Today is a very important day for Kentucky basketball because 58 years ago, John Vincent Calipari came into this world in Moon Township, Pennsylvania. As he will often remind you, there was no silver spoon in Cal’s mouth; his parents, Donna Mae and Vince, were blue collar folk who worked day and night to provide for their children. That work ethic is reflected in Cal, who worked his way up from a fringe Division I prospect, through the Five Star Basketball coaching ranks, to the NBA, back to college, and ultimately, to Kentucky, the pinnacle of college basketball. Recent slump aside, there’s no denying that Cal is the perfect fit for Kentucky basketball’s unique throne, and the Cats have been a heck of a lot more fun with him at the helm.
Happy birthday, Cal. Hopefully you’ll get some brownies for the plane ride to Tuscaloosa.
1. Calipari will preview the trip to Alabama
In just a few hours, the birthday boy will meet with reporters in the Joe Craft Center to preview the trip to Alabama. Did a few more days, including a grueling three-hour practice on Wednesday, help the reboot? Tune in to KSR for a live stream at 11 a.m., especially because…
2. Hamidou Diallo will also meet with the media
Last night, UK announced an addition to today’s media opportunity: Hamidou Diallo. The mid-year enrollee will speak with reporters after Calipari, but before you call Diallo the reboot, keep in mind that yesterday in a profile on CoachCal.com, he said the plan is still for him to sit out this semester:
“Coach Cal just respected my decision that I wanted to sit out for the semester and just get better,” Diallo said. “He respected that and told me whenever I feel like I’m ready, and if I wanted to play I could just come and talk to him about it. For right now, we’re just sticking to the plan of me sitting for the semester and getting better on the court and competing with these guys in practice.”
Again, we’ll have a live stream on the site starting at 11 a.m., and a recap shortly thereafter.
3. What will Avery Johnson say about the game?
Earlier this week, Johnson told Paul Finebaum that beating Kentucky would probably get his team into the tournament. If that’s not momentum, I’m not sure what is. Johnson will speak to reporters today, and we’ll bring the biggest quotes and notes your way.
4. Don’t forget, the Selection Committee will unveil their Top 16 teams tomorrow before the game
Make sure you’re around the TV a half hour before tip off tomorrow, because at 12:30 p.m., the Selection Committee will unveil their Top 16 teams for the tournament on CBS. Will Kentucky be among them? I say yes, but just barely. Not only is tomorrow’s game big for the Cats’ resume, everyone who tunes into that Selection Sunday sneak peek may stick around to see if Kentucky’s slump continues, or if they’ve turned it around. Mistakes will be amplified.
In turn, Joe Lunardi, the guy most pissed about the Selection Committee’s sneak peek, will release a new version of his bracketology today. Earlier this week, Kentucky was a three-seed.
5. JoJo Kemp is training for the Draft with former Cat John Conner
— John Conner (@JCONNER38) February 9, 2017
Two UK greats. There are few players I’ve wanted to make it to the next level as much as JoJo.
6. ICYMI, word leaked out about UK Football’s two new hires
The news probably won’t be confirmed until next week, but yesterday, word got out that Mark Stoops will hire Derrick LeBlanc as his defensive line coach and former EKU head coach Dean Hood as his special teams coordinator/outside linebackers coach. While we know plenty about Hood, who was fired from EKU after eight seasons and spent last year as the assistant head coach at Charlotte, we know less about LeBlanc, who has been the defensive line coach at North Texas, Southern Miss, and Wyoming. Check out Nick’s profile of them both last night to find out more.
7. This 9-year-old’s essay about her first trip to Rupp is great
— CHRISTINA HARP (@KRYSTENA1028) February 9, 2017
8. Did you see the Ellen Calipari interview and part two of The Bachelor parody on “Hey Kentucky”?
If not, be sure to check them out below:
Can we get a Marilyn and Amanda Lemond spin off? The world needs more of these two:
9. Come meet Heshimu Evans at All Sports in Fayette Mall tonight
1998 NCAA Champion Heshimu “Means Warrior” Evans will be at All Sports at Fayette Mall tonight from 6-7:30 p.m. to meet fans and talk to the media. Since graduating from UK, Evans made the rounds playing professionally overseas (France, Japan, Portugal, Spain and Angola Africa), helping lead the Portuguese National Team to six championships. Currently, he works with the NBA Program in Mumbai, India.
If you’re not able to come out to All Sports tonight, have no fear because…
10. Heshimu will join Matt and Ryan at Sleep Outfitters in Georgetown
Come on out to 131 Edwards Avenue in Georgetown to drape yourself across one of Sleep Outfitters’ amazing beds and listen to the show. I can guarantee it’ll be better than anything else you have planned today.