Can All Six Expected Kentucky Draftees Find NBA Success? History Shows It’s Unlikely…

Posted by EJacoby on June 27th, 2012

At this Thursday’s NBA Draft, expect to hear six former Kentucky players’ names called. But what are the chances that all six end up having strong pro careers? Four of the UK players are locks to go in the first round while two others are fringe picks, so there are high expectations for this group of newcomers. Has any past college team ever produced four or even five solid pros in the same draft? It turns out that 12 different college teams have seen at least four of their players get selected in a draft since 1989, when the draft shrunk from seven rounds to two. Unfortunately, none of these teams produced more than three successful pros, though the most recent examples include small sample sizes and show some promise. The bottom line is that history is working against the six former Wildcats, and it would be unprecedented for even five of them to pan out. Kentucky basketball has had a way of setting records recently, though, and it wouldn’t come as a surprise if most or all of Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Marquis Teague, Doron Lamb, and Darius Miller eventually become strong NBA players.

Can at least five Kentucky players from the upcoming 2012 NBA Draft end up having strong careers? (AP Photo)

Since the draft shrunk to only two rounds back in 1989, no college team has ever had six players drafted in the same year. It goes to show just how talented the 2011-12 Wildcats were, starting at the top with the expected #1 pick Anthony Davis.  The 2006 Connecticut, 2007 Florida, 2008 Kansas, and 2010 Kentucky teams are the only others to produce as many as five NBA draft picks, so the trend has been pointing toward this day.

Today we’ll break down the teams that have come closest to producing four quality pros, including the most recent teams which still have a chance to do so. In order to qualify as a successful pro, our criteria requires players to have enjoyed extended, productive NBA careers. Career scoring averages of around 10 points per game is a general floor. Statistics don’t always tell the tale, so minutes played and games started are also considered to generally mean that a player was useful to his team. A one-stop statistic is Win Shares, which calculates the value a player adds over accumulated time and can be easily accessed through Basketball Reference’s database. Players who aren’t ranked in the top 20 Win Shares of their draft class generally don’t qualify as contributors. We’ll note if exceptions apply for certain players.

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SEC Weekly Five: 06.22.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on June 22nd, 2012

  1. The University of Kentucky athletic department announced its decision to increase ticket prices by as much as $10 for a single game ticket next season. In addition, the K Fund donation required to buy season tickets has increased by as much as $1500. Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said the jump in prices were due to several factors including: the increasing cost of tuition, additional travel costs due to SEC conference realignment, and the rising costs of paying upper echelon coaching salaries like John Calipari’s $5.2 million dollar annual salary (it is worth mentioning at least some of which is paid through annual endorsements). However, when you are coming off a 2012 National Championship and have the most passionate fan base in all of college basketball, fans in the Bluegrass State will pay whatever the asking price to watch their Cats in Rupp Arena.
  2. Talent wins championships, and while the 2012-13 Kentucky Wildcats have plenty of talent, there is something missing from next year’s roster — experience, particularly in Calipari’s system. Basketball pundits clamored over UK’s one-and-done stars from last season, but it was senior Darius Miller who stepped out of the spotlight to quietly lead his team.  “He does everything the team needs him to do. He completes everybody. He’s not competing, he’s completing,” Calipari said of Miller towards the end of the 2012 season. “If he needs to rebound, defend (he will). He plays some guard, he plays some four (power forward). Whatever position we ask him, he just completes.” It is clear that Calipari’s Cats have the talent to compete for a repeat performance next year, but the question (asked by Kentucky blog A Sea of Blue) becomes, who replaces Darius Miller? And at this point, the answer is, it’s too early to tell.
  3. New LSU head coach Johnny Jones has added David Patrick to his staff to serve in the role of assistant basketball coach. Patrick has served as an assistant with Saint Mary’s and Nicholls State before his most recent stint as player personnel scout for the Houston Rockets. “We are definitely excited about the addition of David Patrick to our staff,” said Jones. “He will not only be able to help us with game planning and practice preparation, but we look forward to him helping to raise our level of recruiting at LSU, both regionally as well as nationally. With his background in both Division I and professional basketball, he brings a level of experience to our program that will help us to move forward.” Jones has built a lot of momentum since being announced as the head man for the Tigers in April. In addition to luring Patrick to Baton Rouge, he initially recruited former UNT assistants Shawn Forrest and Charlie Leonard and added former Georgetown assistant Robert Kirby over a month ago.
  4. A couple of SEC players made Eamonn Brennan’s list of 10 potential breakout players for 2012-13. Okay, so these lists aren’t exactly news, but it’s at least a conversation starter. Brennan puts Arkansas guard BJ Young, who briefly considered a jump to the NBA after his freshman year, on the list. Can a guy who averaged over 15 points per game really be a breakout player? Regardless, Young and his young teammates (see what we did there) could elevate Mike Anderson’s Razorbacks back into the Top 25 this year after a long hiatus from the national college basketball landscape.The other SEC player on Brennan’s list is Kentucky’s Kyle Wiltjer. Wiltjer saw just over 11 minutes per game last year, but when he was on the floor he took the highest percentage of shots on the team. Wiltjer isn’t afraid to hoist the ball up there, and we are likely to see even more shots from him this season.
  5. Incoming Florida transfer Dorian Finney-Smith has ties to the Florida program and he wasn’t going to choose against the Gators again. Finney-Smith is close friends with former Gator center Vernon Macklin. “Vernon is like a brother to me,” Finney-Smith said. “I saw how successful he was at Florida and that played a role in my decision.” It’s a decision that Finney-Smith seems happy with. “Coach Donovan said we’re going to be going up-and-down the floor, every day,” he said. “I like that. It will be fun.” It isn’t sounding like much fun for the rest of the SEC though. Florida’s 2013-14 front line is coming together with the addition of several quality transfers. In addition to the 6’8″ Finney Smith, Billy Donovan added 6’9″ Damontre Harris earlier this summer, a transfer from South Carolina. Both big men will sit out this season, but will be able to practice with the team.
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SEC Weekly Five: 05.25.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on May 25th, 2012

