A lot has happened in the past week and a few thoughts have been swirling about in my mind. That is always dangerous, but nevertheless here are five (with some good stuff in between):
1. Mark Stoops Really Impresses Me
We are still really early in on the Mark Stoops era and at this point, I have yet to even meet the new coach. However, I am very impressed with how he has handled things in the early going. Most importantly, I love the chutzpah I am seeing from he and his staff as they go about making recruiting waves in their first class for the Big Blue. Over the past week, Stoops and his staff have gone to visit the top five in-state recruits, including three that have already committed to Notre Dame, USC and Vanderbilt. And in so doing, they have sent a message that they intend to compete with the big boys in what has traditionally been the biggest hindrance to UK football success, recruiting. The state of Kentucky does not have enough talent to stock a SEC roster, but at the top, the best players in the state can compete with anyone in America. Stoops is making it clear that he will go full bore after those guys, including at schools like Trinity, where Kentucky has had very little success in the past. These efforts may not pay off (especially with the Trinity kids) in THIS class. But they represent a huge step forward for the future and a sign that Stoops is not going to let the past dictate how he builds for the future.
Gonzaga player happy about a basket:
2. Nerlens Noel is Better Than You Think
When Brandon Knight was at Kentucky, he fought through at least three months of fan criticism that essentially amounted to one complaint, “he is not John Wall.” Unfortunately, that made fans realize late that Brandon Knight, even if he was not John Wall, was a special player in and of himself. And in March, that special player hit his highest level with two game winners (against Princeton and Ohio State) for the ages. The same thing is occurring a bit with Nerlens Noel this season. Nerlens is following a player in Anthony Davis who had one of the best college basketball seasons of all time. His impact on the game was tremendous and has led even the great Oscar Combs to suggest he is the best to ever play at this school. But what about Nerlens? He is playing pretty spectacular in his own right. Kyle Tucker and his hair made a good comparison this week that statistically, he stacks up pretty well with Anthony Davis through 9 games:
Anthony Davis 11.6 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 4.3 bpg, 1.6 spg, 1.1 apg.
Nerlens Noel 11.1 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 3.6 bpg, 2.7 spg, 2.2 apg
This is not to say that Noel is equal to Davis…almost no one could be. And yes, Davis had the benefit of other scorers and rebounders to take away some of his stat-stuffing opportunities. But what Noel is doing is impressive. He is averaging nearly a double double and amazingly, is top 3 in the SEC in steals as a 7 footer. I think Noel has done quite well, maybe even slightly better than I expected, and in my view, he will only get better.
Great combo of A UK fan and Conway Twitty song:
3. Commonwealth Stadium Improvement Issue Coming
I will have a longer, more detailed post with a lot of details for those interested tomorrow. But for now, a surface level look at this is plenty. Over the next two weeks, the University of Kentucky will finalize and likely present, its plan for attempting to get bonding authority for major stadium renovations at Commonwealth. They will then take this plan to the Kentucky State Legislature in January, for what will be the most important vote for UK football success over the next decade. How this proposal is crafted and how the vote turns out are crucial and will be THE most important story over the next two months. I think it is fair to say that major Commonwealth and UK football renovations are as close now as they have ever been. But the work of Mitch Barnhart, Eli Capiluoto and the Kentucky Legislature is about to become critical. UK fans making their voices heard, especially on the legislative end, could be THE key in making UK football competitive in the SEC.
Great gif of UT fans learning about Butch Jones
4. Demarcus Cousins Difficulties
By now you have probably heard that Demarcus Cousins was suspended for a game after hitting OJ Mayo below the belt a couple of nights ago in Sacramento. Anyone that has read KSR for a long time knows that we love Demarcus and are not close to unbiased about him. I am not going to criticize him for this or that incident, as others do that enough for everyone. All I am going to say is that watching Demarcus over the last couple of months makes me sad. He seems to me to be genuinely unhappy and unable to create joy out of something at which he is so good and that he once loved. During his time at Kentucky, I found Demarcus to be amongst the most likable players to every come to Lexington and I have watched Demarcus perform countless thoughtful and considerate acts way beyond his age. My only hope is that Demarcus finds that joy that he carried so often while at UK and uses it as a positive force on his life now. He is a great person and a friend of KSR and me, and I hope that he can get back to the excitement level he had while a Cat.
Phoenix Suns’ Rex with a Louisville barrister:
5. The Dorm Video leaves me with mixed emotions
The video above has made its way around the country, being linked on everything from Kentucky news sites to the Drudge Report. Everyone has their opinion about the legalities of the situation and (for once) I am going to stay away from that part of it. Today, UK let the officer in question go as part of the investigation and that did make me feel a bit sorry for him. While I think the video clearly shows that the officer made poor decisions, it also shows a student acting like complete jerk and clearly instigating the situation. I dont know enough about the events or protocol to really judge beyond that, but I do feel sorry two weeks before Christmas to see the guy (who a number of people have written me and said is a tremendous person) lose his job over an incident that could have been avoided.
More as the day progresses. The iTunes podcast feed is not working right now for the KSR SHOW. But you can GET THE PODCAST on HTTP://TALKRADIO1080.COM. As soon as it is fixed, we will let you know, but until then, get your KSR goodness there….