[Moderated by Matt Jones]
Hopefully, by now you are sitting comfortably in your favorite recliner and getting ready to watch the first pitch of Kentucky vs. Arizona State in the Cats’ second only Super Regionals. If not, I suggest you get to your comfy chair and do so now. Don’t forget to take your laptop or iPad with you so you can finish reading this post. Settled yet? Okay, good. The above video is of softball coach Rachel Lawson (& Creepy Jerry Tipton in the background) talking about the game tonight and the general excitement about being able to compete in the Super Regionals.
Have fun watching and Go Cats!!!!!
Earlier today, Pete Roussel of Coachingsearch.com released a list that highlights his eight most entertaining college football assistant coaches. Apparently, Mr. Roussel considers horribly photoshopped, creepy pictures with an unusually wordy hashtag (#ComePlayWRForTheJoker) to be something other than strange and completely out of character for the otherwise plain Joker Phillips. Perhaps I am mistaking the true meaning of entertaining in this context though. These pictures are entertaining in the same sense that people found “Joe Dirt” to be a good movie–it was so incredibly awful that it was hard not to find amusing. The same might be said of Joker’s Twitter account.
On a serious note, where was this when Joker was at Kentucky? We at least have to give the guy credit for trying to be innovative and new–something he never did while in Lexington. #ComePlayWRForTheJoker? Nah. Read the rest of Roussel’s list at the link below.
Don’t forget! The Cats will face Arizona State at 10 pm tonight on ESPN2. Go CATS!
The UK Softball team will square off against fifth seeded Arizona State in Tempe in a best of three series for the right to advance to the Women’s College World Series. It is just the second trip to the Super Regionals in program history. The Cats and Sun Devils have already faced each other once, with ASU winning, 8-1, on the opening weekend of the season.
The Cats will send freshman Kelsey Nunley and junior Lauren Cumbess, who combined to allow eight runs and eleven hits to the Sun Devils in the early season loss, back to the mound. In last weekend’s Regional, Nunley was the pitcher of record in all four games; earning a 3-1 record in 25.1 innings of work and recorded 15 strikeouts. Cumbess was the starting pitcher in the final game of the regional and worked 3.2 scoreless innings before being relieved by Nunley.
Offensivly, the Cats are led by sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner who leads the team with a .333 average and has 10 home runs and 41 RBI while Cumbess is not far behind with .333 average, 12 homers, and 42 RBI.
Arizona State is 48-10 on the year and finished just a game behind PAC-12 champion Oregon with a 16-8 conference record. The Sun Devils are led by ace pitcher Dallas Escobedo, who picked up the win over the Cats earlier in the year with a complete game, one-run outing. Escobedo is 28-4 on the year with a 2.10 ERA and scattered five hits in three complete game shutouts in last weekend’s regional.
Game One: Tonight – 10 p.m. ET – ESPN2
Game Two: Tomorrow – 5 p.m. ET – ESPN
Game Three (if necessary): Tomorrow 8 p.m. ET – ESPN2
All games will also be broadcast on 630 WLAP
97 days until football season, and with that fact comes a committment from three star offensive guard Jarrett LaRubbio from outside of Cincinnati. He is the #16 OG in the nation for the 2014 class. His highlight video is below for your enjoyment. Go Stoops. Go Cats.
Kentucky football players Jonathan George, Kevin Mitchell, and Avery Williamson are on a week-long service trip to Ethiopia representing the team and university. The guys are doing great work bringing water filters, food, charcoal, and other necessities to people in need, along with providing their services.
Guy Ramsey of Cat Scratches is doing a great travel log of the experience through the eyes of each of the three players. The first is an interview with Kevin Mitchell, UK senior offensive lineman.
It’s a touching piece and BBN should be proud.
After a brief hiatus, the Friday night fun facts are back! Did you miss it?
Q: How many wins does Kentucky basketball currently have?
A: 2,111. If UK goes 40-0 next season, then it would be 2,151.
Q: The famous thoroughbred Man O’ War only lost one race. Who beat him?
