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Friday Wildcat Links

August 21st 2014

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FOOTBALL
Wildcat Blue Nation: Offensive line preview 
UK Athletics: Dupree named preseason Second-Team All-SEC
Vaught's Views: Blue looking to make more big plays 
Herald Leader: Forrest finds middle linebacker to his liking 
C-J: Kentucky adds some big to the blue at wide receiver 
Sporting News: What the O'Bannon injunction means for athletes and coaches 

BASKETBALL
NY Times: Towns ready for new set of challenges 
Sporting News: Cal defends himself 
CoachCal.com: Meet Tyler Ulis 
NextCats: Brandon Ingram will visit for Big Blue Madness 
Zagsblog: Rabb says California and Kentucky will make final list 



Thursday Wildcat Links

August 20th 2014

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FOOTBALL
SB Nation: Blueprint for a rebuild
C-J: RB Damien Harris measures UK on more than just wins 
Vaught's Views: Towles admits Stoops got him with the initial QB news 
A Sea of Blue: Damien Harris sending UK positive vibes as of late
Jen Smith: Edwards on campus, unlikely to play this year 

BASKETBALL
kentuckysports.com/John Clay looks at Aaron Harrison's play in Bahamas
Ky Kernel:  observations from UK's games in Bahamas
Cleveland.com: Cal says David Blatt is much better choice for Cavs 
Kentucky.com: UK target inspires comparison to NBA star Zach Randolph 
KSR:  Karl Towns will not accompany DR team to Spain
ESPN:  Team USA routs Dominican Republic;  Towns 0 points, 2 rebounds

OTHER
UK Athletics: Six athletes to be inducted into Hall of Fame 


Tom's Take: Big Blue Bahamas reflections

August 20th 2014

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There was plenty of fun in the sun in the Bahamas but we saw some really good basketball, too--especially for a team that had only 10 days of practice preceding this trip.  Here are some observations I had over the six-game stretch:

                --the on-court chemistry for this group is outstanding.  The percentage of assists to made baskets was much higher than we saw last season and it's clear Calipari's point about much pickup basketball this bunch plays is noteworthy.  I still can't believe Andrew Harrison's behind-the-back pass to hit Dakari Johnson in stride for a dunk did not make Sportscenter's Top 10.

                --Tyler Ulis is as good as advertised.   Like all great passers, he seems to see the game one move ahead and he can be used to wear down opposing guards by inserting him for stretches to pressure the ball from baseline to baseline.

                --as exciting as Ulis' play was in the Bahamas, it's important to note that Andrew Harrison was OUTSTANDING at the point.  He's really grown in his ability to make the right "reads" of what plays to make, as he rarely forced much action in those games.   And his brother, Aaron, has added an off-the-dribble element to his game that will make his jumper even more hard to guard.

                --Karl Towns has benefitted greatly from all of his international experience and he's coming into his UK career as a very polished player.  My radio broadcast partner Mike Pratt loves Towns' footwork, comparing it to Boogie Cousins and Patrick Patterson.  And Towns passing from the high post reminds me of the work Chuck Hayes and Erik Daniels did in that part of the court back in 2004.

                --Alex Poythress strung together longer stretches of top-level play than we've seen since the first few games of his college career.  He just needs to stay focused on keeping the motor revving at a high level because whenever he needs a break, there's no shortage of manpower on that bench.

                --Johnson is night and day different in terms of his fitness to run the court and he's playing with a ton of confidence, as are Derek Willis, Marcus Lee and Dominique Hawkins.  I thought rookie Devin Booker was starting to lose some confidence so I was impressed to see his recapture that "mojo" within Saturday's close win over the French team, including hitting a clutch shot in the final minutes.

                --it's important that Willie Cauley-Stein stay healthy for this team, as there was not much of a rim-protecting presence in the Bahamas without WCS.

                --"team" rebounding will be important because there's no Julius Randle here to churn out double-figure rebounding games night in and night out.

