Most Recent Posts
- Only at Kentucky: Fan can win part ownership in thoroughbred by attending UK game
- Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist could both miss up to 20 games with hand injuries
- Calipari excited for Final Four-like enviroment for Kentucky-Baylor
- Calipari on potential bad weather in Dallas, UK players going back to Texas
- Calipari admits “I am concerned” about Jon Hood after concussion
- Gill-Caesar likes UK’s winning tradition, way Calipari doesn’t “sugar-coat” anything
- Video: UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown talks about JoJo Kemp, and improving the offensive line for next season
- Calipari says Cauley-Stein “knows he can go get it” and block shots now
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach John Calipari said he didn’t “even know what you’re talking about” when asked about the bad weather forecast for the Dallas area that includes ice.
“Can we postpone the game a month? Because if it were postponed, we’d have to wait about a month and a half before we play a ranked team,” Calipari joked.
He did say that UK is scheduled to practice at Cowboys Stadium Thursday and probably would “shoot around” Friday, just like the UK women’s team will to prepare for its game against Baylor to start Friday’s doubleheader.
The UK coach is also not worried about Julius Randle or twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison pressing because they’ll have a lot of family members and friends at the game when they return to their home state to play.
“We haven’t talked about it yet. We’re so focused on us right now, we haven’t talked Baylor at all,” Calipari said.
By LARRY VAUGHT
For the first time today, Kentucky coach John Calipari admitted he was worried about senior Jon Hood.
He has not played since suffering a concussion in practice. He was not on the bench for two games in Rupp Arena and Calipari did not take him to Brooklyn for Sunday’s game with Providence because he did not want him flying in a plan. The coach did not say if Hood would make the trip to Dallas for Friday’s game against Baylor.
Calipari saw the blow Hood took to his head. He practiced after that and had headaches, according to the coach.
“I know our doctors and trust them and they are going to be really conservative (clearing Hood to practice and play),” Calipari said. “I am concerned but I know he is in great hands and no one is going to ask him to do anything he shouldn’t do.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Five-star guard Montaque Gill-Caesar plays in some of the nation’s premier events against some of the nation’s elite talent. Yet the Huntington (W.Va.) Prep junior, who recently scored 56 points and grabbed nine rebounds in a win, says he’s especially excited about playing in the Marshall County Hoop Fest this weekend.
“Just the atmosphere is crazy,” Gill-Caesar said. “It’s one of the most fun tournaments and games we play in. I am definitely looking forward to it. The crowd really gets into it.”
That was certainly true last year when the pro-Kentucky crowd watched UK target Andrew Wiggins playing for Huntington Prep. Gill-Caesar remembers that well and now he could be the fan favorite since he’s a potential UK target in the 2015 class, or 2014 if he does reclassify as expected.
“It will be fun if that happen with the fans, but I can’t let that distract me, and it won’t,” Gill-Caesar said. “I will just focus on the game and do what it takes for us to get a win.”
UK assistant coach Orlando Antigua watched Gill-Caesar play in Hazard last month, and the 6-6 forward took an unofficial visit to see a Kentucky game in November. Huntington Prep will play Atlanta Sports Academy at 6:30 EST Friday and then take on UK-signee Trey Lyles and Indianapolis Arsenal Tech Saturday at 7:30 p.m. EST.
Gill-Caesar says UK has “not formally offered” him a scholarship, but it’s clear one would be available if he wants it.
“They have basically made it clear the opportunity to recruit me is there,” Gill-Caesar said. “I know a lot of people are already saying I am going there, but I am still wide open and I am not sure where I am going. I like them and their winning tradition.”
He likes “how real” Kentucky coach John Calipari is with players.
“He doesn’t sugar-coast anything,” Gill-Caesar said. “He tells you what you need to hear and not what you want to hear. As a player, that helps you grow. You need to hear what you need to improve on rather than just what you are good at. He’s a funny guy, too. Even in drills, he can be funny.
He says his “ultimate goal” is to make the NBA and he likes how Calipari puts players into the league.
