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Let’s take a minute and appreciate this stat

Let’s take a minute and appreciate this stat

UK Athletics has never been better than it is at this moment. Let that sink in. In the history of a proud athletic program the Cats have never been better across the board, and this doesn’t include the spring sports where UK will be nationally ranked in a couple sports, too.

And not to get picky, but I don’t think Kansas is better than UK in men’s basketball (although I get it). Also, UK being at No. 12 given its resume in football seems to be a bit of a slight. The Cats are the only football team to have a road win against a team currently ranked in the top 10.

UK volleyball is undefeated in the SEC (8-0) and Kentucky men’s soccer has lost just one game on the season and has notched top five wins against Louisville and Indiana in the out-of-conference. I don’t know too much about UK’s women’s swimming or rifle, but the rifle team seems to always be competing for titles.

Kentucky women’s soccer is rebuilding and obviously Matthew Mitchell’s women’s basketball program is doing more of the same. Before the strange string of transfers a couple years ago UK women’s basketball was consistently in the top 20 and it seems it’s only a matter of time before the Cats return to being a force in the SEC.

Things are amazing for Barnhart’s athletic program and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that as the facilities across the campus improve, the team’s improve, too. Also, no probation is nice, unlike some other schools we know.

And it’s not just athletics, folks. Watch out, country.


Five Leftovers from the Blue-White Game

Five Leftovers from the Blue-White Game

I got back from the airport just in time to catch the second half of last night’s Blue/White Game, and after watching the first half this morning, I have some thoughts to share. Mainly, that Kentucky is really good at basketball and it’s not even November yet.

1. EJ Montgomery likes the bright lights

Coming into the preseason, we didn’t really have a good grasp on EJ Montgomery because he sat out most of the Bahamas trip; now at 100 percent, the freshman big man is making his presence known. John Calipari said Montgomery came alive in front of the scouts at Pro Day two weeks ago, and last night, he was one of the most impressive players on the court, putting up 21 points and 8 rebounds. Tyler Herro, Reid Travis, and PJ Washington had more points, but given how little we knew about EJ coming in, his play was the story of the game for me. He showed off the versatility we’ve been hearing about for months, scoring from the rim to midrange, hitting all three of his free throws, and using those long arms to block shots and clean up misses. Afterwards, Calipari said he’s happy EJ is playing well when the lights are bright but he needs to bring that same effort in practice.

“E.J. (Montgomery), E.J. told on himself. He told on himself. He didn’t practice that way. If you’re that good, you’re practicing that way now. The team laughed like crazy. Like the combine and this game are the best two days that he’s played since he’s been here. Oh, so when there are people in the seats and there are scouts in the seats you just take up a notch. Really? Well, guess what son, you’re going to take it up a notch or you’re going to be on that treadmill. Because if that’s who you are then you’re going to be that guy every day. He was good.”

2. Tyler Herro continues to make it look effortless

Herro once again led the team in scoring with 34 points off 12-16 from the floor, 4-6 from beyond the arc, and 6-7 from the charity stripe. If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a million times: Herro is a natural scorer, and if he carries this momentum into the season, he could be college basketball’s darling this season.

How well did Herro play last night? As Kyle Tucker pointed out on Twitter, Kentucky’s stats website StatsBroadcast debuted an analytics feature last night and Herro’s “Game Score,” which measures productivity on a scale of 0-40, was 32.5, which is considered elite in the NBA. The next closest were Nick Richards with 18.9, EJ Montgomery with 18.6, and PJ Washington with 18.1.

If you’re curious, here are all the analytics from last night:

3. PJ and Reid are doing their NBA homework

The NBA told both PJ Washington and Reid Travis to expand their games and work on conditioning before turning pro. So far, it looks like both are doing just that. Noticeably slimmer, PJ was much more fluid going up and down the court than last season, getting to the basket with ease and pulling up for jumpers. Similarly, Reid Travis also moved well, scoring 27 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. Both also hit a three.

