KSTV's Monday Morning Roundup: Future Looks Brighter, Give Yourself A Hand
03/10/2013 11:01 PM
A look back at what you might have missed this weekend while you were wondering why ESPN was broadcasting baseball games in Spanish…
You Are Now Free To Believe
For thirty games, the UK basketball season took on the feel of a desperate lover, picking flowers off of a petal, hoping the last pull would result in a feeling of “she loves me”. And in game number thirty-one, Kentucky fans were able to walk away feeling warm and comforted as the Cats took care of business and scored their biggest win of the year. Now, with the postseason right around the corner, it feels ok to feel good about this team.
Aside from the dramatic improvement in their bracketology status (UK is now first among the “Last Four In”, rather than the seventh team out), the Cats again appeared to take a giant step forward in beating Florida. UK finally responded with their backs against the wall, erasing a seven-point deficit and holding the Gators scoreless in the final 7:32 of the game. Ryan Harrow returned to playing aggressive. Archie Goodwin was efficient in scoring 16. Alex Poythress quietly roared in grabbing 12 boards and Willie Cauley-Stein was brilliant playing with four fouls, single-handedly changing the game over the final four minutes. The Cats scored a win that wasn’t just necessary, they did so in a way that seemed to let us all again believe that they’ve cured their ills.
Of course, putting together two games like that in a row, particularly now that they’ll again be away from Rupp Arena, is another challenge entirely, but this team could have folded and no one would have been surprised. After the Georgia game, when morale was as low as it’s been all season and when players sounded genuinely defeated, the likelihood of laying an egg against the #11 team in the country was high. So, give the Cats credit. And, go ahead. You can start believing in this team again.
Pat Yourself On The Back photo above courtesy of UKAthletics.com
When UK associate athletic director Dewayne Peevy reported Sunday night that UK had secure it’s eighth-straight national attendance title (the 17th in the last 18 years), it seemed a fitting salute to a group that deserved so much recognition after Saturday’s victory. The crowd at Rupp over the weekend was as furiously supportive as it’s been at any point this season and it made a tremendous difference in propelling UK to victory, much like against Missouri two weeks ago.
Just like that Missouri game, where UK was returning after a disappointing defeat that left their NCAA Tournament hopes on life support, the Rupp faithful chose to put frustrations and a season’s worth of anxiety aside to give it all they had for one afternoon. For a young team, especially one whose psyche was fragile at best, that support was a catalyst. The Cats fought from the tip and when calls weren’t going their way in the first half, they didn’t wilt. The kept feeding off of the crowd and kept battling the Gators. In the end, Kentucky picked up a huge victory and Big Blue Nation again proved why it’s the greatest group of fans on the planet.
SEC Tournament Draw Favorable
Because of the Kentucky win and a couple of odd finishes in the last week of the season, the Cats actually pickd up a pretty favorable draw in the SEC Tournament. UK enters as the two-seed and won’t play until Friday night at 7:30pm against the winner of Arkansas and Vanderbilt. The Razorbacks will most likely emerge from that game, giving the Cats a shot at revenge Saturday night. Arkansas is a very, very different team away from Bud Walton and UK will undoubtedly be a favorite. Waiting for the Cats in the next round will likely be either Missouri or Ole Miss – neither of whom is particulalry daunting. Ole Miss is, at best, overrated. Missouri, while a tough matchup for UK, is only 5-10 away from Columbia. From there, it’s likely a rematch with Florida and, regardless of results, an NCAA Tournament appearance that doesn’t start in the play-in game in Dayton.
Postseason Awards Coming Tuesday
The SEC postseason awards will be announced Tuesday morning and, aside from Freshman of the Year, UK will likely be shut out. Had Nerlens Noel gone down with a torn ACL, he’d likely be the choice for Player of the Year and, honestly, he probably still has a case. Instead, we’ll see probably the worst-ever Player of the Year from a BCS conference. There’s a possible case to be made for John Calipari as SEC Coach of the Year (as Cats Illustrated’s T.J. Walker did on Twitter), but Cal probably won’t be taking home the hardware. Instead, UK will have to just settle for pounding everyone in Nashville.
A Glimpse Into The Hiring Process
When you look at where the fan support for UK footbal is now, as opposed to where it was at the end of the Joker Phillips era and during the hiring process, it’s quite remarkable. The prevailing voice of the UK football fan was once that was angry and unquestionably unhappy with the direction of the program, as well as the athletic director. Today, it seems like a distant memory as fans excitedly prepare for the first season of Mark Stoops.
