Thursday, March 31, 2011

Kentucky vs. UCONN

Saturday night Kentucky and UCONN will do battle for the second time this season, only this time there's a lot more on the line than a Maui invitational championship. The winner will get a spot in the National Championship game on Monday night against the winner of the VCU/Butler game.

UCONN handed Kentucky their worst loss of the season 84-67 in Maui back in November, but you can be certain these are not the same teams that played then as both teams have improved dramatically. In the game in Maui, Kentucky had it's struggles from all positions. Josh Harrellson wasn't the player he is now, and his stat line from that game is jaw dropping to say the least. In that game Harrellson didn't score a point and only attempted 1 field goal and grabbed 6 boards in 25 minutes of action. Hard to believe considering the way he has been playing the last part of the season. Harrellson will have to have a really good game Saturday, and he must crash the boards on every possession all while staying out of foul trouble. If he gets into foul trouble early that will make things difficult for the Cats down low.

Another player that had difficulty in the last meeting with UCONN was Brandon Knight. Knight, while only in his 5th career college game had a lot to prove early on with all the expectations left over from John Wall. I think the pressure got to Knight early this season, and it's understandable why it would. John Wall left some big shoes to fill and Knight has filled them and then some. In Maui, Knight had 6 points shooting 3-15 from the field, 0-8 from three, 5 assists and 5 turnovers. Again, hard to believe that was the same player we have seen in the NCAA tournament so far. Knight will need to avoid a repeat of Maui, and pick up where he left off against North Carolina for Kentucky to advance to the championship game Monday night.

Kentucky will need for Darius Miller and Terrence Jones to show up big against the Huskies, UCONN cannot match up with Jones or Miller that well and them putting up big numbers will be key. If they get the production that they should out of these two, Kentucky should have a shot to pull out the victory. But if both disappear for long stretches of the game Saturday things will get ugly.

DeAndre Liggins said earlier in the season that he wanted another chance to guard Kemba Walker, and Saturday he gets that chance. There is no way to shut Walker down he's too good of a player, so you just have to hope to contain him. On the year he is averaging 23.9 ppg and 4.5 assists per contest. So even if you are able to stop his scoring, his is exceptional at getting others involved on offense. Liggins will have to play smart defense on Walker, because it has been evident throughout this tournament that he can draw a lot of fouls, and sending him the the line where he shoots it almost 82% is suicide. Not to mention we can't afford to lose Liggins to the bench with foul trouble, so he has to use his head and just try to limit Walkers touches.

UCONN's Jeremy Lamb has evolved into another scoring option for the Huskies this season, and will be difficult to guard. He averages 11.1 ppg and 4.3 rebounds, not to mention he is their best 3 point shooter at 37% on the year. So that will be another guy to keep an eye on, and hopefully try to hold in check.

Alex Oriakhi is the best rebounder on the Huskies team at 8.6 boards per contest and is capable of putting up a double doulbe if left unguarded. That's another battle down low that could be interesting to watch as the game goes along. Because not only can he rebound the ball well, he can score as well. Sure he only averages 9.6 ppg, but he can get on a roll and hurt you inside on any given night.

UCONN has a deep bench playing 10 guys at any given time. Usually they'll play about 7 guys like Kentucky, but they do have the luxury of going deeper in their bench to help give guys a break, something Kentucky can not do. So that could be something to keep an eye on Saturday.

If kentucky can just come out and play the way they have been so far in the postseason, they should be fine. However, if they come out flat it could be a long night but a short weekend in Houston.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cats have arrived in Houston

                                         (photo from @uknum1, Darius Miller)

   This is what the Kentucky team met when they entered their hotel lobby, cat fans and the Kentucky fight song playing.  Pretty impressive to say the least!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Josh Harrellson plays dodge ball with Jared Sullinger

This was just great to watch. 

Kyle Wiltjer Wins POWERADE JAM FEST 3-Point Shootout

   Future Cat Kyle Wiltjer wins the Mcdonalds All-American 3 point shooting contest.

Pretty impressive that at 6'9, he can shoot the three the way he does.  Considering the fact that he will play the 5 position next season at Kentucky he will no doubt cause some major matchup problems for opponets.

The JORTS Flag

                                                             (photo&flag courtesy of Caine)

   Through most parts of the country, you can drive down any road you wish and you will see flags of all types.  You will see the American Flag(by rights everyone should fly one), you'll see POW/MIA flags(again everyone should fly them), even the local high school flag gracing the front of someones house, or lawn.  It's a way that people show their support for whatever the flag stands for.

   Well in Kentucky, there is a different kind of flag being flown along side the usual ones you may see.  That's right it's the JORTS flag!  A friend of mine started flying a pair of JORTS outside his house in honor of Kentucky's Final Four run this past weekend.  I fully expect these things fly off the shelf at your local sporting goods store.  No house is complete without having a pair of JORTS flying gracefully outside.

   Well done Caine, well done

Brandon Knight on the Dan Patrick show

  Brandon Knight was on the Dan Patrick Show today to discuss Kentucky's Final Four run, and talked about the vertical leap that Dan Patrick has. 

   Good listen, check it out.  I know its on other blogs, but maybe some of you have not heard this yet

Monday, March 28, 2011

Back in the high life again!!!!!

WOW what a great weekend for Kentucky Basketball. We beat OSU (my favorite win in years) followed a win over UNC, a game in which we dominated from start to finsh in my opinion. Now we have our sites set on Houston for our first final 4 in 13 years. That does not even sound right but that is how long it has been Here are my keys to victory: Put Liggins on Walker and just try to slow him down, but if he gets his 30 just be sure to lock up their second and only legite scoring threat in Jeremy lamb. Jorts is a totally different player than he was when we lost to this team in Maui and I very much expect him to out play Alex Oriakhi who dominated us on the boards early on in the season. Uconn has no other formidable big man. Exploit the obvious mismatch that is Terrence Jones as they have nobody who can guard him (if he plays up to his abilities). We do these things I think we cruise to victory. Now you have to keep an eye on Shabazz Napier, a player I find to be very underrated. This kid gets in your business on the defensive end and is capable of locking someone down...hopefully it will not be the case Saturday! I will says this and I truly mean it. If we play like we all know we can play I dont look for this to be as close as even the UNC game. Call me crazy but these are my thoughts!

Future Cats in Action tonight

Lost in all the much deserved celebration over a Final Four birth is the fact that some future Cats are in action tonight.

Tune in to ESPN2 tonight at 7:30pm to see future Cats Michale Gilchrist, Anthony Davis, and Kyle Wiltjer participate in the Powerade Jam Fest. Should be a great way to continue celebrating as we get a preview of the make-up of next years team.

Final Four Bound: How Sweet It Is!

The two winningest programs in college basketball history met last night with a trip to the Final Four on the line, and it was only fitting that the WINNINGEST program of all-time got the golden ticket. Ending what has been 13 long painful years without a Final Four, Kentucky did it against all odds. Taking arguably the toughest road to the Final Four in recent memory beating the likes of Princenton, West Virginia, #1 overall seed the Ohio State Buckeyes, and #2 seed North Carolina, Kentucky is finally back in the Final Four.

Last nights game couldn't have went more to plan for the Wildcats. They stayed out of foul trouble for the most part, and hit big shot after big shot when North Carolina threatened to dampen the party, but Kentucky and DeAndre Liggins would not be denied. Liggins played his best in the last 90 second of the game, blocking two shots and hitting a HUGE 3 with just about 1 minute to play. And every Kentucky fan had to tear up seeing the emotional Liggins and Calipari embrace on the sideline as Knight was going to the line to ice the game. Liggins has made a huge improvement since arriving on campus as a freshman, and he says it's because of Calipari "He defined my game greatly. He made me the player I am now and I respect him and I love him to death”. Enough can't be said how much Liggins means to this team, and to the thousands of fans in Kentucky.

Then there is Jorts. If you would have told me after last year that we would be in the Final Four this year, and the biggest reason for that was the play of Josh Harrellson, I would have taken you to drug rehab. Josh played like Shaq in this tournament and not to steal from Calipari, but just had a "refuse to lose" attitude, and boy did it show. Harrellson faced some of the best big men in the country during this run in the tournament, and met the challenge in convincing fashion. Every time there was doubt about the way Jorts would meet a challenge, he silenced his doubters in a way that made even the Kentucky fans shake their heads in disbelief. Jorts has played his way into the hearts of Wildcat fans, and now he is a Kentucky player that little kids will pretend to be when playing on the playgrounds of the Bluegrass.

Brandon Knight has been sensational the entire tournament, and needs no mention in the post because what he done in the tournament is obvious. But he did play well enough to win the Most Outstanding Player in the East Region. Speaking of awards, Josh Harrellson, DeAndre Liggins, and Brandon Knight were all named to the All Tournament team along with Harrison Barnes and Tyler Zeller. Speaking of Harrison Barnes, a lot of people doubted that young man early in the season, calling him overrated. But last night he nearly single handedly stole Kentucky's Final Four trip. He was impressive to watch, but it all came in a losing effort to the relief of Kentucky fans. But hats off to the kid, he is a hell of a player and I hope he stays for another year.