“I think you can get to the NBA from anywhere, but his track record getting people to the league is impressive,” Gill-Caesar said.
Michigan State, Kansas, Ohio State, West Virginia and several other top schools are recruiting Gill-Caesar.
He said it was nice to have Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, who has his Spartans No. 1 thanks to a win over Kentucky, watching him play recently.
“Just having him in the gym made me work harder and stay focused on what I need to do,” Gill-Caesar said.
The Huntington Prep junior, who is from Canada, said it will be a “spontaneous thing” when he decides about his future.
“There is no set time at all. It will just be a feeling,” Gill-Caesar said.
He says he already has all the credits he needs to graduate this year since he went to high school in Canada two years before he came to Huntington Prep. But he says it’s still not certain he will reclassify to the 2014 recruiting class.
“It will just depend on the school and it will have to be a fit where I know I will excel and make an immediate impact,” Gill-Caesar said. “That’s the reason I will wait until spring to decide probably unless something just feels really right before then.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Ronny Lee likes everything Kentucky coach John Calipari has done to get players ready for the NBA during his four years at Kentucky. However, the father of UK freshman Marcus Lee also likes the academic side of Calipari.
“I like his winning spirit and he is very intelligent when it comes to basketball and working with kids,” said Lee. “But he makes sure kids get an education, too. That is real important. He pushes kids on academics, and I like that. Marcus’ brother really pushed education. That’s why I pushed for Marcus to think about just more than basketball when he made his college choice.
“Bryan (Lee) always pushed Marcus. They are very competitive. Marcus doesn’t like to say that, but he’s very competitive with Bryan, so when Brian pushes him on education, he pays attention.”
Bryan Lee, a former Division II All-American at Grand Canyon College, was the one who got his younger brother started in basketball. Ronny Lee estimates Marcus was about 10 when Bryan got him “shooting around” and his career escalated from there.
“Marcus was pretty good early. He was one of the those kids who starts and is just good at what he does. As the years went on, he got better. We didn’t recognize Marcus would be really good until he was a junior in high school and he just blossomed. But his best basketball is still ahead of him without a doubt,” Ronny Lee said. “He has so much to give. He learns from good coaches.
“Marcus plays better with better players and plays a team game. He’s been taught that way in high school. That is why I think it is great he is going to Kentucky. Calipari is not going to stand for anything but a team player.”
Ronny Lee says “growing up” at UK will be good for his son. Marcus Lee is averaging 4.5 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.1 blocks and 8.0 minutes per game after eight games.
“Marcus likes people. He will not let anybody push him around. He’ll keep his confidence up,” Ronny Lee said. “One good thing about Marcus is that he’s highly intelligent when it comes to people. He adapts to people pretty good. He knows what is right and wrong.
“He’s so diversified with his interests away from basketball. He’s a hidden talent in graphic arts. He’s unique at exploring things. He has his own personality for that and that helps him cope in basketball, too.”
Lee is sure the daily competition his son faces at UK from Alex Poythress, Willie Cauley-Stein, Julius Randle, Dakari Johnson and more will make him better.
“It will make him a lot better than he is now. He thrives on competition and getting better,” Ronny Lee said. “He won’t like to be pushed around. He will learn, watch and excel at what he does. He won’t just sit there and let people beat on him. He learns real fast. His brother and coach taught him a lot about that. I don’t see any problems with that. It will just make him better.”
The Lees try not to talk about what might lie ahead with the NBA.
“We concentrate on one thing and that’s playing at Kentucky,” Ronny Lee said. “I don’t know how much he talks about it, but I don’t because that is not as important as going to college. You’ve got to do one thing at a time.
“This has all been a surprise for him. He had good coaching in high school and good people around him and that inspired him to excel. He carries himself in a very dignified way. It’s a remarkable thing the way he handles things and that’s why I don’t see any NBA thoughts bothering him.
“I am so proud of him. He overachieved in everything he does. I didn’t think he could ever have the year he did in basketball last year, but he had a great year. Each year he has played better and got more confidence in himself and his ability. He has a great future. He likes challenges. Marcus wants to be the best, and beat his brother.”
