Break out the party hats and get the old JVC out, folks. It’s time to celebrate! On this fine Tuesday, we’re not just going to celebrate the Cats returning home to Rupp against Mississippi State. We’re celebrating the 6th birthday of YouTube, the video sharing site that launched on this date in 2005. Since stepping into the world with a video titled “Me at the zoo“, the website has given us gold like Kige Ramsey, Daniel Solzman, the kid who reminded you that gingers have souls, Antoine Dodson, the leprechaun and a double rainbow. More importantly, it gave all good Kentucky fans an outlet for their creative juices and ensured that, no matter how terrible the video, there would be something on Kentucky Sports Radio every hour. For that, we will celebrate. Happy birthday to you, YouTube. You’re like family around here.
Now onto a few UK notes…
– Well, here we are again. Another SEC game and another chance for the Cats to find their way to shake the funk that has clouded their conference slate so far. Kentucky has the added benefit of playing at Rupp Arena – a place where Calipari has not lost since taking over as coach – but faces what might be the most dangerous 13-11 team in America in Rick Stansbury’s Mississippi State Bulldogs. Monday, Calipari acknowledged the challenge that Mississippi State presents, saying that they’re ready for a “break out” party and that his team is not out of crisis yet. Despite downplaying the losses to Florida, Vanderbilt and Alabama on the road, Cal again said that things need to change and pointed out that his team has “excuse-makers” right now. With only six regular season games remaining, there is no longer room for patience in this team’s development and they need to take the next step that Calipari has been waiting to see for about six weeks. Finding a victory in the two very winnable home contests this week might not signal the end of the crisis, but losing one or both would certainly raise the terror level. These are must-win games for the Cats.
– In a move that could be the start of the team moving past their struggles, Josh Harrellson called a player’s only meeting following the loss to Vanderbilt Saturday and challenged his teammates to come together and find a way to finish games. No matter what happened in the meeting or how Calipari feels about them (Jerry Tipton has a very NotJerryTipton-like take), the fact that it occurred and that one of the veteran players was the one who initiated it appears to be a step in the right direction. All season, there’s been a concern about if this team had a guy who would stand up when the team had their backs against the wall and inspire his team to play better. Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones have done it with their play a lot of nights (most notably in Gainesville), but no one has really exhibited the ability to vocally force his will on his teammates. Last year’s team got it from John Wall, Patrick Patterson and even DeMarcus Cousins at times. Until Harrellson called the meeting Saturday, you could argue that this team had yet to display it. Calipari has bemoaned the need for his team to feel a sense of urgency and for his veterans to step up and take his squad to the next level. On paper, the seem to have gotten a little bit of both from their senior big man Saturday.
– He’s big. He’s angry. He’s inconsistent. And he seems destined for a big game against the Cats. Kentucky’s big men will have to find a way to defend Renardo Sidney without getting into foul trouble, which might be easier said than done. He’s too big for Terrence Jones to check every play and more athletic than Josh Harrellson. They’ll need to frustrate him early and show him different looks. Conversely, the Cats need to attack him on offense as he’s had his own struggles in staying out of foul trouble, particularly the last two games. If all else fails, they might just need to have Stacey Poole come in and refuse to move his feet so Sidney can get by. Take one for the team, kid.
– In case you missed it earlier, the Vegas spread for the game is twenty points. Twenty! Either Kentucky fans are insanely paranoid and Mississippi State is not the matchup monster that we think they are or someone lost a bet with Drew Franklin in Las Vegas last week. The Cats have beaten two BCS schools (Auburn and LSU) by 20 points all year and Mississippi State has dropped two games by that margin (St. Mary’s and at Georgia). They weren’t even favored that much over Indiana (12.5), Oklahoma (13.5) or LSU (19), which all came when they were playing infintely better basketball. I know it’s just a gambling line and most of you don’t bet, but it still seems insanely high. A 20-point victory would go a long way in making the Cats feel like crisis mode was being left in the rear-view mirror.
– Monday also brought news that Kentucky was looking into 2011 power forward Braeden Anderson, who was recently released from his LOI with DePaul. Considering the way that Calipari has landed elite blue chip players in his tenure at UK, the news was met with an apparent lack of interest from most, but that might be a little misplaced. I have no real insight (surprised?) as to whether or not UK is a legitimate option or how people project him to develop, but I do think what he represents is important for the Cats. As long as Calipari is Kentucky’s coach, they’ll continue to bring in the best players in each class and struggle with filling the holes each year as those players depart for the NBA. A year and a half in, though, the thing that seems to be the issue is the inability to mix veteran players who can do the little things that make the stars able to make their plays. You can’t expect to keep finding a DeMarcus Cousins in every class to fill that void. In the simplest form, they need the Joey Dorsey types to go with the Derek Roses. I don’t know if Anderson is that player, but he appears to at least represent it and that’s a step toward finding the right balance of talent and experience.
– If you’re into speculating who will go pro and who will stay – and, based on emails, a lot of you are – Seth Davis wrote on what he’s hearing from NBA folks about the projections of some of college basketball’s stars. Davis says Terrence Jones looks to be a lottery pick and Brandon Knight appears to be a lock for the first round. Most people around UK think Jones is likely gone, Knight is 50/50 and Lamb returns. But none of that matters because they’re in crisis right now!!!!!
– In the history of college basketball analysts, there have been thousands who have called games and done an adequate job. And then there is Bob Knight. I’m convinced that ESPN is using those horribly distracting side boxes with the view of the coaches in hopes that you don’t pay attention to what he says.
– In non-UK news, I heard The Rock is back with the WWE. That should excite some of you. And disappoint your kids who were hoping for another five to ten films featuring him playing the role of Mr. Mom or wearing tights.
That’s it for now. Stay tuned througout the day as we get you all set for the Cats’ quest to get back on track against Rick Stansbury’s traveling circus. The fun gets going with BTI at 9am (get used to it) and carries into Kentucky Sports Radio on Talk Radio 1080 at 10. In the meantime, try to decide if winning $30,000 on Wheel of Fortune was worth looking like this in front of the whole world.
See you in a few…