By Nick Roush on ©March 24th, 2018 @ 10:30pm
Could Kenny Payne return to his alma mater? The University of Louisville athletic department has asked the University of Kentucky for permission to speak to Payne about its head coaching vacancy, according to Evan Daniels. A UK spokesman told Kyle Tucker the school is unaware of the request.
Payne has spent the last eight seasons on John Calipari’s staff and has served as the associate head coach for the past four seasons. Often portrayed as the good cop to Cal’s bad cop, he is a players coach that keeps the team connected. He’s also arguably the best recruiter on Calipari’s staff.
Payne has spent more time at Kentucky, but he got his start at UofL. He helped the Cards win their last National Championship in 1986 and narrowly avoided death at the hands of Rex Chapman.
Former UofL players have been lobbying to see Payne as a finalist for quite some time. Despite tonight’s news, it appears that Xavier’s Chris Mack will be named the Cards’ next head coach in the coming days.
By Nick Roush on ©March 24th, 2018 @ 9:30pm
Happy Anniversary Devin Booker!
On this date in 2017, the former Kentucky shooting guard knocked down 21-of-40 shots to become the youngest player to ever score 70 points in an NBA game. Only five other players have surpassed the 70-point milestone — Kobe Bryant, Elgin Baylor, David Thompson, David Robinson and Wilt Chamberlain.
This is how Booker celebrated the occasion on social media:
— Devin Booker (@DevinBook) March 24, 2018
You can celebrate by watching highlights from his unbelievable night.
By Nick Roush on ©March 24th, 2018 @ 9:00pm
By Nick Roush on ©March 24th, 2018 @ 8:25pm
Loyola-Chicago is dancing into the Final Four.
On a mission from God, the Ramblers did not need Sister Jean’s prayers to get an Elite Eight win. After winning three games by a combined four points, Loyola stomped Kansas State 78-62 in the South Regional Final.
At least it wasn’t K-State. Thanks, Sister Jean.
By Nick Roush on ©March 24th, 2018 @ 7:30pm
DeMarcus Cousins no longer plays for the Sacramento Kings, but he has not abandoned his adopted home.
Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee reports Cousins and former teammate Matt Barnes have reached out to the family of Stephon Clark to cover the cost of the funeral. Clark was shot and killed by police in his grandmother’s backyard. The death of the unarmed African-American sparked protests around the city. One delayed the start of a Kings’ game.
It’s not the first time Boogie has helped a family after the loss of a loved one. He paid for the funeral of JJ Clavo, a 15-year old football player who was shot and killed before a playoff game in 2015.
And people say DeMarcus is a bad guy…
By Nick Roush on ©March 24th, 2018 @ 6:30pm
Kentucky’s first live scrimmage of the spring season did not go according to plan.
As the rain fell outside, the Cats were forced inside. The Nutter Indoor Practice Field is fine, but it’s not large enough. Unable to operate in a normal game-like setting, the scrimmage became a situational exercise after an hour of practice. With player safety in mind, they went THUD, a.k.a. wrap up but don’t tackle all the way to the ground.
Stuck inside, Kentucky did not have a clean day of execution in closed quarters. “It certainly wasn’t very smooth today,” Stoops said. “That’s for sure.”
Kentucky’s three quarterbacks were fine. Nothing too terrible, but nothing great. As expected, the offense struggled to get going.
“We were sloppy offensively. That was the first time we were in a game-like situation and we were sloppy. We need to get that cleaned up,” but Stoops did note, “You expect that when you have some experience coming back defensively.”
While the offense struggled, the defense excelled. Stoops was happy to see Chris Westry bounce back after a bad play to make an interception that ended the abbreviated scrimmage.
Today was not the first scrimmage Stoops hoped for, but he still liked what he saw in their first week back from Spring Break. “They were really attentive. They worked hard. They were up early every morning. They’ve been on point at weight-lighting sessions, meetings, good practices, so I appreciate them and their effort.”
By Nick Roush on ©March 24th, 2018 @ 5:30pm
Former Kentucky linebacker Eli Brown will finish his college career close to home.
The Warren East product announced on Twitter he will transfer to Western Kentucky. Brown will have two years of eligibility remaining after he sits out this fall. The Hilltoppers’ head coach seems pretty excited.
— Coach Mike Sanford (@CoachSanfordWKU) March 24, 2018
A former four-star Army All-American, the Bowling Green-native had 62 tackles and 2.5 for loss for the Cats as a reserve weak-inside linebacker.
