Thursday, January 31, 2013

Anthony Davis named Kentucky Sportsman of the Year

Per media release from the University of Kentucky...

Anthony Davis Named Kentucky Sportsman of the Year
Davis selected from among 10 finalists

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Former Kentucky men’s basketball National Player of the Year Anthony Davis was named the Lexington Herald-Leader 2012 Kentucky Sportsman of the Year at the second annual Bluegrass Sports Awards banquet Thursday night.

Davis was selected from a group of finalists including Teddy Bridgewater, John Calipari, Randall Cobb, Dermonti Dawson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Tom Jurich, A’dia Mathies, Darius Miller and Charlie Strong.
The 2012 National Player of the Year by various organizations, Davis earned the Oscar Robertson Trophy, the Adolph Rupp Trophy, the Associated Press Player of the Year, Naismith Award, Sporting News Player of the Year, Basketball Times Player of the Year and John R. Wooden Award. He also was named a 2012 NCAA consensus first-team unanimous All-America selection, earning the national Freshman, Defensive Player and Big Man awards.
Davis helped lead Kentucky to its eighth national championship in men's basketball and was named the 2012 Final Four Most Outstanding Player for his efforts.
Furthermore, the Chicago native set a new standard in the NCAA freshman record books for blocks in a season with 186 swats. The new mark also stands as a conference and UK single-season record. He led the league in blocks (186), field-goal percentage (.623) and double-doubles (20).

The overall No. 1 draft pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Davis was also a member of Team USA that won Olympic gold at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
The Sportsman of the Year award, given annually since 1981, is voted on by sports media statewide.

Help Coach Cal help children's hospitals

If you're a fan of Kentucky basketball, you know that John Calipari is all about charity and helping other's. Since his arrival in Lexington, Cal has raised money for countless organization's including Hoops for Haiti where he hosted a telethon that raised 1 million dollars to help with the relief effort in Haiti after a 7.0 earthquake devastated the entire region. Let us not forget about the telethon that raised roughly 1 million dollars for the victims of Hurricane Sandy that destroyed much of the North East late last year. He also keeps things close to home, much like the way he did when he donated $25,000 to help the folks of West Liberty, Ky after much of the area was destroyed by an EF3 tornado on March 2, 2012. 

This time is no different as John Calipari is participating in the Infinity Coaches' Charity Challenge. For the next eight weeks, 48 of the top college basketball coaches will be going head to head in a bracket style competition until a winner is declared. The gets $100,000 donated to his charity of choice. Cal's charity of course will be The Calipari Foundation and if he wins, the money the foundation receives will go towards helping children's hospitals. He has posted a video explaining everthing about the Infinity Coaches' Charity Challenge. 

You can visit Cal's website for all the information. You can also help Cal win the challenge by voting on ESPN's website 

Kentucky vs. Texas A&M preview... Again

Saturday afternoon, Kentucky travels to College Station to try and improve their NCAA hopes against Texas A&M who has a record of 13-7 and is 3-4 in SEC play. 

Kentucky 14-6 (5-2) has had it's struggles this season, but seemed to have exercised at least some of those demons Tuesday night when they defeated Ole Miss handing them their first SEC loss. Aside from a stretch in the second half that we won't speak of, it was the best Kentucky had looked all season long. 

If the Cats hope to avenge their loss to A&M earlier this year, they will have to have the same type of effort they exerted in Oxford. They can ill afford to have guys disappear during key moments of the game as has been the norm the majority of the season. They will have to limit turnovers and second chance opportunities to have a shot at pulling off a win. 

I don't even have to say it, but shutting down Elston Turner is a must. After his 40 point explosion in Rupp, people said "he'll never do that again" or "he just had a good night". Well let me tell you something, scoring 40 on the road is not "luck" or a "fluke", this kid can play. So yeah, I'd say stopping Elston Turner is Cal's #1 priority going into Saturday. Because, if he was to ever repeat his 40 point performance, you know it will be against Kentucky. 

Here's a numbers comparison for you to study on....

                A&M           UK
PPG:         63                76
RPG:        34                40
SPG:          6                   7
BPG:          3                   8
TPG:        13                 13        
FG%:       44                 48
FT%:       68                  64
3P%:        37                  35


Elston Turner: 15.7ppg   3P% 40
Fabyon Harris: 10.5ppg   3P% 44
Ray Turner: 10.0ppg   

Since Kentucky fans may not be familiar with College Station, TX, here's some highlights of the campus..

Texas A&M's campus is one of the largest in the country spanning 5,200 acres, including a 350 acre research park

Money magazine named College Station the most educated city in Texas in 2006

Texas A&M is the location of the George W. Bush Preidential Library

Texas A&M in the NCAA Tournament:

Not much to tell, the furthest they ever advanced was the Sweet Sixteen

The only history of A&M worth writing about a second time this year:

Horace S. Carswell, JR., Class of 1938
Thomas W. Fowler, Class of 1943
William G. Harrell, Class of 1943
Lloyd H. Hughes, Class of 1943
George D. Keathley, Class of 1937
Turney W. Leonard, Class of 1942
Eli L. Whiteley, Class of  1941
All these great men have one thing in common, they are the recipients of the highest honor the Military has to offer, the Medal of Honor. Big Blue Corner thanks you gentlemen. 

If Kentucky pulls off a win Saturday, I believe that will remove them out of all this bubble talk and will almost assure them a trip to the "Big Dance".  However, they will have to take care of business and not have a let down like they did after their road win at Auburn. 

We'll find out Saturday....

Noel Named to Wayman Tisdale Midseason Watch List

Per media release from the University of Kentucky...

Noel Named to Wayman Tisdale Midseason Watch List
Award goes to Freshman of the Year
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel is among 12 players announced by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) as a midseason candidate for the Wayman Tisdale Award, honoring the nation's top freshman for the 2012-13 college basketball season on Thursday.

Noel leads the nation in blocks per game at 4.8. He ranks 14th in the country in steals (2.4) and 33rd in rebounding (9.3), leading the Wildcats in all three categories. The 6-10 freshman is also averaging 10.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.

Others named to the list are Jordan Adams, UCLA; Kyle Anderson, UCLA; Isaiah Austin, Baylor; Anthony Bennett, UNLV; Jahii Carson, Arizona State; Yogi Ferrell, Indiana; Ben McLemore, Kansas; Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA; Glenn Robinson III, Michigan; Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State; Nik Stauskas, Michigan.

Last season, Anthony Davis became the first Wildcat to win the USBWA’s Freshman of the Year award.
The USBWA has chosen a national Freshman of the Year since the 1988-89 season when LSU's Chris Jackson was the recipient. This is the second year it is named for the late Wayman Tisdale who was a three-time USBWA All-American at the University of Oklahoma.

Marcus Lee invited to McD's All-American Game

According to Deer Valley coach LeChet Phillips, UK signee Marcus Lee has been invited to the 2013 McDonald's All-American Game.

Congrats young man, well deserved.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Final thoughts on Ole Miss

Just a few final thoughts on Kentucky's win over Ole Miss last night. 

Coming into the game, Kentucky's post season chances were in doubt for the first time under the John Calipari era, something Cat fans never thought would be the case. So face it, last night was a huge game/win for the Cats no matter who the opponent was. 

 Kentucky fans have been severely spoiled over the last three years with the success Cal has had with his overly, sometimes absurdly, talented freshman classes since his arrival.  In his first three season at the helm of the Wildcats, John Calipari racked up an Elite Eight, Final Four and something everyone said would never happen with "one and done's", the coveted National Championship. 