And that’s what makes this article from the Louisvilel Courier-Journal’s Kyle Tucker so interesting. Tucker, through an open records request, looks back through Mitch Barnhart’s emails during the hiring process and uncovers some pretty interesting things. First, there were a lot of angry emails, some calling for his job. Not too surprising. Second, it revealed that Barnnhart had someone screening them for him, so he could remain focused on the search. But maybe the most interesting portion of Tucker’s story is the involvement of former Kentucky governor John Y. Brown Jr.
Brown sent Barnhart an email pushing for former University of Miami and Cleveland Browns head coach Butch Davis to be considered for the job, despite Davis’ recent resignation from North Carolina during a scandal. When Brown did not receive a response from Barnhart, he went to board of trustees Chairman Britt Brockman, who took the matter to UK president Eli Capilouto. Ultimately, nothing came of Brown’s urging, but it is interesting because it’s the closest the former governor has come to being a pusher since Drew Thornton died smuggling cocaine in 1985.
Yes, that was a Bluegrass Conspiracy joke. It is what it is.
The Greatest Glamour Shot Ever Taken
Everyone remembers the Ashley Judd poster (here it is). And if you don’t, I’m sure you’ll see plenty of it once she announces that she’ll be running against Mitch McConnell. Well, that brings us to UK football fan David Schmidt, who submitted this provocative photo to show he’s ready for spring football.
Congratulations, David. You not only won over our hearts and made us wonder if UK’s official colors should be blue and pasty white. You’re also the winner of this year’s first-ever KSTV Thighsman Trophy. Well done.
DeMarcus Cousins Ejected Again
Former Cat DeMarcus Cousins again made headlines in the wrong way Sunday night as he was ejected from the Kings’ game with the Milwaukee Bucks after he elbowed Mike Dunleavy Jr. in the back of the head. It was Cousins’ fourth ejection of the season and his two technicals now put him at 13 for the season. When a player receives his 16th technical foul, he is suspended for one game. You can check out the video below where Cousins was undercut by Dunleavy and, according to reports, was hit in the lower abdomen a play later. The elbow came on the next play.
In the words of Nas, “Don’t start none, won’t be none.”
On a somewhat related note, I used to have a recurring nightmare in high school that everyone thought I was Mike Dunleavy Jr. Everywhere I went, people called me Mike and asked me about Duke basketball. It was as strange as it was horrifying. In the twelve years since, the dream has gone away. Tonight, though, I’m afraid to go to sleep. Thanks, Mike.
RIP Brandon Knight
If you got onto Twitter late Sunday night and saw that “RIP Brandon Knight” was trending worldwide, your heart probably skipped a beat. The good news? Brandon Knight is alive and well. The bad news? DeAndre Jordan just put him on every NBA highlight reel for the next 20 years.
Madison Central Wins State, Hawkins Could Become A Cat
After trailing by 16 points in the third quarter, Madison Central finished off an incredible comeback against Ballard, winning the state title on a three-pointer by Ken-Jah Bosley with 5 seconds on the clock. KSTV was at Rupp Arena Sunday and caught the game-winner, which concluded one of the most entertaining Sweet Sixteens in the tournament’s history. Here’s Bosley’s game-winner.
And while Bosley was the last-second hero, it was senior guard Dominique Hawkins who emerged as the Sweet Sixteen’s superstar, finishing with 107 points in the four games, good for twelfth-most all-time. With John Calipari and Orlando Antigua watching every game, Hawkins has emerged as a likely member of UK’s 2013 recruiting class, though that likely won’t be sorted out for quite awhile. The Cats will wait to see how their roster situation sorts out in the coming weeks as players opt to go to the NBA and the remaining trio of Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle and Aaron Gordon pick their schools. However, most experts believe Hawkins will eventually end up in the blue and white.
It’s an impressive turnaround for a player rated by Scout.com as a two-star prospect and who entered the tournament with offers from only Tennessee Tech and Western Kentucky. At the opening round, I talked with a basketball scout about Hawkins, who said, “I like him a lot, but I’m not sure how much I like him at Kentucky.” After a four-game stretch of carrying his team, Hawkins seems to have emerged as a near-lock to suit up for what he called his “dream” school. Not bad at all.
Be sure to watch KSTV Monday as we look ahead to the SEC Tournament with Dave “Buzz” Baker and listen to the phone calls you left on my voicemail following the win over Florida.
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