  1. The biggest splash this week in the SEC again came from the defending champion Kentucky Wildcats and its scheduling choices. First, some group of stuffy faculty members chastised John Calipari’s decision to move toward more neutral site games. So what does Calipari do? He announced that UK has added Baylor to its schedule in a Rupp Arena game in 2012-13, but the Cats will travel to play the Bears in Cowboys Stadium in 2013-14. Now that’s an “experience.” But it’s not about playing Baylor. This move, as is seemingly everything Calipari does, is a strategic move to advance his program. First, four members of the 2013 high school class play in Texas, and all four are considering Kentucky. This is in part a recruiting move to gain an edge on his competitors. But first and foremost, Cowboys Stadium just happens to also be the host site for the 2014 Final Four. Calipari wants a practice run in the venue where his Cats hope to cut down the nets again in two years. That’s what scheduling huge neutral site games are all about — giving his squad a simulation of the biggest stage possible to prepare them for when the time comes.
  2. While Kentucky is adding Baylor to its schedule, another SEC school is calling off its match-up with the Bears. Mississippi State and Baylor have agreed to cancel the two remaining games on their contract. New Bulldogs coach Rick Ray realizes he has a rebuilding year ahead of him. “We play in the toughest tournament known to mankind out at Maui and then we come back from that and our next game is Baylor,” Ray said. “We open up our season at Troy. Our schedule — if I had my say so, we wouldn’t have that type of a schedule. So, that’s a concern.” Mississippi State was set to host Baylor this season in Starkville, but would have been required to travel to Waco in 2013 to return the favor. The decision to cancel was mutual.
  3. Yahoo Sports published a list of the top newcomers gracing the SEC with their presence next season, and a couple of Kentucky Wildcats were joined by a new member of the Missouri Tigers at the top of the list. Shouldn’t all of Missouri’s team be up for inclusion? Regardless, senior center Alex Oriakhi, a transfer from Connecticut, joins Kentucky freshmen Alex Poythress and Nerlens Noel as the players most likely to make an impact next season. From the article: “Noel is a defensive difference-maker. While he lacks bulk, he is athletic and already has advanced shot-blocking skills. His offense is raw, but his defense and rebounding make up for that.” Hey, that sounds familiar. Here’s what the site said last year at this time about Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis: “His shot-blocking and rebounding ability make him a game-changer defensively. His offensive skill set is good and continues to improve.” Not a bad person to be compared to at this stage in his career.
  4. Arkansas added juco forward Coty Clarke to its roster earlier this week. Clarke averaged 14.5 points and 13.0 rebounds per game with Birmingham (AL) Lawson State Community College last season. Razorbacks coach Mike Anderson is excited about the addition. “Coty is excited about being a Razorback and that excites me,” Anderson said. “He is an athletic forward who can impact on both ends of the floor, offensively and defensively. Coty has a blue collar mentality which is needed on this team. He is an excellent fit for the ‘Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball.’” Depth is an important issue for this year’s Arkansas team, as injuries impacted how far Anderson could go down the bench last year.
  5. Our very own Rush the Court profiled a couple of former SEC players in our NBA Draft Profiles. Vanderbilt senior Festus Ezeli is viewed as a late first round pick in the mold of current Houston Rockets center Samuel Dalembert. RTC compared him to the big man, saying, “Ezeli has a similar skill set as a defense-first center with ideal size who can protect the rim. Dalembert, though, transitioned from a raw prospect to a 10-year NBA veteran who has averaged 8.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks in a strong career thanks to the ability to adapt to the speed of the NBA game.” Kentucky senior Darius Miller is hoping to get picked up in the second round and RTC says he has at least has the look of an NBA player. “While his three-point percentage dropped from the blistering 44.3% he shot as a junior to a merely good 37.6% as a senior, he’s shown NBA range and a willingness to step into the right shot when needed. Throw in the fact that at 6’8” and 235 pounds he’s got the frame to handle the big boys at the next level, and Miller looks the part of an NBA wing.” Good luck to both of the seniors as well as the rest of the SEC athletes hoping to be selected.
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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Darius Miller

