Good morning, my beautiful KSR family, and welcome to your Tuesday News and Views. Right off the bat, I’d like to start with an apology to those of you who dialed up your dial-up to find Matt Jones’ latest musings on the world of Kentucky sports. I know that hearing him on the radio, reading him all day and watching him on television just wasn’t enough and you were looking for more, but he chose to forsake you this evening in favor of an evening of sweaty man on man action at the Rick Pitino House of Conspiring. So, instead, you’re stuck with me. The good news is, though, my mom’s been telling Hubby for weeks that I need more PT and I finally got it. Time to shine. It’s hard for anyone who didn’t sleep through their high school history courses to think of anything but Pearl Harbor on December 7, but I always seem to end up with the night posts commemorating events that tug at your heart strings, so we’ll just salute our troops here briefly and move on to something a little more light hearted: The Paper Tongues. I took a brief timeout from the dirty diaper world I live in on Sunday to catch a concert with the wife and was introduced to a seven-man band from Charlotte, North Carolina that put together one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen. Wikipedia describes their sound as “fusing rock n’ roll melodies with hip hop beats” and says that it includes “elements of rock, funk, rap, and soul”. I would just describe it as “I’m out of touch but it was fun and I am confused by Wikipedia because I always thought you weren’t supposed to put a comma before ‘and’ in a series”. Nonetheless, we live in a world where thousands of bands are made up of guys with weird hair and shirts that are way too small for them. I recommend Paper Tongues as one that you check out.
Now let’s get to those UK notes you so desperately crave…
– Right off the bat, let’s get things started with some exciting recruiting news. Because that is why you are here, right? Jason Jordan of ESPN Tweeted late Monday night that Shabazz Muhammad and Rodney Purvis are planning to visit UK together, but the details will likely come in the diary entry he’s promising to be forthcoming. Purvis, who reclassified back to his original 2012 class, currently rates as Rivals’ second-overall player in the class of 2103 (not updated yet). Muhammad, meanwhile is a 6’5 shooting guard ranked as 2012’s third-best player. Not a bad combo.
– When the Cats take the big blue floor in Freedom Hall on Wednesday, they will do so against a Notre Dame team that was picked in the preseason to finish 9th in their conference and now finds themselves in the top-25 thanks to an undefeated eight-game stretch to start the season. Much like Kentucky, the Irish go only about six deep for the most part. But, unlike the Cats and very much like North Carolina, Notre Dame is an excellent rebounding team. The Irish currently rank 14th in the nation in that category and have used controlling of the boards, along with an excellent assist-turnover ratio, to make up for a lackluster team shooting percentage. Their top-6 are tall, but not necessarily “long”, if that makes sense, which has to be a very good thing for this team, but they’re a smart team and have limited their mistakes so far this season.
– That being said, there is again going to be a lot of pressure on the UK center duo of Josh Harrellson and Eloy Vargas. At this point, we all know what the Cats have in each player and it’s not fair or reasonable to expect anything to change. Neither is going to be a go-to offensive weapon on the block and neither is going to develop into an intimidating shot-blocking presence. But, what they do need to do is rebound the ball and keep themselves on the court. North Carolina exposed the painful reality that we all knew all along that depth could hurt this team badly and it all starts with the bigs. As of now, Vargas and Harrellson combine for 11.14 fouls per 40 minutes of action, an absurdly high number on any team, but one that’s extremely crippling on this one. They don’t have to be spectacular and they don’t have to be dynamic. But, they have to be able to keep themselves on the floor. When they don’t, as we saw against UNC, things can get ugly quickly.
– The game on Wednesday will also bring back a few names from the pastas two of Notre Dame’s top three scorers have some UK ties. The top point man for the Irish is Ben Hansbrough, brother of Tyler and former Mississippi State bomber who knocked down 3 trifectas against the Randolph Morris-led Cats in January 2007. The other is third-leading scorer Tyrone Nash, who famously chose to attend prep school instead of joining the Kentucky team that was very thin up front and offering a good shot at playing time. Nash, now a senior, is averaging career highs in points, rebounds and assists. And could probably still play for a Kentucky team that is very thin up front.
