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Tuesday's Wildcat Links

September 2nd 2014

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BleacherReport:  Damien Harris grades his UK visit as a '10'
C-J:  a few tweaks on the UK football depth chart
Cleveland.com:  preseason look at Ohio U team
C-J:  Kentucky ranks high in several national stats
Nation of Blue:  Toth named SEC O-lineman of the Week
kentuckysports.com/John Clay:  3 takeaways from Stoops news conference
RantSports:  Cats must avoid over-confidence v. Ohio
C-J:  Elam played 18 snaps in opening game
NextCats:  UK offers top cornerback in 2016 class

BASKETBALL
NextCats:  Bragg cuts list to 5, includes UK
NextCats:  Tatum cuts list to 10, includes UK
Zagsblog:  Malik Newman in no rush to make a decision

Monday Wildcat Links

August 31st 2014

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A Sea of Blue: Offensive young guns shine
KY Forward: Lots to like about Cats' win, but Ohio should provide stiffer challenge
John Clay: Towles standing tall for Wildcats in more ways than one
C-J: UK's offense among nation's best in week one
Vaught's Views: Stoops has optimism going forward

BASKETBALL
Bleacher Report: How far behind is Trey Lyles after missing Bahamas trip
Herald Leader: Calipari remains sensitive to slights big, or small
Nation of Blue: Team USA has big second half to beat Turkey
NextCats: Ingram has UK in his final six

photo courtesy Victoria Graff

Sunday Wildcat Links

August 30th 2014

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CBS Sports: Kentucky blows out UT Martin
Rant Sports: Offensive potential is scary
Sporting News: Braylon Heard runs, and runs some more
Central Kentucky News: Braylon Heard has two big runs
UK Athletics: Kentucky rolls UT Martin

BASKETBALL
ZagsBlog: Jaylen Brown to visit Kansas, Kentucky
Rivals.com: Team recruiting rankings

photo courtesy Victoria Graff

Tom's Take: it's Towles time

August 30th 2014

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            To find Patrick Towles on Twitter, type in @patty_ice14 and the eyes of the Big Blue Nation will be focused on the "ice" man today as he makes his first start as the Kentucky quarterback, the job he dreamed of landing.

            Offensive coordinator Neal Brown will likely be cautious with Towles in the early part of today's opener against UT-Martin, to see how the redshirt sophomore is handling that spotlight.  Given that Towles was a three-time state champ for one of the state's top programs at Ft. Thomas Highlands and given that his grandfather is tough-as-nails Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning, I'm guessing "Patty Ice" will not melt.  And if that's true, the home run is likely to make a long-awaited return to the UK offense.

            Two things have been missing for Kentucky fans for too long--the deep ball in the passing game and big plays in the kick and punt return game and I think both could come into play today. 

            Towles throws the deep ball very well and he's got some talented, albeit young, targets so maybe we'll finally see some of the vertical daggers that Andre Woodson threw back in 2006 and '07.  In golf terms, Towles is long off the tee but to "own" the QB job, he'll need to master the "short game" in this offense, by consistenly completing the short throws with keen accuracy, so that the playmakers are set up to make plays.  That will keep the chains moving, which will enable Brown's offense to kick up the tempo and that will light a fire under Big Blue Nation and throw a scare or two into the opposition.

            Kentucky's overall talent should dominate UT-Martin today and the Wildcats need to make sure that they maximize that advantage, because it will build confidence in a young team.

            Back in 1983, UK was coming off a winless season (Jerry Claiborne's first year) but the Cats started fast, with convincing wins over two over-matched foes.  This Kentucky team has the chance to do the same thing and who knows what some long-awaited positive momentum could do from there.

            It was exactly 17 years ago today that a highly-touted Kentucky prep football star was handed the keys to the Big Blue car, after a mismanaged freshman campaign.  Tim Couch threw three touchdown passes in the first quarter en route to a thumping of Louisville and the fans loved it.  Towles wasn't mismanaged but he did have to do some growing--and changing, when a new system installed a system that wasn't an ideal fit with his skill set.  To Towles' credit, he changed the mechanics of his own game to fit the needs of his coaches and his reward is the chance to finally show what he can do.


Saturday Wildcat Links

August 29th 2014

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Wildcat Blue Nation: Kentucky Wildcats Football vs UT Martin Skyhawks 
C-J: Kentucky football opens Stoops' year 2 vs. UT Martin 
Herald Leader: Three key questions about season opener 
Vaught's Views: Another reason to hope Patrick Towles has a big opening game 
Cincinnati.com: Towles' time finally here at UK 
KY Forward: Stoops says practice pace will pick up later in the week to be game ready

BASKETBALL
Vaught's Views: Zimmerman says he has a good relationship with BBN 
CoachCal.com: Team USA will show Davis, Cousins how to be great 


Friday Wildcat Links

August 28th 2014

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UK Athletics: Consistency UK's aim in opening 2014 season
Rant Sports: Kentucky must win big in home-opener
Wildcat Blue Nation: 2014 season preview
Nation of Blue: Game day changes
Cats Illustrated: Cats game day predictions
Herald Leader: Kentucky wants new QB in comfort zone
C-J: Elam a big surprise his whole life
KSR: Top stars Kentucky struggled to replace
247Sports: The 11 true freshman SEC starters 
ukathletics.com:  check out the "pump up" video from Ky Wildcats TV