Travis switched between squads during the game, which allowed fans to see him play with and against PJ. It’s clear that going against each other in practice has been good for both players, and when you add in Sophomore Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery, Kentucky’s frontcourt is formidable no matter the lineup.

4. Andy Kennedy was great on broadcast

Last night was the first time we got to see Andy Kennedy in his new role as SEC Network color commentator and he was excellent. At Ole Miss, Kennedy charmed the media with his quippy commentary, which definitely translated to the broadcast. It was refreshing to hear him break down Calipari’s style as only a coach who had played against him for years can, and Cal was clearly happy chatting with him during and after the game. I even liked his plaid coat. More Kennedy, please.

5. I love this team’s attitude

If the Blue-White Game is good for anything, it’s evaluating the chemistry between players, and, as we’ve noticed since the Bahamas, this group loves playing with each other. It may seem silly to take note of stuff like this, but there were way more smiles, laughs, and playful shoves between the players than in years past, a testament to how much fun they’re having and how comfortable they are on the stage. After the game ended, they even turned and applauded the fans for coming. Little stuff like that is huge. Kentucky always has talented players, but having talented players that like each other and are willing to put in the extra work is what makes teams special.

Also, Immanuel Quickley has clearly taken over the role as dance circle hype man:

Check out more of Dr. Mike’s awesome photos from the Blue-White Game below:

Believe it or not, there's a basketball season about ready to begin. Check out Dr. Mike's photos of the basketball Cats in their scrimmage tonight.

Posted by Kentucky Sports Radio on Sunday, October 21, 2018


Insider Notes: Keion Brooks visits, UK misses on Oscar Tshiebwe and a Matthew Hurt theory

(Photo: Lopez/Nike)

Happy Monday, folks! I hope you all had a great weekend because today’s Monday Insider Notes may not be the most optimistic we’ve had here at KSR. It’s not overly negative but as crunch time rolls around the Cats are still scratching at options for the frontcourt. Keion Brooks visited over the weekend, so we’ll lead with that, but also info on Oscar Tshiebwe picking West Virginia, James Wiseman visiting Florida State and Vernon Carey checking out Duke.

Let’s get to it.

Brooks shouldn’t rush:

Hoosier native Keion Brooks Jr. checked out Lexington over the weekend and it went… you guessed it! Well! (drink). There was surprisingly some minor momentum for UK with Brooks heading into the visit as ESPN’s Jeff Borzello thought the Cats had the best chances with Brooks. I’ve said for a few weeks I thought Indiana is the leader and sadly nothing I’ve heard initially from the official visit is making me change my mind. I don’t believe the Cats are the team to beat in this recruitment, but supposedly the family was impressed with UK’s plan to get Brooks to the NBA “sooner and more prepared than other schools”.

That’s one advantage UK has in a lot of recruitments that is pretty tough for nearly any other college to top. If a player really, really cares about the NBA, then UK’s pitch resonates and can be a deciding factor for those kids. Every kid cares about the NBA and they’d be lying if they say otherwise, but some don’t allow their NBA dreams to dictate their recruitments. Some do. I’m unsure just how important that pitch is for Brooks and his family, and hopefully we’ll find out more over time, but if Brooks picks UK it will probably be because of the NBA pitch. UK has also done an underrated job building relationships with Brooks and his family. I still think being a “priority” for nearly every other school on his list will win out, especially the Hoosiers, but if I’m a Kentucky fan I’m rooting for this recruitment to go long. He will officially visit UNC (Nov. 2) and Michigan State (Nov. 16) and it’s unclear if he will rush a decision shortly after those visits or if he will wait until the spring.

As of today I’m not picking the Cats to be the landing spot, but if he waits and watches how the rosters shakeout the Cats may have a better chance in a couple months.