So when Kentucky has a record of 14-6 (5-2) this season, people tend to hit the panic button early and often. With losses to the likes of Notre Dame, Duke, Baylor, Texas A&M, Alabama and hated rival Louisville, fans panicked. It's not their fault, it's just the nature of a Kentucky fan, it's bred into them. So of course Kentucky fans are going to get excited about a win over Ole Miss. It doesn't mean that their expectations have been lowered (that will never happen), they just knew what was on the line last night in Oxford. A loss, Kentucky is more than likely boarding a bus for the NIT. A win, Kentucky's chances of making the NCAA tournament improves drastically as that it was their first "signature win" and their first over a top 25 team this season. 

Along with their first win over a ranked team, Kentucky seemed to turn a bit of a corner last night. In past games, when put in the same situation Kentucky no doubt loses that game. Instead, Kentucky dug in, fought, battled for loose balls and made the "hustle plays" necessary to win a highly contested game, on the road and in a hostile environment. Plain and simple, this team seems to be growing up, it has just taken a little longer than expected. Guys who played timid for most of the season played with heart and a determination to win that we haven't seen all year. They were making the right decisions at the right times, minus a few minutes in the second half Kentucky played its best ball game of the season. 

With the Cats suffering from early foul trouble in the first half, Jarrod Polson and Jon Hood got their names called. These kids played quality minutes when Kentucky had absolutely no one else to turn to, especially with Willie Cauley-Stein still nursing his injury. They came in, ran the offense and got key rebounds when it mattered. 

Then came the play of Kyle Wiltjer. Enough can't be said about the obvious and drastic improvement in Kyle's play as of late. Everyone remembers his shooting struggles, or his embarrassment of a game in Nashville against Vandy, but not last night. Kyle came in and provided steadiness and surprisingly enough, leadership. When Kentucky needed a basket Big Wilt answered the call without hesitation. Going into halftime, Kyle had 17pts and he was just getting started. In the second half, Kyle never gave shooting a second thought as he sank three after three when left open, then unimaginable happened. Kentucky holding off a run by the rebels, Kyle sets the pick heard around the world, jarring the smack talk and jersey poppin' right out of  Marshall Henderson then proceeded to flash to the bucket for a two handed dunk, just the fourth of his career. It was clearly a statement to fans and his team that he is finally ready to play ball. Kyle finished the night with a career high and team high 26pts on 10-19 shooting and 5-12 from three. 

Nerlens Noel, what can I say about Nerlens Noel. I can try to breakdown his performance, but it wouldn't do it justice, but I'll try. Nerlens only had 2pts for the game, but the presence he had defensively was just insane. After setting the tone early in the first half with 5blks, guys actually looked terrified to drive the lane. When they finally did one of two things happened, either Noel blocked their shot, or altered it so badly that it would literally bounce off the shot clock. Coming into the game Andy Kennedy said "I'm not sure Anthony Davis was the presence around the rim that Nerlens Noel is".  Turns out he was right, at least for this night as Noel went  on to set a career high and new school record with 12blks. His 12blks is a tie for fifth most among NCAA freshman and third most in SEC history. So yeah it's safe to say it was a pretty good night for Nerlens. 

Kyle and Nerlens wasn't the only one to have great games, fact is the entire team did. Archie Goodwin had a excellent game scoring 24pts grabbing 6rebs and dishing out 4asts, not to mention hitting some clutch freethrows late in the game finishing the night 12-14 at the line. 

It was another "manly" game from Alex Poythress last night. He was hampered by foul trouble in the first half, but then came the second. Grabbing "manly" rebounds and going to the basket with a purpose, he finished the game with 15pts 7rebs. These are the types of number Alex has to maintain for this team to reach its potential. 

It was a big win for a team that has struggled all season long to find itself. After last night, maybe, just maybe Kentucky has an identity. A team that can grind out a win when faced with adversity and doubt. Maybe they are the kind of team that will battle and do whatever it takes to win, at least they were last night...

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Kentucky Ole Miss official box score

Click to enlarge

Quick review: UK/Ole Miss

Kentucky came into tonight in a unfamiliar position as the underdog, but still needing a quality win in the worst way. You knew it wasn't going to be easy, you knew it wasn't going to be pretty. The one thing you didn't know is how this Jekyll and Hyde Kentucky team would respond. Would it be the team that showed up at Auburn, or would it be the one we saw in just about every other game this season. 

Ole Miss comes in with the best start in school history at 17-2 (6-0) and looking to show the SEC they are legit. In fourty minutes we would find out...

Kentucky opens the game with Poythress fouling Marshall Henderson on a three point attempt, and looking shaky on the offensive end as Alex quickly picks up his second with 17:44 to go in the first. At the first media timeout Ole Miss led 7-6. Kentucky looked to be settling down and playing some decent defense as Nerlens Noel recorded his 84th block of the season.   Still some senseless turnovers for the Cats, but I'll write that up to being nervous about playing in front of Morgan Freeman. With 14:43 left in the first, Julius Mays goes to the bench with his second foul. Kentucky racking up fouls very quickly as they pick up their 6th team foul with 14:20 to go till halftime. Kentucky in danger as Ryan Harrow picks up his second foul with an offensive foul putting Ole Miss in the bonus for the rest of the half. In typical Ole Miss fashion, the student section has to warned about throwing things onto the court. 

With 7:48 left in the half, it's all square at 19 a piece and the rate of foul calls have seemed to slow down, but not until everyone on the bench including Rod Strickland tallied at least two. Archie Goodwin continues to drive the lane when there is no play to be made, that has to stop. On a good note Jarrod Polson and John Hood have played solid minutes out of necessity due to the foul trouble. Cal with some great play calling by playing zone when Henderson goes to the bench for a breather. Another black mark on the first half for Kentucky is Nerlens Noel going 1-6 from the freethrow line, that has got to improve going forward.  It's not just Noel, the whole team has to improve. Watching them shoot freethrows is painful. 

Kentucky heads to half time down one 38-37 thanks in large part to Kyle Wiltjer three threes and leads the team in scoring with 17pts at the half. 

Wiltjer: 17pts 3reb 2ast
Noel: 2pts 6rebs 5blks
Poythress: 3pts 1reb
Harrow: 3pts 2rebs
Mays: 0pts 4rebs
Hood: 0pts 3rebs
Polson: 2pts 2rebs 1ast
Goodwin: 10pts 1reb 1ast

That was one of the stranger halves of basketball I have seen in a while with 26 fouls being called. Common theme in the first half? Putrid freethrow shooting as Kentucky goes 10-20 from the line. Kentucky has got to get other guys involved in the second half offensively. They need to look for Noel a little more down low and Poythress has got to produce something, anything for them to have a chance to pull of the upset in Oxford. 


At the first timeout of the second half Kentuck led 51-46 behind the hot shooting of Kyle Wiltjer with two threes in this half tying his career high of 24pts.  With15:49 left, Kentucky leads 53-46 as Wiltjer sets a new career high of 26 on a dunk. Noel leaves with his third foul with 15:20 to go and that fast Ole Miss scores at the basket. With 14:31 remaining timeout is called and Kentucky leads 59-50. Alex Poythress playing "like a man" as Jimmy Dykes said in the second half and Kentucky needed it to say the least. 

With 11:27 left in the game, Kentucky stormed out to a 71-56 lead scoring 31 points in the second half. The biggest reason for that was the "manly" play by Alex Poythress, rebounding, defending and scoring was great. Kentucky shot 72% in the second half alone. Noel picked up his fourth foul with 9:48 to go opening up the inside for Ole Miss. At the 7:32 mark, Kentucky's lead was cut from 17 to 11 during the absence of Noel who's came back after the timeout with four fouls. Noel playing with four fouls really limited his defense as Ole Miss went at him time and time again, scoring more times than not.

 Keeping true to form, Kentucky completely melted down late in the second half,  having their once 17oint lead trimmed to one. Missing an obscene amount of freethrows and losing composure was their biggest problem, not to mention a six minute scoring drought. 

