By Nick Roush on ©July 21st, 2018 @ 2:00pm
The SEC’s favorite doormat is predicted to finish the 2018 season last in the East. Just two years removed from a bowl berth, Derek Mason shares a similar situation with Barry Odom as a defensive-minded head coach who must rely on his offense to win games this fall.
The Best Thing Derek Mason Said — Hear how Mason summarized a not-so-great 2017 season.
“We got off to a fast start. We struggled in the middle as we got into conference play. Disappointed with how we played in the middle of that stretch of games, but I believe this, I believe you learn a lot about your team. And I thought we finished the right way.
“And so, in that, this team is now experienced. It was galvanized by that experience a year ago. The fast start, the struggle in the middle and then the finish, I think that really propelled this group because they haven’t forgotten any of that. As a matter of fact, I know we went into the season with unmet, unkept expectations.”
The Best Thing Derek Mason Said (Out of Context) — “Now it is time to go, so let’s ride.”
Coach Speak 101 — Derek Mason is a big fan of “the grind,” a phrase used multiple times in a variety of ways. He also tried to convince the media that Vanderbilt’s roster has never been better.
“I look at our depth and say it’s as good as it’s ever been.” Mason doesn’t fool me.
“Nashville’s Next Star” — Outside of the Omni Hotel in Atlanta, an electronic billboard featured Vanderbilt’s quarterback, marketed as Nashville’s Next Star. After relinquishing defensive coordinator duties, apparently billboard placement is now a part of Mason’s job.
“I’m excited about me getting back to the responsibilities of being head coach, CEO of a program,” Mason said. “If you want to know what that looks like, step right outside and you look at the billboard of Kyle Shurmur and that tells you exactly where we’re at. I’m CEO. I am looking at everything that’s Vanderbilt football and putting the right guy out front to showcase our program.”
Even though Shurmur’s name doesn’t scream “star,” his numbers do. The SEC’s second-leading passer with 235 yards per game in 2017, Shurmur only threw three interceptions in the first nine games of the season. With five returning starters on the offensive line to protect him, Vanderbilt’s success goes through Shurmur.
Vanderbilt’s Scariest Player — The Commodore defense has not been the same since Zach Cunningham took his talents to the NFL. Holding down the fort this year is LaDarius Wiley. The Mike Edwards of Vanderbilt’s defense, this defensive back is moved all over the field. As a junior Wiley had 90 tackles, six passes defended, a forced fumble and an interception.
Same Face, New Place — Remember Alex Stump? He was a four-star Ohio receiver that committed to Kentucky in May of 2014. When Ohio State offered that fall, he quickly flipped to the Buckeyes. After two years in Columbus, Stump is searching for more playing time as a redshirt sophomore for Vanderbilt.
Good News for UK — Vanderbilt started the season with three wins, including a victory over a Top 25 Kansas State team. Then they got a little too big for their britches. “Alabama, you’re next,” was the nail in Vanderbilt’s coffin and they are still trying to find a way to recover.
Bad News for UK — Kentucky’s pass defense has all of the tools to be great, but they ranked 13th in the SEC in pass defense last year by allowing 251.6 yards per game. If inconsistency continues to be an issue, Shurmur is good enough to pick apart the Kentucky defense.
Fear Factor — 2.16
Shurmur was good enough to pick apart the Kentucky defense last year. Instead, the Cats picked him off four times. This home game is a must-win that should not be a problem for Kentucky.
By Nick Roush on ©July 21st, 2018 @ 1:30pm
SEC Media Days reminded the Big Blue Nation that Kentucky football is right around the corner. Benny Snell’s third-person hype can only do so much. However, this video of the Cats’ offseason training will prepare you to run through a brick wall.
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) July 21, 2018
42 days till kickoff.
By Nick Roush on ©July 21st, 2018 @ 12:45pm
Folks, Tiger Woods is back.
The man who changed the game of golf has been MIA on major championship Sundays since his iconic victory at Torre Pines in 2008. After a decade of scandal, injuries and swing changes, Tiger Woods has put himself in a position to return to glory.
Woods started his Saturday at Carnoustie six shots behind the leader. Six birdies later, he was tied for the early lead and fist-pumping back into our hearts.
— The Open (@TheOpen) July 21, 2018
Unfortunately, the lead was not meant to last. He bogeyed 16, his only bogey of the day, as Kevin Kisner sank a birdie. Woods shot a 66 and is (as of right now) just two shots back entering the final round of The British Open.
If you leave now, you can make it to Scotland in time to see Tiger’s return to glory.
By Nick Roush on ©July 21st, 2018 @ 12:00pm
John Wall is used to wearing red, white and blue. Next week, he’s trading in his Wizards’ garb for Team USA practice uniforms.
