Most Recent Posts
- Calipari will be honorary pace car driver for Kentucky Speedway NASCAR race
- Neal Brown on Mobley, Sanders, Miller, Borden, Shields, Kendrick, Timmons and more
- Humphrey “grateful” that Archie Goodwin got to play under John Calipari
- Brown says line, receiver are offensive recruiting needs; OL Kelly commits
- Goodwin getting “postive feedback” from workouts with various NBA teams
- Ohio twins will transfer from Pittsburgh to Kentucky
- Photo Gallery: Alex Poythress at Camp Cal
- Ohio RB Mikel Horton did all he could to help convince Georgia RB Boom Williams to commit to UK
By LARRY VAUGHT
By now, I should know better than to ever be amazed by what any UK fan of any age does.
Still, this video of 2-year-old Tanner Reed of Lebanon singing the UK fight song is pretty remarkable.
His parents, Amanda and Kaelin, both 32-year-old attorneys in Lebanon, are both Kentucky graduates. She graduated in 2009, he graduated in 2006.“We’ve never not been UK fans,” Kaelin said. “Sometimes we act silly and dance around the kitchen to entertain Tanner. This is one of the songs we sing. He asks his mom to sing it before nap time too sometimes.
“We didn’t really do anything to ‘teach’ it to him. He just picked it up on his own. He sings along to a dozen songs, or more.”
Enjoy this video and if you have something similar you would like to share, do so. Always enjoy showing just how passionate and special UK fans of all ages are.
Que Sera Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)
By RICHARD CHEEKS
The future’s not ours to see.
We all know the message, and the tune is probably rumbling through your mind as you begin to read this piece. You are probably wondering what is the point, and where is he going with this today. Well, we can all agree that whatever will be, will be; that IS why they play the games, right?
The Calipari Era is preparing for its fifth season. The new players will be arriving on campus. Frankly, the expectations have probably never been wilder, or even higher, e.g. Best Recruiting Class Ever! 40-0 is Definitely In Play! Number 9 Is All But Won! Just ship the Trophy now!
Gee, I think I have heard those things before. The Davis-Gilchrist group was also tagged “The Best Class Ever?” We hear talk of undefeated seasons every summer. The Big Blue Nation believed #8 would come “this year”, and now some are counting on #9 even before the kids ever lace up a UK sneaker and put on their wildcat game colors? I think we can all reflect on the last 4 summers and recall hearing those things, that we can all recall at least one fan who uttered those words. Granted, the utterances were more prevalent during 2011 than 2010 or 2011. But, I am hearing more of this talk this summer that even 2 years ago. How about you?
Nevertheless, the future’s not ours to see, or is it? Well, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. North Carolina, Michigan State, Kansas, and Louisville believe they each have something to say about who will be left standing next April. I concede this point, but I make no attempt here to assess the chances of any of these teams. My only concern is what I should reasonably expect from the next group of Wildcats.
I believe that most reliable way to peer into the future is to study the past. The events of the Gillipsie Era certainly have no application to what may occur in year 5 of the Calipari Era. What happened in the Smith era is similarly irrelevant to what may occur in 2013-14. Even the highly successful Pitino Era is not relevant to the forecast for next year. How far back into the Calipari Era remains relevant today?
Each of his first four teams have been new teams, assembled for a single season. Yes, the 2010 team included several “seasoned” holdovers from Billy Clyde’s farewell tour. Yes, the 2012 team included Miller, Jones and Lamb from the 2011 Final Four team. Last year’s team, and the 2011 team were both substantially rebuilds after heavy NBA draft losses from the previous teams. Even though this season’s roster will include Wiltjer, Poythress, Polson, and Hood from the 2013 crew, the 2013-14 Wildcats will again be a rebuilding effort for Calipari’s fifth straight season.
In the past, the best indicator for the “next” team was probably the “last” team, because such a high percentage of players from the last team formed a nucleus for the next. The record two years removed was probably not nearly as relevant as the record the last team established, and similarly, the significance drops further looking back three years, and even more with any attempt to look back four year. It is difficult to argue that even with the same coach, a team’s record, five years or more removed, has any current relevancy for a forecast of the next team.
