Alabama(10-7 2-1 SEC) is coming off a loss this past Saturday to Arkansas where the Crimson Tide had led or shared the lead the whole game until the end and the razorbacks pulled off a 11-2 run to end Bama’s five game winning streak. Yet again, here is another SEC team with no statement wins, and has losses to St. Peters and Seton Hall. Kentucky is coming off two wins against SEC West opponents and those showed how weak it is, and I would expect the same from this Bama team. They are small, with only one player over 6’8 but that player is freshman center Carl Engstrom from Sweden. Carl is only averaging 7 minutes per game and is only shooting 18% from the field. Oh did I also mention he his 7’1? I mean if I was that tall i think i could average more than 18% from the field.
Out of Kentucky’s next five games four are on the road, and this Alabama game is the first SEC road game Kentucky will play since dropping the opener in Georgia. Am I worried? Nope, but I wasn’t for the Georgia game and we saw how that turned out. However, this Tide team is not near as good as Georgia. This is a great warm up for the young freshman to prepare for the road games to come, and hopefully will settle them and give them the confidence they need. Look for Terrence to start, but not take as many shots as usual. Calipari was quoted today saying they want the SEC freshman of the week to pass the ball more.
Also another note, Twany Beckham was at practice today watching. The former Ballard star from Louisville just received his release from Mississippi State and is looking for a new destination for next year.
Jr 6’8 Foward Jamychal Green- 15.4 pts per game
Soph 6’6 Foward Tony Mitchell- 7.9 rebounds per game
With National Signing Day for football coming very soon, I thought it would be a good idea to give you all a look at some of the players already committed. I am going to bring you some videos and whatever I can dig up about the player.
Rashad Cunningham is a wide receiver from WP Davidson High School in Mobile Alabama. Both Scout.com and Rivals.com have him listed as a 3-Star and Scout has him as #157 wide receiver in the class. He has great size at 6’4 205 pounds, but with the size he does not sacrifice speed with a 4.4 forty time. He gave his verbal commitment on August 31 last year, and Kentucky was able to take him away from other offers he held like Arkansas, Illinois, Louisville, Mississippi State, and Southern Miss.
This morning I woke up to write my Know Your Opponent article much to early than I normally would ever wake up on a Saturday for a 4:00 game time. As I start looking up stats for the LSU tigers my internet pulls a Eloy Vargas and flops. I am thinking great my internet in the clutch is missing free throws like a Calipari team. So I’m now thinking that my computer is going down for good and that I will not have the funds to fix it. My computer got a virus in the operating system like Hood has a virus in his defense. (Tired of the comparisons yet?) If you can’t tell my theme is a virus and I will discuss how Calipari fixed it.
Remember last year when the zone defense became a virus to the Kentucky defense, well think Calipari took notice. He was quoted saying LSU runs a zone defense and the team came out well prepared for it. Last year, we couldn’t make a three and we couldn’t get the ball in the paint and get the ball back out. Well this year we spread out and swung the ball all over the court to find open shots. We pushed the tempo, which did not let LSU set the defense and we made the pace our type which is fast pace. The only way LSU could have stood a chance is if we could not hit open shots, which we did as show 50% from behind the arc. Our defensive pressure was also key not letting LSU get any easy baskets and putting LSU well under their numbers.
Sometimes to beat a virus all you need is good friends. Luckily I had a good friend of mine take time out of his day to help me reboot my system and get it fixed and Kentucky was unselfish and played team ball, which is what it takes to beat the zone. The energy and hustle was there, I guess it was from Calipari’s virus protector. Well I mean the threat of the treadmill in practice.
Anyone see Liggins have a glitch and not get off the ground?
Calipari is always a very respectful man of the other opponent. As he was this week when talking about the LSU tigers (10-7 2-0 SEC): “The tapes that I’m watching, they’ve won two league games, they’re ahead of us in schedule, standings, Trent (Johnson) has done a good job. They run good stuff, their guards are playing well, they’ve got some size and we have a challenge. They played us all man last year, first two games they’ve played all zone so I don’t know if they’ll play us man or zone. I really don’t have an idea. They’re good.”
