January 2017 archive

Malik Monk’s huge second half helps rescue Cats 90-81 in overtime

By LARRY VAUGHT

It was not the game most anyone expected, but it might turn out to be just what Kentucky needed.

The Wildcats played without starting point guard De’Aaron Fox, who was out with an illness. Reserves Sacha Killeya-Jones and Mychal Mulder were also ill and could not play.

Then UK spotted Georgia a 12-0 lead and threw in two fouls on Bam Adebayo in the first five minutes.

Matthew Mitchell congratulates Stoops early for signing day success

By LARRY VAUGHT

We are just a few hours from national football signing day and even Kentucky women’s basketball coach Matthew Mitchell has found time to pay attention to what coach Mark Stoops and his staff are doing.

“We’re a day early (with my press conference) because of Signing Day and I just want to take a second to congratulate Coach Stoops on what a great job he’s done here at Kentucky. I know they’re going to sign a great class tomorrow and he’s just done a fantastic job,” Mitchell said.

Despite recent slide, numbers project 20-point win tonight over Georgia

Kentucky fans are hoping UK can end its recent slide. (Amber Tyler Photo)

By RICHARD CHEEKS

Despite my best efforts to put a happy face on the direction that the 2016-17 basketball season is following, the fact of the matter is this team has been in a slide spanning the last 5 games, and arguably 6 games (at Vanderbilt through Kansas at Rupp).

In games 10 through 16, the Cats committed a total of 62 turnover, an average of about 9 per game. In games 17 through 21, the Cats committed 77 turnovers, an average of about 15 ½ per game. Arguably, turnovers played a huge role in the losses to Tennessee and Kansas. This season, opponents have averaged 11.1 offensive rebounds per game resulting in 11.3 second chance points per game.

Monk One of 10 Finalists for Jerry West Shooting Guard Award

Malik Monk (Jeff Houchin Photo)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Kentucky sharpshooter Malik Monk is the lone first-year player among the 10 finalists for the 2017 Jerry West Award, announced by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Monday. The honor, in its third year, recognizes the nation’s top shooting guard.

Monk, a freshman from Lepanto, Arkansas, is off to a historic start. Averaging 21.7 points per game, he is ranked 13th nationally in scoring, second among all freshmen and first in the Southeastern Conference. No John Calipari-coached player has ever averaged more than 21.2 points for an entire season (Dajuan Wagner at Memphis in 2001-02). He’s scored in double figures in every game this season and has 12 games of 20 points or more, including a Kentucky freshman record 47 points vs. North Carolina in December and another 34-point outburst at Ole Miss.

Calipari wants to eliminate “casual” turnovers

John Calipari wants UK to get more 50-50 balls. (Jeff Houchin Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Look for a tougher, more physical Kentucky team against Georgia tonight — and a team that values the basketball much more.

Kentucky coach John Calipari made that clear Monday as he looked back on Saturday’s 79-73 loss to Kansas.

He said toughness is also mental.

“When it’s late, four or five minutes to go in a game, you know, you’re tough enough that I’m not turning it over because I’m tough enough to know I’m making easy plays. Turnovers lead to easy baskets down the other end,” Calipari said. “We gave 21 points up last game from turnovers. You can’t win a game that way.

UK signee Sydney McLaughlin will go after national record in Millrose Games Feb. 11 in New York

Sydney McLaughlin

NEW YORK High school Olympian Sydney McLaughlin of Union Catholic (Scotch Plains, N.J.) will have a prime chance to go after a national record in the 300 meters at the 110th NYRR Millrose Games on February 11 at The Armory’s New Balance Track and Field Center.

McLaughlin’s stature as one of the greatest high school athletes of all time was further cemented on Saturday in Boston when she contributed to a world record in the women’s distance medley relay at the New Balance Grand Prix in Boston. Competing with three fellow, and older, U.S. Olympians, McLaughlin took the baton for the second leg of the relay.

Guest post: Players have to play for more than individual dream to win national title

Kentucky fans want to see a national title, not just players going to the NBA. (Amber Tyler Photo)

By KEITH PEEL

With the recent loss on Saturday to #2 Kansas many fans are wondering if this team can get it together by March to make a run towards a National Title. Sometimes it appears these players and coaches are not willing to do what it takes to win a National Title.

Here is a post gamequote from Josh Jackson after the Kansas-UK game talking about Kansas going from man to man to zone defense to change the tempo of the game. 

“It kind of slowed the game up, gave us a chance to catch our breath on the defensive end. I think it was pretty good. Hopefully we don’t have to do that moving forward. We take pride in playing man on man and guarding our man, but whatever helps us get the win we’re willing to do,” Jackson said.
That last statement in bold is very telling about which direction both programs are heading. This quote from Dominique Hawkins, after the Kansas loss, is also very telling. “I felt like, at times we weren’t communicating on defense and (were) playing lazy defense and they took advantage of that,” Hawkins said.
 
If fans will remember back to May of 2016 this quote from John Calipari may also shed some light on our recent woes as a basketball team: “The mission statement for me would be to be a vehicle to help others reach their dreams, to be the stone that creates the ripple in their lives that goes on and on and on. Now, in our state, they want my mission to be WIN NATIONAL TITLES! WIN NATIONAL TITLES! But my mission is bigger than that.”
I am not saying that John Calipari does not want to win National Titles. I am saying that players read and that coaches set the tone for the program and that being a “players first” program can sometimes send conflicting messages to 18 year olds that will next year be playing in the NBA regardless of the won-loss record of the team this year.
In a “me first” society it is very difficult to motivate players to play for a goal bigger than themselves if you first tell them your goal is to get players to the NBA. It appears that the goal of getting multiple players to the NBA next year is well within reach but the National Title might be a little ” iffy” unless players take it upon themselves to play for a goal that is larger than the dream of each individual on the team. 

No. 25 Kentucky Sees Winning Streak End at Missouri

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Sophomore guard Taylor Murray had her second double-double of the season, but the Kentucky women’s basketball team saw its five-game winning streak come to an end with a 73-67 loss at Missouri on Monday.

Murray, a sophomore from Odenton, Maryland, had 18 points and a career-high tying 13 rebounds in the game. Senior Makayla Epps led the Wildcats with 20 points, while sophomore Maci Morris had 15.

Senior Evelyn Akhator, who battled foul trouble for much of the contest, had eight points and six rebounds. Freshman guard Jaida Roper added seven points off the bench for the Wildcats.

Florida defensive end commits to UK

By LARRY VAUGHT

With national signing day almost here, Kentucky added its 24th commitment to its 2017 recruiting class tonight when three-star Florida defensive end Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald announced on Twitter that he would sign with Kentucky.

He visited Kentucky and Florida over the weekend.

The 6-7, 245-pound Abadi-Fitzgerald has been a three-year basketball player who received interest for that sport. He played football only at the end of his high school career and is a major under the radar prospect

He was recruited by co-offensive coordinator Darin Hinshaw. He played for Victory Christian in Lakeland.

Matt House Named UK Defensive Coordinator

Matt House

LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops officially named assistant coach Matt House defensive coordinator on Monday. He will also continue to serve as the inside linebackers coach.

“I’m very excited to name Matt our defensive coordinator,” Stoops said. “He brings a wealth of experience and great passion for the game. In just one year, Matt has made a very good impression as the special teams coordinator and as a defensive coach. As the special teams coordinator, I’ve seen Matt’s leadership in front of the entire team.”