Noel sets a new career high, 9 blocks tonight and the Cats needed every single one them. Kentucky seemed to recover from their mental meltdown, with1:05 left they led the game 86-74. Kentucky needed a signature win, they earned it. Marshall Henderson wanted to show Kentucky "who the real national champ is", he failed. Kentucky needed this game in the worst way and they played like it. Finally Kentucky showed heart, fight, effort and a will to win. As it turns out, kentukcy didn't need Nerlens Noel on offense, he done it all on defense setting a school record with 12 blocks. 

Impressive game from Kentucky tonight.  Maybe this is the game where they finally turn things around winning this one 87-74 handing Ole Miss their first conference loss, getting their first win over a ranked team and getting their first win in Oxford since 2007. 

Up next is Texas A&M who if you remember has a guy by the name Elston Turner who lit Kentucky up for a million points in Rupp Arena. 

Marshall Henderson... Ain't he cute

Kentucky Sports Radio has an excellent column up about none other than Ole Miss' Marshall Henderson. In it, they quote him as saying...

"I'm just glad I get to play Kentucky next year and be like... Y'all think y'all were the National Champs, I'll show you the real National Champ".

Now, besides his amazing speaking prowess, he is very uneducated in his own teams tournament history, or lack there of.

Before he can show anyone who the real national champ is, he must first not try to show someone who has eight of em. Not to mention, Before making a comment like that he may want to check and see just how far Ole Miss has ever went in the tournament. Here Mr. Marshall, let me help you out. The furthest your team has ever went in the tournament when they actually made it is the sweet sixteen in 2001.

I was always taught that you crawl before you walk. So little Henderson may want to start by winning his teams first SEC championship since 1981. Then and only then can he dream of being a national champion in something other than "jersey popping" and running his mouth.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ole Miss pre-game press conference quotes

Kentucky Coach John Calipari

On Willie Cauley-Stein’s condition …
“Willie is good, making the trip. Don’t know if he’ll practice today. He’s running up and down and I don’t know if I want him to do that, but he may. I would guess doubtful for Tuesday. The word questionable? I don’t know. He’ll probably try to convince me he’s ready so we’ll see.”

On how he’ll deal with Marshall Henderson and the environment at Ole Miss …
“This is all good. Let me just tell you. They’re very physical. You watch the game last year; it was a tie game except for four minutes in the second half where we blew the game open. The rest of the game was a tie game and they battled and they did not step back, and we were a good team last year. They’re all back and they’ve got a guy that, he must remind Andy [Kennedy] of Andy. Just get in there and the ultimate green light. Shoot every ball if you want and the kid feels. He gets it going that way.”

On whether he would have Archie Goodwin guard Marshall Henderson …
“I don’t know yet. We’re trying to figure out how we’ll play it. We did some stuff yesterday at practice but (Henderson)’s going to take 14 three’s. Whether you’re on him, you’re not on him, he’s taking 13 three’s. I love his energy and his excitement about playing. He loves the game. It was a great thing Ray Lewis did, and I showed the guys, one of the things he said, ‘The reason I could last this long, I love it. I love everything about it. I love the game.’ I stopped the tape, ‘Do you love playing? Or are you more happy when practice is over than when it starts?’ Everything I’m trying to do is get these guys to grow up fast and the biggest thing is to get them to recognize what they’re doing, what it looks like. You have to recognize it before you can change it.”

On whether he feels like there is more of a sense of urgency surrounding this game …
“Everyone is. You know, if you told me you’re going to lose this and win the next nine, ‘Alright, wake me up when it’s over. I’ll sit and watch the game.’ So, it doesn’t matter, no. It’s another learning experience for us. They’ve got to learn about themselves, and that’s the biggest thing. Someone said, ‘How do you build confidence?’ You do it on the court by demonstrated performance. You quit hanging your head. When another team makes a run, quit hanging your head. Quit slouching over. Just keep balling, keep playing. It’s just something hard to break, but they’re trying. The crazy thing I keep coming back to, we have a bunch of good guys. There are no evil dudes in there. They’ve got bad habits and they’ve got a mindset that is not conducive to team play, and all of those things we’re trying to change, but they’re good guys. They’ve played a certain way their whole lives and you can’t win at this level playing that way. But they’re learning, they’re getting better. I look at certain guys on our team and say, ‘wow, they really improved.’ Now we just have to have two things, each individual, what would it look like if each individual played the best version of themselves and then what would it look like if our team knew exactly what we were going to do and we’re going to be the best version of ourselves. We’re not close to that, some other teams are, well they’ve been together. I’ll be honest with you, Mississippi is, they’re the best version of themselves right now. They’re playing physical, they get down, it doesn’t faze them, they get up, they bury you. They’ll make shots, they’re strong inside, whatever they’re running they run well. You’re not going to be able to go down there and compete with them either being soft, mentally or physically, or not being a good version of yourself, preparing to play great, it doesn’t mean you play great but you at least prepare to play great.”

On what it would take for Willie Cauley-Stein to convince him he was ready to play …
“It’s a ways away. We’ll have to see.”

On Ole Miss’ confidence …
“That’s what my teams historically have been, those are my teams. We always like to play front-running teams, which when they have it going good, they’re chest-bumping and doing it and when it goes in, they wilt. That’s who we’ve always wanted to play. That’s what Mississippi is, they are the kind of the team that I’ve coached historically, which is, doesn’t matter what the score is, we’re balling, we’re doing this together and if I’m not playing well I’ll do something else to help this team win because that’s the whole mindset, it’s not about me, it’s about us and that’s how they play. They’re good; they are a really good team. They’re top-15, they may even be better than that.”

On the best version of this team …
“We’re not, I don’t want to say we’re the least version of ourselves but we’re certainly not the best version. But look, we’re getting better. It seems like one kid will play better and then another just steps back. All the sudden Ryan (Harrow) was playing well and now it’s almost like we have to play Jarrod (Polson). And then all of the sudden, Archie (Goodwin) does fine and then all of the sudden he’s taking bad shots and then Alex (Poythress) is not competing then he’s playing well. Now you have Kyle and Nerlens playing well and you have the injury. We’ve had a lot of stuff thrown at us, no excuses but we just have to get to that point in the season where everyone totally surrenders to each other. Surrender to each other, do it, talk more. ‘I don’t like to talk.’ You’re hurting your teammate by not talking. ‘I know, do I have to move my lips when I talk or can I do it without moving my lips?’ You just have to surrender and do what the team needs you to do and we’re just not quite there.”

On if Henderson is an X-Factor …
“I would say he’s that type of guy. There may be special attention paid to him. What you end up doing if you pay too much attention to him, all of a sudden two big guys get 20 and 20 and then you’ve got no chance of beating them. A lot of times you want one guy to get 30 and not let the other guys get any. And there are many times I’ve coached a game where I’ve said we’re letting him get his 30-35, let him try. And if he’s on fire, then OK, we’ve got problems. And if he’s shooting it anyway, and he doesn’t… And sometimes we do it with big guys. Why trap them? Let him try to get 40. It will take out this guy, that guy, that guy. Now, that’s not how we played the kid (Texas A&M’s Elston) Turner, but there are times we do it.”

On lessons learned from Turner applying towards Henderson …
“No, but he’s probably watching that tape, I would say. Their team probably watched that tape, us falling into screens, hands down, beat on the dribble, beat on curl cuts, stopping, acting exhausted, just whaling with no bones in your body. I imagine they watched it, though.”

On why he defended Archie Goodwin on his website …
“Because DeWayne (Peevy) said, ‘Yeah, some people after Alabama took some shots at Archie.’ I go, ‘For what?’ ‘For some of the shot selection.’ I said, ‘We had two other guys play so bad, did they say anything about anybody else? Why would they say anything about him? This kid works his butt off.’ So after I slept on it, I said I wanted to make a statement so that everybody knows that he’s the first one in the gym. He’s the last one to leave. He comes in the evening. He does what he’s supposed to do. He’s a good teammate. He just doesn’t have the right mindset, doesn’t know shot selection, plays out of control, because that’s how he’s always played. So, now, it’s DeAndre Liggins. Can we get him to play the right way? And when you get a kid like that to play the right way, he becomes a killer. Right now, he’s a killer, but sometimes he’s killing us. I can deal with that versus a kid that’s scared or doesn’t show up for the game. There’s nothing you can tell me about that. That’s why I said that we had other guys at Alabama that did not show up for the game. No one said anything? Then why would you say something about this kid then? So that’s the only reason I said it.”

