Good evening, UK sports fans and those of you visiting us from other fan bases, and welcome to a Labor Day evening edition of the News and Views. Tonight, we pay tribute to the reason we’re all obsessed with Kentucky basketball today, Mr. Adolph Frederick Rupp, on his would-be 112th birthday.
The Baron was born on September 2, 1901, a day none of us were alive for but we all greatly appreciate, in Halstead, Kansas. Kansas? Yes, Kansas. He played basketball there, too. But he’s easily forgiven for it.
Rupp coached the University of Kentucky basketball team, your University of Kentucky Wildcats, from 1930 to 1972, long before there were John Wall dances, jean shorts and identical twin guards. He was coaching high school basketball in Freeport, Illinois at the time of his hire, the greatest hire in the history of anything. Rupp went on to win four national titles in Lexington, along with 27 Southeastern Conference regular season championships, 13 SEC Tournament championships, one NIT championship and a grand total of 876 career wins in his 41 years on the bench. He’s the fifth all-time winningest coach behind Mike Kryzesweksiswiski, Bobby Knight, Jim Boeheim and Dean Smith.
So when you’re eating your Orange Leaf this week or watching old highlights from the 2012 championship, remember it was Adolph Rupp who made Kentucky basketball what is today. But you already know that and probably have a dog named after him, too. It’s perfectly normal.
Happy Birthday, Rupp.
While most of you were out celebrating labor and putting away your white pants for the year, Mark Stoops held his weekly press conference luncheon for the UK media. The biggest news of the day: Max Smith is listed as the starting quarterback for Saturday. Smith, the backup to Whitlow in the season opener, gets the nod after a strong showing once his number was called late in the game against Western. The Air Raid looked more like an Air Raid with Smith (in part because the offense was hurried, trailing big late) and his passing numbers out-shined Whitlow’s, despite fewer snaps and attempts.
But don’t get it twisted, the staff is not putting the loss on Whitlow. Stoops said, “There’s a lot of people that could do things better starting with me. Max, he came in there and did some good things, and Jalen did some good things as well, just like we thought he would. There were some critical errors from both quarterbacks. So we need to improve at that position. We just feel like Max gives us the best opportunity this week.”
In a series of tweets to various media members, Walter Whitlow said Jalen told him the hype made him tight and afraid to commit a turnover. “We will see the real Jalen soon!”, he tweeted.
I can believe that.
Other interesting notes from the pre-Miami depth chart:
— Preseason projected starting cornerback Cody Quinn is not listed in the two-deep rotation. Quinn missed the last three weeks of practice and did not travel to Nashville. “We’re trying to get him healthy,” Stoops said when asked about the sophomore. “We put him back out there last week and we thought he was going to go and he had a minor setback. He’s close again, but I don’t know where he’s at. So right now, he’s not able to practice full go.”
— On the offensive line, Zach West earned his job back at left tackle, where he started all 12 games last season. He replaces false start-happy Teven Eatmon-Nared.
— Junior TraVaughn Paschal moves from backup defensive end to starting weakside linebacker over Khalid Henderson. Paschal is a guy we heard a lot of good things about during fall camp so it’s not a huge shock to see the staff find a way to increase his playing time. Henderson recorded 10 tackles and forced a fumble versus Western but was burnt, I mean BURNT, on a couple of tackles early in the game.
— Wide receiver A.J. Legree dropped to third behind Javess Blue and Alex Montgomery at one wide receiver spot.
Kentucky is currently a 17-point favorite over Miami OH. Gamble responsibly. (Don’t gamble.)
If you’re still struggling with the upsetting loss on Saturday, this basketball team photo from Calipari’s backyard should cheer you up:
Damn, they’re gonna be good.
As seen on KentuckySportsRadio.com earlier today, Sports Illustrated has a nice feature on Willie Cauley-Stein for your Labor Day viewing pleasure. The author, Kelli Anderson, writes:
“Cauley-Stein has been honing all aspects of his offensive game, “from guard skills to banging in the post,” he says. He picked up some footwork chops at the Nike big man camp and has been working on his reliability from both 15-feet out and right under the basket, where Calipari expects him to draw double teams every time he touches the ball. As for free throws, which he made at a dismal 37 percent clip last year, “I always work on those,” he says.”
Willie told Anderson, “I feel like I’m a different kind of player. I don’t mean that in a cocky way. But what seven-footer runs like a guard, guards like a guard, but is a post player? I want to be the first one, the best one, of that type.”
Damn, they’re gonna be good.
A lot of Kentuckians will keep a closer eye on high school football this year with UK incoming quarterback Drew Barker and UK target Matt Elam fueling the statewide excitement. If you make it out to any games, don’t act like these two Alabama high school football coaches:
We’re now less than a week away from the alumni game. Tickets are still available at Ticketmaster.com to see the 2010 vs. 2012 showdown in Rupp Arena. Top 2014 basketball recruit Jahlil Okafor will be there, so BBN needs to show up and show him what we’re all about. Jamaal Magloire will be there too, which is awesome. I’m worried about how Matt will react to seeing his all-time favorite player.
That’ll do it for tonight. I hope everyone enjoyed their Labor Day weekend, aside from the game, of course. Tomorrow we’ll be back with KSR radio at 10:00 am and more football talk as the home opener approaches.