Tag Archives: kentucky wildcats

The Return Of Random Thoughts

Wait a minute... we're still over .500? High five!

You know what we haven’t done in a while? A random thoughts blog.

Just things I’ve thought about that maybe you have as well in the last few weeks of watching sports.

With so much going on as far as sports since March Madness I think it’s time to do some rehashing.

So without further ado… HERE WE GO!

Is Zach Greinke really worth it? I mean he is 7-3 but he’s got a 5.66 ERA.

Anybody else think Kenny Williams is lying about the Adam Dunn deal?

Josh Harrelson a year ago was buried on the bench at Kentucky with Enes Kanter coming in. A year later he was a key component in the Wildcats Final Four run and will get minutes off of the bench for the Knicks. Life.

Hopefully the Sedin Twins take boxing lessons this summer.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, please gain 20 pounds.

Even though she is six foot five how many of us would hit on Jan Vesely’s girlfriend?

Federer couldn’t beat Nadal, Nadal can’t beat Djokovic… So who’s he going to have a problem with?

Why is it that Joe Girardi is the only person who thinks Derek Jeter should lead off?

David Ortiz couldn’t hit anything for the last two years now all of a sudden he’s hitting .301 with 17 home runs and 49 RBI… hmmmm….

Lebron James dunking on a kid doesn’t help his image.

(honestly at this point LeBron could cure cancer and we’d still hate him. And yes I’m serious about that statement.)

Mario Chalmers is now my new least favorite athlete in the world.

Did any team in the NBA Draft really help itself?

Sabine Lisicki also plays tennis. We'll talk about that later.

Nicklas Lidstrom came back for his 20th season. Can we engrave his name on the Norris Trophy in 2012 already?

Lets face it, Dany Heatley will never be “the guy.”

Neither will Andy Murray.

Anybody else happy that Brian Cashman corrected Alex Rodriguez by saying that Robinson Cano is better that Jose Reyes?

Can I call Austin Rivers “Baby Doc?”

Did Jose Bautista really just score the most votes in All-Star voting history?

How awesome was it that Virginia won the lacrosse title?

(think about this for a second. In the last two years lacrosse’s two most controversial teams fought back from media hell to win a title. Last years Duke team won after three years of dealing with the ugly aftermath of a stripper rape allegation and this year Virginia won after one of it’s own murdered women’s lacrosse player Yeardley Love.

The image of the Cavs men’s team was brutally tarnished and the turmoil around both mens and women’s teams was enough make anyone not want to put on pads and a helmet and sprint out onto the field again. However, Virginia fought through it’s adversity and came out a winner. Their win over Maryland in the Memorial Day title game cast a fantastic light on the team an buried whatever demons were left from the 2011 season.

Very commendable indeed.)

Are the Pirates really a game and a half out of first place?

Who the hell is Mike Morse?

Brian Wilson needs to shave that beard… Now!

Is Jim Riggleman; a, a gangster, b, salty or c, out of his bleeping mind?

Iman Shumpert… And yes I’m still stuck on that pick.

How funny would it be if the Winnipeg Jets won the southeast division this year?

(Winnipeg is six hours north of Minneapolis.)

It’s July… NFL step on it.

(I’m serious. The New York Giants tick me off, Eli Manning makes bad throws, I’ll see 85 Coughlin faces and understand each of them… AND IF I MISS ONE FREAKING GAME I WILL HUNT ROGER GOODELL AND DEMAURICE SMITH DOWN!!!)

By the way, if the MLB locks out in November then there is a real possibility that Hockey may be the only game in town come 2012….

New theory behind the Flyers trades; maybe Paul Holmgren used Jeff Carter and Mike Richards just to get the Winter Classic in Philly and then dumped them afterwards… Nope, trade still makes no sense.

I know Brett Favre is retired, but I’m still uncertain.

Quick, 3 things about Luke Picknell. Ready and… GO!

Is Maryland football a better job than Connecticut football? Randy Edsall are you listening?