A: Man O’ War’s only defeat came from a horse called Upset (ironic) in 1919 at the Sanford Memorial Stakes.
Q: How many NCAA Tournament wins does UK have?
A: 111, the most in NCAA Tournament history of course.
Q: How many undefeated seasons has Kentucky football had?
A: I know many of think they have never had any. In fact, Kentucky football has had 1 single undefeated season. Granted, it was in 1898.
Q: How many Super Regionals has the UK Softball team made it to?
A: As of tomorrow night, the Kentucky Softball team will have been in 2 Super Regionals. The girls look to get their revenge from a loss to Arizona St. earlier in the season tomorrow at 10 pm.
Q: How many times has Kentucky been the number one seed in the NCAA tournament?
A: 11 times. I’m going to go ahead and count this upcoming season and say 12.
Q: How many times has Kentucky football had a top ten finish?
A: Twice. Once in 1950 and again in 1977.
Q: How many NCAA Tournament Most Valuable Players has Kentucky had?
A: 5. Alex Groza won the award twice. Others include Jack (GOOOOOOOSE) Givens, Tony Delk, Jeff Sheppard, and of course Anthony Davis.
Yes the title says it all. Drafting Noel first over all is not a good move for the Cavaliers, and it won’t help Noel either. The Cavaliers are in a very interesting position. They have the first pick even though their roster is far from a team that needs the first pick. This is not the Charlotte Bobcats who need multiple pieces to even look respectable. No, the Cavaliers are on the brink of being a great NBA team. Yes, I mean the Cleveland Cavaliers who seem to always swing and miss on reaching the top of the basketball world are inching closer and closer to that goal. They will not make it next year by any means, but almost all of the pieces are falling into place.
Why do I say that? They are one large piece away from reaching this goal. Look at their roster. Kyrie Irving is a certified superstar in this league with an elite offensive arsenal and control of the game. Dion Waiters is the answer at shooting guard for this team who showed he is developing into a true scorer throughout last season. Tristan Thompson is a rebounding machine especially on the offensive side with an NBA body to defend any sort of front court player. The Cavs have another rebounding guru in Anderson Varejao at center who, frankly, is a perfect piece to be traded to a team to build this squad for the next 3-4 years.
Now, I just said Varejao should be traded which leaves a gap at center because Tyler Zeller will not be their answer at the starting 5 spot. It seems like Noel should fill that role, but there is one problem. Centers like Nerlens Noel do not fit the mold of how the center position has evolved in the NBA. Look at the last 4 teams in the playoffs. The Spurs start Tiago Splitter at the 5, who is simply a low salary, complementary piece that fits the system he is in. The Grizzlies start Marc Gasol, a defensive stalwart with a smooth mid range jumper. The Heat start Chris Bosh, an undersized center creating mismatches with his shooting range. Only the Pacers have a center that fits Noel in Roy Hibbert, a rim protector with limited range. Guess what? The center that matches Noel was on the bench in Game 1 because Frank Vogel feared Hibbert’s ability to defend Bosh on the perimeter.
Noel will be a solid center in the league, but he is not the answer for the Cavaliers if they wish to reach elite status. The center position is becoming less necessary by old school NBA definitions. The 7 foot tall shot blocker with solid post moves is a lost weapon that doesn’t fit the wide-open, guard oriented style the NBA has become. Nerlens will be a nice piece to have on a team because he instantly boosts your defense, but, unless he develops a mid range game, he is not a long standing answer at the center position for a championship squad. Centers like Chris Bosh, Serge Ibaka (once the Thunder realize he should play center), Kevin Garnett, and Lamarcus Aldridge are the type of centers that can elevate a good team to a great team.
So what should the Cavaliers do?
