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The Untouchables’ Wednesday News & Views

Some teams are good. Some teams are great. Some teams are “untouchable.” The 1995-1996 Kentucky Wildcats earned that nickname for their incredible wealth of talent and massive margins of victory. The mid-90s were a great time to be a Kentucky fan. I’ll never forget staying up for games and listening to the postgame shows when my parents thought I was sleeping, or the endless sports talk debates on what each team should be nicknamed. Rick Pitino was at his peak of popularity, his presence so divine that people would sneak into his yard at night and clip blades of grass to frame in their homes (true story, and no, it was not me). Watching that team, which would eventually put nine players in the NBA, blow past their foes was a never-ending reminder of Kentucky’s return to the top, and for several years, watching the videotapes of the team’s run to the National Title was one of my favorite pastimes with my father.

During halftime of Wednesday night’s game against Mississippi State, the 1996 National Championship team will be honored for their achievements and receive championship rings from the school, an oversight by Rick Pitino’s staff that will finally be rectified. Eleven of the fifteen players on the ’96 roster will be in attendance: Derek Anderson, Jeff Sheppard, Tony Delk, Antoine Walker, Walter McCarty, Ron Mercer, Anthony Epps, Wayne Turner, Jared Prickett, Oliver Simmons and Jason Lathrem. Anderson said that the ceremony shows the program’s respect for former alumni under John Calipari’s watch: “It’s showing what the program’s giving back to us. Usually you give so much to a program and they forget about you. When your program remembers you and gives you a blessing like this, it’s just like winning. It’s like actually coming home from winning a championship. It’ll be like coming back to Rupp Arena when we won and seeing 24,000 people celebrating with us again.”

In their honor, this edition of the News and Views will be presented by tiny championship rings.

On Wednesday night, the Cats will face Mississippi State, the worst team in the SEC. You want to feel depressed? Scroll down and read my post from earlier outlining just how bad Mississippi State is statistically. Rick Ray hasn’t just had an uphill battle in his first year, he’s been stranded at the base of Mt. Everest with only a piece of fraying rope. The Bulldogs are on a 12-game losing streak, the second-longest in school history, and only managed to put up 31 points against Vanderbilt, the second fewest in Humphrey Coliseum history. They’ve lost six players to transfer, dismissal, injuries and suspensions, which means only six scholarship players will play against the Cats. You think we’re young? KenPom ranks Mississippi State 329th out of the 347 Division I schools in terms of roster experience. They only made seven field goals against Vanderbilt. Seven. I’m pretty sure I could do that and I’m slow, uncoordinated and 5’3″.

Regardless, Kentucky cannot look past the Bulldogs, something John Calipari stressed with his players this week in practice. Jarrod Polson said that during Monday’s practice, Cal made the players focus on not overlooking Mississippi State, who “have had some teams almost beat, I think Cal said.” Bless Jarrod for putting Mississippi State’s woes as tactfully as you can.

Cal echoed those thoughts in his comments to the media, saying that despite the big win over Missouri, this team may still lack the maturity needed to come out and be competitive every single night: “This team is capable and if we don’t have the maturity to understand one week ago where were we? One week ago we were in coffins, people were trying to nail them shut. Now all the sudden, we’re like ‘OK, wow.’ Well, you can go right back to where you were if you don’t have maturity or toughness. You just don’t have that mental toughness to come every day and to battle. We’ll see. You don’t have to say one word. They’re going to watch how you play, and if you do what you’re supposed to people and make their judgments.”

The most mature player on the team? Julius Mays. The praise for Mays hasn’t slowed since Saturday’s heroics, and rightfully so. For most of this season, we’ve been searching for a lovable player ala Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Anthony Davis. You know, the type of player who not only makes you proud to be a Kentucky fan, but proud that he wears the name across your chest. After Nerlens Noel went down, Julius Mays became that player for this team. Cal said that when Mays addressed his teammates after the Tennessee loss, he asked them what makes them who they are and drives them to succeed. His answer? “I’m my mother’s only son and I refuse to fail.” Sound familiar? #WWJMD

Ever since Nerlens’ injury, I think we all have gained some perspective. Last week, Cal said he was reminded of how many coaches out there would kill for his job, despite this season’s struggles. He carried that message over to the team, urging them to remember just how lucky they are to play for a program like Kentucky: “You’re sitting in seats that everyone in the country wants to sit in. Don’t look back five years from now and have regrets that you didn’t give everything, sacrifice and do all the work.”

