Good evening/morning, friends and trolls of KentuckySportsRadio.com, and welcome to the Tuesday News and Views, brought to you by Monday’s big announcement. In case you missed it, Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati will host the 2015 MLB All-Star Game and all the festivities that come along with it. Now I won’t pretend to be a big fan of Major League Baseball, and I don’t care too much for the Reds, but I understand the magnitude of this exciting news and I’m ecstatic for all of you. I hope each and every one of you catch home run balls in the Home Run Derby and get pictures taken with Justin Bieber, Rollie Fingers, and some little-known FOX sitcom star after the celebrity game.
A quick Google search tells me Cincinnati last hosted the Midsummer Classic in 1988 in Riverfront Stadium, back when guys like Jay Bruce, Aroldis Chapman and Johnny Cueto were just itty-bitty babies. The Red Legs also hosted the game on three other occasions in 1938, 1953, and 1970. The Nationals were in contention to host the 2015 game, but I’m told Bud Selig was concerned Bryce Harper would insist everyone wear Affliction t-shirts for the game and the league wasn’t ready to make that commitment. Selig will be in town on Wednesday to make it official.
Congratulations, Reds fans.
When your University of Kentucky Wildcats take the court in Tuscaloosa Tuesday night, they’ll likely be doing it without one Willie Cauley-Stein. Cauley-Stein’s status remains uncertain but don’t count on seeing him out there against the Crimson Tide. If he doesn’t go, Alex Poythress and Kyle Wiltjer will carry additional weight on their shoulders down low. They played well against Auburn, especially with Nerlens in foul trouble, and they’ll be called upon again for a similar performance Tuesday night. Coach Cal said he thinks Willie’s absence at Auburn created a sense of urgency in the team, which explains the aggression and energy. “That sometimes happens,” Cal said.
Playing Alex Poythress at the four while Cauley-Stein is out actually works in Kentucky’s favor against Alabama. Anthony Grant runs with four guards and a big man, so Poythress at the four is a better fit for defending the Crimson Tide. He can step out and guard a smaller, quicker opponent, so his versatility is advantageous to Kentucky in this matchup. You never want to see a player go down, but this is the best time for Kentucky to be without Willie.
For all you degenerate gamblers out there, Kentucky is favored by 3.5 points against Alabama. Remember, gambling is for fun and should be done in moderation. I don’t want to read about any of you hanging from the top of the Fifth Third building by your ankles because you got in too deep.
Coach Cal has a lot to be proud of after Saturday’s win against Auburn, but the emotion his guys displayed throughout the game really stands out. In today’s pre-Auburn press conference, Cal said a lot of people noticed his players chest-bumping each other after big plays. To that, he said, “Well, when you’re playing harder than the other guy, when you’re beating them to loose balls, when you’re coming up with tough rebounds you chest bump. It’s hard to chest bump when you’re getting sand kicked in your face, you’re getting thrown to the floor and they’re grabbing balls out of your hand.” Now, if only that emotion could rub off on Alex Poythress.
I have an idea that would never ever ever happen but I’m going to suggest it anyway for fun. I think Kentucky should take a page from Georgia football’s playbook in the 2007 game against Florida. The Bulldogs scored a touchdown in the first quarter to go up 7-0 and the entire team stormed the field and celebrated in the end zone. It was a premeditated celebration, orchestrated by Mark Richt, to fire the team up and send an early message to Florida. And it was awesome. So, I think Kentucky should try the same thing for Alex Poythress. Next time he makes a big play, preferably a dunk, clear the bench and start a mosh pit around him. It’ll bring the fire out of him. Of course, the players would probably be ejected for leaving the bench, but maybe Cal could send a couple of them. It’ll never happen, I know, but I like to imagine it happening and changing Poythress forever. Wouldn’t that be fun to watch? I’ll stop now.
Nerlens Noel was named SEC Freshman of the Week on Monday for the first time all season. And certainly not the last.
Remember Polson’s tip-in Saturday night? He told Jerry Tipton he wishes he had dunked it. THAT would’ve been something to see. He was up high enough to throw it down.
Anthony Grant on Kentucky: “We are excited for tomorrow’s game against Kentucky. After watching them on film, I am very impressed with their length, athleticism, speed and quickness. The numbers tell the story on what they are doing from an offensive standpoint. They are very efficient offensively. Defensively, they are an extremely diverse team. They are very talented in their ability to create steals, block shots and get in passing lanes. It will be a great challenge for our team. We have to do a great job offensively with our decision making and execution. Defensively we have to do a great job getting back in transition and limiting their opportunities in the open floor situations. We are looking forward to the opportunity.”
Expect Grant to use a lot of zone against UK, which has been the Wildcats’ biggest weakness this season. Kentucky will look to counter their zone by putting Wiltjer in the middle to knock down that jumper, but Calipari expects Alabama to close off that opening in the middle and leave open space in the corners instead. “They play a different zone,” he said of Bama’s defensive strategy. It’ll be interesting to see how UK handles it. Hopefully we’ll see more of those Magic-Johnson-like passes from Wiltjer to a cutting Alex Poythress on the baseline.
In football news, a commitment could be on the horizon from a three-star wide receiver out of Florida. Jeff Badet met with the UK staff this afternoon and he told Rivals.com a few hours later that he isn’t taking any more visits. “I’m pretty set on where I want to go,” he told Justin Rowland. Badet visited Lexington over the weekend and was scheduled to visit Iowa State in a couple of days. Now it appears he is Kentucky’s to lose. Come on down.
15 days until National Signing Day 2013. Will Mark Stoops reel in a top 25 class? It’s not impossible. Not anymore.
In cased you missed it on the site Monday afternoon, NBA League Pass is free for everyone from January 21-28. Just flip over to channel 580 on your Insight cable box or 751 on DirectTV. It’s great to see guys like Cousins, Kidd-Gilchrist, Davis and Wall, who are rarely on TV. I saw Davis vs. Cousins and MKG vs. Patterson earlier and now I’m watching Wall and his new Adidas shoes against the Blazers right now. This free trial is going to get abused all week.
Last week we introduced you to Reece King, a young UK fan who had to watch the A&M game from a hospital bed while he underwent treatment for Leukemia. Well, as you can see in this photo below, Reece is back on his feet and sneaking behind enemy lines with his two cousins.
That’ll do it for now.