players being committed to their workout programs and the coaching staff. The fans will always be won over by winning football games. It didn’t happen this year at the clip that it should have and picking up a few recruits between now and the start of camp won’t change that. Winning next year will. Momentum in football takes time. Pretending like a little story here or there moves the needle significantly either way would be a great insult to what Rich Brooks and his staff, including Phillips, developed the past several years.
– Don’t look now, but Mississippi State looks like a big-time basketball team. With Dee Bost and Renardo Sidney, two all-conference type players, back in the fold, they’re looking like a team that could contend with for the SEC title. Throw in Ravern Johnson, who has always given UK problems and might be one of the best shooters in the country, and they have a dangerous starting lineup. By the time they head into Rupp February 15, we could be primed for a battle between the top two teams in the conference.
– In non-UK news, Georgia Tech pasted North Carolina by 20 and held the Tar Heels to only 58 points. The Heels continue to be a case study in how important it is to have a point guard as Larry Drew played 21 minutes and registered 0 points and 2 assists against, arguably, the worst-coached team in college basketball.
– Finally, the UK cheerleaders came up short in their bid for a fourth-straight national title, placing second to Alabama. Coach Cal will now show no mercy on Tuesday in Tuscaloosa.
That’s it for now. Stay tuned throuhgout the day as we get you all geared up for the Alabama game and try to decide who we’re going to bring off the bench. As usual, the fun gets going on Kentucky Sports Radio on Talk Radio 1080 and 10am. Make sure you check it out. Good ratings mean Matt will stay away. See you in a few..