On why Nerlens Noel isn’t getting the praise that Anthony Davis did last season …
“Because we’re not winning like we were. If we were winning, he’d be getting all the praise. If we were winning like we were last year, he’d be getting all the praise. He is getting better and better. Everyone that sees him says he’s a way better player, and I agree. He’s working in practice. I just told him like I told John Wall, take other people with you. I don’t care that you’re doing all this and stuff’s good, take some other guys with you. Grab them. If they don’t want to go, push them aside. Take guys with you so that it’s not just you. Take them with you. Let’s all play well.”

On his team’s composure on Tuesday night …
“I’d like us to lose our composure. Like lose your composure. Get mad. Get angry. Be mad to be great. (Calipari mumbles inaudibly) ‘Sorry, you can’t…’ What? Be mad. And if he talks, talk back to him. Be mad. I mean compete, battle, fight, toughness, swagger. It’s hard to have a swagger when you’re ducking and you’re running. You’ve got to dig your heels in. And this is why I’m saying, all of this stuff is good for our team. If we’re going to get it, it’s going to be competing in games like this and growing.”

Kentucky Players

#12, Ryan Harrow, G, Soph.

On how big the game tomorrow is for the team …
“It is big for us, but I think it is bigger for them because they are the ones who are supposed to win. If we come out there and beat them, it will be a big thing for us. We just have to be ready to play and be physical. They are a big team.”

On how much this team needs a quality win …
“It would be really good to get a quality win over a big team like Ole Miss. We are just trying to focus on getting our best game.”

On if he agrees with Coach Calipari that the team plays to not lose instead of playing to win and how the team can change that …
“I think so. I think we get afraid of losing sometimes and we already have the lead. That is what he has mentioned to me and that it’s how the other teams are able to come back. It’s just a learning thing. We just need to continue to play like we played to get that lead.”

On if it is the team is afraid of losing or slacking off because they have a comfortable lead …
“That may be it also. We feel like we are comfortable and we have the lead so we feel like the other team may not try as much, but they always seem to come back.”

On what he thinks of this game’s opportunity to improve the team’s standings …
“If we just do the things Coach prepares us to do, and not let the one kid (Henderson) get off, I think we will be good. If we just go out there and have fun and play hard for 40 minutes, I think we will do good.”

#22, Alex Poythress, F, Fr.
On Ole Miss’ Marshall Henderson …
“He’s a good player that gets up a lot of shots. He’s got a nice little stroke so we will have to contain him and put a hand up on his shots.”

On the antics of Marshall Henderson …
“I’m aware of it. We have seen and heard some stuff, but I guess that’s just part of his game.”

On the keys to winning tomorrow’s game …
“Just playing within our system and playing a complete game. Giving people open shots, hitting shots, running the floor, getting easy buckets and getting it into the post. All of the little things really.”

On getting used to the atmosphere of a road game …
“There is always going to be sold out games and everybody will be yelling and screaming because we’re Kentucky. We just have to get ready to play ball.”

On the challenges Ole Miss’ frontcourt brings with its size …
“It is going to be a big challenge. Henderson is not their only player on the team. They have other pieces that help them go. We are just going to have to play a good game and play some defense.”

On facing a ranked opponent …
“It is an opportunity for us. We are taking this one game at a time, so we are just looking ahead to tomorrow’s game.”

Huntington Prep in Tri-State Hoops Classic

Your chances of seeing the nations #1 player in Andrew Wiggins are quickly fading.

You'll have two more chances coming up Feb 1 and 2 at Spring Valley High School as Huntington Prep will host The Tri-State Hoops Classic. If you don't take advantage of these last reaming opportunities, you have no one to blame but yourself.

Prep will be in action Friday night at 9 pm as they take on Oldsmar Christian (FL) and then return Saturday night to take on Flora MacDonald (NC) at 6 p.m.

Both games promise to be exciting to watch. So make the trip to Huntington, WV to see what an incredible squad Rob Fulford has assembled. It's worth the trip.

Cal and Andy Kennedy on the SEC Teleconference

Calipari's opening statement:
Well, we're playing one of the hottest teams in the country and when you watch them play, they're men, they play physical. Everybody has accepted how they're going to play. Henderson takes a lot of shots, the kid's got the green light and he'll go on a streak of baskets. He's tough. The other team we play already beat us at home, so we got a tough week ahead of us. 

Q: What are the challenges of playing Thursday, Saturday, Tuesday?

Cal: It's hard, especially with young guys, I mean for us. If you got a veteran crew, they understand they gotta get rest, and take care of themselves. You gotta sub yourself during games, you don't stay out there when you're tired. You know, young kids just don't get it. We struggled some with it, it's a hard challenge. 

Q: Any updates on Willie?

Cal: Yeah, he's goin really hard. He will travel with us to Mississippi, don't know if he'll play, probably doubtful. But, he'll be on the court today some, whether he'll go a practice I don't know, but he will travel with us. 

Q: Has the recovery lingered longer than you expected?

Cal: No,no. It's about what we thought. 

Q: From last years Ole Miss team to this years, it's primarily the same guys, what's the difference you think that's made them so successful?

Cal: They're older. They don't seem to get rattled. A bunch of the games I've watched, even if the other team comes at them and gets a lead, they don't get rattled. If they get you down, they wanna keep you down. Then Henderson gives them a different flavor, in that he can go on a roll. They're a veteran team, everybody's back. A couple new additions make them better. I think Andy's doing a great job of coaching them. 

Andy Kennedy's opening statement:

It's a quick turnaround for us, we had the Thursday, Saturday, Tuesday. We're looking forward to having the opportunity to host what is unarguably the most storied program in college basketball and the defending National Champion, Kentucky. Although it's a quick turnaround, our guys are excited about the opportunity. 

Q: How do you handle a guy like Marshall Henderson playing with that edge and keeping him from going over that edge?

Kennedy: We've had a number of conversations with Marshall and I know it's difficult for people to see him in brief periods to completely get him. But, you know, I think the passion is coming from a good place. Obviously, we wanna make sure it doesn't affect his focus nor the teams focus. The guys understand that he's about team first, they accept him for what he brings to our program. He's a guy that loves basketball and plays with an edge. I think he's been readily open with the fact that, if he didn't play with that edge, he wouldn't be the leading the SEC in scoring.  You know as his coach, I'm more concerned with his shot selection than maybe him popping his shirt here and there, but he's a work in progress as is our team. He's a kid that's been put in a situation where there's a lot of attention being drawn to him from the minute he walks into the building and I think for the most part, he's handled it well. 

Q: You've seen the footage of Marshall by the student section in Auburn. Do you think he took the passion too far? Have you addressed this with him?

Kennedy: Obviously I didn't see it when it occurred. When the game ends, there's a lot going on. It was brought to my attention after the game. He did it really right in front of our radio guys, so I had some boots on the ground so to speak that could tell me fact from fiction. There's a lot of folklore going around about Marshall. I would've preferred him not doing that, but again, he's caught up in the emotion of a highly charged game. You're talking about a one possession game in front of a sellout crowd. It was a very physical, hard fought game. We're trying to make sure he channels it [passion] towards his teammates and us as opposed to opposing fans. 

Q: What does Nerlens Noel bring to his team?

