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February 26th, 2017

Why does Draymond Green get a pass for his antics, but DeMarcus Cousins doesn’t?

As we all know, DeMarcus Cousins was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans following the NBA All-Star game last Sunday night. Nearly everyone applauded the move, and rightfully so.

Boogie was able to join Anthony Davis to create the most formidable frontcourt duo the NBA has seen since David Robinson and Tim Duncan. The NBA world was fascinated by the idea of “fire and ice,” the nickname given to the duo by Boogie himself, and the Big Blue Nation went crazy to see two stars of the Kentucky family on the same squad.

For Cousins, it was a much-needed fresh start.

The phrases “toxic,” “crybaby,” “locker room cancer,” “chemistry killer” and countless others have been thrown around in reference to Cousins in his six-year career in Sacramento, none of which appropriately characterize the former Kentucky center. We know him as a big ole’ friendly teddy bear that would give the shirt off his back without thinking twice, combined with a competitive nature, ready to go to war for his teammates.

In the NBA, his incredible character traits have been lost in translation. If you ask the media, at least.

The countless hours of community service and hundreds of thousands of dollars donated to charity aren’t in the headlines. “Santa Cuz” and his time spent helping the less fortunate isn’t publicized.

@boogiecousins

@boogiecousins

It’s the temper tantrums, technical fouls, and media blowouts that turn heads. Cousins’ on-court success has been riddled with asterisks since day one.

“He’s a talented player, but…

The Kings held him hostage in a toxic environment, and showed no promise of making significant change around him. Despite developing into the greatest big man the league has seen since Shaquille O’Neal, his “character flaws” shined through.

In Cousins’ world, the “bad boy” persona media placed on him outweighed the talent, and he quickly became a public enemy.

Roughly 83 miles down the road from Sacramento, however, a winning culture has given All-Star forward Draymond Green a free ticket to act how he pleases with little repercussions. And that’s bullshit.

Despite Green’s knack for kicking opponents in the groin, massive outbursts toward officials and coaches, and relentless trash talk, no one seems to bat an eye. It’s been brought up on afternoon sports talk shows on ESPN, but the narrative seems to always fall back on his on-court abilities. He has been able to remain hidden in a cast of All-Stars, and winning has masked the backlash of fines, suspensions, and immense media scrutiny.

He even has several montages on YouTube documenting his dirtiest plays and excessive trash talking:

In the media’s eyes, he’s certainly rough around the edges, but the focus is on the talent he brings to Golden State and how lucky the team is to have him.

Don’t get me wrong, Green is an unbelievable talent and has really found his niche on a championship roster. He’s a big reason the Warriors won the title back in 2015 and went on the most historic regular season run in NBA history the year after. There’s no denying it.

But his antics should be in the spotlight just as much as his impressive highlights.

So why does the media treat DeMarcus Cousins and Draymond Green differently?

For Green, it’s considered “passion” and “competitive nature.” “It’s just Draymond,” they say. He gets a pass because his actions haven’t been detrimental to team chemistry. Yet.

On Thursday night, Green went on an emotional tirade against the Los Angeles Clippers where he lashed out at referees for a call and stormed off the court. His temper tantrum earned him a technical foul, his ninth of the year, but the Warriors still managed to score 123 points en-route to a double-digit victory. The tirade was immediately lost in the shuffle.

Golden State is now 49-9 on the year, and Draymond will continue to be celebrated for his contributions on the floor.

Winning masks all flaws.

When the media discusses Green, they discuss his versatility and unique skill-set as a big man to do all of the “little things” it takes to win a ring. He rebounds well, runs the floor, passes, and he’s a physical scorer. He does it all.

Green was placed beautifully in Golden State, the perfect complement to his game. He has two of the greatest shooters in NBA history with the defensive focus centered on them, and all he has to do is play cleanup duty and reap the benefits. Kevin Durant’s arrival has only emphasized this.

