SEC M5: 10.08.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on October 8th, 2012

  1. Residing under the national and local spotlight is a way of life for the national champion Kentucky Wildcats and coach John Calipari. But as if interest in the Cats wasn’t high enough already, a new ESPN series, titled All-Access Kentucky, will go in depth on the Big Blue’s preparation for the 2012-13 season. “With many new players on the Wildcats this year, there is enormous interest surrounding this team,” said Norby Williamson, ESPN’s executive vice president of programming and acquisitions. “All-Access Kentucky gives us an opportunity to deliver something entertaining and unique that helps bring fans closer to a sport they love.” The series will air in 30-minute segments beginning on October 17.
  2. Is Kentucky the only SEC school that cares about basketball season? It seems as though everyone outside of Lexington is still paying attention to some other sport. Blasphemy. Meanwhile, Calipari gave each of a pair of walk-ons, Sam Malone and Brian Long, a scholarship for the upcoming year. While they may not have contributed much on the court, both achieved grade point averages well above 3.0 during last year. Both are excited their determination paid off. ”It shows you’ve got to work hard and you’ve got to continue to keep working hard,” Long said. “And you’ve got to be successful on the floor and off the floor and in school. There’s a lot of factors, but it all pays off if you work hard.”
  3. Vanderbilt is starting to turn one eye towards the hardwood, as Anchor of Gold examines a new-look Commodores team. Contrary to the last several years when the ‘Dores had a dominant center down low, Vanderbilt may now have to play small ball to put its best team on the court. Vandy lost its top six scorers from a year ago, and only returns three players standing above 6’9″. While their strength may be in the backcourt, the Commodores can’t ignore their weaknesses in rebounding and low post play. Junior Rod Odom and sophomore Josh Henderson will have to combine for well more than the pedestrian rebounding numbers they managed last season.
  4. If you happened to live under a rock last week, you may have missed the huge announcement that the biggest package deal ever in college basketball recruiting made their collegiate choice on Thursday. If you live anywhere else in the world, you already knew that. The Harrison twins, Aaron and Andrew Harrison of Houston, Texas, chose to play for the SEC’s Kentucky Wildcats over the Maryland Terrapins. Andrew, one half of the future starting backcourt for Calipari’s Wildcats said, “Coach Calipari presented a challenge for us … he would push us every day. We just want to be better players.” With these couple of huge commitments for UK, and with Calipari positioned well for other top prospects in the class, the 2013 class is setting up to be one of Cal’s best since arriving in Lexington, and that’s saying something.
  5. While Calipari continues to put his Wildcats in contention for the number one recruiting spot, he’ll have to beat out Florida coach Billy Donovan to do it. Donovan’s Gators currently sit atop the 2013 rankings, and he is feeling pretty good about hosting one of the top players in the class. Power forward and Plano, Texas, native, Julius Randle made a visit to Gainesville this past weekend. “He’s excited about (the visit),” said Chris Mayberry, Randle’s high school coach. “He went to Kentucky a couple of weeks ago, so this will be his second official visit.” Donovan has already loaded up for next season with Chris Walker (the #8 prospect), Kasey Hill (the #6 prospect), Damontre Harris (a transfer from South Carolina), and Dorian Finney-Smith (a transfer from Virginia Tech).
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SEC Morning Five: 12.21.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on December 21st, 2011