Kennedy: Incrediable, Incrediable talent at the basket. He's averaging over six blocks per game in league play and that is mind boggling. Obviously, last year they had a very special player at the basket in Anthony Davis. Anthony was probably a little bit bigger, but I'm not sure he was the presence Noel is at the basket defensively. He completely changes the game, plays with a lot of confidence and you can see, a lot like Davis last year, as the season is getting further along, the kid is growing leaps and bounds offensively as well. 

Q: How do you prepare for the intimidation factor that Nerlens Noel carries as was pointed out earlier in the teleconference?

Kennedy: Well, a lot of it is in the fact that I've got two seniors, one of them a fifth year senior in Murphy Holloway, we've been through this. These guys have played from Demarcus Cousins to Anthony Davis to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Kentucky just seems to always have a guy out there that's very good. Nerlens Noel defensively, is as good as there is in college basketball. Our guys, everyday in practice go against probably the second best shot blocker in the SEC in Reginald Buckner. So we get accustomed to how we play. I know our guys will be excited about the challenge Noel brings. 

Noel repeats as SEC Freshman of the week

Per a media release from the University of Kentucky...

"Noel Repeats as SEC Freshman of the Week
Moved into second-place on UK’s single-season blocks list with 83 swats

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Freshman Nerlens Noel earned Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week accolades for the second-consecutive week following another impressive week of play. The Everett, Mass., native is the first multi-winner of the season for the Cats.

Noel averaged nine points, 10.5 rebounds and seven blocks in games against Alabama and LSU last week. He swatted a career-high eight blocks against the Crimson Tide. He then registered six rejections against the Tigers to run his season total to 83 which ranks as the second-most in a single season in UK allure.

With 10 points against LSU he has scored in double-figures in all but one SEC game this season. His 13 boards against the Tide were a high in league competition as well.

Noel has tallied 34 blocks over the team’s last five games while also averaging 11 points and 10 rebounds per game. His .629 field goal percentage tops the team.

The SEC honor is the second of his career after winning the award last week for the first time. He’s the first player in the conference to earn multiple honors this season.

Kentucky returns to the floor when it begins another two-game stretch away from home. UK begins the run with a date at Ole Miss on Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET."

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Kentucky vs. Ole Miss preview

(yes this actually happened to Ole Miss)

After surviving a vicious comeback attempt from LSU in Rupp Arena on Saturday, Kentucky hits the road again Tuesday for their toughest game in the SEC to date. Ole Miss 17-2 (6-0),  is 1st in the SEC as of today and promises to be the most difficult road game the Cats have endured all season. 

With the way Kentucky's season has went so far, this is a must win no two ways about it. They have absolutely NO quality (signature) wins to speak of and have very limited chances remaining to earn one. A win here would go a long way in building some what of a decent (and I use the 'decent' loosely here) résumé heading towards March. 

Now it's time to take a quick glance at the history of Ole Miss University...

EST: 1848

LOCATION: Oxford, Mississippi

MASCOT: Rebels

COLORS: Harvard Crimson/Yale Blue

Interesting side note:  Ole Miss was chooses to hold the States very first presidential debate in 2008 between John McCain and Baraack Obama

Archie and Eli Manning (NFL)
Susan Akin (Miss America 1986)
Mary Ann Mobley (Miss America 1959)
Lynda Lee Mead (Miss America 1960)
Kate Jackson (TV- Charlie's Angels)

For Kentucky to have a chance to go to Oxford and pull of the upset (can't believe this will be considered an upset) they will have to give a much better effort than what they showed against LSU on Saturday. They will have to play TWO HALVES of basketball instead of having the usual let down in the second half. If that happens, chalk it up as a loss and prepare your trip to the NIT. Here's a look at how the teams stack up to one another...

               Ole Miss            Cats

PPG:           80                    76
RPG:           41                    39
APG:           13                    15
SPG:              9                      7
BPG:             6                       9
TPG:           12                     13
FG%:          44                     48
FT%:          67                     64
3P%:           32                     35

As I said earlier, this will an extremely tough game for the Cats against an extremely tough team. If you've watched Ole Miss at all this season you know they play great defense, rebound the ball extremely well and have one of the most annoying playing in the league the season in Marshall Henderson who is also the teams leading scorer at almost 20ppg. By games end you will despise this kid. I know that's bad to say, but after you watch him play and the attitude he carries with him, you will see what I'm talking about. 

For Kentucky to even have a shot at winning this one, it will have to start with their defense. They will have to guard the 3 as Ole Miss attempts a lot of threes specifically Marshall Henderson and he tends to hit quite a few of them. The Cats will also have to avoid the turnovers that plagued them against LSU since Ole Miss averages 9 steals per contest and does an incredible job converting those into points. Last but not least, rebounding. They have got to rebound and limit second chance opportunities because Ole Miss' bigs have tendency to get easy put backs. Without Willie Cauley-Stein (unless something changes he will not play) Nerlens Noel will have his work cut out for him. But, if Alex Poythress can get his effort from LSU to carry over to Tuesday night, everything should be a little easier on Nerlens down low. 

As of right now, I believe without this win Kentucky has no shot at making the tournament. A win in Oxford and things start to look a little brighter, but not much as Kentucky would still have a lot of work to do, but it would be a start in the right direction. We will find out Tuesday night at 9 p.m. On ESPN. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

LSU/UK post game press conference quotes


​Q. Couple seconds to go, were you nervous?

​COACH CALIPARI: I don't know, nervous, but you just, I mean, plays that happened, you're just sitting there like, what just happened. Ball being thrown away, you know, some of the free throws.
​But let me tell you, they executed the last when we were fouling. I'm not one to usually do it, but the way that game was playing, he would have made that three. There ain't no question he would have banked it and that three would have gone in. So that's why I decided to do that. But the kids executed, Archie (Goodwin) had a good foul and we rebounded the last one.
​All that aside, folks, I was so proud of Alex (Poythress). I can't begin to tell you. He is basically in his mind, been tortured to play harder, to compete. In other words, it's like torture what we're doing to him, just making him run, making him do individuals, pushing him, and for him to go out and make those free throws and come up with those balls and do the things that he did to help us win the game and he smiled. That's the first time he smiled all year, as he walked off the court, he smiled.
​And so I was happy with him and I thought Nerlens (Noel) fought like crazy, too.

​Q. There's a sequence when it looked like you guys might have had six guys almost on the floor and you pulled off right before it happened; what was going on there?

COACH CALIPARI: You could have eight on the floor, but before they hand him the ball, you can only have five. So if the ball is handed in and you've got seven guys on the court but I didn't see all the stuff. Everybody was saying something. I just know when that ball was handed we had five guys on court.

​Q. Along with Alex, does assistant coach John Robic get assist MVP; I think he yanked Nerlens off the floor.

COACH CALIPARI: Normally what we do is and it's not the kids' fault. But we line up, one, two, three, four, five: Point guard, two guard, three man, four man, five man; on every timeout, that's how we line up.
​So if there's two fives, well, which one of us are in? Okay, or there are two fours or two threes, that's how we line up. I think we got sloppy in that timeout, and I got my staff after the game and said, you need to be responsible for that. So that may have happened, but again he was off the court.

​Q. In terms of Alex, could you tell right away, was it something you could see early?

COACH CALIPARI: He's getting it. All these kids are different. They are not machines. They have all been brought up different. They have all been coached different. They are all different, and our job is to help each one of them reach their potential and challenge them.
​You know, you talk about success being a piece of mind knowing you've done your best. Today he can walk out of there knowing he did his best. Now that's win or lose. He did his best. Now there's some other guys that should not have peace of mind.
​So they may look and say, I've got to do better, but that means I've got to practice better and I've got to go harder and I've got to do those things. But when you walk off the court and you have peace of mind, you don't have to worry about winning and losing. Winning and losing takes care of itself.

​Q. Under a minute left, Goodwin was not in the game, was there anything to that?

COACH CALIPARI: I don't even remember. I just I don't know. He probably wasn't in because I didn't have him on I didn't want him getting fouled, so I just put the better free throw shooters on the court.