Seattle Sounders FC draws more fans than the Mariners…

Anybody else think Cam Newton will bomb?

I still have no caption for this.

No seriously are the Pirates really only a game and a half out of first place?

(why is this not a huge story? The Pirates haven’t had a winning season in almost 20 years. That’s back to the Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonilla days.

Ever since then they have traded every and I mean every good player that they’ve had and have been in a never ending rebuild mode. Now here there are with Andrew McCutcheon as a dark horse MVP candidate, an All-Star in Joel Hanrahan and the Brewers, Reds and Cards all looking back in disbelief.

If they make the playoffs they are the story if the year hands down.)

Sabine Lisicki… Mmmmmm.

Will Tiger Woods fade into oblivion?

Even though Roger Federer has “lost it” he’s still the third best tennis player in the world.

And lastly… Dirk, a $90,000 bottle of champagne and pictures with Birdman and Lil’ Wayne… In LeBron and D-Wade’s backyard.

Cough on that Miami.


Kentucky Returns To Where It Belongs

A sight that Kentucky fans have been for for a long time.

All of the expectations, the crazy hopes and dreams of Wildcat Nation, the hunger to win and to always be on top… turns out Kentucky was always right to feel that they should have better.

 

Kentucky beat North Carolina yesterday to head to its first Final 4 since Tubby Smith’s first season in Lexington in 1998. Since that national title year, Kentucky has become unconsciously unrealistic in their expectations of what and where their program should be. At least to u and I.

 

The constant criticism of Smith, the quick hook for Billy Gillespie, who was clearly in over his head, the need for a big time name to lead their program… it was maddening in every sense of the word to the average outsider.

 

But Kentucky always knew what it was worth. Its hopes and dreams were answered when John Calipari left Memphis after leading the Tigers during a great 10 year run to come to Lexington.

 

Calipari has long been considered one of the game’s best coaches and was the man that most felt could handle the enormous pressure that comes with being the coach at Kentucky. He also came with baggage and two vacated Final 4 appearances due to recruiting violations.

 

It was a huge risk for Kentucky to hire Calipari, but they knew in order for them to reach the mountain top they needed that kind of coach. In two years he hasn’t disappointed.

 

Last year’s stellar class featured John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and a slew of freshmen that led the Wildcats to the Elite 8 before falling to West Virginia and then bolting for the NBA. This year all Coach Cal did was reload with Terrance Jones, Doron Lamb, Brandon Knight and almost Enes Kanter before the NCAA ruled him ineligible.

 

Though not as touted as the last class, Kentucky’s fab freshmen led them to their second consecutive SEC tournament title and Knight in particular has been a savior for Kentucky in every possible way. Knight hit game-winning buckets against Princeton in round one and

Brandon Knight has eclipsed John Wall in equal time at Kentucky.

against Ohio State in the Sweet 16 to put them in a position to make the Final 4 and he dropped 30 on West Virginia in the second round to help them pull away and 22 against UNC.

 

Along with veterans Josh Harrelson and DeAndre Liggins, Kentucky has put together its most cohesive unit since the 2003 squad, which was heavily favored to win the national title but didn’t make it out of the second round.

 

Yesterday versus UNC you saw a team that didn’t melt down late in games like the previous Wildcat squads did under Smith or Gillespie. When UNC kept fighting back and Harrison Barnes started getting hot Knight and Liggins stopped them with huge 3’s late in the game and Darius Miller blocked a Barnes three point heave to seal it for Kentucky.

 

Once it was all said and done Kentucky returned to where it felt it always should be, the Final 4.

 

It took them three coaches, millions of questions and lots of criticism but Kentucky is right back where it belongs, in the Final 4 playing for a shot at its 8th national championship.

 

For some programs, 13 years since its last Final 4 would seem like a normal occurrence. At Kentucky they demand better. Looks like they weren’t so crazy after all.


Tourney Time!