Posted by AMurawa on May 21st, 2012

The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll generally work backwards, so for the next week or two we’ll present you with players who are projected near the end of the first round, and we’ll work our way up into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.

Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.

Player Name: Darius Miller

School: Kentucky

Height/Weight: 6’8”/235 lbs.

NBA Position: Small Forward

Projected Draft Range: Second Round

The "Senior Citizen" of the Wildcats Was an Integral Part of the Championship

Overview: Miller is one of those increasingly rare breeds: an NBA Draft prospect who has just finished up his senior season in college. In his four years in Lexington, Miller never approached the level of a go-to player (the 18.8% of possessions he used in his senior season was the highest of his career), but that may be one of his biggest strengths. Playing alongside NBA-level talent for four straight seasons, his proven unselfishness is one of his most positive attributes. He understood well what role head coach John Calipari wanted him to play and did his best to excel within that framework — he defended on the perimeter, knocked down open shots and took care of business. And, perhaps more than anything else, he won. In four years, his teams went 124-28 (with half of those losses coming as a freshman under Billy Gillispie), went to two Final Fours and won a national title. While he’s certainly not the first guy you think of when you remember the 2012 UK national championship team, his ability to embrace his role not only was a key component of his team’s success, but it will suit him well as he makes the transition to the NBA. His future at the professional level may look much like his recent past, as he will likely never be better than the fourth or fifth option on the floor at any given time, but if he can knock down open looks and hold his own on defense, he’s got a chance to stick.

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Won and Done… Kentucky Roster Undergoes Yearly Overhaul

Posted by EMoyer on April 18th, 2012

On Tuesday evening, the worst kept secret was revealed as Kentucky’s five heralded underclassmen, Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb and Marquis Teague all declared for June’s NBA Draft. The five brings the total to 15 of John Calipari recruits to leave early since 2008.

It Was All Smiles For This Group in Lexington

Eight of the previous 10 went on to become first round picks and two (John Wall and Derrick Rose) went No. 1 overall. Both the mock drafts at NBADraft.net and on ESPN.com have all five Wildcats going in the first round. DraftExpress.com lists four Wildcats going in the first round with Lamb currently an early second-round choice. According to all three sites, Davis will join Wall and Rose as top overall picks. They also agree that Kidd-Gilchrist projects as a top three pick and two (ESPN.com and DraftExpress.com) put Jones in the lottery.

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Charting Kentucky’s Defense in the Championship Game

Posted by Brian Joyce on April 10th, 2012

Individual offensive statistics are easy to find by perusing a post game box score or site such as this one, but locating advanced statistics on a players’ defensive game is much more difficult to access. David Hess and Luke Winn of Sports Illustrated conducted a defensive charting project to improve upon the absence of defensive efficiency numbers. The challenge is these statistics are only accumulated through reviewing game film to assign credit and blame to each defender based on their individual defensive performance, and so this information is less readily available because of the time and effort it takes to collect.

