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February 22nd, 2018

Next Man Up: Tyler Herro Fueled by All-Star Snub

[Ed. Note: The is the second installment of KSR’s “Next Man Up” series profiling Kentucky’s 2018 signees. Last week, Drew profiled future point guard Immanuel Quickley.]

It’s no secret that Tyler Herro wanted to play in the McDonald’s All-American Game. When the roster came out last month and his name wasn’t on it, he fumed.

“I was actually really mad when that roster came out,” Herro told Kentucky Sports Radio last week. “The next day, I went to the gym at five in the morning and I pretty much go every morning now.”

Hours of shooting did little to dull Herro’s anger. According to his high school coach Travis Riesop, Whitnall’s practice that afternoon was one of their worst ever because Herro was still so mad. A phone call from future coach John Calipari affirmed his belief that he was talented enough to make the roster, as did his inclusion in the Nike Hoop Summit and the five-star ranking he received a few days later from ESPN.

“It made the McDonald’s committee look even more like — why wasn’t I in the game if I had five stars and all that,” Herro wondered. “To me, it’s all political. Who you know, who you don’t know is how you get in the game.”

The snub is just the latest fuel for Herro, who will suit up for Kentucky this fall thanks to a relentless work ethic and burning desire to prove people wrong.


A year ago, Herro’s life was going according to plan. The sharp-shooter from the suburbs of Milwaukee was committed to play for his home state Badgers, set to follow in Sam Dekker’s footsteps. Then, he hit a growth spurt. After a promising summer on the EYBL circuit, Herro was invited to the Team USA Training Camp in October where he played alongside the best of the best, including Immanuel Quickley and Keldon Johnson. With the realization that he belonged among the nation’s elite, Herro decommitted from Wisconsin, setting off a firestorm of criticism from Badger fans that still burns to this day; however, when Kentucky came calling, it was all worth it.

“They heard I was thinking of decommitting, so they asked my AAU coach what was going on and talked to my dad a little bit,” Herro said. “After I decommitted, they took some time and came after me about a week or two later. It kind of went from there.”

Even though other programs reached out — Kansas, Oregon, Villanova, Butler — Herro waited for Kentucky.

“Ever since he opened his commitment up, he was just like, ‘Alright, when’s Kentucky going to come?'” Riesop recalled.

Calipari finally came to Whitnall on October 31, all swagger and NBA statistics in a fine wool suit. Herro took to his pitch like a fish to water.

“He just told me he doesn’t promise anything, not even to Anthony Davis, who was the best player coming out of high school. Everything is earned. That’s what I like about him.”

Riesop said that was all Herro needed to hear.

“Coach Cal came and said, ‘Kentucky is not for everybody. We do things differently and you need to work your butt off when you’re here.’ When he said that, I was like, well, Tyler is definitely a perfect fit for Kentucky.”

It doesn’t hurt that Calipari coached Devin Booker, the newly crowned NBA Three-Point Contest Champion whom Herro models his game after. The two have yet to meet in person, but Herro talks to Booker’s trainer every week and is hoping they can workout together before he comes to Kentucky this summer.

After watching Herro, it’s easy to see the similarities between his game and Booker’s. Not only are both incredible shooters — Herro averages 32.6 points and has seven 40-plus point games this season — like Booker, he’s not afraid to go at the basket, keeping defenders honest inside and out. He also has a Booker-like swagger that will make him beloved in Kentucky and hated outside of it, a chip on his shoulder sharpened from playing in front of bitter Wisconsin fans in gyms all over the state. Even though he decommitted from Wisconsin months ago, he still receives angry tweets from Badger fans blasting him for reneging on his pledge. The jeers from opposing crowds are even worse.

“It’s been weird,” Herro, a lifelong Wisconsin fan, confided. “A lot of student sections that we play against are all wearing Badger gear and calling me a snake and stuff like that. But I guess it’s cool.”