This team has done something special, and something that hasn't been done in 13 long years. They came together as a team, they played together as a team, and had fun on their way to an unlikely Final Four run that has made the entire Common Wealth of Kentucky happy as HELL!!!

So take this week to celebrate, show these kids the appreciation they deserve, and just let it all soak in.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Kentucky vs. North Carolina

Tomorrow evening the two winningest programs in college basketball history will do battle in Newark New Jersey Sunday evening for a shot at going to the Final Four. This is a rivalry that started with a Kentucky loss in 1924, in the then Southern Conference tournament. From 1924 to 2011 Kentucky and North Carolina have played a total of 33 times with North Carolina claiming 22 victories during that time, the last coming in December of 2010 by the score of 75-73 in Chapel Hill, N.C. These two proud programs have met in NCAA tournament action just twice in their proud history, with North Carolina winning both match ups, once in 1977 in the East Regional Finals, and once in the 1995 Southeast Regional Finals. Here we are again, a trip to the Final Four on the line.

North Carolina presents a couple matchup problems for the Cats, and both of them are in the post. First there is Tyler Zeller, he is an excellent player that has unbelievable low post skills. He can run the floor very well for a big man, he can score(15.6 ppg), block shots(1.1bpg not to mention 5 in his last game), and he can rebound(7.2rpg). Zeller played and excellent game against Marquette scoring 27 points on 9-19 shooting from the floor, 9-10 on free throws, not to mention 12 rebounds( 7 offensive) to go along with 4 assists and three steals. He will be a tough matchup for the Cats, and they will need another excellent performance from Jorts to have a shot in this one.

The other matchup problem is John Henson. This guy may not look very imposing coming in at 6'10 and looking like he ways about 115 pounds wet. But man can this kid play ball. He averages a double double with 11.9ppg and 10.1rpg. But what makes this guy really dangerous is his shot blocking ability. He averages 3.3 blocks per contest and recorded 5 blocks in last nights game against Marquette, to go along with 14 points and 2 rebounds. The most impressive part of his game last night was the fact that he blocked 5 shots while committing only 1 foul. This will be a tough matchup no matter who draws the assignment on this guy.

Everyone knows what Harrison Barnes is capable of doing so there is no since in me going into detail, I'll just say guard him well and try not to foul. Then there is Kendall Marshall
the freshman point guard, who in my opinion doesn't get enough credit for what he does for his team. He isn't a prolific scorer averaging just a little over 6 points per contest. But what he is excellent at is running the offense, he can find an open man like none other averaging 6.2 assists per game and he has had 6 games this season of double digit assists game with his career high being 16 assists coming against Florida State last month. So Kentucky has got to try and limit his touches, and limit his passing lanes. Should be an intriguing matchup with him and Knight going at it.

North Carolina basically plays 7 players just like Kentucky so depth is something that neither of these teams have the luxury of. Foul trouble early would spell disaster for the Cats, especially in the post. Kentucky needs to have a nearly perfect game tomorrow, and needs to have everyone show up ready to play on both ends of the floor. This time tomorrow we will either be celebrating a Final Four birth, or looking back on an AWESOME season. Either way, it has been one hell of an AWESOME ride this season that I am proud to have been a witness to!

What a Knight

Last Knight Kentucky went into the game against Ohio State with hardly anyone in the media giving them a chance to pull off the upset. But none of that mattered to this group of Cats. They played calm and collected, had a game plan and executed it almost to perfection. Let Ohio State freshman phenom Jared Sullinger have his points, just stop the three. Coming off a game where they connected on 16-26 threes against George Mason, the Buckeyes hit only 6-16 last night, thanks in large part to Kentucky's defense. The largest lead of the game belonged to OSU at 7 early in the first half, but the score was knotted at 30-30 at intermission. The second half was a battle that had the feel of a National Semi-Final game, with neither team ever leading in the second half by no more than four.

The Co MVPs of the game was "Jorts" and DeAndre Liggins. They both played the best games of their careers last night, and Kentucky needed it more than ever. With Knight having just a horrible game shooting 3-10 from the floor, 1-6 from three to end the game with just 9 points, none more important than his last shot that won the game. Knights poor performance was in LARGE part due to the defense played by Buckeye freshman Aaron Craft. Most of you remember Craft as being the recruit that single handedly brought the Tennessee basketball program under investigation by the NCAA for a BBQ at Pearls house. Now I see why Bruce took that risk, Craft is a great player and played a hell of a game last night against Knight.

Josh Harrellson was just an absolute beast last night against Sullinger. Going into the game, everyone said Jorts would have a hard time containing Sullinger, not to mention scoring. But Jorts met that challenge in convincing fashion, scoring 17 points on 7-9 shooting from the floor 3-3 from the free throw line, and grabbing 10 rebounds, with 5 of them coming on the offensive side. He didn't however shut down Sullinger as he went on to post a double double of his own(21pts 16rbs) but that was to be expected. No one in the country can stop Sullinger one on one, and the coaching staff didn't expect that out of Jorts. They got what they wanted from him, try to score when you can, and don't foul out. Jorts played with fire we have not seen all season long, from his 3 block shots all of them on Sullinger, to the Nolan Ryan like way he sent the ball into the chest of Sullinger to "save a possession". The performance by Jorts even led OSU coach Thad Matta to say "he is the most underrated player in college basketball".

The other Co MVP has to be DeAndre Liggins and the defense he played on the OSU shooters last night. He was the main reason that OSU didn't catch fire from three point range. But the most impressive part of his play last night was the offense he brought to the team. Liggins scored an impressive 15 points on 5-8 shooting from the floor, and 5-7 from the charity stripe. Every time someone tried to guard Liggins close, he drove the lane drawing a foul or scoring on a "and one". Liggins done a little bit of every thing last night, dishing out 3 assists, blocking three shots all while committing just one turnover in 34 minutes of action.

It was, in my mind the best game of the tournament, not just because Kentucky won, but how both teams fought for every point, rebound, and loose ball they could get.

Now Kentucky finds themselves in familiar territory tomorrow, facing a very good and dangerous North Carolina team for a chance to go to the Final Four. If the Cats expect to win this one, they better bring the same type of urgency they had against the Buckeyes, and Knight, Miller, Jones, and Lamb have to step it up on offense. Kentucky will need all the firepower it can muster to pull off another upset of a top seeded team.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Kentucky vs. Ohio State history

Kentucky has played the Ohio State Buckeyes 18 times since 1933 winning 10 out of the 18 match ups, including the last two meetings in 1993 and 1996. The largest margin of victory for the Buckeyes during that time was 16 points (46-30) in 1933, and their longest winning streak was 3 from 1961 to 1968, with their last win coming in the 1987 Southeast Regional Finals 91-77.

On the Kentucky side of things, the Wildcats longest winning streak was 3 games dating from 1957 through 1959, with the largest margin of victory being 19 (95-76) in 1958 in the UKIT. Also, Kentucky has met Ohio State 5 times in NCAA tournament action losing all five times, with the last meeting being in The Southeast Regional first round in 1987 in Atlanta Georgia. The Buckeyes defeated the Wildcats by a score of 91-77 marking their last win over the Wildcats, as Kentucky went on to win the next 2 meetings. Of the 5 meetings in NCAA tournament play, Ohio State has sent the Cats packing in the first round 2 times, and the regional finals 3 times. With two of Kentucky's losses coming in the state of Kentucky, once in Louisville in 1961 (regional final) and in Lexington in 1968 (regional final).

Not a long history between the two teams, and not enough hate to cause bad blood like some rivals. But there should be some hate on the Wildcats side of things for the early exits that the Buckeyes have handed them all 5 times they have played in the tournament. Now, I know that these players weren't old enough to remember the last loss coming at the hands of the Buckeyes, but the thought of it should still be there. Not to mention, the media leading up to this game is providing enough motivation all by it's self. Just listening to the media, Kentucky shouldn't even show up to play the game. A guy I work with had a good analogy, "the media acts like this is a bye game for Ohio State". Now you know the OSU players or coaches aren't taking this game so lightly, nor is the Kentucky players or coaching staff. Both clubs no the importance of this game, and they both know the dangers of each team. But if the coverage by the media doesn't get a player fired up nothing will.

Jimmy Fallon Talking about DUKE!!! HILARIOUS!!!

Video from Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.

Click play on the video, this is probably the funniest thing have seen in a while! pass this along

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mike Anderson to Arkansas

According to ESPN Missouri head coach And former Razorback assistant coach Mike Anderson has agreed to become the new head coach at Arkansas. Anderson led the Missouri Tigers to a 23-10 record this season and 8-8 in Big 12 play.

Mike Anderson is an excellent coach and is a great addition to the SEC coaching pedigree. He has led Missouri to 3 NCAA tournaments, not to mention an Elite Eight in 2009. Now he needs to get to work and try to convince 3 point marksman Rotnie Clarke to stay put in Fayetteville, because according to reports he may be seeking a transfer from Arkansas. Not to mention he needs to try and secure the top 10 recruiting class for next year that John Pelphrey was able to sign before he was fired.

I can't wait to see how Anderson rebuilds this program (yes it needs to be rebuilt) and makes them relevant again.