Wiseman visits FSU:

James Wiseman finished his official visit to Florida State over the weekend. For a couple weeks I’ve felt that Florida State is third in his recruitment and if he shocked the world and didn’t end up at UK or Memphis it would FSU. Nothing I’ve heard over the weekend is making me change my mind but if I want to listen to one of the my Nike EYBL guys then I should believe that FSU is a very serious contender. I’ve been saying for months and months that it’s between UK and Memphis but there is a serious FSU buzz and it’s been there going back to the in-home visits. I’m stubborn so I’m not backing off my Memphis/UK or bust prediction (sorry EYBL guy). I’ll eat crow if I’m wrong but despite the Seminoles making an impression this weekend I still lean towards UK slightly ahead of Memphis.

We have to remember that Wiseman himself probably doesn’t “know” where he wants to go. I think deep down he probably knows it will be Memphis or UK, but it’s my opinion that he truly believes that every school has a chance and he probably doesn’t like everyone dismissing the other schools on his list. I said in the summer that Wiseman seemed so annoyed with the “he’s going to go to UK or Memphis” narrative that I thought he may purposely try to show other schools more love. I think that’s what he’s been doing on some of his other visits.

He will officially visit Memphis this weekend and that’s it for official visits. The plan is for a November or December decision. Wiseman isn’t planning on signing in the fall, but he wants to get his decision over with sooner than later. The news where he backed off the spring decision definitely favored Memphis, but people I talk with close to UK are still liking their chances so I like the Cats’ chances, too.

And while we may be a month or two away from a decision there will be plenty of drama over the next several weeks.

The Duke buzz is back:

Ugh. For a long time in Vernon Carey’s recruitment the Blue Devils had the most buzz. Everyone knew that a decision was a ways away and other schools would rise and fall depending on the momentum, but Duke is back to having most of the buzz according to AAU folks I talk with. The visit went really, really well (drink) and while as of today I’m still leaning towards UK, I don’t feel nearly as confident as I did. The reason I’m not backing off UK right now is because I know how high emotions can run after official visits, but I’m officially nervous about Duke again after things were quiet with the Blue Devils for a few weeks. UK fans are freaking out about the Cats’ 2019 class, but Duke fans are really panicking. Kentucky is running out of options and Duke doesn’t have too many options left on the table, too.

I do think this will be another Duke vs. UK battle, but he also has officials to Miami this weekend and North Carolina the following week. Another area where I’m a little concerned is supposedly Carey is set on a fall decision and this was made clear to me last night while he was fresh off the Duke visit. Connecting the dots can be concerning in that situation, but at least Carey has said even before the Duke visit that he will look at a fall decision.

Supposedly Miami and Michigan State still feel like they have a good chance to land Carey. Carey has said he wants to play with another elite big and mentioned James Wiseman and Isaiah Stewart. If it were Wiseman it’d be UK. If it were Stewart it’d be MSU. It will be wild seeing how all of this plays out, but UK is pitching both Wiseman and Carey playing together. I think Carey is slightly more open to the idea, but Wiseman supposedly isn’t against it.

As for Stewart, I hinted at it last week but it wasn’t a good fit for UK and both parties have moved on. Maybe there’s a change of thought and things pick back up, but I highly doubt it.

Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

UK finished 2nd:

Not that it matters, but UK was the runner-up in Tshiebwe’s recruitment. I know there were some Illinois insiders that said it was between West Virginia and Illinois, but that wasn’t the case. It was truly between UK and WVU and I still believe Tshiebwe himself slightly preferred UK while nearly everyone else around him were strongly pushing the Mountaineers. But, I know that Tshiebwe really liked WVU, so to say he maybe slightly leaned UK doesn’t really mean too much. It was no secret that his host parents were strongly pushing WVU and maybe that’s what won out, but WVU had been recruiting Tshiebwe for years and in a head vs. heart decision, the heart won.

UK did a good job in this recruitment but just weren’t recruiting him long enough to win out. And before we get into a “Cal should offer guys earlier” debate, Tshiebwe blew-up over the summer and UK moved quickly once he showcased himself as a great big.

