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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: What will Cal do on Senior Day 2015?

Let me start off this post by saying I don’t write this  believing that this is really a big issue.  It is the summer though and this thought popped in my head about next season and I think it is somewhat an interesting topic to bounce around on a lazy Monday.  There is no doubt that Senior Day in basketball has become more and more of a non-factor since Calipari took over.  In fact, it is likely that on Senior Day 2016, the roster will not have a senior.  But next season, there will be 3 seniors on roster.  Unlike this year when 2 little-used SCHOLARSHIP players were the seniors in Jon Hood and Jarrod Polson, next year those 3 seniors will all be walk-ons: Brian Long, Tod Lanter, and Sam Malone.

Combined those 3 guys have played just 52 minutes in their UK careers and scored 8 points.  And there is no shame in that.  They’ve got to experience 2 or 3 years of some amazing basketball already and practice that I have no doubt made them very good basketball players.  But, they are on the roster for being extra bodies in practice.  I am sure they would admit that.

But at Kentucky, seniors almost always start on Senior Day.  Hood and Polson started last season, with Polson playing 19 minutes and Hood 6 minutes.  And each had an impact on the game hitting 3-pointers.  Lanter, Malone, and Long are 0-3 combined from behind the arc in their careers.  And hey, this year Alabama was senior day and the conference title was well out of reach with Florida coasting to the title.  But next year, keep this in mind:

Florida will likely be the opponent on Senior Day

The teams alternate who plays at home first and on the road second each year.  But on years where Florida has come to Rupp for the 2nd meeting of year, that meeting has been Kentucky’s Senior Day in 7 out of the last 8 possible years.  And seeing as those 2 teams are going to be the heavy favorites to win the league again next year, they almost certainly be the final SEC game of the year in Rupp Arena.

So what is Calipari to do?  If the conference title is up for grabs in that game, should he start Long, Lanter, and Malone?  And if you think he should start those guys (which I do), how long do you keep them in the game?  Here is Calipari’s history of playing seniors:

2010: Krebs, Stevenson, and Harris all started and played 5:22 of game action AGAINST FLORIDA.  They left the game leading 7-3.  Harris would play 1 minute more and Stevenson 3 minutes more later in the game.

2011: Harrellson was the only senior that year and played 36 minutes against Vanderbilt on senior day.

2012: Darius Miller played 34 minutes against Georgia.  Eloy Vargas started the game and played the first 4:19, leaving the game with UK winning 7-2.  He would go on to play 16 minutes.

2013: Julius Mays was a regular starter.  Twany Beckham was available as a senior but did not start or play AGAINST FLORIDA.

2014: Both Jon Hood and Jarrod Polson started against Alabama and played the first 4:22 of the game, leaving with UK up 6-4.

Like I said, I think Calipari should start all 3 guys on Senior Day in 2015.  Long and Malone will have been in the program for 4 years and Lanter for 3 years.  I think they’ve earned the right to play for the first segment of the game, until the first TV timeout.  They will have 2 other All-Americans out there with them and if those past instances show us anything, it’s that having those rarely used players on the floor has not hurt the Cats in the past.

With that said, I am not sure if Cal will be able to pull the trigger and play them.  He did play Krebs in 2010, but that was the only walk-on he had to start, although Harris and Stevenson were not seeing the floor much either.  But then in 2013, Twany Beckham did not get the start or get to play against Florida.  And Calipari warned that may happen before that game.  So, we have seen mixed decision from the coach in the past.

What do you think?  I say yes, let them play.  I am sure there will be many who would argue otherwise.  Let’s hear it in the comments section.

Article written by Bryan the Intern

38 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: What will Cal do on Senior Day 2015?

  1. Azubuike's Bicep
    9:04 am May 12, 2014 Permalink

    They start until the first stopped clock…. Like always..

    9:08 am May 12, 2014 Permalink

    Let em play. They all will be playing at their highest level of motivation. There will, as mentioned, be two talented and likely experienced bigs on the floor at the same time. I think for the brief time they are out there that the boys should be able to keep the contest a draw.

  3. piedma schwartz
    9:14 am May 12, 2014 Permalink

    start them. they deserve it.

  4. Paul Bonions
    9:26 am May 12, 2014 Permalink

    I say he should start Malone and Lanter. Theres no reason to start Long since he wont appreciate it.

  5. cdc_uky
    9:32 am May 12, 2014 Permalink

    No reason to start them. They are on the team to learn how to coach. They will “deserve” the money they make as coaches when Cal pushes their careers along. I honestly do not think they expect to start and would not want to hurt UK’s chances against FL. People probably won’t like my opinion but these guys benefit in a lot of ways already and know they are not D1 players.

    • schwing
      9:46 am May 12, 2014 Permalink

      i like your opinion. jon hood & jarod polson could at least contribute.

  6. Duuuuuude
    9:44 am May 12, 2014 Permalink

    Like Azubuike’s Bicep says. Just because they are scrubs here does not mean that they cannot play. Hell, practically every game this year we had to fall behind by 10 before they would start playing. I don’t think these guys will do any worse than that. As a fan, I would enjoy watching them play, even for only a few minutes on Senior Day.