Green will continue to kick opponents and throw temper tantrums, but as long as it doesn’t interfere with the Warriors’ winning ways, no one will care.

For Boogie, he couldn’t have been in a more polar opposite position in Sacramento. Teams were able to double and triple-team him in the post because they were well aware of the rest of the team’s shortcomings. Rudy Gay, an above-average wing by NBA standards, was the only consistent contributor outside of Cousins in his tenure in Sacramento.

The other talent they managed to place around Cousins was moved in various trades for pennies on the dollar. Isaiah Thomas and Hassan Whiteside are now dominating for other organizations with absolutely zero return for Sacramento. But hey, at least seasoned veterans like Kosta Koufos, Arron Afflalo, and Darren Collison have managed to stick around garnering a plethora of minutes. Woof.

When you look at the draft, you see Nik Stauskas, Thomas Robinson, and Ben McLemore, three guys the Kings selected in the top ten. Three shots, and they missed on every one. Two years ago, they drafted former Kentucky star Willie Cauley-Stein at No. 6, a move Kentucky fans were certainly excited for. At the time it was enticing to think of a frontcourt of both Boogie and WCS, but he is absolutely not a guy you build a team around. He’s a complementary asset you add to take your team from good to great.

Sacramento has proven time and time again they are the most clueless front office in all of professional sports. They created a losing atmosphere, and the NBA world expected Cousins to remain sane.

If you wasted your prime years in a barren wasteland of an organization, for a front office that swung and missed time and time again in the NBA Draft, free agency, and trade circuit, you’d realize keeping your composure was nearly impossible. Hell, the only reason he went to the Pelicans among a slew of other offers was because the Sacramento front office felt Buddy Hield was the next Steph freaking Curry.

Seriously. What does that tell you about who Cousins was dealing with?

And let’s not act like the Kings rallied behind their star big man, either.

Throughout his career, Cousins was being actively shopped around the league, but was always told face-to-face he had nothing to worry about, he would not be traded. The front office denied the talks every time. Last weekend, Kings GM Vlade Divac continued to tell the media the rumors were false, even following the All-Star Game. Both Cousins and his agents were assured yet again he was the franchise centerpiece and would never be moved.

He was traded 40 minutes later.

For six seasons, Cousins was condemned in Sacramento, made out to carry more baggage than reward in the long haul. Hell, media members like Bill Plaschke of ESPN said Cousins was unwanted by everyone in the NBA and didn’t deserve to be on the 2016 Olympic roster because he didn’t represent our country well enough. It was a non-stop charade, his flaws were always placed on a golden plate and shoved down everyone’s throats.

Cousins had every reason to be frustrated in Sacramento. I would be, and so would you.

But what is Draymond’s excuse?

Is he winning too much? Is he upset because he has become the fourth option on a championship team? Boo-hoo. Cousins would kill to be in that position.

When Boogie was at Kentucky, he had no problems. Coach Cal loved him, his teammates rallied behind him, and he was a fan-favorite from the very start.

Fighting to be a winner in a losing situation can only last so long before you drive yourself nuts.

The Pelicans have a long way to go before making a legitimate splash in the Playoffs, but a change of scenery was a fantastic step in the right direction for the most misunderstood player in the league. Cousins deserves to be appreciated for his talents, not chastised for his flaws. Especially when Draymond Green is being praised by the talking heads on ESPN for similar behavior.

New Orleans, please develop a winning culture so people can see the real Boogie. The BBN is begging you.

@JackPilgrimKSR


Karl-Anthony Towns has career night with 37 points and 22 rebounds

karltownsfinger getty

Last night, Karl-Anthony Towns took the NBA by storm. Again.

The former Wildcat dropped 37 points on 66% shooting, 22 rebounds, three assists, one steal, and one block in Minnesota’s 142-130 loss to the Houston Rockets.

Check out some of the highlights from the game:

Even with the monster night, KAT was not content with the loss. Instead of going to bed early or going out on the town, he went straight to work after the game.