I think besides the host family, Tshiebwe had some minor concerns about not being the guy on UK’s frontline. There were folks telling him he would come off the bench and maybe not play as much as he would at WVU and I think that mattered to him. I remember someone I spoke with that knew his recruitment better than I do and right after his official visit to UK I asked how things went and he said “Really, really good (drink), but they seem to be in a really good spot with (other centers).” That was a negative for Tshiebwe in my opinion.

Scott Jacobson / Post Bulletin

Is something going on here:

I have no current or new inside information on Matthew Hurt’s recruitment, but I’ve been covering recruiting in some capacity since 2011 and have witnessed pretty much every type of recruitment. There are some recruitments where it’s clear UK leads the entire time, there’s some where UK swoops in late and lands a kid, but there have been a few rare commitments where there’s not a lot of UK buzz but the Cats win out in the end. It seems like in those recruitments the kid says “I’ve always loved UK” or some quote that would lead us to believe that UK was the team to beat throughout the recruitment and everyone just missed.

I’m starting to wonder if that is what’s going on here with Hurt. UK is running out of big options and Calipari is no dummy. Does Calipari know something about Hurt’s recruitment that we don’t know? Someone close to UK did tell me they’ve been recruiting Hurt as hard as anyone else in the class. UK is still looking at Jaden McDaniels and Brooks as wing options, but it’s really Hurt, Carey and Wiseman left on the frontline. With Bill Self and Kansas dealing with potential major NCAA violations I’m not so sure the Jayhawks are the leader anymore. Hurt seems like a smart kid and I respect the way they’re running their recruitment, there’s just no way you can look at UK’s frontcourt situation and not see the potential to shine.

No inside info, but something seems fishy in that recruitment and I think it may be good news for UK.

Quick Hitters:

  • Look for UK to get involved with 2020 five-star guard Kyree Walker, who recently backed off his Arizona State pledge.
  • I’m told if UK needs to add another grad-transfer for 2019-2020 they will, but Calipari doesn’t want to take a grad-transfer from a mid-major (reading between the lines I think he would if he had to).
  • Zion Harmon is still ineligible to play KHSAA and I don’t think that’s going to change, sadly.
  • I still think we have a reclassifcation from the 2020 class. I don’t have any specific names (Dante was mentioned earlier this summer but haven’t heard his name in a bit), but I’m also curious if a guard could potentially jump classes, too. I’ve always just assumed bigs for UK. It could be a guard, or it could be both.


Today on KSR: It’s Mizzou week!

Happy Monday, folks! Per usual the weekend went too quickly and here we are on another Monday morning, but the good news is it’s another big sports week. UK looks ahead to its toughest remaining road game (IMO), the basketball team gets to take on an actual opponent for the first time since August and there will be recruiting news throughout the week.

Let’s get after it!

Blue/White:

The basketball team put on a successful Blue/White scrimmage on Sunday evening and once again people are raving about Tyler Herro. Obviously folks have been high on him since the Bahamas trip, but he looks even better after an extra two months of practice and it’s worth asking just how good he could be come March.

Herro will likely be UK’s best scorer this season, but I was also impressed with his defense. He had to guard Keldon Johnson a chunk of the game and he held his own against one of the tougher wings in college basketball. When Herro wasn’t guarding Johnson he had tricky matchups against smaller and quicker guards. He wasn’t a liability. Calipari recently said that Herro was defending better than Johnson. I took it as coach speak and Cal was likely just trying to motivate Johnson, but after watching last night it seems Herro isn’t too far off.

The entire defense did solid despite giving up 200 combined points. Players had to play virtually the entire game and you don’t want to be overly aggressive in a scrimmage, but I thought we saw the potential and 11 blocked shots in the game was a pleasant surprise.

Offensively, good luck trying to guard these Cats.

Mark Stoops Monday:

Get ready for your double dose of Mark Stoops today. First, his weekly press conference around noon where Stoops will give his final thoughts on the Vanderbilt game while turning his attention to the Missouri Tigers. FYI, Mizzou opened as a six-point favorite for Saturday’s 4 p.m. kickoff. Later this evening we have the Mark Stoops Call-In show at 6 p.m., which of course is hosted by Tom Leach.