BASKETBALL
Bleacher Report: Biggest question marks for 2014-2015 season
CatsPause: Four Wildcats among SI's Top 20 Big Men
NextCats: Diamond Stone cuts Kentucky

Thursday Wildcat Links

August 27th 2014

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saturdaydownsouth.com: Stoops feels much better about receiver position 
Sporting News: College football star begin quest to raise stock
UK Athletics: Front seven taking shape as opener approaches 
Vaught's Views: Dupree thinking wins, not NFL 
John Clay: Kentucky's blockers tackle last-minute uproar with aplomb 
C-J: Stoops says team lacks SEC talent at most positions 
Wildcat Blue Nation: Less talk, more action 
Herald Leader: Stoops talks about role Elam will play 
247 Sports: Clemson, Kentucky on top for Florida WR 
CatsIllustrated/Justin Rowland:  rival recruiters knock UK program

BASKETBALL
Zagsblog:  UK among final 3 for Henry Ellenson

Wednesday Wildcat Links

August 27th 2014

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kentuckysports.com/John Clay:  Stoops liked what he saw in Tuesday practice
vaughtsviews:  Bud Dupree nearly left UK until he got to wear #2
Cincinnati.com:  UC talking about a series with Kentucky
ESPN/Edward Aschoff:  10 predictions for the SEC football season
kentuckysports:  Neal Brown says "we're in a good place"

BASKETBALL
Nation of Blue:  Anthony Davis leads Team USA to win
C-J:  writer wonders if Calipari has met his recruiting match in Bruce Pearl
KSR:  Cauley-Stein on Lindy's magazine cover and UK ranked #1
Nation of Blue:  Calipari sits down with ESPN's Seth Greenberg

Tuesday Wildcat Links

August 26th 2014

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ukathletics.com:  opener is a gauge for UK's improvement
C-J:  5 takeaways from Stoops' press conference
Nation of Blue:  two Cats suspended for first game
VaughtsViews:  Demarco Robinson back in good standing
WKYT/DickGabriel:  Towles gets a long leash from Stoops
NextCats:  Damien Harris schedules official visit to Ohio State
kentuckysports.com:  several UK freshmen on two-deep chart
Sea of Blue:  UK has 15th-toughest schedule

BASKETBALL
NextCats:  unofficial visit for Eric Davis went well
NBC:  Cousins fully recovered and "honored" to represent Team USA

Monday Wildcat Links

August 24th 2014

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FOOTBALL
Herald Leader: Technology revolutionizing UK football
Wildcat Blue Nation: Redshirting Barker best case scenario 
Vaught's Views: Who will win starting linebacker spot?
kentuckysports.com:  UK hopes to redshirt Drew Barker
NextCats:  Damien Harris talks about his recruitment
ESPN projects a C-minus grade this season for Towles
ukathletics.com:  check out Virtual Venue to see your seat location in new CwS
Sea of Blue:  questions to answer for Kentucky football

BASKETBALL
Kentucky Rivals: Cal lets Cats relax after Bahamas trip
Nation of Blue: Eric Davis takes unofficial trip to Kentucky
KSR: New York Times predicts Anthony Davis to be next big "superstar"
CoachCal.com: Cal helps generate over $1,000,000 for charity 



Sunday Wildcat Links

August 23rd 2014

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Rant Sports: Staff must handle the Drew Barker situation properly 
Herald Leader: The one UK football player even U of L fans should root for 
Vaught's View: Garrett Johnson knew UK was right fit for him 
KSR: If Towles goes down, when does Barker's redshirt get pulled?
C-J: Scouting report 
Wildcat Blue Nation: DBs preview 

BASKETBALL 
KY Forward: Cousins and Davis earn positions on USA FIBA squad 
Nation of Blue: 2016 shooting guard set to visit Kentucky 
SI.com: How the top 25 freshmen could impact their teams 

Saturday Wildcat Links

August 22nd 2014

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FOOTBALL
Yahoo Sports: Questions before kickoff 
AL.com: Kentucky interested in Alabama recruits
UK Athletics: CWS releases new virtual venue 
Vaught's Views: Nine true freshmen expected to play
Herald Leader: Smith making up for lost time

BASKETBALL
Rant Sports: Top five contenders in SEC basketball this coming season
NBC Sports: Recruiting roundup 
Indy Star: Cal upset at the notion that he is better recruiter than coach 
KSR: This team might combine the best of the 2010 and 2012 teams

Friday Wildcat Links

August 21st 2014

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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 
24/7Sports ranks SEC QB's;  Towles is #11

BASKETBALL
SportingNews/DeCourcy takes on the debate about Calipari as an "X and O guy"
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 
YouTube:  watch every dunk for UK's games in the Bahamas
VaughtsViews:  Towns could be in conversation for #1 draft pick of 2015



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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BASKETBALL
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

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