Texas Tech officially announces Billy G. as their man

Today the Texas Tech Red Radiers announced Billy Gillispie as their new head coach to replace fired coach Pat Knight. The Ex Kentucky coach has agreed to a 5 year contract, while saying " it feels like I have come home". Once again, I think Billy G. will succeed at Texas Tech as he is a GOOD coach, and can do really well recruiting the state of Texas.

Texas Tech finished the season with a 13-19 record, 5-11 in conference and 0-5 vs. AP top 25. I guarantee Gillispie will improve that record in his first year. He is a heck of a competitor, and can motivate his players. His time in Kentucky left a lot to be desired, but that was a bad marriage from the word go. I don't blame him for things gone wrong at Kentucky, I blame Mitch Barnhardt and university president Lee Todd. They rushed into the decision to hire Gillispie at Kentucky, and didn't really do any back ground check into what kind of coach he was. Not that he is a bad coach, because he's not. Just not the kind of person who wanted to do all the extra things required as the head coach at Kentucky.

I wish Billy G. nothing but the best.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Jorts gettin some love

Great story on yahoo sports about our man Jorts.
Give it a glance!

Is today the day Bruce Pearl gets canned?

Everyone is reporting that UT Athletic Director met with Bruce Pearl today, and that an announcement could be coming out at anytime that Peral is gone. This should have been done sooner than this. I'm not sure what they hoped to accomplish by waiting this long, unless it had to do with buy out or something.

Pearl is a decent coach that got caught doing what I'm sure hundreds of coaches do everyday.


It looks official now with the likes of Gary Parish and Matt Jones of CBS Sports reporting that the University Of Tenneesse has informed Bruce Pearl that his services are no longer needed. It turns out the long wait was because, like I said earlier the buy out clause. UT will pay Brucie boy a cool 2 million for lying to the NCAA, and not being able to coach defense. Not a bad deal in my book for Ole' Bruce(sarcasm). Now we can finally get rid of the spray on tan and that god AWFUL orange blazer that has been the trade mark of Bruce Pearl for what seems like the past 20 years.

Kentucky VS. Ohio ST. Friday 9:45pm

The time is set for a showdown that will have the atmosphere of a Final Four game. This will be the best game in the Sweet Sixteen, maybe the tournament. I have to admit, this is one game that I am not looking forward to. The Buckeyes present several problems for the Wildcats to overcome.

First, there is OSU's inside game. Jared Sullinger is an absolute beast under the basket averaging a double double on the season with 17.1 ppg to go along with 10 boards. He is just a big body, with a load of talent that will be hard to contain. Not sure who you put on Jared to try and stop him if it's Harrellson, he will have his work cut out for him. Harrellson, in my opinion is too slow to be able to keep up with Sullinger and that could lead to trouble. On the other hand if you put Terrence Jones on Sullinger, it could make for an interesting match-up and as long as Jones doesn't get into foul trouble it could be a good battle to watch.

Then there comes the Buckeyes outside game. They have some good guards that can shoot the ball as good or better than anyone in the country. Ohio ST. as a team shoots 42% from three on the season compared to 39% by Kentucky. Now it's not that big of a difference, but the Buckeyes have some guys that when they catch fire, can absolutely fill it up. David Lighty hit 7-7 from deep against George Mason on Sunday, and as a team they hit 16-26. That is just absolutely INSANE for a team to shoot that kind of percentage from three. David Lighty and William Buford both shoot over 43% from three, and Jon Diebler shoots a blistering 50% from deep. When you see 50%, you automatically think "he hasn't attempted that many threes this season". Well that couldn't be further from the truth as he has connected on 110 out of 220 attempts from deep. That kind of shooting really spreads a defense pretty thin, and prevents help defense in the post.

But the one thing Kentucky has going in their favor, is their defense. The Buckeyes haven't faced a defense like Kentucky plays all season. Kentucky plays great perimeter defense and it will be put to the test Friday night. The match-up I can't wait to see is DeAndre Liggins defending David Lighty. Liggins will cause him problems, and no doubt will try to get into his head. I just hope it works.

The Buckeyes play about 7 guys, the same as Kentucky. And top to bottom, you could make the argument that Kentucky is more talented with the one exception being Josh Harrellson VS Jared Sullinger. If Big Jorts was ever going to have another career game like the show he put on in Louisville, this would the game to do it. Because it will take Jorts playing his best game of the year and Terrence Jones returning to the player he was the first 10 games of the season where he just dominated people.

Now I'm not saying it's impossible for Kentucky to win, because they can. They just can't let the Bucks get a big first half lead and expect to fight back in the second half. And most importantly, they have got to avoid foul trouble. If the game is called like the first half of the WVU game that would spell disaster for the Cats. But on the other side, if we can get them into foul trouble that would be in favor of the Cats.

It should be a battle on Friday, and should be fun to watch Coach Cal go head to head with Thad Matta (aka Gargamel).

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Kentucky to face Ohio ST.

Well, the way Ohio ST. pounded George Mason today by a score of 98-66 has to have Cat fans a little worried. What the Buckeyes showed in this game, is that they can hurt you from the inside as well as behind the three point line.

Jared Sullinger played his usual game scoring 18 points on 7-10 shooting. But that wasn't the worst part. The Buckeyes shot an absurd 16-26 behind the three point line...16-26! David Lighty shot a perfect 7-7 from three all on his own, then you had Diebler shooting 4-8 from three and Buford shooting 4-7. I would break their game down further, but you get the idea how hard of a game this will be.

Not saying Kentucky can't win, I'm just saying that they don't match up very well with this Buckeye team. Kentucky and Calipari will have to have their best game of the year to pull this one out. But I do think the one thing we have going in our favor is our defense. If it was me calling the plays, I would let Sullinger have his points and just try to stop everyone else. You can't afford to double team or help in the post, and leave one of the shooters open cause they will burn you. And I would definitely put Liggins on Lighty and not let him see daylight the whole game.

Kentucky could pull off the upset here...and yes it would be an upset, if they play to their potential.

Billy Gillispie to Texas Tech

Billy G., Billy Clyde, the man known for putting players in bathroom stalls at halftime, and trying to kick the best player off a team has been hired by Texas Tech. Yes the same man that after being fired at Kentucky, was pulled over in Kentucky for drunk driving and the arresting officer was quoted as saying "he smelled fruity" when Billy G. got out of the car. Not sure what that even means.

Congrats to Billy Clyde as I still think he is a good coach given the right job. He was just in WAY OVER HIS HEAD at Kentucky and never really seemed comfortable. He will without a doubt be successful at Texas Tech, and can recruit the state of Texas better than anyone.

Liggins after the game

After Big H.I. brought it to my attention, I went back and watched, it is hilarious.
You may have noticed that after the game yesterday, Liggins of course was saying something to the WVU players while shaking hands.

It turns out what Liggins was clearly saying was "do the John Wall now". This of course was brought on by the WVU players doing the "John Wall dance" after their win over Kentucky in the Elite Eight last season.

Well played DeAndre...well played.

Kentucky gets a little payback

What looked to be a replay of the Elite Eight matchup last year in the first half, turned into a domination defensively by Kentucky in the second. Kentucky went into the half down by eight, and faced what looked to be another hard to watch second half. But Kentucky found their form at the break, and quickly turned things around. Thanks in large part to Brandon Knight who set a new career high with 30 points, and the guy that Rick Pitino called "the most underrated player in college basketball" Josh Harrellson.

Knight hit his first attempt from three in the first 2 minutes of the game, and that was just a sample of things yet to come. He slashed to the basket, shot from outisde, and played with more aggressiveness than he has shown all year. But even his 15 first half points wasn't enough to keep the Cats from falling behind by 8 at the half. It was mostly fouls that allowed WVU to get the halftime lead, with 11 fouls being called on the Cats in the first half, compared to just 4 on WVU. But, Brandon came out with the same fire he had shown in the first half, and put together arguably his best game of the year. He shot 9-20 from the floor and 3-8 from deep. But it was his 9-10 from the charity stripe that sealed the game, with 4 of them coming in the closing minuet of the game.

Josh Harrellson put together a brilliant performance scoring 15 points and grabbing 8 boards for the game. But what was huge, was the timely offensive rebounds that he turned into points during key stretches in the game. Every time Kentucky needed a big play, it seemed the man they call "Jorts" always had a part in it. Harrellson shot 7-10 from the floor with the only blemish on his stat sheet being 1-5 from the line. Josh along with Brandon just showed a "refuse to lose" attitude, something they will surely need in their next game that will be undoubtedly against a very good Ohio ST. team.

Knight and Harrellson didn't get much help from the rest of the team yesterday. The two combined for 45 of the teams 71 points, while the other 6 players that saw action combined for only 26. The only other Cat that reached double figures was Terrence Jones with 12 points to go along with 10 boards. Jones found his form in the second half, shooting 3-5 from the floor and an impressive 6-8 from the line.

