With the main stories from SEC Basketball Media Day out of the way, it’s time for some leftovers. Here are ten more observations on a whirlwind day in Birmingham.
The Grand Bohemian Hotel sure is fancy
The venues for SEC Basketball Media Day have varied over the years, from the SEC Network studios in Charlotte to the concourse of Bridgestone Arena in Nashville to a teeny tiny conference room in the Omni Hotel across the street. This year, the event took place in the luxurious Grand Bohemian Hotel in Mountain Brook, a wealthy neighborhood near downtown Birmingham. Everything was set up in one room, with the main media stage on one end, the SEC Network set on the other, and player podiums on the sides.
With five million things happening at once and Tom Hart’s voice booming over all of it, it was nearly impossible to concentrate, but the plushy perks made up for it. Gone were the media buffet staples of chicken parmesan and stale rolls. Instead, we were treated to arugula salad with apples, cranberries, and brie; quinoa; asparagus pesto pasta, and, well, chicken, but it was fancy chicken. The sweet spread was shared by media, coaches, and players alike (hence the quality), so if you wanted to sit with SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey while you ate, no one was going to stop you; in fact, I don’t think Sankey left his table under the tent all day, more than happy to drink coffee and shoot the breeze with whomever came his way.
Not every hotel has a picture like this outside the bathrooms
I had that same expression when I saw the hot tea station, complete with six varieties of Tazo, honey, and lemon wedges.
Will Wade knows LSU got lucky with that no-call last year
LSU beat Kentucky in Rupp last year thanks to a last-second tip in that should have been called basket interference, but was not. This year, the NCAA added a rule allowing instant replay if a basket interference or goaltending call is made in the final two minutes, which doesn’t exactly address the issue, but likely came about because of that game’s controversial ending. Will Wade said as much.
“They got the rule changed because of that right? It’s unique with the rule change because there are going to be some residual effects from that that people aren’t going to like, actually, because if the ball doesn’t go in and they review and it goes to a jump ball, so the team that got the rebound may not necessarily get the jump ball. There’s going to be some issues. For that one situation, it would probably have worked because the reality was, you could have looked at it from 100 different replays. Unless the referee was sitting on top of the backboard, you probably weren’t going to get that call correct. With the rule change it will be interesting how they adjudicate that at the end of the games. We certainly were the beneficiary of it last year of that so we’ll take it.”
So, basically, he knows the Tigers got lucky. Got it.
Cuonzo Martin saved the rest of the coaches from an embarrassing moment
Cuonzo Martin’s session was mostly a snoozer, but shoutout to Mizzou’s coach for saving his colleagues from an embarrassing moment. The steps to the main stage were very tall, and after almost tripping on his way down, Martin pulled an SEC official to the side and suggested they find a new set of steps so no one would fall. Minutes later, a set of more manageable steps was wheeled in. Way to be your brother’s keeper, Cuonzo.
See, this is the hard-hitting journalism you send me to these events for.
Calipari is not a fan of adding more rounds to the NBA Draft
Kentucky fans have heard Calipari talk about the dangers of expanding the G-League many times, but he recited his stump speech for the rest of the league’s media yesterday, insisting that adding more rounds to the NBA Draft would lead to the demise of college basketball.
"If anybody supports more rounds in the draft … you do not care about college basketball or you're trying to ruin college basketball."
John Calipari explains why he's strongly against the expansion of the NBA draft. pic.twitter.com/JXNTGzbZk2
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 17, 2019
Buzz Williams loves John Calipari
I didn’t make it in time for the new Texas A&M coach’s session, but watching the video this morning, he could barely stand still on stage, wandering back and forth to better hear reporters. Like any new guy joining the league, Williams paid his dues and praised John Calipari, the longest tenured coach in the SEC.
“I love Coach. I think he’s as good as there is in the business. I think historically, he will be compared to some of the greatest who have ever coached, including at Kentucky. I think what he’s done in this era, with this level of exposure, in the ten years he has been there is remarkable. And I think as we get further and further away in time, relative to what he’s done, you’ll look back as a Big Blue Nation member and go, ‘Man, I can’t believe we were able to do all of those things.’ And I don’t think that it’s slowing down, I actually think it’s probably speeding up.”
“It’s kind of like the paparazzi coming to College Station,” Williams said of when Kentucky comes to town. “We’ll have to get an escort, make sure that we have security on whatever hotel. Coach may not want to stay at College Station. Coach may have to stay at that place where the football teams stay.”
Ben Howland loves Ashton Hagans
Several of the league’s coaches raved about Hagans, but none more so than Mississippi State’s Ben Howland, who watched Hagans dish 18 assists in two games vs. the Bulldogs last season.
“I think getting the point guard back, getting Hagans back, really helps because he’s phenomenal. He’s an NBA player. He’ll be an NBA player this season. I thought it was good for him to come back so he could get better at his stroke and his shot. It’s the only thing that limited him a year ago. I know he’s worked on it like crazy in the offseason.”
Ashton Hagans likes the idea of a three-guard lineup
Calipari has hinted at using a three-guard lineup this year featuring Ashton Hagans, Tyrese Maxey, and Immanuel Quickley. How does Hagans feel about that?
“It would be dangerous. We’d get up and down the court fast, get out fast. Cal loves playing with a fast pace, so that would be something he’s done before, but with this team, I think it would be very special because we’ve got EJ running the floor, Nick running the floor, so we can get a lot more lobs, things like that. On the defensive end, we’ve got three guards that are going to go out there and play defense. Why not let them attack the other guards?”
Ashton Hagans’ “Wipe Ya Nose” gesture
If you follow Hagans on social media, surely you’ve seen him put his finger under his nose, most often with a caption about slimes. I am not hip to what the kids say these days, so I asked my younger counterparts for some help. Apparently this is the “Wipe Ya Nose” gesture, which originates from Atlanta-based rapper Young Thug, who said in his popular song “Slimed In,” “Wipe your nose clean, f— your whole team.” Hagans does the gesture with his “slimes,” aka friends.
“You know, just something I always do,” Hagans said when I asked him about it yesterday. “Slime, like me and my brothers. After a good workout, ‘Good working, my slime,’ which is like your brother.”
I am so old.
EJ Montgomery is trying to come out of his shell
Hagans is a natural at these events, but I had to admit I was surprised that Kentucky brought EJ Montgomery as the other representative. The big guy is pretty shy when it comes to media stuff, or, as Seth Greenberg put it in UK’s recap video, a man of few words; however, you could tell he was making an effort to break out of his shell. On a team of big personalities, EJ will never be as outgoing as Tyrese Maxey or Kahlil Whitney, but it was good to see him having fun. That smile is contagious.
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) October 17, 2019
Read the rest of KSR’s SEC Basketball Media Day Coverage:
- No Smile November: Duke loss inspires Kentucky’s new mantra
- 5 Notes from Kentucky’s Session at SEC Basketball Media Day
- Calipari still hasn’t read new California law
- Will Wade ‘comfortable and confident’ with how he’s run LSU’s program
- Kerry Blackshear on why he chose Florida over UK
- Tennessee’s Jordan Bowden isn’t wrong about Rupp Arena
- Frank Martin: Politicians need to stay out of college athletics