Ronny Lee believes UK fans will love his son’s “personality on and off the court” once they get to know him.
“He helps players on the court and he loves to talk and he loves kids,” Ronny Lee said. “Kids come up to him and love talking to him. He loves people and talking to them. He doesn’t shy away. That’s where his intelligence comes in. That’s how he picks up a lot of friends.”
The father says sometimes he’s even surprised by the way his son handles himself on the court.
“I love watching him play. I just watch the way he helps other players get better,” Ronny Lee said. “He won’t holler. If you miss something, he will just say, ‘That’s okay. We will make it and do something to get better.’ He is a person who will help the next person. God blessed him with talent and he adapts that talent well to each player and what they can do and works with them to make a better team. That’s what you want in a good player, someone that can adapt and learn what is good for everybody.
“His mother taught him well. His brother taught him well. If you just watch him play, everything he does is that way. He rebounds, outlets the ball, dribbles, brings the ball down the court. What surprises me most is when he runs. He runs like a thoroughbred. Marcus loves to run. He will run all day and he can really slam that ball. He will excite Kentucky fans an awful lot.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
No. 3 Kentucky is coming off a win over Providence in Brooklyn Sunday as it prepares to play Baylor, a team that won in Rupp Arena last season, Friday night in Arlington, Texas, as part of a doubleheader with the UK women.
This is another game that John Calipari has warned UK could lose during December along with upcoming games.
“We’ve done everything to kind of ramp it up from the beginning, if you take out Michigan State, who we should not have played that early in the year with a young team that we have,” Calipari said. “Now you’re talking Baylor, Belmont, Boise, North Carolina on the road, Louisville. I mean, you could lose them all. They’re teams that you could lose every game.
“And what we’re trying to do is just keep throwing a little bit more at these guys each time and see what they’re coming up with. And I’m learning about our team, how we have to play. I still haven’t figured this team out. Our practices, what these guys have said, has gone back to eighth-grade stuff. We do wall sits. You remember when you were at camp and they got mad at you and they told you to sit on the wall for 10 minutes until your legs shook? Well, we’re doing wall (sits).
“Instead of talking to my team in the film room, they go against the wall and they sit and they have a 50-pound bag that they move down. There’s two of them that come to the middle and go back.”
Calipari is doing that to make players get into better defensive stances with what he calls “eighth-grade stuff” in practice.
“It’s where we are. We went way too fast early. We are where we are right now,” the UK coach said. “But the good news is, they’re taking it, they’re getting better. It was funny, I was telling that story to somebody and it’s like being back at Five-Star (Camp with high school players) and having Station 13 and we’re doing station work and we’re going to morning mini-meltdown, we’re doing all this teaching to get these guys to understand these five or eight things you must be able to do to play this game.”
Sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein, who had 15 points, nine blocked shots and eight rebounds against Providence, said UK is learning what Calipari wants.
“We’ve been working on that (staying in a defensive stance) a lot, and the last couple weeks it’s just playing 30 seconds at a time and staying down through the whole possession and talking,” Cauley-Stein said. “That’s came up a lot since the Michigan State game. We just keep on getting better. You know, every practice we get a little better at it.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
How does John Calipari compare the progress of this freshman class to other classes he has had?
“Well, the issue – my first year, we had Patrick Patterson and a couple veterans; the second year we had Darius Miller and DeAndre Liggins and some freshmen – Josh Harrelson, who hadn’t played the year before. The next year we had Terrence (Jones), Doron (Lamb) and Darius … we had three really good veterans who were the heart of the team,” Calipari sid.
“This is a freshman team. Willie (Cauley-Stein) played behind Nerlens (Noel) until Nerlens got hurt (last year) and then wasn’t able to – OK? And then you’ve got Alex (Poythress), who’s still coming and going. You know, he’s not like the guy. And so we’re doing it with basically all freshmen.
“I’ve never done this before, and one of the things I’m trying to tell them, but it’s also me: What got you here, won’t get you there. In other words, all the stuff you did to get you where you are, at Kentucky, that stuff’s not going to work now, because they’re just as big as you, just as quick as you, they’re just as long and they’re just as skilled.
