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!
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.
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:
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.
OK, FINE. Here's the full breakdown of how ODU beat WKU in the weirdest of circumstances pic.twitter.com/SKkzjaYJqp
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) October 21, 2018
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.