The Buckeyes are the team to beat on the road to Houston.

With all due respect to the Colorado Buffaloes being 21-13, losing to Harvard, and San Francisco and beating such power houses like Maryland Eastern Shore and the Citadel don’t make you a tournament team. Even if you did beat Texas, Missouri and Kansas State three times.

 

I know you thought you should’ve been in but your yawn of a start didn’t make up for a flurry of a finish. I mean where do you think you are, the Big Ten?

 

As with every year the selection of the field of now 68 is not without some controversy. USC, Clemson and Penn State in, St. Mary’s, Missouri State and Virginia Tech out.

 

However, you must deal with it. The best part is now we can watch it all unfold in the way that a national champion should be rewarded, in a playoff. Hi BCS.

 

This year the field expanded to 68 teams, which essentially allowed three more crappy teams to make the field and create two more “Play-in” games to feed our growing appetites for basketball.

 

The field is pretty interesting. For the second straight year the number 1 seed overall gets the toughest bracket (Ohio State would love to trade with Pittsburgh right now) and Duke is a #2 disguised as a #1 (going to Anaheim 4 hours away from #2 San Diego State).

 

But this year there are 11 Big East teams, shattering the record of 8, a larger amount of mid-majors that could be primed for big runs (Oakland and Belmont), and about 9 teams that can win it all.

It would've been fun to watch St. mary's, but oh well.

As much as I like Ohio State their depth concerns me. As much as I like Duke location concerns. As much as I like Kansas their expectations concern me (I learned a long time ago that when everyone picks Kansas, pick against them). And as much as I like Pittsburgh I don’t think one Big East team can win this tournament…

 

But I think they’ll make it interesting.

 

I don’t expect much from the Big East except to kill a bunch of brackets and then fall. St. john’s, Marquette, West Virginia and Cincinnati could make someone’s life miserable and then fall the next game. The last thing I want to see being a top seed is a mid-level big east team waiting for them because disaster might ensue.

 

So what’s going to happen? Well before that, lets take a look at who should have and shouldn’t have made it.

 

ST. MARY’S 25-8

They won their conference, were ranked for last half of the season, played in a relatively decent conference and have a great history in the tournament and they played tough games versus St. John’s and BYU. Plus they had 25 wins (more on this later.).

 

MISSOURI STATE 25-8

They took Tennessee to the limit and won their regular season conference in the Missouri Valley, which year in and out is very competitive.

 

THE BIG TEN FOUR: PENN STATE (19-14), MICHIGAN STATE (19-14), ILLINOIS (19-13), MICHIGAN (20-13)

Here is my biggest problem with the tournament committee. It’s this thing called overvaluing a conference. The Big Ten was heralded as the best conference in the country and didn’t live up to it.

 

It was a top-heavy conference that featured three really good teams (Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin) and the rest of the conference was mediocre.

 

These four teams only got in because of their namesake. Critics will tell you that they played tough schedules and should be rewarded for how they played. Ok, I understand you play a tough schedule… BUT YOU LOST 13 GAMES, THAT MEANS YOU’RE NOT THAT GOOD!

 

Two weeks ago Penn State was 15-13 including losses to Maine, Maryland and Ole Miss.

What do 14 losses, 3 20 point losses and no consistency all year get you.. a ticket to the dance of course.

Illinois was 6-9 in their last 15 and lost to UIC by 3.

 

Michigan lost every game they played versus a top 25 team and went 0-6 against the top 3 in their own conference.

 

And Michigan State lost by double digits to the following teams: Syracuse, Purdue, Iowa by 20, Wisconsin by 24, Ohio State, Purdue by 20 and Penn State.

 

And these four teams were worthy of not only making the tournament, but also avoiding the play-in games?

 

Why not include Northwestern?

 

I guess having Gene Smith at the head of the committee does wonders for your conference.

 

And now, the field (not covering the play-in games because those are the only game s that those teams are winning).

