- While Kentucky coach John Calipari on Thursday added James Young for the 2013-14 season, he is still concerned about one player in particular for this season: Center Nerlens Noel has not yet been cleared to play by the NCAA. A source told SNY.tv‘s Adam Zagoria that Noel’s situation is still unclear. ”The case status is fluid and may change this week,” the source said. “Will it be resolved by Midnight Madness? Or even by the season opener? No one knows at this point. UK is downplaying it publicly but I’m sure they’re a bit concerned.” Kentucky center Enes Kanter was deemed ineligible two seasons ago and the Cats went on a somewhat surprising run to the 2011 Final Four in Houston. However, I am certain that UK fans don’t want to find out if Calipari can pull a similar run this year without Noel.
- Opposing teams might want to consider how to limit Calipari’s time on an airplane in the near future. Kentucky junior Jon Hood revealed that Coach Cal comes back from long plane rides with new ideas and inspiration for practices and game plans. “He always seems to come back to us with, ‘I was thinking about you while I was on the plane and this is what I thought,’ ” Hood said. “Every off day he’ll go recruiting and he’ll come back, say we have an off day Wednesday, he’ll come back that Thursday with, ‘Well, we’re going to put this in now or we’re going to change this.’” Want to slow Kentucky down? Find a way to make sure the annoying guy in seat 13A sits next to the Wildcats’ head coach on the next flight.
- Georgia coach Mark Fox knows a winner when he sees one, and he has observed the success of the Bulldogs’ football team up close and personal. Maybe that’s why Fox is interested in tight end Jay Rome joining his team at the conclusion of the college football season. But after Rome told him about shooting jumpers recently, Fox had a warning for the big guy. “I said, ‘Well, you won’t shoot any for our team. You’re going to rebound,’” Fox said. “We were just joking because he is a pretty good shooter.’” But no, seriously — have you ever heard of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope? Shooting is covered. Rome, you better get down there and rebound.
- Speaking of the Bulldogs, Georgia had a 10-day trip in Italy that led to some team bonding, and evidently the trip paid off. “I think it did wonders for the team,” Georgia forward Marcus Thornton said. “As a cultural experience, it was great for all these guys. But more than that, it was a team bonding and building experience. While you’re over there, you don’t have all the distractions and the computers and all that other stuff with the social media age. So we got to spend a lot of time with each other. That’s fun, being around with each other. It was good for the team because we’re a group of guys who like to be around each other.” What? They don’t have social media in Italy? Who knew other countries already beat us to the ban on Instagram? What’s next, no pinning? Touche, Italy. Touche.
- Rebounding was an area of struggle for the Florida Gators last season, but second year strength coach Preston Greene stepped up the strength and conditioning plan for the low post players this season. Forwards Will Yeguete and Erik Murphy have already benefited. “We were pushing trucks, flipping tires, running around with a boxing bag,” Yeguete said. “It was crazy but we got through it. We all got better, we all got bigger and I think it’s going to help us this season.” Yeguete and Murphy beefed up to about 240 pounds each. A little extra bulk should help, especially for Murphy who is not exactly known for his rebounding prowess. Yeguete led the team last season in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentages, but neither player will have the added benefit of the extra rebounds from Erving Walker missing unnecessary shots from several feet beyond the three-point line.
Brian Joyce is a writer for the SEC microsite and regular contributor for Rush The Court. Follow him on Twitter for more about SEC basketball at bjoyce_hoops.