SEC M5: 10.18.12 Edition

Posted by KAlmekinder on October 18th, 2012

  1. One of the best articles you will read this week is regarding the interaction between Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel and Lane Goodwin, a 13 year-old teen from Beech Grove, Kentucky, who is battling a rare form of cancer. The last few weeks have brought the “Thumbs Up For Lane Goodwin” movement on Twitter and Facebook that quickly gained interest among Wildcat players and the Big Blue Nation. With the endorsement of these high profile basketball players, it quickly spread nationwide as celebrities such as Johnny Depp, Tim Tebow, Anderson Cooper, and many others have also given a “thumbs up” for Lane. Yesterday, Twitter and Kentucky Sports Radio reported the tragic passing of Lane. The sudden loss of a teenager fighting a terrible disease helps remind us that not only there are more things to life than college basketball but these players do care about the community and will help out as much as possible for those in need.
  2.  The preseason Top 25 USA Today Coaches Poll was released on Wednesday with Kentucky coming in at #3 with five first place votes, behind their neighbors Indiana and Louisville at #1 and #2, respectively. Florida was the only other SEC team to crack the top 10 (#10) while Missouri was the last SEC squad to be ranked in the poll (#17). Both Tennessee and Georgia were among the others schools who received votes, but neither was ranked in the Top 25.
  3. Mississippi State guard Jalen Steele spoke extensively to the Jackson (MS) Clarion-Ledger on Wednesday regarding the style of play and the content of practice for the Bulldogs early in the season. Steele stated that MSU has been focusing on defense lately and that a lot of the practices are physical, comparing the hardwood practices to the gridiron. In terms of style of play, new head coach Rick Ray wants “more dribble drive and creating more shots for people”, according to Steele. He also mentioned the increased respect given to the new head coach in comparison to former leader Rick Stansbury, who abruptly retired after last season. Stansbury struggled in the latter few years with commanding respect and obedience from his players, both on and off the court.
  4. New Florida transfer Damontre Harris is already sitting out this season due to NCAA transfer rules but will have to spend even more time without practice because of a dislocated shoulder. Harris transferred from conference rival South Carolina after last season where he averaged 6.8 points per game on 55% shooting in 25 minutes per game. Once healthy, Harris will provide quality practice minutes against Gator returnees Patric Young and Erik Murphy in the post.
  5. Texas A&M is preparing to host its Maroon & White scrimmage on Friday, October 18 at 8:15 PM CT. Head coach Billy Kennedy will have an opportunity to showcase nine returnees and seven newcomers to the Aggie faithful. The event is sandwiched in between a full sports weekend at A&M, including an important SEC football game versus LSU. Free food and drink will be provided by local advertisers and students of course are encouraged to attend.
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Kentucky Freshman Star Nerlens Noel Cleared by NCAA

Posted by KAlmekinder on October 17th, 2012

Kentucky freshman center Nerlens Noel has been cleared by the NCAA to compete athletically in college basketball. The heralded Massachusetts big man enrolled in Lexington earlier this fall without any problems, but an ongoing investigation by the NCAA about payments for unofficial visits to other universities during the recruitment process has kept Noel, Kentucky, and Wildcat fans anxious about the investigation result leading up to the team’s first regular season matchup with Maryland on November 9. Earlier today, Kentucky head coach John Calipari visited the ESPN campus in Bristol, Connecticut, to promote the Kentucky All-Access series that debuted tonight on ESPN. Calipari was asked about Noel’s eligibility and stated quite clearly, “He’s been cleared to practice and cleared to play games. Everything’s good to go.”

John Calipari Announced Nerlens Noel is “Good to Go” Today (credit: USA Today)

Wildcat fans can breathe easy now knowing that the next-in-line UK shot-blocker will officially don the blue and white this season. The high accolades set by Anthony Davis last season will make many fans across the country expect Noel to become a carbon-copy of last year’s NPOY, but both players are drastically different: Davis quickly learned his rejection technique in a few years only because of his growth spurt in high school, while Noel has mastered this craft throughout his many years manning the post in the sport. Davis was a much more polished offensive player facing the rim, and conversely, Noel needs to quickly improve on his game away from the basket. Regardless of their differences, Noel will be a truly amazing player to watch as the season progresses as well as a great asset to this year’s Kentucky squad along with some other high caliber freshmen such as Alex Poythress, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Archie Goodwin.