 

EAST REGIONAL

BEST TEAM: OHIO STATE

BEST PLAYER: JARED SULLINGER

DARKHORSE: NORTH CAROLINA

UPSET SPECIALS: MARQUETTE OVER XAVIER

BEST GAMES: 1ST ROUND- WASHINGTON-GEORGIA. DOWN THE ROAD: OHIO STATE-KENTUCKY

I thought as the number one seed in any playoff that you were supposed to have the least challenging field to deal with as reward for your regular season. Guess I was wrong.

 

OSU has to potentially play Kentucky and Syracuse or North Carolina on their way to the final four and all three teams are peaking right now and have an equal share of claim as the top team to contend for a trip to Houston.

 

The region is stacked as West Virginia is a potential roadblock for Kentucky and Washington could do damage to UNC or Syracuse. Also George Mason could pose a little bit of a threat to OSU in the second round with Cam Long looking to take advantage of freshman Aaron Craft.

 

This bracket is also the lottery showcase with UK’s Terrance Jones and Brandon Knight, OSU’s Jared Sullinger and UNC’s Harrison Barnes looking to make statements before they potentially put their names into the for June’s draft.

Looking for a lottery pick this June? Then this regional is for you.

You’ll also want to get a peak at UW’s Isaiah Thomas, Xavier’s Tu Holloway and Princeton’s Kareem Maddox. Thomas is a guard in the same vein of Nate Robinson while Tu Holloway is flashy point guard who can shoot the lights of any opponent and Maddox is a post up player who can score in buckets.

 

I like Ohio State to win the region but two things concern me, the lack of depth and lack of killer instinct. If Sullinger or Dallas Lauderdale gets into foul trouble then its slim pickings on that bench that runs seven deep at best.

 

The good news is Kentucky only rolls six deep and Syracuse and UNC flip flop between lots of bench production and dead weight.

 

FINAL 4: OHIO STATE

WEST REGIONAL

BEST TEAM: DUKE

BEST PLAYER: DERRICK WILLIAMS

DARKHORSE: SAN DIEGO STATE

UPSET SPECIALS: OAKLAND OVER TEXAS AND MEMPHIS OVER ARIZONA

BEST GAMES: 1ST ROUND: MEMPHIS-ARIZONA. DOWN THE ROAD: SDSU-UCONN

I really want to pick UCONN but playing 5 games in 5 days will catch up to them like playing 4 in 4 caught up to Syracuse years ago. UCONN matches up well with Arizona, Duke and SDSU potentially, but the wear and tear of the Big East season and tourney will affect them after the Bucknell game.

 

How does Mizzou feel about playing a Cincinnati team that’s playing it’s best ball of the year while they’re playing their worst? Mike Anderson’s team has had a miserable second half and should be a quick exit.

 

Oakland scares me as a dark horse sweet 16 team. They played a tough non-conference schedule, which included a win at Tennessee. Texas, Arizona or Memphis doesn’t have an answer for Keith Benson in the middle and he should put up big numbers.

 

This bracket has San Diego State’s name written all over it. Their athleticism should get them through the 2nd and 3rd rounds easily and they have the bodies to match up with UCONN in the sweet 16.

Don't be shocked if the Aztecs make a run.

If they play Duke though how will they respond? Duke’s defense and rotation of about 9 players will frustrate the Aztecs and the Devils experience outweighs their athleticism. Also with the way Nolan Smith has played all year I don’t see a guard in this tourney stopping him. Even Kemba Walker.

 

FINAL 4: DUKE

SOUTHWEST REGIONAL

BEST TEAM: KANSAS

BEST PLAYERS: BEN HANSBROUGH, MARKIEFF AND MARCUS MORRIS

DARKHORSE: LOUISVILLE

UPSET SPECIAL: RICHMOND OVER VANDERBILT

BEST GAMES: 1ST ROUND: VANDY0RICHMOND. DOWN THE ROAD: KANSAS-LOUISVILLE, NOTRE DAME-PURDUE, NOTRE DAME-LOUISVILLE, PUDRDUE-KANSAS

At first I thought that the Southeast region was the lightest. Then I looked at this region and though, “are there any good teams besides Kansas, Louisville or Notre Dame?” no.