It’s really not, but Herro thrives on the hate, regularly dropping 40-plus points in hostile environments.

“I definitely think that my character has gotten better since I decommitted because I have to focus on the things that are around me and let everybody else talk and say what they believe,” he said.

“He’s just that kid,” Riesop said. “He wants to be pushed, he wants to be better and he’s got that killer mentality that, ‘I want to be the best.’ That’s what I really like about him and why it’s so fun to coach him and see how he responds when we go places on the road.”

Riesop recalls one away game in which two girls in the student section held up “Herro is overrated” signs, then afterwards, asked Herro for a selfie. When Riesop called them out for their hypocrisy, they claimed other people put them up to holding the signs. Booker had to deal with girls licking his car when he was at Kentucky; something tells me Herro will receive similar treatment.

Tyler Herro poses with Wisconsin star Nigel Hayes on his Senior Night

Wisconsin fans’ attacks on Herro seem especially petty when you learn he’s still friends with Badger legend Nigel Hayes. The two met at a Nike camp in Los Angeles Herro’s freshmen year, and even though Herro parted ways with Hayes’ alma matter, they stayed in touch, to the point Hayes came to Herro’s Senior Night on Friday. After posting pictures of the two on Twitter, I was stunned by the number of angry responses from Wisconsin fans, who could clearly learn from Hayes’ example.

Herro’s decision to come to Kentucky instead of Wisconsin hasn’t just resulted in personal attacks; Riesop says it may have also put his campaign for the Wisconsin Mr. Basketball award in jeopardy.

“A lot of times, when people pick that award for our state, they say, ‘Well, we want a hometown guy who’s going to come to Wisconsin’ and now they’re like, ‘He totally did us wrong and that’s not okay.’ Strictly looking at basketball, he really is the best player.”

There are rumblings that Herro may tie for the award, which Riesop says is unfortunate.

“He may be one of the best players to ever come out of this state, so for you to just push him off to the side is really unfortunate because he’s doing things that are absolutely unbelievable.”


Senior Night at Whitnall was a grand affair, with the program saying goodbye to eleven players. Herro and the rest of the normal starting lineup sacrificed their starting spots so five other seniors could enjoy the pomp and circumstance of the final home game. Once in, Herro — wearing custom UK sneakers — didn’t shoot well, scoring only 21 points and hitting two threes, but his other talents were on full display. With his shot not falling, Herro focused on creating for others, often bringing the ball down the court and calling out plays, a role that comes naturally to him.

“He is the guy that picks everybody up and keeps everybody together,” Riesop said. “I think he really is soaking all of that in and I think that’s where he’s really matured this year and that’s why he’s doing so well.”

After Herro was whistled for a phantom double dribble, Whitnall’s gym erupted in boos and the fan beside me muttered, “Good, he plays better when he’s pissed.” On the next series, Herro zipped a beautiful no-look pass down to the lane to his teammate for an easy score and met him under the basket to celebrate. A few plays later, he sprinted down the court and dunked it with authority:

Whintall cruised to an easy win over Shorewood, securing the Woodland East title. Last night, Herro put up 39 points to lead the sixth-ranked Falcons to the Woodland Conference Championship, beating top-ranked Pewaukee on the road. Next week, they’ll start their run in the WIAA Tournament, which Herro hopes ends with another ceremonial cutting of the nets, a tradition he strives to continue at Kentucky. He and fellow signees Immanuel Quickley and Keldon Johnson regularly discuss their goal of winning the national championship in a group text that lights up daily.

“We just see what the guys are doing this year and how they’ve been losing and stuff and we pretty much said to each other that we’ve got to go out there and fight together and put the NBA stuff to the side and just focus on our main goal, winning the national title.”

Herro’s focused on winning a state title right now, but his excitement for next year in Lexington is obvious. Riesop said Herro wears Kentucky gear to school four days out of the week, and it would be five if not for a team rule that players must wear Whitnall gear or dress up on game days.