The majority of the news will come from the press conference around lunch, but if you haven’t listened to Leach and Stoops talk on Monday’s you should listen. It’s a slightly different perspective hearing Stoops talk with fans and interact with their (at times) blunt questions.

I’m guessing tonight we’ll have a few knucklehead calls despite the Cats being 6-1. It should be entertaining and frustrating at the same time.

We’ll also get injuries updates today, but Kash Daniel isn’t expecting to miss anytime because of his broken hand.

I’m also guessing that Stoops at some point today (most likely at noon) will be asked about Gunnar Hoak’s parents sounding off on social media (again):

Yikes. Obviously Terry Wilson has had his struggles throwing and securing the ball, but while pointing out Wilson’s negatives it’s easy to forget that he’s UK’s second leading rusher with 395 yards on the ground. While at this point he seems somewhat limited passing the ball, he has made something out of nothing several times, which helps move the chains for the Cats.

It’s a tough spot for Stoops. The offensive is one-dimensional, but UK is 6-1 on the season. I’ll be anxious to hear what he has to say today, but it’s never a great look when a parent sounds off on social media. Hoak’s mom also tweeted on Saturday “It’s better to be lucky than good”, which also seemed like a shot at Wilson.

Drama.

Up-and-down recruiting day:

The Cats landed a commitment yesterday from Richie Leonard IV, a 2020 offensive tackle from Cocoa, Fla. Yay! Yahtzee! But the bad news is just moments before Leonard IV popped for UK, hometown target Walker Parks from Frederick Douglas committed to Clemson. The four-star lineman was seriously considering Clemson, Notre Dame and UK. It’s not great to lose in-state talent, but especially someone in your backyard. It’s a long way until Parks will sign with anyone, so we can always hope he will reconsider after UK wins the national title this season.

Nick Roush has more info on both players:

Kentucky Football gets 2020 Commit, Loses 2020 Lexington Star

Recruiting:

Five-star wing Keion Brooks enjoyed an official visit to Kentucky over the weekend. I’ll have more on this in the Monday Insider Notes (it usually comes out around 2 p.m.), but a bit of spoiler- I still don’t think that UK leads for Brooks.

ESPN’s Jeff Borzello thinks the opposite. In his latest “hot board” he said he’s most confident that Brooks ends up at UK, but had James Wiseman and Vernon Carey going elsewhere. You can read that HERE.

Let’s hope Borzello is wrong because with UK missing out on Oscar Tshiebwe on Saturday the Cats are running out of options. Landing at least one of Carey/Wiseman is must, and even then UK will likely be thin on the frontline.

Big Blue in the Bahamas:

After the Blue/White game did you stick around on SEC Network to watch the Big Blue in the Bahamas feature? It was a 30 program that detailed UK’s trip to the Bahamas in August, where the Cats went 4-0 against foreign competition and had a ball doing it. It was a fun behind the scenes look at the vacation and it’s another way of being able to see the personalities of these players. The last couple seasons it’s been tough getting to know the players and by the time we do it’s March. UK made it a point to make the players accessible, open and constantly on camera. Smart move by the Cats because everyone has had a chance to see this group off the court.

You should be able to watch the feature HERE.

Yikes, WKU:

Did you see the ending to the WKU vs. ODU game on Saturday night? It was truly one of the wildest finishes I’ve ever seen in a college football game. WKU had chance after chance to win the game, or at the worst have it go to overtime, and well, it didn’t happen. I know I’ve never seen a football game in my 27 years where a team lines up to kick the game winning field goal with no time on the clock and ends up losing on a field goal in regulation.

Everyone has noticed Louisville’s struggles but our neighbors in Bowling Green have been even worse. WKU is 1-6 on the season and may not win another game. Hilltopper fans can’t be thrilled with Mike Sanford just 20 games into his WKU coaching career.