Over the last three games, Towns is averaging 29 points and 19.6 rebounds a game for the Timberwolves, leading the team to a 2-1 record in that span.

Just remember though, UK’s NBA track record is “embarrassing” in the eyes of Colin Cowherd. Lol.


UK’s DanceBlue event raises $1.785 million to fight pediatric cancer

IMG_0621

The numbers are officially in! University of Kentucky’s annual DanceBlue event brought in a whopping $1,785,286.96 to fight pediatric cancer!

The 24-hour dance marathon began yesterday at 8:00 p.m., and finished in dramatic fashion when the final total came through.

DanceBlue is the largest philanthropy event at UK, where hundreds of students gathered at Memorial Coliseum and danced the day and night away for an unbelievable cause.

Check out some moments from the event:

Thank you to all who participated and/or donated to the cause. Your efforts are more appreciated than you realize.

#FTK (x1,785,286.96)


The Call To The Bullpen, February 26th

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

It was an up and down weekend for the BatCats (2-5) as they picked up their first two wins of the season behind some brilliant offensive performances. Kentucky outscored their opponents by 22 runs over the road trip, but still went 2-2. There were plenty of positives to look at over the weekend. Here’s a refresher on the four games in Virginia and much more in our first Call to the Bullpen of 2017.

(more…)


The Reds Report: February 26

Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

It was a pretty quiet week for the Reds. The team kicked off their spring training schedule with games on Friday (loss), Saturday (loss), and Sunday (loss). The next few weeks will be a great opportunity for fans to get a look at some of the younger players who could become regulars on the roster over the next few seasons.

1. The Reds opened their spring schedule against the Giants on Friday. For eight and a half innings things were great. There were a few impressive pitching performances (Sal Romano and Barrett Astin), and Cincinnati took a lead into the bottom of the ninth.

What happened next? Reds reliever Kevin Shackelford gave up a 3-run homer to give the Giants the walk-off win. These results don’t count, but given the bullpen’s struggles last season it was a rough way to end the first game.

Repeat after me: “It’s only spring training, it’s only spring training, it’s only spring training.”

2. On Saturday, things got out of hand for the Reds. Cleveland ended up winning 8-2, but in the eighth inning the baseball gods decided they had seen enough.

The outcome was disappointing, but Eugenio Suarez did hit the first home run of the spring for Cincinnati.

3. Saturday was also a chance for fans to get a look at top pitching prospect Amir Garrett. Garrett started the game for the Reds, and he gave up two hits and one run in 1.2 innings of work. Mark Sheldon of MLB.com took some time to profile Garrett this week. Sheldon also looked at the 24-year-old’s chances of making the rotation in 2017.

Prior to the season FanGraphsBaseball Prospectus, and MLB Pipeline all ranked Garrett as the Reds #2 prospect (behind Nick Senzel). He has the potential to be an important piece of Cincinnati’s rotation for a number of years.

4. Garrett isn’t the only player worth paying attention to this spring. Brandon Kraeling of Red Reporter broke down the “Players you should be paying attention to in spring training.” On a similar note, C. Trent Rosecrans looked at the competition for bench spots on the Reds roster.

5. The Reds did receive a bit of bad news this week. Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enqurier wrote that Dilson Herrera will be unable to play in the upcoming World Baseball Classic due to a sore shoulder. This was the same issue that limited Herrera’s playing time after the Reds acquired him last season from the Mets (in the Jay Bruce trade). It’s possible Herrera could see some time in the big leagues this season as a utility player. The front office and fans will be hoping for a speedy recovery.

6. If you follow the Reds, it’s no secret that they’ve been in the rebuilding process the past few seasons. How is the rebuild going at this point? One way to try and answer that question is by looking at the state of the farm system. Over the course of the offseason, a number of sites released their Reds prospect rankings. You can find them at the links below:

7. I’ve mentioned their names already, but Zach Buchanan and C. Trent Rosecrans are doing a great job of letting fans in on the action in Arizona. Their regular Facebook Live videos have included: player interviews, Q&A sessions, and news recaps.