​Q. And on defense, Jarrod Polson instead of Ryan Harrow?

COACH CALIPARI: Just size. And because it worked: Oh, Cal, that was really smart, you fouled.
​What if a kid tried to shoot a three from half court and we fouled, and he goes to the line and makes three, on Jarrod; why didn't you have him in the game? That's coaching.
​Whatever you do, if you win, you're a genius; if you lose, you're a goofball.

​Q. Alex posted up strong. He also had that fast break through the press. What impression did those kind of plays make on you?

​COACH CALIPARI: Well, I just want to see that competitive spirit in him, and that's what he showed today. Probably played about three or four minutes more than he needed to but we had to have him on the court, because other guys weren't performing, and he did fine yeah, pulled it out, he did good.
​I'm telling you, without him, we don't win. 20 and 12 out of a freshman, in this league? And again, I've watched all five of LSU's games, and let me tell you, that even Florida had them down but they started pressing Florida. Florida did not do what we did to that press. And they made a game of it, because of it.
​LSU is going to win their games. They played how they have to play. They did not press as much as we thought maybe, but because we it's like Alabama pressed us. They did us a favor by pressing us.
​But Johnny (Jones) is doing a heck of a job. Johnny O'Bryant was a bear today. I did not want to doubleteam him. We probably should have. I just chose to say, I don't want to get those guys making threes, you know, so we didn't. He got his points and rebounds. He did great. He played well.

​Q. When you're talking about Alex in the second half, for the first nine minutes, he didn't get a shot; was that something he wasn't doing in that time, something they were doing, or what?

COACH CALIPARI: I don't know. I have to watch the tape. We may have run something to him and they took him away.
​So what happens to us is we have six guys, basically, in double figures. Julius (Mays) had nine and Kyle (Wiltjer) had eight, the other guys all had double figures. So that means you have great balance, and he still had 20. I mean, those are the teams that are hard to beat.

​Q. This is kind of silly, but why did you take the gym shoes off in the second half?

​COACH CALIPARI: Just not comfortable wearing them. They were new. By the way, I'm going to sign both shoes and auction them both off for the American Cancer Society. So that will be on the website what's the website? Thank you, Jerry. (Laughter).

​Q. When Noel came out with an injury, seemed like Wiltjer really went to the board a couple times really strong.

COACH CALIPARI: He did. Kyle's playing better. You know, we didn't make our threes today, and that gave them an advantage, but Kyle, you should see him in practice. If I let you guys all in in practice, you would walk out of there and say, wow, I love watching Kyle practice.
​Now, he didn't always do that. And I asked him, "Why did you change? What happened?"
​He said, "I was embarrassed after Vanderbilt and I didn't want to be that player." So he's dunking probably 20 times a practice. He's flying upanddown the court. He's talking to his teams. He's having fun. He's showing leadership.
​The one thing I told our guys, the one thing for all of us, the greatest development in our history, is the ability to understand, I can change my attitude, and I can change my habits. And when I do change my attitude and habits, it changes who I am.
​We have got some other guys that I'm just, I can't get them to understand, you've got to change your attitude and you've got to change your habit. Now, bad attitude doesn't mean or an attitude doesn't mean you're bad and you're talking back and all that. It may be an attitude toward work; it may be an attitude toward being a teammate; it may be an attitude toward accepting your role, all kind of things.
​But when you know, I can change my attitude, and I can change my habits, and that will change who I am and what I'm about; I'm just trying to keep telling these guys, you know, that, and have fun playing. They are playing like they are afraid to lose, and I'm telling them, I'm not afraid to lose. And if you win, who is going to get the credit? They will.
​And I already told them, if we lose, who is going to take responsibility? I've been here four years now. I will take responsibility. I'm not putting it on a player. So just play. If we lose, it's on me. If you win, it's about you. But these guys are young.
​What happens is, they make a mistake, do you see their heads go down? And then they go up, give an offensive rebound and a basket. That's what 18yearolds do. They are so into how they are playing, not what they have to do to the team. It's not that they are selfish. It's that their whole life has been that.
​So we are working on it, and slowly, we are working on it, and it's nice to walk out of here with a win. It would have been an ugly L, we gave, just like every other game, we are giving people a chance to beat us.
​But we should be gapping the game, but that's who we are and that means I've got to come up with foul this guy before he shoots a three; stuff I don't like to do, we are going to have to do. Because, again, I'd like to say, some of the games we have coming up, I hope they are close, too, because we have got some tough games coming up.

​Q. There's been a lot of teams at the top of the ranks that have been losing this week. Does this year strike you as more wide open than usual in that any team, regardless of seed, if they get hot, they can do a lot of damage?

​COACH CALIPARI: I keep telling everybody, when you watch games, you just say, you know what let's just get right. We have got to get this thing right. I'm not worried about another team. I don't care who wins or loses. If I get this team right, we'll be fine.
​We are not right, right now. You saw, I mean, we are still not you've got to get out of your own self's way. You've got to get out of your own self's way, so you can bust through.
​In basketball or any sport, it's not play to play. You have to have amnesia. You miss a shot; amnesia, forget it. You turn it over, amnesia. You can't let it affect the next three plays. That's what we're doing, folks.
​And we talk about it; we address it; and we show them: "I got it, I got it." And next missed next layup, what, head down, jaw back, gave up a three.
​"That was your man."
"I know, but I was picking up the ball and I was trying to go and the bike went and the apple hit me in the head." (Laughter).
​"What? What did you just say?" I mean, that's it's like but that's who we are. We are this young team, and I wish they were moving faster, but I'm so ecstatic for Alex. I'm ecstatic how Nerlens is continuing to grow as a player. Now we have to get some other guys to catch up.

Kentucky Student-Athletes

#22, Alex Poythress, F

On what was different for him today in his play…

“I was just trying to be more assertive in the game and trying to make plays for my teammates. I was just trying to make the tough plays, going after the tough rebounds and stuff like that.”

On if he is playing the way he thinks Coach (John Calipari) wants him to play…

“No, I just went out there and played basketball today. I was just trying to have fun and play basketball the way I'm used to playing.”

On the effort put forth to show emotion on the court…

“It's not more of an effort, you really just do it. You know, when you are playing hard it just comes off really.”

#10 Archie Goodwin

On his thoughts of how Alex Poythress played today…

“He played so efficient. It’s hard for us to lose when he plays like that. Coach Cal has been really hard on him about playing better. It’s not that he has not been playing good it’s just a difference when he uses effort, then he has a really good game like this. Everyday in practice he has to do a lot which has been building him up for a situation like this.”

On how he feels about Coach Cal taking responsibility for losses…

“It let us just play ball. Of course he is going to take the credit (for UK’s struggles) because that is the kind of guy he is. Him taking the credit for us losing just shows the type of character he has, he is all for his players. When a loss happens he doesn’t want us to feel ashamed because he feels it is his fault. In reality we know it’s our fault.”

On how close the team is to being the best it can be…

“I think we still have a ways to go especially with one of our guys out right now. Once we get him (Willie Cauley-Stein) back into the groove of things and continue communicating on the court and continue to figure these guys out it’s going to be something special.”

#3, Nerlens Noel, F

On his self improvement…

“I think all around game, defensively and offensively. Maybe more offensively, I’ve just been making shots and staying focused. Not rushing things and more skill into what I do.”

On Alex’s game tonight…

“Phenomenal, he came out these last couple of days in practice. He has just been picking it up a lot and getting more vocal. I thought that the key to his success tonight was the previous practices getting vocal and having a high energy level.”

On how close the most recent games have been …

“It’s just a couple of lapses really, just key turnovers that give them easy breakout lay-ups. Those really get them back in the game. We just have to mentally stay focused through that and just not really turn over the ball at crucial times like that. We will get better at it, just about mentally staying focused through the long stretch of a game.”