Option A Draft Otto Porter: When I tracked through the Cavaliers’ starting roster, I notably left out the small forward position. There is one small forward in the draft that would be a great addition and be able to start ASAP for the Cavaliers. Otto Porter has length, scoring, defensive versatility, and a high game IQ. If he works on his lateral quickness, he is instantly a lockdown defender in the NBA. He has experience as a point forward which would free up Kyrie to move without the ball for open shots. The only flaw in this pick would be the big elephant in the room… The Return of Lebron James. Yes, the rumors have swirled for months that the King may return to Cleveland after next season. While it seems like Lebron would fit at the 3 spot, he is the greatest and most versatile player in the world who would be fine at the 4. Leaving the option of allowing Tristan Thompson to develop as an undersized center, or using him as trade bait for a center fitting the NBA mold I spoke of above.
Option B Do anything to trade for Lamarcus Aldridge: Several NBA analysts have played around with this trade. The Cavaliers have plenty of assets to offer the Trailblazers for Aldridge, a player that is the prime example of the new age center. He’s lengthy, a good shooter, and a solid rebounder. The Cavaliers could trade a mixture of draft picks, Anderson Varejao, and other players for Aldridge. It may hurt them in the short run with bench depth, but Aldridge is the long term answer at center. The Trailblazers are still several pieces away from being great, and the first draft pick gives them tons of options from Noel to McLemore to Porter.
Where does this leave Noel?
Noel will benefit from not playing for the Cavs. I cannot see any scenario where the Magic take Noel at No. 2 since they have Vucevic at the center spot. This brings Noel to the 3 spot as he falls into the hands of John Wall and the Washington Wizards. The perfect situation for Noel. The Wizards have an aging yet serviceable veteran in Nene to play center for this season. The Wizards can let Noel take as long as he pleases to rehab his knee while a great veteran like Nene teaches Noel the game throughout the season. Nene is an excellent role model for Noel because he reflects the type of player that Noel will likely become, a high volume rebounder with average scoring and great defensive presence. The Wizards attempt to mold Noel in the next Tyson Chandler while Wall and Beal try to evolve into one of the best backcourts in the NBA for the next few years. Everyone is happy.
Does this prevent Kentucky from having another first draft pick? Yes, but who really cares. If Noel becomes a great NBA player, no one will really gripe about where he was picked. Kentucky fans will lose a very small bragging right of having the top pick, but they may get the last laugh when Noel falls into the perfect situation to reach his potential.
With discussion surrounding the much-anticipated quarterback battle between Maxwell Smith, Patrick Towles, and Jalen Whitlow about to heat up this summer, I thought it’d be interesting to take a look back at one of the more famous QB controversies in recent Kentucky Football memory. I’m talking of course about the summer heading into the 2006 season, when Andre Woodson and Curtis Pulley dueled it out virtually all summer to be the Cats’ starting play-caller. The competition between the two is best documented here, in an article written for WAVE3.com. Papaw Brooks, Will Fidler, and a younger/less Photoshop-crazed Joker Phillips all make cameos.
If you know your UK Football, then you know that Woodson would go on to win the job and lead the program to its first bowl victory since 1984 and monumental wins over UofL and LSU the following season as the then-Heisman hopeful and unrivaled leader of the Kentucky offense. Pulley, on the other hand, spent the 2006 season backing up Woodson and seeing some time at wide receiver before redshirting in 2007 and finally being dismissed from the team in 2008 following multiple arrests. Talk about polar opposites.
Looking towards the future and this summer’s battle, we can all learn from the Woodson/Pulley battle of ’06. First and foremost, all three players should benefit from the competition. Whoever wins the job, and breaks the huddle for the first time in Nashville will have, in the eyes of the coaches, earned that opportunity through a demonstration of a combination of skill and leadership that beat out his other two competitors. They deserve the full confidence of the fan base heading into the season.
On the flip side, the other two players need to avoid following Pulley’s footsteps. Curtis saw that battle as a “make-or-break” type scenario, and he let his career at Kentucky slip out from under him once Woodson was awarded the starting job, which was sad because the former Mr. Kentucky Football was extremely talented and could have continued to be an effective multi-use guy in the offense. They can’t see this as a win/lose battle. Instead, they need to carry the battle over into the fall and make it as hard as possible on Coach Stoops and his staff to name a starting quarterback each week. This mentality will allow everyone in the system to benefit from the heightened play of competition, and will force the starting quarterback to be the best the team has to offer once Saturday rolls around. It’s an important role that can’t be overlooked, especially in Coach Stoops’ first year and with one of the toughest schedules in the country staring the team in the face.
