By TJ Walker on ©October 22nd, 2018 @ 8:00pm
John Calipari made some waves at today’s Tip-Off Luncheon in Louisville, but being the basketball recruiting analyst there were two points that stood out above the rest:
- He said he’s traveling to Minnesota today (and later said Indiana) for recruiting. Joel Justus was in Louisville with Calipari and he’s Hurt’s lead recruiter.
- His comments about the G-League attempting to poach the top talent in high school basketball.
Let’s start with his recruiting trip. Earlier today I posted the Monday Insider Notes and one of my non-insider points was that things seem optimistically fishy in Matthew Hurt’s recruitment. You can read my thoughts on his recruitment HERE, but the fact UK is going to visit him proves a few minor points:
- Kentucky is continuing to build on an already strong foundation with Hurt and his family.
- Many people panicked when Hurt didn’t visit for Big Blue Madness but that was never his plan. I’m sure when Hurt and his family will see Lexington will be discussed this evening.
- No team really has much momentum in Hurt’s recruitment, so assuming we hear good things from another in-home visit (UK has been twice), I’m guessing UK may get momentum. Hurt’s family is looking at his recruitment as a business decision so I’m sure they know how much playing time will be available for UK next season and a need for scoring.
Calipari also mentioned going to Indiana and this one is even more intriguing to me. Both Keion Brooks and Isaiah Stewart play for La Lumiere, but my initial reaction was that Calipari was doing his normal in-home visit followup after an official visit. He’s done it with every recruit this year and I wouldn’t expect it to be any different with Brooks. With what I’ve been hearing about Stewart I initially thought it was unlikely they would meet with him, but Ben Roberts was the first to report that the visit will include a meeting with Stewart.
How about that. Two weekends ago I was told that it was highly unlikely that Stewart would end up at UK. Kentucky brought him in for an official visit, the Cats thought things went well, they knew that Stewart’s father really liked Kentucky, but when trying to convince others around Stewart about Lexington things fell apart. Why? I don’t know. People close to Kentucky didn’t seem heartbroken about it, which I found interesting because UK’s running out of frontcourt players. But maybe something has changed again? Is this one last ditch effort by Calipari to try and turn the tide again? I’ll be interested in finding out after the in-home visit. Stewart has visited Michigan State and Syracuse since his official visit to UK, and he checked out Washington before traveling to Lexington. From I’ve heard I’d be surprised if the momentum can turn back into UK’s favor, but I also wouldn’t have thought there would be another in-home visit between the parties. Never count out Cal.
Cal on G League option: That helps us, folks. They're taking 3 to 5 players a year. Those players weren't coming here.
— Jerry Tipton (@JerryTipton) October 22, 2018
This was the other interesting comment from Calipari and until we can ask a followup question we all have our own opinions on what Calipari meant. I’m not worried in the slightest about the G-League’s new “$125,000 salary to elite high school players” plan. I don’t think $125k will move the needle for the majority of elite high school players when you take into consideration that these players will have to play in empty gyms against desperate older players that will be looking to embarrass them. No Final Fours or having the majority of your games on primetime TV, you’re traveling to Maine this weekend to take on the Red Claws. Plus, even if a few UK targets left to go to the G-League there’s a pecking order. Kentucky will just get the next best players that weren’t invited. Again, I don’t think many players will go to the G-League, but if they do and they were UK targets, there will be other options.
But the interesting point is Calipari saying “those players weren’t coming here”. My guess on what he means is he’s referring to the few five-star players every year that aren’t recruited by UK. They may be uncommitted heading into the spring but they never heard from the Cats. Maybe UK was wary about possible NCAA violations. Maybe Kentucky didn’t think there was a good fit, but every year there’s two or three players that don’t hear from UK and recruiting analysts are asked why for months. There’s never a great answer besides UK just not being interested.
My guess is Calipari was talking about those players, but your guess is as good as mine of the second quote from Calipari. What do you think?
By KSR on ©October 22nd, 2018 @ 7:30pm
The KSR Baseball Podcast makes its triumphant return with a guest list that is packed with celebrities to prepare you for the 2018 World Series between the Dodgers and the Red Sox.
Trey Huntsman and Keith Madison are joined by a trio of Big Leaguers — current Miami Marlin J.T. Riddle, and former Cincinnati Reds Doug Flynn and Austin Kearns. They give their World Series predictions and talk about the evolution of Major League Baseball. Highlights:
— First impressions of Kentucky Proud Park.