With the Calipari Era, UK is breaking new ground. The fifth consecutive “rebuild.” Yes, this team does have some carryover from last year, but the most significant factor for this new team will be how these new players respond to the environment, to the college game, and to Coach Calipari’s coaching methods and style. Since all four of Calipari’s prior teams had to provide answers to these key questions, and their answers are memorialized by the records they produced, in looking forward, it is at least arguable that the response of the 2010 roster to the challenge is as relevant today as the 2013 roster’s response to the same set of challenges.
The detractors, the naysayers, want to point only to last year’s results and assign so much weight to that result as to render the prior 3 season outcomes irrelevant in their attempt to argue that the Cats’ 2013-14 outlook is full of doubt. They use this same argument to argue that Calipari’s 2011-12 team simply caught lightning in the bottle, and the championship is the aberration within this history. Wildcat fans take the opposite view about aberrations, and argue that last year’s results should be ignored in looking ahead to this next team.
I do not believe that either extreme approach provides the clearest reading of that crystal ball. The use of a weighting system for the four prior seasons (the traditional approach) or give each of these prior seasons equal standing (the Calipari Rebuild Theory approach) produce almost identical statements about what Calipari’s next team would look like IF it achieves an average outcome in 2014. Therefore, it is not necessary to resolve the question of weighted v. arithmetic averages this year. Further, since the Calipari record only has four prior years, it is not necessary to resolve the question of whether future forecasts should only look 4 years back, or whether all of Calipari’s rebuilds at UK have equal value.
The table above provides the results of the last four seasons, and computes an arithmetic average and a weighted average. As you can see, there is very little difference between them, but the arithmetic average does yield a slightly stronger average team. The best analysis available today for the 2014 season is that this team has a 50% probability of performing above this average level of play, and a 50% probability of playing below the average. Take you pick.
At the average level of play, this team will go through the 13 game non-conference schedule next November and December with 9 solid wins by predicted margins of 9 to 29 points. Four games will determine whether this team is above or below average:
At North Carolina -2 Pts
Michigan State in Chicago -1/2 Pts
Louisville ½ Pts
Baylor at Cowboys Stadium 3 1//2 Pts
Strictly by the numbers, 2-2 in these four games, with 3-1 easily within reach, and 4-0 at least still in the discussion.
In the SEC, assuming the schedule maker keeps the same home-away matchups for the coming season, and flips the single game opponent venues, then the Cats will be favored to win 15 and lose 3. However, that forecast is based on the SEC opponents coming back in 2014 with the same quality of play as they ended 2013. In the aggregate, that assumption may provide a useful early glimpse, but the team by team analysis would suggest that Florida is not likely to repeat the quality of play they posted last year, and Florida provides 2 of the 3 underdog games, which I find hard to believe. The team that could rise to threaten the Cats for a third SEC loss might be Texas A&M. Time will tell, of course, but at this point I foresee a high probability that the Cats will move through the SEC at 15-3, and end as regular season champions.
That is 26-5 regular season, with a 50% probability. Of course, my expectations are on the “better than average” outcome than the “below average outcome” If they do get through the season at average or better, I will like the Cats’ chances in the post season, and then it is about putting it all together for that tournament run.
Oh, when will Big Blue Madness happen this year?
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach John Calipari says when former players return to the UK campus this summer, they will have a message for next season’s team.
“They’ll probably get on these guys that they don’t want to go through what last year meant to them. You have to understand, in the NBA or workplaces, everyone knows they went to Kentucky or played at Kentucky. Everyone knows. Everyone in the building is hoping Kentucky loses so they can go up to that guy and say, ‘How are your boys doing? What do you think is going to happen?’” said Calipari. “Those guys want none of that so they’re going to come back and probably challenge these guys: you have an obligation, the history and tradition of this place, understand what it means. That’ll be great for our guys coming back.