Derek Kief a four star WR out of Cinncinati and 2014 Stoops target just announced his top five via rap lyrics.
No I’m not joking.
Kief is ranked 46th in his position nationally and 17th overall in Ohio.
These are his top five schools:
In case you missed it, that would be (in no particular order): Notre Dame, Kentucky, Alabama, Ohio State, & Northwestern.
It’s kind of a catchy song if you ask me, but apparently (sadly) it isn’t him rapping. I was hoping for another Marcus McClinton type intro vid for 2014…. I guess my hopes are dashed now.
Good afternoon everybody! Happy Memorial Day weekend! Here are a few links to get you through today….
Coach Cal revealed yesterday that the Cavs have been “looking” at Nerlens all season.
Bleacher Report thinks that the 2014 Cats should be worried about facing some SEC teams. Spoiler Alert? One of them has Marshall Henderson on their team.
Our beautiful state has been ranked first for trophy bucks by Outdoor Life Magazine.
Kentucky fans don’t hate many people… but when we do loathe someone, we tend to hold grudges. Here is a list of people Kentucky fans still dislike.
Draft Express has their latest mock draft out. Guess who’s the number one draft pick?
And finally in my weird news of the day: Jacobite Cruises, a cruise ship company out of Scotland has taken out an insurance policy to protect their vessels against attacks from the Loch Ness Monster.
On April 2nd, after a thrilling extra inning win against the UL in Louisville, the Bat Cats’ record stood at 22-6, 6-3 in the SEC, and were ranked a season high fifth in the nation. Seven weeks to the day later, they were eliminated in the first game of the SEC Tournament by Ole Miss after dropping 19 of their last 27 games to finish unranked and out of the NCAA Tournament. So the question is, how can a team that was so highly ranked, so talented, and who played so well out of the gate suffer such a traumatic collapse in the second half of the season?
Where did it all go wrong?
The obvious answer is the LSU series. Following the win over UL, the Cats went down to Baton Rouge and were promptly swept by a combined score of 31-6. Although disappointing, at the time, the sweep was not overly concerning. LSU was, and still is, a very good team and a national title contender.
Where I think the season really went off the rails was the next weekend against Tennessee at Cliff Hagan Stadium. After a come from behind series opening win, the Cats dropped the next two games, giving the Vols, who finished 22-30 (8-20 in the SEC), their second of two SEC series victories. The 5-0 loss in the series finale was the first “uh-oh” moment of the season. I won’t mince words; Tennessee was not a good team and the series loss to them was inexcusable and a sign of things to come.
What made the series loss even worse was that the next four weekends were against South Carolina, Ole Miss, Arkansas, and Vanderbilt, all of whom were, and still are, ranked with three of the four legitimate national title contenders. The Cats were swept at USC, won the series in Oxford, won once against the Razorbacks and were swept at home by Vandy to put them on the brink of the NCAA Bubble. Throw in a beat down in Lexington by UL and an 18 inning loss against WKU in the middle and you have a really bad month of baseball. The final nail on the coffin was last weekend at Mizzouri where the 16-30 Tigers took two out of three to eliminate any hope of an at large NCAA bid.
What went wrong?
Last summer when Jerad Grundy announced that he would turn down draft 28th round draft pick by the Minnesota Twins to return for his senior season I thought, “That’s it. That is what is going to make them contenders for Omaha.” Grundy started slow but finished the 2012 season very strong and had two postseason wins. His return, combined with Corey Littrell’s second season and A.J. Reed’s promotion to the weekend gave the Cats a formidable and experienced left-handed weekend rotation. On March 23rd, Grundy pitched eight innings strong innings and struck out ten in a 3-2 victory over Mississippi State. His ERA was 1.99 after six starts. The win, his fifth on the season, would be his last in the SEC. In the following weeks, Grundy would drop four of his next five starts with an ERA of over 10 in those game before being demoted to the midweek starter. I don’t mean to pick on Jerad, who was really having a terrific season until April, but he was a microcosm of the entire team as he simply “lost it” and could never get back on the right track. As Grundy went, so did the Cats.