After beating Missouri, all eyes turned to the nation’s bracket experts, most of which have the Cats in the tournament. In his latest Bracketology, Joe Lunardi predicts that the Cats will face Villanova in the #12 seed play-in game, with the winner facing #5 Ohio State. Cal says he doesn’t listen to all of that, reminding the media of the bell curve the Selection Committee uses, and that when it comes down to it, “our F has to be better than his F.” Ultimately, the only thing that matters is how this team plays in its four remaining games and the SEC Tournament. Rick Ray may think he’s been through a lot during his first season in Starkville, but Cal said that what’s happened in Lexington is pretty unique as well:

“We got to prove ourselves every night out. Even more than any team in the country, we have to prove ourselves every time out. And so no one has gone through what we went through, losing an entire team, playing all freshmen, having your point guard out, having your big guy out two weeks, losing the best player, the heart of your team and trying to keep going. No one.”

The Cats are currently a 19-point favorite over the Bulldogs, which, dare I say it, seems a bit low? Before Saturday, I couldn’t see this squad beating anyone by more than ten, but that’s just how bad Mississippi State is.

Even though the game might end up be a blowout if the Cats take care of business, Calipari wants the crowd to carry over its enthusiasm from Saturday night:

Let’s switch gears to football, shall we? With spring practice twenty days away and the spring game just over the horizon, the sweet scent of a new era of UK football is in the air. Planning on going to the spring game? You’ll need a ticket. The event will be ticketed with reserved seating this year, and although the tickets are free, if you get them through Ticketmaster, you’ll still have to pay a small service fee. Starting Thursday at 9 a.m., season ticket holders may get their tickets (you’ll receive an email with instructions), along with students, who can pick up two per student ID at the Joe Craft Center ticket office. The rest of us can get them through TicketMaster beginning Monday, March 11 at 9:00 a.m., or you can just walk up to the gate on the day of the game and get one for free.

Kentucky’s next football commitment may be right around the corner. 2014 LB Tavise Stoudemire tweeted Monday night that he was about to make his decision, and all signs point towards the Cats. Stoudemire is the cousin and teammate of current UK commmit Denzel Ware, and is considered one of the most underrated players in his class. Come on down, buddy.

Don’t forget that Andrew Wiggins begins his official visit to Kentucky Wednesday morning. Both of Wiggins’ parents will accompany him on his visit, which will last through the Cats’ practice on Thursday. Let’s hope the Bluegrass charm rubs off on all of them. Lexington ladies, I don’t need tell you this, but you know you put NosillaDraw to shame.

Andrew Wiggins and the 1996 Championship team won’t be the only celebrities in the house on Wednesday night. Thanks to Big Blue Cares and Vaught’s Views, Reese Kemp will also be in attendance. It’s been a big week for the 16-year-old UK fan who is battling cystic fibrosis and diabetes. Yesterday, he received a key to the city of Nicholasville, which for his sake I hope opens up Entertainment X-Press as well. Think of all the free go-kart rides…

Congrats to Tubby Smith and Minnesota for knocking off #1 Indiana Tuesday night. After the Golden Gopher’s win over Wisconsin, Tubby Smith danced to Ke$ha in the locker room. Does that mean he upped the ante with some Beyonce Tuesday night? (Please!) And for the record, yes, Tom Crean, we know you told Sheehey to flop on that elbow:

Finally, Tennessee beat Florida on Tuesday night, which drops the Gators to 12-3 in the SEC with UK close behind at 10-4. Florida plays Alabama this weekend and bizarrely, the Cats are back in the race for the SEC title, which could be theirs if they win out. Stranger things have happened…

That’s all for now. We’ll be back before you know it to get you ready for Kentucky vs. Mississippi State…see you soon.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

55 Comments for The Untouchables’ Wednesday News & Views

  1. ShagariObrzut
    11:02 pm February 26, 2013 Permalink


  2. How in the world could the Pitino staff forget to buy rings for that team? I had never heard that until just the other day while reading his site. Can someone explain that?

    So UT beat UF. Does that mean anything for our NCAA bid?

    Oh, and congrats to Tubby on his big win! I think UK needed a change when he left, but he still helped hang #7!

  3. John Ellis
    11:22 pm February 26, 2013 Permalink

    Look at the schedules. Alabama at Florida Sat.. Then they have to play in Rupp (Florida’s road record isn’t good in the SEC or otherwise). All SEC road games are tough – they’ll be gunning to foul you out Willie, and I mean the referees – but UK CAN run the rest, more likely than any of the others doing it. And if they do, co-champs.

