Sunday, March 31, 2013

Coach Calipari comments on Ryan Harrow

Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari on sophomore guard Ryan Harrow transferring to Georgia State…

Given the health of his dad, we fully support Ryan’s decision to transfer to Georgia State to be closer to his family in Atlanta. Ryan was a vital part of this year’s team and an important player in practice during our 2011-12 national championship run. I want to thank Ryan for his efforts and hard work and wish him the best of luck at Georgia State. I know the Big Blue Nation will keep a close eye on him and wish him well as he continues his basketball career and his pursuit of a college degree.”

McDonald's All-American Game "Big Blue Madness; The Preview"

(James Young and Dakari Johnson entering the Ronald McDonald House)

The McDonald's All-America Game is on Wednesday April 3rd and Kentucky fans will want to tune in to get a glimpse of what will be hitting Lexington this fall.

Because Kentucky has so many participants this year, I have taken the liberty to call this edition of the McDonald's All-American Game, "Big Blue Madness; The Preview"

There will be some things to look for during this years game. One, how dominate our team will be next season and two, will we hear an Andrew Wiggins decision at some point during the game? The latter is highly unlikely, but one can hope.

Ryan Harrow to transfer to Georgia State

It is being reported (not by the University of Kentucky; yet) that Kentucky starting point guard Ryan Harrow will transfer to Georgia State. Ryan's time in Lexington was spent sitting out his first year because of a transfer and starting this season as the point guard for John Calipari.

Ryan missed two weeks this season to return home to deal with a "family matter" and after fans speculated that he wasn't sure about his role on the team was the reason for his absence, it turns out it was to deal with an illness his father had suffered.

Ryan struggled for much of the season to become the player John Calipari expected him to be. Despite flashes of him becoming that player, Ryan never really fit into the system that Calipari runs. Ryan has talent, I just think he was overwhelmed with all the pressure and attention that comes with playing at the University of Kentucky.

We here at Big Blue Corner wish Ryan well with his pursuit of playing college basketball and we also wish Ryan's father a speedy recovery.

I'll pass along the media release as soon as the media department at Kentucky sends it out.

Friday, March 29, 2013

John Calipari Satellite Camp Tour Dates

Men’s Basketball Announces 2013 Satellite Camp Tour
Camps to take place in June

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky men's basketball program is pleased to announce the dates and information for the 2013 John Calipari Satellite Camp Tour.

Due to gym capacities there will be a limited number of spots available for all camps. Online registration (also available via is recommended as the fastest and most efficient form of registering campers. All 2011 and 2012 Satellite Camps were sold out. Early online registration is encouraged to ensure camper participation.

The 2013 summer tour includes nine stops throughout the Bluegrass State in five days during the month of June. These camps offer the unique opportunity for Kentucky basketball fans to learn from and interact with Coach Calipari, the UK coaching staff and available Wildcat players.

It is the goal of the men's basketball program to bring the Commonwealth's team to different stops every summer and allow campers to participate in drills and competitions within their own communities.

The cost for each camp is $80 per camper and includes Camp T-shirt, three hours of instruction with Coach Calipari and the Kentucky basketball staff, competitions, autograph sessions, along with question and answer sessions with Coach Calipari.

The 2013 Satellite Camp Tour dates and locations are:

Monday – June 10

· Morning session (9 a.m.-noon EST) at North Laurel High School – Open to grades K-12
· Afternoon session (1:30-4:30 p.m. EST) at Boyle County High School – Open to grades K-12

Tuesday – June 11

· Morning session (9 a.m.-noon EST) at Ryle High School – Open to grades K-12
· Afternoon session (1:30-4:30 p.m. EST) at TBA-Open to grades K-12

Wednesday – June 12

· Morning session (9 a.m.-noon EST) at Boyd County Middle School – Open to grades K-6
· Afternoon session (2-5:00 p.m. EST) at Montgomery County High School – Open to grades K-12

Thursday – June 20

· Morning session (9 a.m.-noon EST)
· Afternoon session (1:30-4:30 p.m.) both at Christian Academy of Louisville – Both camps open to grades K-12

Friday – June 21

· Morning session (9 a.m.-noon CST) at Bowling Green High School – Open to grades K-6
· Afternoon session (3-6:00 p.m. EST) at Elizabethtown High School – Open to grades K-12

All Satellite Camps are open to both boys and girls of the appropriate age/grade level, which may vary between locations. Camper's grade level is based on the grade in which the camper will be enrolled during the fall of the 2013 school year.

On-site camp registration will begin one hour prior to the designated start time. All pre-registered campers will receive a confirmation email for their specific camp that includes details of necessary paperwork needed (physical, insurance and consent). To ensure the safety and participation of all campers, it is important that the basketball office receives all necessary paperwork two weeks prior to the start of your specific camp date.

Walk-up registration will be available at all camps unless noted on the UK Athletics website as closed. Once each individual camp has reached its maximum capacity, that particular camp will be closed to all forms of registration (online and walk-ups). Any camp related questions can be called into the men's basketball camp line at 859-257-9457.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Alonzo Mourning visits Andrew Wiggins

Alonzo Mourning made a surprise visit to Huntington,WV to present Andrew Wiggins with the National Gatorade Player of The Year Award. That's gotta be the coolest way to have history class interrupted.