That’s not to say that the other two weekend starters, Littrell and Reed, didn’t have struggles of their own. Reed was just 2-8 on the season with both wins coming early in the non-conference portion of the schedule but his record doesn’t tell the entire story. Reed’s problem was that the offense (despite his own efforts) simply didn’t give him enough run support. Seven of his eight losses came in games where he gave up four earned runs or less and all four of his no decisions came in games in which he gave up two or earned runs or less.
Speaking of the offense (or lack thereof), it was the Cats’ Achilles heel all season. It was especially absent down the stretch as seven of UK’s final eleven losses came by two runs or less. Of those seven losses, the maximum number of runs an opponent scored in a game? Five. To say that the offense struggled is a massive understatement. Only one starter batted over .300 on the season and that was freshman Kyle Barrett, who was inserted as the everyday right fielder midway through the season, with a .349 average. Even A.J. Reed, who led the team with 13 home runs and 52 RBI, batted just .280. Fellow sophomore Austin Cousino batted .249 and led the team with 46 strikeouts. J.T. Riddle, who collected 11 hits in 14 at bats on the first weekend of the season, was the team’s second leading hitter with a .283 average. As a team, the Cats’ batted .255.
Where does UK go from here?
First, the Cats have to take stock of who is coming and going. On top of graduating three seniors: Jerad Grundy, Walter Wijas, and Zac Zellers, the Cats have six draft eligible juniors: Lucas Witt, Paul McConkey, Matt Reida, J.T. Riddle, Trevor Gott, and Corey Littrell who will likely be drafted this summer. Their decision return or go pro will have a large impact on next year’s team. UK has eight LOIs 2013 recruiting class which includes two of the state’s top pitchers, Hunter Green and Woodford County’s Clinton Hollon. Both Green and Hollon are expected to be selected in the MLB draft this summer so their decision will have a large impact on next season as well.
Second, the coaching staff is going to have to address the offensive woes. For the second consecutive season, the lack of offensive production down the stretch as cost the Cats dearly. I don’t know what specifically can be done to get the bats going but I do know that no matter how good the pitching staff is, it is impossible to win without scoring any runs.
If you’re anything like me, you’re already taking full advantage of the upcoming summer season. For me and my fellow college students, summer vacation is a time for soaking up sun, forgetting the worries of yesterday and tomorrow, and enjoying your much needed and deserved time off (though, admittedly, those of us with jobs, summer classes, or any other boring grown-up stuff might not be so lucky).
Summer news is slow, much like the clock on the wall. The best way of which I can think to enjoy your dog days a little more fully is to kick back, relax, and relive the glory days. I came to the University of Kentucky in 2011-2012, amidst one the greatest single seasons in college basketball history. Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, & Co. provided the Big Blue Nation with one of the most joyous rides to the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship the fanbase has ever seen. Coupled with the hard times Nerlens Noel & Co. experienced this past season, 2012 only seems all the more special.
Below are the full-length videos of my three favorite games from the entire championship season, each of which I was fortunate enough to attend in person. The first game is the Battle of the Blue Bloods, when the Tarheels of North Carolina invaded Rupp Arena on December 3, 2011. The game ended in a 73-72 Kentucky victory, thanks in large part to Anthony Davis’ incredible block of John Henson’s potential game-winning jumper at the buzzer. To this day I have never experienced a louder environment.
The second video captures the 40 minutes the Bourbon Country’s Civil War temporarily relocated to Bourbon Street in New Orleans, LA. The Kentucky Wildcats and Louisville Cardinals met for the first time on college basketball’s biggest stage, the NCAA Men’s Final Four. The ‘Cats defeated the 4th-seeded Cards 69-61 for the second time that season behind Davis’ 18-point, 14-rebound, 5-block performance.
