Welcome, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, to the Tuesday Morning Quickies. Today’s big news was the breathtaking UK hoops victory last night over the Tennessee Volunteers. Warren Taylor has the recap here, and I was able to tune in just to see the waning seconds of the game.
Imagine my dismay as Te’a Cooper of Tennessee was fouled with something like 11 seconds remaining and Kentucky up 64-62, my joy as Cooper misses the second free throw, my panic as the Vols’ Andrea Carter sneaks in the right side to claim the rebound easily, my amazement as she blows a point-blank layup, my apoplexy as Bashara Graves gets the rebound for yet another shot at the basket, my joy as Batouly Camara blocks the attempt, and relief as the ball goes out of bounds in favor of Kentucky.
But even then, the game’s not over. 4 seconds remain, and the Vols intentionally foul Camara, a very poor free throw shooter, and Kentucky doesn’t get the intentional call despite being at home. Camara predictably bricks (and I say that not out of frustration, but candor) both free throws and UT’s Mercedes Russell races unopposed 94 feet to within 6 feet of the UK basket, where time expires before she can get the shot up.
Frankly, regardless of what happened before the last 30 seconds or so, Kentucky won this game more by luck than skill. They did almost everything wrong at the end of the game, and only the failure of Russell’s internal clock saved the Wildcats from defeat.
But that’s no reason not to celebrate, trust me. Hooray!!!
Tweet of the Morning
DeMarcus Cousins with Sac-era record for most points (prev. Webber, 51, 1/5/01 vs. IND) & arena record (prev. Tony Delk 53 OT v PHX, 1/2/01)— Sean Cunningham (@SeanCunningham) January 26, 2016
Boogie is making us Kentucky fans proud!
- I must’ve missed this — Chad Scott is reportedly leaving Kentucky for North Carolina. Why’d it have to be UNC, Chad?
No one will project Derek Willis to be a lottery pick, but he is emerging as a potential, and highly unlikely, savior for Kentucky’s season. After Willis had 12 points and 12 rebounds in 31 minutes off the bench of Kentucky’s loss at Auburn, John Calipari finally inserted the 6‘9" junior forward into his starting lineup for good. Willis averaged 32.5 minutes in last week’s wins over Arkansas and Vanderbilt, and even though he was 1-for-6 from three-point range against the Commodores, he still had nine rebounds, one block and one steal in the 21-point win. Willis is not a star, but he is a dependable upperclassmen. After scoring 77 points in his first 40 games, Willis has now scored 76 in his last 12.
I have to point out that referring to Willis as a "dependable upperclassmen [sic]" is almost hyperbolic in its recency. Willis has been anything but dependable, particularly defensively, for his entire career up until the last three games.
Having said that, his play of late is nothing less than inspirational. I know several people heavily biased toward home state players, however anachronistic that might be in the modern era of college basketball, and Willis is giving them an excuse to gloat.
Gloat all you want, I say. I’m just happy to see a talented young man decide to do more with it than mere possession.
Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray are both on midseason watch lists, Murray for the Waymon Tisdale Award (top frosh, USBWA) and Ulis for the Oscar Robertson Trophy (National Player of the Year, USBWA)
For your derision, I offer the risible and odious Pat Forde, who I’m sure picked Coach Cal’s name out of a hat at random:
However, complaints from some coaches – hello, John Calipari (7), after Kentucky lost to Auburn – that officials are once again swallowing their whistles in league play is unfounded. Fouls per game have stayed almost exactly the same since conference play started, decreasing just .03 per game.
Last night, the officials in the Kansas-ISU game not only swallowed their whistles, they searched out other people’s whistles to swallow.
Calipari is right and Forde is wrong. We are seeing the refs revert again. Not every one of them, as was the case last season, but more and more every week. "Fouls per game" don’t mean a darn thing, and these guys know it. The more the refs let physical play go, the more physical it becomes. Fouls pretty much stay the same. This was a throw-away line just to gig Coach Cal.
We are seeing fewer and fewer "impeding the offensive player" fouls when they should be called. We are seeing more illegal screens and more wrestling fouls, perhaps, but those should always have been called, anyway. Don’t get me wrong — those are good things, but why did we have to stop calling the others?
Is the game better? It has been, but it is going back to what it was just as we all knew it would as the season wears on. It was always inevitable. The officials don’t want to call the fouls, and once they feel the heat is off, they predictably stop doing it.
Other Kentucky sports
Bat Cats’ JaVon Shelby has been named 3rd string pre-season All American by D1baseball. Congrats!
Baseball America has UK ranked #25 pre-season. I sure hope the Bat Cats are better this season than last, and I expect they will be.
The most important position in football has become the most tenuous and uncertain at the college level. It’s not an illusion lately that the best and brightest quarterbacks don’t stick with their original school at a record rate. The numbers scream it.
So you like last-second drama? Watch this as Georgia Southern defeats Appy State on a 4-point play at the end of the game:
Damn. I hate facing an angry team at home. Iowa State comes from behind to run down the Jayhawks.
Duke falls at Miami to drop their fourth game in the last five. Miami is a really good team, and Duke is surely struggling with Amile Jefferson still out, but the Blue Devils seem destined to fall out of the AP top 25 for the first time in a very long while. Also:
Duke message boards this morning… pic.twitter.com/1eqNCfx44M— Duke Blue Devils (@DukeOfHoops) January 26, 2016
Other sports news
Danny Trevathan is set for the Super Bowl. Kentucky players have been having a big impact in Super Bowls, recently. Maybe we’ll see it again on February 7th.
John Wall won’t start in the All-Star game. He finished 6th in the voting.
MKG is (finally) back from injury. Great to hear!
The scientists behind the bulletin adjusted the clock from five minutes-to-midnight to three minutes-to-midnight last year, citing climate change, modernization of nuclear weapons and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals as "extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity."
Whatever. We all gotta go sometime, and as the old saying goes, misery loves company.
The best and worst states for retirement. Nice to see my preferred destination, South Carolina, in the top five.
All I can say is, it must take a special person to desire retirement in South Dakota and Wyoming. I’m sure they’re fine states, and the low population surely would have an appeal to a certain rugged type, but to me, they are head-scratchers as retirement destinations. Perhaps one day I’ll visit them to find out, one can never say until one has been there.
Also, notice Kentucky limping in at #41, and Hawaii down at 49. I do wonder when Washington DC achieved statehood. I must’ve missed it.