Then there was the great defensive play by DeAndre Liggins. Liggins asked to be put on Joe Mazzulla after he ended up with 15 points in the first half and held him to only five in the second. When Bob Huggins put WVUs best three point shooter Casey Mitchell in the game, he quickly caught fire hitting two straight 3 point shots to give the lead back to the EERs at 55-51. Liggins moved his self to guarding Mitchell and quickly shut him down as well. DeAndre didn't have a great offensive game scoring just 3 points, but had an impressive stat sheet regardless. Liggins recorded 9 rebounds to go along with 4 assist and 2 blocks all while scoring just 3 points on 1-2 shooting and 1-2 from the line.

Kentucky played a good game against the Mountaineers all while getting a little payback for the ending to last years game. Funny thing... I didn't see Flowers doing the John Wall dance after the game yesterday.

Enjoy this win, and get ready for what will be the Cats toughest test of the year in the sweet sixteen against the Buckeyes.

Now I know the Buckeyes haven't won their second round game yet, but let's face it, it's us of course that's who we're going to face next.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Kentucky VS. West Virginia, again

Well thanks to the wonderful job the selection committee did seeding teams this year, Kentucky finally has a chance to play West Virginia in the NCAA tournament tomorrow afternoon. Wait, didn't they play last year? God forbid Kentucky play someone they haven't faced in a while. But, at least we get a chance at revenge against a team that of course played their best game of the tournament last year against the Cats. Only this time it's different, there's no John Wall or Demarcus Cousins on this team. Kentucky has a whole host of new talented freshman, and not mention some VERTERANS that are playing good at the right time.

Last season, Kentucky had trouble solving the 1-3-1 zone that Bob Huggins teams are known for and as a result, WVU ended a magical season that Kentucky hadn't seen in some time. So one has to think that Cal will have a different plan of attack.

Once again, West Virginia played their best game of the season Thursday beating a very good but tired Clemson team. Clemson started the game on fire, but by the end of the first half one could tell that they were out of gas, and WVU went on to win fairly easily 84-76. The player of the game for WVU had to be Kevin Jones, he shot a highly unlikely 3-4 from three and 6-11 from the floor to end the game with 17 points. Now the reason I say highly unlikely is because on the season, he averages 27% from long range. So now that we know that Jones can suddenly shoot the ball like Larry Bird, Kentucky will have to guard him close just to be on the safe side.

Everyone's favorite Mountaineer Joe Mazzulla finished the game with 12 points but only hit one field goal the entire game. So how does one end up with 12 points by hitting one shot? You guessed it, by going 10-12 from the free throw line. So I don't have to tell you what will happen tomorrow every time Ole' Joe has the ball in his hands. But drawing fouls aside, the one thing Mazzulla is excellent at is sharing the ball. He averages a little over 4 assist a game on the year and had 7 in the game yesterday. So Kentucky really need to limit his touches as much as possible. As far as scoring goes the guy who played like Magic Johnson last year in the elite eight (17 absurd points) actually isn't that big of a scorer on the season. He averages just a little over 7 points a game, but shoots a pretty decent 45% from the floor. So he can score, and no doubt he will tomorrow.

The other guy Kentucky has to be concerned about is Darryl(aka Truck) Bryant who missed last years battle due to injury. This guy just seems to find ways to score regardless. He had a team high 19 points yesterday, shooting 5-13 from the floor and 1-6 from long range. But not surprising was the fact he got to the line 9 times, and connected on 8 of them. In a late game situation, the Cats can't afford to send this guy to the line as he shoots a cool 82% from the charity stripe. He is second on the team in free shooting behind Casey Mitchell who shoots a crisp 86% from the line.

Speaking of Mitchell, he is the teams leading scorer at 14.1 points per contest and their best three point shooter at 38%. But Clemson seemed to hold him in check yesterday, allowing him just 4 points for the day.

West Virginia's Turkish big man that was paid but allowed to play after a suspension last season of 20 games(Damn you NCAA)is another to keep an eye on. He isn't traditionally a high scoring threat but let's face it, he's playing against Kentucky so he will have a career game against the Cats. Jorts will have to keep him in check without fouling.

West Virginia is an excellent rebounding team, averaging 37 on the season, but what I saw yesterday was the fact that they got 12 offensive boards against Clemson. If Kentucky is going to have any chance at winning this game, they HAVE to keep WVU off the offensive glass which means Terrence Jones has to get more than 2 rebounds sick or not. I think this is where the game will be won, second chance points. Kentucky's inside players need to rebound the ball and try to get easy transition baskets when the opportunity presents it's self.

If Kentucky can find the SEC Tournament version of itself, they should win the game. If they don't, and play like Thursday, it could be painful to watch.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kentucky to face West Virginia on Saturday

Well, it wasn't pretty folks but a win is a win. Kentucky shot out to an 11-2 lead (largest lead of the game for either team) and looked to be on it's way to an easy first round game. But the smart guys from Princeton had a different ending in mind.

Some will try to tell you that Princeton played a great defensive game, and held us in check, but that simply was not the case. Kentucky actually shot 51% from the field for the game, but what did hurt Kentucky was Brandon Knight's lack of scoring. Today was the first time in 28 straight games that Knight failed to reach double figures scoring, ending the game with just two points. But those two points turned out to be huge, as he hit a runner in traffic with 2 seconds left on the clock to win the game 59-57. Simply put, if Knight scores his usual 17ppg we win this going away.

But here is some break down of the game for those of you fortunate enough not to witness it.

As I write this, Vandy is down 66-60 with 49 seconds left in the game.
Shockingly (sarcasm) Vandy lost to Richmond.

As I said before, Kentucky started the game well, going out to a 11-2 lead but things changed in a hurry. Suddenly it seemed there was a lid on the basket for the Cats, and the basket for Princeton looked as big as a wash tub. Princeton hit every awkward shot they put up (as most teams do against Kentucky) and played their game plan perfectly. Kentucky never really seemed to get into their offense, and at times looked lost on defense.

Darius Miller continued his improved play finishing with a game high 17 points on 6-11 shooting from the floor, and 2-6 from deep. Miller scored at will down low, and played solid defense. Along with Miller's improved play over the last couple of weeks, his confidence is at a all time high. Instead of being hesitant to shoot an open shot, Miller is now looking for his shot. That's a good sign for the Cats going into Saturday.

Josh Harrellson continued to show why he is THE MOST IMPROVED player in the country, scoring 15 points on 7-8 shooting form the floor, and grabbing 10 rebounds four of them coming on the offensive side of things. In my mind the most impressive stat for Big Jorts was the fact he recorded 4 steals in the game, and done it without picking up a single foul the whole game. Enough can't be said about the importance of Jorts to this team, and the toughness and heart he brings every game.

Terrence Jones' freshman slump continued today as he scored just 10 points ( I don't see how he got that many) and grabbed a measly 2 rebounds. Jones has got to give a better effort Saturday, or things will get ugly in a hurry. It wasn't just Jones that played poorly today, it was all three of the superstar freshman. Knight (last second shot aside) and Lamb played like FRESHMAN today. They never got into their offense, and made some decisions that was out of the ordinary for them. The two combined for only 8 points for the game, most of which was caused by poor shot selection. But mostly, it was just the case of not being able to get any shots to fall. I couldn't count how many times the team missed simple inside shots that just rolled off the front of the rim. One has to think that nerves played a small roll, plus over looking Princeton to their date Saturday with West Virginia.

One positive to take from this game is the fact, once again Kentucky proves it can win a grind it out style of game. They never looked scared, or never looked like they were playing not to lose. Instead, they stayed calm and executed down the stretch to get a hard fought win that shouldn't have even been a ballgame to start with. But that is the great thing about the NCAA tournament, every game can be your last.

Another positive during the course of the day, was the fact UofL got beat by Morehead.

Kentucky moves on to face West Virginia Saturday (time hasn't been announced as of yet) where Calipari is 1-7 all time against Bob Huggins. It's time for a little payback against WVU.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Kentucky VS. Princenton preview

Now that we have gotten over the fact that the selection committee didn't do Kentucky any favors, let's take a look at the Wildcats first opponent.

Kentucky will face Ivy League school Princeton Tigers in the first round Thursday at 2:45pm.

Princeton University:

Location: New Jersey

Enrollment: 7,567

Nickname: Tigers

Former names: College of New Jersey (1746-1896)

Famous Alumni: First Lady, Michelle Obama
CEO of Google, Eric E. Schmidt

Princeton finished the regular season with a 25-6 record and 12-2 in conference. They were 12-0 at home this season, while going 10-5 on the road, and 3-1 on neutral floors. The Tigers won their conference tournament 63-62 defeating Harvard on a last second shot. They also had some decent games against some good teams this season. They defeated Rutgers in November by a score of 78-73 in overtime. Another NCAA tournament team that they beat is Bucknell 66-55. So this team can play and should not be over looked by the Cats.

They are not a very good 3 point shooting team averaging just 36% on the season, but they hold their opponents to 32%. They are not a high scoring team averaging just 69 ppg, but again they hold their opponent to 63 ppg. The one thing they can do is shoot free throws, they average as a team 73% from the line, with 3 players right at 80% from the stripe. So you don't want to get into a foul shooting contest with them.