  7. Delk for 3
    9:44 am May 12, 2014 Permalink

    They should not start as a whole. Maybe work in each player at some point throughout the game, but you’re asking for a quick 10 point deficit if you start them.

  8. The Loco Pollo
    9:45 am May 12, 2014 Permalink

    They’ll start, as they should. It’ll be their one shining moment at UK for all the work they’ve put in. If it gets ugly, it’s easy to call timeout. If it doesn’t, it’s a huge boost anyway.

    Malone will pull off some ridiculous basket, hopefully not tear his ACL again, and the crowd will go nuts. Lanter hopefully will get a dunk in and the crowd will go nuts. Long will make sure he gets into the camera shots so he and his bros can tell girls on the Jersey Shore that he was a starter on UK’s championship team with 10 NBA players, all the while not really appreciating it.

  9. DublDownDrew
    9:53 am May 12, 2014 Permalink

    My opinion would be that whatever’s best for the team should be done. If 40-0 (or whatever) is in sight then you go with the best option to give the TEAM the best chance to win. If those things aren’t on the line then you let those guys get some “individual glory” of starting their last game at Rupp.

    I think the “best” option would be to start one of them (make a reality competition out of it to see who starts) and then sub the other two in/out for that person at each dead ball until the first TV timeout. If that’s seen as not “good enough” then start all 3 of them, and call/”waste” a timeout after a couple of possessions.

    There are options that can do what’s best for the TEAM and it will probably be better to focus on that debate once we get closer and know what those options are.

  10. cincicat
    9:54 am May 12, 2014 Permalink

    Alex Poythress may only be a 3rd year student, but may be on track to graduate in 3 years, ala Kyle Wiltjer. If that is the case, then Alex should have an enough hours to have senior status and enjoy being honored on senior day.

  11. bung
    9:56 am May 12, 2014 Permalink

    since bti’s stats show we always get the lead when starting the seniors we should obviously play them the whole game….

  12. J-Dub421
    9:56 am May 12, 2014 Permalink

    All 3 should start. Next year’s FL team will be without their top 4 guys from this season (Young, Prather, Yguette, and Wilbikin all graduated), so I don’t expect FL to be the powerhouse next year that they were this year. Its not like Brian, Sam, and Tod have to be stellar, they just have to not make huge mistakes, and they should be more than capable of that. Plus they’ll likely be in with a couple of experienced bigs. It can’t be that hard to throw lobs to Willie. Just put it up high in the general vicinity of the basket, and let Willie go get it, even I could do that….

    • boo boo
      1:28 pm May 12, 2014 Permalink

      Florida will be a Top Ten team next year.

      They’ll have two of the top guys in the NCAA in Walker and Hill. Plus Billy Donovan as coach.

      UK should be able to take them but Florida won’t be a punk next year by any means.

  13. Steve
    9:59 am May 12, 2014 Permalink

    Hypothetical question: the team has not lost a single game all season going into this one. Does this change your opinion of whether they should start?

  14. Pistol Pete
    10:02 am May 12, 2014 Permalink

    I thought Beckham did not play because of a back problem. It would be an awesome gesture that would give them a thrill for a lifetime but I understand if they do not start. Previously, a walk on usually made the team because they had some decent basketball skills but Long and Malone are there due to family friendships. I am not sure what Lanter’s story is.

    • Tinfoil Hat
      10:41 am May 12, 2014 Permalink

      I think Lanter was brought on to give the team some extra experiencing practicing against muscle. The 2012-2013 had a really short bench and most of the guys were fairly soft. Lanter has some pretty good-sized arms and could push around Harrow, probably Goodwin, and maybe Wiltjer. Lanter provided an extra practice body, another good scholar to help the team GPA, and a bit of muscle (which Malone and Long don’t have).

  15. Start them all but lobby for a new rule that Cal can call timeout immediately after the opening tip is corralled by a player.

  16. RealUKan
    10:17 am May 12, 2014 Permalink

    Starting three walkons against Florida would be pretty silly. There are other ways to honor their efforts but starting is not one of them.

    • Dee W.
      11:26 pm May 12, 2014 Permalink

      They don’t exactly have to play the whole game just by starting…1 or 2 minutes wouldn’t make or break the game and it would be good for morale of the team and fans as a whole – Senior Night is just one night a year – as in special.

    10:19 am May 12, 2014 Permalink

    Depends on Alex’s and Willie’s academic standing. If either or both are academically Seniors, then they will be given Senior day treatment – just like PPat was.

  18. Lexington Source
    10:30 am May 12, 2014 Permalink

    Tod Lanter will not be on the team next year he is planning on leaving the program

  19. jaxcats8503
    10:31 am May 12, 2014 Permalink

    Start the kids and play them for a few minutes. It was unfortunate when Twany didn’t start on his Senior Day. It’s the least Cal can do. It doesn’t matter the significance of the game. We usually don’t start games well anyway. Starting a few walk-on’s won’t determine outcome of final score.