“Now, what are you going to do to help you get where you’re going? Well, the same with me. What got me the Kentucky job is not playing all freshmen and doing what we’re doing right now. So I’m having to change and do different things. And that’s what I’m trying to do, and I’m trying to learn, and learn about my team as we go.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
It was no surprise with Kentucky playing in Brooklyn that there would be talk about John Calipari and the NBA even though Nick Nicholas, who covered the game for me, said there was “hardly any New York press” at the game because of NFL, major league baseball and Knicks-Nets stories occupying the media. Nicholas also noted there “wasn’t any promotion (except on Barclays website) for the game.But after the game, Calipari was asked if speculation about him returning to the NBA bothered him. Enjoy his long answer to the question.
“I don’t listen to any of it, and I don’t think my team does. Every year I’ve ever coached, if there was a college job open, I was going there, a pro job, a high school job – I was taking every job going, and I just don’t buy into it,” Calipari said. “The greatest thing for me: It took me 20 years to get a job like Kentucky. It took me 20 years to get a job like Kentucky.
“Where guys had jobs for 20 years, it took me 20 years to get a job like this. And then we get the job and all the sudden – we’re doing great academically. We had a 3.4 grade-point average last term. For three years we’ve been a B-average as a team. We’ve graduated 10 players – 10 in four years. So it’s not at the expense of academics, but we’ve had 17 players drafted, nine (actually 13) in the first round, two (No. 1) picks.
“And I’m able to do that, help families, win games and do what the university wants me to do, and all want to do is be about players first. And I want to challenge them and not be afraid to challenge them and put them on a stage. This is like you’re putting them in – I’d say Carnegie Hall – but it’s the stage you want to be on. And I’m able to sit there and say, ‘OK, here we go.’
“I’m proud of Willie Cauley. ‘Well, he only gets one-and-done guys!’ No one knew Willie Cauley. Look at Willie. Look at Eric Bledsoe. All the sudden, what’s happened is they come here and they’re able to reach their dreams and change – you’re talking about, I say this all the time: We have kids that are first college graduates in their families, and we have a chance to rectify that; now all the sudden – you have generational poverty; they’re family’s been in poverty their entire existence, and now all the sudden that changes. And I have an opportunity to do that, more than any place I’ve ever been.
“And I loved working at UMass. And I loved working at Memphis. This is a different deal on a lot of fronts. So all the stuff about – you just think: It took me 20 years to get this job. Twenty. Now, I’ll say this: I don’t know how long I can stay in this seat and live. I’ll be honest with that one. But right now, I’m having fun doing it. I don’t feel our fans – everyone says our fans are crazy; our fans are crazy, but they don’t expect us to win every game and they don’t expect us to win the championship. They want us to be in the hunt. We’ve won eight in 110 years. We haven’t won 100 in 110 years; we’ve won eight. And so, yeah, they want you in the hunt. They want you in the hunt for recruits and all that. We are. So I think we’ve got the greatest fans.
“How about this one? Cleveland State has us (beat), and plays a great game. Do you know our fans gave them a standing ovation when they left the court? Gave them a standing ovation. Didn’t boo them. Gave them a standing ovation, our fans. And that’s why I say this is a unique place. So I’m going to run it out and have some fun with it and hopefully do some great things for kids and the university is happy with what’s happening with them and then we’ll see.”
By Nick Nicholas
BROOKLYN – Willie Cauley-Stein arose on both ends of the Barclays Center floor Sundaynight to lead No. 3 Kentucky over Providence 79-65.
The 7-foot forward scored 15 points in 36 minutes of work, but more impressively accounted for eight rebounds and a career-high nine blocked shots against the Friars. Cauley-Stein made seven of eight shots, committed only one turnover and handed out an assist.
“The last couple of games have been pretty good,’’ said Cauley-Stein, who scored 15 points and had seven blocked shots during Wednesday’s 81-63 victory over Eastern Michigan. “I’m more aware (on the defensive end). Before in the past I was hesitant on going (for the block).’’