 

This region has all the excitement of the Wisconsin-Penn State game on Friday.

 

Vanderbilt wont handle Justin Harper or Kevin Anderson and the inside out game that Richmond plays. Georgetown doesn’t know if Chris Wright will even contribute once he returns from his hand injury. And vastly superior competition next round will roast TAMU, FSU and UNLV.

 

Purdue however intrigues me. Etwan Moore and JaJuan Johnson pose a sizeable threat to the bracket with their experience but they lost to Richmond on neutral soil by 11 back in November and they were 0-3 on the road versus ranked teams this year. Plus they just lost by 18 to Michigan State in Indianapolis and they scares me more than any other stat.

If this man keeps his head, then the Irish can go far.

I like Louisville because they can score and defend and they get clutch performances from Kyle Kuric and Preston Knowles when needed. Also there aren’t better guards in this region than Knowles and Peyton Siva. They can take over a game and cause headaches for whoever plays them.

 

Kansas is Kansas. Arguably the most complete team in the nation, as they are athletic at all positions and deep. The Morris Twins are absolute monsters in the paint or on the wing and the team as a whole is an offensive juggernaut.

 

The problem with them is their consistency at all positions. I don’t trust Tyshawn Taylor at all and Josh Selby is still trying to fit into the offense. Plus in their two losses their lack of focus and execution murdered them and almost cost them against Nebraska, Iowa State and Michigan.

So I’m taking Notre Dame. Why? The fight in this team runs from top to bottom. They back down from no one in any situation. Look at the UCONN game two weeks ago when Ben Hansbrough fouled out of the game with 8 minutes left. They weathered the Kemba Walker hurricane and a raucous crowd to pull themselves together and pull out a huge win.

 

They can shoot anyone’s lights out and can overcome their lack of athleticism with their experience and hustle.

 

(Side note: this is all pending on whether or not Hansbrough can keep is head in check. He almost cost them the UCONN game and did cost them against Louisville at the Garden. When he’s on he’s the best shooter in the country, when he’s off his volatile nature becomes a huge detriment to the team. )

 

FINAL 4: NOTRE DAME

SOUTHEAST REGION

BEST TEAM: PITTSBURGH

BEST PLAYERS: JIMMER FREDETTE, JACOB PULLEN AND DWIGHT HARDY

DARKHORSE: ST. JOHN’S

UPSET SPECIALS: UTAH STATE OVER KANSAS STATE, BELMONT OVER WISCONSIN, GONZAGA OVER ST. JOHN’S AND WOFFORD OVER BYU

BEST GAMES: 1ST ROUND: ST. JOHN’S VERSUS GONZAGA. DOWN THE ROAD: ST. JOHN’S VERSUS KANSAS STATE, PITTSBURGH VERSUS ST. JOHN’S, KANSAS STATE VERSUS BYU

Um… yeah… this region is a cluster****.

 

The committee must’ve wanted to play head games with everyone with this region.

 

It’s technically a bunch of guard dependent teams who wouldn’t make the sweet 16 in any other region.

 

The top 4 seeds could either maker final four runs or be done before week 2. By the way, how in the blue hell did Florida get a 2 seed? Did the committee realize that they lost to UCF, Jacksonville, South Carolina, Mississippi State and got drilled by Kentucky on Sunday? Just saying.

 

The bottom line is that this will be he most fun region of the four. You’ll see Jimmer drop 40. Belmont rain three’s and Pitt bludgeon their teams to death.

 

However, I’m beyond interested to see how St. john’s does. Before D.J. Kennedy went down with a torn ACL I thought that they were a real final 4 contender. Then that happened and I backtracked. Now? I don’t know.

How far can the Johnnies go? This man holds the key.

