In the storied and accomplished history of this site, there are certain non-sports events throughout the year that are as a part of KSR lore as any. For whatever reasons, the general rule is that anything with sequins has strangely found a way into an annual live blog. Lately, we dropped the ball on Miss America and, this year, we again left you hanging without a Grammy Live Blog. But that didn’t mean that the evening passed without a breakthrough at the KSR Compound. As we all sang our various personal versions of Cee-Lo’s “F— You” to Bryan the Intern, English folk rock band Mumford and Sons took the stage before Bob Dylan performed as Adam Sandler doing a Bob Dylan impression and, in doing so, marked the first time that Matt Jones and I have ever enjoyed the same music. Long known for his entusiastic suppor of antiquated country music and all things Jason Mraz, the man formerly known as El Capitan Jones took a step into the year 2011 and we formed another special bond. Yes, Matt, that’s now our song.
Now onto some UK notes…
– By now, we’ve all kind of made our peace with the Vanderbilt loss. If you step back and look at the game in terms of expectations before the season, which is probably the best litmus test when trying to determine disappointment, it’s not a bad loss. Vanderbilt is a good team. They have a significant home court advantage. In all honesty, the loss alone isn’t cause for alarm. However, if you look at the context of the loss and where Kentucky is at this point in the season, it stings. It stings bad. The loss in Nashville, Kentucky’s third in the last four games, provided the painful Dennis Green reminder that this team is exactly who we thought they were. In their losses this season, Kentucky has been plagued by the same symptoms. They limp into halftime after letting a 4-8 point lead turn into deficit and then struggle to execute in the final minutes of the second half. Againt Vanderbilt, those two things killed them again. For the majority of the first half, the Cats played their best basketball of the season. They had only one turnover for nearly the entire half and they played outstanding defense, which was lost a bit by John Jenkins hitting a number of difficult shots. But they failed to close out either half and instead of us talking about a great start to a road game and a confidence-boosting win on the road, we’re again here pondering their difficulties away from Rupp. This is the point of the season where you would have hoped the team would have developed past those mistakes. Now, no matter what happens down the stretch, those concerns will continue to linger in every game.
– With another road loss, it’s starting to become more apparent that the concerns in the preseason about this roster were justified. The Cats are talented, without a doubt, but they are plagued by a lack of depth (8 points in 39 minutes from the bench) and pieces that are talented but don’t seem to always fit together well. The starting five is essentially a shooting guard playing point, a small forward playing shooting guard and a small forward playing at the power forward spot. It’s a lineup that can create mismatches offensively, but the roster as a whole whose success now seems too dependent on the opposing roster. The Tennessee win was a good one for a lot of reasons, but the truth is that the Vols match up with the Cats favorably. They don’t have the athletic big guys inside who seem to give Terrence Jones fits and create foul issues for the Cats. They don’t (or didn’t Tuesday) have a dynamic playmaker who can do the same thing. Across the board, the teams that do have those things beat Kentucky. Unlike last season, the Cats aren’t the ones creating the matchup problems. They’re the ones trying to play out of position and out of character to combat them. And it’s hurting them. In the remaining games, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt and Florida all will present those same issues. Unless the Cats find a way to break through that wall, their postseason success will likely hinge on those making the bracket.
– All season long, the fear has been that UK was only one injury away from being in a state of panic. We’ve seen Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones leave the floor at times and collectively held our breath, but both players managed to get back on the court. Now, though, the depth situation again moves to the front as DariusMiller is questionable for the game Tuesday against Mississippi State. Calipari said that if Miller is unable to play, it’s going to be Jon Hood getting the first shot at the minutes. So far this season, Hood has struggled to find a way to stay on the floor and play through mistakes. In his defense, he hasn’t always gotten a chance to do so. Even if Miller suits up and plays Tuesday, you’d have to assume that Four Loko is going to get his shot at some extended minutes. As we saw after the departure of Billy Gillispie, some guys are able to step up and perform when they can relax without the fear of getting yanked. Hood could have that chance Tuesday. If he can play defense and rebound, it could be the start of an increased role in the season’s final games. And this team needs that badly.
– On a more positive note, Coach Cal was in New Jersey Sunday watching Michael Gilchrist, Andre Drummond and Dakari Johnson. Drummond, ranked as the #1 overall player in the class of 2012 and one of the biggest humans I’ve ever seen, went for 17 against Gilchrist’s championship-winning team Saturday and is the big name to watch. It’s tough to get a real feel for his interest in UK – or any school for that matter – at this point, but he’s the type of player that this year’s team (and next year’s) appears to need. Aside from him being the best player in his class (I know, everyone could use that type of player), he’s a rock inside and as physical as the come. To this point, it appears that Calipari is not going to have any troubles in recruiting top-flight players for his backcourt or the versatile frontcourt players that can put up huge numbers. Drummond or Johnson (who is class of 2014) appear the rugged presence that could make the team unstoppable.
– In case you missed it earlier, DeMarcus Cousins was suspended by the Kings for tonight’s win over the Suns after allegedly throwing punches with teammate Donte Green. Reports say that the beef started with Boogie demanding respect after being looked over on the game’s last possession. You’d have to assume this is not the best way to get that respect. The thing that is most frustrating about this situation from the persepctive of a pro-Cousins guy is that he knows that everyone is waiting for him to make a mistake so they could say, “I told you so” and he is still making these boneheaded errors. Obviously, he’s still only halfway through his rookie season and there’s still time for him to learn from this and have a productive career. But he has to realize that there are a lot of talented players not playing in the NBA right now because they developed a bad reputation with the guys that hand out contracts. Right or wrong, that’s whose respect he needs to hold. With his high school coach already on the Kings roster and his reputation dividing opinions, some of those people were already looking for reasons to jump on his case. And now they have reason to. He has to be smarter than that.
– On a housekeeping note, your world is about to change. Starting Monday, Bryan the Intern will now post at 9am. I know it comes as a shock to those of you who have been in a routine for the last three and a half years, but I promise that everything will be ok. We’ve already added two posts each day to avoid some dead spots and this will give us a chance to squeeze in one or two more throughout the day. Please don’t go flipping police cars and lighting things on fire.
– Also, new poll on the right side. Make sure you vote.
– If you’re into reading things about the media that everyone in the media is talking about, check out this story by Dan LeBatard about “New Journalism” and how he says it is degrading itself by catering to the public’s demand for tabloid stories.
That’s it for now. Stick around throughout the day as we get you all set for Rick Stansbury’s circus heading to town. Matt will be back in the studio with Zach for Kentucky Sports Radio at 10am on TalkRadio 1080 and we’ll announce something pretty cool that we’re excited about soon after. In the meantime, just remember that extra tuition money doesn’t buy you class.
See you in a few…