Added Kentucky coach John Calipari: “To have nine blocks in a game like this is big time. I’m proud of him. He’s come a long way. He’s playing harder longer. He’s never played this many minutes. We made a step up today.”
Kentucky improves to 7-1 and faces Baylor Friday night at 9 p.m. (ESPN) in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge contest at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
“Credit Kentucky, they really got on the glass,’’ said Friars head coach Ed Cooley, whose team was out-rebounded 35-30. “I like their team. They are young and you can see they are growing every game. Their strength is their length.”
UK benefited from a balanced offensive attack with four players in double figures. Besides Cauley-Stein’s high-energy performance, James Young poured in a team-high 18 points followed by Aaron Harrison with 15 and Julius Randle with 12 points. Randle grabbed eight rebounds, ending his double-double string of seven games.
Providence’s 6-foot-1 senior guard Bryce Cotton kept the Friars (7-2) close. Cotton hit on five of nine three-pointers on his way to a game-high 23-point effort.
Cotton hit on 4-of-9 attempts in the first half, but finished the game hitting on 7-of-21.
Calipari credited Aaron Harrison’s defense on Cotton.
“Aaron Harrison changed the game,’’ Calipari said. “He wanted to guard him.’’
Overall, the Friars gave UK fits by making 10 of 19 three-pointers, but the Wildcats were just as deadly with less attempts, making six of eight three-pointers.
Moreover, the Wildcats shot 27 of 42 from the field for a sizzling 64.3 percent. In the second half, they made 11 of 16 from the field for 68.8 percent.
“(Coach Calipari) said to pick it up a little more in the second half,’’ Young said. “We didn’t have that fire (in the first half).’’
Kentucky jumped out to a 6-0 advantage and never relinquished the lead. Providence did close the gap, 39-38 following a Bryce Cotton three-pointer. Led by Cauley-Stein (six first-half points, four blocks), Young (9 points) and Andrew Harrison (11 points) the Wildcats enjoyed a 39-35 lead at halftime.
An 8-2 UK start in the second half was highlighted by two consecutive blocks by Cauley-Stein that started a Wildcat fast break. Young zipped a pass to Aaron Harrison who found Cauley Stein driving to the basket. The ball never touched the floor during the sequence until Cauley-Stein’s dunk caromed off the floor.
“I was extremely hyped and that was a good feeling,’’ Cauley-Stein said about the play. “When we pick it up on defense it gives us an extra energy boost.’’
Providence’s Cooley signaled a timeout much to the delight of most of the 8,086 in attendance. The Wildcats continued to build on the lead for the remaining 16:39 as Cauley-Stein dominated on both ends of the floor.
What has been a problem turned into a positive Sunday night. Kentucky made 19 of 25 free throws for 76.0 percent.
Providence started the game having difficulty finding its aim.
Kentucky jumped out to a 16-6 lead thanks to a nice drive by Aaron Harrison.
But midway through the first half the Friars began to gain confidence against the No.3-ranked team in the country.
The Wildcats ended the first half 16 of 26 shots from the field for 61.5 percent, compared to Providence’s 11 of 33 shooting for 33.3 percent.
JIM O’CONNELL, AP Basketball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Willie Cauley-Stein had 15 points, eight rebounds and a career-high nine blocks to lead No. 3 Kentucky to a 79-65 victory over Providence on Sunday night at Barclays Center.
James Young scored 18 points and Aaron Harrison added 15 for the Wildcats (7-1), who shot 64.3 percent from the field (27 of 42) and led by as many as 17 points in the second half.
Bryce Cotton had 23 points for the Friars (7-2), who finished 10 of 19 (52.6 percent) from 3-point range. They came into the game shooting just 29.4 percent from beyond the arc and were averaging only five 3s per game.
Kentucky, which had the majority of the crowd of 8,086 cheering for it, also had an exceptional game from 3-point range. The Wildcats were 6 of 8 from beyond the arc, decidedly better than the 28.9 percent they were shooting from there entering the game.
