The Big Blue Nation is certainly feeling satisfied today as the Kentucky Wildcats knock off the West Virginia Mountaineers in a gritty but very satisfying performance that saw career highs for Brandon Knight (30 points) and continued outstanding play from the unlikeliest hero of all, Josh Harrellson.
Needless to say, there is plenty of praise for both in today's links, which follow thus:
- WVU Notebook: Kentucky's Calipari will take talent every time over experience
"I don’t know," Kilicli said. "They called it, so it was. The thing was, I really fouled him on the first one and they didn’t call it. On the second, I don’t know."
Deniz Kilicli is right about this, but he also fouled in the second case. Kilicli was sticking his body parts out, particularly his hind parts, trying bump players as they went by. That's an illegal screen, even though it gets overlooked sometimes. I was screaming for it to be called 2 plays earlier.
- BBL: Linking to UK men and women’s advancement :: John Clay’s Sidelines
Payne acknowledged being pleasantly surprised by Harrellson's blossoming. Yes, the coaches thought Harrellson would improve. But the Southeastern Conference leader in rebounding (8.8 per game), offensive rebounding (3.7 per) and field-goal shooting (59.9 percent)?
Heh. This reminds me of the movie Major Payne when Damon Wayans, who played Payne, says to his young charges, "Well you know what ya'll got a comin'? Seven twenty-three hour days of fun and adventure. I'm gonna make you boys strong! "
Quick, somebody hack @EloyVargas and tweet out a criticism of Coach Cal, so he'll have an excuse to send Vargas to Payne for some fun and adventure -- and hopefully a Harrellsonesque result.
"If you're a hard worker and you spend the time, you expect good things to happen, even if I miss two. Everybody says, 'Why would you give him [Brandon Knight] the ball when he didn't make a shot?' Because I knew he expected to make the last one. ... And he's not afraid to miss the last shot. You can't be afraid to miss it, either."
Exactly right. You cannot be afraid to fail in basketball, or life, and be successful.
- John Clay: Pressure's off Kentucky as Cats head for New Jersey :: University of Kentucky Sports News
Except, all too often, that’s the last thing this game is about at this level. Players are disposable, moved aside for the next stud recruit that comes along or shuffled to the bench when the coach heads off for the next payday.
This guy is such an intolerable jerk that I had to link him here. You think that Harrellson's feel-good story would be a good one for Coach Cal, but this guy finds a way to mock Calipari and Harrellson at the same time, all while ostensibly trying to praise him. Harrellson comes off looking stupid for letting Calipari use him.
This writer quotes Harrellson in such a way that makes him look selfish and self-absorbed instead of responding to motivation. No matter how much I like what Josh has done, painting this as a personal mission to self improvement just isn't accurate. Harrellson had two other seasons to improve his work ethic, and he didn't.
Only after he angered Calipari and Calipari responded with placing him on a conditioning regimen (something Calipari arguably should have done anyway, and earlier) did Harrellson suddenly figure out that he could make himself better if he tried. And this is all Harrellson's doing? I wish it were so, but even Harrellson would tell you otherwise.
Politi engages in exactly the behavior he imputes to Calipari -- using players as disposable throwaways, only in this case for his rhetorical point. Yeah, the article looks kind of touchy-feely and says some nice things about Harrellson, but all with an eye toward the larger point of sticking it to Calipari.
Why can't Politi just point out that Josh had the foresight to embrace his training when he figured out it was not a punishment, but a blessing? Can't he just stick it to Calipari later, and in some other more reasonable way than by using a young man's marvelous improvement as a foil for criticism?
UK's culture of athletics will greet new president :: Watchdog
Read this for yourself and reach your own conclusions. Right now, I am simply not interested in commenting extensively on this article.
And he still gives much of the credit to Gillispie. "I still talk to him," he said of Gillispie. "Every coach is different … he helped make me to the player I am today."
From the toilet straight to high-major force.