“When we do the fantasy experience we’re going to probably have a bunch of those guys back and do something that we’ll announce later. The camps are as crazy as ever, doing satellite camps around the state. I think the overnight camp I just about sold out, the father/son is crazy, the Pro Camps…that’s where we bring those guys. The fantasy experience we’ll do something. We’ll have some fun things, not ready to announce them yet, but there are some things we’re going to do with former players that I think our fans will go nuts over. That stuff is in September.
“I think it’s great for them to come back. More or less it’s, ‘Do you understand what it means to be here and what you’re going to have to do?’ When Anthony (Davis) and Michael (Kidd-Gilchrist) can take the fifth and fourth most shots does it really matter how many times you shoot the ball? They’re the No. 1 and 2 picks in the draft. Do you want to get 20 shots in a game or are you worried more about your growth as a player to put you in a position to do special things? Those are great lessons when those guys come back.”
Photos by Mike Marsee and Hal Morris, and property of Schurz Communications, Inc., and vaughtsviews.com. All rights reserved; images may not be reprinted in print or online without permission of the owners. Reprinted images must be attributed to vaughtsviews.com and linked to the original site.
By MIKE MARSEE, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeff Sheppard has high hopes for the highly touted recruits on their way to Kentucky, but he also has tempered expectations.
The former Kentucky star said he’s excited about the players coach John Calipari is bringing into the program, and particularly those who will be arriving in the coming weeks as part of this year’s No. 1-ranked recruiting class.
However, Sheppard said the shortcomings of last season’s Kentucky team should underscore the fact that there’s no guarantee of success, and he said his fellow Kentucky fans should realize just how difficult it is to do what will be expected of the incoming freshmen.
“I want to remind everybody they’re still very, very young, and I know there’s big pressure and big expectations on them,” Sheppard said Thursday. “I’m pulling for them just like everybody, but I think that we have to take a step back and look at the reality of the difficulty of what they’re expected to accomplish.”
Sheppard appeared at Jennie Rogers Elementary on Thursday along with one of the stars Calipari brought to Kentucky, current Chicago Bulls guard Marquis Teague.
He said he likes the fact that Calipari has been able to attract talented players such as Teague, who helped the Wildcats win a national championship in 2012, but he it isn’t a foolproof method for winning championships.
“It’s a fragile thing. Coach Cal has a wonderful system going, but it’s fragile,” he said. “The 2012 team was a very special team.”
He said the 2013 team could have used a player like Teague.
“You put Marquis on this year’s team and it is a completely different dynamic, not only for Kentucky but for all of college basketball,” Sheppard said.
Teague and two of his teammates left Kentucky for professional basketball following their freshman season, and three more players left last year after spending only one season in Lexington. Sheppard said that even though Kentucky has capitalized on “one-and-done” players under Calipari, he wishes things were different.
“It is the system,” he said. “No, I like fifth-year seniors, and I like guys that (come) in and play four years that Kentucky fans get to know. That’s what I like, but this is where we are. And we’re winning ballgames, and we won a championship … and it is where college basketball is right now. He’s getting the recruits and getting them to buy in.”
He also said he thinks Calipari has been good at making the most of the strengths of those players once they get to Kentucky.
“He does a good job of identifying his personnel and building his offenses around the strength of his team. He gets lot credit for the dribble-drive, but I think he looks at his team and adjusts his offenses a lot of times around his personnel. And of course, he loves that man-to-man defense,” Sheppard said.
Sheppard said that while fans and the media track recruiting more closely than ever, he isn’t as familiar with the players who are coming into the program this summer.
“I don’t follow recruiting much,” he said. “I actually couldn’t name them all. I don’t follow the recruiting like (the media). I wait and kind of see them for myself.
“I think everybody nowadays coming out of high school is overrated because of all of the hype surrounding these kids now. It’s kind of unfair.
Sheppard, the 1993 Georgia high school player of the year, said things are much different for players recruited by the nation’s top programs than they were when coach Rick Pitino recruited him to Kentucky, where he played on the 1996 and ’98 championship teams, and he said he has mixed feelings about that.