Their leading scorer is Kareem Maddox(13.9ppg) and Ian Hummer(13.9ppg) that's right his last name is Hummer, I expect to hear some taunts going his way come Thursday. Kareem Maddox shoots the ball at a 56% clip from the floor, and Hummer shoots it 55% from the floor. Their best 3 point shooter is a guy by the name of Douglas Davis at 39% with Dan Mavraides coming in second with 38%.

Kareem Maddox is good underneath, he can rebound the ball averaging 7.1 rpg, and blocks 1.8 shots per game, so that will be something to watch on Thursday. Princeton has two guys who knows how to share the ball well with Dan Mavraides averaging 2.8 assits per game, and again Kareem Maddox averaging 2.5.

Kareem Maddox, Dan Mavraides, and Ian Hummer are a bit turnover prone with all averaging over 2 turnovers a game, and Maddox averaging almost 3 a game. So you have go think that Kentucky's defense will cause problems for this team.

Now I don't see this team being a problem for Kentucky on paper, but it's teams like this that can hurt your feelings if you don't take them serious. They have nothing to loose, and it's all on Kentucky to prove they can win. But I doubt that Calipari would allow Kentucky to overlook this team.

Kentucky should be motivated by the slap in the face they received from the selection committee on Sunday with a 4seed in the toughest region with #1 overall Ohio ST., while Florida who Kentucky beat twice in ten days gets a 2seed handed to them on a platter, and in the weakest region. But thats the best part of the NCAA tournament. You can never predict who will go how far and who knows, if Kentucky comes to play, and plays like they did in the SEC tournament, theres no doubt they can make the Final Four.

But first things first, let's send Princeton back to Jersey.

Monday, March 14, 2011

2012 Kentucky target Perry Ellis wins 3rd straight state title

On Saturday 2012 Kentucky target Perry Ellis and his Wichita Heights team won their 3rd straight 6A Kansas State title, finishing the season with a perfect 25-0 record.

As I always say when I talk about Perry, he is an amazing talent, and equally a great kid.
He will be an instant impact player when he picks a college, and that won't be an easy task as he has some great offers on the table.

Kentucky,Kansas,K-State,Witchita State,Memphis,and Oklahoma are the six teams he is currently considering. That is a line up of big name schools, and any would be lucky to land this kid.

It will be interesting to see how the firing of Oklahoma head coach Jeff Capel will affect his recruiting going forward.

Tubby Smith to Arkansas?

There are reports that Arkansas has met with Tubby Smith face to face, and are close to hiring the former Kentucky coach. I for one feel this would be a good move for both Tubby and Arkansas, as it gives Tubby are great program to come in and rebuild, and it gives Arkansas a great x and o coach who is a good recruiter and knows the game well.

So far this appears to be just speculation, we will have to wait and see as this story takes shape over the next couple of days.

Coach Cal on the Dan Patrick show this morning

Coach Cal gave a very good interview on the Dan Patrick show this morning. Covering everything from getting a four seed, to how he forgets players names


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Kentucky gets 4 seed in the East

Well the selection committee didn't do Kentucky any favors as usual. Kentucky shockingly got a 4 seed in the eastern region with Ohio ST. being the #1 over all seed in the tournament. Now what that says is Kentucky is the weakest of all the four seeds in the field. As if getting a four seed and the toughest #1 seed in the tournament wasn't bad enough, then there's the possible second round match up with West Virgina. Don't over look Kentucky's first round opponent Princenton, they play a very usual style of ball, holding for the entire shot clock then running a back door cut. Not the easiest first round game to have.

All of that didn't set BBN on fire more than when Florida was announced as the #2 seed in the southeast region. That's right I said a two seed. How in the world can Florida get a two seed and Kentucky get a four seed when not even 3 hours ago Kentucky dominated Florida for the SEC championship. Not to mention Kentucky has beaten Florida twice this season, and only lost to them at Florida by two. There are reports that Calipari was very upset when Kentucky was announced as a 4 seed saying only "they done it to us again", and when Florida was announced as a 2 seed he "leaped off the sofa walked out of the room just shaking his head".

So it turns out that Calipari was right about the conference tournaments, they seem to really not mean anything.

Not a good job by the selection committee all around. If Ohio ST. Is the #1 over all, how do they get a bracket consisting of Kentucky, West Virginia, Villanova, Syracuse, and North Carolina just to name a few. Once again, Duke got the easiest road to the Final Four with their two seed int hat bracket being SDSU. Another head scratch has to be the pairing of Louisville against Morehead State in the first round. Come on, the two schools are no more than 120 miles apart and they have to go to Denver to play each other? Not to mention, I know there are some UofL fans would like to root for Morehead in the tournament.

Oh well enough venting, let's just get this thing started and get Kentucky to the Final Four and make them all mad.

John Pelphrey out at Arkansas

It is being reported by ESPN that John Pelphrey will not return as the coach of the University of Arkansas.

Can't say this comes as a surprise, his teams poor performance on the court and the possible recruiting violations that took place. I hate to hear this about John, I just think he was in way over his head at Arkansas.

I remember hearing a lot of Kentucky fans saying "we need to go get John Pelphrey" when Billy G. was fired. I'm just glad that SOME Kentucky fans wasn't in charge of the coaching search.

Kentucky Wins SEC Tournament

Kentucky won the SEC Tournament in dominating fashion, and finally showed the kind of team Kentucky fans have been waiting on all season long. If yesterday was their most complete game of the season, today has to be dominating. Florida led for about a minute total (sarcasm) in the game, and every time Florida tried to make a run, Kentucky had an answer.

This was the best defensive game Kentucky has played all season long, holding every Florida player to single digits scoring except for Boynton who finished the game with 10. Kentucky played some zone defense at times to take some of the pressure off of Doron Lamb and his sprained ankle. And to be honest, the zone looked good for a team who rarely plays it.

On the offensive side of things, Kentucky shot the ball extremely well going 41% from the floor and 42% from the three point line, also impressive is the frees throw shooting. Kentucky kept driving the lane, and in turn kept getting to the line going 24-29 on free throws for 82%. How about Eloy Vargas, he came in played 10 minutes scored 2 points and grabbed four rebounds. By far the best showing Eloy has had all season long, and will be interesting to see if he can give Harrellson some rest in the NCAA tournament. Another thing that was good to see was the balanced scoring for the cats as 4 of the 5 starters hit double digits in scoring led by Brandon Knight with 17, Jones 16, Liggins 10, and Miller with 15.

Doron Lamb looked good as new today as Kentucky must have the beat trainers in the world. Lamb came off the bench to score just 6 points, but is amazing considering the fact Lamb could barely walk off the court last night. Now he will have some rest to get ready for the big dance.

Congrats to Darius Miller for winning the SEC Tournament MVP, and he has to be one of the most improved players on this team.

Some former cats took to twitter to send their Congrats after Kentucky won their 27th SEC Tournament Title and second in a row.

***cats on twitter***

Cousins- way to hold that title down CATS, Congrats!!!

Wall- Congrats to the CATS!!!

Patterson- many ppl said that the GATORS would win the SEC Tourney? GO BIG BLUE

Good to see that pur former players keep up with the team and show support.

In the words of the voice of the CATS on the radio Tome Leach....

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Doron Lamb still doubtful

I just had a conversation with DeWayne Peevy with UK Media Relations about the status of Doron Lamb and DeAndre Liggins. When I asked about the most recent status of Doron Lamb Peevy said "Currently, his status is doubtful for Sunday due to a left ankle sprain.". We already knew this, I was just hoping for some good news for tomorrow.

As far as Liggins is concerned, Peevy told me he is fine. So I expect him to play tomorrow, and obviously be in the starting line up.

So there you have it. Not much has changed since the game, but you never know what will happen over night.

Kentucky Rolls back Tide

Kentucky wins in a rare blowout 72-58, but the story of the game took place in the last 1:30 of the game. As Kentucky was putting the finishing touches on it's most complete game of the year, a possible disaster stuck. With about 1:30 left in the game, Liggins goes up for a rebound off an Alabama miss when he came down on another players foot twisting his ankle. After rolling on the floor in pain for what seemed like an eternity to Kentucky fans, Liggins got up and tried to jog it off before being subbed out of the game. On the very next inbounds play, Kentucky's leading scorer for the game Doron Lamb (15pts) went down with a NASTY twisted ankle of his own. The bad part for Lamb was the fact he had to be helped off the floor, and didn't appear to be able to put any weight what so ever on his left foot. That's three of our six man rotation with twisted ankles in two days.

Kentucky fans let it be known they were upset that the starters were still in the game, yelling at Calipari to "take out the starters!". You could make the argument that they shouldn't have been in the game with that big of a lead (26), but Alabama had just buried 3 straight 3's and had cut into the lead. We all know what was going through Cal's mind as Kentucky has been masterful this season at blowing leads late, so I don't blame him for having the starters in that late in the game. But that's a risk you take when you keep the starters in the game with a big lead at the end, and the result of the lack of a bench to sub with. But Kentucky has some of the best trainers in the Biz and I'm sure they will be up all night working on the three injured players to have them ready. But don't be surprised to see Cal hold Lamb out to make sure he is healthy for the NCAA tournament.

This was by far the best game Kentucky has played in the conference, and got some revenge on Alabama for loss the Cats suffered in Tuscaloosa.