This is how you write an article about Harrellson. Y'all know I'm not disposed to give Jeff Goodman much praise, but given the Politi article I linked earlier, he more than deserves it for this excellent piece.
Part of me hates to hold Goodman up as an example of good sportswriting, but darn it, he earned it in this case.
- Freshman propels Kentucky to final 16 :: College Sports - The News Tribune
Two certainties in Heels-Huskies: A fast pace and Thomas trash talking :: Beyond the Arc
It galls me that both Duke and North Carolina get to play all the time in Charlotte.
Spiders Bite Morehead State in NCAA Tournament
Tough luck for Morehead, but they really didn't play very well.
What a messy ending to a good game. Butler manifestly did not deserve to win, but Pittsburgh was profoundly brain-dead on that last play. It was a "habit" play that I criticize so often from Kentucky -- something you do by habit rather than by design in certain situations.
This all boils down to a very poor job of coaching by Jamie Dixon. It is unacceptable that he allowed his players to get onto the line without admonishing them to stand there and let Butler rebound anything that came off. In fact, he should have just pulled everyone off the line and stationed them in the back court.
Dixon will have plenty of time to ponder his failure in the off season.
- The Round of 16 It Is :: Chris Diggs - UK Fan Blog
Joe Henderson column
Nice, balanced piece. I liked it.
- In Their Words: Cats React To Withstanding WVU :: LEX18.com
Another nice, well-earned puff piece on Harrellson. This galled me, though:
It got them to the Final Eight last year, and then five freshmen were taken in the first round of the NBA draft. In came this year’s hoop mercenaries. Brandon Knight had 30 points Saturday’s 71-63 win, while Terrence Jones’ double-double confirmed his top-10 draft status.
I'm sure he meant to say, "Four freshmen and a senior," but just forgot. Hat tip: Aaron's blog.
- NCAA Tournament: Five things that will happen Sunday :: New York Daily News
Officials Become the Story of Butler-Pittsburgh Game - NYTimes.com
Both were clear fouls! I don't see this as the story, I see the actions of Mack and Robinson as the stories. Thamel simply doesn't have the wit to discern that.
Surprise! Wisconsin’s whole much greater than the sum of its parts :: Beyond the Arc
You must respect Bo Ryan. Kansas State does now, I trow. Hey, that rhymes!
2011 NCAA Tournament: Florida, Kentucky Advance to Different Fates - Team Speed Kills
Nice work by Year2 at TSK. I am totally over the seeding faux pas until after the tournament, which is the appropriate time to deal with it beyond the initial outrage.
Kentucky vs. West Virginia - This game is already in progress and it looks like Bob Huggins juju over John Calipari will continue.
Heh. How'd that prediction work out for you, again?
- Kentucky Sports Radio :: Sunday Morning Victory Links
- Thumbs up, thumbs down: Analyzing UK's win over West Virginia :: Lexington Herald-Leader
One league official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so as to not publicly disparage the NCAA Tournament selection committee, said the Big East’s top brass is not happy with four teams meeting before the Sweet 16.
Okay, this is a whine I have never heard before. The Big East can freaking hunt up a hammer and a sandpile and pack sand. They have no complaints coming after getting 11 teams into the tournament. I have insufficient adjective support to properly register my complete disgust at this petty jeremiad.
2011 NCAA tournament: John Calipari has Kentucky Wildcats in Sweet 16 again - ESPN
Praise from the effulgent one.
- Twenty questions as UK reaches the Sweet 16 :: John Clay’s Sidelines
"I won’t schedule nonconference games. I don’t want to schedule them against former coaches or assistants of mine, not trying to rack up a record against those guys. I know what it’s like to lose. If they ask me for a guarantee game I may do it, but you don’t really like to play against friends. I mean, you don’t want to."
I can totally relate to this.
- Rapid Reaction: Kentucky 71, WVU 63 - College Basketball Nation Blog - ESPN