“I didn’t get to play against a high level of competition like in the travel AAU that the guys coming out now do, and I wish I would have. There were a couple of weeks of basketball camp that we did, but for the most part we didn’t,” he said.
Sheppard has been visible in Kentucky since his playing career ended, and he has spoken before countless school groups. In his current venture, he appears with recent Kentucky stars Teague and Demarcus Cousins to talk to students about staying in school, studying and respecting others.
“We were able to get a couple of former UK players to come in and reinforce the message that they’ve been hearing from teachers and administration all year long,” he said.
Sheppard and Teague made another local appearance this morning at Woodlawn Elementary, and he said Teague has been a hit with the kids.
“He does a great job. Of course, Marquis isn’t too far removed from elementary school,” Sheppard said with a smile. “He comes across as very sincere and enjoys seeing the kids, and what a treat for the students.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
What do you think John Calipari learned over the course of last season? Here’s what he said:
“First of all, you have to have more than eight scholarship players. You may ask why I did that. Because I was trying to protect players in the program. What you learn is, you can’t protect players. You can’t protect them from competition. You bring in your group and the guys that understand competition brings out the best, they strive and they get better. They don’t have to play 30 minutes a game to reach their dreams. And so why I did it – if I had it to do over again, we would’ve had a couple more players. By not having a couple more players, guys were put in positions you have to play, and it’s hard to change guys when they’re in that mode.
“My wife and I talked about it, I don’t have any regrets where I gave guys more than one chance to make it and it hurt our team. Like, ‘Why did you leave this guy there? Why didn’t you just tell him, ‘Beat it. You’re not going to be good enough. We’re going to put you here.’ Because it’s about each individual player. And I can tell you that guys got the full season to prove themselves and do what they were gonna do, and you know what? I told my staff, ‘If I’m going to err, it’s going to be on the side of a player.’ Now, I know that’s, ‘Well, the program’s got to go and this kid’s got to go!’ That’s all good. But if it were your son, what would you want me to do? So if I’m going to err, it’ll be on the side of a player, which at times hurts the program. Now, it’s now how we’ve all been brought up to do this. It’s how I do it. And so, there were some things that went on that I should have changed this and this, but I was giving guys that opportunity. And Ellen and I said it: You can live without regrets. It may have hurt you for a season; what’s it doing to you? Nothing. But that young man had every chance to do what he was supposed to to change, to do it. If he didn’t, if he wasn’t willing or wasn’t able, now we know and we move on. But he got that full shot.
“So those were some things (I learned). But I’ll tell you again: Can you imagine if all four of the guys put their name in the draft (and) we would’ve have had four first-rounders? Do you know what that means? This is about the players. This is about them getting better. Can you imagine that? Now you can say why however you want to say why, but that’s a fact. The guys coming back should have come back. The guys that put their name in the draft, I’m going to do everything I can to help them. We’re not changing how we do that.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Count Florida junior forward Will Yeguete as one who expects big things from Kentucky sophomore center Willie Cauley-Stein next season.
“I think he did a good job defensively this year. He was a factor. He was blocking shots, tipping the balls. I think he did a really good job overall,” said Yeguete. “The first time we played them, he didn’t really play that much and do anything to impact the game because (Nerlens) Noel was playing all the time. The next time he was starting and played more minutes and was a big factor in the game. I was impressed.
“He is really athletic. I think his timing is great. Blocking shots at the right time. He knows when to jump. He has size and when the guards are coming inside, he is really aggressive and defensively was just there. When you have a 7-footer in the lane, he will impact your shot and did a good job doing that every time I saw him play.”
Yeguete also appreciates Cauley-Stein’s demeanor on the court.
“I think he plays the game the right way. He had a little foul trouble against us, but when he came back in he was ready to go. He doesn’t say anything. He just plays the right way. I love the way he plays,” the Florida junior said. “He was only a freshman, so his offense is a work in process. He affects the game more defensively than offensively right now. They had a lot of scorers on their team and I think his coach would want him to be the defensive presence that they need without Noel and not worry about offense. I think he did a good job at that, but I know his offense will be a lot better by next year because you can tell he’s a hard worker.”