Kentucky will know their opponent later today as Florida and Vanderbilt are getting set to tip. One thing is for sure, Kentucky will need to be at full strength to have a chance to beat either of these teams.

Word from Kentucky is that Doron Lamb is doubtful for tomorrow, all though Lamb says " I'm playing tomorrow, my team needs me so I'm playing". Even though Lamb admits he has never had an injury like the one he suffered today. Liggins had the same feeling as Lamb saying "I'm playing tomorrow, it's just a little tweak to my ankle, I'll be fine for tomorrow"

Cal on why he didn't sub sooner " Alabama was still pressing us. One of my assistants asked if we should get players out and I said they are still pressing. Had they stopped pressing I would have subbed sooner".

Friday, March 11, 2011

Kentucky advances to semi-finals

Well, it wasn't a thing of beauty, but it's a win. A win that this Kentucky team would not have gotten a month ago. Every time Kentucky looked like it was going to run away with it, Ole Miss fought back, and stayed within striking distance. A tough game that only has to help this teams confidence in close game situations. Confidence they will need in the NCAA tournament and the rest of this one.

Kentucky started the game strong, going out to a 14-4 lead before going back to their old habit of relaxing when they get a lead. Turnovers (10 for the game) and poor shot selection was what gave Kentucky problems. Kentucky went into half time with a 36-29 lead, and extended the lead to as much as 12 in the second half. But old habits die hard as Kentucky let the Rebels back into the game for much of the second half. Ole miss never got the lead, but stayed close enough to make Kentucky fans nervous, cutting the lead to as low as two. But Kentucky closed out the game with Brandon Knight hitting 6 of his last 7 free throws to seal the deal.

Speaking of Knight, he had a good game scoring 17 points but his shooting left a lot to be desired. Brandon was 0-6 from three, and 5-15 from the floor but his 7-10 from the free throw line is what saved the game. What Brandon lacked in shooting, he more than made up for by getting others involved. Knight had 6 assist in the game, and found guys open at just the right times for a crucial bucket.

Darius Miller played a good game no matter how hard he tried to go back to his old ways. There was a couple of possessions where Miller picked up some pointless fouls(4 fouls)by going over the back, or swiping at the ball as someone drove lane. But all in all, Miller hit some big shots in the second half, and took advantage of mismatches when the opportunity presented it's self. Several times in the second half Ole Miss guard Chris Warren got stuck defending Miller in the post on switch offs, and Miller used it to his advantage by backing him down for an easy shot. Miller was aggressive at times looking for his shot, which is the way he should be. Miller shot 6-11 from the floor, 1-3 from deep, and 2-2 from the stripe to finish the game with 15 pts and 7 rebounds. Good all around game from Miller.

Doron Lamb led the team with 19 pts, shooting 7-10 from the floor, 3-4 from long range, and 2-4 from the line. Lamb also had a good game defensively, when asked to guard Chris Warren he did a solid job limiting his shots. Every time Warren came off a screen he had a hand in his face, either from lamb or Liggins.

Speaking of Liggins, he had a solid game sure he only had 4 pts but what he did defensively on Chris Warren shouldn't go unnoticed. Sure Warren ended up with 20 pts, but his open looks was limited by the defense of Liggins and at times Lamb. Warren shot 5-15 from the floor and 4-15 from three, that is a result of good defense. And one thing Liggins can hang his hat on is the fact that Chris Warren needed 22 pts to get to 2000 pts for his career, but thanks to Liggins Warren comes up painfully short at 20 pts.

Then there is Josh Harrellson. Josh really battled today scoring 13 pts and grabbing 7 rebounds, most of which came at a time when Kentucky was trying to stop an Ole Miss run. Josh brings a lot to this team, he brings hustle, passion, and most of all heart. Josh plays with more heart than anyone else on the team, if every player on this team played with as much heart as he does they would never be in a close game.

It was a DECENT showing today by the cats, and once again proved that they can win in a close game. Kentucky fans have to wonder if Terrence Jones will be 100% after twisting his ankle early in the first half. He finished the game heavily taped, but you could tell he didn't play the same scoring only 7 pts for the game. So that is something to keep an eye on tomorrow.

But as a Kentucky fan, it makes you want bamboo shoots drove under your fingernails when they let a team back in the game and Terrence being injured surely contributed to this come back by Ole Miss a little. But as long as they keep winning I guess it doesn't matter how they do it.

Kentucky will face a tough Alabama team tomorrow at 1 o'clock that needed overtime today to beat a solid Georgia team. Let's just hope it wore the Tide out a little bit and Kentucky can find a killer instinct.

Florida and Tennessee tip off at 7:30 tonight.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bring on Ole Miss

Looks like Kentucky gets Ole Miss tomorrow as they dispatched South Carolina by a score of 66-55. Chris Warren and his beard was too much for South Carolina to handle today as he scored 20 points going 7-16 from the floor and 3-7 from behind the line. Four of the five starters scored in double figures for the Rebels, but this came against a horrible South Carolina team. In my mind, the main players Kentucky will need to contain is obviously Chris Warren and the other is Reginald Buckner. Both guys are great athletes, and can score the ball.

Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said after the game "I was hoping we would get to play Kentucky in front of about 20,000 Kentucky fans". Well Mr. Kennedy... You got your wish, the question is how do you get your team fired up to play a Kentucky team that you beat on last second prayer from "the beard"? No doubt DeAndre Liggins will be assigned to defend Chris Warren, and if Liggins plays defense like only Liggins can, he will have Chris Warren's beard worn off by the start of the second half.

But in all seriousness, it should be a great game tomorrow, and a great atmosphere as I have heard that Kentucky have turned out in droves in CATlanta. If Kentucky keeps up the play they have shown the last few weeks it should be an easy win. But as you well know, the opposing team always plays their best game against the CATS.

Lets hope for a good showing by the CATS tomorrow, and show Ole Miss how the first meeting SHOULD HAVE turned out!

John Pelphrey: recruiting violations

Gary Parrish is reporting that former Kentucky player, and current Arkansas headcoach has committed NCAA recruiting violations by having off campus contact with two players from the class of 2012 in December of 2010. The two players were, Kentucky target Archie Goodwin and teammate Trey Smith both in class of 2012. What really hurts is that Pelphrey even had pictures taken with the recruits, and both players validated the picture.

The NCAA ruels state, you cannot have off campus contact with a recruit, relatives of recruit, or legal guardian before July 1st following the completion of his/her junior year of high school. Both players are still juniors.

Pelphrey has been rumored to be on the hot seat all this season because of lack of production on the court. This incident certainly doesn't help his situation any. I hate to hear this about John, he is a good person and one of my favorite former Cats.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

SEC Tournament And Random Thoughts

Well, we know Kentucky will play at 3:30 on Friday, but we don't know the opponent. But we do know that it will either be South Carolina or Ole Miss. In my opinion, Kentucky can beat either one of these teams. But once again, that all depends which Kentucky team makes the trip to CATlanta. If Sunday's second half team shows up, I feel sorry for every team in this tournament. However, if Sunday's first half team makes the trip, it could be a short stay in CATlanta for Big Blue Nation.

If I had my way, I would want to play Ole Miss. Not saying Ole Miss wouldn't be just as much of a challenge as South Carolina, it's just difficult to beat a team three times in a season, and that is what the Boys In Blue would have to do against USC. Not to mention I think the loss to Ole Miss was a complete fluke, and on a neutral floor Kentucky is the better team. I would love nothing more than a chance for revenge, because I think the Ole Miss loss was the hardest to accept.

Now lets talk about the awards that were handed out to some wildcats today. First you have Terrence Jones as your SEC Freshman of the Year. A well deserving award for Jones as he was clearly one of the two best freshman in the SEC this year, the other being Brandon Knight. An argument could have been made for Knight as Freshman of the Year, but it's good to have the problem of one Cat getting it over the other. This is the second year in a row a Wildcat took SEC Freshman of the Year, with Cousins getting the honor last season.

Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones both was named to First Team ALL-SEC. Both guys were the driving force behind the Wildcats this season, and this teams success was usually based on how these two produced on the court. Both Knight and Jones have clearly had their struggles this season, with Knight coming out of his in the last couple of weeks, and Jones struggling a little down the stretch of the season. But they both played well enough to earn this award, and helped Kentucky to a three game winning streak in the SEC to close out regular season and earn the two seed in the east.

Doron Lamb (along with Knight and Jones) was elected to the SEC-All Freshman and DeAndre Liggins was named to the All defensive team. It's great to see these guys get what they deserve. I know I made a post on these awards earlier, but I was at work and didn't really get to go into depth.

That seems like a pretty good start to tournament week, and should provide plenty of confidence for the guys going into Friday.

Knight,Jones,Lamb,Liggins win SEC honors

Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight have been named to the All SEC FIRST TEAM this season both well deserved. They have been two of the best players in the conference all season long.

Terrence Jones also won the SEC Freshman Of The Year Award, seemingly beating out fellow Wildcat Brandon Knight. I thought Knight would have won this award, but Terence is deserving as well. Jones had this to say about the award on twitter "should have been me AND Brandon, I much rather have CO." now that is what you like to hear out of a TEAMMATE!

