As if Mother Nature wasn’t having enough fun making us all cold and miserable, she’s also threatening to take away our basketball. Baton Rouge is expected to be hit by Winter Storm Leon (why the names??) Tuesday morning, with freezing rain, ice, and even some snow expected. Considering Baton Rouge is probably even more ill-equipped for this than Dallas was back in December, there was some major talk on Monday about postponing or canceling the game, but as of Monday evening, LSU is moving forward with plans to play as scheduled. The team, officials, and ESPN crew have safely arrived, so as long as they can all get to the arena, it looks like the game will go on.
The potential weather problems had many people a-tweeting on Monday, with all of the local media detailing their delayed travel plans and good ole Oscar Combs inviting everyone to sit around his fire while he told a story. Oscar took us all back to a time when the media traveled on UK’s team charter, and one particular harrowing flight from Baton Rouge to Lexington during the Sam Bowie era. After leaving Louisiana, the pilots were told to reroute to Dallas, Oklahoma City, then Memphis to avoid bad weather, and ten minutes into the flight, Dirk Minniefield barfed up his Kentucky Fried Chicken dinner, with others quickly following suit. The plane had to make a fueling stop in Memphis, and because they got in at 2 a.m., no one was around to refuel the plane. At 5:15 in the morning, the Cats finally got back to Lexington, as Oscar put it, “with a loss to boot.” Knowing what a great storyteller Oscar is, I’m going to assume that pun about barfing was intentional.
Anyhow, the team’s trip to Baton Rouge on Monday was the polar opposite of the one Oscar described. The Cats took the Miami Heat’s charter plane to Louisiana, and Cal even sat in Dwyane Wade’s seat. The times, they have a changed.
News and views, with a side of peanuts, please.
The Cats are learning to love the grind
Before they got on their fancy charter, Willie Cauley-Stein, Julius Randle, and John Calipari met with the media to talk about Tuesday’s game. Over the past few weeks, the Cats have made baby steps of progress, which they attribute to the hard work they put in over winter break. Julius Randle said that he and his teammates have “fallen in love” with the grind, and it’s resulting in better teamwork on the court:
“Anything you do is going to be a grind, but I think the biggest thing is we learn to enjoy and love the grind and love the process. It just makes things a lot easier. We’ve fallen in love with the whole process of getting better and changing habits, and because of that, it’s been smooth for us.”
Willie agreed, saying that last season, there weren’t many people that went to the gym late at night for extra work (you don’t say): “Now it’s like that. We’ve got three or four or five guys doing that every night. It shows that we really buy into this and we’re trying to get better every day.” Midnight Club, FTW.
Get ready for another battle inside
LSU has two really good bigs in Johnny O’Bryant and freshman Jordan Mickey, who was named to the Wayman Tisdale Watch List for best freshman of the year, along with Julius Randle and James Young. Cal called O’Bryant and Mickey “two of the better big guys in our league” Monday and said that Mickey is their go-to scorer: “Every time they need a basket, it is like a shot goes up and he is tipping it in or doing something good.” Willie Cauley-Stein likened the two to Tennessee’s Jarnell Stoke and Jeronne Maymom, who pushed him around during the game in Lexington over a week ago. Willie said that he was ready to “step up to the challenge” against LSU’s bullying bigs, especially Mickey: “Absolutely. Hearing about him is going to make you step up. Anybody in that position would step up and try to prove themselves.”
Randle said he’s played against Mickey and Jarell Martin before, and for Kentucky to come out of Baton Rouge with a win, they’re going to have to continue their good defensive habits and “stick together” in a hostile environment:
“We got to stick together. If we’re going to survive, we got to stick together. It’s kind of that feeling that brings out competitive nature.”
Keep kicking it out to the perimeter when you’re triple teamed, too, Julius.
KSR is going to Elizabethtown for Matt Elam’s announcement
On Thursday, the recruitment that would never end will finally end. At noon eastern, Matt Elam will announce whether he’ll attend Alabama or Kentucky, and KSR will be live on the scene from the John Hardin High School library. That’s right: Matt, Ryan, and Drew are all making the trek down the Bluegrass Parkway to deliver Elam’s decision live on the air. Which school will Elam pick? His high school coach Chad Lewis spoke to 247 Sports’ Charles Power about his star DT, and said that Elam and his mother sat down over the weekend and had a long talk, and he feels confident he knows where he’ll end up. How was his trip to Lexington this past weekend? Even though the snow prevented him from being on campus as long as he would have liked, hearing the fans at the basketball game chant his name made an impression:
“It was pretty neat- we walked out of the tunnel down there and of course the student section noticed him immediately. They’re the ones who started chanting ‘We want Elam’ and then that whole side started chanting ‘We want Elam’ at the beginning of the game, so that was really neat. Then they introduced their seven early enrollees and after they announced (Drew) Barker, they started chanting Elam’s name again. Obviously the state wants him and people of Kentucky want him. It was neat for Matt to hear the people rooting for him.”
An update to an earlier story…
Earlier on Monday, we told you how Richie Farmer was assigned the inmate number 16226-032, the last two digits of which correspond to his jersey number at UK. Turns out that “032” is just the district code in Eastern Kentucky, and therefore, not an intentional dig at Farmer. Just an odd coincidence.
The Fayette County Public Schools can’t please anyone
If you’re still bored, Fayette County Public School’s Facebook page is blowing up again tonight after the school decided to operate on a two-hour delay on Tuesday instead of canceling altogether. With the temperature expected to rise from 1 degree to 2 degrees in the span of two hours, people are once again ANGRY. Just a few of the comments:
No two-hour delays around here. See you in the morning.