As I was leaving the arena on Saturday and walking towards the Hyatt for the KSR Podcast, I saw a young kid around 6 years old, in a Patrick Patterson jersey run by, and he screamed, "Kentucky's back! We are back!" The image made me laugh, but his message was dead-on. The win Saturday afternoon in Lexington put the college basketball world on notice that Kentucky is officially back. There is a lot that can be said about the game and the importance of the win, but the reality is that what is most important is UK won. It has been a number of years since UK being great has really matted on the national scale. That changed on Saturday. Yes North Carolina is young, yes Kentucky made mistakes and yes, there is no need to give the Cats a ticket to the Final Four just yet. But what is certain is that UK basketball is relevant again nationally...something that hasnt been the case for at least four years. That is exciting and why Saturday was such a great day to be in Rupp Arena.
As we always do, lets hit both basketball and football on this busy weekend:
--- While it is true that UK basketball became relevant again on Saturday, it also cant be underestimated just how much John Wall had his coming out party on Saturday. On a day in which the nation was focused on college football, but ready for sports in general, John Wall ripped open the door to the basketball world and said, "Hey folks, I have arrived." His two moves in the first half, the crossover that led to the dunk and the ridiculous reverse layup, will be remembered as the moment that many casual college basketball fans recognized that the future has arrived. His performance quickly became viral and by the middle of the first half, he had risen to #2 on the Twitter trending topics, behind only "New Moon." When shirtless vampires and wearwolves are all that outrank you, then you have made it...and with Saturday's performance, the Legend of John Wall has begun.
--- It should also be recognized how crazy consistent Patrick Patterson has become. He had yet another game where he scored right around 20 points (this time 19) and he made clutch shot after clutch shot in the second half. One NBA scout told me, "if he hits the 16 footer consistently, this team cant be guarded." I think that may be correct.
--- Speaking of NBA scouts, there were 20 NBA talent evaluators at the game on Saturday and they were checking out both teams' future pros. I spoke with one who said that the game was most important on the Kentucky end for Demarcus Cousins. All know that John Wall will be the first pick and Patrick Patterson's skills have been shown, but they were interested to see what Boogie would do against top competition. It wasnt his best showing and his next chance for such a game (Wed night) becomes more important.
--- UK also had a big-time recruit in for the game, Quincy Miller, a PF in the 2011 class that UK wants badly. From the sound of his various Twitter comments, Miller seemed to be having a great time in Lexington, commenting on the game, the fans and Calipari. Kentucky Ink had an interview with him (which is premium), the gist of which is that he had a great time and would not be deciding for quite some time. But all indications are that UK made a great impression on a player that could be a crucial part of their potentially dynamic 2011 class.
--- I hope you got to see the first real episode of the John Calipari Show. I have to say that I thought the new show (which is being called "This is Kentucky Basketball") was actually VERY GOOD. After years of boring coaches shows that would put me to sleep, this one had exactly what I had been hoping to see...behind the scenes footage of things we dont normally see. They showed the rehearsals for Big Blue Madness, which showed:
a. John Wall practicing his now famous dance
b. The harness system that all the players were hooked to as they were on the lift during introductions.
c. Demarcus Cousins TERRIFIED during the walk-thru for the event, explaining a bit of his lack of enthusiasm during the event.
Very entertaining show and one that if they keep doing in the future, will make me a regular viewer.
--- As a good closing point on the game, here is an audio interview from Tom Leach, as he talks with Jay Bilas about the Cats' performance on Saturday and what he thinks of them now.
--- Kentucky found out their Music City Bowl opponent and it is Clemson...again. The Cats have made 7 bowl games in the last 25 years and in three of those games, the Clemson Tigers have been the opponent. The Cats will get to see CJ Spiller once again, the dynamic back that first made his appearance against the Big Blue three years ago. The game will be at 8:30 pm on Sunday night, December 27th in Nashville, in what could be a chilly affair. It should be a great game and once fans accept that location as where it is going to be, I think they will have a great time once again. A Cats event in Nashville is always good.
--- Today was a HUGE day for Football recruiting as the Cats got 2 commitments, both of which will be playing the Cornerback position at UK. Anterio Sloan is a 4 star CB from Arkansas that had offers from Nebraska and Mississippi State. He is a super talent, and is a guy that was really wanted by this staff. Also added was Dale Trimble, a 3 star CB from Alabama with offers from Tennessee, Clemson and both Mississippi schools. It cant be underestimated how huge both of these gets are for the UK football staff and represent a tremendous boost on the class going into Bowl preparations.
--- Also, I hope you saw the kid from Florida in the football throwing contest get taken down by the girl from Alabama. If ever there was a classic "Bryan the Intern vs Kate Martin" moment, this was it. This guy seriously will never live this down for the rest of his life:
--- Finally, a big shout out to the UK Women's Volleyball team, who got two 3-0 sweep wins in the NCAA Tournament this weekend in Lexington. I attended both games and the Cats dominated both Michigan State and Oregon to move onto the Sweet 16 in Minnesota this Friday against Florida State. Congrats to the team and we will be talking more about this this week.
Its a big week coming up. I will be leaving on Tuesday to head towards New York City for the game against UCONN. We will have a number of features based on that trip and a look KSR in the Big Apple. Below is the link to the Episode 6 of the Podcast, so make sure and take a listen. Oh and if we have learned anything this weekend, dont be boys with Charlie Weis:
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