Drew and I have arrived in New York for the US Open, recreating our bizarre duties with Tennis Channel. Over the next couple of weeks, you can find our work on their site (don’t worry, we will link it here because we rely on your folks to come and visit and continue to impress them with our page views), but you will also hear stories from our New York travels here and on radio. See, for me coming to New York is in part about visiting places that I have never been, as there is likely no city that has more diversity anywhere on this planet. And tonight, Drew and I had this once again confirmed as we took a LOOOOOONG subway ride to the North Bronx, to eat at a Bangladeshian Restaurant called “Neerob.” Now your first question when hearing this fact is probably, “why” and I can’t say that I blame you. Taking a hour long subway ride to a part of the city you have never been to eat at a restaurant that serves a type of food you know nothing about seems insane…but life is short, and my goal is to get as many experiences packed into it as possible. We have this list of the 101 Best New York “Cheap Eats” as our guide, and it said Neerob was #1…so we had to go. What we found was really good food in very different setting. This review on Yelp summed the ambiance up well:
Neerob is a hole in the wall kind of place, with a buffet display of food (you order and then they bring it to you at the cafeteria style tables, with cafeteria style lighting). There are no white people (at least none when we were there), only Bangladeshis (old and young) speaking at the top of their lungs, and from the sound of it, they were all locals.
That about sums it up. No one really spoke English and Drew and I were the only non-Bangladeshian people within a mile. There was a lot of yelling, a lot of bizarre looks and the smell of curry pierced our nostrils. But the food was great and the experience was even better. Trying to describe what we wanted to a group of three elderly workers was impossible so I just said “bring us what is good.” They brought out seven plates of food (I kid you not) and likely would have continued to add more had I not begged them to stop. With the exception of two elderly man who glared at us for the entire hour as if we were up to something suspicious, everyone was friendly and I learned a very important lesson…children still scream way too often in restaurants, no matter the ethnicity. Even with that minor annoyance, it was an excellent start to our New York fortnight, and I highly recommend it if you happen to be close to the Castle Hill subway stop in the North Bronx (which you won’t be). If you have other recommendations, let me know (especially if they are a hole in the wall) and I hope you will tune in to hear KSR Live from the Big Apple over the next two weeks.
With that in mind, some news from the weekend:
— Probably the biggest piece of information I have obtained this weekend is something from the “source” department. I feel much better about Kentucky’s chances with the best player left in the 2015 class, Jaylen Brown. You may remember that we at KSR fell in love with Jaylen as a player this summer and I believe that he, along with LSU-bound Ben Simmons, is one of the two “can’t miss” superstars in the 2015 class. Brown can do it all and do it all well and I have believed since my initial conversation with him after an AAU game, that he would love to be at Kentucky. My initial post on him (which you should read again as it is good insight onto his mindset) showcased how some in his family and those around him are interested in him going somewhere other than Kentucky. That fact, combined with the stories in recent weeks of Adidas people really pushing him to Kansas or UCLA, had made me a little down on where Kentucky was with Brown and if he might decide soon before getting on campus with Kentucky. But, this weekend some better news came down the pike. We heard last week that he was planning on waiting until the Spring and now a source tells KSR that Kentucky’s position with him has improved “tremendously” in the last few weeks. Who knows what he does, but I have my Brown-Kentucky confidence back…which is good, because he is the best there is in a class with few elite stars.
— We are now just five days away from the start of UK football and the optimism from those around the program is rising. I spoke with a couple of folks this weekend and all agree that this team is going to be better than people think. Whether that translates into wins remains to be seen but there is a growing sense that optimism and excitement is reigning all the way down from the coaches to the players. I am hearing that the defense is still ahead of the offense and that it likely will be the more consistent group this year. But offensively, there is real hope that we will see some special playmakers. We know that the Running Backs will be very good with Jojo Kemp, Braylon Heard and Josh Clemons, but there is also a lot of excitement about Boom Williams and what he will bring to the table. And people believe UK may have a legitimate superstar in Dorian Baker. One person told me on Saturday, “he has the athletic makeup and football ability to be as good as any wide receiver to ever play here.” Strong, but exciting words. I cannot wait to watch the team that takes the field on Saturday, but more importantly to start finally seeing the fruits of Mark Stoops’ staff’s labor over the last two years. This will be much more of a team that reflects their work and they are ready to be on the field.
— A mystery was solved this weekend as UK Assistant Coach John Robic acknowledged that the Harrison Twins did have a vision problem early in their UK career. If you listen to the KSR Radio Show, you know that I was on a mission early in their career to get the Twins’ eyes checked as the squinting to me, had to mean they weren’t able to see as well as they should. Robic confirmed this fact at the Calipari Camp, telling his campers that he has to stay on the Twins to put in their contact lenses, and if they don’t wear them, he can almost immediately tell. When the contacts are in, the squinting goes away and Robic says they play much better. It is good to know finally that the mystery of last year was correct…contacts helped the Twins’ game and ended the ubiquitous squinting of their early career.
The Calipari Fantasy Camp is a wonderful experience, but the player above may have been the highlight of it for me this year. He was very serious…I mean VERY serious and watching him under his coach Slice Rohrssen was one of the funniest things I have ever seen. If Slice came up with a play, Captain Serious would occasionally veto it and say they should do something else…and Slice would usually smile and let the Captain get his way. If you ever cared about anything immensely, just know this…you didn’t care about that thing more than this guy did about Calipari fantasy basketball (his team by the way went 1-3).
— I will end with this…having spent even more time around the team this weekend as part of the camp, I will say what I have said often since the Bahamas trip. This is as good a group of guys as we have had on the team since I have been doing this. The returning players are all wonderful guys, but they are all much more comfortable and happy now than they were before (especially the Twins and Poythress). The new guys are as engaging as any group I can remember, with Karl Towns possibly being the nicest human being I have ever been around. Their talents on the court are without dispute…watching them play pickup this weekend just confirms once again what an abundance of riches this group has. But, as good as they are on the court, people are going to like them even more off the court. This is a special group and this will be a special ride. Savor it.
We are on radio all week so make sure and tune in. Below, I introduce you to your 2015 National Champions with one player missing (Andrew was late coming in after a flight delay) and one extra member (#43 may have used up his eligibility). Its going to be fun