That’s so nice Coach… In fact, “they” are coming off a big win against a young John Pelphrey coached Arkansas team but still have played a very weak schedule. The only really “good” team they have played so far is Memphis , whom they lost to. As a team, LSU is shooting 41% from the floor, and only 34% behind the arc. Here are some stat leaders to look out for:
Andre Stringer-13.4 pts per game, 3.0 assists per game
We have been lucky enough to enjoy five straight bowl games, something that has never been done in the history of UK football. That success is because of the ground work that Coach Brooks laid out, and now we expect Coach Phillips to continue the growth of the program. We are a basketball school and that will never change, but the growth of interest in the football team has many positives for the school. We are in the SEC which no doubt is the best football conference in America, and it is still getting better and more competitive every year. For us to continue the bowl streak the most important thing for Joker is recruiting, but with Charlie Strong now in Louisville things will be more difficult for Joker and here is why.
For Kentucky to continue their success, Joker must win the recruiting battle in state. With national signing day coming up in nineteen days the importance of not letting the top talent in Kentucky leave the state or go to Louisville is the most important recruiting aspect Joker has to do. Right now Kentucky’s number one target is Lamar Dawson from Boyle County High School. He is arguably the best player in the State this year. He is a 6’2, 230 pound Middle Line Backer with a 4.6 forty time. Scout.com has him as a four star and ranked #6 at his position. He recently took a visit to Univeristy of Southern California, and his list also consists of Kentucky, Florida, Oregon, Tennessee, and UCF. Besides Lamar, Kentucky is doing a good job of the In state recruiting with players like Jon Davis(4-star TE) and Darrian Miller(4-star OT). Also to take the state, you must take Louisville. Jon Davis is from Eastern high school and has given a soft verbal, so if he signs that is taking one of the best players out of Louisville right from under Strong. Another big Louisville recruit Kentucky received a commitment from is Daylen Hall from ST. X, who is listed as a 3-star CB. But with taking the best talent in the state it is still not enough to be a top team in the SEC and one pipeline Kentucky has must grow.
With the current commitments we have now which is 18, and 7 are from Georgia. This has been a trend for a couple years now and has come to be expected. The top Talent is always going to be in the South, and it is very difficult to take these players away from the rest of the SEC schools. That is one key, but this pipeline in the south must grow if we ever want to compete for a SEC Championship.
With the success of the SEC winning five straight National Championships,the top talent is going to flock to teams to play in it. Let us just hope that Kentucky can pull some these kids away from the top teams to continue building onto the past success, because 6-6 seasons aren’t going to keep being the success fans want.
You cannot blame Randall for leaving. He is NFL ready and there is no doubt about that. Just like every year you have to replace players and Joker is doing a good job of recruiting, but the hole that Randall leaves will not and cannot be filled with just one recruiting class. He was the runner of the Wild-Cobb, he returned punts and kicks, he passed, he ran, and of course received. His athleticism will probably be hard to replace ever,and most likely he will go down as one of the greatest ever to wear the blue and white.
Not only is Randall leaving but Chris Matthews is graduating. That means 1942 receiving yards is gone. That means 145 receptions gone. You add that with a new quarterback and running back next year, and this offense will be hurting. But this is a part of college football and now means that a certain receiver must step up and lead the core of receivers.
Ladies and Gentleman I want to introduce you to your next leading receiver, La’Rod King. La’Rod is from Radcliff, Ky where he played football at North Hardin. Next year he will be a junior. This past season, King had 36 receptions for 478 yards with 5 touchdowns. That was good for 13.3 yards per catch and 36.8 yards per game. He was Kentucky’s third leading receiver this past season. It will be pivotal for him to step up and be “that guy” for whoever is the next quarterback to replace Mike Hartline. Let us hope that during next season we have a urge to buy a #16 jersey and to crown a new “King” of the receiving crew.
