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April 15th, 2014

New Walk-Ons Podcast about Calipari and More


For those of you that don’t know, I occasionally (not as often as I would like) do a podcast on the side about college basketball called “The Walk Ons.” My co-host is Ben Swain (a Duke fan) and we talk about whatever is going on in college basketball. Today’s episode is one you might want to catch as we talk a ton about Calipari and the Final Four experience, including some backstage stories from my trip to Dallas. It is entertaining for hopefully everyone, but I am certain it will be enjoyed by UK fans. So take a listen at the link below or subscribe below on iTunes. I promise you will be entertained or your money back:

WALK-ONS episode with Matt and Ben on Calipari

Subscribe to Walk-Ons on iTunes

The NBA Playoff Teams Are Set!

Following last night’s slate of NBA games all 16 playoff spots have been locked up and a bunch of former Cats will be making some noise this May. The only question now is where the teams will finish and what teams the Cats will face for a playoff run:

Chuck Hayes and Patrick Patterson: Eastern Conference 3-seed Toronto Raptors

Chuck Hayes: 4th playoff appearance, 1st with Raptors

Patrick Patterson: 1st playoff appearance.

The young Raptors are here and ahead of schedule as they need just one more win to lock up the third seed. Toronto will bring a core of players making their playoffs debut and Patrick Patterson is chief among them. Pat’s numbers have fallen back a bit since going down to injury in March but I expect he will be ready to play in his first playoff run. Former Cat and head coach Dwayne Casey will have his work cut out for him if the Raptors have to take on the Heat in the second round but let’s not overlook the Wizards.

Nazr Mohammed and the 4th seeded Chicago Bulls

Marquis Teague and the 5-6 seed Brooklyn Nets

John Wall and the 6-7 seed Washington Wizards

MKG and the 6-7 seed Charlotte Bobcats

Currently the Wizards are tangled with the Bobcats in a battle for the 6 or 7 seeds in the East with the Nets controlling their own destiny for the fifth seed. Teague got some playoff experience last year with the Bulls but for Wall and Kidd-Gilchrist this will be their first appearance in the playoffs. The former Cats may not make much noise this season but the future is bright for these young players. Also don’t forget about former Cat Frank Vogel who led the Pacers to the top seed in the East.

In the West:

Terrance Jones and the 4th seeded Houston Rockets

After a strong start to the season the Phoenix Suns fizzled down the stretch and now Terrance Jones is the lone Cat who will be playing in the West. Jones has been an revelation in Houston this season averaging 12 points per game with Dwight Howard drawing the defensive gameplan.  The Rockets could take on the Spurs in the opening round with a chance to steal a spot in the finals due to Tony Parker’s recent back injury. Could be a very wild west this summer.


Which former Cat will you be pulling for during this playoff run?

Tennessee Probz


Cuonzo Martin’s abrupt rocky-top exodus on the heels of the Sweet 16 is a tough blow for Tennessee Athletics. It’s bad from a personnel standpoint, obviously, and yet another spill in the PR aisle for the already unsanitary Volunteer Athletic Department as well as the Paid Athletic Department.

While the University of Tennessee is unquestionably a Women’s Basketball School, it does boast a large, fervent fan base and an athletic department with deep pockets. There was once a decent football team here they say, way back before such esteemed gridiron names as Kiffin and Dooley…’s idiot children were paid millions to roam the sideline.

Heck, even the men’s basketball team had a few good runs. There was the Bert & Ernie Show, and Jerry Green cobbled together a couple decent squads thanks to strong chemistry formed by players who never ran out of eligibility. And of course Bruce Pearl rallied the Vols all the way to the midseason AP Poll summit and an Elite 8 before his run in Knoxville went up in weed and barbecue smoke.

The gorgeous Thompson-Bowling Arena, on the pristine waters of the Stinkin Creek, is home to the Lady Vols and on super special occasions, the men are allowed to play here too they just have to clean up afterward.


Women’s Basketball is the pillar of UT Athletics, and there’s certainly no shame in that game. The Lady Vols are one of the greatest traditions in women’s hoops and the way things are trending, they’ll probably still be a top 10-ish program in that sport for the foreseeable future. How many schools can lay claim to a top 10-ish women’s sports team anchoring its athletic program?