Congratulations Andrew, I'm sure you've got more awards coming your way in the future.

Noel's thoughts on post season accolades

"It’s a great honor to receive all of these awards,” Noel said. “I want to thank all of my coaches and teammates for pushing me to be better each and every day, to make all of this possible.”

Imagine what Nerlens could've accomplished had he not suffered a season ending knee injury.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Noel continues to win accolades and deservingly so

Noel Hauls in Additional Postseason Accolades
USBWA Freshman All-America selection tops the list of additional honors

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel continues to haul in postseason accolades. He has recently been tabbed a U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) Freshman All-America selection, a first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection by the Associated Press and he was selected to the National Association of Basketball Coaches’ (NABC) All-District team for consideration for All-America honors.
The USBWA selected Noel as one of five freshman players to earn All-America accolades. He joins Anthony Bennett (UNLV), Ben McLemore (Kansas), Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA) and Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State) as other honorees.

Noel is the fifth Wildcat player under the direction of John Calipari to earn All-America accolades from the USBWA, joining DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and John Wall.
In addition to earning All-SEC first team honors by the league’s coaches, Noel earned first-team honors from the Associated Press. The AP has honored at least one UK freshman on the first team in four-consecutive seasons. Cousins and Wall both claimed the honor in 2010. Terrence Jones was a first-team AP selection in 2011, and both Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist were honored a season ago.
Noel’s honor as a first-team selection to both the AP and Coaches’ All-SEC teams marks the 50th time in program history a player has achieved the feat.
Furthermore, Noel captured All-District accolades to the NABC’s 21st district squad. Selected and voted on by member coaches of the NABC, student-athletes chosen to the district teams are now eligible for NABC All-America honors.

The freshman from Everett, Mass., led the nation in blocking as he averaged 4.4 rejections per game and tallied 106 in 24 games played. Prior to his season-ending knee injury he was the only player standing taller than 6-5 to rank in the top 30 for steals per outing as he had accumulated 50 steals on the year.
He averaged 10.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. His rebounds and blocked shots led the Southeastern Conference, while he also ranked among the top-10 players in steals per game, defensive rebounds per game, offensive rebounds per game and minutes played per game.
Noel finished the season ranking second in UK single-season history with 106 blocks. His 50 steals ranked as the fifth most in a single-season by a freshman. His .590 field goal percentage is the ninth best mark in school history, while his steals per game (2.1) is the seventh best mark in school allure.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

North Carolina fans never cease to amaze me

I still find it amusing that North Carolina fans act as shocked as the young lass above that a Roy Williams coached team can manage to blow an 11 point second half lead and allow Kansas to comeback and win 70-58. They should be used to this type of thing by now. I'm still wondering why Kansas fans still feel so bitter about 'Ole Roy leaving for UNC, Bill Self is a little bit of an upgrade, albeit not much.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The legend of Marshall Henderson

During the NCAA Tournament, an event some say is the greatest sporting event in all of sports, we as fans love to root for the underdog or our favorite team, but that's not what's happening this year. There have been some upsets in this years tournament, Minnesota over UCLA and probably the biggest was Harvard over New Mexico, but all any one can talk about is the antics of one Mr. Marshall Henderson.

Henderson, a junior at the University of Mississippi or Ole Miss as it's commonly called has become somewhat of a media favorite. Before every game, before every practice media members line up to talk to the sharp tongued, don't give a damn what you think shooting guard and for good reason. Just about every interview Marshall gives, there's a high probability that what you hear will be golden to say the least and it's not just his interview prowess that affects people, his on court antics are just as harsh.

He has no problem what so ever talking "trash" to his opponent or letting the other teams fans know just what he thinks of them while on the court. Many times this season during the course of a game Marshall would direct a lot of what his coach Andy Kennedy calls "passion" toward the fans that happen to be setting court side. Anything from doing the classic "jersey pop" to doing the "Gator Chomp" to Florida fans during the SEC Tournament, Marshall Henderson just has a way of getting under opposing fans skin and he wouldn't have it any other way.

Here is some classic quotes Marshall has made through out this season....

His thoughts on being left off the All SEC Team: 
"Those coaches are all losers right now, I'm not"

His thoughts on Doug Gottlieb after Ole Miss won the SEC Tournament:
"Shout out to Doug Gottlieb, who said it would be a travesty if we made the tournament"

His thoughts about winning the SEC Tournament:
"It feels good because all the haters"

He also had this gem about Billy Donavan during the SEC Tournament championship game:
"Billy Donovan was getting every call, It's cool though"

After scoring 25 points in a win over Georgia:
"If it's all the same, it's Saturday night, I'm out"- walks out of interview

When asked about his thought on Ole Miss making the NCAA Tournament:
"I'm trying to get paid here soon because I'm tired of doing all this stuff for free. And this is where you make your money, the NCAA Tournament."

When asked whether his villain schtick is calculated:
"I guess. I don't know. I'm not real good at math other than two plus three. I know that one well."

His thoughts on Ole Miss' weak post season history:
"I don't know, I'm one for one."

On being banned from the post game press conference after winning the SEC Tournament against Florida:
"I'm banned? I don't care, I got my hardwood, I'm out"

These are just a few examples of some of the great quotes that Marshall Henderson is capable of making during an interview. The guy simply doesn't care what me, you or anyone thinks about him, he just goes out plays the game and tells you what he thought of the other team. You can't blame him for that unless you're a fan of the other team, then it would drive you insane.