  4. Gap Tooth Danny
    11:23 pm February 26, 2013 Permalink

    IU has not found the sledding easy, when you’re number 1 and everybody’s Super Bowl…I do love to see those other fans rush the court when IU loses! Oliver Simmons, Jason Lathrem; there’s two names I haven’t seen in print for a while.

  5. iufans
    11:26 pm February 26, 2013 Permalink

    You all are crazy. IU has the best team in the history of history dont you know that. No way crean told them to do that he is the greatest coach of all time in ever, and they do it the rite way. Heck the invinted the rite way. Iu has been and always will be the best program ever period in any and every sport.

  6. FrigFullofBeer
    11:27 pm February 26, 2013 Permalink

    Nice… I really hope the “Lexington Ladies” dont fall over themselves over a 17 yr old high school kid!!! Woman should not be reason the only reason to pick a college

  7. Potato
    11:28 pm February 26, 2013 Permalink

    How do we win the SEC if we win out? If Alabama wins out, they have the same record and have the head to head with us.

  8. Centexcats
    11:29 pm February 26, 2013 Permalink

    Florida at home vs Alabama

  9. Fact Checker
    11:30 pm February 26, 2013 Permalink

    Entertainment x-press is long gone, sadly.

    Ah, the childhood memories.

  10. Peterman
    11:38 pm February 26, 2013 Permalink

    Great win for Tubby and the Gophers tonight. I still amazed we let him go for that drunk.

  11. bigstorm
    11:42 pm February 26, 2013 Permalink

    10 i understand what your saying but if it wasnt for that drunk im not sure if barnfart would have takin a chance on cal. just my opinion

  12. wouldyou?
    11:43 pm February 26, 2013 Permalink

    Thinking back about the 96,97 & 98 teams all of which Rick Pitino recruited. How many on here would welcome Rick back some day when Cal decides to retire? Personally I would, I know he’s made mistakes both personal and professional, but I really think he regrets leaving Kentucky and would love a chance to make it right.

  13. onlyif
    11:45 pm February 26, 2013 Permalink

    12 if he would have came back and coached any other team i would.

  14. maconvolfan
    11:45 pm February 26, 2013 Permalink

    #7-no tiebreaker for SEC title. Bama would get the #1 seed in the tourney under you senario, but UK would share the SEC regular season title.

  15. Jmmy Dykes Caddy
    11:56 pm February 26, 2013 Permalink

    If Fla wins all remaining games, except the UK game,and UK were to win out…what happens if there is no tie breaker and they finish tied and have split in regular season? Do they have a coin flip for top seed in conference tourney?

  16. Han
    12:01 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    Whether we somehow win the SEC or not, Cal should get conference coach of the year. Florida returned plenty of their Elite 8 team and is supposed to be tops in the conference. Bama also brought back more than we did from a tourney team. Kentucky returned Kyle Wiltjer and Jarrod Polson (as guys who got any minutes last year). Add the injuries, and the fact that we still have a chance at the title is amazing.

  17. just a reminder
    12:16 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    Its one thing to walk away from the Throne….its another to come back and piss on it…

  18. just a reminder
    12:21 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    We (the fans) got rid of Tubby…thinking everyone would be falling over themselves to fill the void…BillyG was a wake-up call that WHILE the program is bigger than ANY coach…it still NEEDS a coach who is capable of recruiting, winning big games, and dealing with the BBN.

  19. SeoulCat
    12:23 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    #12 how many titles has Pitino won in more than a decade in Louisville? None. The man is a shell of his former self. Of all of the potential replacements for Cal when he decides to move on, how could you think, even for 15 seconds, of Pitino? The answer to your question is no, no, and no.

  20. KenPom
    12:27 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    Miss st. Is ranked 329 in experience, but kentucky is 337.

  21. 5 knee surgeries
    12:29 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    Cal took a team that had one true NBA player and went toe to toe twice with one of the best teams we ever had. The man is so under rated . While the guy who had 9 NBA players constantly gets fawned over as a great coach. And after all of that Cal graciously wants those players that he had nothing to do with to be properly recognized. Cal is twice the coach and ten times the man and Ky fans are foolish to long for this egotistical piece of crap to ever sit in the seat again

  22. maconvolfan
    12:44 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    #15–they’d share the SEC title, and then would go record vs the rest of the league, starting with the #3 team, #4 team, etc all the way down to 14th place if need be.