We are talking about defense, right? (AP Photo)

Hess and Winn provided the groundwork for defensive charting research, and using their original work, I tracked Kentucky’s defensive performance during its national championship victory over Kansas. Here are the definitions of the chart below using information directly from Hess’ blog, The Audacity of Hoops, which he adapted from Dean Oliver’s book Basketball on Paper, followed by my chart of Kentucky’s individual defensive statistics.

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He Won’t Admit It, But Kentucky’s National Title is Calipari’s Coronation

Posted by EJacoby on April 3rd, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter.

After the Kentucky Wildcats captured their program’s eighth National Championship with a 67-59 victory over Kansas on Monday night, an unfazed coach John Calipari sat at the postgame podium and deflected all attention away from himself. “This is about them. It’s not about me. [...] I can just coach now. I don’t have to worry. If you want to know the truth, it’s almost like – done, let me move on.” Sounding more relieved than excited, the coach claims that nothing will change about his mentality or coaching style now that he’s finally a national champion. Whether fans believe him or not is up to them, but one thing remains clear: John Calipari has now elevated to the top step in college basketball coaching. As he tries to not make the victory about himself, we can take a moment to reflect on the significance of the 2012 National Championship and what it means for Calipari.

Coach Calipari Doesn't Want the Praise for the 2012 National Title, But He's Most Deserving of Such (AP Photo/D. Philip)

With the national title now under his belt, Calipari has validated everything he worked for in choosing to leave Memphis for Kentucky and recruiting the one-and-done type of players whom he encourages to leave for the NBA as soon as they’re ready. Cal still has his haters and doubters, such as this AP sports writer who can’t buy into the coach’s recruiting tactics. But those who watch the games understand that you don’t win national titles by letting top recruits play free-form basketball. There’s a reason why hoops is a thinking man’s game filled with elite athletes but only the most well-adjusted players succeed at the highest level. When Anthony Davis shoots 1-10 from the field and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist doesn’t score a single point in the second half, they still have enormous impacts on the game because of their defensive prowess, how hard they play, and buy-in to the team game plan. It’s not easy to get 18- and 19-year-olds to reach their basketball potential in less than a year at a program, but Calipari got it done with this group in a big way.

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NCAA Tournament Game Analysis: The National Championship Game

Posted by Brian Otskey on April 2nd, 2012

Brian Otskey is the Big East correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor. You can find him on Twitter @botskey.

College basketball fans, this is it. A champion will be crowned tonight in front of 70,000+ people packed into the Superdome. Savor it because this beautiful sport of ours won’t be seen again for seven long and painful months. Between tonight and early November, many things will happen. Baseball and football will begin new seasons. The NBA will end one season and begin another. A long, hot summer will come and go. A presidential election will be held. All of this before we see another college basketball game that matters, after tonight’s phenomenal finale of course.

#1 Kentucky vs. #2 Kansas – National Championship (at New Orleans, LA) – 9:23 PM ET on CBS

It’s not often when the consensus top two players meet in the final game of the season, but that’s exactly what we have as Anthony Davis and Kentucky face Thomas Robinson and Kansas. You could make an argument that Bill Self and John Calipari are the best coaches in the sport as well, matched up in a battle between the two winningest programs in NCAA history. This has the makings of a special night, one that might trump them all in terms of the pregame storylines. Kentucky enters the game as a solid favorite (six points in Las Vegas) and won the first meeting by 10 points on November 15 at Madison Square Garden. Who had that as the national championship preview after watching it? Maybe you had the Kentucky half, but you certainly did not have the Kansas half of the equation. Plenty has changed since then, but there are a few things we can glean from that game. Kansas jumped out to an early lead before Kentucky rallied to tie it at the half and took control after the break. The Wildcats shot 51% but committed 19 turnovers (25.6% of possessions, their fifth highest total of the season). There were 45 fouls called in the game and Kansas point guard Tyshawn Taylor went to the line 17 times as a result. Kentucky’s defense was outstanding, limiting Kansas to 34% shooting and 4-15 from deep. The Wildcats blocked 13 shots (seven courtesy of Davis) and won the game in comfortable fashion.