There have been many players to play college basketball that just had a way of making other teams and other teams fans despise them, but Marshall Henderson does it better than anyone is recent memory.

Marshall isn't always what people call arrogant or cocky, he also cares about the game and those who play it. When Kentucky's prized freshman Nerlens Noel went down with a knee injury during a game against Florida, Marshall sent out the following tweet:

@NativeFlash22: What sucks about Noel's injury was the fact he hustled his ass down the court to stop a wide open layup... #prayfornoel

That my friends is pure class and someone who is truly misunderstood in what he does. He doesn't do or say things out of lack of respect, he just speaks what's on his mind at the time, something a lot of people would love to be able to do.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

It was always Kentucky for Julius Randle

Despite what fans of other schools and some so called "experts" say, Julius Randle has been a  Kentucky lean for quite sometime now. Jason Jordan of USA Today went on record back in September saying Randle would eventually be a Wildcat and never once wavered on his prediction.

Julius also knew for a while that he would sign with Kentucky according to what he told, "It's where my heart was all along. I really tried to give other schools a chance on visits, but I thought all along that's really where I would be at in the end. I just never felt right saying I could go somewhere else. I just felt that overall my heart was with Kentucky and that their system fit me the best."

That doesn't sound like someone who changed their mind at the last minute, something that has been suggested to have happened today.  If you have paid the least little attention to anything to do with Julius and his recruitment you would've known that Kentucky was always going to be where he would eventually land and rightfully so. 

With the addition of Julius Randle, this gives Kentucky the best recruiting class ever signed in college basketball history. They now have the #1 PG (Andrew Harrsion), #1 SG (Aaron Harrison),  #1 C (Dakari Johnson) and now the #1 PF (Julius Randle). When you couple that with the fact that Calipari has also signed the #3 SF (James Young), #9 PF (Marcus Lee) and the #41 PF (Derek Willis) that gives you the best recruiting class of all-time, at least on paper. Then you add in the fact that a lot of this years team will be returning, then things begin to get ridiculous.

Sure this season was somewhat of a disappointment, but how quickly that can be erased by the stroke of a pen from one of the nations best. Welcome to the family Mr. Randle, now lets get #9.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Derek Anderson: "You aren't given Titles, we EARN THEM"

Former Kentucky great, NCAA and NBA Champion Derek Anderson took to Twitter after the Cats fell to Robert Morris in the first round of the NIT. I like what he had to say...

@DerekLAnderson:  BBN: Me & ALL the ex-cats meet me in Lexington bc we are going to  practice & help our little brothers put up banner #9 #4GetTheHaters WeRUK4Life

@DerekLAnderson: And I'm coming this weekend so get some rest youngsters! The Journey to success is EVERYDAY from Now on. U aren't given Titles we EARN THEM!!

@DerekLAnderson: Mash, Rex, & Skywalker did it for us & we owe them the same Support. I won't sit by & watch ppl THINK they better than us WeRChamps-Period!!

Mr. Anderson, I'm sure you guys have the Big Blue Nations and possibly the coaching staffs blessing to show these guys what it takes to hang a banner

Julius Randle to make decision tomorrow

The pain of seeing Kentucky's season come to an end to a team like Robert Morris was bad, real bad. But, hopefully things will start to heal tomorrow when the #2 player in the class of 2013 makes his decision as to where be playing college basketball next season.

Julius Randle, the #1 power forward and #2 player in the country will be choosing between Kansas, Florida, Kentucky and Texas. Everyone who's anyone seems to think that it is a two horse race between the Jayhawks and the Cats and most all seem to think that he will slipping on a Kentucky cap when it's all said and done.

Kentucky was in the running early for the nations #1 player Andrew Wiggins, but I have thought since late last year that Andrew would eventually land in Tallahassee with his Huntington Prep and childhood friend Xavier Rathan-Mayes, again just my opinion. For that reason, it seems that Kentucky had been putting more effort into landing Randle than Wiggins. Don't get me wrong, Kentucky would welcome Wiggins with open arms, any program or NBA team would. But, Julius Randle is the real deal folks. Even Jimmy Dykes during tonights game said "if Julius Randle joins the group Calipari already has signed, that could very well be the best recruiting class in history." That's what Julius Randle would do for next years team.

So in less than 24 hours we will learn if Kentucky will be the favorite to win the NCAA Championship next season, that will make some of the pain go away.

Cats fall to Robert Morris in first round of NIT

After being left out in the cold (and deservedly so), Kentucky found themselves with a #1 seed in the 2013 NIT Tournament. Despite earning a #1 seed however, Kentucky still has to take it's show on the road to take on the Colonials Robert Morris in the The Charles L. Sewall Center, who by the way isn't really that  bad of a team and could very pose a major threat to the Cats if they are overlooked. The Colonial fans on the other hand have not overlooked this game as this will no doubt be the biggest game in the history of their school. 