                I know it's hard to avoid looking ahead to how this season might end but I would encourage you to enjoy what promises to be a very fun journey.

###

 


Tom's Take: Towles time is now

August 20th 2014

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I wonder  how many college quarterbacks have led their team to a touchdown on their very first drive?  Patrick Towles did that, but things went downhill from there.  The way that scenario usually unfolds leads to the player transferring and going into last spring, many probably felt that was what was coming for Towles.

        But anyone who thought that would happen unestimated the resolve of the former Mr. Football and the grandson of Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning, whose consitution has always been as tough as they come.  To his credit, Towles accepted the changes the coaches wanted him to make in his quarterback technique and sought out a coach to help him make the transition.  And to the credit of his coaches, they didn't write him off, so when Towles proved himself last spring, he put himself in position to hear the news he got earlier this week--that he would be the Wildcats' starting signal-caller.

         Is the pressure off for Towles? Probably not, as he still must prove himself in the crucible of SEC competition.   But Towles should already proven something to his teammates, with the attitude he dispalyed when adversity hit.  That's the kind of quarterback players will follow into battles.

Wednesday's Wildcat Links

August 20th 2014

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FOOTBALL
kentuckysports.com:  Patrick Towles talks about winning QB job
VaughtsView:  walk-on WR Walker plays with a chip on his shoulder
NextCats:  UK recruit Eli Brown named to Rivals 250 list
Sea of Blue predicts the defensive depth chart for UK
VaughtsViews:  Towles says he can play free now

BASKETBALL
kentuckysports.com/John Clay takes a look at Devin Booker's play in Bahamas
ESPN/Eamonn Brennan excited about prospect of UK platoon system
NBC's Rob Dauster talks about platoon system, too
Nation of Blue:  Terrence Jones helps family of murder victim

Tuesday's Wildcat Links

August 19th 2014

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FOOTBALL
kentuckysports.com/John Clay:  Towles won the job on production
Nation of Blue:  Couch, Lorenzen talk about QB decision
kentuckysports.com:  Tim Couch's advice for Drew Barker
WDRB/Rick Bozich:  the pros and cons for Towles
KSR observations from final open practice
VaughtsViews:  Boom Williams wants to live up to #18 legacy
NextCats:  Damien Harris ranked #1 running back in US

BASKETBALL
CBS/Gary Parrish came away strongly impressed with Tyler Ulis
SBNation:  Anthony Davis is growing into a beast
ESPN:  Vandy kicks two guards off its team

Monday Wildcat Links

August 17th 2014

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BASKETBALL
Bleacher Report: 2014-2015 Wildcats already making a name for themselves 
Yahoo Sports: Kentucky Wildcats end their busy schedule with a loss
NBC Sports: Kentucky loses by one point
KY Forward: Kentucky runs out of gas in final game of tour
Cats Illustrated: Kentucky's offense slowed down in final stretch 
KSR: Ulis is better than we could have ever imagined
CoachCal.com: Cats just weren't there physically 
NextCats: Brown hints at spring decision

FOOTBALL
A Sea of Blue: Special teams preview 
Vaught's Views: Matt Elam has impressed coaches
Herald Leader: Swindle schemes to be the best
C-J: Cornerbacks hope interceptions catch on
John Clay: Kentucky gives newcomers the green light

Sunday Wildcat Links

August 16th 2014

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C-J: Kentucky fights back and remains unbeaten in Nassau 
Wildcat Blue Nation: Wildcats pass close test
Herald Leader: Tyler Ulis helps keeps Wildcats perfect
CBS Sports: Poythress shows why this might be his breakout season
AL.com: Is the SEC Network a recruiting tool for college basketball?