  1. “The Breakfast Club” has started at the University of Kentucky, and this version has nothing to do with Molly Ringwald. Without class or other obligations to worry about over the holiday break, several players have taken it upon themselves to lift weights, eat breakfast together, and practice for the remainder of the morning. “Michael Jordan did that Breakfast Club,” head coach John Calipari said. “They met at 6 a.m., they trained, they stretched, they had a personal trainer and then they ate breakfast and then they went to practice. They did it every day, including game day. So we have four guys doing it right now. Hopefully, a couple more guys will step up and start doing the breakfast club.” While Calipari declined at first to say who the four were, he did say, “It is a good group of guys and the guys that you expect to be in it are in it. Hopefully, the other guys will join in and do it.” Kentucky beat Samford on Tuesday night and will play again on Thursday night against Loyola (Md). The Wildcats are hoping the hard work and extra effort will pay off before next week’s showdown against Louisville on New Year’s Eve.
  2. Florida freshman Bradley Beal is becoming more comfortable on the court, and that is a bad sign for opposing defenses that felt Beal has scored points at ease 11 games into his college career. “I’m not as nervous as I was,” Beal said. “Basically, it’s starting to come natural and I’m playing within the flow of the game, not really forcing anything. Just relaxing and enjoying the flow of the game.” Beal is averaging 15 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, but is only shooting 33.9% from beyond the arc. If Beal settles into the college game, and improves his shooting averages (45.8 FG% and 69.4 FT%), he could be a superstar in the Gators’ backcourt. Beal has plenty of competition for shots as guards Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker average 18.7 and 14.5 points per game respectively.
  3. After starting out as one of the hottest teams in the country, Alabama has lost three of its last four games. However, a tough non-conference schedule will benefit the Tide in the long run. “I don’t think it can do anything but help us,” head coach Anthony Grant said. “We’ve been faced with a lot of different styles of play, a lot of different challenges in terms of matchups and things that we’ve had to go against both offensively and defensively. Any time you play against quality competition, it can’t do anything but help you.” But the Tide’s three-point shooting won’t improve simply from playing better competition. The Tide are shooting a dismal 24.4% from beyond the arc, only making an average of three long distance shots per game. Its three-point shooting has to get better for Alabama to move past this losing streak.
  4. Florida may be a little under-manned in its game with Florida State on Thursday. Mike Rosario and Cody Larson, both of whom missed the Gators’ victory over Mississippi Valley State, are doubtful. “I would say that probably both those guys are doubtful. Could that change? Yes,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “I’m not ready to say that they’re not playing, but Mike’s back has flared up and Cody’s got strep throat so we’re probably not going to find anymore out, probably until see what happens in practice on Wednesday.” Rosario is averaging 9.4 points per game while Larson is scoring 1.3 per game. The Gators won last year’s match-up with FSU 55-51 in Tallahassee. Florida hasn’t lost a home game in the O’Connell Center since a 72-69 loss to South Carolina on January 15, 2011.
  5. Kentucky’s freshman walk-on Sam Malone suffered a torn ACL in the team’s win over UT Chattanooga on Saturday. Calipari tweeted Tuesday afternoon with his thoughts on the guard. “Losing Sam Malone to an ACL injury is heartbreaking,” Calipari said. “He has been a great teammate and an even better person. You never want to hear someone is injured, but for Sam to go through his fourth knee injury is especially tough because he’s worked so hard to get where he is. He has become a valuable member of our team and quickly became a fan favorite. We look forward to Sam making a full recovery.” Malone has quickly become a fan favorite in Lexington for his fearlessness in firing up shots late in blowout wins. There is no word yet on when or if Malone will be able to return.
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On Kentucky Basketball, Media Credentials, and the First Amendment

Posted by nvr1983 on August 30th, 2011

Late last night an article from The Kentucky Kernel and a series of tweets ignited a media firestorm about how media credentials are handled. The article, which was written by the UK student newspaper’s managing editor Becca Clemons, told the story of how the daily newspaper had its credentials revoked for today’s special media session where each journalist was allowed to speak with every player on the team as part of a series of one-on-one interviews. According to Clemons, the story began when Kentucky‘s star freshman Anthony Davis sent out a pair of tweets welcoming Sam Malone and Brian Long as new members of this year’s basketball team. Prior to these two tweets there was no public knowledge that the two had been invited to be walk-on members of the team.

Kentucky Has Found Itself In Another Controversy

Soon after this, Kernel reporter Aaron Smith contacted Malone and Long by cell phone after obtaining their numbers through Kentucky’s public student directory. When asked whether or not they were on the team, both players acknowledged that they were even though it had not been formally announced by the athletic department, but declined interview requests from Smith. Upon hearing of Smith’s contact with the two players, DeWayne Peevy, Kentucky’s associate athletic director of media relations, revoked the credentials he had granted Smith and the newspaper to the event, which was to be attended by only 14 media outlets including a marketing firm. In her editorial, Clemons asserted that this decision violated Smith’s First Amendment rights and cited a Louisville lawyer who represents the Kentucky Press Association who stated, “the very fact that they don’t like the way you’re exercising your First Amendment rights does not give them the right to deprive you of an opportunity you would otherwise have” and that the decision was “clearly a violation of First Amendment rights.” What followed was a late-night Twitter debate by many prominent college basketball journalists which was joined this morning by a variety of sites with a vast majority of the non-Kentucky sites supporting the newspaper.

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