Cal said before the game "We let go of a game late in the year that landed us in a tournament that I have great respect for and has done a lot for a lot of programs, some programs that I've even coached." When asked about the environment they will face at Robert Morris Cal said, " Every game we play is in an environment like this. We are every ones game of the year or their Super Bowl. We looked good in shoot around, but they also looked good before Vanderbilt so we'll see. We talked a lot about pride, pride in the name on the front of jersey but also the back. I told them, that is your families name, do you have pride in that?." Strong words from a coach who has tried everything he could thing of to get his team to respond, it wouldn't take long to see if they were ready to answer the call.

Kentucky started the game off with a missed three from Ryan Harrow who hasn't looked comfortable shooting the ball all year. Robert Morris scores the first points of the game with jumper from the corner and the building exploded. Kentucky would have to work to keep the crowd out of this one as they were ready to pounce on anything positive for Robert Morris.

RMU also hit their first three of the game to take a 5-0 lead as the Cats looked rattled early on. The Cats couldn't get into any kind of offensive rhythm early as a second turnover put Robert Morris up 7-0. Anyone who thought this Kentucky team didn't belong in the NIT should have been watching the first 5 minutes of this game, then they would understand.

At the first TV timeout, things got worse as Robert Morris took a 9-0 lead with Lucky Jones going to the line for a chance at a "and one" to put the Colonials up 10-0. I never thought this team would be so hard to watch, but I guess I was wrong. I spent the majority of the day at work telling people not to take this team lightly because they could actually play. Looks like someone should have told Kentucky the same.

Jarrod Polson score the first points for the Cats to set the score at 10-2. The ironic part of this game is as much as Vanderbilt made Kentucky look like an NIT team, Kentucky did an even better job of making Robert Morris look like they should have been in the NCAA Tournament.

Jimmy Dykes had an interesting comment during the first half when he said "If you play for Kentucky and you're afraid of this type of environment then you need to leave. You need to transfer or go to the NBA because you will not survive here." Well said Jimmy D.

Kentucky went to the break down 28-27 after their performance in the first half left a lot to be desired to put it easy.

(Game tracker was nowhere to be found for this game, I don't blame it)


Archie Goodwin was your leading scorer at the half with 10pts, but the story of the game so far was the fact that Kentucky had 9 made shots and 9 turnovers. I said in my preview to this game that turnovers held the potential to be the death of the Cats in this one, up to this point it was looking to be the case.

The somewhat shocking stat was the fact that Kentucky was 8-12 from the charity stripe in the first half while claiming 14 rebounds and only 4 assist on 9-17 (1-6 from three) shooting.

On the flip side, Robert Morris had only 5 turnovers, 9 rebounds, 6 assists on 10-25 (3-10 from three) shooting and was 5-5 from the free-throw line. 

In what was a clear message to one Ryan Harrow, Jarrod Polson got the nod to start in the second half. That's been the story for Harrow who has struggled pretty much all season long to run the point at a high level, something a John Calipari coached team is known for.

Goodwin drive, Goodwin charge, some things will never change i'm afraid. At the first timeout of the second half Kentucky trailed 34-31 in what had to be the ugliest game this squad has played all season long. The longer the game went, the less interested this team looked and the more confident RMU grew. With each Wildcat miss and each Colonial make, you could see their confidence grow, something these Cats have lacked for the better part of the season.

To add the icing on the cake, Kyle Wiltjer who has struggled the last couple of months fouled a Lucky Jones on a made three and of course he converted the free-throw to extend their lead to 38-31.

Cal called a timeout with 13:49 to go as Robert Morris took a 40-31 lead and looked to try and end Kentucky's season early. In no time at all RMU had built a 46-36 lead with 10:15 to go in Kentucky's season. This game was almost vomit inducing with every play, or lack there of.

 Finally an end to what has to be one of the most miserable seasons Kentucky fans have had to endure for quite a while. Cats fall to Robert Morris 59-57 on two last second free-throws by RMU.

As a fan of college basketball you have to be happy for Robert Morris, it was the biggest game they'll ever play and they fought for the win. Well deserving.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Kentucky's Pre Robert Morris press conference QUOTES

                                      Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari

On what can the team get out of playing in the NIT ...
“We (have) got time to work with our guys. We have a bunch of young guys. Keep coaching them and maybe the light goes on. Maybe reality hits. When you hit rock bottom you either want to change or you are delusional. We will see if we have delusional guys or they understand.”

On if he thinks the players still want to play ...
“We will see, won’t we? Let’s go throw it up. I’m watching a team that plays really hard in Robert Morris, really hard. Guard play, you ready? Scramble and shoot 3’s. Nine 3’s a game. Top five or six, top five or six (nationally) and 3-point field goal percentage or there about. Nine steals a game. A lot like Arkansas. Two physical teams going at each other and neither one wanted to back away.”

On Jon Hood’s reference to Robert Morris players being like Pittsburgh players ...
“I do not know if they’re Pittsburgh guys. I am not a Pittsburgh guy. I don’t think they are from Pittsburgh. They are a bunch of tough players and tough guys. They are a veteran kind of team. Their leadership, their point guard is you know, he’ll grab guys. I’ve seen him on tape, just go grab a guy. Just because he has the ability to physically dominate a game that he can do that and no one messes with him.”

