Good evening, everyone, if anyone is out there at all. I hope you’re all having a wonderful Christmas Eve night, wherever you are. Tomorrow, we’ll wake up to gifts from Santa and stale fruit cake before a long day of entertaining family, eating sweets and carbs, and watching NBA basketball for hours and hours. But tonight, I drew the short straw and was awarded the privilege of writing a bunch of notes to give everyone their UK/KSR fix for the night. There was very little news, but I’ve got some stuff for you below. It’s no Playstation 4 or Perfect Bacon Bowlâ„¢, but it’s my gift to you this holiday season. Enjoy.
The Louisville game is almost here.
Can you believe it, Cats fans? The most anticipated game of year is just days away, when fifth-ranked Louisville, KenPom’s favorite team, will come into Rupp Arena Saturday for the sixth chapter of the John Calipari vs. Rick Pitino showdown in Kentucky. Coach Cal holds a 4-1 record over Pitino, but Rick’s team enters the game as defending national champion with one loss on the season. We’ll spend plenty of time dissecting the game and making fun of the birds on Thursday and Friday, so for now, enjoy time with your loved ones before we go all-in on the game later this week.
The players return Christmas Day.
After spending three days away from Lexington for Christmas break, the Wildcats will return to the basketball court on Christmas to begin preparation for Saturday’s game. It’s the official beginning of Camp Cal, when the team can practice for as long as Cal desires while school is on hiatus. This is when they
will should make the most improvement, with unlimited practice time and entire weeks between games. With plenty to work on, the players can expect to see a lot of the Joe Craft Center over the next three weeks. Cal says they’ll be doing three-a-days.
Welcome back, boys.
Coach Cal’s mailbag is back!
In this week’s edition, Calipari says he has a group of great kids with bad basketball habits. “They’re all skilled,” he said. “But they have bad habits. What got you here will not get you there.” [CoachCal.com]
Sports Illustrated ranked the Top 10 players in college basketball.
Julius Randle is No. 3.
Leading the way as SI’s best player in college basketball is Jabari Parker, followed by Doug McDermott, Randle, Marcus Smart, Shabazz Napier, Jahii Carson, Russ Smith, Marcus Paige, Adreian Payne, and Andrew Wiggins. Here’s what SI had to say about Randle:
3. Julius Randle, Kentucky
A week after his season-worst show in a loss at North Carolina, Randle had a career-best day against Belmont — a team that had won at North Carolina last month — scoring 29 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. The only way the Bruins could stop Randle was to foul him, and they paid dearly for that strategy: Randle hit 13 of his 19 foul shots and was even better from the field, making eight of 10. We’ll let teammate Jarrod Polson’s assessment of Randle afterward — “He was a beast today” — stand for the 2013 part of the season. Randle through 12: 18.2 points; 11.3 rebounds, 54 percent shooting. [SI.com]
Coach Cal has the third hardest job in all of sports, according to USA Today.
Without even mentioning the pressure that comes with coaching the Big Blue Nation’s team, USA Today named the Kentucky basketball head coaching job as the third hardest in sports. The writer, Scott Gleeson, says creating championship chemistry with Calipari’s current bunch is what makes it tougher than every other job in sports, except coaching the Dallas Cowboys or the New York Yankees. [USA Today]
Merry Christmas from these new members of Big Blue Nation in Uganda.
Kentucky is No. 19 in ESPN’s new college basketball power rankings.
Up two spots from last week, Kentucky finds itself at No. 2 in ESPN’s Christmas Eve edition of its college basketball power rankings. Upcoming opponent Louisville dropped one spot to No. 6 on the list, behind Arizona, Syracuse, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan State. [ESPN]
Join Maker’s Mark for cocktails and a silent auction before the game to benefit the Dickie Gregory Memorial Fund.
The good people at Marker’s Mark are hosting a silent auction prior to Saturday’s game against Louisville at the Bluefire Bar & Grill in the Hyatt. Auction items include a blue and white dipped basketball signed by Coach Cal, a 5L Marker’s Mark dummy bottle with a custom fit UK jersey, a weekend stay at the Hyatt with a VIP tour of the Maker’s Mark distillery, and this awesome Maker’s Mark “Cat Nip” mounted poster:
The bar will serve Marker’s Mark cocktails in blue and white dipped glasses (while supplies last) and proceeds will go to the Dickie Gregory Memorial Fund at Central Bank. Dickie is the man who fell in Rupp Arena earlier this season; if you’re not familiar with his story, Gregg Doyel told it best in this article at CBSSports.com.
This is a really great event Maker’s Mark is doing prior to the biggest game of the season and we hope Big Blue Nation will come together to raise lots of money for the Gregory family.
People of Atlanta, Saturday’s “The House Divided” game watch party should be fun.
Kentucky and Louisville fans will come together for one party in Atlanta this Saturday for the game. Click the poster for more details…
Red V. Blue documentary premiere is in Lexington this Friday.
If you’re free this Friday and in the Lexington area, the Red v. Blue film will makes its debut at the Lexington Opera House. It’s an invitation only event, but you will have an opportunity to win invites during Thursday morning’s Kentucky Sports Radio show and I’m working to get a contest set up on the website Christmas night. For more information on the film, go to RedVBlueFilm.com. Watch the trailer below:
The first annual KSR Christmas Vacation LIVE BLOG is going to be fun.
Join me and whoever else I can round up at 9:00 p.m. ET on Christmas night for a live blog of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. The movie airs at 9:00 on ABC Family so we’ll all be synced up to talk about it and everything else that comes up. I’m looking forward to it and I hope you stop by. Eggnog is encouraged.
Merry Christmas, everyone.