FOOTBALL
NBC Sports: Kentucky WR injured 
Vaught's Views: QB decision could be coming soon
VaughtsViews:  Stoops more confident than last year

Saturday Wildcat Links

August 15th 2014

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BASKETBALL
Rant Sports: Ranking Kentucky's most important players for 2014-2015
UK Athletics: Conference schedule unveiled
NBC Sports: Former Wildcats helping each other out
Wildcat Blue Nation: Updates on class of 2015
C-J: Kentucky keeps it going in the Bahamas 
CoachCal.com: Cats make big statement in Nassau 
Herald Leader: Poythress proves his value yet again
KSR: Johnson was a force inside in last win 
Vaught's Views: Former UK assistant coach believes Kentucky is already a step ahead

Tom's Take: Poythress continues to shine

August 15th 2014

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                Kentucky got its toughest test of this Bahamas tour but passed with a solid grade in a 12-point win over the Domincan Republic. 

                The Cats led by as many as 22 but UK's defense slipped over the final 10 minutes as the Domicans attacked the rim relentlessly (something that wouldn't have happened nearly as much if Willie Cauley-Stein was playing).

                Orlando Antigua's DR squad had only a couple of practices within this entire group together before coming to the Bahamas but they know have three games under their belts and one could expect Kentucky to have its toughest game on the tour in the rematch on Sunday. 

                Kenny Payne, who handled the coaching chores for this game, said he was disappointed with the rebounding by the Wildcats.  And rebounding is an area in which Kentucky will need a group effort.  Last season, they could count on Julius Randle for consistently producing double-figure nights on the boards but I think this team will need to count on more than one guy to be "the man" on the glass.

                Coach Calipari joined us on the network during the second half and said this trip will cover what he would normally do with this team in September so the Wildcats will be well ahead of schedule when practice for the next season commences in October.

                Over the course of the season, I would guess that Aaron Harrison will lead UK in scoring but Alex Poytress has been the top point-producer thus far in the Bahamas and he continues to showcase elements of his game that rarely saw last season, like scoring off the dribble (something he will need to do to claim the minutes at the '3' spot for UK).  The Poythress we've seen here looks like the kind of player we saw at the start of his UK career, when he produced four consecutive 20-point games--joining Dwight Anderson as the only rookies to accomplish that feat.

###

Friday Wildcat Links

August 14th 2014

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FOOTBALL
C-J: Kentucky's freshmen impressing coaches
Vaught's Views: Defensive Linemen have bright futures 
Herald Leader: Cats reach new heights in 2014
Nation of Blue:  Mark Stoops gets interviewed on SEC Network's opening night

BASKETBALL
Nation of Blue:  Eloy Vargas talks about today's game v.his alma mater
Wildcat Blue Nation: Ignore the negative Nancies who seek to ruin the season
CatsPause: The deepest Wildcat team in the past decade?
A Sea of Blue: Patrick Patterson credits Coach Cal
ESPN: Cousins injured during Team USA practice 
Scout Hoops: Top spot is up for debate for 2015 recruits 
Yahoo Sports:  Poythress ready for his moment to shine

OTHER
Forbes.com: What you should know about the SEC network
Nation of Blue:  see how the SEC Network started on its first night

Thursday Wildcat Links

August 13th 2014

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BASKETBALL
Bleacher Report: The five most underrated Wildcats of the past decade 
A Sea of Blue: Kentucky Wildcats poised to please
Hoops Habit: A glimpse at greatness 
CoachCal.com: Cats give hope 
You Tube:  Ashley Judd talks about her gameday routine as a Cat fan
YouTube:  ESPN's Bilas talks to the UK team in Bahamas

FOOTBALL
Rant Sports: The Wildcats are finally starting to look like an SEC team
C-J: Stoops struggling to pick a QB
Herald Leader: If history holds, Stoops' defense is ready to take off
John Clay: Picking the right QB is the most important task right now

Tom's Take: "scary good" Kentucky

August 13th 2014

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                "This team could be scary good."