On his thoughts on going back to Pittsburgh ...
“We’ll it’s funny, I’ve coached about 25 games in that gym. At five star (camps) when I was 23, 22, 24, 22, 21 whatever it was 25. If we took care of Vanderbilt and we didn’t get in, I would have let loose. But, by losing to Vanderbilt we have nothing to say (about not making the NCAA Tournament). I don’t care that we were close to this team that team, it could have been us or it could have been them, we had more top 50’s, the three teams that went to our tournament we were 3-1 against those teams. ‘How can this be?’ Because we didn’t take care of business in that game. We weren’t even close. So, I’m not saying anything. We’re where we deserve to be, so let’s go see what we are made of now.”

On his plans for this trip and going to visit people from his hometown of Moon Township ...
“I told my wife don’t even come. (It’s) too quick. I mean we get in there late tonight and leave late tomorrow night. It’s not worth that. There will be some guys at our practice tonight that I’ll see.”

On his feelings about how the season is turning out ...
“One thing is I have no regrets because I’ve tried everything. (It’s) Humbling because it’s probably the first group in a long time that wouldn’t respond and change, which means that you know to say well it’s going to happen every year because it happened eight-straight years, now it’s like think back to that year because it didn’t happen. And again, I learned a lot of lessons that our staff is taking into account as we go forward. What kind of team we have. What kind of personnel we have. What kind of mentalities we have. The guys that we’ve always had in the past. You know it’s a great learning experience. (I) hate going through it. I’d rather learn from someone else’s issues than my own. This was hard. I feel good, but it was hard going through it. We never stopped coaching them. We never gave up on guys, never. So, I have no regrets on what we did. Yet, I’m just disappointed that the response wasn’t there.”

On who will be on the team next year ...
“We will sit down and talk about all that stuff when the time is right, but that’s when the season is over.”

On how he would coach differently if he knew guys were four-year players ...
“We’ll you’re more patient. (It) Doesn’t matter that you’re this way. You better get it in there next year, and we are bringing in other guys so you have to step up. But, this may be a group of four-year players. There is nothing wrong with that. Why is everybody panicked? So they’re four year players, so? You get another group and now you have a nice big team, and you take on the world.”

On if this season changes his philosophy on recruiting ...
“Nope. Nope. Nope. I liked that National title. I like that National title.”

On if this team has made him look for certain personalities when recruiting players ...
“Yep. Yep. Yep. I will look for guys that can deal with us as coaches, me as head coach, and that can play with the mentality we want them to play with. We have to be more precise in that. There is a certain toughness that you have to have in this thing, and I have always had it. When you don’t have it, you know. The thing again is toughness. Jay Bilas wrote that book, and it’s a great book because it’s not just that you want to get in a fist fight. There is a certain thing about mental toughness and those 15 or 16 things that you have that you are just tougher at. You understand that preparation makes you tough. That hard work and doing more than what is expected at practice makes you tougher. Not ‘I’m trying to get out of this, this is torture.’ ‘I don’t want to do this,’ and then get in the game, let go of the rope, and you have no toughness. So there is more than that. There is a certain thing that we have had. It is never too late for this team. Never. We have games left and we are still playing.”

On Jon Hood saying that leaving with some hardware is better than nothing ...
“It is more or less. Did we use this time to get better? Because if not, then why are you doing it? We have issues; let’s deal with them. Let’s use them to get better. We have more time to practice with our team. We have a bunch of young players. We are going to use the time to get better.”

On how he would like to see the team improve in this period ...
“Make more free throws I guess, I don’t know. Just work harder, turn the light on. Get in the game and play more physical. Don’t get pushed around and go in there and play off one another better, like we have at times. We seem like we are discombobulated at times. ‘I am only going to give you the ball when the guy knocks me down and I can’t drive it anymore, so here, you take it.’ You can’t play that way, so we are hoping that they improve as a team, playing off one another.”

On if it is harder to coach a team that plays so well one game and then turns around and plays so badly, as compared to a team that is consistently mediocre ... “Yeah, you have no idea. I told DeWayne (Peevy) this, there is no anxiety with this team for me because why am I worried about it because I have no idea what is going to show? We had great practices and we are tough, mentally tough on them, verbally tough on them. We are getting them ready for the war. They are ready. Willie (Cauley-Stein) before the game said, ‘I think we are ready. I am really ready Coach. I think we are ready. Man I hope we are ready.’ This guy and that guy, you just don’t know. Are you going to show today? But you know what, I am going to say it again. At any point in your life, you can change, start today. Start today in practice, in the game tomorrow, and go forward and change. It is wishful thinking because I have been saying it every day, and we haven’t. But that’s my hope and I won’t change it. This team could be as good as they want to be. We could have backed into the tournament; we didn’t. Now we have to go
on the road and play, which is a good thing for us. If you want to keep the season going, then let’s go; keep it going.” 

                                                Kentucky Student-Athletes

#4, Jon Hood, G, Jr.
On his first reaction about not making the NCAA Tournament ...
“I’m disappointed just like anybody would be, to not get invited to play in the NCAA Tournament. It is a disappointment that we didn’t get in but we still get to play basketball.”

On if he thought Kentucky could have gotten in ...
“Of course we were still hoping we would still get in. We thought that with everything that we had done, we deserved it a little bit more than some of the other teams, but the committee made their decision and we are going to the NIT. I mean we aren’t above anybody. We are going.”