Welcome all this is late night with Matt Downs. I felt compelled to make some sort of post to celebrate not only Louisville Losing to Villanova (which if you took Villanova at -4 you were a big time winner) but also to celebrate the fall of Duke finally this season. Florida State snap’s Duke’s 25 game winning streak. I think I was only four when Laettner hit that shot but I guarantee I was awoken by my mother yelling at the TV. So naturally I was raised to hate Duke, but they make it easy to hate.
But tonight is about Ramel who is the second leading scorer in Israel’s BSL, and in the annual All Star Game Bradley put up 26 points to lead all scorers for the “Foreigners”. But that’s only about half of it, Bradley also did a little performance and I will let Jacob Kanter tell you about it from the Jerusalem Post:
“While wearing sunglasses, the league’s second-leading scorer delivered a two-minute performance of one of his original raps, while dozens of cheerleaders danced confusedly around him, unsure exactly of what style to employ.”
As you can see, Ramel “Smooth” Bradley is not just a basketball player but an entertainer. Isn’t that what the NBA is anyway? He stated on Twitter that he wants to give the NBA a try next season and I hope nothing but the best for one of my favorite players in my short UK fandom. I still remember watching Joe and Ramel bring it up the court(sort of) at the two guard positions.
Here is an article from Basketball Prospectus ranking the top freshman in the nation. We are lucky enough to have three in the top five, a trend that probably won’t be stopping anytime soon. Terrence came in second only behind Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger and filling out the top five at number four is Perry Jones from Baylor. Below is what they had to say about these young Cats.
5. Brandon Knight, Kentucky- Knight’s shots simply go in, which is good for UK since the 6-3 freshman takes 26 percent of the team’s shots during his minutes. For all of the considerable success that John Calipari has had in bringing amazing freshmen to Lexington, Knight is arguably his first featured scorer that poses an equal threat to opposing defenses from both sides of the arc.
3. Doron Lamb, Kentucky- See No. 5, above: I just finished saying Brandon Knight is Calipari’s first featured scorer in Lexington who poses an equal threat from either side of the arc. The weasel term there is “featured scorer,” because goodness knows Doron Lamb is effective from both sides of the three-point line in support of Knight and Terrence Jones. But so what if he’s a supporting player? Supporting players who make more than half their threes are handy to have around. Calipari would have liked to have had one of those last March in the Carrier Dome.
2. Terrence Jones, Kentucky- Jones said what needs to be said about his potential when he recorded a 27-17 double-double in a 72-58 UK win over Notre Dame on December 8. Any 6-8 freshman who can score with the efficiency Jones has displayed (not amazing, but suitable) while taking 31 percent of his team’s shots during his minutes and hauling down 23 percent of the other team’s misses is, almost by definition, ready for the NBA. Apparently the NBA agrees: Jones is currently projected as a top-five pick in next summer’s draft. Back in Seattle, Lorenzo Romar’s Washington team is pretty good as is, but does he ever wonder what might have been had he landed both Portland product Jones and Kent, Washington, native Joshua Smith (see No. 10)? Yes. Yes, he does.
Hey everyone this is a new column I will be doing every post game. Normally most of my writing is very formal and informative, so with this one I am going to try and be more creative and fun. Hopefully this can spark some conversation with the readers in the comments section. This game is a great start to this column because I have an interesting scenario for you all.