LSU Head Coach Johnny Jones

Opening statement…
“We knew coming in today that it would be a hard-fought contest. I knew, Kentucky coming off of a setback there at Alabama, coming back at home today looking for a win. We knew that they would be ready and that they would play tough and they definitely didn’t disappoint. They did those things but I was proud of our guys. I thought we played extremely hard in the first half. Unfortunately, down at the half, had to fight an uphill battle there in the second half but I thought we were able to chip away at their lead, thought if we could ever get a lead and force them to have to play from behind, it would help us. But, we were never able to put them in that position in the second half and the credit goes to them. I thought they did the things that were necessary down the stretch and made the necessary plays to win today.”

On whether Alex Poythress looked different in this game versus the previous ones he saw on film…

“I thought he played extremely well. I thought they went to him in the post area. I thought they did an excellent job of taking advantage of the size advantage he had, worked the angles and (he) made some big plays in there early and made it very difficult for us. At the same time I thought he was really tough on the boards. He was extremely long and pushed his way in and got some second chance opportunities in terms of rebounding the basketball and he got some offensive put backs as well. So I thought he was a big difference maker in the game today.”

On how Johnny O’Bryant III adjusted to change the second half…

“I thought we just needed to be more aggressive in terms of trying to take the ball at the basket instead of settling. I thought we allowed [Nerlens] Noel to bother us at times and tried to shoot around him instead of going at him. I thought Johnny did a much better job of being aggressive going at the basket in the second half. I thought it served him well because I thought he was able to score better.”

On whether it looked like Kentucky had six players on the court on the inbound play late in the game…

“That’s what it looked like. I thought that was what was going on. I wasn’t sure and we just wanted to ask the refs if there was anyway possible (to review). I thought the back ref had an opportunity to see. They were trying to get off the floor at the time that I thought the ball was in play but it didn’t happen. We’d had ample opportunities prior to that to make some plays so I don’t think that was the game changer there.”

On why he thought forcing Kentucky to play from behind would be in LSU’s favor…

“I just thought, in terms of their youth, if we could have forced them to have to play and if we could have gotten a three- to five-point lead and forced them to have to execute in the half court, I thought it could possibly be a little tougher for them. I think it comes with their youth, or lack there of, and we were hopeful to put them in that position but to their credit, I thought they did an excellent job of preventing that and made some big plays prior to not ever relinquish the lead.”

LSU Student-Athletes

#1, Anthony Hickey, G

On what adjustments were made in the second half…

“We put a little bit more pressure on them. We were able to make shots. Stuff was just flowing for us. We pressed a little bit and got our hands on some balls.”

On missing opportunities to take the lead…

“We let them get up on us in the first half, so that was on us. It went down to the wire, but they executed towards the end. They were able to make their free throws and finish out the win.”

On the play of Johnny O’Bryant III…

“I saw leadership. He wanted to win. I told him that this was just a regular game so just stay poised and be ready to play.”

On what they will take from this game…

“That we just need to stay together. This is not the end and it is still early in the season. We are going to fight until the end. It was a tough loss but it can’t be a setback.”

#10, Andre Stringer, G

On Johnny O’ Bryant III’s performance…

“He started to get aggressive. I think he first, early on, didn’t know where the traps were coming from. (Nerlens) Noel was guarding him by himself, so second half he was able to regroup. He could tell how they were guarding him and he was more aggressive the second half. That’s why some buckets fell for him.”

On what kept them in the game…

“Defense. We got some turnovers, we got some run outs and hut a couple shots. We just sustained for the 40 minutes. We had a run there where we cut it to like two but we just couldn’t get over the hump. ”

On what they’ll take form this game…

“Obviously, it’s a loss so it’s hard to find positive when you lose but we’re a young team. We’re a team that if we keep playing hard, we’re going to generate some wins. Me, being an older guy, I preach to our guys to keep their heads and just move on.”

Gerald Boudreaux addresses the 6 players on the floor situation

Statement from Gerald Boudreaux, SEC Coordinator of Men’s Basketball Officials:

Rule 7, Section 6, Article 1 of the NCAA rule book states that “the throw-in team shall have team control when the ball is at the disposal of a player entitles to the throw-in.” The officiating crew ruled that when the ball was handed to the player for the throw-in, five players were on the court for each team.

The officials left the arena without making a statement about the play in question. I will personally address this situation and will make sure that this will not happen again.

Quick review LSU/UK

Kentucky, coming off  a surprising loss to Alabama came into today looking to make some what of a statement as they attempted to take control of their post season future. LSU, coming off a win over Texas A&M came in to this game looking to steal a win on the road against the Cats. 

LSU started the game off with a 5-2 lead, but Kentucky tightened up the defense and quickly took a 10-5 lead before the first media timeout. The first half saw Kentucky play some great defense,  execute their offense extremely well and I'm pretty sure I seen Alex Poythress show some emotion. You could also tell that Kyle Wiltjer has regained his confidence, just his low post game alone was evidence of that. He had no problem using some rarely seen post moves and didn't seem to mind battling for rebounds. Despite a few senseless turnovers, Kentucky managed to do everything else well enough to head into halftime with a 42-31 lead with Alex Poythress (No Seriously) leading the way with 11 points at the break. 

1st half stats

FG%: 57.6 (19-33)
3P%: 14.3 (1-7)
FT%: 42.9 (3-7)
REB: 22 (with 7 offensive)
BLKS: 4 ( all Noel )

Noel: 7pts 
Poythress: 11pts
Wiltjer: 6pts
Mays: 5pts
Goodwin: 5pts
Harrow: 8pts

Kentucky started the second half with a couple silly turnovers and fouling LSU on two straight possessions allowing their 11 point lead slip to 9 in the first two minutes.  The defense the Cats showed in the first half was clearly absent in the second as LSU got to the rim way to easily early on. 

At the first media timeout Kentucky's lead was whittled away to 52-44  in the first five minutes of the half.  The energy, hustle and rebounding we saw in the first half was basically non-existent early in the second, something that seems to be a common occurrence this season. The only thing  that seemed to keep LSU in the game early was FT's as Kentucky had picked up their 5th team foul by the 13:02 mark in the second. With eight minutes left in the game, Kentucky had dominated the paint out scoring the Tigers 44-22 inside. 

With 5:57 left in the game, a phantom Flagrant-1 against Julius Mays sent LSU to the line where they cut the lead to 65-58. The effort and energy Kentucky left in the first half seemed to find its way back in the second as the Cats finally started playing some a little D late in the half. Still, unforced turnovers and a somewhat lack of rebounding was keeping the Tigers in it.  With 3:10 to go, Alex Poythress recorded his first career double-double with 15pts and 10rebs. Kentucky will need more of this from Alex as they move forward if they hope to have a chance at a NCAA birth. But before I'm ready to label Alex as "bought in", let's see him do it two games in a row. 

A team that Kentucky honestly should have destroyed, managed to keep it close thanks in large part to Kentucky turnovers. Clinging to a three point lead, Coach Cal used a play that most coaches choose not too when he fouled Anthony Hickey before he could get off a three point attempt sending him to the line where he missed the front end of a one and one. Another break for the Cats came when there ACTUALLY was six players on the floor when the ball was inbounded, but thanks to a quick thinking assistant coach for pulling Noel off the floor before it was caught. I'm not sure if this is a reviewable play or not, but at this point we'll take any breaks we can get. 