On what an NIT title would mean to Kentucky ...
“It means that you went out on the right note. You went out on a good note and you always want to do that. You always want to end your season with a win and there are two teams that get to do that. We want to be the second team. It stinks that we aren’t in the NCAA and we can’t do it there, but life goes on.”

On what the reaction was when it was final that you weren’t playing in the NCAA Tournament ...
“(We were) Just kind of speechless for a while. Nobody really knew what to do. We had to wait around until 9 to see who we would play and we are just moving on.”

On what he thinks of his own play as of late ...
“Me being pleased or not pleased with how I have played as of late doesn’t really matter because we didn’t win. If we would have won then yeah, everyone would have been pleased with the way they had been playing probably. But we didn’t win, so nobody is happy.”

#34, Julius Mays, G, GS
On his instant reaction to finding out the team would not be in the NCAA tournament ...
“It was hurtful, especially to me because it is my last year, but there is nothing we can do about it. We put ourselves in this predicament. We can’t blame anybody but ourselves, so all we can do is move forward.”

On how much it would hurt to lose at Robert Morris after being left out of the NCAA tournament ...
“Well, I am not thinking about losing. I would just hope that everybody would have a sense of pride to go in there and play the way we are capable of playing and not have to worry about being embarrassed or upset.”

On if guys on the team are still motivated to play ...
“Yes. I think to just have the opportunity to keep playing with each other will be a lot of fun, and I‘m looking forward to it. Obviously not the tournament we wanted to be in, but just getting the chance to keep playing is the most important thing.”

On what an NIT title would mean to the team after winning a NCAA title ...
“I wouldn’t know. I haven’t had either one. I mean to come away with any hardware is better than none I guess.”

On playing in a gym with a capacity of 3,000 ...
“It will be different obviously. We are used to playing in front of a big crowd. I think this will probably be the smallest crowd a Kentucky team has ever played in front of, but we just have to be ready for it. It will probably be 95% of their fans with a few of our fans. It will be us against that whole gym and we’ll just have to be ready to play and have a sense of urgency.”

On Coach Calipari saying that his players have to prove that they want to play ...
“I think he is right. I think that is the right thing to say. We don’t want fans to go buy tickets and have a few guys that don’t really want to be there and show it and we lay an egg in the first game. So, I think we do have to prove ourselves that we want to play and I think we do have something to prove. I hope our guys are ready to play.” 

Robert Morris vs. Kentucky preview (NIT edition)

It pains me to write this preview considering it's about Kentucky's first game in the NIT and not the NCAA Tournament, but it is what it is. Considering the way Vanderbilt dismantled the Cats down in Nashville, Kentucky certainly got what they deserved so they may as well make the best of it and us as fans should do the same. So here's a little preview on the Colonials of Robert Morris University.

Robert Morris is located in the sleepy town of  Moon Township in Pennsylvania which just happens to be the birth place of one John Calipari. I usually list "notable alumni" of the team I'm previewing at the moment, but looking through RMU's history there really wasn't any that was earth shattering so I'll skip that part. Here's a look at the highlights for RMU...

EST: 1921

LOCATION: Moon Township, Pennsylvania

Colors: Blue, Red and White

NICKNAME: Colonials

MASCOT: RoMo (I'm not entirely sure what that even means)

Now that you're up to date on the history of the Cats' next opponent, here's how Kentucky stacks up numbers wise against the Colonials...

           RMU       CATS

PPG:     71              73
RPG:    32              38
APG:     14              14
SPG:       9                 6
BPG:       3                 7
TPG:     13               13
FG%:    43               47
FT%:    74               64
3PT%:  38              34

As you can see, Kentucky is back in another situation similar to Arkansas where their opponent averages a high number of steals while the Cats average a high number of turnovers that will be something to keep your eye on when these two tip it off tomorrow night.

I usually say "if Kentucky plays their game they should win" but I'm not going to do that here as the last few times haven't worked out so well for me so I'm just gonna say this. If Kentucky comes out flat tomorrow night they will get beat as Robert Morris has 2 guys ( Karvel Anderson and Lucky Johnson) who shoot 40 plus % from three and Kentucky hasn't shown an ability to defend the three all season long, so that is two names fans must get familiar with heading into tomorrow nights game with the Colonials. If they allow these two to get hot from deep, it could be another Vanderbilt situation in the making.

A lot of people have complained saying "Kentucky should decline the NIT invite" as if they are above taking what they earned. Well I did some digging today and found out that according to the rules, Kentucky would've had to declined the NIT invitation at the beginning of the season for that to have been an option. Not to mention, if you're Kentucky or any other team for that matter, you have no right to decline an invitation to the NIT if that is what you earned at seasons end. Take it, deal with it and make the best of it.

The Cats are a 1 seed in the NIT but will play their first game on the road as the NCAA Tournament is being played at Rupp and Kentucky doesn't have the staff to host their game at home. But, if Kentucky would happen to win, they would return to play their other game in Rupp on Sunday the 21st. The funny thing is, Kentucky will be playing at Robert Morris in a gym that seats 3,056 people and the game is already SOLD OUT as it is the biggest game to ever be played there and I'm pretty sure will the first and last game to be televised on ESPNU live from Charles L. Sewall Center.