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SEC M5: 10.17.12 Edition

Posted by KAlmekinder on October 17th, 2012

  1. A casino in Las Vegas has released its annual preseason odds to win the national championship for the 2012-13 season. Kentucky emerged as having the second best odds at 7-1, trailing only Indiana with 6-1. Missouri, heralded as one of the teams to challenge Kentucky for the SEC throne this season, is getting 30-1 odds along with Florida to win it all. High expectations for both squads could yield in an equally high payout for those who believe highly in the Tigers and the Gators. Other SEC teams on the list are Vanderbilt (80-1), Alabama (90-1), Texas A&M (100-1), and Arkansas (100-1). The field came in as a 15-1 favorite.
  2. ESPN is taking its all-access talents to a specific SEC school this year, and you guessed it, that school is Kentucky. The multi-part series, much like their Hard Knocks series, will display some of the behind-the-scenes of Kentucky basketball, ranging from John Calipari’s breakfasts in Lexington to preparations for Big Blue Madness to daily practices and player involvement. Most importantly, it will focus on Calipari’s latest project of implementing new freshmen into a cohesive unit en route to a national championship. Matt Jones at Kentucky Sports Radio has acquired a short clip about how the players prepared for Madness. also offers another preview clip for the series. The first episode will air tonight at 7:00 PM ET.
  3. Who will be Vanderbilt‘s next point guard? Christian D’Andrea of Anchor of Gold wrote a brilliant piece regarding which players the Commodore faithful should turn to as their next floor leader. Vanderbilt loses nearly as many key pieces from its SEC Championship team as Kentucky did and will have to turn to Kedren Johnson or Kyle Fuller to help fill that particular void. D’Andrea states “they possess very different styles” in that the older Fuller has a faster tempo than Johnson, but Johnson has a much smoother game presence and has “showed more composure than his veteran counterparts in big games.” Johnson, for example, contributed with several important baskets in the final minutes of the SEC Tournament championship game over Kentucky. Both guards present weaknesses, however; Johnson shot 24% from three-point range last season and Fuller shot just over 27% from the field. They both must improve on their outside games rather quickly to keep defenses honest. Vanderbilt fans can also see positives with both players in their assist-turnover ratios (Johnson’s is 1.57 and Fuller 1.62, respectively) and their growing maturity in the upcoming seasons.
  4.  The Jackson (MS) Clarion-Ledger released two very interesting articles about the upcoming Ole Miss team involving the frontcourt bodies who will help Andy Kennedy’s squad improve on its 67 points per game from last year. Seniors Murphy Holloway and Reginald Buckner have very high ceilings with their post-collegiate futures, but both will have to improve on their dreadful free throw shooting. Holloway shot just under 51% from the charity stripe last year, while Buckner was even worse with a 42% free throw percentage. Both big men will have experience on their side but also must utilize the opportunity to make up for a lack of personnel that plagued the Rebels last year.  Kennedy spoke recently about his new squad and how they are not “last season’s team.” He added that he has “caught the new guys integrating themselves into what we’re trying to get accomplished about as smoothly as possible. We have two guys who have been through division one practices before in Marshall (Henderson) and Jason Carter and it helps.”
  5. Tennessee isn’t wavering at any of the success or praise that is being bestowed by its neighbors to the north. In fact, the Vols are embracing the “tough love” mentality that they are receiving in the preseason and will use it to motivate them going forward. With all the hoopla surrounding Big Blue Madness and the ESPN all-access series in Lexington, head coach Cuonzo Martin and sophomore forward Jarnell Stokes have other plans for what lies ahead in Knoxville. Both Martin and Stokes have high expectations for next year’s Midnight Madness, something they had to skip because of the university’s fall break last weekend. Martin stated that he is looking forward to an event next year and that his players will be ready as well.
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Bruce Pearl’s “Dream Home” For Sale (Again), Photo of Aaron Craft Not Included…

Posted by KAlmekinder on October 9th, 2012

Are you looking for a spacious and luxurious home yet still only minutes away from the benefits of a booming city? Well we have the right house for you! Located in southern Knoxville, this marvelous abode will fill your every property desire. Sitting on over an acre of land, this magnificent five-bed, seven-bath gem is only a short drive from the Tennessee River and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!

Bruce Pearl’s home can be yours for only $2.5 million.

Former Tennessee Volunteers head coach Bruce Pearl has re-listed his Knoxville, Tennessee, area home for just under a cool $2.5 million. Pearl, famous for his orange jacket and eccentric personality, was reprimanded by Tennessee in September 2010 after lying about a recruiting cookout at this house where Pearl encouraged then high school junior Aaron Craft and his father to not disclose the incident to the NCAA. A separate drug incident involving Volunteers forward Brian Williams led to the eventual firing of Pearl in March 2011.

A great backyard for mid summer barbecues!

Since his firing, new head coach Cuonzo Martin led the Vols to a 19-15 season last season. Pearl has since worked as the Vice President of H.T. Hackney, a wholesale grocery corporation, and was most recently hired by ESPN as a college basketball analyst for the upcoming 2012-13 year. We’re not sure how much money Pearl will make in television, but we doubt it’ll be enough to support a mortgage on a $2.5 million house (estimated mortgage: $10,000 per month).

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SEC Midnight Madness Coverage

Posted by KAlmekinder on October 8th, 2012

Welcome to the SEC Microsite season preview! In the next five weeks we will be covering all of the important topics for the upcoming 2012-13 college basketball season in the SEC. Check back frequently for daily news stories and everything you need to know for the year ahead.

Big Blue Madness is Always a Spectacle — This Year Will Be No Different (USA Today)

The unofficial kickoff to the college basketball season is Midnight Madness, a once literal practice at midnight created by Lefty Driesell and the Maryland Terrapins in 1971 to start the season reps as early as possible. On Friday, the 41st year of “madness” will kick off with many unique styles and antics across the country. Let’s take a look at the Midnight Madness events taking place in the SEC.

  • Arkansas – Bud Walton Arena will play host to the annual “Primetime at the Palace” for the Arkansas Razorbacks on Friday night. The event at 8 PM CT will involve an autograph session, dunk contest, and scrimmage by both men’s and women’s teams. Razorback fans are encouraged to donate food items for local food pantries in the Fayetteville area. Head coach Mike Anderson returns two-thirds of his scoring from last year, including the SEC’s leading freshmen scorer BJ Young as well as junior Marshawn Powell, who missed nearly all of last season due to injury.
  • Georgia – For the first time in a decade, Midnight Madness returns to Athens. Dubbed “BasketBASH,” both the Georgia men’s and women’s teams will spend three hours practicing and signing autographs for the public on Friday. Other activities such as raffles and inflatables for children will be at the free event, starting at 7 PM ET at Stegeman Coliseum. Athletic Director Greg McGarity stated in late September that both Mark Fox and Andy Landers were excited about the opportunity and wanted to take a chance on the availability for such an event; Georgia football is on a bye this week. Coach Fox is hoping to rebound from a dismal 15-17 record last year while ranking in the lower half of the SEC in many statistical categories. Read the rest of this entry »
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