Still, don’t be surprised if UT swings for a walk-off hire to replace Martin. After striking out on its last two football hires in an attempt to replace the Hall of Fame coach it fired, they swung hard and landed Butch Jones. As the great Harmon Killebrew might have said, “Sometimes you swing for the fence and you fly out to shallow center, but you sleep easy knowing you took an honest hack.”

Going to the Elite 8 in the Women’s NCAA Tournament year in and year out is what makes the University of Tennessee a special place. It also has a top-notch marching band. And, Knoxville has a Cheesecake Factory. Strong campus attributes, no doubt, but you have to wonder: just what exactly is the cost of living in the Lady Vols’ shadow?

Free snacks for everyone!


The NCAA has finally made right on one of its most ridiculous rules, which dealt with the amount and even the type of snacks allowed to be given to student-athletes free of charge. In one of his many media stops this week, John Calipari mentioned just how absurd it was that players could be given peanuts, but not peanut butter. Well, it looks like the NCAA finally decided to spend time policing more important things than the quantity and quality of snacks being provided to the student-athletes. The topic was brought to light when in the midst of the NCAA tournament, Shabazz Napier mentioned that he and his teammates are often times hungry.

Division I student athletes can receive unlimited meals and snacks in conjunction with their athletics participation, the Legislative Council decided Tuesday. The rule, which applies to walk-ons as well as scholarship student-athletes, is an effort to meet the nutritional needs of all students.

Calipari has been in the camp to allow more food and better nutrition to be provided to his players for a while now. In 2012, Calipari went on a bit of a rant about the nutritional needs of the athletes not being met by the NCAA. Calipari said in reference to the Wildcat Lodge, “We have a kitchen here that should be open for these kids whenever they want to eat.” Calipari even wrote about it on in an article titled: “Let’s focus on rules that matter and let our kids eat.”

Previously, schools were only allowed to provide 3 meals a day to student-athletes. Calipari argued that nutritionists have done studies that say college athletes are under-fed. With the amount of energy and calories being expended each day by athletes, Calipari says the players should be eating 6-7 times a day. 

Somewhere Melvin Turpin is smiling.

Eric Bledsoe with the best comeback ever?

Photo by Barry Gossage |

Photo by Barry Gossage |

We now take a break from the Calipari media tour for an afternoon laugh. Athletes have to deal with trolls on Twitter everyday, and most of the time, they ignore them. Former Cat Eric Bledsoe couldn’t resist yesterday, delivering one of the funnier and classic comebacks to a fan who called him the worst player in the NBA:

Bonus points to that guy for using the correct “you’re,” though.

Things to do as you wait for players to decide

Bob Donnan | Getty

Bob Donnan | Getty


Watch all other schools fall apart
as their only good players declare for the draft. Yeah, Kentucky might have a few players leaving, but we will still be stocked up for next year. Other teams will fall off the radar as their ringer goes straight for the NBA without even looking back.



Watch Cal’s press tour
as he continues to defend grandmothers and hip-hop. Buy his book to follow along with as well so you don’t get loss,  since you will be only watching Cal non-stop with all of the appearances he has been making.



Watch Jeff Goodman
downplay Willie’s return like there are other seven foot first round picks growing on trees.  Better yet, as a Goodman protest go out and buy that awesome Willie shirt and Snapchat him a picture.



Laugh at Chad Ford
and his analysis of players. Don’t forget to listen to the opposite of what he
says. It can be like a fun game of opposite day. At least his errors can bring us
joy in some sort of way, right?



Start getting yourself ready
for football mode as the spring game is right around the corner. Yes. Kentucky still has a football program. I know it got lost a little as Kentucky did well in the tournament. But with the spring game approaching next week, it’s time to get ready for tailgating and watching guys knock each other out.



Go and see Draft Day.
Just kidding. You can always wait until the real life NFL draft in May. Sorry,    Roger. I know you really wanted that money.



Send thank you letters
to Indiana’s school of journalism for promoting UK alumni in their brochure. That was so nice of them to promote our basketball  program and we should let them know how happy we are about it.


Take your significant other somewhere nice
to make up for ignoring her for the past 6 months during basketball season. You have been putting that person off for a while now and it’s time to show them how much you appreciate them…when it isn’t basketball season.



Cancel plans with your significant other
as you realize the NBA season is still going on and you have other Cats to watch. It’s just one date, they can wait a little bit longer right?



