A few notes on a busy Monday….
– The final regular season polls were released and the Cats made a fairly nice jump, landing at #15 in the AP and #16 in the coaches poll. The Cats were clearly rewarded for their push in the final week of the season and those rankings, along with their strong RPI and Strength of Schedule definitely make you feel better about creeping into a three-seed than you did this morning. The SEC Tournament still carries a lot of weight in that possibility coming to fruition, but it does appear people are starting to believe again.
– In a fitting end to a season’s worth of the weekly award, Brandon Knight was named SEC Freshman of the Week for the sixth time. By earning the nod again, he joins Alabama’s James “Hollywood” Robinson at the top of the list of those winning the award the most times in one season. Robinson did it in 1991. After Knight won the award, five national publications nominated Terrence Jones for National Player of the Year.
– Coach Cal spent some time this morning talking about his freshman point guard, saying that he believes Knight should be considered for SEC Player of the Year. Brett Dawson asked Calipari about where Knight has improved this year and Kentucky’s head coach listed just about everything under the sun. He noted his assists-to-turnovers have complete flipped around, he’s being more vocal, he’s running the team, he’s taking better shots, he’s become a better defender after being “awful” early on in the season and his coachability has “gone through the roof”. Calipari said that early in the season, Knight had trouble, as most freshmen do, understanding that he needed to be coached and challenged. For all of those reasons, Calipari says he’s gotten “better and better and better” as the year has progressed.
– Calipari also spent a few minutes talking about Eloy Vargas’ improvement and what he expects in the future. Obviously, Cal was pleased with what he saw against Tennessee, but pointed out that there’s no reason why that improvement shouldn’t continue. He said that his experience has been that it takes a little longer for things to click with junior college players and it’s usually the second year on campus where you see them start to perform. That’s what he expects from Eloy.
– Over at FoxSports.com, Jeff Goodman released his postseason awards and placed Brandon Knight on the Fifth Team All-America squad. That’s a lot of teams. Knight and Terrence Jones also made Goodman’s All-Freshman team.
– In other news, Texas Tech fired Pat Knight today, likely opening a little hole for Billy Gillispie to climb out of. Clyde is very close with Red Raider boosters and has been rumored for months to be the next coach. I am among those that hope that is the case. In the short term, I’m more excited for the televised meltdown that will surely be displayed by Bob Knight this week at some point. You know it’s coming.
If you missed the radio show this morning, Matt was joined by Mark Krebs and the guys talked, UK-Tennessee, Billy Gillispie and the world’s most entertaining Missouri Valley beat writer. Check out the podcast below.