I was having a pretty good Thursday, which makes this story of how my evening ended even more disappointing. What you are about to hear is a true story. It’s an agonizing tale of a vicious surprise attack from nature and, you should be warned, ventures into territory that might familiarize us in a way that could make you uncomfortable. Proceed at your own risk.
After spending a day at the KSTV studios making small talk with Walter McCarty and getting paid to talk about UK sports, I was feeling pretty good about life. It wasn’t that long ago that I was confined to a cube crunching numbers all day, so this KSTV thing is a big-time win for me. It’s hard not to be pumped up after a day at the office. After arriving at the Taj Mabeez, I went about posting some throwaway YouTube video on the site to buy the real writers some time and got a jolt of shooting pain in my most delicate area. I did what every man would do and gave a quick swipe on the inside of my boxers and then a quick shake of the shorts from the outside, trying to shake whatever was in there loose. Did the dog drag in one of those little thorny things? One of the kids throw a Lego in the laundry? I don’t know. But the old boxer shakedown seemed to do away with the problem. Fast forward three hours.
The kids are finally quiet. The wife is in the other room. It’s just me, a couple of pieces of pizza and silence, ready to spend some quality time together. I go to sit down on the couch and then it happens. A barrage of pokes in my shorts. Using the toilet paper in the UK Student Center is the closest I’ve ever come to wiping my bare behind on a cactus, but what I was feeling had to be the equivalent. I stabbed my hand into my pants and pulled out the culprit. A bee. A freaking bee. A live, very agitated bee had been in my underwear for at least three hours, just hanging out, getting his stings in when he pleased.
So what’s the point of the story?
Even if I didn’t want to be, I’m now #TeamJennifer.
Now let’s talk UK…
– The spread is at 30 points and after two straight losses and four uninspiring performances to start the season, expectations don’t seem to be too high for the Cats Saturday in Baton Rouge. Joker Phillips spent this week trying to keep his team feeling good and said Thursday that he just wants his team to play relaxed this weekend against an LSU team that tops the AP Poll. And as painful as it sounds, that’s about all we can ask for. The Cats are going to be hit with the same kind of speed that killed them against Florida and will take their sputtering offense (ranked 113th in the nation) against an LSU defense that might be more ferocious than what the Gators had to offer. This game will be about growth and helping guys get better for the second half of the season. The deck is going tobe heavily stacked against the Cats the next two games, but if they can start to find things that work and develop into a team that can compete on any given Saturday, the final six games of the season could turn this thing around. But it’s going to be critical the next two games for them to get some sort of positive takeaways. It’s all about baby steps right now.
– And, in case you were hoping that LSU might be sleeping on the Cats, that doesn’t seem to be the case. According to a story on NOLA.com, the Tigers are very aware of what happened in 2007 when they were ranked #1 and they’re going to be ready to get after the Cats and avoid history repeating itself:
“I know (the players) understand that this is Kentucky, and they beat us the last time we were No. 1, so we’ve got to come out here and get a victory this game,” Claiborne said.
Although there isn’t a player on the team that was active for the loss to Kentucky, LSU players said they’ve gotten advice from the 2007 team.
“We’ve been talking about (the 2007 Kentucky game) a lot this week,” said senior safety Brandon Taylor. “We’ve got our mind set on that. A lot of past players on Twitter … that it happened to in 2007, they’re telling us not to let it happen again and to stay in the No. 1 spot.”
– Maybe the most critical piece of improvement the Cats need to see is in the running game, which has been essentially a non-factor against every team not named Central Michigan. There’s a feeling of optimism among the coaching staff that the offensive line will continue to improve as the unit gets more reps together, but they have to find a back that can hit the holes when they’re there. Raymond Sanders is still out, but freshman Josh Clemons will be good to go Saturday after injuring his hamstring against Florida. Clemons is sporting an impressive five yards per carry average, but if you take away his 87-ard run against Central Michigan, he’s carried the ball 39 times for 113 yards. That’s an average of 2.9 yards per carry. Again, LSU is going to make it tough to get yards on the ground against their run defense (4th in the nation), but the Cats need to figure out if they can count on Clemons or Coshik Williams or whoever it may be for the remainder of the year. Morgan Newton can make some plays, but he’s not at a point in his development yet where the Cats can count on him to go win games by himself – especially without any help from his receivers. The Cats don’t necessarily need to be a running team, but they have to find a way to run the ball with some amount of success.
– Speaking of the wide receivers, everyone’s favorite assistant, Tee Martin, made it onto Sports By Brooks Thursday night and not in a good way. He said something in responding to a question from Tom Leach that was pretty funny, if nothing else. Martin is obviously the least of UK’s problems, but it’s hard not to at least chuckle at his response…especially when it’s clipped like that.
– On the other side of campus, the Big Blue Madness campout continued as a record crowd packed into the tent city for their chance to get tickets first Saturday morning. Drew has been out there all week and Matt stopped by Friday to shoot some stuff for KSTV and KSR. We’ll have more of their videos and photos Friday, but the consensus is not surprising: people are excited. This has the potential to be a very special year for the Cats and based on conversations with people camping out this week, the excitement is as high as it has ever been.
– After spending some time this week doing some motivational speaking and popping in and out of the tent city outside of Memorial Coliseum, John Calipari will be in New Jersey Friday to speak at Rutgers University. Cal will speak at a coaches clinic, along with Jeff Van Gundy, Bill Self, Larry Brown and Bob Hurley, to raise money for a foundation called “In Brayden’s Eyes”, which is named after the two-year old son of a Rutgers staff member that passed away earlier this year.
– According to a report on Inside The Hall, Calipari offered a scholarship to Gary Harris. Calipari met with Harris, the nation’s #2 shooting guard, in his home last week and he’s now on the radar as one of Kentucky’s big-name targets for 2012. The Cats have Archie Goodwin on board already for the class, but Harris’ father said after Goodwin’s commitment that his son is not deterred by that commitment at all. With Shabazz Muhammad’s status still unknown and the rumors of where he might land seeming to change every week, working on Harris seems to be a very smart move. He has visits scheduled to IU for their madness festivities and Purdue this weekend, in addition to a trip to Michigan State in November. Should Kentucky find a way to get Harris on campus – and all indications are that they will – they’ll be right there in the forefront for his services.
– With rumors of a move to the Big 12 heating up over the past few days, Andy Katz reported late Thursday that a source told him that Louisville wants to stay in the Big East and likes the possibility of adding the service academies. If the Cards have an opportunity to leave for the Big 12 and elect to stay in the Big East, you can essentially chalk that up as a victory for Rick Pitino, who seems to be the only person on the planet who thinks doing so would be a smart move. Moving to the Big 12 appears to be the smartest move for the school in terms of revenue and positioning themselves as one of the big boys after the dust settles in the conference realignment. The Big 12 is good for football. The Big East is good for basketball. What happens with their program from here will be a good indicator of which side of the athletics program is driving.
– Here’s how I see this: My sons will both play power forward for UK after they graduate high school. The only thing determining whether they’ll have the physique of Perry Stevenson or DeMarcus Cousins is the amount of food I can afford to put on the table. So if you want them to be bruising double-double machines, I’ll need you to please “Like” the KSTV page on Facebook and support my continued employment and ability to feed them. Thank you.
That’s it for now. Make sure you stick around all day for all of the wonderful camping tales you can handle. We’ll also talk a little LSU. In the meantime, I promise I won’t mention the Rays playing the Rangers Friday night or the Red Sox choking away their playoff berth as long as you enjoy this video of Dan Johnson’s home run…
See you in a few….