Thank the players
for all the heart attacks and joy they gave us throughout the season and especially March. Let them know you appreciate them for joining BBN and leaving everything on the court no matter what decision they make.



Alex Poythress’ dad says the NBA decision is “muddy and convoluted”

Photo by Darrell Bird,

Photo by Darrell Bird,

During all of the talk about players staying and going, many believed that Alex Poythress returning to school was a relatively safe bet, right? Well…Larry Vaught spoke to Antoine Poythress’, Alex’s father, who said that this year, the process is “so muddy and convoluted”:

“For Alex, it’s even worse because it is not very clear. Last year (making a decision about the draft) looked like a cake walk compared to this year. It is so muddy and convoluted this year.”

Poythress Sr. says that the limited time frame and the process of getting feedback through the NCAA has made the whole ordeal “a nightmare,” but in the end, it will be his son’s decision, even if it differs from his own opinion.

These comments correspond with those from our own Ryan Lemond, who says he’s hearing that although Alex himself wants to come back, there are some in his camp that feel he may not get the amount of playing time he should with all of these players returning. Ryan added that he believes Alex will be back, and his scoop has been spot-on so far. To hear all of Ryan’s comments, listen to the second hour of today’s podcast.

Vaught has a ton of quotes from Alex’s dad, which you should go check out on

[Whether to declare for draft or stay at UK “muddy, convoluted” for Alex Poythress this year]

New plans call for $2 million naming rights to renovated Rupp


Right now, the Kentucky Senate is reviewing the new financial plan for a renovated Rupp Arena, which includes $80 million of funding from the state, as proposed by Governor Steve Beshear. According to WKYT, the new plans also call for $2 million of the funding to come from selling the arena’s naming rights. That’s one of the highest sums for naming right to an arena without a professional team in the country, behind The Sprint Center in Kansas City, which sold its naming rights for $2.5 million, and ahead of the Yum Center, which sold its naming rights for $1.3 million.

Until now, we had heard naming rights would be a last resort for funding, but it looks like we’re nearing that point, even if $2 million is only a drop in the bucket of the $310 million estimated overall cost. Right now, every penny matters, especially since Senate President Robert Stivers is STILL non-committal after talks on Tuesday. Remember that regardless of who buys the naming rights, “Rupp Arena” will still be included in the name.

So…Big Ass Rupp Arena?


Cal says he’s moved more by the work he’s doing at Kentucky than the NBA

Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics)

Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics)

Throughout his tour of the ESPN headquarters today, John Calipari has been asked about the NBA several times. On “First Take,” Skip Bayless asked him if the Lakers called, would Cal go? “NO!” On “SportsNation,” he was asked if the over/under on him taking the Lakers job was 1%, what would he take? “UNDER!”

On “Numbers Never Lie,” he put it this way: the work he’s doing at Kentucky, helping families, means more to him than the work he could do in the NBA, even if he believes he would be more successful in the league his second time around:

“I think I would be (better than my previous NBA stint) if I did it, but that’s not the point for me. Can I say this in a humble way? I don’t need the money. If I stop coaching today at Kentucky, my toes are up and I’m eating Cheetos and I’m fine.

“But here’s my point: What’s happening for me, what I’m feeling about coaching, goes beyond wins, goes beyond building a franchise. Can I do that in the NBA? If there was someplace that I felt that it would be more than just coaching and trying to win … I’m not there to help you build your franchise value or help sell tickets. That doesn’t move me. What moves me now is what I’m doing, and how I’m helping families.”

Let’s keep it that way.

The 6 Best Moments of Cal’s SportsNation Chat

Photo @ESPNprDScott

Photo @ESPNprDScott

Cal is all over ESPN today, even doing an online chat with SportsNation. Miss it? Here are my six highlights…

1. Cal says he’ll take about a month off to recover from his hip surgery

When asked when he would get some time to relax, Cal said he will take about a month off in May to have his hip replaced, the first time in his coaching career he’s taken that long of a break. He later added that his hip injury is more of a nerve issue than bone-on-bone, and he tried “steam massages and anything else I could do to help alleviate that.”

2. He hopes UK football will be as special as UK basketball someday

A fan asked Cal if he ever wished he coached at a school where football was as big as basketball to balance some of the media attention, and Cal said there are about four programs in which you can win in both sports, and he hopes Kentucky is added to that list. For now, he says he enjoys helping the football program “grow into something special.”