Nick Richards: “I’m mostly just trying to have fun playing basketball again”

Nick Richards: “I’m mostly just trying to have fun playing basketball again”

Kentucky sophomore center Nick Richards will be the first to tell you his first season as a Wildcat did not go as expected. He came in as highly-touted five-star prospect with high expectations, but by the end of the year, he struggled to earn minutes entirely.

In the team’s final ten games, Richards broke ten minutes on the floor just once. And in that span, he never scored more than two points in a single game.

His confidence was shot. He didn’t even flirt with the idea of putting his name in the NBA Draft.

Through four games in the Bahamas and Kentucky’s annual Blue-White scrimmage, however, Richards looks like a completely different player. He’s dominating in the post, scoring from the inside, rebounding the ball, and blocking shots. The sophomore 7-footer isn’t fumbling the ball in the paint or missing alley-oop receptions.

Above all else, after spending time with sports psychologist Bob Rotella this summer, the confidence is back. He’s smiling and having a good time on the floor. He’s blocking shots and staring down the opposition afterward. Richards isn’t just pushing through his freshman slump, he’s breaking through with force.

Richards finished tonight’s Blue-White Game with 16 points (8-12 shooting), 16 rebounds, five blocks, and a steal. He may not have been the most flashy player, nor did he lead the team in points, but he was making a massive impact on both ends of the floor.

Kentucky head coach John Calipari said after the game that Richards finally understands what he’s capable of and not worrying about making mistakes.

“He has a smile and he’s looking up,” said Calipari. “He doesn’t look like he’s shuffling his feet looking down. He’s confident in who he is and what he does.”

And as a result, he’s finally enjoying himself and the game of basketball each time he steps on the floor.

“I’m mostly just trying to have fun playing basketball again,” Richards said after the scrimmage.

The sophomore out of New Jersey added that his only focus now is to help his team out however possible, not worrying about the statistics or making mistakes.

“I just play basketball,” said Richards. “Whatever I’m doing on the court that’s benefitting the team I go out and continue to do that for 40 minutes. I’m just not worrying about the little things. … I’m not worried about anything at all, just a care-free attitude.”

Freshman guard Tyler Herro, who led the team in points with 34 points on just 16 shots, said the success Richards is having to start the year is no surprise. The work he’s putting in after hours is resulting in development on the stat sheet.

“He’s obviously just a whole new player, as you’ve seen in the Bahamas and again tonight,” he said. “It just shows how hard he works, you see him in the gym every night. … He’s always in the gym and working on his game and getting better. And it’s starting to show.”

We have joked about “Sophomore Nick Richards” throughout the offseason here on the site, but the idea of the Kentucky big man having a massive breakout year is starting to look like reality. For a team that already has so much depth in the frontcourt, it’s a scary thought to have Richards reaching his potential with this group.


T.J.’s Takes: It’s time to start beating up on some teams

T.J.’s Takes: It’s time to start beating up on some teams

The Blue team defeated the White squad in a scrimmage where players switched teams and there was a running clock. The game itself may have been meaningless but there were several takeaways as the Cats can finally look forward to new competition later this week when they host Transylvania on Friday.

Here are five takeaways from the Blue/White scrimmage:

1. UK’s good:

Really, really good. The biggest takeaway from Sunday’s scrimmage is UK has an incredible amount of talent and will be one of the deepest teams in college basketball. We knew that in the summer, it was confirmed during the Bahamas trip and we had another reminder just a handful of days before the season starts. Kentucky will play nine guys and I don’t think there’s a significant drop-off among the nine. We saw UK thrive in nearly every facet of the game. The Cats were sharp in transition, we saw interior scoring, UK was spectacular on the perimeter and there was a healthy blend of attacking the basket and smart pull-up jumpers. UK’s shooting was really impressive tonight. The defense looked sharp at times and I was surprised/impressed with UK’s shot blocking. It’s tough to find too many weaknesses from tonight.

