Monthly Archives: December 2012
With 2012 firmly in our rear view mirror, we’d be remiss not to take an opportunity to look back at the year that was, and all of the top UK stories for the year. Let’s take a look.
#5: Kentucky fires Joker Phillips
Easily one of the biggest stories of the year was the firing of Joker Phillips. The firing was a surprise to no one, but still signified the deepest depression that UK football had been in since the early 2000′s. UK was in a dark hole at the time, and struggled to a 2-10 season. With no hope on the foreseeable horizon, Joker was let go. Mitch Barnhart caught a lot of flack for a lot of things in the following days, but we’ll check in to see how he fared a little later in this post.
#4: UK signs 4th consecutive #1 recruiting class
Kind of surprising that it was this low, but UK signed their 4th consecutive #1 recruiting class in April of this year when they inked signatures from Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress, Nerlens Noel, and Willie Cauley-Stein. Those players joined the few remaining players, and incoming transfers Julius Mays and Ryan Harrow. We’ll see if this group an make some headlines in 2013.
#3: UK prepares to sign 5th consecutive #1 recruiting class
This one ranks ahead of the previous one because of the sheer brilliance of the class that is being put together. In consecutive weeks, UK saw commitments from the Harrison Twins, James Young, and Marcus Lee, all 5 star recruits, and all top-10 recruits according to 247 sports. Combining with Derek Willis, this class is now poised to possibly be the greatest recruiting class in the history of college basketball.
#2: The hiring of Mark Stoops
In a normal season, this would easily be the biggest story line of the year. Stoops’ hiring ushered in an era of good feelings for UK football, and has re-united a broken fan base. The good feelings have reverberated around college football, and has already led to an immediate turn around on the recruiting trail. The question now, is can this hiring lead to an immediate turn around on the field next year.
#1: UK wins #8
There is no doubt this was the biggest moment of 2012. After 14 years without a championship, John Calipari was able to lead Kentucky to their 8th National Championship. Behind National Player of the Year Anthony Davis, candidate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, first round draft picks Terrence Jones and Marquis Teague, and draft picks Doron Lamb and Darius Miller, UK stormed through 2012 on their way to a National Championship. This one, will never be forgotten either.
Here’s to hoping 2013 can be just as memorable as 2012.
Happy New Year’s, everybody!
Go Big Blue!
Writing this post after every game, it can sometimes get tough to find a stat that had a defining outcome of the game. This is not one of those games.
As a team, Kentucky shot 11-23 (not including two free throws that were also missed but whipped away due to lane violations) and that was untimely the deciding factor of the game. In a game against the #3 team in the country at their place, and you shoot that poorly from the free throw line, you should come away from the game feeling very confident.
I personally came away from the game with more confidence than I have had in this team all year.
I know we’ve said it all season, but if they can get Alex Poythress to play like the beast he can be, Kentucky will once again be right there at the end of the tournament when it comes to the top teams that have a chance to win it.
Let’s get Poythress going and work on our free throws, after that I see the boys playing up to their full potential.
The Cats came in to today knowing what the task was before them. Go in to a hostile environment, against a team full of motivated players and coaches, in a stadium full of fans anxious to end their 4 game losing streak. Peyton Siva had never beaten UK, and knew this could be his last chance.
Early in the second half, Louisville threw a haymaker, and went up by 17 points. The crowd was electric. The players were pumped. It was eerily similar to earlier this year when UK went down big to Notre Dame.
The Cats had two choices, fold, or fight back.
The Cats chose the latter, and staged a comeback to bring the game all the way to a 2 point deficit at one point. But it wasn’t enough as Louisville was able to hold on to the win, 80-77.
The bright spots are easy to point out in this one. Individually, you learned that when the going gets tough, Willie Cauley-Stein, Kyle Wiltjer, Ryan Harrow, Archie Goodwin, and Nerlens Noel will keep going to battle for you. That will be great for Cal to know moving forward.
Goodwin led the scoring with 22 points. Harrow added 17, and Wiltjer dropped in 14 off the bench.
Some may chose the player of the game as Goodwin for his 22 points, but I’m going to take Ryan Harrow, for the third straight game. Harrow played with confidence, played well defensively despite getting run past screen after screen, and did not turn the ball over once the entire game. Despite Louisville’s constant pressure, he had 0 turnovers, and had 3 assists. He was the steadying hand that kept UK close in the second half, and helped fuel the comeback in the second half.
More to come.
Go Big Blue!