First lets start off talking Kentucky and some impressive numbers. Earlier this season off the bench Doron Lamb threw up 32 points to break UK’s freshman scoring record. Well, that lasted long. Terrence Jones came off the bench tonight for the first time this season and did coach ever light a fire under his tail. He finished with 35 points behind 4-5 shooting from behind the arc, to break the young record of who I’dlike to call Doron “The Touch” Lamb(Anyone like that by chance?). Here recently, I have criticized Jones’ shot selection and also the number of shots he has taken. But tonight he was on point and hopefully he will keep this play up as he is much needed for not only his offense but for his rebounds. At halftime of this game from Harrellson and Vargas combined had zero rebounds. Our two centers had no rebounds. I personally could care less if they scored at all I want them to do is clean up the boards. Combined they finished with seven. Vargas had 0points with 1 block and Harrellson had 8 points with 3 blocks. Kentucky as a team finished 50% from the field and 43% from 3-point land, also as a team the Cats had 18 assists, 6 assists, and 9 blocks. The team also had 14 turnovers, which is second most this season. Also the cats were pitiful from the line, going 9-17 or 52%.
The Kentucky Tweet world was in much agreement that this Auburn team most likely is the worst team the SEC has had in years. Now I am only 21 so I’m not the best one to probably say, but they looked awful. The Tigers (7-9, 0-2 SEC) shot 34% and 27% from 3-point land. Their leading scorer Earnest Ross, only scored 1 point behind 0-8 shooting. Calipari’s best buddy or I mean Auburn’s Coach Tony Barbee, has a lot of rebuilding to do if he wants to still be employed anytime soon. I have a great idea. Now there is a whole football team just enjoying winning a national championship in football and Cam Newton has more athleticism in his left leg than the whole Auburn basketball team. So why not put some of the football players on the basketball team?Better yet have a football vs. basketball game and winner goes on to lose every game in the SEC. At least the football players would make it interesting. I’m thinking the football team could easily put Micheal Dyer running the point, Darvin Adams at the two, Cam Newton at the wing, Zack Clayton at power forward, and the big Nick Fairly at center. I would say with that athleticism, the spread could open even and the could actually get their fan base interested in basketball, because I gurantee no one was even aware they were playing today. That even includes their own basketball team. Give Cam and the football team two weeks to practice and maybe give them a six point start and it would be a great game.
But lets be real that is a pretty far out scenario. I mean, because for that to happen the school would have to double their payment to Newton’s dad.
I was thinking of what to write about the Auburn game tonight and honestly nothing really comes to mind. Auburn’s RPI is 324, which if stayed this low for the rest of the season it would be the lowest ever by a school in a BCS conference. As long as Kentucky shows up and no one gets hurt or the whole team doesn’t come down with a stomach virus before the game this should be no contest. I could bore you with stats about how awful Auburn is, but then you might not want to watch the game tonight on ESPNU at 7:00 PM.
But after reading an article by Jerry Tipton from the Lexington Hearald Reader I did find out something very interesting: Auburn’s coach Tony Barbee sat in on Kentucky’s practice yesterday. Huh? Barbee and Calipari apparently go way back to when Calipari was a coach at five star camps that Barbee attended in high school. Barbee liked Coach Cal so much that he followed him to UMass. Later on down the road they became coaching rivals in Conference USA while Cal was at Memphis and Barbee at UTEP. Well that’s great and all having friends, Coach Cal, but how can you let someone you play twice every year see how you run things? I find the idea to be complete suicide for Cal. If say we were to lose to Auburn in the next two years, he would never live this down. I guess you could just take it as a vote of confidence in his team. Wait, is this the same team that just lost to Georgia and Coach himself has been talking down his team ever since? Strange how that works. We lose so coach talks like his team should not be in the top 25 so he takes the pressure away from him.
Publicly, he has also said that Terrence Jones might need to come off the bench because he has been starting games slow, and I guess if he really going to try that out look for Lamb to start tonight . What I want to see is the older guys to step up. Harrellson, Miller, and Liggins stepped up in Louisville game but failed to make a great showing in Georgia. Miller, and especially Liggins shot poorly, but look for them both to have a huge impact in this game and be a big reason that this game gets out of hand for Auburn. It would be pretty interesting to see how uninterested the Auburn campus would be in this game after last night’s awesome Championship game.
Soph 6’5 Guard Earnest Ross- 13.0 pts per game, 6.9 rebounds per game
Soph 5’10 Guard Josh Wallace- 4.2 Assists per game