Anthony Davis Will Need To Show Thomas Robinson Why He Is The National Player Of The Year

Tonight’s contest is a matchup between two elite defensive teams, tied for the national lead in defensive two-point percentage  (39.8%). The battles at the power forward and center positions are absolutely fantastic. Davis and Terrence Jones go up against Jeff Withey and Robinson, four outstanding defensive players and three who can change the game offensively as well. Robinson is the best defensive rebounder in the nation while Davis and Withey are the top two shot blockers. Jones can electrify the crowd with his athleticism and can also stretch his game to the three-point line. Kentucky is the more talented team, but Kansas has shown an incredible level of grit and toughness throughout the season, never more so than in the NCAA Tournament. Overcoming deficits against Purdue and Ohio State, plus putting away NC State and North Carolina late in the game has shown us this Kansas team is no fluke. The Jayhawks have absolutely nothing to lose in this game and are the more experienced team by a wide margin. On the other hand, Kentucky has one more game to go in order to live up to the preseason expectation of winning the program’s eighth national championship.

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The Ultimate Breakdown: Kentucky vs. Louisville

Posted by zhayes9 on March 27th, 2012

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist for Rush the Court.

The hysteria leading up to Saturday’s Louisville-Kentucky national semifinal will be unprecedented.

The mutual loathing between legends John Calipari and Rick Pitino is only matched by the contempt between the two fan bases. Such a passionate and deep-seeded rivalry playing out on the grandest of stages is tantalizing to even the most casual observer. But once the smoke clears and the ball is tipped, those juicy storylines all become secondary, fading into the background with the hype and frenzy. Suddenly all that’s relevant is Peyton Siva’s speed, Kyle Kuric’s smooth jumper, Anthony Davis’ shot-blocking and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in the open floor.

For the lowdown on what to expect from the biggest basketball game in the history of the commonwealth, here’s a full-fledged Dr. Jack-style breakdown covering every aspect of Saturday’s opener:

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist celebrating Kentucky's regional final win

Backcourt- It’s no accident that Peyton Siva’s remarkable late-season turnaround has coincided with Louisville’s spurt from a seventh place finish in the Big East to the Final Four in New Orleans. Russ Smith is an irrepressible, confident ball stopper just as prone to a mindless turnover as he to is scoring 10 points in the blink of an eye. Siva and Smith provide the engine to Louisville’s attack, while athletic two-guard Chris Smith and long-range marksman Kyle Kuric are Pitino’s steady cogs. Kentucky’s Achilles heel was long considered freshman point Marquis Teague, but he’s significantly cut down on his turnovers and can pack an unexpected scoring punch. Doron Lamb is a superior gunner to Kuric, shooting a fantastic 47% over his career from three. Look for Calipari to plug versatile swingman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on Siva to stifle the Cardinals’ offense. Kidd-Gilchrist is a standout defender and the best collegiate player in transition since Derrick Rose. Edge: Kentucky.

Frontcourt- The progression of Louisville center Gorgui Dieng from a raw, bungling, and clumsy big man to a premier post defender and competent scoring threat in just two seasons has been nothing short of incredible. The popular crutch that freshmen are sophomores by the time March rolls around is often untrue, but it applies in the case of Chane Behanan, a gifted offensive rebounder who will be asked to contain Terrence Jones. When Jones is engaged, active and filling up the stat sheet, Kentucky is unstoppable. Anthony Davis has had an OK year: number one high school recruit, starting center for top-ranked Kentucky, national freshman of the year, likely national player of the year, and future top overall pick in the NBA Draft. Only North Carolina can come close to matching Kentucky’s weaponry down low. Edge: Kentucky.

Bench- Neither team extends very deep into their bench, yet both boast a de facto starter in Russ Smith and Darius Miller. At just 38% from two and 31% from three, Smith isn’t exactly the pillar of efficiency, but for a team that didn’t finish in the top 100 in offensive efficiency and scored less than 60 points in five of their final six conference games, Pitino will gladly accept the good with the bad (per Luke Winn, Pitino likes to say Smith “makes coffee nervous”). Any coach in America would love to have Darius Miller on their team, a steady wing defender equally adept at attacking off the dribble or firing from deep. Louisville steady defender Jared Swopshire and Kentucky pick-and-pop threat Kyle Wiltjer also see limited time off the pine. Slight Edge: Louisville.