This week they had the opportunity to ask Zack Cozart one of the most important questions a person will ever have to answer. “Skyline or Gold Star?” (Skip ahead to the 10:00 mark to hear Cozart’s unsatisfactory answer).

I’m a card carrying member of Team Skyline.

8. This is probably the highlight of spring training so far. No, it wasn’t a Reds player, but it was still impressive.

That sound off the bat…

You can read Eric’s writing all season long at Red Reporter and Baseball Prospectus. He also hosts the On Baseball Writing Podcast, and appears on the Red Reporter podcast.


UK Hoops Falls to South Carolina

Photo By UK Athletics

Photo By UK Athletics

UK Hoops played a hard game today in Colonial Life Arena but ultimately, the Gamecocks won 95-87.

South Carolina got off to a quick start, going 7-for-7 from the field in the first quarter. Taylor Murray also got off to a quick start with seven points in the first alone. She ended with a career high 29 points. Murray was able to get something going and help the Cats go on an 8-0 run at the end of the half cutting the score to 48-40.

Despite Murray’s amazing game, foul trouble and great shooting from South Carolina cost the Cats the game. Morris, Akhator, Murray, Rice and Cann each had four fouls and for the first time in her career at UK, Makayla Epps fouled out. The bench depth has been somewhat of a concern for the Cats all season and this afternoon, it showed. While Matthew Mitchell struggled to get some players in the game, the Gamecocks lit up the boards – shooting 62%.

UK Hoops finishes the regular season 20-9, and 11-5 in the SEC. As far as the SEC tournament goes; UK is looking at either a three or a four seed.


Bleacher Report: Kentucky Football’s Record in 2017

@UKCoachStoops

@UKCoachStoops

This week, Bleacher Report made predictions for the records for each of the Power 5 conference teams. How did they predict the Cats would do?

Kentucky: 7-5 (4-4 SEC)

Dark-horse contender might be too strong, but Kentucky could make a noticeable impact on the SEC East race. The Wildcats will take on Ole Miss and Mississippi State in crossover action, while Florida, Georgia and Tennessee will get LSU, Auburn and Alabama, respectively. A mid-September meeting with South Carolina will be a critical outing for both lurking programs.

Kentucky Football Schedule 2017

Looking at the schedule, I am guessing that Bleacher Report is predicting losses to Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, Louisville and then a bad loss to one of the rest of the teams. What do you think? Is this a fair prediction for the upcoming season? Let me know in the comments below:

Also: Check out the entirety of the predictions. There are definitely some interesting takes.

 


Happy Birthday to Benny Snell!

Via @iambennysnelljr

Via @iambennysnelljr

A very Happy Birthday to UK running back Benny Snell. Snell had one of the most impressive Freshman seasons in Kentucky history and will look to improve upon that this season. Want to relive his big moments from last season? Watch this highlight video below and cue the goosebumps.

This is also an awesome graphic released by UK football for his birthday:

So go wish Benny Snell a very Happy Birthday on Twitter! Here is a link to his profile: @Benny_Snell


SEC Tournament if it Started Today…

sec-tournament

We are officially two weeks away from Selection Sunday and the kickoff to the greatest event in sports. Before that, the Cats have a mid-week tilt with Vanderbilt, before finishing off the season in College Station against Texas A&M.

Next week will also bring us the start of the SEC Tournament. I went through and looked at what the bracket would look like if the season ended today:

UPDATED:

Updated SEC Tournament

First off, one note to make is the 5/6 seed between Alabama and Ole Miss. SEC rules state that a tie-breaker must be broken via head-to-head record. The two teams have not met this season, but will for the first time on Tuesday. If the head-to-head record is still tied, it goes to record against the #1 seed, which for both teams is 0-1. The next step is a coin flip administered by the SEC Commissioner. To keep my bracket accurate, I flipped a coin, which gave Alabama the 5-seed over Ole Miss.