That's not all the awards this Wildcat team earned. Doron Lamb was named to the All SEC Freshman team as was Knight and Jones. But Lamb lost the award of best 6th man in SEC to Brian Williams of Tennessse. I thought Lamb would have gotten this award because of his play off the bench this season.

DeAndre Liggins was named to the SEC All Defensive Team and rightfully so. He is the BEST defender in the conference, and probably still has Bruce Pearl and Scotty Hopson crying.

All of these awards are well deserved, and it's nice to see these guys recognized for the effort they have brought so far this season.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Calipari MVP

I have heard a lot of people saying "Calipari is a great recruiter, but is terrible at the X's and O's of the game". I have always disagreed with this statement, and usually it's people that know nothing about basketball who makes this comment. The coach can't MAKE the
players run the plays he draws up, and he especially can not make the ball go through the basket. But it never fails the coach will ALWAYS get the blame for a loss despite doing everything he can to get the team to respond. It's not just at Kentucky, this happens with every fan base in the country.

Sunday, Calipari had probably one of his best coaching jobs of the year. The team was awful in the first half, no rebounding, blown defensive assignments (except Liggins) and just wasn't playing with any heart what so ever. But this all changed after halftime, Calipari finally got through to his team, and they came out and looked like a totally different team. They came out with a fire that we haven't seen from this team all year, they were aggressive on defense, they were rebounding the ball with a purpose, and they started playing like the team we thought we would have seen more often this year. This was the first game that Kentucky improved from the first half, only the second time they have won on the road in SEC play, and finally they won a close game on the road.

The best adjustment Cal made after the half, was mixing in a 2/3 zone that this team rarely runs. When they switched the defense, Tenneesse was confused and started rushing their shots. That was the boost this team needed, and it showed in their play. They started making shots and their over all attitude changed from the rest of the season. In past games this team has played scared or trying not to lose. Sunday, this team played to win, they had the attitude of "we're gonna win, and no one is going to stop us." We haven't seen that type of attitude since last season. It was good to see this team play to their potential and talent level, and that is thanks to the adjustments Calipari made at the half.

Calipari done a great job keeping his players motivated in the second half, he was animated on the sidelines and giving praise when one of the guys done something good. I don't know what was said by Calipari at halftime, but whatever it was worked. And his play calling in the second half was great, without changing the defense up we don't win the game.

So when people say Cal isn't a bench coach, go back and watch this game and look at the difference in the first and second half. The team played great, but Cal brought it out of them.

SEC tournament

With Kentucky's win over Tenneesse Sunday, the Cats will play this Friday @ 3:30 and will face either South Carolina or Ole Miss.

No matter which team they get, Kentucky should be able to pull out the win. Kentucky has beaten USC twice this year, and has lost to Ole Miss. That loss should never have happened, and I look for Kentucky to be out for redemption in this tournament.

Let's just sit back and enjoy the week, get ready for a great weekend of basketball. Then don't forget about selection Sunday being this Sunday (that's hard to believe). Hopefully with a good showing in the SEC tournament the Cats can get a good seed for the NCAA tournament.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

UK Defeats UT, Finishes Second in East

What a game that was. The first half started like we have come accustomed to seeing from this team, but the second half was something new.

Kentucky, once again was slow to start the game going down 7-0 before it's first bucket on a Doron Lamb 3. Still, the first half was hard to watch as Kentucky looked like a high school team. Senseless turnovers, poor shooting, and the lack of rebounding, made the first half feel like there wasn't any hope for this team in the post season. But Calipari done an amazing job at the half getting this team motivated to play in the second half.

Kentucky (Brandon Knight) came out in the second half, and played like a completely different team. They were moving on offense, playing tougher defense, and just out hustling Tenneesse in every aspect of the game. Knight was just on fire in the second half draining three three's and going 6-6 from the line to finish the game with a game high 19 pts. in my mind, this was the overall best half of basketball Kentucky and Brandon Knight has played all year. John Calipari was impressed with Kinghts play in the second half as well. He had this to say post game, "Brandon was unbelievable in the second half, he hit some big shots and made some crucial plays down the stretch".

DeAndre Liggins played a great game, he didn't score much but once again he done a heck of a job defensively on Scotty Hopson. Wherever Hopson went, Liggins was there to meet him. He held Hopson to 2-10 shooting from the floor for 13 pts for the game. Hopson never got into the flow of the game thanks to Liggins, and Hopson wouldn't have scored 13 pts had it not been for the ridiculous 9-11 shooting from the free throw line. Liggins fouled out of the game late in the second half, and finished the game with 6 pts. But what he did on defense was the diffence in the game. Someone else was impressed with the play of Liggins. (Cal on Liggins after the game) "DeAndre was terrific all game, without him their lead goes to 15 in the first half. All Reggie Miller wanted to talk to me about after the game was DeAndre. He loved his intensity, the way he tried to draw a charge, and how he went after loose balls."

Darius Miller continued his improved play, but waited till the second half to do it. He got involved on defense, shot the ball well, and finally played with some emotion. Miller buried a couple big threes down the stretch to help Kentucky hang on to the lead. Every time Tennessee made a run, it seemed like it was Miller that had the answer. Miller finished the game with 15 pts on 5-10 shooting from the floor, and 2-3 from deep. Not a huge game, and Miller didn't take over the game or anything. But it seemed that way because I'm not used to seeing anyone on this team make big plays down the stretch. And that's what miller did.

Harrellson didn't score a single point, didn't have a huge rebounding game only grabbing 5. But the ones he did get came at just the right time. Calipari had this to say about the rebounding, "We wasn't rebounding very well in the first half. Instead of going up to get a rebound, we waited for the ball to hit the floor". Clearly Calipari covered this in the locker room at halftime as Kentucky won the rebounding battle 32-30.

This was the Kentucky team that fans have wanted to see all year long in road games. Calipari was even impressed by their performance in the second half, "This team grew up today, they improved from the first half. That is the first time we have done that all year long".

Winning this game was huge for Kentucky, it gave them the #2 seed in the east for the SEC tournament and a first round bye. Also it shows the selection committee that Kentucky CAN win on the road in a hostile environment. Let's hope Kentucky can continue the type of play they brought in the second half today next week.

Kentucky gets a much need rest this week, earning the bye allows them to play next Friday instead of Thursday. So let's enjoy the SWEEP of Tennessee this week and get ready to take another SEC tournament championship!!!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

UNC over Duke

Ok, I get it. UNC improved drastically since the start of the season, and may be a final four team if they keep this up. But, should their fans really storm the floor after a win over Duke?

I know, they won the regular season ACC title, but come on. When your second in all time wins, you shouldn't storm the court after a win over anyone. UNC has accomplished too much to celebrate in such a way. I could understand if it was ST. Johns, N.C. state, or even Georgia Tech, but NORTH CAROLINA storming the floor? There has certainly been bigger wins in their history than this one.

I ask you Kentucky fans, would our fans at Rupp storm the court after a win like this?

Kentucky's MVP This Season?

I have heard a lot of people asking "who is Kentucky's MVP this year?". Well the truth of the matter is, this team couldn't be what they are today without every single player on this team. There isn't one player (who actually gets playing time) that this team can do without. They have all contributed in their own way all season long.

An argument could be made for Brandon Knight, because this team goes as he goes. If he doesn't play every minute he can things get ugly quick. Knight isn't a point guard, but instead he is a two guard who has handled the transistion nicely. He runs the team well, very coachable, and a very high basketball I.Q. He knows when to look for his own shot, or when to get others involved. There has been several games this season, that without Knight we would have lost.

An argument could also be made for Terrence Jones. Sure he has struggled down the stretch of the season, but you must remember (myself included) he is a FRESHMAN! He is a force down low, and can rebound like a wild man when motivated. He has single handedly embarrassed several people this season with some of the nastiest dunks of the year. And when he is on, NO ONE can stop him one on one. So it's safe to say without Jones, this team would struggle to score inside.

Couldn't do without Josh Harrellson either. Without Harrellson there is virtually no inside presence on this team. I have said it a million times, he isn't the most athletic player on the floor, but he works his A** off every game. And there is no way you can replace the rebounding he has brought to the team this season.

Darius Miller (when he doesn't disappear) IS the most athletic player in the conference. When he is playing like he should (hopefully this Sunday) no one can stop him from getting to the rim. His floater in the lane is his best offenseive weapon, and is difficult to stop. He also causes a lot of match-up problems for other teams when he uses it to his advantage. Miller has been pivotal in some games this year.

When DeAndre Liggins isn't drawing foolish technical fouls, and is focused he is one of the best defenders in the conference hands down. He has shut down some of the SEC's best players this season. He is also good for a three in a clutch moment at times.

We couldn't do without Doron Lamb either. His shooting is the most important asset he brings every game. He can shoot from deep, drive for a pull up jumper, and can get to the rim. He is difficult to defend, because if you close out on him he will drive to the rim. He has also knocked down some clutch free throws late in games this season as well. He and Knight has made this one of the best shooting Kentucky teams we have seen in quite some time.

Sure this team hasn't accomplished what we had hoped (season still isn't over) but they have played well this season. They have also beaten some good teams Notre Dame, Louisville just to name a couple. And if a couple or all of them come back next year, this will be an amazing team to watch.