So tune in tomorrow night and watch the Cats take on the Colonials of Robert Morris, it could be an interesting game

Twany Beckham and Kastine Evans named finalists for Sports Scholar Award

Beckham, Evans Finalists for Ashe Sports Scholar Award
Award honors undergraduate students of color who exemplify standards of Arthur Ashe, Jr.
FAIRFAX, Va. – Kentucky student-athletes Twany Beckham (men’s basketball) and Kastine Evans (women’s basketball) have been named finalists for the 2013 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Award. The winners will be profiled in the April 11, 2013 edition of the Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine.
Beckham and Evans were chosen from more than 500 minority student-athletes nominated by their respective institutions. The NCAA is the co-sponsor of the annual award.
Beckham is a senior from Louisville, Ky., who owns a 3.421 grade point average in Communication. He has volunteered for several community service projects including UK Athletics God’s Pantry backpack program and the 2012 Hurricane Sandy Telethon which raised money for the victims of the natural disaster. He’s a two-time member of the Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll.
On the court, Beckham earned a National Championship as a member of the 2012 Wildcats. He’s dealt with multiple injuries throughout his collegiate career and has played in more than 75 career games. His career-high point total was nine against Detroit while at Mississippi State.
Evans is a junior from Salem, Conn., with a grade point average of 3.735 in Business Management. She has embraced community service, serving as the women’s basketball Student-Athlete Advisory Committee representative. Furthermore she created her own non-profit organization called “Shooting for Success,” which is an after-school program for disadvantaged youth that features Evans teaching basketball skills and leadership. Evans is a two-time member of the All-SEC Academic team.
On the court, Evans has seen action in more than 100 career games while starting 56. She has been a member of two Elite Eight squads and an SEC Championship team in 2012.
Black Issues In Higher Education magazine, now Diverse, established the Sports Scholars Awards to honor undergraduate students of color who exemplify the standards set by tennis great Arthur Ashe Jr.
A scholar and athlete, Ashe sought to expand opportunities for young people. Each year Diverse: Issues In Higher Education invites every postsecondary institution in the country to participate in this awards program by nominating their outstanding sports scholars. In addition to their athletic ability, students named Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars must exhibit academic excellence as well as community activism.

To be included, students have to compete in an intercollegiate sport; maintain a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.2; and are active on their campuses or in their communities. This year the NCAA partnered with Diverse to present this standout class of scholar athletes and over  500 male and female students from across the country were nominated.

Past recipients of the award include: Baylor University’s  (2011) Robert Griffin III, Heisman Trophy winner;  the University of Tennessee’s (2003) Kara Lawson,  ESPN analyst who played for the WNBA’s Sacramento Monarchs; San Diego State University’s (1993) Marshall Faulk, NFL Hall of Famer; and the University of Kansas’ (1996) Jaque Vaughn, assistant coach for the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs.

Cats earn 1 seed in NIT

Media release from the University of Kentucky on going to the NIT...

March 17, 2013

UK Earns NIT Top Seed, To Face Robert Morris in Opening Round
2013 NIT • Opening Round • Tuesday, March 19 • 7:30 p.m. • Moon Township, Pa. • Charles L. Sewall Center (3,056)

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Despite missing out on an NCAA Tournament at-large bid to defend their national championship, the Kentucky Wildcats have been selected to play in the National Invitation Tournament.

UK’s NIT bid extends the Wildcats' streak of postseason appearances in either the NCAA Tournament or NIT to 22 consecutive seasons.

Kentucky (21-11) earned a No. 1 seed and will face eighth-seeded Robert Morris on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET at the Charles L. Sewall Center in Moon Township, Pa., outside of Pittsburgh. The game will be televised live on ESPN.

Kentucky is 1-0 against Robert Morris all-time with the lone meeting coming in a 92-67 triumph for the Wildcats on Dec. 30, 1993 in Rupp Arena.

“I’m really disappointed we didn’t make the NCAA Tournament, but we are going to use this time to make us better,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “We had our chances, but I’m not going to stop. It’s a great lesson for the future of our program and a humbling experience for me as a coach.”

UK is 13-6 in the NIT all-time. UK last played in the NIT during the 2009 season reaching the quarterfinals before falling 77-67 at Notre Dame.

“I’m excited to return to Pittsburgh and look forward to facing a team that is going to present a real challenge for us,” Calipari said. “Robert Morris won their league in the regular season. They shoot a lot of 3-pointers, produce a lot of steals, so we have to come prepared.”

Kentucky is making its ninth NIT appearance, having won the tournament twice, in 1946 and 1976. The Wildcats are 5-3 all-time in NIT openers.

Since 1992, UK owns a 105-28 (.789) record in postseason play (SEC, NIT and NCAA).

John Calipari has used the NIT as a springboard in his previous two stops at Massachusetts and Memphis. Overall, this marks the sixth NIT appearance in Calipari’s career. He reached the NIT semifinals in four of those appearances while winning the NIT championship in 2002 with Memphis. In three of the seasons he used the NIT as a building block for an NCAA Tournament berth the following year, including an NCAA Tournament Elite Eight appearance with Memphis in 2006 after reaching the NIT semifinals in 2005.

In Calipari’s first year at Kentucky the Wildcats reached the 2010 NCAA Tournament Elite Eight the year after UK appeared in the 2009 NIT.

