One of the best parts about March are the signs and banners that pop up around Lexington when Kentucky makes a run. As you can see above in this picture by Josh Ellis, they’re starting to show up around campus. This is a tradition KSR wholeheartedly encourages, so please send us pics; and for those of you making them, be creative. It’ll be tough, but if we’re lucky, we’ll get one that tops this 2014 classic:
With that good mojo in mind, let’s roll through today’s agenda.
1. The team leaves for Memphis
After a few days in their own beds, the Cats are off to Memphis for the Sweet 16, which means John Calipari is returning to the city he used to call home. Calipari has been back to Memphis on his own accord since leaving the Tigers, but this will be the first time he’s returned with his squad. Eight years later, Memphis fans are still bitter over Calipari’s departure, so his return to the city is definitely a story going in to the weekend. Cal still has plenty of friends in Memphis, so I expect for him, it will be a happy homecoming. He’s used to tuning the haters out anyways.
2. Part of the KSR crew leaves for Memphis as well
Matt, Ryan, Drew, and Shannon are also taking off for Memphis this afternoon, and if the Cats play their cards right, they won’t be back in the Bluegrass until Kentucky wins the national championship. Meanwhile, I’ll be making the three-hour trek to Memphis on Thursday morning because I want one more night in my TempurPedic bed before switching to whatever mattress they have at the Holiday Inn in downtown Memphis.
3. Coming to Memphis Thursday? Come to the open practice
John Calipari and players will address the media at 2:30 p.m. CT on Thursday and take the court at FedEx Forum from 3:00 to 3:50 p.m. CT. It’s free and open to the public, so if you’re in the area, come on out. We’ll see you there.
4. KenPom has the Cats winning
If you believe in KenPom, maybe this will give you an extra boost of confidence going into Friday, although, man, that’s a slim margin. I’m going to take solace in the fact that UCLA’s defensive efficiency is 76th, while Kentucky is 8th because that makes me feel better about it.
5. LeBron James joins the anti-LaVar Ball camp
While LaVar Ball may not have said Kentucky is merely a tune-up game for the Final Four for his son’s Bruins, he’s still said a lot of dumb stuff recently, and yesterday, the most famous basketball player in the world told him to keep his family’s name out of his mouth. After Ball said that his sons are set up better for future success than LeBron’s children, James responded.
“Keep my kids’ name out of your mouth, keep my family out of your mouth,” James said. “This is dad to dad. It’s a problem now.”
LeBron James strikes me as someone you don’t want to be your enemy. As we’ve said a lot, I feel for Lonzo and his brothers.
6. Rajon Rondo got his 6,000th assist last night
After taking in the Kentucky/Wichita State game on Sunday, Rajon Rondo went to work last night, getting his 6,000th career assist (the fifth most among active players) in the Bulls’ 122-120 loss to the Raptors. Say what you will about Rondo, but that’s pretty impressive:
7. Vote for PJ Washington
The future Cat is up for The American Family Insurance ALL-USA Boys Basketball Player of the Year award and this poll on USA Today’s High School Sports site factors in, so do him a favor and vote, please:
Right now, he’s behind Marvin Bagley III and Trevon Duval, but the BBN has yet to meet a poll we haven’t dominated, right?
8. While you’re at it, vote for Malik Monk
Monk is one of 15 finalists for the Wooden Award, given annually to the top player in college basketball. You can help him win it by retweeting the tweet below:
– ESPN College BBall (@ESPNCBB) March 3, 2017
You can also vote for Monk to win the Jerry West Award for the nation’s best shooting guard at HoophallAwards.com, so get to it.
9. The Unforgettable Fairytale
Author Temple Stites has an exciting treat for UK fans that he would love to share with you today.
25 years ago, The Unforgettables inspired us all. That season, and the Greatest Game Ever Played, inspired a young father, who is a lifelong member of the BBN, to want to pass this story of grit and determination on to his young son.
Problem was, the little guy couldn’t yet follow basketball. He was more interested in knights, duels, and castles. So his dad decided to write an epic knight’s tale inspired by the Unforgettables.
“The Unforgettable Fairytale” is a new children’s book filled with heroic knights, jousts, a Tournament of Knights, honor and ultimately, redemption.
This is our story and I think you’re going to want to share this book with your kids and grandkids. And you’ve got to see how beautiful this thing is.
10. The winner of the KSR Best Callers Bracket is…
JT! This proved to be a much more difficult decision than we all anticipated, and going in, I’m not sure we would have predicted the results, but matchups matter, right? Listen to The OTT Podcast to hear our reasoning. To listen, just subscribe to “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes or stream on Podbay.
Radio in an hour…