  23. wouldyou?
    12:45 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    Believe me folks I know what your saying about Pitino. I have very mixed emotions about him. But look what we settled for in Gillespie! Pitino is far from perfect, but we’re Kentucky! Pitino wouldn’t have won a title anywhere else, but there’s a lot of good coaches given the oportunity of UK + Uk recruiting that could win. I personally think Tom Crean is one who could get the job done here. Just tossing around stuff for fun, I personally want Coach Cal to stay another 15 years.

  24. Linda Taylor
    1:04 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    23 – I have zero desire to see Pitino return. He is all about Pitino, has no class, breaks his players down and then discards them. Cal is the perfect fit for UK and we will be lucky to keep him as long as we can. I imagine Orlando Antigua will be going out on his own in the next year or two if the right opportunity arises. Perhaps he will have enough time to establish a great reputation as a head coach, first at a mid-major then at a high level D-1 school by the time Cal is ready to leave. He might be our head coach one day. He seems to have many of the intangibles the UK job requires.

  25. 5 knee surgeries
    1:25 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    23 – .for the love of all that is holy,chop off each of your hands so that nothing 1/50 as assine is ever loosed on this world again

  26. Buckets
    1:37 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    Ahhh, the 96 Cats. Such great memories. I was a junior in high school that year and my friends and I watched the game together before heading down to Woodland and Euclid to celebrate with the masses. I got home drunk at 4 a.m. and my mom still made me go to school the next day. Totally worth it.

    Tony Delk is still one of my all-time favorite Cats, along with Monster Mash and Tayshaun.

  27. No, I would not
    1:51 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    23 – First Pitino and now you say Crean? oldschool, is that you? Go away, troll.

  28. UpAllNight
    2:16 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    @10-I remember Tubby letting us go and getting on a plane to MN. I didn’t see that coming, don’t know if admin saw it or not, but we looked pretty lame as we were turned down by numerous coaching prospects till we got (un)lucky with BCG.

    @12-I would welcome RP back for a retirement tour in acknowledgment of what he accomplished (and those were GREAT memories) in his years with UK. Other than that, Rick said his goodbyes in a respectful manner, and we parted ways. I learned long ago you can never go home again but it may be OK to drop by sometimes and say “how you doin’?” Just don’t wear out your welcome.

  29. IndyCatsFan
    2:27 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    Who is Allison Ward, regarding the Wiggins material…

  30. Tubby Smith
    2:28 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    I just ensured one more year of being overpaid for my lackadaisical attitude and non-recruiting, underperforming and cash checking abilities.
    Yes! Go Me!
    All da way to da bizzzank!!!
    And hell, my work is done. My schedule was perfectly orchestrated to give me 20 wins and, oops, ten losses.
    They can’t fire me if I win 20 games.
    It’s pay day, BABY!!!

  31. UpAllNight
    2:42 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    @30-It’s all OK, just relax, take a few deep breaths, run around the block if you’re too worked up. Tubby’s not coaching UK, remember? There are congressmen and senators who fit your narrative of Tubby and they have a greater impact on our lives than any basketball coach. Maybe you should take out some frustration on them.

  32. BPsycho
    2:54 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    #32 U be know wut she be meen

  33. catinthehat
    4:13 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    Nazr Mohammed, Mark Pope, Cameron Mills and Allen Edwards are not walking through that door!

  34. iucansuckagopher...
    5:43 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    Any night IU loses is a great one. At least it shut their annoying, loud mouth, know it all fans up for a night. Thanks Tubby.

    Any word on Cameron Mills? Why he has not been seen around for a while? I know the others are coaching and Nazr is playing.

    Show heart, pride, fight, respect, and have fun. We are the Wildcats!

    Go Big Blue!!! Beat Miss St.!

  35. BravoBigBlue
    6:45 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    I really like what Julius had to say about what motivates him. Basically, refusing to fail so as to not disappoint his mother. I get that absolutely. That young man is a warrior and a throwback of sorts. I believe he will make a great college head coach someday if that is the path he chooses. God bless him.

  36. barn
    8:04 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    16**if cal couldn’t win coy in his first year here i don’t expect it this year. he took a nit team from the previous year to the e8 with a bunch of freshman, but that wasn’t enough to beat out the great kevin stallings

  37. Wild Blue
    8:05 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    12. We don’t take U of Evils leftovers. The answer is NO.