2. Nine deep:

Like I mentioned, Quickley, Hagans, Green, Herro, Johnson, Montgomery, Washington, Travis and Richards are going to play this season. Also, there’s a chance Baker could, too. I think he’s behind the other nine, but that’s not overly fair to say because we’ve seen so little of his game. It was cool to see him  on the court finally playing and he has a great looking jumper.

When UK tried the platoon experiment back in 2014-2015, the Cats were deep but it was different than this year. There were a few players that were clearly not as good as some of their teammates, but they weren’t liabilities so they played. Out of those nine players I don’t think there’s a major weakness. Richards may be slightly behind the other three bigs, but he’s the best shot blocker and no slouch offensively. All nine are going to play and all nine can bring something different to this team.

Upsets happen in college basketball but I have a tough time believing that UK won’t be able to find five out of those nine guys that are ready to play on any given night.

3. Flashes:

I’m not sure how this will all play out because some players will progress differently than others as the season goes, but several UK players had flashes of taking over the scrimmage. They weren’t for the longest periods but Travis, Herro, Johnson, Washington and Montgomery  all had stretches where they looked like “the guy”. Other players had nice runs, too.

I’m not sure how opposing teams will defend Kentucky. Tyler Herro’s stretches are the most mesmerizing because he can score from anywhere on the floor, but the other players takeovers were equally as dominant. There is going to be a time (hopefully several) where it all clicks and UK will beat a team by 40+.

4. Defense:

UK scored a combine 200 points, but also allowed 200 points. I don’t put much stock in defense in a scrimmage because the players are playing the entire time, there’s no subs and you don’t want to be too aggressive/physical in a meaningless game. So, why it was offensively oriented I still like what I saw from the defense. UK’s shot blocking was impressive and maybe slightly surprising, but the Cats were also good on the perimeter. The guards really couldn’t penetrate on the other guards, the wings had more success attacking other wings/guards, but the guards did a great job defending their opponents. We’ve always labeled Hagans as the elite defender but I was actually more impressed with Quickley’s defense tonight. Both can be really, really good on that end. Hagans will cause more turnovers because he’ll take more gambles, but Quickley is steady and doesn’t get beaten off the dribble.

I said the wings had more success attacking and that could be somewhat concerning. UK won’t defend too many elite wings this season, but their first game against Duke will feature three of the best wings in college basketball. Calipari said not too long ago that Herro was ahead of Johnson defensively. We all took it as coachspeak to try and motivate Johnson, but Cal may not be too far off. That’s good news for Herro but still a little concerning for Johnson, who I thought would be a phenomenal defender.

5. Moving Forward:

No more scrimmages! Well, kinda. UK still has two more exhibition games but at least it’s against new competition and players that don’t know Kentucky’s plays or tendencies. The next two Friday’s UK will host exhibitions. First is Transylvania this week and then it’s Indiana University of Pennsylvania seven days later (then Duke the following Tuesday!). Kentucky should win both those games by 30+, but it will be a good chance for UK to continue to grow and be as polished as possible when they face Duke.

It’ll likely be nothing but positives again in the exhibitions, so the most important thing over the next two weeks is to stay healthy.


Kentucky moves up to No. 12 in the AP Poll, No. 14 in the Coaches Poll

Kentucky moves up to No. 12 in the AP Poll, No. 14 in the Coaches Poll

The Kentucky Wildcats are going to have to wait another week if they want to find themselves in the top-ten.

The latest AP Poll has been released, and the Cats found themselves back up to No. 12 in the nation, a two-spot jump from last week.

It’s the highest Kentucky has been in the polls since they found themselves ranked No. 8 in October of 2007.

The only SEC teams ranked ahead of Kentucky? Alabama (No. 1), LSU (No. 4), Georgia (No. 7), and Florida (No. 9).

Check out the entire AP Poll here:

In the Coaches Poll, the Cats moved up to No. 14 in the nation, a three-spot jump from the week eight rankings.

You can find those here:

With a victory against Missouri on the road next weekend, the Cats would almost certainly make a jump into the top-ten, setting up a battle for a spot in the SEC Championship against Georgia on November 3.