Last night was difficult, but now the season is over. It's both a tragedy, and a relief.
The big news is that 2013 stud power forward Julius Randle picks his school today, and UK is among the favorites. We wait to see if the 2013 class remains just "likely the best in history," or becomes the unquestioned best college class of all time.
Tweet of the Morning:
If you're Julius Randle, which PG would you rather play with? Kentucky's Andrew Harrison or Kansas' Conner Frankamp? Exactly.— Dan Bodner (@KYHoopsBuzz) March 20, 2013
I notice the absence of ... Oh, never mind.
Considering the gangrenous toe that was Wildcats football in 2012, I would define "success" in 2013 as a return to merely bad. If they can beat WKU (even if close), Miami (OH), and Alabama State in their non-conference schedule, and take 2/4+ of Mississippi State, Mizzou, Vandy and Tennessee (how much fun is it to include them in the category of "winnable" games for this Kentucky team?) then I will call 2013 a successful first year for Coach (Mark) Stoops. Kind of like with the Architect from The Matrix, I am curious to see what levels of survival Kentucky is willing to accept, but apparently a 35% winning percentage wasn’t it.
Hard to expect much else from the current national champs. I doubt it will curb our exuberance much.
Spring football media guide is out. (Hank)
That process started with a very tough offseason regime that his strength staff implemented. He couldn’t be there to constantly monitor players, so he made sure his players felt his wrath with a taxing workout schedule.
ESPN shows some "love." (Hank)
- This is just pure basketball porn, but after last night, I can't hype next year enough. Marcus Lee says, "You must come correctly, or it's return to sender!"
- Some more basketball porn, but this is slightly more useful. Here, you see Andrew Wiggins and Julius Randle go head to head in an AAU event, the Peach Jam. You can see what a fluid and skilled athlete Wiggins is, but he doesn't have the brawny toughness of Randle. Note how nobody plays defense. As I said, AAU game.
The coach said he did things this year to try and save guys, and in the end "that never works."
He said he won’t do that again. He said two players "let of the go rope" to where he could not put them in the game. He didn’t name names. But Ryan Harrow played all of nine minutes. Kyle Wiltjer played 10. Alex Poythress played 27 minutes but grabbed all of two rebounds.
Calipari has preached, "never settle," and yet this year, he settled. He really did. He accepted the idea that it was better to put your best talent out there than sit them and maybe lose.
I hate to break it to the coach, but every coach we had has done that at one time or other… except him. Saving guys? From what, the big, bad boogieman in the closet?
Speaking of that, does the little guy in the clip below remind you of anyone?
Why do we want Julius Randle? Let me count the ways:
The first time you see Julius Randle on a basketball court, your instant reaction is that something must be wrong. Randle looks like a much older kid from the next division up wandered over to pick on his juniors for a little while.
Randle was blessed with incredible size and talent, but there’s a long list of kids with tremendous talent who fail to make the most of it and Randle deserves a lot of the credit for developing into the high-elite talent that he is today. First of all, Randle is an impressively physical basketball player – not physical in a reckless or out-of-control way, but in an impressively purposeful and productive way that you just don’t see very often out of big men until you get to the professional ranks, let alone in a high schooler.
Second of all, by all accounts Randle is an absolute workhorse, and if you’ve ever watched one of his games, it shows in the way he plays. In practice and in games, on offense and on defense: the kid gets after it. He plays hard, he’s determined, and he’s competitive as hell.
Read the whole thing.
I have spoken to several people close to the University of Kentucky, and the recruitment of Julius today, and the consensus is still that UK is the favorite to sign the big man this Wednesday. Several rumors have been reported, as people associated with Kansas are saying Kansas, people associated with Kentucky are saying Kentucky, and most National Recruiting Analysts are split right down the middle on this one.
The latest on Wiggins and Randle: Looks like Randle is ours! (Hank)
Glenn: I like our chances, but no matter what anyone says, Randle is playing his cards too close for anyone to accurately say
Just another case of liberal socialism at its very worst.
Haha. If you don’t get the joke, you’ll have to search "liberal socialist" and "Kentucky Sports Radio." Or follow the link. Whatever.
Smile through the pain, Wildcats fans. (Link via Hank, comments by Glenn)
Yes, this is one of "those" fans. Seriously, old guys (and I am one of them), please don’t try to outdo 18-year old drunken college kids when it comes to insanity.
64 years is a long time to be a Kentucky fan, but if this is where it leads you, you need to seek professional help.
Good for Robert Morris. For Kentucky, it’s an appropriate ending to a season that will be remembered for … something.
