Posted on: December 10, 2011 7:43 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2011 8:31 pm
By Jeff Goodman
Tom Crean can celebrate however he wants after this one. He could be yelling and screaming buck naked in the lobby of Assembly Hall and it would be fine with me (OK, I take that one back).
I mocked the Indiana coach last season after he went bananas in the lobby of Assembly Hall following a home victory over Illinois. However, Saturday's victory against top-ranked Kentucky? Well, that's worthy of a full-pledged party well into the night for Crean and the Hoosiers.
This may wind up becoming a defining moment for the Indiana program in the Crean Era - one that had some fans and many around the country questioning whether the Hoosiers would be nationally relevant again.
Kentucky was more talented at every single position on the court, but Indiana took control of the game in the second half, and after blowing a 10-point lead, got a 3-pointer at the buzzer from Christian Watford for the 73-72 upset.
The Hoosiers showed mental resolve.
This Hoosiers team has officially turned the corner. They hadn't really beaten anyone of note until now (Butler and N.C State don't quite count), but should make their way into the Top 25 for the first time since Kelvin Sampson was running things and making illegal phone calls in Bloomington.
It was nice to see Assembly Hall rocking again because the fans in Bloomington are rabid - and are deserving of success. Indiana doesn't blow you away, but now Crean has enough talent and experience to compete with the big boys.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves, however, and start proclaiming the Hoosiers as a clear-cut NCAA tournament team. The Hoosiers aren't going to challenge Ohio State for the Big Ten title. They remain undefeated, but still need to fare well in Big Ten play to ensure themselves of dancing come March.
Watford doesn't always show up, but it was Kentucky's Terrence Jones who played the role of the magician on Saturday, doing his best disappearing act with just four points and a lone rebound in the contest. Watford went for 20 points in the victory while freshman Cody Zeller, Will Sheehey, Victor Oladipo and Jordan Hulls all played well.
Crean has had a rough go thus far in his tenure, finishing near the bottom of the league each of his three seasons. Recruiting has certainly picked up in the past year or so and Cream got over one hurdle when he took down Butler's Brad Stevens last month. But this one was far more important.
Crean knocked off the No. 1 team in the land. The almighty John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats.
If that's not worthy of a party, I'm not sure what is.
Photo: US PRESSWIRE
Posted on: December 2, 2011 4:48 pm
By Jeff Goodman
LEXINGTON, Ky. - John Calipari delivered the message - over and over - about North Carolina's experience while Terrence Jones kept a stone-face while attempting to convey that this was just another game. Senior Darius Miller said all the correct things.
He told the truth. No filter. No BS.
"I think we're more talented offensively and defensively," Lamb said less than 24 hours before top-ranked Kentucky welcomes North Carolina to Rupp Arena.
And what about the two backcourts, Doron? How do you think they stack up against one another?
"I think we're way more talented," he said.
I wonder if Kendall Marshall and Dexter Strickland will get a look-see at those comments when they arrive in Lexington.
Unlike Jones and even Miller to an extent - who both downplayed the significance of this game - Lamb spoke the truth. To be honest, it's refreshing.
"It's a big game for us," Lamb said. "We want to try and keep our No. 1 spot."
This was supposed to be a battle of No. 1 vs. No. 2. UNLV ruined that when the Running Rebels pulled the upset over North Carolina a week or so ago in Vegas. Now the Tar Heels enter the contest at No. 5 in the country, but the numbers don't matter.
"You want games like this because they help you learn about your team," Calipari said.
Calipari is all about spin, but that's not spin.
No one is really going to care about who won this game if these two teams meet again in April 2 in New Orleans -- as many anticipate to be the case. Both teams will likely be No. 1 seeds entering the NCAA tournament come March and these two clubs will have a different look to them in four months time.
This game is about figuring out your team's deficiencies and trying to correct - or at least - soften them. For North Carolina, it'll be whether they are able to defend and match Kentucky's toughness - among other things. For Kentucky, it'll be whether Marquis Teague can play with poise - and whether Terrence Jones truly is a different player from a year ago -- also among other things.
Calipari and Roy Williams won't commit to continuing this series, using their league slate and other non-conference matchups as an excuse to halt the matchup. So this could be it for a while - so we need to enjoy it.
"The moment I saw it on the schedule, I started looking forward to this game," Lamb said. "Everybody's been talking about it."
Lamb and just about every diehard college hoops fan. You've got no shortage of potential lottery picks -- Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for Kentucky and Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller with North Carolina - in addition to plenty of others with NBA futures. It'll take place in arguably the most electric environment in college basketball: Rupp Arena.