I know that they depend on Dwight Hardy just as much as BYU depends on Jimmer, and that they struggle to find offense in some areas at times. But looking at this region I feel that it’s theirs for the taking. Except for their opening game against a peaking Gonzaga, the Johnnies can beat anyone in the bottom half of their bracket and for one game they can take out Pitt, K-State or Wisconsin.

 

But I’m taking K-State because Jacob Pullen pulled himself together and brought this team back from the dead. A month ago the Wildcats were NIT bound when Pullen stopped caring about the NBA and put the team on his back. Even with Wally Judge gone the Wildcats rallied behind Pullen and the inside tandem of Curtis Kelly and Jordan Henriquez-Roberts and ran through Kansas, Missouri, and Texas on their way to this 5 seed.  Why stop now? Besides, Colorado aint playing so they don’t have to worry about playing a team they cant beat.

 

FINAL 4: KANSAS STATE

Yeah I know my final 4 is the same as the beginning of the year (except for Syracuse, stupid East regional.) but why turn away now? OSU, K-State and Duke are playing their best ball of the year and Notre Dame fulfills my Big East obligation. So you know that means that I’m sticking with the Buckeyes to win it all.

 

Ok enough talking, Thursday get here already (Tuesday for those interested in the “first round.”), let the games begin!

 

 

 


Evan Turner Should Be P.O.Y.

Take this into consideration college basketball fans, I know John Wall has had all of the hype for player of the year, and its well deserved. He has played big in big moments such as that amazing performance against UConn in December, and just last night against Alabama when the cats were on the ropes. However, he is not the player of the year in college basketball, that distinction belongs to Evan Turner of Ohio State.

No, I am not just shamelessly plugging him because I go to OSU or because I am biased. When you take a look at both teams it is clear to see that Turner means more to the Buckeyes than Wall does to the Wildcats.

John Wall isn’t even the best player on his own team (that distinction belongs to Demarcus Cousins). Wall’s performance all season has been stellar, but sometimes he has been outshined by guys like Eric Bledsoe, Pat Patterson and Cousins, who have equal to better talent than Wall. You can think of several instances this year where Wall has not been the best player on the court for Kentucky and was outplayed by opponents; against South Carolina he struggled to keep up with Devan Downey all game long, he was held down in two tough wins against Vanderbilt and in the last game this season and against Florida he was a non-factor throughout a tough tilt. He also has had bouts with immaturity this season in clashing with Coach John Calipari. His statement-retraction of “not really listening to coach” raised some eyebrows that maybe the 19 year-old still has a lot to learn before he reaches the next level.

Player of the year? You're looking at him.

Turner on the other hand has been the best player on the floor at all times for Ohio State and has had to be. The Buckeyes only go 6 deep and Turner finds himself on the floor playing all 40 minutes sometimes guarding the best player on the opposing team every night all while making factors out of streaky Jon Diebler and the underachieving David Lighty. Turner is the only player on his team that can create his own shot and makes plays regularly to keep Ohio State ahead in close games while his teammates stand and watch. His 23 in the second half against Purdue in January was a testament to his explosive capabilities and how he is really the only player that can be consistent on his team. He is the point guard; go to guy and best defender of his team.

When he was absent for 6 games in December with a back injury you saw just how much the Bucks struggled without him. They were embarrassed by Wisconsin and Michigan (14-18 Michigan mind you) and let Delaware State hang around almost all game before putting them away. With Turner they are a title contender and a two-seed in the NCAA tourney, without him they are an NIT team. You can’t say that for Kentucky. Without Wall they are still a 20 win team with a shot at an elite eight appearance maybe more. They are better with him, but without him they are still a forceful opponent.

In the end it doesn’t matter because they will both be the top two players taken in the NBA draft. Whoever drafts them will reap the benefits of their amazing talents almost immediately. As for right now though its no contest who means more to their team on a nightly basis. Evan Turner is that man, and for that he should be the national player of the year hands down.