If this bracket would stand, I would be a little worried about Kentucky’s chances. A matchup with Georgia especially worries me. If there is one team that has given the Cats fits all year it’s the Bulldogs. If Kentucky can get through their first game, they would be tasked with facing either South Carolina or Alabama. Again, both of these teams do worry me, but I would feel confident with a possibility of advancing to the SEC Championship, against almost certainly Florida.

 

What do you think? If this bracket stands, how far would Kentucky advance?

@GormleyKSR


Monk breaks another Kentucky Record

© Mark Zerof

© Mark Zerof

In case you needed any more proof on how good Malik Monk is, yesterday’s 33 point game broke the Kentucky record for most 30+ point games by a freshman with 4. Not only that, but it is also the most 30+ point games by any player in the Calipari era. 

Monk also broke his own school record for the most points scored in a matchup with a ranked SEC opponent.

If Monk has proven anything during his short period in Lexington, it is his ability to completely take over games. In the games Kentucky has won against good opponents, Monk has played really well. On the other hand, in the games that Kentucky has lost to good opponents, Monk has not shot the ball well. Monk is the key to a tournament run for this team. If he gets hot, Kentucky can beat any team in the nation, I believe that, but if he struggles to score, the Cats could be an early exit.


Gator Bait’s Sunday Morning Wakeup

Mark Zerof USA Today

Monk scored 30 of his 33 points in the second half and Kentucky blew past Florida for a 76-66 victory to claim first place in the SEC Saturday. The Cats got the job done without De’Aaron Fox who was out with a sore knee. A slow start out of the gate had fans worried the whoopin round two was en route, but the Cats fought back and showed resilience to get a win in Rupp.

Bam finished with 18 points and 15 rebounds, for his second straight double-double. Dominique led us in minutes on the court with 37 and played a valuable part in the comeback with 6 boards, 4 assists and just one turnover. UK outrebounded the Gators 48-30, coming just a few weeks after being trounced on the boards in Gainesville by 25. It was a fun day to be in Rupp with Monk being Monk, he now is just 97 points away from catching Jamal Murray’s freshman record of 720 points in a season. He’s going to catch him, at this point it’s just how much he’s going to break the record by. Blessed we are, Cats fans.

Winners of 6 straight games. Here are your updated SEC Standings:

SEC

Down go the Zags

Dan Pelle/The Spokesman-Review

On Senior Day in Spokane, Gonzaga tripped up in the last game of the conference season and blew a 10-point second half lead to lose to BYU 79-71. The Zags moved to 29-1 on the season with last night’s loss, and the question going forward for them is if they are still deserving of being left on the 1-seed line. Nigel Williams-Goss is one heck of a competitor, but it’s still hard to believe they’re one of the best four teams in the nation right now. Get ’em outta here.

UK Women’s basketball ends regular season play at No. 7 South Carolina

Today at 2 p.m. UK plays their final regular season game of the year, and they’ll be trying to pick up their second win over a top-10 team within 4 days. UK beat third-ranked Mississippi State on Thursday night at Memorial, and they’ve been riding a 5-game win streak into this game today. The last team they lost to was this same Gamecock squad by double-digits at home in early February.

The Cats are the hottest team in the SEC right now, and we will find out if they have what it takes to knock off South Carolina in Colonial Life Arena today at 2 p.m. on ESPNU.

The Oscars 2017

If she’s 48, I’m 48 too. What’s 26 years anyway, age is just a number right? Very much so looking forward to finding my lady on the Red Carpet.

Jimmy Kimmel is the host for the 89th Academy Awards, the most exciting night in Hollywood. Justin Timberlake, John Legend, Sting, and Lin-Manuel Miranda will all be performing during the awards, and The Oscar’s opening ceremony Live from the Red Carpet begins at 7 ET. Don’t miss out.