“He’s really excited about it. We talk about it all the time and it’s funny how he says, ‘Drake follows me now on Instagram’ and all this stuff. It’s cool. I’m happy for him because he is soaking it all in and he’s really enjoying it but at the same time, he’s very humble about it. He doesn’t flaunt it. He doesn’t brag about it.”

Herro’s visited Kentucky twice this season, once for an official visit after reopening his recruitment and again on his birthday for the Florida game. Even though Kentucky lost to the Gators that day, he couldn’t get enough of the Big Blue Nation.

“When I went to the mall, when I got there, right when I walked in the mall, there were ten people asking for a picture right away, which I thought was kind of cool,” he recalled, smiling. “It was weird knowing a lot of people already know me and I’m not even there yet. It should be fun.”

Herro with his parents

Also weird: having LaVar Ball slide in your DMs. Through Instagram, Ball extended an invitation to Herro to join his Junior Baller League in lieu of going to college, a path Herro said is not for him.

“I told my parents right away and all they said was, ‘No. Don’t respond.’ So, I didn’t respond to him, but it was kind of funny, seeing it in my direct messages. I thought it was funny. I don’t want to hate on him or LaMelo or any of his kids. I support what they’re doing but I just don’t think that’s the path I want to go down.”

Since our discussion last week, Kentucky is finally back on the winning path, but there’s no denying the Cats could use Herro’s talents right now.

“It’s exciting to know that next year, they’re going to need a shooter and that’s what they’re missing. Being able to go in there next year and hopefully make an impact right away with my shooting and scoring.”

In fact, Herro went as far to deliver this promise to Kentucky fans.

“It won’t be like this year.” 


Until then, Herro will keep striving to prove his doubters wrong because it’s the only way he knows how.

“That’s the thing about Tyler,” Riesop said. “When people doubt him or people are challenging him that they’re better than him, he’s like, ‘Okay, well I’m going to work twice as hard as you and I’m going to try to do more than you to be better than you.’ He wants to work to be the best. Getting up at five in the morning, stuff like that. That’s his life. That’s what he knows. That’s ingrained in his DNA.”

The fact that Herro is coming to Kentucky is proof he’s a great player; however, one particular snub will always stand out.

“When I make it – hopefully – when they ask me why, I just want to remember the day they left me out of the McDonald’s All-American Game.”



Top Ten Plays of the 2017 UK Football Season, No. 4: South Carolina Goal Line Stand

The way the season ended, it’s easy for fans to forget that Kentucky’s defense won the Cats a couple of games at the start of the 2017 season.  The biggest of those wins, arguably the most impressive of the season, was Kentucky’s fourth consecutive victory over South Carolina.

The blackout at Williams-Brice Stadium was hyped to be South Carolina’s return to glory, all thanks to Will Muschamp.  After an awful start that featured an interception and a one-play Gamecock touchdown drive, Kentucky’s defense absolutely dominated.

The Cats held the Cocks to only 54 rushing yards, they picked off Jake Bentley twice and South Carolina converted just 3-of-12 third downs.  Mark Stoops’ defense saved their best work for fourth down.

Trailing 14-6, Muschamp left the halftime locker room with an aggressive gameplan in hopes to recapture lost momentum.  After forcing a UK three-and-out, South Carolina went for it on fourth down in no-man’s land near midfield.  Derrick Baity stuffed the run for no gain.  Kentucky’s offense responded with a made field goal to put South Carolina in the danger zone.

Desperate for a score, South Carolina methodically marched down to the UK two-yard line in 12 plays.  Twice Bentley completed passes on third down to keep the drive alive and put the Cats on their heels.  The third time was the charm for Kentucky.

