It’s Christmase eve, and I want to wish a Merry Christmas to everyone in the Big Blue Nation. Also, holiday greetings to all of you out there who celebrate different observations during this time. May it be blessed for all of you.
Tweet of the Morning
Five SEC hoops teams are in the top 50 of the RPI today: No. 1 Kentucky, No. 19 LSU, No. 20 Arkansas, No. 28 Georgia, No. 46 Texas A&M.— Brandon Zimmerman (@BZSEC) December 22, 2014
So the SEC doesn’t suck as much as people say?
Mark Stoops post-2014 season press conference, in case you missed it:
Streaking the Lawn, the SB Nation Virginia Cavalier blog, tries to answer the question: Who had a better game on Saturday, Kentucky or Virginia?
Virginia no doubt had better sustained play, but Kentucky had the better first half. It’s one of those totally irrelevant, academic minutia-rich questions that only us basketball geeks would give any consideration at all.
Let’s put it this way — Kentucky’s meant more to basketball fans because of UCLA’s history, but from a purely technical standpoint, you could say that Virginia might have been more impressive, especially considering their comparative lack of size.
Of course, what makes Kentucky so good is that the roster has enough talent to supplement two top 10 teams. Hell, they might be the two best teams in the country. The second unit has four McDonald’s All-Americans of its own, including game-changing freshmen like Booker and Tyler Ulis. Each gives Kentucky a dimension the starters lack, be it shooting, pressure defense or a probing floor general that makes things easier for everyone else.
I’m beginning to buy into this idea a little bit. If Devin Booker does what he did against UCLA, you cannot beat Kentucky. It’s a mathematical impossibility.
UCLA’s Kevon Looney says he wants to play Kentucky again. No, son. You don't.— Not Jerry Tipton (@NotJerryTipton) December 20, 2014
What Kentucky must do to beat Louisville. I have a question for Jon, though — what if Louisville does all that, and still loses? Can we expect a "they’re unbeatable!" then?
Scott Phillips says distractions are a bigger foe for Kentucky than Louisville. Probably. Calipari has done a masterful job since he’s been here of minimizing their impact, though. I’m confident he can do it again.
Okay, this is actually pretty awesome. I was so distracted by the shiny gifs, I couldn’t even read the article. But it looks pretty good. Somebody let me know…
Dick Gabriel and Lachland McClean debate the Kentucky-Louisville game:
I’m shocked… Shocked! Michael Dyer ineligible for Belk Bowl.
This is not representative of Harrell’s typical behavior. He always has been delightful in our interactions, whether after NCAA Tournament games or when trying out for the USA Basketball U-19 squad he helped lead to a gold medal in 2013.
But Harrell shouldn’t get a pass on the rule simply because he’s a good guy. By the letter of the NCAA’s fighting rule, a player who has thrown a punch has been involved in a fight. To determine he did not throw a punch at Patterson requires either poor eyesight or extraordinary mental gymnastics.
I think he’s right. I’m glad Harrell is not out for the UK game, though.
Gary Parrish’s poll attacks. I found this rather funny, and actually defensible:
There are no rules when it comes to ranking. But this should be one: No team can be ranked immediately following a home loss to a SWAC school. Like, if that became some weird ranking rule, would anybody object? Would a single person have a problem with it?
It took them 99 years, but Louisville (.665) has finally surpassed Western Kentucky (.664) in win percentage. UK's is .762. #CatFacts— UK Cat Facts (@UK_CatFacts) December 22, 2014
What the top ten basketball teams in the nation want for Christmas. While it would be nice if Kentucky suddenly got a competitive SEC, It isn’t particularly likely, nor do they need it. Kentucky practicing against itself is probably the best basketball game in the country on any given day. I don’t worry about their readiness for the tournament, even if the rest of the SEC just defaults to them.
Note: Yet another court storming. This practice needs to stop.
Look at how close the game was — except for one thing:
Courtesy of KenPom.com
In close games, offensive rebounding really matters, because it makes you more efficient. Sometimes, that little bit of extra efficiency is all you need to pull the upset.
The thing is, rebounding in general is less about technique than effort. Whenever you see a good rebounding team beaten significantly on the boards, it’s safe to infer that the winner’s effort was better on the glass, and probably overall. When you see an underdog winning on the glass, you can correctly infer most of the time (there are no absolutes) that the underdog is competing harder for those rebounds.
This should serve as a caution to Kentucky. In close games, the little things can make all the difference.
Texas loses to Stanford in overtime. This is an example of a game where Texas didn’t do anything badly enough to deserve to lose except for one thing — judging by the 3-point percentage, they either didn’t defend the perimeter well, or Stanford was just hot.
I think the real reason the Longhorns lost is that they allowed Stanford to be a little too efficient inside the arc. but judging from this review from Barking Carnival, it was just Stanford making challenged shots, especially long two-point shots.
Long 2-pointers are an interesting shot. Nominally, they are the worst shot in college basketball, but when they go in, they can be even more demoralizing to a coaching staff than a bunch of long threes — coaches teach their kids to try to force teams into challenged long 2-point shots — that’s an overt objective of the defense. When those go in, it’s devastating in a psychological way.
Other sports news
- Andrei Kirilenko traded to tanking Philadelphia, allegedly refuses to play for them.
University of Louisville sued by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting for violating the open records law.
Words that don’t go together: "Heidi Klum" and "too much skin."
Could the dwarf planet Ceres support life? I’m guessing no.