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Rushed Reaction: #1 Kentucky 87, #8 Iowa State 71

Posted by jstevrtc on March 17th, 2012

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. When Kentucky shoots like that, forget it. The Wildcats shot 48% in the first half and led by 11. They shot 16-25 (that is not a typo, 64%) in the second half. Listen, you don’t need to be some kind of genius to know that when this UK team shoots like that, the only thing you can do is hand them the trophy. If you saw the game, you’d agree that Iowa State didn’t play that badly. They did a super job of battling back on the boards compared to their effort there in the first half. They kept Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to a single late bucket. Terrence Jones only managed three scores. Iowa State’s downfall was that the threes just weren’t falling (3-22, 13.6%). Didn’t matter if they were open looks or not; they just didn’t go down. And Kentucky hits 10-20? Simple math.
  2. Marquis Teague can kill you many ways. He’s quick enough to go by you when he drives to the goal (he showed Scott Christopherson and Bubu Palo that tonight, both very game defenders, and he fouled the latter out in just 11 minutes), but he also noticed that it was his man who was leaving to double the post most of the night. That left him open for jumpers, and he went 10-14 on the night by both hitting open shots as well as driving into the space the ISU defense gave him.
  3. Did we mention the shooting? One of the compelling things about this shooting display by Kentucky was that so many of the shots were NOT from close range. Iowa state WON the points-in-the-paint battle. The Wildcats shot that percentage by hitting a lot of jump shots. Yeesh.

Star of the Game. Tough call here between Teague (24/7 assists on 10-14 shooting) and Darius Miller (19/6 boards on 7-11). Teague was brilliant at taking what the defense gave him while still finding a way to get his teammates involved with seven dimes, but it was Miller who hit some extremely tough shots (and a couple of threes) that keyed the late first-half run that helped UK put some space between themselves and the Cyclones.

Sights & Sounds. In the post-game press conference, ISU head coach Fred Hoiberg said, “We’re going to leave Lexington…I mean, [resigned laugh] Louisville with our heads held high.” It was an HONEST mistake. This undoubtedly felt like Rupp Arena, given the blue-clad fans who packed the KFC Yum! Center. There were a few times early in both halves where Kentucky needed an emotional lift. The crowd helped provide it.

Quotable. Asked about playing Indiana and good friend Tom Crean in the Sweet 16, Calipari noted, “I don’t like playing friends. When they win, I’m sick about it. When I win, I enjoy it for a bit, but then I don’t, because I know what they’re going through.” He then added, “And I know he’s gonna watch every single piece of film anyone has on us, so [looking into TV cameras] Tommy, if you’re watching, I’m putting in two new out-of-bounds plays, some new side-outs, and two new offenses.”

What’s Next? A rematch between two of the seminal programs of our sport. A rematch between friends, Crean and Calipari. A rematch between an overall #1-seed who is rolling, and one of the two teams to draw blood from them this season. Indiana versus Kentucky in the second week of the Tournament. We can’t wait.

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SEC Morning Five: 03.16.12 Edition

Posted by EMoyer on March 16th, 2012

  1. Mississippi State’s Rick Stansbury announced his retirement after 14 years in Starkville. Stansbury will continue to work at MSU in a yet-to-be-determined position, said athletic director Scott Stricklin. Accoring to the Clarion-Ledger report, Stricklin “didn’t rule out interviewing current MSU assistants for the job. ’We’ll see; we’re wide open. I wouldn’t dismiss that idea.’” In that same piece, Dee Bost, the Bulldogs’ departing senior point guard, tweeted out an endorsement for long-time assistant coach Phil Cunningham. “Coach Stans retired,” tweeted Bost. “I think all alumni and fans should try to get Coach Cunningham as coach.”
  2. Vanderbilt won an NCAA Tournament game for the first time since 2007. In a Tennesseean article by Michael Cass, he writes of a “banner year” for the Commodores and of some of the possible ramifications this year’s SEC title could bring. One Nashville native said, “For high school players, I don’t see how you can watch that (SEC championship game) and see the collection of talent Coach Stallings has put together and not want to be a part of it.” Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos said, “On such a big national stage, to have Vanderbilt, obviously one of the greatest academic institutions in the world, beat the No. 1 team, win a championship in the greatest athletic conference in the country, it brings a lot of benefit to the university.”
  3. Alabama‘s Friday opponent, Creighton, utilized a popular practice technique to help prepare for the Crimson’s Tides press defense.  ”There’s times when we’ve had seven defenders out there guarding five,” said Doug McDermott, the Bluejays’ All-America sophomore forward. ”Our scout team guys probably aren’t as athletic and don’t have as much length as their guys do.”
  4. Like Dwight Howard announced today, another big man from the Sunshine State announced he would be staying for additional year when Florida sophomore center Patric Young said in the locker room Thursday that he intends to come back for his junior season. “That’s the first that I heard of that,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “So that’s always great news. I think Patric has learned a lot this year. I don’t think this year was as easy for him as he thought it was going to be.”
  5. Western Kentucky head coach Ray Harper pointed out a facet of the game where the Kentucky Wildcats will have to improve if it hopes to win an eighth national title. ”If they want to advance and win a national championship, they’re going to have to shoot the ball better from the perimeter,” Harper said. ”They’re going to have to find somebody else that can make a shot from the perimeter.” The Wildcats have shot just 23.8% from the three-point arc going back to the start of the SEC Tournament and have not shot better than 30% in any of those four games. Doron Lamb is 4-for-15 in that stretch; Darius Miller is 2-for-12; Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague are a combined 0-6.
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SEC Morning Five: 03.07.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on March 7th, 2012