On third down Eli Brown attacked the scrambling Bentley, stopping him one yard short of the goal line.  Brown was injured on the hit.  Down to UK’s third and final option, Boogie Watson was inserted at Will linebacker for the first time in his career.  The redshirt freshman scraped to the outside to help Baity make the tackle behind the line of scrimmage.  The biggest play of Boogie’s young career silenced the sold out stadium.

The goal line stand deflated the crowd and defined Kentucky’s hard-nosed victory at South Carolina.  The Cats could not consistently contain SEC offenses in 2017, but their performance in Columbia could be a preview of what’s to come from the veteran group in 2018.

The Top Ten Plays from the 2017 UK Football Season: No. 10, No. 9 No. 8No. 7, No. 6, No. 5


Hey Kentucky: Matt goes in depth on the Pension Bill

Tonight on “Hey Kentucky,” Matt goes in-depth on the pension bill that was just proposed by the Republicans in the Kentucky State Senate. Find out how it’s different than Governor Matt Bevin’s proposal and what it could mean for teachers and state employees across the Commonwealth if it passes:

To see the rest of tonight’s episode, go to HeyKentucky.com.


Kentucky Football Spring Practice Preview: Offensive Line

Logan Stenberg (Photo by 247 Sports)

Some highly respected analysts project seasons based upon returning experience along the offensive line. If that’s the case, then Kentucky should be receiving higher marks than it’s earned thus far during the silly season. This post will address the UK big fellas in relation to the team’s pending spring practice.

The Kentucky offensive line experienced one of the program’s most dominant seasons from the position group in 2016. Major factors for its success were depth, a quality center, experience, and collective healthiness. Fast forward to 2017. Starting left tackle Cole Mosier’s season ending injury that occurred during fall camp led to a seesaw effect within John Schlarman’s unit. Guards played tackle, left and right tackles flip flopped, and a revolving door at center resulted in bad snaps and other mistakes. Throughout early struggles, Schlarman stayed true to his coaching philosophy of establishing a standard substitution rotation and cross-training players amongst other positions.

Center Drake Jackson solidified the middle of the offensive line-of-scrimmage midway through the season. The rising sophomore’s play improved on a weekly basis. Jackson is said to have gained quality weight and strength in the offseason. He will be the base in which Kentucky builds for the next three seasons. The “Drake Effect” projects confidence for the three prior position groups we’ve discussed through this point prior to spring practice: Quarterback, Running Back, and Receiver.

Benny And The Rest: Spring Running Back Preview

2018 Spring Practice Position Competition: Wide Receiver

Spring Practice Position Competitions: Quarterback

The Departed Starter

Kentucky returns four out of five offensive line starters to go along with three players that factored in the rotation. The sole departure is long-time contributor Kyle Meadows. Meadows started 35 consecutive games. He started at both left and right tackle.

Projected Spring Practice Starters

Left TackleLandon Young 6’7, 305 Junior

  • Started 9 career games at left tackle; 6 in 2017
  • Rotated with Kyle Meadows and Cole Mosier at left tackle
  • Extremely high ceiling. Needs to get “there” this spring. It’s time.
  • Registered 27 knockdown blocks as a true freshman
  • Former 5-star prospect, US Army All American

Left Guard: Logan Stenberg 6’6, 320 Junior

  • Started all 13 games as a sophomore
  • Only UK offensive lineman to start all 13 games at the same position in 2017
  • Recorded 8 knockdown blocks vs. Tennessee
  • Locked down starting role. Considered the group’s “enforcer”
  • Registered 37 knockdown blocks as a freshman, missed just one blocking assignment, and allowed one QB pressure in 2016

Center: Drake Jackson 6’2, 305 Sophomore

  • Started final 7 games. Jackson’s improvements coincided with Benny Snell’s increase in rushing yardage.
  • First start was against Mississippi State after an encouraging performance in a win over Missouri
  • Former US Army All-American

Right Guard: Bunchy Stallings 6’3, 318 Senior

  • Started 18 games at both guard and center
  • Was recruited as a center. Appears much more comfortable at guard.
  • Seven consecutive starts within an interior offensive line grouping that consists of G Logan Stenberg, C Drake Jackson, and G Bunchy Stallings. This is an important note going into spring practice. Experience and familiarity are two vital coaches within a football program.
  • Joins Stenberg to construct a physical duo of guards. Both play with a necessary nasty streak for the position.