So looking at this team as a whole, there isn't an MVP. The whole team is a MVP, because without one of these guys, they wouldn't have accomplished what they have so far.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Kentucky/Tennessee Preview

This Sunday Kentucky will try to win on the road for only the second time in SEC play this season. It couldn't come at a tougher place to play than Thompson-Boling Arena. Now traditionally, Tennessee isn't known for having the best fan support (women's team excluded) but they always have a huge turn out for the "boys in blue", and Sunday will be no different.

Kentucky has won 13 times in Knoxville, but they have lost 11 times there as well. So that goes to show you that this isn't a very easy place to play. Calipari has said it a million times "we are everyone's Super Bowl" and he's right. It's such a special game for the Vol's Bruce "Coppertone" Pearl breaks out the orange blazer, and UT player Scotty Hopson sent out an E-mail asking people to come out and show support. So you can expect a loud, energized, and obnoxious crowd on Sunday. Kentucky hasn't done well on the road this season 1-6, especially when the crowd seems to be into the game. Let's hope all that changes this weekend.

For that to change Kentucky needs to do some things differently. Tennessee as of today, has lost 5 of their last 7 games and will be looking for redemption. That's the first thing they will have to overcome is a motivated team. The second, they are going to have to play better defense, and keep certain players under control.

First they will have to control Tobias Harris. This kid is a very talented player who is crafty with the ball down low. He has had only two games where he has scored 20 points or more, but don't let that fool you. He is averaging 14.3 ppg, 7.6 rpg, and has the ability to shoot the three. He doesn't do it often, but he can hit from long range which opens up the inside for the Vol's because you have to guard him outside as well. He is also a great passer out of the post averaging 1.4 apg.

The next player to keep an eye on is Melvin Goins. He doesn't put up a lot of points averaging only 8 ppg, but he can score at times. What Goins does best is find the open man for the assist averaging 2.9 apg. He also has the ability to get guys in foul trouble by driving to the basket and drawing the foul. Goins isn't known for three point shooting averaging only 31% behind the arc, but can knock one down if left open.

The one player Kentucky HAS to contain is Kentucky native Scotty Hopson. Hopson can score in so many ways that it's hard to shut him down completely. He is averaging 17.6 ppg, but he is capable of putting up way more than that. He has had 8 games scoring 20 points or more, and has scored over 20 4 of his last 5, so he can put up big numbers. Hopson can hit from outside as well, shooting 39% from long range on the year. This will be a tough match up, but DeAndre Liggins done well in the first match up holding Hopson to only 11 points for the game.

If Kentucky can hold those three players down they should be able to keep this game under control. Kentucky will also have to have better play out of Terrence Jones than what he has shown lately, and cut down on turnovers late in the game.

There is a lot on the line for Kentucky Sunday afternoon as a #2 seed MAY be up for grabs for the SEC tournament. A lot has to happen for Kentucky to get the #2 seed too much to explain but, Kentucky HAS to win Sunday for any chance at that 2 seed and a first round bye.
Also on the line is a better seed for the NCAA tournament, and it will start by wining in Knoxville. Kentucky has got to prove they can win on the road to get a decent seed in the Big Show.

So, first let's hope Tennessee beats South Carolina tonight. Not because it will matter in seeding for the SEC tournament, but to keep from getting a UT team coming off a loss.

Second, enjoy the weekend and get ready for a battle with the orange blazer Sunday.

Decision Day For 2012 UK Target

According to Zags Blog J.P. Tokoto will announce his decision tonight at 10pm CST on a Milwaukee Fox affiliate. The press conference was originally supposed to take place Friday, but Tokoto moved it to today to accommodate the TV station.

J.P. and his family reached their decision earlier in the week based on a number of things, but they are keeping quite until the announcement.

Tokoto will decide between a host of elite programs. Uconn, KU, UK, Marquette, Maryland, UNC, UCLA, and Wisconsin. Not a bad list to have to choose from, but most feel it is a two team race between UNC and Wisconsin. That's the best part about recruiting, you never know until the kid signs.

Rivals has Tokoto rated as the #10 small forward in the class of 2012. This may be the kind of player that Kentucky needs that will stick around for a couple of years, and who is extremely talented.

So we will have to wait and see where he decides to go. I wish him luck where ever that may be.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Kentucky/Vandy Review

Well Jorts Day (Senior Day)is behind us which is hard to believe, and we got the win that we so badly needed for two reasons. One, it still gives Kentucky hope of getting a two seed in the SEC tournament and getting the first round bye, and two, we finally won a close game.

It was nice to see this team, that has struggled in late game situations finally pull out a win that came down to the wire. The bad part, it should have never been that close. Kentucky had a 15 point lead two times in this game, once in the first half and once in the second, and still about let this one slip away. Now I'm not one to use coaching terminology, but this team is lacking killer instinct in the worst way. It seems when they get a big lead, they play relaxed, then when the opposing team cuts into or takes the lead, they play scared. This is something that has to have fans concerned going into the last week of the regular season.

There was a lot of positive things to take away from this game though. One being the continued improved play of Darius Miller. Darius didn't do much in the first half, but came out strong in the second, finishing with 12 points on 5-9 shooting from the floor and 1-2 from three. Now I know this doesn't sound like much, but Kentucky fans will tell you what an improvement this is from Darius, who has the tendency to disappear in games. Let's just hope this can carry over to Sunday's date at Tennessee.

Brandon Knight played a decent game, but like Miller didn't really do a lot till the second half. When Vandy switched the bigger Jeffery Taylor on him to limit his outside shot, Knight did the smart thing and started taking him off the dribble. Taylor did a nice job of stopping Knight from beyond the three, but just wasn't quick enough to stop him from getting to the rim without sending Knight to the free throw line, where he was 6-6 with two of them coming in the final minute. Knight finished the game with 17 points on 5-14 from the floor and 1-1 from three.

Terrence Jones was...well Terrence Jones. Not passing out of the post when nothing was there, turning the ball over (4 turnovers total) from trying to do too much, not boxing out, and did I mention TURNOVERS? Jones started the season playing like lottery pick, but has spent the last part of the season playing like a guy who would benefit from another year in college. Which could be good for Kentucky come next year. But this year, they needs Jones to play like a lottery pick. Jones does some things that makes you scratch your head, and this game was no different. Late in the game with Kentucky trying to pull out the win, Jones time and time again had unforced turnovers. The worst was the traveling call that gave Vandy the ball with 1.8 seconds left, and Kentucky up only two. I know he is a feshman, but this late in the season he should be playing like a sophomore. He did however finish the game with 15 points going 5-12 from the floor, 1-1 from three, and 4-6 from the charity stripe ( none bigger than his last two that gave us the lead for good) and 9 rebounds.

DeAndre Liggins may have finished with only 5 points, but he and Doron Lamb done a spectacular job defending sharpshooter John Jenkins. The duo held him to just 16 points (compared to 32 points in the last meeting 6-10 from three) and 2-5 from deep. So Liggins and Lamb's lack of scoring can be forgiven considering the job they done on Jenkins.

This all brings us to the man of the day, Josh (aka Jorts) Harrellson. It was great to see the appreciation the crowd showed Jorts last night. This kid gives you 110% every game, and last night Kentucky needed every bit of it. Josh done what he could against the bigger, stronger Festus Ezeli but the Vandy big man still ended up with 22 points. Now this isn't all the fault of Jorts, there is no one to send in to give Jorts a break, and he isn't overly athletic. But he did continue his trend of great rebounding, and getting put backs at just the right time. Josh finished the game with 8 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 blocks, none bigger than the block he had against Ezeli as Vandy threw him the inbounds pass, and Jorts broke up what looked like the winning shot for Vandy. It was good to see Jorts go out on a positive note.

All in all it was a good night with a great win, and one of Kentucky's favorite players going out in style. Enough can't be said about Harrellson and what he brings to the team (never thought I'd say that) but it was good to see him having fun in his last home game.

Up next the Cats have a date with Tennessee on Sunday, and depending on what Vandy does in their last game of the regular season against Florida, a lot will be on the line.

So let's enjoy the win over Vandy who will most likely be a top 4 four seed in the big dance, and get ready to level Rocky Top!!!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Shabazz Muhammad twitter update

Shabazz had this to say on twitter.

@phenom15balla: in the Charlotte airport about to board in a minute!!!!! UK here I come!!!!!!!

Sounds like he may be excited to visit Kentucky tonight. And who wouldn't be excited, with it being Jorts day and all!!!

This would be the perfect time for Kentucky to break out the old denim uniforms!!!!!

Visitor For Tonights Game

It is being reported that 2012 shooting guard Shabazz Muhammad will be in attendance for tonights game against Vandy.

Muhammad is the #1 shooting guard and #3 player over all in the class of 2012. This kid is a wonderful talent, and would make a great player at any one of the schools on his list which is too long to name all of them.

So let's make a good impression on him and get the win tonight.

It has been confirmed by premier ball on twitter that Muhammad will be in attendance tonight at the game. Muhammad was going to visit Louisville this past weekend, but canceled the visit.