3. Cal likes golfing, reading, and long walks on the beach

And he really prefers penne pasta to bucatini.

4. He says he tried to make just as many funny faces as Julius Randle this year

When asked who makes the better funny faces, him or Randle, Cal said he tried to match him funny face to funny face, but “he got me.” Yeah…



…he did.

5. Cal’s never filled out an NCAA bracket


6. He admitted part of “the tweak” was “toying with the media”

Martin from New York asked Cal if he got any enjoyment from watching everyone try to guess what the tweak was, which led to this classic Cal admission: “Obviously, I like toying with the media.” Naaaah. No way. He then added that he kept the tweak a secret so other teams wouldn’t find out he was playing Andrew as a passer.

Read a full transcript of the chat here.

Barry Rohrssen to UK sounding more and more likely

(Photo by Jim McIsaac | Getty Images)

(Photo by Jim McIsaac | Getty Images)

Although we probably won’t hear anything official from UK until Cal gets back from his national book tour, it’s looking more and more likely that Barry Rohrssen will become the next UK assistant coach. Rumors have linked the Pitt assistant to the job for almost a week, and Rivals’ Matthew Steinbrink, who covers Pitt athletics, tweeted that multiple sources are saying it’s happening:

Come on down, Slice.

Dates and locations of Calipari’s book-signing tour released


Want a signed copy of John Calipari’s new book, “Players First”? Dates and locations for Cal’s local book-signing tour were announced this afternoon. Here’s a list:

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 3.16.11 PM

Remember, the signing event in Louisville on April 24, “An Evening with John Calipari,” will take place at The Clifton Center, and will feature a discussion led by our own Matt Jones. Tickets are $30, which gets you admission to the discussion with Calipari and Matt, a copy of Calipari’s new book, and a designated place in the book-signing line based on the letter on your ticket stub. Seating at the event will be general admission (no reserved seats). You can order your ticket here.

Can’t make it to one of the stops? You can order your copy of “Players First” online by clicking here.

Guy who said he would get a Willie tattoo going through with Willie tattoo

Our favorite

Our favorite

Remember the guy who said he would get a tattoo of Willie Cauley-Stein’s face on his body if Willie came back to school? Well, Willie’s coming back, and the guy, Michael Gray, says he’s following through on his promise. Gray tweeted that he’s scheduled an appointment to get the tattoo on Sunday, and will probably go with a “more traditional Willie.”

We people are crazy.

Cuonzo Martin leaves Tennessee for California


Ready for a mid-afternoon shocker? Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin has agreed to become the next coach at California, sources tell ESPN’s Jeff Goodman. Cuonzo just finished his third season in Knoxville, and, despite a disappointing regular season, took the Vols to the Sweet 16.

Despite Tennessee’s postseason run, it’s clear that there’s not a lot of love lost between Cuonzo, the Tennessee administration, and fans. A few months ago, 36,000 fans signed a petition for Bruce Pearl to take Cuonzo Martin’s job, and a few weeks after Martin publicly stated he would return and one day after UT pulled in a commitment from 7’1″ Kingsley Okoroh, he’s taking off for Cal.

Not to be all Forde here, but you’ve made your bed, Volunteer fans…

John Calipari on First Take

Going toe to toe with Stephen A Smith and Skip Bayless

Calipari to appear on “The Colbert Report” on April 23


John Calipari’s national book tour will end on Wednesday, but UK has announced that Cal will be a guest on “The Colbert Report” on April 23. For those of you aren’t familiar, “The Colbert Report” is a satirical news show on Comedy Central hosted by Stephen Colbert, who plays a conservative political pundit similar to Bill O’Reilly. Colbert was just tapped as David Letterman’s successor at “The Late Show” on CBS.

Odds Cal understands “The Colbert Report” is just a schtick? If not, who wants the honor of explaining it to him?

Got a question for Cal? Join ESPN’s SportsNation chat

(Darrell Bird | Catspause)

(Darrell Bird | Catspause)

Got a question you’ve been dying to ask John Calipari? You’re in luck. As part of his ESPN tour today, Cal is doing an online chat with ESPN’s SportsNation. He’ll begin answering questions at 1:30 p.m. ET, so click here to submit yours before then. I’ll post the best responses a little later on.

Please, no one ask about the tweaks.