Right Tackle: George Asafo-Adjei 6’5, 315 Senior

  • Started in 11 career games at both guard and tackle
  • Diverse nature of Asafo-Adjei’s game projects to multiple positions
  • Finished 2017 by starting the team’s final 6 games at right tackle
  • Played in over 30 games

Available Offensive Linemen for Spring Practice

The UK offensive linemen will be doing a great deal of jersey swapping during the spring game if my math is correct. Eleven scholarship lineman will participate in spring practice. No incoming freshmen enrolled early and will not factor in spring practice.

Sebastien Dolcine 6’4, 305 Freshman

  • Redshirted in 2017. Projects inside to guard. Athletic mauler. Excited to gauge Dolcine’s development during the spring.

Austin Dotson 6’6, 310 Freshman

  • Preferred measurables and demeanor for a right tackle. Redshirted last season. Much like Dolcine, I’m eager to watch the former Belfry Pirate match up against Denzil Ware, Josh Paschal, and Josh Allen.

Luke Fortner 6’6, 305 Sophomore

  • Earned playing time as a redshirt freshman
  • Joins Mason Wolfe as returning players that were actively involved in the offensive line rotation. Considered to be in starting rotation and will compete to be counted with the first five.
  • A force multiplier, Fortner can play tackle, guard or center.

EJ Price 6’6, 311

  • Transfer from USC
  • Extremely high potential. Will be interested to see him compete during spring practice.
  • Possesses talent, build, and ability to push for immediate playing time within the rotation or perhaps even as a starter at one of the tackle positions.

 

Naasir Watkins 6’5, 300 Freshman

  • Redshirt was nearly taken off following the injury of Cole Mosier and others along the offensive front.
  • Talented athlete. Watkins played tight end and offensive tackle at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School.
  • Coaches have raved about Watkins’ ceiling. Will compete for starting tackle position. Assuredly will be in 2018 rotation.

Mason Wolfe 6’6, 310 Junior

  • Provides quality depth. Considered another starter due to the rotation. Solid, will push for a starting role.
  • Showed significant strides from 2016 to 2017

What does all this mean?

Starting positions are effectively locked up at guard and center. The interesting competitions could occur at tackle. Landon Young will have to hold off Naasir Watkins. George Asafo-Adjei should get the role but will have quality backups in Wolfe and Dotson. Fortner will factor somewhere. This group’s ability to play multiple positions paid dividends in 2017.

The Class of 2018 is the best offensive line group that Mark Stoops has signed. We’ll incorporate the rookies in a preseason post. Also reporting in June will be Chris Rodriguez and Kavosiey Smoke. Both are 200-pound plus bruisers that can run behind the pads. The fact that UK returns physical starters at guard-center-guard can only be considered a positive as the aforementioned youngsters will join Benny Snell to make up a group of downhill runners. Break out the Tylenol in fall camp.

Much like the highly successful 2016 OL campaign, experience, depth, and a quality center return in 2018. Will this current group of Cats produce as did Toth and company? Stay tuned as all offensive position groups tie together.


Rick Pitino says NCAA ruling is “unconstitutional”

He’s back!

If you didn’t get enough of Rick Pitino’s comedy caravan yesterday, you’ll be glad to know he had more to say today.

Pitino went on “Ramsey and Rutherford” to continue his Feel Sorry For Me Tour 2018, and in his lengthy interview with the show, he said he believes the NCAA’s ruling is “unconstitutional.”