— J.T.’s experience with Marlins Man.
— How the Manny Machado situation would’ve been handled in the old days.
— Austin’s excellent instant replay solution.
— Trey doesn’t even believe in his own team.
— The Red Sox are due for a slump.
— Wigwam Village.
You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to Kentucky Sports Radio on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.
By TJ Walker on ©October 22nd, 2018 @ 7:00pm
Sometimes you get repeated quotes from the Monday luncheon during the Mark Stoops Show later that evening, but that was far from the case tonight.
While talking with Tom Leach, Mark Stoops said that he will play multiple/several quarterbacks against Missouri on Saturday. Terry Wilson will be the starter, but it sounds like we will see Gunnar Hoak get some reps. Maybe even Danny Clark, too.
Leach sounded a bit surprised by the huge news and double checked with Stoops.
“Yeah, we’ll see how it goes,” Stoops said.
It sounded like Stoops was willing to give Wilson a pass for the Texas A&M game but was “disappointed” with how he played against Vanderbilt on Saturday. Stoops said he thinks the two turnovers early in the game impacted his play.
“We still have a lot of confidence in Terry, but he didn’t play a very good game last week.”
Whoa. Wilson has been below average over the last couple games but this is huge news. Will this motivate Wilson? Make him play more timid? Will Hoak or Clark be able to add a spark? Will taking Wilson out hurt or help the rushing attack? This isn’t a throwaway season where you’re playing for the future. Kentucky has a chance to do special things now.
Stoops also had updates that he talked about this morning but went into more detail during the show:
- Stoops said they have kicker Chance Poore ready to go and you’ll likely see him on Saturday
- Kash Daniel had “minor” surgery on his hand and he’s day-to-day. Stoops said he will be out there tomorrow or Wednesday with a club or cast on his hand. He will play on Saturday. “You’d have to cut his hand off (if you didn’t want him to play),” Stoops said.
- Stoops said that Josh Allen is one of the best defensive players in the country. We agree.
- Stoops realizes how big of a game Saturday is, but jokes that every game is his biggest game.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©October 22nd, 2018 @ 6:00pm
I got back from the airport just in time to catch the second half of last night’s Blue/White Game, and after watching the first half this morning, I have some thoughts to share. Mainly, that Kentucky is really good at basketball and it’s not even November yet.
1. EJ Montgomery likes the bright lights
Coming into the preseason, we didn’t really have a good grasp on EJ Montgomery because he sat out most of the Bahamas trip; now at 100 percent, the freshman big man is making his presence known. John Calipari said Montgomery came alive in front of the scouts at Pro Day two weeks ago, and last night, he was one of the most impressive players on the court, putting up 21 points and 8 rebounds. Tyler Herro, Reid Travis, and PJ Washington had more points, but given how little we knew about EJ coming in, his play was the story of the game for me. He showed off the versatility we’ve been hearing about for months, scoring from the rim to midrange, hitting all three of his free throws, and using those long arms to block shots and clean up misses. Afterwards, Calipari said he’s happy EJ is playing well when the lights are bright but he needs to bring that same effort in practice.
“E.J. (Montgomery), E.J. told on himself. He told on himself. He didn’t practice that way. If you’re that good, you’re practicing that way now. The team laughed like crazy. Like the combine and this game are the best two days that he’s played since he’s been here. Oh, so when there are people in the seats and there are scouts in the seats you just take up a notch. Really? Well, guess what son, you’re going to take it up a notch or you’re going to be on that treadmill. Because if that’s who you are then you’re going to be that guy every day. He was good.”
2. Tyler Herro continues to make it look effortless
Herro once again led the team in scoring with 34 points off 12-16 from the floor, 4-6 from beyond the arc, and 6-7 from the charity stripe. If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a million times: Herro is a natural scorer, and if he carries this momentum into the season, he could be college basketball’s darling this season.
How well did Herro play last night? As Kyle Tucker pointed out on Twitter, Kentucky’s stats website StatsBroadcast debuted an analytics feature last night and Herro’s “Game Score,” which measures productivity on a scale of 0-40, was 32.5, which is considered elite in the NBA. The next closest were Nick Richards with 18.9, EJ Montgomery with 18.6, and PJ Washington with 18.1.
