Happy Monday to you, my KSR family, and welcome back into the swing of things. BTI is no longer holding the remote, so we'll get you back to your regularly scheduled programming Monday, but not before we salute a former Cat who played a big part in putting a storied franchise back in the Super Bowl. In a game that saw their quarterback struggle with two interceptions and their powerful offense slowed, the Green Bay Packers got a game-changing performance from punter Tim Masthay
. The former Cat accrued 334 yards punting, placing five of his eight kicks inside the 20 and, most importantly, holding Devin Hester to only 16 yards on 3 returns. It was a performance so masterful, even Matt Jones had squeeze the tears out of his Erik Kramer jersey and applaud. After the game, Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson agreed, saying his punter "won the game for us" - the type of praise that one can generally only earn in the NFC Central
North in January. So, on this Monday, let's salute a former Cat who put together a championship performance on the field Sunday that was almost on par with all the championship stuff he does off it. Here's to you Tim Masthay. May you enjoy being the second consecutive redhead saluted here and may Mitch Barnhart get ready to cut that check to the USA Today for your congratulatory ad.
Now onto some (other) UK notes...
- Despite walking away with a win against a first place team on the road
, the victory didn't exactly provide overwhelming reassurance that Kentucky had cured their road woes thanks to a second-half run from the Gamecocks. Overall, it was a strong performance for most of the game and one that Calipari called "good", while still noting that his team is not "veteran enough" yet. Though the Cats did again show their age in letting South Carolina trim a 16-point lead to six with under a minute to go, they responded by knocking down six of their seven free throws in that final 50 seconds. Without a doubt, there are still steps that this team needs to take if they want to get into the groove that can make them contenders for a deep run, but the fast start against the Gamecocks and the mature finish were both nice. But, that little run at the end shows that they aren't quite there yet.
- If you hadn't worried about depth withthis team yet, you surely did Saturday when Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones both appeared to injure themselves
against the Gamecocks. Neither ended up being serious and both players played significant minutes after leaving the game, but it did give us all that moment of sickness in our gut when each guy limped off the court. Knight and Jones are unquestionably the team's two best players, but they're both doubly important when you think about what Calipari is left with if they can't go. We're just one bad ankle away from Eloy Vargas in the starting lineup and one twisted knee from having to move DeAndre Liggins back to the point or letting Jarrod Polson run the show. We talk a lot about depth, but it became really real Saturday in Columbia.
- For all the attention that their little conversation at the end of the Alabama game earned them nationwide, things appeared to be as happy as ever in South Carolina and Terrence Jones
attacked the basket like the rim was the one firing off F bombs. After the game, Calipari told a little story about how he'd told Terrence Jones that they were going to make a highlight reel of him getting dunked on. Calipari said Jones replied, "You going to show my dunks, too?" I'd say his confidence and the relationship is just fine. I love those two mother F'ers.
- As Kentucky continues to try to find the right recipe for road success, Coach Cal might have stumbled upon it accidentally. According to CoachCal.com, after struggling to find a BBQ buffet, Kentucky's coach ended up having Waffle House
for the second time this season and, just as was the case against Louisville, the Cats stole a game on the road. Long thought to be a disastrous decision on a road trip, Waffle House appears to be the key to all Kentucky success away from Rupp. I'll take my opponents smothered, covered and chunked, please.
- Another good piece of news for Joker and staff as Jeff Drummond reported late Sunday that UK has received a verbal from three-star linebacker Demarius Rancifer
. The Florida linebacker picked the Cats over UCF and Ole Miss and becomes the 18th commitment of the 2011 class. With just over a week remaining until Signing Day, the Cats have seven spots still open and several players who could be filling them in the coming days. He's rated as the 44th-best outside linebacker by Rivals and 28th-best by ESPN.
- In other new player news, Matthew Mitchell landed a big-time player when Samarie Walker announced she will transfer to UK from UConn
. Samarie - not Samaki - was the #10 player in the class of 2010 after being the top-ranked player as a junior and had some issues in her departure from Storrs. Regardless of what happened there, she gives Mitchell's rising program even more national credibility and the Huskies one less Walker.
- On another note, if you read that story, you saw that Geno Auriemma is recruiting a girl from Australia's professional league
. She might be a little cuter than Enes
, but I hope she kept great banking records.
- Finally, a little shout-out to KSR reader Will Kindred
, who got some face time behind Jimmy Dykes and Brad Nessler in Columbia. Kindred's shirt, which read "Amurrica Is Kentucky Basketball", made its rounds on Twitter and will likely be the title of Montgomery Gentry's next single. I hope.
That's it for now. Stay tuned throughout the day as we recap the road win in South Carolina and start focusing on the rematch with the Dawgs. As usual, the fun gets going with Matt and Zach at 10am on Talk Radio 1080
. We'd be honored if you stopped by. See you in a few...