Kentucky wins this one 75-70. Up next... Ole Miss on the road, this one wont be easy


FG% 57
REB: 39 (13 offensive)
3P%: 18% (2-11)
TO: 16 (LSU got 20pts off those)
STL: 4

Poythress: 20 pts 12rebs

Harrow: 11pts 1reb 1ast

Goodwin: 15pts 5rebs 2asts

Noel: 10pts 8rebs 2asts

Mays: 9pts 4rebs 1ast

Wiltjer: 8pts 3rebs 1ast

Polson: 2pts 1reb

Friday, January 25, 2013

LSU pre-game press conference notes

                                        JOHN CALIPARI:

On the players’ will to win ...
“The ability to go in a game and have a competitive spirit and battle, that’s what this will all come back to. Do you want it worse than the other guy? Do you want the ball worse than he does? Do you want to stop him from scoring worse than he wants to score on you? And that’s been lost in all this and that’s what I’m trying to get through to these guys, bottom line. It’s not a scheme or, ‘their press would hurt you.’ The press helped us. The press didn’t hurt us, the press helped us. At the end of the day, can you make a tough layup that they’re making and-ones? Or do you miss them all? Are you going to come up with balls and that’s, we practiced and went a little rougher and are scrimmaging a little bit more. Normally at this time in the season I won’t do that but this team needs some different things.”

On the guys having to get sick of losing ...
“Just get sick of where you are as a player. We’ll see. I said one of the best things for all of us is when you realize that you can change your attitude and you can change your habits. Now you may not choose to because it’s hard and it’s uncomfortable. It maybe embarrasses you that what you were doing was wrong so you have to change, but when you do change your habits and you do change your attitude, your life changes. Ask Josh Harrellson. Ask DeAndre Liggins. Your life changes. If you choose not to change and then you’re looking for either self-pity or blame. I keep telling them, you know why nobody cares about your problems? Because they have their own problems. They don’t care about your problems. Do you understand no one feels bad for you? They may, ‘yeah, have a good day.’ They’ve got their own stuff going on so I’m just trying, this is more than basketball, we’re teaching life skills and I told them, not everything is going to be rosy. We went through this a couple years ago but that team changed, that team changed.”

On Kyle Wiltjer being an example of changing ... 
“I asked Kyle, ‘What happened?’ In front of his teammates, ‘why did you change?’ He said, ‘because I was mad at how I was playing, I was embarrassed.’ I publicly talked about him after the Vanderbilt game. Why did I do it? Because I wasn’t getting any change just talking to him and the team. I’ve done that with a couple other guys. ‘But you shouldn’t say things publicly about guys.’ I’m not deriding them, I’m just making it factual that if you look this is what they’re doing and we need that to change. He changed. I asked the guys, ‘what changed for him.’ He’s like an animal in practice, just an animal.” 

On Willie Cauley-Stein ...
“I didn’t see Willie today, I saw him at breakfast and he’s walking well and all that stuff. He did not practice yesterday.”

On being a spokesman for the Coaches vs. Cancer ...
“Here’s what I would say to you: one, you’re put in a position when you’re the coach at Kentucky, that you can move people for good or you can stay in your office, I’ve said it many times. They asked me to do this and I’ve got a lot on my plate, we’ve done a lot of stuff for a lot of different things but my mother died of cancer, both of my grandmothers had a form of blood cancer and both passed away from cancer. It’s something that I look at and I just say, if we can help here at the University of Kentucky, if that makes a difference in that cause, you can text ‘Coach’, to 20222 and it’s five dollars to (American Cancer Society) and again, the Big Blue Nation is charitable, compassionate, spiritual, so many good things and I think that’s why they’ve asked me to do it, is to engage the Big Blue Nation and I think it’s something that is good.”

On whether he wants his players thinking about the NCAA Tournament ...
“All we have to worry about is getting better. If we don’t change, we don’t have to worry about all that. If we change, we don’t have to worry about all that.”

On how Kyle Wiltjer has transformed into an “animal”...
“Dunking every ball. Screaming on dunks. Sprinting down the floor. Blocking out. Going and grabbing rebounds in traffic. He’s an animal right now. Screaming on dunks. Trying to get Alex [Poythress] to scream on dunks. Screaming for Alex when Alex dunks.”

On whether Wiltjer’s change gives him hope for more players’ change ...
“If you’re delusional, you’re not going to change. Delusional guys don’t change. They just think that, ‘I’m good. My stuff is right. It’s somebody else.’ If you’re delusional, you don’t change. We just have to have guys go out and accept where they are right now; where we are as a team; where they are as an individual player; what the team needs from them. I told them yesterday, ‘Wins and losses will come and go. You’re defined by your effort,’ and all of those things, ‘The success you have is peace of mind, the John Wooden- ism, knowing in your heart of hearts that you’ve done everything you could, you’ve worked as hard as you could for yourself and your team. You have peace of mind. You don’t have to worry about it. But, if you’re the last one in that gym, if you know you’re not giving everything, you’re never going to have peace of mind, even if we win.’ The whole point of what we try to do as coaches is to get guys to understand, ‘What we teach you transfers to anything you do in life.’ Just like in life, in basketball, you get what you deserve. You get what you deserve. I’m just slowly but surely trying to get through and get guys to accept and surrender to each other and all of those things. We still don’t trust each other. Late in the game when it gets hairy, you don’t trust that the other guy is near you or that he’s not doing what he’s doing because we’re not talking enough or a guy is not hustling or a guy got beat to a ball or we’ll leave our feet or we’ll foul. We just don’t trust each other. Again, we’re still into our own selves and that’s what we’re working on. You’ve got to get out of your own self’s way. It is so much easier, in basketball and in life, when you play for everyone else instead of playing for yourself. If you’re working for everyone else and don’t worry about yourself, life becomes easy. For these guys, it’s a really hard game. The game is really hard because they’re all trying to play for themselves and, ‘How do I look? If I miss a shot, I may give up three goals and a rebound, but that’s just where I am right now,’ and that’s what we’re trying to slowly change. And, we thought, ‘Auburn, okay we’ve got it. We’ve figured it out,’ but, it’s going to be a process. I think we’ve got great kids who want to do well. There’s nobody to mimic. We need some guys to sit right now. There are some guys who should not be playing but about four, five minutes that are playing 30. They really don’t deserve to be on the court but, where we are right now, they’ve got to be out there. Or, we’ve got to sit them and take the consequences, which is the next step.”

On how important putting Wiltjer at the elbow has been against a zone defense ...
“Well, that’s usually the area that if you can get it there versus zone to a guy that can play, a lot of times we’ll put a guy in there that’s not a play maker, not a scorer, then they don’t have to play him but, if they’ve got to play that guy, it makes everybody else’s job a lot easier. And, he’s comfortable in there. He wants the ball in there.” 

                                                KENTUCKY PLAYERS:

#34, Julius Mays, G, GS
On the state of this Kentucky team ...
“Not how we want it. We took a step forward in the Auburn game, then two steps back in the Alabama game. All we can do is learn from it. We can’t hang our heads. We still have a lot of conference games to go and to look forward to.”

On the growing sense of urgency for this team ...
“I think in yesterday’s practice there was a lot of urgency shown. It was the hardest practice we’ve had since I’ve been here, or the most intense practice. We all went very hard and showed a lot of enthusiasm so that is a good sign. I hope that guys realize that it has to be turned around. We don’t have much time left to keep saying the same things.”

On the intensity of that practice ...
“It was the most talk I’ve heard in practice since I’ve been here. Guys were just getting after each other. I do think everyone is tired of the same thing. We are tired of coach (John Calipari) taking the blame when it’s really not his fault.” 

#33, Kyle Wiltjer, F, Soph.
On playing in the low post ...
“I have always felt more comfortable playing in the low post. The more I do it, the more comfortable that I feel.”

On what has changed in the past couple of weeks for his game ...
“I think I have been more vocal in practice. I have been pushing myself harder than I have ever thought I could push myself. I am trying to lead the guys through practice. I am almost practicing harder than I would play in a game just to make the games easier. “

On Coach Calipari saying that this team needs to “get sick of losing”...
“Yeah, definitely, I hate losing. I hope everyone has the same passion to win. Yesterday’s practice we just came out and made sure we were on each other to be loud and vocal. We need to embrace this and have fun, and that is what I have been doing the past couple days is practicing hard and trying to have a good time with it.”