If you’re curious, here are all the analytics from last night:
3. PJ and Reid are doing their NBA homework
The NBA told both PJ Washington and Reid Travis to expand their games and work on conditioning before turning pro. So far, it looks like both are doing just that. Noticeably slimmer, PJ was much more fluid going up and down the court than last season, getting to the basket with ease and pulling up for jumpers. Similarly, Reid Travis also moved well, scoring 27 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. Both also hit a three.
Travis switched between squads during the game, which allowed fans to see him play with and against PJ. It’s clear that going against each other in practice has been good for both players, and when you add in Sophomore Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery, Kentucky’s frontcourt is formidable no matter the lineup.
4. Andy Kennedy was great on broadcast
Last night was the first time we got to see Andy Kennedy in his new role as SEC Network color commentator and he was excellent. At Ole Miss, Kennedy charmed the media with his quippy commentary, which definitely translated to the broadcast. It was refreshing to hear him break down Calipari’s style as only a coach who had played against him for years can, and Cal was clearly happy chatting with him during and after the game. I even liked his plaid coat. More Kennedy, please.
5. I love this team’s attitude
If the Blue-White Game is good for anything, it’s evaluating the chemistry between players, and, as we’ve noticed since the Bahamas, this group loves playing with each other. It may seem silly to take note of stuff like this, but there were way more smiles, laughs, and playful shoves between the players than in years past, a testament to how much fun they’re having and how comfortable they are on the stage. After the game ended, they even turned and applauded the fans for coming. Little stuff like that is huge. Kentucky always has talented players, but having talented players that like each other and are willing to put in the extra work is what makes teams special.
Also, Immanuel Quickley has clearly taken over the role as dance circle hype man:
Check out more of Dr. Mike’s awesome photos from the Blue-White Game below:
Believe it or not, there's a basketball season about ready to begin. Check out Dr. Mike's photos of the basketball Cats in their scrimmage tonight.
By Nick Roush on ©October 22nd, 2018 @ 5:30pm
“Just like I said after the game, proud of our team for finding a way to win. Really great defensive effort. I thought the offensive line, Benny (Snell Jr.), tight ends just showed a lot of guts and determination and physicality to get the ball in the end zone to score the game-winning touchdown. There are obviously quite a few things we need to improve on. We’re excited to get back to work here this week and get better. We need to improve as we go this week and go play Missouri on the road.”
On how you are addressing the passing game…
“We need to address it in a lot of areas. From what we’re doing to set them up for success and set the team up for success. It starts with us and coaching and what we’re doing, the position we’re putting them in to be successful. Also, getting the quarterback to pull the pin and make accurate throws, and to trust himself. He has done that this year. He has been successful. He’s put us in a position to get to the spot we’re in right now. But, he’s also not played his best the past couple games. We have to look at that. That’s all of our responsibility; it always is, starting with the coaching staff. Certainly Terry (Wilson) will take his part, on down to protection, the receivers and so on. We’re always in this together. It’s never any one person’s fault, but certainly we need to play better at that position.”
On if Wilson has a confidence issue…
“I don’t know. I don’t think so. I talked to Terry today, before this, and he doesn’t see it that way. We need to watch the film and get some things corrected and get back on the field. Certainly we have to look at all options, again like we always have. I’ve always said that Terry is our starting quarterback. He’s going to start this week. We certainly need to look at the other guys and see if they could get an opportunity to get in there and play and help us. We’ll have a plan, and we’ll work Gunnar (Hoak) pretty extensively this week and have him ready to play as well.”
By Drew Franklin on ©October 22nd, 2018 @ 5:00pm
In addition to your regular rooting interests in Kentucky, it is OK to be a Georgia fan this coming weekend, too. Just this one time, though.
You see, Georgia will meet Florida in Jacksonville with some very serious SEC implications on the line. If Florida were to win that one, the Gators would then become the favorite to represent the East in Atlanta on December 1, and may not lose another game all year. (South Carolina and Missouri are its two remaining SEC games and both are in Gainesville.) Kentucky holds the tiebreaker over Florida with its head-to-head win earlier this year, but the Cats would likely need to run the table to match Florida at 7-1 in league play. That’s a tough task.
But if Georgia hands Florida a second loss on Saturday, Kentucky can still lose one of the Missouri and Tennessee road trips, and still win the division by beating Georgia at home. Georgia and Florida would each have two losses in this ideal scenario, and Kentucky would have the tiebreaker over both with a 2-0 record among the three two-loss teams in the East. One more loss — at Missouri or at Tennessee — would not change anything for UK, so long as it beats Georgia at home.