Yeguete had no idea Cauley-Stein was an all-state receiver in high school.
“That is funny. He must be really fast. That would be fun to watch him on the football field,” Yeguete said. “But he was good in basketball, too. Both he and Noel are good shot blockers. I don’t know if you can compare them. You saw Noel play more games, but they both change the game a lot and he (Cauley-Stein) could really be special next year.”
Kentucky teammate Alex Poythress tends to agree about that.
“Willie has done incredible from the day he got here. He has just got better every day,” Poythress said. “I ain’t never seen a 7-footer that moves like him, jumps like him. He is strong, He is just incredible out there. He has been great friend and great teammate. And you know next year, based on how he improved this year, that he could just be dominant.”
Practice competition was almost non-existent at Kentucky last season. That will change for John Calipari’s team next season thanks to eight new players.
Would the coach expect there could even be some practice skirmishes when tempers maybe flare?
“I’ve had that in teams. The thing is, when they walk off the court it’s got to end right there. I’ve had teams that laugh about it when practice is over, a hard screen and somebody comes up pushing and shoving and has to be broken up. Yeah, there is a competitive spirit,” Calipari said.
“What it does is, I think, it will drag us to where we’re trying to go. I’m going to tell you, two years ago we did not have a bad practice, not one. That led us to building a swagger and confidence level that we knew we could win every game we played, let’s just be at our best and if we weren’t and somebody got us, fine, next game.”
Here is what ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla and ESPN NBA Insider Chad Ford said Wednesday when asked about Kentucky freshman Archie Goodwin and his NBA potential.
FRASCHILLA: Well, first of all, I can't wait to start talking to you about next season's Kentucky Wildcats, but we'll save that for another day. If Chad doesn't want to start, I'll start. I watched a lot of film of Archie Goodwin. I think that given this draft, he's a developmental player. If I'm not mistaken, he'll be one of the two youngest players in this draft. He does a lot of things well for a young player. He's athletic, terrific end to end quickness. Gets into the lane at will. There is one and he's actually a willing passer at 6'4", 6'5".
The problem with him right now, as you know and you saw this is he has a way below average jump shot, so that's going to scare a lot of people off. I think he's a kid that has really good value for a team that's looking for a developmental player, kind of like Lance Stephenson a couple years ago, not equating the off the court stuff at all. But this is a kid that's very much in the developmental stage of his career, but he has NBA athleticism. The jumpshot is the major red flag in this overall game, along with the fact that he's a very inexperienced young player.
FORD: I agree with Fran on that. I just add, he's having a rough go right now with NBA teams, partly because the expectations were so high for him out of high school, and that so many of the freshman have been successful and Calipari has had this ability to get the most out of these guys. I think that's been a huge feather in Calipari's cap. So when it didn't happen with Archie, I think a lot of NBA scouts put that back on the player and said if Calipari can't get the best out of you, and it didn't feel like he developed much as a player from the beginning of the season to the end of the season, how does that bode for your NBA future playing in the D League or playing on an NBA team?
And I think that is the big question mark, not athletically, but the questions about will he develop as a player when they just didn't really see it happen at Kentucky this year?
FRASCHILLA: I talked to more teams and we're seeing this too, Jeremy Lamb, who was a terrific college player spent much of the year in the D League. Archie Goodwin is one of those guys that I can almost guarantee you where and when he gets taken, is going to probably spend a lot of his time playing in the D League in the next year or two, just because a team can work with him, give him minutes.
Chad, I don't know about you, but it seems like the D League is becoming much more of an opportunity for the teams to utilize their young players and develop them.
FORD: Exactly, I agree, and I think that's where he'll go. His potential suggests still he should be a mid to late first round pick. I think the question mark is: Will he take that time; will he have the right attitude; will he be willing to be coached; and will he work on his weaknesses? No one knows the answer to those questions, and by the way, he's a young player, as Fran pointed out and players can mature and get a better work ethic or what have you, but there are those questions right now about him and his lack of development at Kentucky. If he can't develop there, will it make any difference whether he's in the D League or not?