– If you’re a history dork like me, the Notre Dame game isn’t just a part of the Big East-SEC Showdown or whatever they’re calling it, it’s another incarnation of a rivalry that, sadly, has fallen by the wayside. When I was in school, UK had some great games with the Chris Thomas, Torin Francis, Troy Murphy Irish teams and the Cats battled with Frankengody and Co. in the NIT a few years ago. But, the matchup between the two schools was a fierce rivalry back in the 70s with Digger Phelps and Joe B. Hall on the sidelines and provided some great moments in UK history. While you’re waiting for BTI’s post Matt’s radio show to start, feel free to take a trip back down memory lane at Jon Scott’s incredible UK site.
– On the football front, Kentucky got some good press with the announcement of Randall Cobb and Danny Trevathan on the AP’s All-SEC First Team. It was Cobb’s second-straight appearance on the First Team as the “all purpose” representative and the first such honor for Trevathan. The last time UK had two players on the First Team was 2008 when Trevard Lindley and Tim Masthay appeared. Larry Warford made the second team.
– While both players, along with Winston Guy, have entered their names into the NFL Draft to test their stock, Joker Phillips has taken an un-Calipari like approach with his guys looking to go pro. He said on Monday that he pretty much tries to stay out of the decision-making process because he doesn’t want to be the reason they make their decision one way or the other. He said he’ll try to give them all the info he has to help them make their call, but ultimately the decision is all theirs.
– In his Monday meeting with the media, Joker Phillips announced that Chandler Burden and Tristian Johnson are both out for the BBVA Compass Bowl. Both players will have surgery and will be recovering.
– A humorous moment in the press conference came when Joker was asked about the success of former players in the NFL. The UK head coach was asked about how the pro-style offense they run prepares guys for the NFL, specifically Stevie Johnson, and Joker interrupted the reporter and said, “We can’t coach, though, remember? We can’t coach.” You see, he’s always watching. First it was the crack about screen plays and now this. Be careful what you say.
– Also, Joker reiterated what I’ve gotten on the soapbox about several times before. The bowl game is great, but don’t forget about all the extra practices. For a team that recruits two and three-star players and tries to develop them into solid football players, the extra reps and sessions are, in some ways, far more important than the game itself. Joker didn’t say that. Those are my words. But, he did talk about how important it was for player development and this is the time when they can spend working with players for next season. And, that’s pretty much where we are again. Next season.
– Speaking of next season, with Donald Russell now heading out the door, a 2011 running back has put UK at the top of his list. According to DJ Jazzy Jeff Drummond, three-star back Marcus Caffey named UK as his favorite. Caffey, an Atlanta native, has offers from Arkansas, Illinois, Purdue and South Carolina, in addition to the Cats. He runs a 4.5 and is the 35th running back in the nation, according to Rivals.
– Finally, after what seemed to be disasterous news, the MRI on Daniel Orton’s knee revealed no structural damage and there’s a possibility that it might not even require surgery. But, regardless of what happens, Orton’s knee struggles again outline an argument that raged when he declared himself pro months ago. He made the right decision. Of course, it’s easy to say that now as he’s struggled with a gimpy leg, but had his knee encountered so much difficulty during a sophomore year at UK instead of with the Magic, the difference would be measured in millions of dollars. It’s going to be a recurring theme at UK as long as Calipari is the coach, but I still say that if the money is there, you have to take it. Orton’s knee issues prove that point.
That’s it for now. Stay tuned throughout the day as we get you heading in the right direction for the game in Louisville and update you on all the exciting need-to-know information surrouding the BBVA Compass Bowl. it’s going to be a fun day, so make sure you stick around. And, if you don’t want to take my word for it, listen to Donald Trump’s hair. It’s telling you the same thing. See you in a few…