It’s the last basketball game of 2012 and it’s a big one against our little brother to the north, Louisville. It is going to be a great game in my eyes, because both teams are set out to prove their worth this season. Kentucky is looking for their first real strong win on the season versus a ranked opponent and Louisville is still trying to get out of the shadow that Calipari has cast, ever since he got to UK. It will be another epic match-up and I can’t wait to see the results. Go Cats!
Vegas Line: Louisville is favored by 8.5 points over Kentucky.
Don’t forget to leave your score prediction on the “Ky Cat Stats Facebook page“ score prediction contest, sponsored by: Kennedy’s Wildcat Den.
Television/Event Info: Staturday, Dec. 29, 2012 | 4:00 p.m. | TV = [CBS] | Louisville, Ky | KFC YUM! Center
Tyler Mounce = 79-71 Kentucky
Brad Woodcock = 70-68 Louisville
Marcus Owens = 68-64 Kentucky
Braxton Howard = 69-65 Kentucky
Joseph Thompson = 73-68 Kentucky
Ken Meadows = 69-62 Louisville
David Stevens Jr. = 75-72 Kentucky
Go Big Blue!
Beat the HECK out of our Little Brother!
Today is the day that we play Louisville, yea I figured you knew that. As you know in Calipari’s short tenure at Kentucky, we have put a butt whoppin’ on crazy kids to the north. Coach Cal is 4-0 against them while at Kentucky, but only 1-0 at Louisville over the past three years. Our recent history is good, but they are ranked ahead of us and history could change this year. It will be a good game either way.
Record: 30-14 (All Time)
At Louisville Record: 11-7
First Game Against Louisville: 2/15/1913 (W 34 – 10)
Last Game Against Louisville: 3/31/2012 (W 69 – 61)
Highest Scorer: Derrick Miller (12/31/1988) – 34 Points
Go Big Blue!
Wonder if Peyton still has nightmares?
So the biggest game of the non-conference is upon us. Tomorrow afternoon, our Kentucky Wildcats will make the short trek over to the nearly bankrupt YUM! Center to take on the Louisville Cardinals, the one team that can afford to keep the lights on in the place.
So how do the teams match up? Let’s take a look, position by position:
Point Guard: Advantage Louisville
Louisville has a decided advantage at this position coming in to the game, but no player for Kentucky is hotter right now than Ryan Harrow. Siva is one of the few guards that Harrow actually has a size advantage against, and with Louisville playing a zone mostly in the half court, it’s possible UK could hold an advantage here. However, just based on what we can reasonably expect from both parties, you have to give the edge to Louisville here.
Shooting Guard: Advantage Louisville
You have to give the advantage to Russ Smith in this match up, but it’s really hard to compare Smith and Mays. On one hand you have a guy that never met a shot he didn’t like, rarely passes and is liable to make a few boneheaded plays throughout the game. On the other side, you have a steady player who shoots when he’s got it but will absolutely out-savvy and out-smart you on the floor. Russ has more talent and is more explosive though, and gets the edge here.
Other Guard: Advantage UK
Wayne Blackshear is a good player, but to this point in the season Archie Goodwin has showed a lot more than Wayne Blackshear. Archie has been struggling the last few games, but is due to break out at any point.
Power Forward: Push
This match up would be an advantage for UK, if we knew what we were getting in advance from Alex Poythress. To put it bluntly, Alex’s best dwarfs Chane’s best, but in terms of consistency, Chane brings it every night, and Alex, well, is Alex. Still, the last time UK played a top 5 ranked team (Duke), Alex brought out his best performance of the season. Louisville has no answer for Alex should he bring his A game, but if not, Chane will be poised to take advantage.
Center: Advantage UK
Gorgui Dieng is a good player. He’s coming back from injury just in time to shore up a spot on the floor that would have been the biggest advantage for UK had he not been able to go. With that said, he is still no Nerlens Noel. They are both elite defensively, but Nerlens brings so much effort and the type of hustle plays that help you win ball games. Expect Nerlens to be everywhere tomorrow.
Bench Play: Advantage Louisville
Despite the fact that UK may bring the better players off the bench in Kyle Wiltjer and Willie Cauley-Stein, there’s no denying that Louisville has the greater depth in this one.
Coaching Match-Up: Advantage: UK
This one is pretty easy. One has won 5 straight against the other. One has lost 5 straight to the other. Pretty simple logic there.
Prediction: UK 68, Louisville 70
This game will be looked at as a huge win for Louisville, but it will be the turning point of the season for UK. They will have gone toe to toe with one of the best teams in the country and held their own, battled, and nearly pulled out a win against a top 5 team. Louisville has to have this game, and will play with that kind of desperation. The YUM! Center will be loud, and it will still come down to the final play. Louisville will win, but UK’s season turns around, starting tomorrow.
