It’s been an exciting season for fans of the Kentucky Wildcats. Here’s a great stocking stuffer idea — The Kentucky Basketball Season Never Ends calendar. Featuring one of the Top Ten players in UK history on the cover, Kenny “Sky” Walker, the calendar captures the biggest moments in UK basketball history on the days they happened.
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Also available at the following stores:â€¨All Sports, Alumni Hall, Blue Zone, Fan Outfitters, JD Becker, Keeneland Gift Shop, Kennedy’s, Kentucky Korner, Kentucky’s Best, The Campbell House Gift Shop, and very soon an exciting new location...in Paducah!
Good morning, my KSR brothers and sisters and welcome to the first Wednesday of December. Tuesday was a pretty crazy day from the start and let's not waste any time on jumping into some notes...
- Obviously, the bowl watch was the biggest story on Tuesday for not only our Cats, but for every bowl-eligible college football team in the country. When the dust settled, the Cats were left (unofficially until Sunday) with another trip to Nashville occupying their holiday agenda. Despite the possibility of a few people having some lingering disappointment over not earning a trip to Tampa or Atlanta, heading to the Music City Bowl for the third time in four years is a great draw
for Rich Brooks' team. Not only is Nashville a fantastic place to spend the weekend as a fan, but the possibility of playing Miami or North Carolina (or even the loser of Clemson-Georgia Tech) gives the Cats a very attractive television matchup and a chance to again make a statement against a traditional power (Miami) or a big-time coach (North Carolina). And, if you're one who believes in making statements in front of potential recruits, you could make a case that no other potential bowl game (Outback and Chick-Fil-A included) offers a chance to take on a team with more recruiting buzz the last couple of seasons. Given some of the other possible destinations and opponents, Cats fans should be very pleased about another trip to LP Field.
- But, having said that, there's no question that the Outback Bowl's decision to take Auburn is strange
, at best. I'm not sure anyone on the planet would say anyone was better qualified to got than Tennessee, but arguments could be made that Kentucky, Georgia and South Carolina all were more qualified. And, given the fact that it's typically an SEC East team that heads to Tampa, the Auburn selection seems even more odd. I guess the committee saw something in the Tigers' 2-5 finish (wins over Ole Miss and Furman) that was just too sexy to pass up.
- Just as another quick note: If you're as pumped about the potential Music City Bowl matchups as I am, you can thank Bobby Bowden for his retirement
. Bowden stepping down means that Florida State leap-frogged some teams in the ACC to land in the Gator Bowl for his final game, meaning the Cats likely earned a better opponent.
- Despite all the football talk, the eyes of Cats fans remain focused on Saturday's game on the hardwood between the winningest programs in college basketball history. The Cats will enter the game with a perfect 7-0 record, but there is no question that this game serves as the real start of the Calipari Era
. For most of the nation, Kentucky basketball under Cal has just been a bunch of pre-season magazine topics and some Sportscenter Top Plays. Saturday's showdown at Rupp is the first time that the revolution will be televised for the nation to see. A loss wouldn't set the program back or serve as a reason to panic. A win, however, would emphatically show the world that there is substance with this style and that Kentucky is a program to be feared. It's going to be fun.
Speaking of the Tar Heels, North Carolina knocked off #9 Michigan State, 89-82
, in their final tuneup before heading to Rupp on Saturday. The Tar Heels, now 7-1, too a 24-21 lead with ten and a half minutes to go in the first half and never turned back, mostly thanks to much-maligned sophomore point guard Larry Drew II. Drew followed up a strong game against Nevada with his most complete game of the season (18 points and 6 assists on 6-7 shooting) in his head-to-head matchup with Kalin Lucas. The Tar Heels, like the Cats, are tremendously talented inside, but their biggest question this season has been the play of their very thin and inexperienced backcourt. Roy Williams and his one good arm has to be feeling good about the way Drew has asserted himself the past few games, but there's no doubt that they'll need another big-time performance from him against Kentucky on Saturday. Should he appear timid or a little flustered as he has at times this season, it could be a very long day for him.
- And while Saturday's made-for-TV matchup might be the first high-profile game of John Calipari's tenure, it doesn't mean that the previous seven games were not without merit. One of the things I've found to be most impressive over the course of this season is not only the way the team already seems to be developing as a unit rather than individuals, but the way that Calipari has clearly made each game about improving
instead of just blowing teams out with talent. Kentucky hasn't faced a team this year yet that is even in the same galaxy as they are in terms of talent, but Cal has not yet just let his team press and then coast to a blowout victory (*cough* jagoff *cough*). In every game this year - UNC-Asheville most notably - it's been obvious that Cal has focused more on working on their weaknesses and challenging his team to win in a variety of ways. We haven't seen a whole lot of Dribble-Drive to this point (partly because of zone), which obviously favors the athleticism of the Cats. Instead, Cal has made his team develop various looks out of the half-court sets (high-lows, secondary breaks) and made a team that looked lazy and stood straight up on defense early in the season continue to improve their half-court man-to-man. I've been pleasantly surprised to see these games serve as teaching sessions rather than just turning a far superior team loose and I'll be the first to admit that I always assumed Cal was the "turn the guys loose" type of coach. A continued focus on the learning will not only serve the Cats well on their gauntlet in the coming week, but also as this young team develops this season.
- Perhaps the most suprising statistical story of this young basketball season is that UK's three point shooting (38%) is their best since the 95-96 team (40%)
. It's tough to say if it will continue to be this strong as the season goes on and legs start to tire out, but this was billed as perhaps the only weakness of this team and you can't take anything but positives away. Most importantly, no one looks timid to pull the trigger and having guys who at least pose a threat will make it harder for teams to pack it inside on the Cats' dominant post players.
- Down the I-64, the glorified junior college is still searching for a football coach and athletic director Tom Jurich interviewed Phil Fulmer on Tuesday
, opening the door for a possible Bobby Bowden interview in the future. The meeting lasted 30 minutes, which is just slightly shorter than you'd be interviewed if you were applying to bag groceries at Kroger. The "Coach Watch" on WHAS
originally said Tuesday that Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong and Central Michigan head coach Butch Jones were the favorites, but now they've added BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall and Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham.
- In some non-UK related news, the Tiger Woods saga now involves a girl from Tool Academy
. I've tried to avoid this story in every way possible, but now it's interesting. Tool Academy. So awesome.
That's it for now. Stay tuned throughout the day as we get you all the UK basketball and football news in the most ridiculous manner possible. See you in a few....