By Nick Roush on ©March 24th, 2018 @ 4:30pm
Kentucky fans aren’t the only ones reeling from UK’s Sweet 16 loss to Kansas State. Television executives fear this year’s NCAA Tournament upsets will kill ratings on the game’s biggest stage.
In a Siruis XM Radio appearance, CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus explained just how bad the loss will hurt the network.
“From a television standpoint, you really root for the big teams,” McManus said. “Last night’s Kentucky outcome was not good for us and not good for TBS at all. Kentucky being the blue bloods that they are, and having the television draw that they have, that really hurt us. Kansas State winning — I have nothing against Kansas State as a school or a team — but that really hurt us.”
By the end of his lamentation, he almost sounded like a scorned bettor: “And that was a game Kentucky should’ve won. All they gotta do is hit a few free throws at the end of the game and they win that game — that really hurt us.”
It will hurt even more when the Final Four moves from CBS to TBS this year. A move to cable naturally takes away a large portion of the viewing audience. Now they can’t rely on Kentucky fans to carry their water.
The numbers back up Kentucky’s TV dominance. Thursday night’s Sweet 16 loss drew 8.3 million viewers on CBS. The 5.0 rating was 20 percent better than last year’s Kansas-Purdue match-up and it was the most-watched Thursday Sweet 16 game since 2011.
By Nick Roush on ©March 24th, 2018 @ 3:30pm
Redshirt freshman linebacker Jamin Davis left Kentucky spring practice on crutches. Mark Stoops did not have an immediate prognosis to share. “We’re going to find out more on Monday,” he said. “Hopefully it is not serious.”
The leg injury actually happened Thursday during a walk-through period in warm-ups. “It got caught up. That’s the bad thing about going inside sometimes. The turf, it grabbed him. We got old turf, it’s tight in there. I wish we could get outside, but that’s not always the case.”
Stoops added, “We were worried.”
Davis is poised to play an important role for Kentucky this fall. The inside linebacker is using the spring to learn both inside linebacker positions, a difficult task, to become UK’s primary reserve. He proved he could make plays in last year’s Blue/White Game; the freshman led all defenders with eight tackles.
Davis’ versatility and UK’s lack of linebacker depth inside makes him an extremely important piece to UK’s 2018 defense. Hopefully this spring setback is not significant.
By Nick Roush on ©March 24th, 2018 @ 2:53pm
After a dramatic Thursday of Kentucky spring practice, offensive tackle E.J. Price returned to practice today.
Price was a no-show Thursday morning. After the coaches tracked him down, he made a brief appearance, blew up and left practice before it was finished. Once he got to his phone, Price fired off more than a dozen Tweets. He criticized the Kentucky coaching staff and announced that he was leaving the football team. A few hours later, the Tweets were deleted, Price issued an apology and met with Mark Stoops.
Stoops said the soap opera is finally over.
“He’s practicing,” the UK head coach said today. “I think E.J. had something brought in yesterday from outside, and didn’t handle it exactly the way he should. He knows that.”
Even though Price used strong language in his social media posts, the Twitter outburst did not do anything to disrupt the locker room. Stoops said that is where he draws the line.
“The bottom line is it’s my job to help each and every one of these guys. It’s about them. It’s about this team. Unless it ever gets to a point where it affects the team or the locker room, I’m going to try to help guys.”
It’s a temporary blemish on the program, but Stoops understands the social media climate and is willing to deal with it.
“Kids need to find a way to express themselves. Do we agree with it? Do we like it? No. It’s news and it’s your job to report it, I understand that completely, but until it affects us in that room, in the locker room and on that field, it’s not a big deal to us.”
Stoops is willing to set the Tweets aside to give Price a chance to succeed. “EJ is a good kid, he tries to do the best he can and it’s our job to help him in all areas of his life.”
By Nick Roush on ©March 24th, 2018 @ 2:10pm
It’s been a rough two days for P.J. Washington.
His terrific 18-point, 15-rebound double-double against Kansas State was overshadowed by 12 missed free throws, the most ever by a Kentucky Wildcat according to Big Blue History’s Jon Scott. Following the loss, P.J. posted the picture above with the caption:
Even though the year didn’t go as planned I’m glad I got to be a part of such a special group of guys and I wouldn’t trade it for the world #BBN?