Go Big Blue!
The month of December is a great month for Kentucky fans. It includes basketball season in full swing, Christmas, New Years, and, of course, the Louisville and Kentucky game. Both school’s fan bases talk trash, lose sleep, and come up with reasons why their team will win, all in preparation for the game; and after the 40 minutes of play is over, one fan base will go into hiding for a week before coming back out to start talking trash for next years game.
For Kentucky fans, the feeling of losing to Louisville is a feeling we haven’t experienced in a while, and that started four years ago with Cal’s first team, and that was my all time favorite moment from the rivalry.
We all remember how exited we were during Cal’s first season here, and the Louisville game had a little more to it than just another UK/UL game. Kentucky hadn’t won in two seasons, the coaches hated each other, and we were ready to see Ricky P get a smack down from our Cats in Rupp.
National media members wrote all week about how all of Kentucky’s freshman wouldn’t “get” the rivalry and do not understand the importance of the game. In the first four minutes of the game, we seen that to be false.
We all remember the Demarcus Cousins forearm in the early stages of the game, but to me, the most memorable part of that game, was when Eric Bledsoe and Reginal Delk started jawing at each other, and Coach Cal stepped in, telling Delk he was messing with the “wrong guy” and..well some other stuff that Bledsoe would do to Delk “after the game”
The teams continued to go at each other the entire game before Kentucky came away with a 71-62 victory over the cards and made it official that Kentucky was back on top as the best basketball team in the state.
Basketball is the biggest thing in Kentucky and the Louisville/Kentucky rivalry is a special rivalry that no other two teams in the country have. We all look forward to the game all year long, and it’s finally here once again, and when the Cats go into the YUM! Center and upset the dirty birds Saturday, I may have a new favorite moment in the rivalry.
The UK/UofL rivalry has sparked many great games throughout it’s history. From the ’83 dream game, to the Final Four meeting last year, there are plenty of memorable games on both sides of the aisle.
For me though, it all goes back to the time a recent transfer led the Cats to victory in Freedom Hall.
It was late 2004. The Cats entered the game as the #9 team in the country, and Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals were ranked #13.
Louisville had led for much of the game, but on the back of Patrick Sparks, UK led a furious rally to close the game to 1 point.
In the final 5 seconds, the ball found it’s way to Kelenna Azabuike, who tried to get off a shot but couldn’t get a clean look. He elevated for what looked like a shot, but kicked it back to Patrick Sparks, all alone in the corner. Two players went flying towards Sparks in the corner, who threw up a beautiful pump-fake and drew the foul.
He went on to drain all 3 free throws, sending UK to a 60-58 win.
What is your favorite memory of the UK/UofL rivalry?
Perhaps the least surprising bit of breaking news for the entire year was the report by CBS today that said that Rick Pitino had told them that Gorgui Dieng will in fact play against UK on Saturday in his first game back since late November.
Seriously though, was there any doubt?
Let’s look at the timeline.
After getting injured in late November, the original timeline for return was about 4-6 weeks. That would have put his return around this week. UK fans were immediately convinced that he would in fact, return for the UK game.
Then news came out from Louisville that they would Dieng would definitely be back for the UK game.
Soon after, Rick Pitino said that Dieng would be questionable at best to return for the UK game, and set the date of return for January 2nd. UK fans saw right through that though, openly saying there was no way Pitino sat him for the UK game on Saturday.
Then the news today, and now UK will be against a full strength Louisville roster.
But was there any doubt? This is the most important UK/UofL game in Rick Pitino’s tenure as the Louisville head coach. He has no excuse to lose it, and therefore had to have his best post player back for it. Now, he has to feel a little better knowing his best defensive player is back for the best defensive team in the country, going against a team that struggles to score in the half court.
I guess we’ll see Saturday if Dieng can really “play”, or not.
Go Big Blue!
In their final game before the biggest game of the year, the Cats showed once again a steady improvement and even more promise for later in the season.
It’s been said a lot this year that the point guard play for this team will be huge and yesterday once again showed just that. Ryan Harrow had the stat line of the night with 23 points while going 10-17 from the field, and adding 4 rebounds and 4 assist as well.
Playing a defense the caliber of Louisville, Kentucky will need a similar performance from Harrow in order to win the game. Kentucky’s half court offence could be the deciding factor in the game and if Harrow can continue his play into the game, I feel pretty good about our chances.