“To the Big Blue Nation, you did your part all season long,” Calipari said. “You showed up in droves and helped us pull through key games. We didn’t do our part. Even now, I’m going to coach these guys, try to make them better and give everything I can to make sure we control our destiny in the future.”

The first three rounds of the NIT are hosted at the campus site of one of the participating teams. For each game, the higher-seeded team has the first option to host unless logistical circumstances preclude such an opportunity.

“We did not place a bid to host the first round of the NIT due to limited staff availability to properly host a game at Memorial Coliseum,” said UK Executive Associated AD DeWayne Peevy. “Because the University of Kentucky is hosting the NCAA second- and third-round games at Rupp Arena on March 21 and 23, the facility was not available for a first-round NIT game. We placed a bid to host both the second round and quarterfinal games at Rupp Arena if we advance.”

Kentucky is a host institution for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament to be held Thursday and Saturday in Rupp Arena.

First-round games will be played March 19 and 20. Second-round games can be played March 21-25 and quarterfinal games will be played March 26 and 27.

The winner of the UK-Robert Morris matchup will face the winner of the first round game between No. 4-seed Providence and No. 5 Charlotte.

The 2013 Postseason NIT will be in its 76th season at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. On Tuesday, April 2, the four quarterfinal winners will square off with the Championship scheduled for Thursday, April 4.

Tickets to the first round game at Robert Morris University can be purchased by calling the RMU ticket office at 412.397.4949. Tickets are $20 for reserved seating, $15 for general admission and $5 for students.

John Calipari, UK Head Coach
On Kentucky’s NIT Selection

“I’m really disappointed we didn’t make the NCAA Tournament, but we are going to use this time to make us better. We had our chances, but I’m not going to stop. It’s a great lesson for the future of our program and a humbling experience for me as a coach. To the Big Blue Nation, you did your part all season long. You showed up in droves and helped us pull through key games. We didn’t do our part. Even now, I’m going to coach these guys, try to make them better and give everything I can to make sure we control our destiny in the future. I’m excited to return to Pittsburgh and look forward to facing a team that is going to present a real challenge for us. Robert Morris won their league in the regular season. They shoot a lot of 3-pointers, produce a lot of steals, so we have to come prepared.”

DeWayne Peevy, UK Executive Associate AD
On Kentucky traveling for its first round NIT game…

“We did not place a bid to host the first round of the NIT due to limited staff availability to properly host a game at Memorial Coliseum. Because the University of Kentucky is hosting the NCAA second- and third-round games at Rupp Arena on March 21 and 23, the facility was not available for a first-round NIT game. We placed a bid to host both the second round and quarterfinal games at Rupp Arena if we advance.”

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Kentucky gets 1 seed in NIT but still earns a road game

After earning a #1 seed in the NIT, Kentucky will have to travel for it's first game even though it should be a home game. A UK spokesman released this statement as to why the Cats will have to endure a road game despite earning a 1 seed...

On Kentucky traveling for its first round NIT game…

We did not place a bid to host the first round of the NIT due to limited staff availability to properly host a game at Memorial Coliseum.  Because the University of Kentucky is hosting the NCAA second- and third-round games at Rupp Arena on March 21 and 23, the facility was not available for a first-round NIT game. We placed a bid to host both the second round and quarterfinal games at Rupp Arena if we advance.”

NCAA Tournament is set, Cats left out as expected

Well it's Selection Sunday, a day most Kentucky fans look forward to more than their own birthday. But this edition very well could be a sad one as by all accounts Kentucky will miss this years tournament, but we'll have to wait and see.

As if the thought of the Cats not getting a bid to the "dance" wasn't bad enough, the show kicked off by revealing Louisville as the #1 overall seed in the tournament. It's hard to swallow, but something that cannot be denied as the Cards have been one of the best teams in the country all season long. The Cards' first couple of games will be played in Rupp Arena, so let's hope the spirit of Rupp can disrupt their road to the Final Four.

Louisville has somewhat of an easy road to the Final Four as Duke, Missouri and Michigan State are the only real threats to the Cards in the Midwest Region. The good thing is, it's now impossible for Louisville and Duke both to make the Final Four.

Kansas was your second overall #1 seed, the good thing about that is Indiana DIDN'T get the second overall #1 seed. The committee didn't do the Jayhawks any favors with their first game as they drew Western Kentucky who promises to be a tough match up for the Jayhawks. I'm pretty sure all Cat fans will be rooting for the Hilltoppers the day the meet Kansas. The 2 seed for Kansas in the South Region will be Georgetown with Florida as their 3 seed, but the most interesting match up for Kansas could be  UNC in the second round as an 8 seed.  This is NOT an easy region for Bill Self.

Indiana got the third overall #1 seed in the east region and their first and second round games will be played in Dayton Ohio. As expected though, the Hoosiers get the easiest road with 4 seed Syracuse and 2 seed Miami being the only true threats to stop the Hoosiers from reaching the Final Four. If Tom Crean doesn't make it out of this region, he has only himself to blame.

The fourth overall #1 seed goes to Gonzaga in the West Region, the first #1 seed in school history. And as expected, the remaining regions were filled without Kentucky being named as a contestant. Let's be honest, Kentucky didn't deserve a bid this year, but that doesn't make it hurt any less. Now it's time to look forward to next season, but for now,  get ready for the NIT selection show tonight at 9 on ESPNU.