Naturally, not all of the comments on his post were positive. There were many haters, one of which came from an unusual source. Prentice Gill, a USC football graduate assistant who works with wide receivers, left the following comment:
A 27-year old who has been on USC’s staff for three years, Gill’s connection to Washington is unknown, but his comment is uncalled for.
It appears Gill hit the wrong button.
By Nick Roush on ©March 24th, 2018 @ 1:45pm
By Nick Roush on ©March 24th, 2018 @ 12:45pm
The Big KAT had Enes Kanter’s number in Madison Square Garden.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 24 points, 13 rebounds and 3 blocks to power past Enes Kanter’s Knicks for a 108-104 Friday night victory. Towns now has an NBA-leading 60 double-doubles on the season. Kanter also posted a double-double, finishing with 11 points and 15 rebounds, but the Knicks needed more scoring.
At least Kanter was wise enough to get out of Karl’s way.
— Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) March 23, 2018
Jeff + KAT, Vol. II. pic.twitter.com/2tRoV2fSuk
— Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) March 24, 2018
— Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) March 24, 2018
It was a pretty quiet night for Cats around the league. Outside of MSG, Jamal Murray was the only Ex-Cat to make some noise. He scored 20 points in the first half, including this beautiful finish at the rim.
— NBA (@NBA) March 23, 2018
Stats from the entire BBNBA:
|Jamal Murray||108-100 W vs. WIZ||25||8-20 (5-12)||6||3||2||1|
|Eric Bledsoe||118-105 W vs. CHI||13||4-8 (1-3)||4||4||0||2|
|Tyler Ulis||120-95 L vs. CLE||11||5-12 (0-1)||2||9||2||1|
|Trey Lyles||108-100 W vs. WIZ||DNP|
|Jodie Meeks||108-100 L vs. DEN||0||0-1 (0-1)||1||0||0||0|
|Bam Adebayo||105-99 L vs. OKC||0||0-5 (0-0)||7||1||0||0|
|Patrick Patterson||105-99 W vs. MIA||5||2-4 (1-1)||4||0||0||0|
By Nick Roush on ©March 24th, 2018 @ 11:45am
Kentucky’s first scrimmage of the spring season is currently underway. Poor weather will push the Cats indoors and limit team activities, but they can still get live 11-on-11 reps, a first for UK’s quarterbacks.
Eddie Gran is not asking a lot from his signal-callers. The playbook is thin. He just wants to see them make a few plays and keep the football in the offense’s hands.
“I want them to take care of the football, be efficient, know where to go with it..and make plays,” UK’s offensive coordinator said earlier this week. “We’re not going to have a ton in, so that’s what I’m looking for.”
There will not be a lot of complicated reads. Gran and quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw want to see if the QBs can live by their mantra, ‘the ball is the program,’ while facing pressure from a defense.
“Ball security is the No. 1 thing we talk about and No. 2 is we’ve got to make great decisions and great target throws,” Hinshaw said.
Danny Clark’s scrimmage goals remain simple.
“Just cleaning things up. Once you know what you have to do, the next step is eliminate as many mistakes as possible. Just making sure we’re going through our reads, going through our progression. When we’re in the pocket, it’s quick steps and we’re explosive, so just making the least amount of mistakes as possible.”
Terry Wilson knows he will not be perfect. As long as he keeps the ball in the offense’s hands, it will be a great day to play football.
“I’m going to make mistakes. I just gotta bounce back from those mistakes. I think that everyday I’m learning something new and that’s a huge step.” Wilson said he’s most looking forward to “letting loose and playing ball.”
The first live test of the spring will not be clean, but it will be an exciting first significant step in UK’s quarterback competition.
“We’ve gotta find out now when the bullets are flying what they’re all about, and we’ll know a little bit more Saturday,” Gran said.
By Nick Roush on ©March 24th, 2018 @ 11:00am
Kentucky’s Pro Day gave exiting seniors one final platform to showcase their talent as they chase NFL dreams. After Mark Stoops helped give them a final send-off, he got excited about the future of his Kentucky football team.
“Next year you’re going to look at this Pro Day and you’re going to see a lot of (NFL) head coaches here, because we have some really good players returning that are rising seniors,” Stoops told the SEC Network’s Tony Barnhart.
Stoops believes his defense can finally maximize their potential. If they plug in the right quarterback, the Cats will be dangerous in 2018. “Overall we have a very good team and I’m looking to make a big jump.”