Now I’m no expert on constitutional law, but I think he’s going to have a tough time backing that one up. I don’t think our forefathers sat around the Constitutional Convention talking about hookers and skeezers and how partying with them in an on-campus dorm room should impact the NCAA tournament.

I’d like to hear Rick explain which amendment is in play here.


Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. cleared to play

Michael Porter Jr. is cleared to play basketball again after sitting out all but two minutes of his highly-anticipated freshman season up until this point.

The projected NBA lottery pick met with a back specialist in Dallas on Thursday, and now he is ready to resume basketball activities with Missouri.

Missouri’s next game? Kentucky, of course.

It’s unclear if he’ll actually play on Saturday, but odds are pretty high Cuonzo Martin will give him a look. Porter Jr. has been working out and recently said he hopes to get some game experience before the NCAA tournament, which says he’s anxious to get on the court.

With this new development, there will be a whole lot of eyes on Rupp Arena in two days.


Kentucky currently at 50-1 odds to win the title

Once considered one of the favorites to win the NCAA tournament, Kentucky’s title odds have fallen all the way to 50/1 as the regular season winds down. The Wildcats opened the season at 7/1 odds, which made them the preseason favorite, along with Duke, which was also at 7/1.

There are now 22 other teams in front of Kentucky on the list, beginning with Villanova at 9/2.

Team Odds Team Odds
Villanova 9/2 Texas A&M 40/1
Michigan State 5/1 Rhode Island 40/1
Virginia 6/1 Kentucky 50/1
Duke 7/1 Saint Mary’s (CA) 50/1
Xavier 10/1 Michigan 50/1
Purdue 10/1 Missouri 50/1
Arizona 12/1 Clemson 50/1
Auburn 16/1 Louisville 66/1
Texas Tech 16/1 Florida State 66/1
Ohio State 16/1 Arizona State 66/1
Kansas 20/1 Penn State 66/1
West Virginia 20/1 Butler 80/1
Cincinnati 20/1 Baylor 80/1
Tennessee 20/1 Seton Hall 80/1
North Carolina 25/1 Providence 80/1
Wichita State 25/1 Creighton 80/1
Gonzaga 25/1 Texas 100/1
Florida 33/1 NC State 100/1
Alabama 33/1 Houston 100/1
Oklahoma 40/1 St. John’s 100/1

Do I think Kentucky will win it all? No.

Do I like my return on investment if Kentucky somehow does win it all? Yes.

I’m on it.


WATCH: 1978 Reunion Press Conference

@KentuckyMBB

The 1978 Kentucky national championship team will be honored this weekend as UK Athletics continues to honor its best teams of the past. The ’78 Cats have a lot of big things planned for their reunion, including an appearance at Saturday’s game against Missouri in Rupp Arena.

But before all the fun gets underway in the days ahead, assistant coach Dick Parsons (filling in for Joe B. Hall, who is under the weather), Jack Givens and Kyle Macy were available to the media to take questions about that magical season and this weekend’s reunion in Lexington.

You can hear everything they had to say in this video:


Mark Stoops will Kick Off SEC Media Days

Mark Stoops will be the first head coach to take the podium at the 2018 SEC Media Days.

The longest-tenured coach in the SEC East will speak before two headline-grabbers, LSU’s Ed Orgeron and Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher.  Surely, Stoops will tell a story about his former-boss to loosen up the crowd at the start of the day.

SEC Media Days will start Monday July 16.  For the first time the four-day event will be held at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.  As always, Freddie Maggard and I will be on the scene for KSR.

Click here to see a complete schedule.

UPDATE

Stoops is listed at the top of the first day’s schedule, but it doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll go first.  The itinerary with exact times will be released at a later date.


Afternoon Football Notes for the UK Fans of the Day

Spring Practice Starts in Two Weeks

What has become a UK football tradition under Mark Stoops, Spring Practice will begin the week prior to UK’s spring break.  Starting March 5, the Cats will have three practices, take a week-long break, then return for heavy hitting for one final month.