                That was how ESPN's Jay Bilas ended our interview after yesterday's game here in the Bahamas.  Bilas said UK will "wear out or foul out" most opponents and it will take an "extraordinary" effort for an opponent to defeat John Calipari's latest team. (click here to listen to the podcast of today's show)

                Bilas isn't one given to hyperbole so his comments are noteworthy but he also said one must factor into the analysis that the Wildcats will face much stiffer challenges this winter than they have seen thus far in the Bahamas.  As good as Kentucky's whole team looks,  Cal can only play five at a time so on a given night, a team with a shorter bench but comparable quality could prevail.  That's important for these Wildcats to remember so that they play with an air of invincibility but they prepare for games in a humble and hungry fashion.

                Coach Cal was great in his halftime interview with us on the UK-IMG Network but unfortunately, the latter half didn't get on the air because of technical difficulties.  Cal urged fans to tune out critics and skeptics who will raise questions about chemistry with a such a talent-laden group and everything certainly points to harmony among these players both on and off the court.  Calipari also talked about holding up the San Antonio Spurs as an example of the effectiveness of sharing the ball.   ESPN's Seth Greenberg was also on "The Leach Report" today and he said he thinks the Spurs will be a model for college basketball as a whole.

                One thing that has stuck out to me in the practices and these games is how well this team passes the ball as a group.   My radio partner, Mike Pratt, often talks about good passers have to be both "able and willing" and this UK group is scoring high on both marks.

                Another thing that has stood to me in these games is this team's toughness.  Opponents have tried to intimidate the younger Wildcats and they have responded more with actions than words and that kind of response breaks an opponent's heart and will.

                Bilas said he's not surprised Kentucky is winning these games but the margin of victory is what has been most impressive.  The challenge figures to be tougher Friday, when UK faces a Domican Republic team that will be in top shape and with players still vying for a spot on the final roster that coach Orlando Antigua will take to Spain for Olympic  qualifying play.

Wednesday Wildcat Links

August 12th 2014

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A Sea of Blue: Kentucky wins 93 to 57
NBC Sports: Five thoughts after Kentucky's third win 
Wildcat Blue Nation: Halfway home in the Bahamas 
KSR: This team is good
CoachCal.com: Lots of smiles during the game

FOOTBALL
Yahoo Sports: Kentucky seeks growth in Stoops' second year
Herald Leader: Maxwell Smith doesn't want to be forgotten 
DenverBroncos.com: Trevathan out with knee injury
NextCats: Another inconsistent day for the QBs

Tuesday Wildcat Links

August 11th 2014

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BASKETBALL
Herald Leader: UK topples French professional team
Rant Sports: Ten teams that could keep the Wildcats from an undefeated season
Bleacher Report: Three key themes of social media chatter over UK's Bahamas win
NBC Sports: Towns comes up big 
KY Forward: Kentucky wins second straight 
Vaught's Views: Notes and numbers from Kentucky's win 
John Clay: Three quick things about Kentucky's second win

FOOTBALL
ESPN: Season preview 
C-J: UK's Forrest the next Guy up at linebacker
NextCats: Hiers no longer committed to UK

Monday Wildcat Links

August 10th 2014

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BASKETBALL
UK Athletics:  UK opens Bahamas tour with a W
USA Today: Coach Cal likes what he sees in exhibition game
Nation of Blue: Five quick observations from UK's win over Puerto Rico
KY Forward: Kentucky gives preview of what's to come with first win 
Cats Illustrated: Aaron Harrison shines
CoachCal.com: Cal pleased with collective effort in game one
Vaught's Views: The hype can officially begin for the talented team
Herald Leader: Cal compares Poythress to Kidd-Gilchrist
Tucson.com: Arizona could have the best recruiting class of 2015 
KSR: Four grand pronouncements after day one in the Bahamas 

Tom's thoughts on BB Bahamas tour

August 10th 2014

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                 The weather and the scenery here in the Bahamas are beautiful but I'm most excited about seeing this Kentucky basketball team in action against some outside competition--and some challenging opposition at  that.