The third and final game featured is the last game of the entire 2011-2012 season, the 2012 Men’s Division I National Championship. The Wildcats faced the Jayhawks of Kansas for the second time on the season and once again defeated Bill Self’s squad, this time in 67-59 fashion. Doron Lamb’s 22 points led the way to Kentucky’s 8th national title in school history, capping off a nearly perfect 38-2 season. Enjoy.
12/03/11: Kentucky– 73, North Carolina– 72
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist– 17 points, 11 rebounds
03/31/12: Kentucky– 69, Louisville– 61
Anthony Davis– 18 points, 14 rebounds, 5 blocks
04/02/12: Kentucky– 67, Kansas– 59
Anthony Davis (Most Outstanding Player)– 16 rebounds, 6 blocks, 6 points, 5 assists
One of the best things about the off-season is that I get to have fun with one of my favorite hobbies, Photoshop. (Hooray!) By using this wonderful tool called Photoshop, I wanted to see that if:
1) I could create something that didn’t look like a fourth grader created it.
2) Hypothetically, what would a University of Kentucky camo football jersey would look like?
Now the inspiration for my somewhat decent creation came from the Arkansas camo jersey on the right of this picture. I forgot where I originally found the picture of the Arkansas jersey, but for some reason it caught it my eye. So then of course one thing led to another, and I eventually ended up with the masterpiece above.
So what do you all think? Would a camouflage jersey be a cool idea, or just a god awful waste of fabric? Sound off in the comment section if you want to y’all.
Chances are, if you are my age (23) or older, you remember the Texas Hold ‘Em poker boom of the early 2000s. You may not realize, however, that it all started when ESPN decided to film and broadcast the 2003 World Series of Poker. Eric Raskin of Grantland.com has an amazing oral history of that tournament and what it meant to the sport; how the fairy tale story of the unknown internet poker player and aptly named Chris Moneymaker launched a craze across the country that lasted for the better part of a decade. The boom has died down now, but I remember playing poker on a nightly basis in high school with all of my friends, trying to be the next Moneymaker. The feature is a long read but it is well worth it.
When We Held Kings (Grantland)
I may be in the minority but the 2010-2011 Kentucky basketball season is one of my all time favorites. The fanbase experienced highs and lows that season, and then sat on the edge of their seats as the 4th seeded Cats made a surprise run in the tourney all the way to the Final Four. Some of the games from that season like the Ohio State game and the UNC game still rank up in my top ten favorite Kentucky games. When I think back to that season, especially March, the excitement of the BBN was electrifying.That season prepared us for how #8 would feel after we finally did get it. The video above is the final 3 minutes of the North Carolina game called by Tom Leach that sent the Cats to their 14th Final Four appearance. It still gives me chills. Everytime.
Houston, we have no problem! The Cats have landed in the Final Four.
Just got done watching Julius Mays at the Nets’ combine. Julius played really well — and he played point guard!
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) May 23, 2013
Julius had 18 points and six assists in just two 12-minute quarters.
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) May 23, 2013
He played so well that people are probably wondering why I didn’t play him at point guard. Couldn’t be more proud of Julius.
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) May 23, 2013
Go Cats, Go Julius.
Good morning everyone! Happy (almost) Memorial Day weekend! Here are your afternoon links:
With the committment of Drew Barker, Kentucky has officially moved into the Top 25 recruiting classes for 2014. But there is still a long way to go and a lot of time between now and Signing Day.
The Harrisons, Julius Randle, and WCS all turned down the chance to compete on the USA Under 19 team to come to UK early and start working towards the ultimate goal of #9. Also included in the article is the little tidbit that Kyle Wiltjer will try out for the Canadian national team.
Marcus Lee is a man of many different sides. Here is a heartwarming story about his love of volleyball, graphic design, and how hard he has worked to overcome dyslexia and ADHD.
Our favorite Vespa rider, Coach Cal is in Brooklyn watching Uncle Julius at the Nets’ NBA Combine.
Finally in my weird news of the day: A company called My Pet Chicken has created a line of chicken diapers. No, I’m not joking. I’m talking Huggies for chickens.
What is the world coming to?
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