We're almost there. The annual Kentucky and Louisville slugfest is just a day away at this point and the anticipation of a beating of the birds in their new building is consuming us all. So, with that in mind, let's stop and pay a little respect to one of the most famous rivalry beating recipients, A.J. Pierzynski
, who celebrates birthday number 34 on Thursday. Pierzynski is known for having a mouth that far exceeds his resume and for always finding a way to be a part of ridiculous stories that have little to do with the game itself. He's like the Louisville basketball program in stirrups. So, in your birthday honor, A.J., let's get this beatdown going.
Now onto a few UK notes...
- Of course, even with the Cards on tap, the big news again seems to center around the center still on the bench. There was no news out of the NCAA office onEnes Kanter
Wednesday since the offices are still closed for the holidays, but the goobers there did find the time to release a statement defending themselves against the whole world and their accusations of favoritism in the Cam Newton and Ohio State rulings. For the purposes of Enes Kanter and every Kentucky fan trying to ween every potential hint of a ruling, two paragraphs of the statement did not provide much optimism. The NCAA seemed to shoot down the "player didn't know" loophole created by the Newton ruling by saying that his eligibility was based on him not accepting the benefits, not the lack of knowledge. With most believing that this was the crux of UK's "new information" and with Brett Favre being fined $50,00o for lewd texts, you have to wonder if a Free Enes will ever exist. Still, though, we wait.
- No official lines are available yet, but most seem to think that U of L will be slightly favored
in Friday's game. Some think this means the Yum! Center advantage shouldn't be underestimated. I say it's just easy money.
- Most of the chatter heading into the game surrounds the the pace and Louisville's desire to get UK into a running game
and take advantage of their depth. The Cards have nine players averaging 15 minutes or more, while the Cats have only six. While the styles do contrast a bit - and Calipari has hinted at a zone to help slow the Cards down - it shouldn't be as much of an issue as most Cards fans want to make it out to be. The most similar team on Kentucky's schedule to the Cards in terms of pace and depth is Washington (UofL is 45th in pace, Washington is 5th) and the Cats were able to play at the Huskies pace and emerge victorious despite hitting only 3 of 16 shots from the three-point line. How did they do it? Primarily by rebounding the ball. Kentucky crushed the Huskies on the boards and there's no reason to believe that the Cats, who are ranked 19th in the nation in rebounding, shouldn't do the same against the Cards. Of course, that's if they stay out of foul trouble, which leads to the next point....
- If there is one thing that Kentucky must do against Louisville Friday, it's stay out of foul trouble
. The godfather of the UK internet world, Oscar Combs, had a series of interesting Tweets Wednesday night, the first of which said that Coach Cal expects the Cards to dip into last year's playbook and try to bait the Cats into getting upset early on and picking up fouls. Without the talent of last year's team and, more importantly, without the depth, it's absolutely imperative that Kentucky does not find itself in early foul trouble or losing their cool and playing to the crowd and not the game. Again, the Washington game was the closest thing to a hostile and emotional environment and this young team did not seem to wilt. They'll need the same focus in front of a rowdy (and probably drunk) Yum! Center crowd.
- Another little nugget that got some attention on Wednesday was the news that Mike Stuart would call the game
. Stuart, of course, is the official who gave Calipari the quick boot in the miserable Mississippi Valley State game. While it does add an additional storyline to follow, the story behind it is just as interesting. The other half of Oscar Combs' tweets mentioned above centered around how Stuart found himself calling this nationally televised game. According to Combs, the refs are selected by the home team's conference from a list compiled by the visiting team's conference and the Big East is still furious with Tony Greene over not ejecting DeMarcus Cousins after he took proper ownership of Jared Swopshire to start last year's game. You could argue that Greene might not necessarily improve UK's standing with the officials, but it's an interesting back story and another reason to love Oscar.
- On a happier note, KSR Friend of the Program Tom Leach put together a list of the Top 10 UK - UofL games
over on UK's official site. It's a hate-free look at some of the finer moments in Big Brother's history and definitely worth a read.
- In recruiting news, the man who many expect to end up as a part of next year's team, Trevor Lacey injured his knee
Wednesday night. After posting 34 points in the first three quarters, Lacey landed awkwardly on his left knee and left the game. Early reports say that there is no swelling and it's not expected to be a major issue (he did not sit out his team's second game of the evening). Lacey tore ligaments in his right knee last season during the playoffs and sat out the rest of the year. Hopefully, this will have a happier ending. Sounds like it at this point.
- It was another night of "meh" in the world of SEC basketball
. Vanderbilt knocked off Marquette by one-point in one of the better games of the season, but Tennessee went down to the wire with Tennessee-Martin and Auburn, who some still consider an SEC school, needed OT to beat Georgia Southern. Meanwhile, LSU lost to Rice and, as of this second, Mississippi State is losing to St. Mary's. We'll always have football...
That's it for now. Stay tuned for a big day on KSR as we get you all geared up for Friday's big game. The fun gets going on Kentucky Sports Radio at 10 am
when Matt talks all things Cats and Cards. Mostly Cats probably. Make sure you stick around. In the meantime, try to figure out why we've always thought Vanderbilt students were so smart...
See you in a few...