A Georgia win on Saturday will also help Kentucky in its efforts against Georgia the following week. If both Georgia and Kentucky win their upcoming games, the following Saturday’s game between the two schools will almost certainly earn CBS’s prime 3:30 time slot for the game in Lexington. Ideally, a night game would be best for Kentucky, but an under-the-lights game is out of the question after the league announced today it will be in one of three spots: noon on ESPN; 4:00 p.m. on SEC Network; or the CBS game at 3:30 p.m. We don’t want to see a noon kick if we want the home crowd to play a factor in the game.
So when you’re digesting all the Week 9 action college football throws your way this coming Saturday, don’t be afraid to pump your fists with the Georgia Bulldogs in the 3:30 CBS game. Big Blue Nation should be pulling for a 7-1 Kentucky versus a 7-1 Georgia in Lexington the following weekend with the SEC East title up for grabs.
Go Bulldogs (this one time) and always Go Cats.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©October 22nd, 2018 @ 4:30pm
Some unfortunate news to pass along from the women’s basketball program: sophomore center Dorie Harrison is out indefinitely for personal health reasons.
“Dorie needs to step away from the basketball court to address her personal health. We will give her the time she needs to get healthy and she has our full support. We look forward to her return to the court. We ask everyone to respect her privacy during this time,” Matthew Mitchell said in a release.
Harrison played in 32 games last year, starting eight. She averaged 6.7 points and 3.8 rebounds per game and was named SEC Freshman of the Week twice.
Matthew Mitchell’s squad starts the season with an exhibition vs. Lincoln Memorial on Friday, Nov. 2 at Memorial Coliseum. They’ll host Alabama State for the season opener on Wednesday, Nov. 7.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©October 22nd, 2018 @ 4:00pm
Kentucky is officially bowl eligible after beating Vanderbilt, and in turn, it’s time to review the latest projections on where the Cats will play this postseason. As has been the trend the past few weeks, most of the national media has Kentucky in Florida for a New Year’s Day Bowl.
ESPN: Outback Bowl vs. Purdue or Citrus Bowl vs. Iowa
Brett McMurphy: Citrus Bowl vs. Wisconsin
CBS Sports: Peach Bowl vs. Texas
The Sporting News: Citrus Bowl vs. Iowa
Sports Illustrated: Outback Bowl vs. Michigan State
SB Nation: Citrus Bowl vs. Penn State
247 Sports: Citrus Bowl vs. Wisconsin
In case you’re curious, Camping World Stadium in Orlando is only 15 miles from Walt Disney World. Or, if you’d rather celebrate with butterbeer, nine miles from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
By Nick Roush on ©October 22nd, 2018 @ 3:00pm
While most focus on controversy surrounding UK’s starting quarterback, another is swirling at placekicker.
Miles Butler missed a 39-yarder on Saturday. The senior and former walk-on is now just 3-of-7 on the season. If the Cats had another field goal opportunity on Saturday, Mark Stoops was prepared to play the freshman, Chance Poore.
“I told you after the game, he was going in on the next kick,” Stoops said. “Miles was the starter. I believed in him, I still do, but he was going in to kick.”
The initial plan was to play Poore in only four games. By limiting Poore to long field goals, UK could give the former four-star recruit an extra year of eligibility. After seeing Butler struggle, the plan might be scrapped, although Stoops did not say who will kick Kentucky’s next field goal.
“We’ll see how the week goes. We’ll see.”
Stoops also was hesitant to provide an update on Josh Paschal. The defensive end who was diagnosed with malignant melanoma over the summer was seen working out on the sideline before Saturday night’s game against Vanderbilt.
“He’s been working with Coach Ed and he’s been strength training for a long time,” said Stoops. “Now he’s getting on his feet. The wound is healing. Then there’s the matter of just getting into shape, getting into football shape and controlling the other factors that go into it, not just the wound itself.”
Reading between the lines, unless the game is already well in-hand, I’m confident you’ll see Poore trot out for the Cats’ first field goal against Missouri. As for Paschal, I believe he’ll be ready to play in a limited pass-rushing capacity near the end of the season. The four-game redshirt rule might have set Poore back, but it could benefit Paschal.
By KSR on ©October 22nd, 2018 @ 2:45pm
Get the podcast delivered directly to your phone by subscribing to the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast feed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app. You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. Don’t forget to follow the show Instagram too.