  1. When you scroll down the star-studded roster of the top ranked Kentucky Wildcats, it is easy to locate a number of future NBA players. However, Darius Miller is not usually at the top of that list. The 6’7″ senior forward has been the glue guy for the Cats for four seasons, and nowA Sea of Blue makes the case that Miller is a legitimate NBA player. “Miller has above average hops, legit NBA 3-pt. range, and the ability to score in the post against smaller players,” said ASOB writer Alex Scutchfield. “He has lateral quickness and can score in traffic. His combination of size, athletic ability and shooting skill are hard to match in college basketball.” But will NBA scouts see it that way? One way to instantaneously grab their attention is to shine in the “One Shining Moment” that awaits Miller and his Kentucky Wildcats.
  2. The 2012 SEC Men’s Basketball Awards were announced, with no big surprises. Kentucky swept the major awards as Anthony Davis was named SEC Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and Freshman of the Year. The super freshman averaged 14.4 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 4.7 blocks per game. Kentucky senior Darius Miller earned the Sixth Man of the Year award. Finally, Wildcats coach John Calipari grabbed his first SEC Coach of the Year honor. Reigning SEC Player of the Year, John Jenkins, was again a First Team-All SEC selection along with teammate Jeffrey Taylor. Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, and Florida each had two selections on the First Team.
  3. Kentucky’s Anthony Davis  is accumulating some national attention as well with The Sporting News annual postseason awards. Davis was named the National Player of the Year,  National Freshman of the Year and National Defensive Player of the Year honors. The 6’11″ center was a defensive force all season long, but his development on the offensive end throughout the season was the biggest surprise. “I was always comfortable; I was just kind of nervous to shoot the ball, afraid I’d make mistakes,” Davis said. “There was no actual point in the season where I was like, OK, I’ll shoot it now. My teammates are giving me the ball in great opportunities, great spots on the floor. Not that they weren’t doing it at first, but I wasn’t making shots.” The only question now is just how many additional awards Davis will accumulate this postseason. And the guess here is there are many more to come.
  4. How will Mississippi State handle the possibility of having to play several days in a row at the SEC Tournament considering the endurance issues the Bulldogs have dealt with regarding forward Renardo Sidney? “I think we’ll prepare like normal,” said Mississippi State assistant coach Phil Cunningham. “I think we’re just going to prepare for the Georgia game and not worry about after that because, obviously, it is an issue with Renardo but he has done OK. You look at it, we had a situation in new York in November and I know that was a long time ago, but we played on back-to-back nights and played pretty well up there.” The Bulldogs need to win to build their confidence going into the NCAA Tournament, and in reality, they need more than one victory to erase the negativity surrounding a recent five game losing streak. As he has all season, Sidney remains one of the keys to whether or not Mississippi State can be a good team or a great team, and his mental state over the next several weeks could be the difference between the Bulldogs making an early round exit or advancing into the second weekend of the Big Dance.
  5. How safe should the Ole Miss Rebels feel on Selection Sunday? Right now, the Rebels still have work to be done according to the experts. “I think that Mississippi ought to take the attitude that they probably need to just win the whole thing,” said Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com. “Maybe pick up a couple of quality wins without winning the whole thing, you might be able to get in anyways. … I think it’s going to be hard for them to be at-larges.” First, Ole Miss has to get past Auburn, but one of the more interesting second round matchups could be the Rebels against another team on the outside of the proverbial bubble — the Tennessee Volunteers. The Rebels currently sit at number 51 in the RPI rankings with two top 50 RPI wins.
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