                At yesterday's shootaround,  local officials at the gym that will host these games had to do some adjustments to the height of one of the rims, with some assistance from coaches Calipari and Robic.  Cal was on a ladder, holding the tape measure at the rim (no, he wasn't recreating the scene from "Hooisers") and new assistant coach Slice Rohrrsen had a nice observation,  suggesting it could be a good omen that Cal is starting the season where he hopes to end it--on a ladder (hopefully cutting down nets in Indy).

                It'll be interesting to see the improvements of the returning players but the freshmen usually draw the most attention from BBN, to see what they've got at this time.  When we had Tyler Ulis' high school on "The Leach Report" earlier this summer,  the coach noted that Ulis studies the play of other small point guards like Chris Paul and Trey Burke--and I liked the coach's comparison of Ulis' game to former NBA star Tiny Archibald (still the only player to lead the NBA in both scoring and assists in a season).

                Here are a few random notes about players on the Puerto Rico Reserves team that UK will face today (and Tuesday):

--Kevin Young played 11 minutes (no points) for Kansas in the 2012 title game v. UK

--Carlos Lopez-Sosa played high school ball at Findlay Prep with former UK star Deandre Ligggins and Lopez-Sosa was MVP of the Lexington Christian (KY) Academy Classic in the 2009 season (the year after Liggins graduated).

--Johwen Villegas hit 74 three's in his junior season at Florida International

--Andres Torres played for Hartford against UK in a game at Rupp in Cal's first season              

The gym here is similar in size to the one in which UK has played in the Maui Invitational.  Mike Pratt, Matt Jones and I will be courtside at 12:30pm eastern today to start our coverage of the "Big Blue Bahamas" tour and we can't wait to tip it off.
  


Sunday Wildcat Links

August 9th 2014

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BASKETBALL
Bleacher Report: Breakdown of the 2014-2015 non-conference games
C-J: UK basketball tips off in the Bahamas 
Herald Leader: UK will see a lot of familiar faces this week
A Sea of Blue: This team belongs to the twins 
NBC Sports: UK targets help Team USA in win

FOOTBALL
UK Athletics: Big fan day crowd gives team a boost
Wildcat Blue Nation: Sorting out UK's depth chart 
KSR: Thoughts and pictures of fan day

Saturday Wildcat Links

August 8th 2014

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BASKETBALL
NBC Sports: Men's basketball tickets stolen before Bahamas trip
Bleacher Report: Five things Poythress must do to meet expectations
Herald Leader: Harrison twins accept change 
Scout.com: Most intriguing 2015 recruits
CatsPause: Players battling for minutes at the three position
 
FOOTBALL
Fox Sports: Stoops deciding among four candidates for starting QB
C-J: Should Drew Barker redshirt? 
C-J: UK's QBs talk for first time since spring game
John Clay: Stoops making all the right moves
Lex18: Information on preseason open practices and fan day

Friday's Wildcat Links

August 8th 2014

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BASKETBALL
coachcal.com:  development is key goal for Bahamas trip
NextCats/Ben Roberts observations from UK practice
Zagsblog:  Malik Monk's brother talks about Malik's UK visit
NextCats:  '15 guard Eric Davis includes UK in final 7

FOOTBALL
WKYT:  one of Damien Harris' games will be shown on ESPN U
ukathletics.com:  link to live stream for UK Football media day
ESPN:  Stoops among coaches who advocate only playing "power 5" opponents
KSR looks at position battles at wideout for UK football
BBN First has 1st installment of "gameday education series" for Commonwealth Stadium

OTHER
Wildcat Blue Nation:  UK's Holmes tied for 11th after 1st round of PGA
ESPN:  NCAA approves autonomy for "Power 5" leagues
ClimbingTalsHill says AJ Reed is off to a good start in Houston system

JB Holmes photo courtesy Victoria Graff

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