  38. RahRah
    8:10 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    Pitino back at UK?!?!?!! Oh HE!! NO! What’s he done since he left? And it’s all over the site that he “forgot” to order the ’96 championship rings. He destroys a good percentage of his players. He refuses media interviews after losses. He’s also old.
    Give me Coach Cal and his players first mentality every time. Followed by someone who can coach in the 21st century.

  39. holler baller
    8:45 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    That brings back good memories. I remember everyone was shocked when they lost in the SEC tourney.

  40. you r welcome
    8:47 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

  41. oldschool
    9:05 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    I miss the days when teams were whiter, coaches had class and I didn’t crap myself constantly.

    9:17 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    If an offensive player receives a flagarant 1 for an accidental elbow above the shoulders, a defender should receive the same for faking (flopping) being hit with an elbow. Used to think Crean and his program was class but beginning to believe that whining and questionable sportsmanship are what they are all about.

  43. Rixter
    9:35 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    I also have mixed emotions about Pitino. Some days I despise him, other days I merely have an intense dislike for him.

  44. Mc
    9:36 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    #42. I agree. They review the play anyway. If they determine it’s a flop the defender should be penalized. I can’t stand flopping. Anytime someone makes contact with Zeller, it’s like he’s getting run over by Terry Tate, office linebacker. He gets all the Tyler Hansborough calls. Between IU and Duke, enough is enough.

  45. SMH
    9:44 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    WOW, we have posters who want whiter teams, and drunken jr high school kids… only in kentucky!

  46. BPM
    9:46 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    If we end up winning the SEC regular season title Jerry Palm will still have us as one of the “first four out”.

  47. havesomeclass
    9:48 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    if he wants to play here great, if not no big deal. Where kentucky we dont need to beg like a dog and whore out our woman.

  48. MustangCat
    9:50 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    Not a single comment about football, or at least i don’t think i saw one! What is wrong with you people? LOL. I love being a football AND basketball school!! BTW, i watched the tapes on this Stoudemire kid, that’s cousins with Ware. If they rate him a 1-star tomorrow, i still want him!! That kid is a beast. Looks very fast, fills the gaps extremely well, takes on all blockers head on at full speed! Explodes on people. Looks like he reads offenses very well. Just tenacious. Relentles. He made one tackle FROM HIS KNEES while fighting off a blocker, and still hit the ball carrier hard!! Seems to have radar for the ball! I was very impressed with him. I’ll be every bit as excited to get him as i am his cousin. Come on down big guy. Give us something to talk about today!!

  49. newschool
    10:05 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    Well oldschool if you want that you in the wrong sport,better go to nascar and then you can smoke meth and take your sister on a date

  50. steve
    11:45 am February 27, 2013 Permalink

    that’s my wife matt I had to work late, what the hell.

  51. NotOscar
    12:45 pm February 27, 2013 Permalink

    #42-You are right-on. There used to be Technicals called for Flopping.You think Crean will admit to telling him to flop? Since last night I have been thinking about that a lot, a WHOLE LOT.

  52. Kentucky Chris
    3:54 pm February 27, 2013 Permalink

    10) Let Tubby go? Tubby ran our program a muck. Tubby has half of the 10 loss seasons in Kentucky history! I would dare say Tubby left UK with a worse roster hen Pitino inherited his first year! Yes BCG made mistakes and screwed up but don’t put it all on him! The man was set up for failure. If Tubby had been a white man he would have been fired about 4 years earlier!
    Tubby is still living of Shepard getting hot at the right time of the year. If Cal had half the problems out of his players that Tubby did many would be calling for his job!
    Tubby smith the man who brought Kentucky 5 10 loss teams, 2 player DUI’s, team Turmoil, ball line defence, 2 7′ feet players who could tie their shoes, Scott Rigot, and Saul Smirh!!!!!!!!!

  53. Jimi
    5:32 pm February 27, 2013 Permalink

    So we are competing with North Carolina, Kansas, Florida St(& their hookers posing as students) for Mr. Wiggins to bring his talents to Lexington……

  54. Jimi
    5:37 pm February 27, 2013 Permalink

    and why are the women always white?

  55. Alonzo
    5:59 pm February 27, 2013 Permalink

    Hey Matt, after the buildup this morning have you had the input to locate “Bob’s” Lady for tonight.