To celebrate the occasion, Freddie Maggard and The Depth Chart Podcast crew will be at Jack Kain Ford next Thursday at 1:00.  Located on Versailles Road near the Bluegrass Parkway, stop by for some popcorn, coffee and a Spring Football Preview with Freddie and the gang.

Pro Day Announced

The Friday after the team returns from Spring Break, UK will host dozens of NFL scouts for UK’s Pro Day.  Set to start March 23 at 9:00 a.m., the event will be televised on the SEC Network.

The man with the most to prove is Cole Mosier. The Kentucky left tackle could have earned his way into the NFL Draft with an excellent senior season, but the former walk-on lost that opportunity when he tore his ACL in the preseason.  After months of rehab, he’s expected to work out in front of NFL Scouts on Pro Day.

Juice Johnson, Kayaune Ross, Kendall Randolph and Blake Bone are a few other seniors that are expected to work out. For the first time in many years at UK Pro Day, we’ll see a kicker show off his leg when Austin MacGinnis takes the field.

Gains SZN

If you follow any UK football social media accounts, you’ve seen videos from the weight room and indoor training facility, but what kind of results are they getting?  UK Athletics recently updated the roster and the numbers don’t lie (especially on the defensive line).

  • DT Phil Hoskins +26
  • DT Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald +21
  • NT Quinton Bohanna +20
  • C Drake Jackson +13
  • OLB Jordan Wright -34
  • DE Chris Whittaker -33
  • Bunchy Stallings -10

See more of biggest gains and losses from Joe Mussatto at SEC Country.

Wandale Robinson is Turning Heads

If you don’t know the name Wandale Robinson yet, it’s time you got acquainted with the Western Hills do-it-all superstar back.  He posted absolutely stupid numbers as a junior — 2,330 rushing yards (13.1 ypc), 33 rushing touchdowns and 6 receiving touchdowns — and is a Mr. Football favorite this fall.

The recruiting services haven’t been too high on Robinson until recently because he’s only 5’8.  That changed this weekend.  Robinson was the best player at UnderArmour’s Best of the Midwest Camp in Indianapolis.  Steve Wiltfong from 24/7 told Ben Roberts one coach clocked him at 4.22 on a 40-yard dash.  It’s okay to be skeptical of that speed, so here’s a sample of Robinson out-running the Indianapolis competition.

Duke and Virginia have some early momentum for Robinson, but Kentucky will be in it until the very end.

Check out UK’s 2018 Promo Schedule

The 2018 home schedule will feature games honoring our Heroes, high school bands and new UK Hall of Fame Members.  See the entire promotional schedule here.

Stoops Returned to Youngstown

Each year Mark Stoops returns to Youngstown with all of his brothers to host a coaches clinic and speak at Cardinal Mooney High School’s Hall of Fame Ceremony, which bears his father Ron’s name.  There’s an article featuring quotes from both Stoops brothers in Youngstown’s The Vindicator, but the best part of the story isn’t the words, is the following picture.  To be a fly on the wall in that conversation.

@VindyBlitz


Kentucky bumped to a No. 5 seed in new Bracketology

Kentucky is climbing up the NCAA tournament seeding with a new No. 5 seed in ESPN’s new Bracketology. The current projection would have the Cats traveling all the way out to San Diego to play the USC/Syracuse play-in winner in the opening round. Gonzaga would likely be the next opponent before a matchup with Xavier, the region’s top seed, in the Sweet 16.

How do we feel about this region?


Mingione on Mississippi State job: “I don’t see that happening.”

UK head baseball coach Nick Mingione made a special guest appearance on today’s edition of Kentucky Sports Radio radio to respond to the rumors of him being a potential candidate for the Mississippi State opening. Mingione made a statement earlier in the week, but Matt Jones didn’t love it, so he asked Mingione to call in to the show to expand on what he originally said.