The former Kentucky point guard will be in Las Vegas Wednesday through Friday for Team USA minicamp, the first event to prepare the Americans for the 2019 World Cup and 2020 Olympics. There is no confirmation that Devin Booker and Anthony Davis will attend the minicamp, but it’s safe to say DeMarcus Cousins will not be on the court.
The team will be narrowed to 12 from the following 35 finalists:
By Nick Roush on ©July 21st, 2018 @ 11:00am
Kentucky tight end C.J. Conrad has earned plenty of praise throughout his career. No matter what he does, fans want to see more, and rightfully so. If Conrad catches a pass, there’s a good chance it’s going to be a touchdown.
In four years of football, Conrad has averaged one touchdown every five times he has caught a pass. To put it another way, 20 percent of Conrad’s receptions are touchdowns. That stat was even more incredible last year. Conrad turned every fourth reception into a touchdown.
It’s easy to understand why fans want to see more. That level of production is remarkable. What’s hard to see is how well he performs when he isn’t catching passes. Thanks to Pro Football Focus, an outlet that grades every player in every game, there’s a number assigned to his awesomeness as a blocker. Conrad is Kentucky’s highest-graded returning player. The 82.7 grade in 2017 was ranked 15th among all tight ends.
Conrad’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. The preseason Third Team All-SEC Selection has been named to the John Mackey Award Watch List for the second consecutive season. If Conrad can bounce back after a season-ending injury, he could take home hardware as the nation’s top tight end on December 5.
Up to 255 pounds, Conrad is poised to make enough plays to earn the prestigious honor, but that’s not his goal this season. “My personal expectation this year is to get this team to play in the SEC Championship Game,” Conrad said at SEC Media Days. “That’s something I really want to do and I know it’s something this team wants to do.”
By Nick Roush on ©July 21st, 2018 @ 10:00am
Dangerous storms swept across Kentucky Friday afternoon, creating chaos wherever it went. The hail was no joke. From Louisville to Lexington and the mountains beyond, quarter-sized hail was common. This chunk of ice was picked up at the Beechmont fire station in Louisville.
The damage the hail brought is incomparable to the 60 mph winds. More than 13,000 in Jefferson County and 40,000 in Fayette County are still without power this morning. In Woodford County, instead of knocking over the wooden power line poles, the wind snapped them in half. There was enough damage to call for a local state of emergency in the county. Of all the wild accounts, but this might be the wildest.
— Jacqueline Nie (@JacquelineLEX18) July 21, 2018
Matthew Mitchell made light of the wreckage at his home.
— Matthew Mitchell (@UKCoachMitchell) July 20, 2018
Naturally, The Barbasol Championship was forced off the course (one player was an 8-foot putt away from finishing his day at 18, but could not take the swing). Tournament officials worked laboriously to get the course prepared to play by 7:30 this morning. Hopefully the golfers and road crews can finish their work before more storms potentially roll in Saturday evening.
Teater Makes Moves
Nobody has been more popular at the Barbasol Championship than Josh Teater. The local star received a sponsorship exemption to play in the tournament and has not disappointed.
Teater shot a six-under in the second round to improve to ten-under in the tournament. He’s currently tied for sixth with Hunter Mahan and just five shots back from the leader, Troy Merritt.
A Wonderful Event
Yesterday the KSR Crew received a taste of PGA Tour golf. Matt and Drew are no strangers to professional golf, but it was my first PGA Tour experience. A wonderful setup at the scenic Keene Trace, I was excited to learn the event will stay in Central Kentucky for at least four more years. For the most exciting action, I recommend the par threes. Regardless of where the tee shot goes, it feels like there’s more pressure to make putts on the par threes than anywhere else on the course.
Cats Picked to Finish Fifth in SEC East
And it should not come as a surprise. Even though UK is going for five in a row against South Carolina, in 2018 the Gamecocks draw the West’s two worse teams, Arkansas and Ole Miss. Kentucky can beat South Carolina, again, and still have a worse finish because of the Cats’ difficult schedule.
Despite all that, I picked the Cats to finish third, ahead of Mizzou and Carolina. A look at where the media predicted the SEC’s order of finish in 2018:
1. Georgia (271)
2. South Carolina (8)
3. Florida (4)
5. Kentucky (1)
6. Tennessee (1)
1. Alabama (263)
2. Auburn (19)
3. Mississippi State (2)
4. Texas A&M
6. Ole Miss
Snell Only First Team All-SEC Selection
The SEC Media believed Snell when he said he was the best running back in the SEC. They’ve bought into the Benny hype, but not everybody else’s.
Josh Allen and Mike Edwards could’ve been NFL Draft picks. Instead they returned for one final year at UK, but they’ll have to prove some people wrong along the way. Edwards and Allen were second team selections, while C.J. Conrad was named to the third team.