By LARRY VAUGHT
Even though Kentucky coach John Calipari insisted Wednesday that he was “not hearing” the talk about his team being a lock to win next year’s national championship, he said he could “imagine” the talk is out there.
Apparently he’s the only one that doesn’t know for sure the talk is out there even if the Wildcats didn’t get Andrew Wiggins Tuesday.
“It’s probably because people are really rooting for us to do well. So that’s probably part of the reason. They want us to do so well, they’re putting that out there to help us build this team right,” joker Calipari.
Then, he turned serious to try and downplay those expectations for his team that will have eight new players join five returning players off last season’s NIT team.
“I don’t buy into any of that. I mean, if anybody thinks this is easy, we got a lot of coaches right now that have taken players that are the elite players and it hasn’t worked out,” Calipari said. “What we do here is hard. It’s not the normal thing that goes on. Do I like it? No. Do I wish kids would stay for two or three years? Absolutely.
“I’m still trying to do things to get that rule changed so that at least we encourage them to stay two years by doing things that make it possible for them to stay two years or three. If they stay two with the summer, they’re close to being graduated. They’ll be a little year (away from graduating).”
That led Calipari to tout his team’s 3.4 grade-average during the spring semester that had 12 players with a B average. He reminded everyone again that all 25 players who have gone through his program at UK have either graduated or gone to the NBA.
“We call it the success rate here. It’s a different situation. We’re not working on a 25-year-old model here. It’s different. It makes people mad when you talk about it. Oh, because, ‘You’re not about academics! You don’t care, you’re a basketball factory!’ We had a 3.4 GPA. We’ve had 10 players graduate. We’ve had two players come back. We have two more players coming back to finish up,” Calipari said. “You’re at Kentucky, you’re held to a different standard. Things that go on at other campuses can’t go on here. Just can’t.”
Calipari has hinted he would like to coach a team that goes 40-0 and wins the national title. If UK had landed Wiggins, that would have been the expectation for next season. Even without Wiggins, many wonder if this team could do it. Two years ago UK went 38-2 with Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist leading the way.
Calipari knows there will be stories about his team “chasing perfection, chasing greatness” next season.
“We’re chasing things that have never been done in the history of our game. What I like about that, people say, ‘Pressure!’ Man, pressure brings out the best,” he said. “‘You’re going to be fired if you don’t get this done! You’re not going to make it if you don’t get this done!’ Wakes you up earlier in the morning. I don’t mind a little pressure. I’ve had it my whole career. I’ve had the gun to my head for 20-something years. And you know what? I’m at my best when the gun is to my head versus, ‘OK, I’m good, I can kick back.’ I’m not as good. And you know what? Players are the same.
“Now, I’m not sitting there saying, ‘If we lose a game, it’s not a successful season.’ No. But you’re chasing greatness. What’s wrong with that? ‘Well, we want to talk moment to moment and we’re not putting that on the kids.’ Well, we are. Any pressure on these kids when they come here? It’s on us. Now it won’t be on us that’s the forefront thing we’re talking about, but there’ll be things out there that they’ll see.”
He remembers one year when he was coaching at Massachusetts and a player talked about going undefeated. The team’s first game that year was against Kentucky. The schedule also included Maryland, Florida, Wake Forest (with Tim Duncan), Syracuse, North Carolina State, Southern Cal and Louisville.
“They said it. ‘Let’s go undefeated.’ I didn’t say it. I looked at the guy: ‘What, do you need drug tested? What are you talking about? We play Kentucky the first game. They’re the No. 1 team in the country.’ Well, you want them in a mentality that they can win every game. It’s hard to. It’s never been done in the modern era,” Calipari said.
Never done, but whether he likes it or not, UK fans are going to be talking about his team doing just that even with Michigan State, North Carolina, Baylor, Louisville, Florida and others on next year’s schedule.