When asked by KSR if Big Blue Nation is going to watch him bolt for Starkville, Mingione said, “No, I don’t see that happening and here’s why: Christen and I, we love this place. Lexington is our home. I fell in love with this place when I came here in ’06. And my brain works in boxes, maybe some other people’s don’t, and I put a ton of checkmarks in all of the boxes here. So you know what, this is our job, this is the position we’ve been given, and we’re obviously trying to do the best job we can, and there’s really nothing to talk about in regards to Mississippi State.”

When pushed to stand by that statement, Mingione again said, “I don’t see that happening.”

His interview concluded with this: “If I didn’t think we could win here, or win a national championship, I wouldn’t have came here to begin with… I would’ve never put my family in the position of coming here if I didn’t believe this was possible.”

Listen to the entire interview:


Kevin Hart interviewing Nerlens Noel is really hilarious

Kevin Hart has a new web series called “Cold As Balls” in which he interviews star athletes in a cold tub. Nerlens Noel is one of his first guests, and though I had some doubts going into it, I found it to be absolutely hilarious.

If you need a little more convincing before you spend eight minutes watching a YouTube video with Kevin Hart, just know it has a lot of talk about the University of Kentucky and Noel’s personal life. Noel also calls DeMarcus Cousins an asshole, so you get that too.

Watch:

Maybe they caught me in a good mood and I laughed more than I should have, but this is one of the funniest videos I’ve seen online in a long time.


SEC Bracket: If the SEC Tournament started today

Now that there is a six-way tie for third place in the Southeastern Conference standings, Kentucky’s projected seed in the SEC tournament is looking much better than the last time we did this, prior to this week’s slate of games.

With Tuesday’s win at Arkansas and all the other happenings around the league, Kentucky jumped from the No. 7 seed to the No. 4 seed in the new update. The new position would give UK the double-bye to the Friday quarterfinals with Mississippi State as the first opponent. Auburn, the tournament’s top seed, would likely be waiting on Saturday in the semis.

Click to enlarge

Kentucky’s odds to win have also increased, up to 13.66 percent from 9.76 percent.


BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Last 5 Regular Season Games Are Good Indicator

© Nelson Chenault | USATSI

I don’t see a way where this team isn’t going to give us all heartburn for the remainder of the season.  Even in beating Arkansas by 15, the Cats fell behind 11-0 and appeared to have no energy to start the game.  Even the wins have come the hard way and the losses usually come with tons of regret.  But UK has been able to pull out two very important wins over the last week and things are certainly looking up for March.

I wondered if a strong regular season finish showed any correlation to the strong postseason performance.  Below are the final five games record for each of the Calipari teams (this team currently 2-0):

2011-12: 5-0 (SEC Tournament Runner-Up, National Champs)
2014-15: 5-0 (SEC Tournament Champs, Final 4)
2016-17: 5-0 (SEC Tournament Champs, Elite 8)
2009-10: 4-1 (SEC Tournament Champs, Elite 8)
2010-11: 4-1 (SEC Tournament Champs, Final 4)
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2012-13: 3-2 (SEC Tournament Quarterfinals, NIT)
2015-16: 3-2 (SEC Tournament Champs, 2nd Round)
2013-14: 2-3 (SEC Tournament Runner-Up, National Runner-Up)

I put the dotted line where I did for a reason.  Every team that has won at least 4 of the final 5 regular season games has made the SEC Tournament final and at least the Elite 8.  Of the three teams that didn’t win at least 4 of 5, only the 2014 squad made it past the 2nd round and only one won the SEC Tournament as opposed to 4 of 5 that did so above them.  

With home games left against Missouri and Ole Miss and a road game against struggling Florida remaining, I think it is looking very likely UK can get at least two of those three games.  I’m sure we would all like to see two halves put together like the one on Tuesday in the 2nd half but if the Cats are able to do that, all of the sudden a season that was on the brink all through January and early February appears bright headed into March.