Honestly, there’s worse things to losing in a game that actually meant something in an otherwise nondescript tournament. If we had lost to Providence or whoever in the second round, would anyone even have noticed?
It was the fourth game in the last five that the Cats committed more turnovers than assists. That stretch started in Arkansas when John Calipari’s club had five assists and 19 turnovers. In its last five games, UK had 36 assists and 60 turnovers.
Assists are not particularly meaningful, although they do give context to ballhandling. The issue was turnovers, as it has been all year.
One of the most interesting storylines in the next few weeks will be with the Kentucky underclassmen who aren’t ready for the NBA but could still be drafted on potential. The Wildcats would likely have a scholarship issue if they all returned. But that could easily take care of itself through natural attrition. Some of the current players simply may want more playing time somewhere else if they lose their playing time to the younger crew coming to Lexington next season.
I can tell you that I will now be pretty surprised if either Goodwin or Poythress attempt to leave.
Goodwin is a shooting guard who can’t shoot. Which NBA team needs that, again?
Poythress is a small forward with limited ball skills and no feel for the game. Can you say, "D-league," boys and girls? I knew you could.
Wille Cauley-Stein has the one thing you can’t teach – NBA size. Other than that, I’ve seen football players with more fundamental skill and a better feel for basketball … oh, wait.
Will Wiltjer stay? Dunno. Harrow? Doubt it. I see one guy leaving, and he’s got a recently repaired ACL and more competitive fire than the rest of the aforementioned combined.
This guy styles himself an expert, but you read the story and it’s clear he is completely clueless about most of his subject matter.
First of all, what swagger? This team hasn’t had swagger all year. Then:
Across the gym, in a room three stories off the floor, Calipari looked a mixture of disgusted and relieved. As much as he loved last year’s version of the Wildcats, filled with a lineup of players off to the NBA, he seemed to despise this one just as much.
Oh, please. Calipari despised himself for settling. He should. He doesn’t despise this team at all. He recruited them, didn’t he?
The "hijacked" comment was cryptic and not further clarified but it certainly makes it clear Calipari did not enjoy coaching this group. Not only were this year’s Wildcats not as talented as any of the past three incarnations, they also lacked the tenacity and spirit those teams had.
No it wasn’t Jeff. There was nothing cryptic about it. Calipari felt he was held hostage by his roster, but he probably has figured out he was wrong about that.
What coach enjoys watching his team do the opposite of what he says? What coach enjoys coaching a team that won’t compete at crunch time? What coach enjoys coaching a team that constantly needs to be reminded to compete?
Calipari deserves some criticism – he should’ve sat Harrow and played Polson and just accepted the outcome. That might have actually helped both Harrow and Polson get better. He should have done the same for Jon Hood and Alex Poythress.
But Calipari doesn’t know how to coach that way, so he let the team’s roster, and hence the players, dictate to him rather than the other way around.
So yeah, Kentucky’s going to be ridiculously loaded next season and likely will make up for a lot of these moments of ignominy. But for one (more) night, those who prefer other options (cough, Louisville, *cough) had one last reason to smile.
Whatever, dude. Paybacks, as they say, are usually hell.
Scout.com national analyst Evan Daniels, who ranks Randle the No. 5 player in 2013, expects UK or KU to be the choice. If it’s Kentucky, "it would be a big deal" for the Wildcats, he said.
"As good as (No. 1 prospect and UK small-forward target) Andrew Wiggins is, I think Julius may be more what they’re missing," Daniels said. "They have some guys who can really score the ball on the wing and perimeter, but they don’t really have a big strong power forward who can score. I think he would bring that table for Kentucky, and I think he’d fit right in and be a dominant presence and be a major impact from Day 1."
That’s the facts,
Other UK sports
- Mathies Earns Second Straight AP SEC Player of the Year // UKAthletics.com
- Four-Run Fifth Leads No. 21 Softball to 7-1 Win over WKU - UKAthletics.com
- Baseball Cats drop home game to WKU // The Kentucky Kernel
- The Morning Mix // Troy Machir, CollegeBasketballTalk
- BBL: Excerpts from UK-RMU coverage and aftermath // John Clay's Sidelines
- Tom Leach // Wednesday Links
Let’s say all Division I college football teams, FBS and FCS alike, got to compete for a single national championship. Here’s what that could look like.
Hey, they even list Kentucky on here!
The SEC Sports calendar has two seasons: football and waiting for football to start.
- Billy D nets bonus money // Gator Sports
- March Madness 2013: Five high-reward NCAA tournament upset picks // SI.com
Other sports news
- John Wall could sign a max contract with Wizards, according to report // SBNation.com
- Eric Dickerson on rule change: 'What's next? Take stiff arm away?' // CBSSports.com