Julius Randle, the highest profile of the eight-man freshman class at Kentucky, scored 12 points on 4-of-10 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds. He had a double-double in each of his seven games this season tying Jim Andrews in 1971-72 for the most by a Kentucky player at the start of a season. That streak is over.
The Wildcats finished with 11 blocks with Cauley-Stein doing most of the rejecting. Providence continued to go inside but the bigger Wildcats made it a rough trip and the Friars kept firing from long range.
Cauley-Stein was 7 of 8 from the field, while Harrison was 7 of 9 and Young 5 of 7 including going 3 of 4 from 3-point range for the Wildcats, whose only loss was as the No. 1 team in the nation to Michigan State, which moved up one spot to the top with the win.
This game started a December that will have the Wildcats face No. 18 Baylor, No. 16 North Carolina and No. 9 Louisville in addition to Boise State and Belmont.
Providence was without sophomore guard Kris Dunn who missed his second straight game with a right shoulder injury. No timetable has been set for his return. The Friars’ only loss this season was to Maryland in the championship game of the Paradise Jam.
This was the second meeting between the schools and the first was played across the East River. Kentucky beat Providence 79-78 in the 1976 NIT at Madison Square Garden.
No. 3 KENTUCKY 79, PROVIDENCE 65
Young 5-7 5-6 18, Randle 4-10 4-7 12, Cauley-Stein 7-8 1-1 15, Aa. Harrison 7-9 0-1 15, An. Harrison 0-2 8-8 8, Lee 0-0 0-0 0, Poythress 2-3 0-0 5, Hawkins 2-2 0-0 5, Willis 0-0 0-0 0, Johnson 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 27-42 19-25 79.
Batts 3-14 1-3 8, Henton 1-4 4-4 7, Harris 4-13 1-3 10, Fortune 2-5 4-4 10, Cotton 7-21 4-5 23, Goldsbrough 0-0 0-0 0, Bancroft 0-0 0-0 0, Desrosiers 2-4 3-4 7. Totals 19-61 17-23 65.
Halftime_Kentucky 39-35. 3-Point Goals_Kentucky 6-8 (Young 3-4, Hawkins 1-1, Poythress 1-1, Aa. Harrison 1-2), Providence 10-19 (Cotton 5-9, Fortune 2-5, Batts 1-1, Henton 1-1, Harris 1-3). Fouled Out_Batts, Henton. Rebounds_Kentucky 35 (Cauley-Stein, Randle 8), Providence 30 (Batts 8). Assists_Kentucky 12 (Aa. Harrison, Randle 4), Providence 8 (Cotton 5). Total Fouls_Kentucky 22, Providence 22. A_8,086.
By LARRY VAUGHT
John Calipari said he stressed to his staff that he can’t get “caught up with winning and losing right now and I am” because his team is so young.
“I want to win every game. But what it’s causing me to do is try to make these guys better than they are at this stage. Just coach the games, watch the tape and let’s get better,” he said Friday. “Of all the teams in the country, we have the most upside so deal with that. If you didn’t want to deal with it, either convince kids to stay or recruit bad players.
“They’ll all stay, you won’t’ have to deal with this. But the reality of it is, we are what we are, a bunch of freshmen trying … I’m trying to figure them out, they’re trying to figure each other out. We’re still not locked into how we’re going to play. The problem is I go watch tape and then I get 17 more thoughts in my mind that I want to give to them and they don’t have the seven thoughts that I taught them right now.
“I almost … that brings anxiety. Like I got more I want to give you but you don’t have this yet and we can’t. The biggest thing for us, forget basketball, effort, staying in the stance, talking more, being more aggressive, fighting through screens, don’t stop. How about this one? Sprint the floor on offense. We rebound it, sprint. We’re a great rebounding team right? So run, sprint. I mean everybody that doesn’t get it, sprint.
“If you’re the point guard, don’t jog it up, sprint it up and if you don’t want to sprint it just throw it immediately to a wing and then you jog. The rest of us will score; you’ll end up with two points. That’s OK, nothing wrong with that. But we’ve got to go because of how we play.”