  20. mahatma
    10:37 am May 12, 2014 Permalink

    I was at Villanova’s Senior Night this year against Butler, and Nova’s senior walk-on started, playing for about 15 seconds. My reaction: lame! I thought they should have kept him in until the first TV timeout.

    Even if the team is, what? 30-0? at that point in the year, I’d say start all the seniors until the first timeout. If the team is good enough to be undefeated until Senior Day, they’re good enough to make up whatever deficit this causes.

    I, too, thought that Twany Beckham, while dressed out, was really not game-fit for most of his senior season.

  21. CatsfaninFL
    10:42 am May 12, 2014 Permalink

    Seniors start, period. If it’s that bad, you can always call a timeout. They put in the time for 4 years while not getting all the recognition higher profile players get. I think starting is usually motivation enough for those bench guys who finally get a start and they’ll be fine for a few minutes.

  22. b
    11:05 am May 12, 2014 Permalink

    If the game means anything at all I would not start them. You do realize that the other guys mentioned as seldom used players were almost all a starter at some point in their career. The only two who were not were Hood and Krebs, and both of those are light years better then the three this coming year. You can say they are seniors and they will deserve to start but is it not enough that they have a spot on the team?

  23. ukbradstith
    11:17 am May 12, 2014 Permalink

    Pretty sure beckham was hurt.

  24. Deepblue
    11:25 am May 12, 2014 Permalink

    In my opinion you obviously do NOT start any of them, let alone all three. It would be different if UK had a stable tradition of starting all the seniors on the team for senior day but this just isn’t the case historically. In addition, these are three walk-ons. I could support starting 3 senior bench players but Brian Long, Sam Malone, and Todd Lanter are light years from being competitive division 1 players. To start them in our biggest conference home game of the year is ludicrous. Do we not have a lengthy ceremony before the game, complete with flowers, hoops to jump through, parents on the court, and a theme song in place to “honor” these guys? They get innumerable benefits from being on the team. Silly to even consider starting them. They should play at the end if the game is no long in question.

  25. ukbradstith
    11:27 am May 12, 2014 Permalink

    Also, play them. They can start and play a couple minutes. Lanter and long are actually pretty good and they can surely play without giving up more than 4-5 points in 2:30 or so. Long sucks so he can just stay out of the way and foul if he has to on d. We should always start every senior, walk on or not.

  26. Gimel Martinez's Mustache
    12:07 pm May 12, 2014 Permalink

    Cal has shown that upholding tradition and recognizing players is every bit as important as scoring points and winning. All three will start on Senior Night, as well they should.

    Remember when some fans were calling to have John Wall recognized on Senior Night, since it was a foregone conclusion that he was one-and-done? He’d “never get get to experience Senior Night,” the argument went. Thankfully that never took hold. Senior Night is for the guys who have put in the time. It’s a small token of appreciation and recognition to get to start.

    Cal develops players into men, on and off the court, and it’s a small thing for him, but a huge thing to the players, to uphold Senior Night tradition.

  27. Craig
    12:34 pm May 12, 2014 Permalink

    Start them…have one of them foul shortly after then get them out..what the hell right ? By that point all that may be on the line is going undefeated….oops did I just say that..sorry

  28. Will Hayes
    1:18 pm May 12, 2014 Permalink

    I don’t think cousin Cawood would have liked Matt and Co. very much. Cawood would criticize UK when the occasion called for it but noooooooooooooooooooooooo can’t say anything negative about UK now, hell no. Bull s**t…I can’t remember if html works in the comments or not, if not then ignore the coded gibberish below…if so, then watch it and enjoy it because its over.

  29. spookykim
    1:26 pm May 12, 2014 Permalink

    Start them. And, WCS & Poythress should be included in the Senior Night as well. I also agree that Twany was hurt — & I felt bad for him. Oh, & BTI sucks.

  30. Keller
    1:31 pm May 12, 2014 Permalink

    I think Beckham was still recovering from back surgery. Cal had subbed him in briefly when we were comfortably ahead the game before (I think Miss State) to get an ovation and then called time to sub him back out. (We were up big, towards end of game)

    Every walk on should get to start senior day (barring injury). Who cares if it’s against Florida? I would start them even if we were playing the Spurs. Playing them for a couple minutes is not going to put us in such a deep hole we can’t come back from. Its just a nice way to reward guys who have worked hard in practice for 4 years.

  31. Pants
    2:08 pm May 12, 2014 Permalink

    If they start Brian Long, they better get him some shorts. He’s likely to trip over the pants he’s wearing in the photo…

  32. WildTurkey101
    3:23 pm May 12, 2014 Permalink

    They won’t start if UK is 31-0 at that point. Don’t ruin a perfect season.

  33. Mungo Park
    12:51 pm May 13, 2014 Permalink

    Why are these lil’ white dudes wasting their time and ours by being chaff in the whirlwind that will be KY. next season ? They just add that texture I guess …… they can’t even relate to what this KY. team culture is anymore ………… runts that sit on the end of the bench and make me sad that white kids can’t play hoops in Rupp anymore ……….. it’s not like they even need them as bodies for practice this year …………. hey guys, just vanish………. the white boy dreams are busted …….. you’re just glorified towel boys !!!!!!