Need Something to Watch?
It’s going to be a slow sports Saturday. I promise you the site will be filled with plenty of preseason football chatter, but aside from golf, there aren’t a lot of sports on TV to occupy your time. Fear not. Tonight at 8:00 ESPNU will replay Kentucky’s 2007 upset of No. 1 LSU at Commonwealth Stadium.
If that isn’t enough football to tickle your fancy, the latest season of Last Chance U just arrived to Netflix. Kentucky fans get a special treat. In episode three you’ll see why quarterback Terry Wilson has the nickname “Terry Touchdown.”
The KSR Shop and Kentucky Branded have a huge sale for the weekend. Head to ShopKSR.com to take advantage of 50% off select short sleeve tees. You can never have too many short sleeve tees so this is the perfectly opportunity to pick out a collection of new great designs. Sale ends Sunday at midnight.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©July 20th, 2018 @ 11:00pm
Former Kentucky practice star and current New York Knick Enes Kanter had quite the journey to get where he is today. After coming over from Turkey, Kanter had a back-and-forth battle with the NCAA, who eventually declared the 6-foot-11 center ineligible for receiving money as a professional athlete back home.
Even without Kanter, the 2010-11 Wildcats made it to the Final Four before falling to Kemba Walker’s Connecticut Huskies, who went on to win the title.
For Kanter, the team, and the Big Blue Nation as a whole, it only makes you wonder what could’ve been.
Our very own Aaron Torres had the opportunity for a sit-down interview with Kanter about his time at Kentucky and the NBA, where that exact topic came up.
If Kanter was eligible? Kentucky would have another banner, “100-percent.”
Check out the transcript of the entire conversation, followed by the link to the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast:
On what the fans at Kentucky meant to him:
I remember even when I couldn’t play at Kentucky, the whole state was doing ‘Free Enes’ signs everywhere. The cups, the flags, everything, that was awesome. That shows how much that the people around love you. And that was awesome for me because I came from Turkey. And for Americans to just respect you that much, it was like ‘You know what? I’m not going to Europe to play basketball. I’m staying right here.’
His fight with the NCAA:
It was tough because I was 16-years-old turning down a million dollars, a million dollars to come and play NCAA basketball.
[They, the club, paid] expenses [that it].
It was tough for a 16-year-old kid turning down a million dollars to come here and play college basketball. And then when they say ‘You can’t play college basketball’ it was so frustrating for me.
First, they said ‘you can practice with the team.’ And then they said ‘You cannot even practice with the team anymore.’ The NCAA said ‘no more practicing with the team.’ They made me ineligible permanently.
His fight with the NCAA:
It was still a process.
*** We even told the NCAA, ‘let me sit my first year and play my second year.’ Yes [I was willing to stay a second year]. I told them [that]. And then they said ‘you cannot even practice with the team anymore.’ So Kentucky hired me a special coach and I was working out with him by myself. It was so frustrating I remember.
*** Then the news came out. I woke up and it was on ESPN, ‘Enes Kanter, permanently ineligible. He can never play college basketball ever again.’ It was so frustrating. I came here to play college basketball.
*** And then I sat down with Coach Cal, and Coach Cal told me ‘hey if you want to leave, you can leave to Europe and go play somewhere. But if you want to stay, we are your family.’ And then I said ‘Coach, I want to stay, but I cannot even practice with the team, how am I going to stay?’
So they made me a student assistant coach. I was a coach. I was a 17-year-old coach, 18-year-old coach. I think I was maybe the youngest coach in NCAA history. So they made me a coach and Coach Cal and all the coaches said ‘this is your game. Every practice is your game. So go as hard as you can, try to get ready for the draft.’ Because the NCAA said ‘you’re never going to play.’
I was an assistant coach, so I could practice.
I remember all my buddies were out there playing basketball, and I was down there sitting on the bench taking notes as an assistant coach. Taking notes. It was so frustrating. I had to go to the draft because I couldn’t play.
His entire journey:
Even before that, I tried to go to Findlay Prep in Las Vegas. They told me ‘you’re a professional, go somewhere else. Then I went to Mountain State in West Virginia. Then the same, thing. I stayed there two or three weeks and they said ‘Go somewhere else.’ Then I came to Simi Valley, California, prep school. Rules are different here so I could play here.
Couldn’t play high school, couldn’t play in college and then finally I got drafted in 2011, I was the third pick because I killed it in the combine and everything. And then I remember a week later the news came out, there’s a lockout. So no high school, no college, no NBA. I was like ‘they don’t want me to play basketball in America. Americans, don’t want me.’
Would they have won the 2011 national championship if he could play?
