On Thursday night, I finally got around to watching “The Sixth Man,” a very thoughtful Christmas present from my family. Honestly, it was probably the best thing I’ve done all week.
The documentary is awesome, and features a lot of Kentucky’s celebrity fans, like Josh Hopkins, Backstreet Boys Brian Littrell and Kevin Richardson, Steve Zahn, and Josh Hutcherson from “The Hunger Games.” One of Josh’s stories really hit home with me. He talked about his uncle, who would convince himself that every UK loss wasn’t their fault. I think we can all relate to that on some level. Another memorable moment was an interview with a UK fan who camped out for over 8 hours just to get inside the Superdome in New Orleans, never surrendering her positive attitude about the Cats. Or, most touching, the part about our friend Reese Kemp, a 16-year-old with cystic fibrosis who says his relationship with the UK players helped keep his spirits high when times got unfathomably rough.
It’s easy to get bogged down by the little stuff. Three losses from a team that was supposed to be invincible; superstar freshman who have balked instead of embracing the spotlight; the angry cesspool that can be the KSR comments section. I’d like to thank “The Sixth Man” for reminding me what it’s all about. With hours to go before the Louisville game, I’d say it’s mandatory viewing.
Now that the dust has cleared a bit, let’s move on to the news and views.
It’s almost here
Maybe it’s the uncertainty about what’s going to happen on Saturday, or maybe it’s just fear, but after watching the site all day, I really only feel like fans are just now getting excited about the game. Has there ever been a UK/UofL game with as unpredictable an outcome as the one? Both teams come in with uncertainty: UK with three losses on three big stages; Louisville losing the only big game on their schedule thus far. Both teams lost to North Carolina, Kentucky by five and Louisville by nine. Louisville’s weak schedule is no surprise, but this is UK’s last chance to get a quality non-conference win, which means…
Kentucky needs this more than Louisville
Has there been a Louisville game in the Calipari era that the Cats have needed more? It seems absurd now, but UK needs this win for their tournament resume. Our three losses have been three major whiffs for quality non-conference wins. A win over Louisville would help UK’s chances to get at least a three seed tremendously, and that’s probably being conservative given the volatile nature of college basketball this year. Because of the weak SEC, the Cats won’t even have that many chances to prove themselves in conference play. We have learned the dangers of heaping expectations on such a young squad, but Saturday’s game will have repercussions.
There are people camping out to be on the front row of the eRupption Zone
Thanks to Chris Rose, who sent in this picture of a mini tent city outside Rupp Arena Thursday night, where fans are camped out to get in to the front row of the eRupption Zone Saturday. Keep in mind, they already have tickets, and they technically don’t let you start lining up to get in the eRupption Zone until 5 a.m. Saturday morning.
Which matchup will matter most?
Who’s the X-factor on Saturday? My money’s on Julius Randle or James Young. So far this season, Randle has shied away from the big stage, save a half against Michigan State. I think Randle can handle Montrezl Harrell, and the most intriguing matchup may be between James Young and Wayne Blackshear. Blackshear has scored in double digits in four straight games for the first time in his career, connecting on 10-of-21 three-pointers in those last four games. Meanwhile, Young is coming off an abnormally quiet game after three in double figures. We’ve seen the impact Young can have on this group when he’s hitting his shot. He’s infectious. Will he be able to overpower Blackshear at the 3 to spark a big game for the Cats? If not, Poythress could be a valuable substitute.
Likewise, Aaron Harrison’s budding leadership will truly be tested against Russ Smith, whom Cardinal fans keep reminding us has a good history in Rupp Arena:
A few housekeeping notes…
The podcasts are still down
Unfortunately, Santa did not take down the terrorists who have hacked the podcasts. Without the audio files, I wasn’t able to make you guys a YouTube video either, so tonight, pray to little baby Jesus for a solution. If he doesn’t come up with one, make sure you’re near the radio/computer from 10-noon on Friday.
KSR will be live at Bearno’s in Jeffersonville, Indiana in the morning
If you’ve always wanted to come to a KSR remote and never have, this is your chance. The annual KSR remote at Bearno’s Pizza, right across the river from Louisville (700 W Riverside Drive), always draws a big crowd and plenty of characters, and Matt and Ryan will be there with plenty of prizes, including tickets to the premiere of Red v. Blue, the documentary about the UK/Louisville rivalry at the Lexington Opera House Friday night:
Head on over to say hello and get ready for Louisville in the most ridiculous manner possible.
See you then and Go Cats.