For sure. 100 percent. We went to Final Four, we lost to UConn. We even beat Ohio State with Jared Sullinger. I definitely think [we would have won it all]. And we still talk about it today. Doron [Lamb] came to see me in New York, and we were like ‘Man, if I had played we would have won the national championship.’ I love my teammates.
You can easily listen to the podcast on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast feed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.
By Savannah Patton on ©July 20th, 2018 @ 10:30pm
The one and only Big Mick is a meaty masterpiece in its own right. Composed of two quarter-pound patties* of never-fresh, frozen, mostly beef raised close to the processing plant. Only McDowell’s has the frosted beef and processed cheese to give you a major reason for the afternoon trip to the secret bathroom only you and Debra know about on the 9th floor that is under construction.
You can be a part of McDowell’s KSR Top 10 Tweets by using hashtags like #KSR #BBN or #KSRtop10. You can also nominate tweets by mentioning them with the hashtag. If we like what we see, it could be posted the next day.
If you are interested in sponsoring KSR’s Top 10 Tweets, please contact us at Via Email.
— TheWayneWood (@MrWayneWood) July 20, 2018
Goodbye Grayson Allen.
#9 Ben Laughlin
— Ben Laughlin (@laughlin9170) July 20, 2018
@KySportsRadio please do some of your comedy material on the show. Just a joke or two
— DJS (@dannysteckler) July 20, 2018
I gotta hear this.
#7 John Martin
Great job! Thousands of us appreciate and follow your take on the latest sports not only in Kentucky but nationally.
— John Martin (@jmartincooper) July 20, 2018
Thank you sir!
?Zilpo, KY pic.twitter.com/ojSIOgbc7S
— 40-0? (@woodyapproved) July 20, 2018
Yall can have fun with this KY rain, I’m gonna be on a Florida Beach all week!
I LOVE hearing @KySportsRadio and @ryanlemond be human and not goobers! Don’t get me wrong, I laugh hysterically at the silliness, but the occasional emotional moment makes you more relatable. Love you guys, and love @JaredLorenzen22 too. Lots of prayers on his journey!
— Allison King (@amking09) July 20, 2018
They’re good people!
#4 Hunter Pass
@KySportsRadio U guys are choking me up.
— Hunter Pass (@BaldyInMendo) July 20, 2018
Not gonna lie, I needed tissues after the show this morning.
#3 Heather Givens
— Heather Givens (@heathergivens) July 20, 2018
#2 Isaiah Miller
Listen every day from downtown!
— Isaiah Miller (@Streetsense_Zay) July 20, 2018
#1 Matt Lee
— Matt Lee (@guitarherolee) July 20, 2018
This is amazing.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©July 20th, 2018 @ 10:00pm
Former Kentucky center Karl-Anthony Towns has been in the news quite a bit lately, mostly surrounding his contract situation with Minnesota and his future with the organization.
Like his former teammate Devin Booker, Towns is now eligible for a max-contract extension with the franchise, and most expect him to eventually sign a contract even bigger than Booker’s five-year, $158 million deal in Phoenix. Going into his fourth year, the 7-foot center is eligible for a $187 million contract over five seasons, good for an average of $37.4 million per year.
That was until recent locker room chemistry issues in Minnesota spread, with Jimmy Butler being the root of it all. The former Chicago Bull just turned down a four-year extension with the team, and there is reportedly tension between him, head coach Tom Thibodeau, and Towns. As a result, we’ve heard rumors of both Butler and Towns being traded, along with Thibodeau being relieved of his coaching duties.
This week, Towns didn’t do much to dismiss potential problems brewing in the locker room.
On Wednesday, a reporter at Towns’ youth basketball camp cleverly asked the former Wildcat about his future with these specific camps, asking if he could see himself hosting them in Minnesota for the next several years. It was a loophole way of asking Towns about his future in Minnesota.
He said he was a fan of the area, but wasn’t certain.
“Um, I don’t know,” he said, according to the Star Tribune. “This is a really nice place.”
As a follow-up question, another reporter flat-out asked Towns how contract negotiations were going and whether or not he was going to be around for the long run.
Once again, the Timberwolves big man sidestepped.
“I think I’ve done a lot of things here. I’m very proud of the things I’ve been able to do so far,” Towns said. “But I have a lot of things that have to be talked about, so I’ll move on.”
Last season, Towns helped lead the Timberwolves to their first playoff birth since 2004, averaging 21.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game in the process.
Back on July 2, Thibodeau said he was hopeful he could lock up a deal with his star big man in the very near future.
“I don’t,” Thibodeau said. “We’re just optimistic it will be done as soon as possible.”
Just a few weeks later, no one knows for certain.
As rumors continue to circulate, we know of at least one individual that would love for Towns to join him in Phoenix.
— Devin Booker (@DevinBook) May 19, 2018