It won't be a methodical affair as was the case in the previous game for both teams, when North Carolina had to grind one out against Wisconsin and Kentucky was forced to watch St. John's milk the clock in an effort to stay in the game.
Williams and Calipari have athletes - and they let them go.
This should be terrific.
Any predictions, Doron?
"We win," he said with a smile. "And leave the arena by 3 p.m.. -- and then I enjoy my day off Sunday."
Posted on: November 20, 2011 4:07 pm
Edited on: November 20, 2011 4:08 pm
By Matt Norlander
UNCASVILLE, Conn. — There wasn’t one minute that went by Sunday afternoon when I didn’t think about just how freakily athletic Anthony Davis was. Or how staunch Michael Kidd-Gilchrist played. Or how yoked Terrence Jones became in the offseason.
It was my first time seeing UK since last year’s Final Four lost to Connecticut. Team looked good. Looked physical, intimidating and about the closest thing to an NBA collection of talent we’ll be seeing this season.
But despite all that skill, Kentucky merely managed an ugly, 62-52 win over Old Dominion. The game was in doubt until the final five minutes. There’s already talk — planted proudly and publicly by John Calipari — that ODU provided the blueprint for how to handle Kentucky. Ah, that mystical documentation that decodes Big Blue. Each season, it’s the Holy Grail.
Hogwash, largely. Teams are going to beat Kentucky this year be either A ) Shooting incredibly efficiently, B) Having at least two NBA players on their roster, C) Food poisoning. Old Dominion used its system and had its guys up for the biggest or second-biggest game it will play this season. Kentucky was playing in front of 3,000 people, for the second straight day, in a far-away arena in the middle of Nowhere, Connecticut.
“Kansas, we were really pumped up because we were playing at the Garden. We were just amped,” Davis said. “Here, you know, we were amped, but we weren’t ready to go.”
I can’t take much from this kind of win. I just came here to watch a team that’s quickly becoming college basketball’s version of The Beatles. The amount of Kentucky fans here was truly reprehensible — Connecticut isn’t worth a trip, folks — and you can already see how possible (and easy?) it could eventually be for Kentucky to get to back-to-back Final Fours. Right now, the team’s following a pattern that’s existed the past two years, Darius Miller said.
“It’s kind of the same. The last two years we’ve struggled early on to figure out what we were going to do,” Miller said. “Eventually we’re going to find out exactly how we want to play, everybody’ s going to have their role and know what they need to do.”
What I learned: Kentucky can’t always dictate the terms by which it will win this year. And when a team has five or six future pros, that’s pretty amazing. But the youth and all that, you know? You get that young, you don’t deserve the right to say how and why you will win or lose. UK couldn’t push it, no matter how hard they tried. I can’t help but think of North Carolina played Old Dominion on a neutral court in three days that the Tar Heels would put up 75 with ease.
UNC has a point guard with experience and savvy. Kentucky has Marquis Teague, a flashy player who played god-awful Sunday. Teague had a stat correlation no one ever wants: as many points as turnovers (six).
For more than an hour, Old Dominion made it a fun game. An ugly one, but still fun.
“The only thing I regret is those last five minutes could have been an awful lot of fun,” Old Dominion coach Blaine Taylor said. “We worked pretty hard the first 35 to get to the last five, and then we didn’t get to have fun down the stretch.”
Taylor’s team shook UK’s mental toughness. Jones and Davis were genuinely challenged and rattled at times. It’s what Calipari want to see right now—a team threaten his team without really threatening them. Kentucky does no good to itself by rolling fools to the tune of 96-63 each night.
Kentucky pasted Penn State Saturday, and what can we take from that? Nothing, really. Penn State's young and rebuilding. Old Dominion has some experience, an idea of what it can do.
“When you’re winning by 50 you can kind of put cotton in your ears sometimes,” Taylor said. “Not very many people had zoned them. So, one they hadn’t seen it … I thought we were kind of catching them at a point where we didn’t know what they were going to do or react. And they’re used to having their way, and the zone didn’t let them have their way, or give them immediate gratification, which they’re used to.”
“I think it’s just chemistry, to tell you the truth,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “It’s the chemistry on the court. We’re still figuring stuff out and we’re very young. But we’re very and we’re going to be very good. I’m not worrying about anything.”
Posted on: November 11, 2011 11:10 am
Edited on: November 11, 2011 11:23 am
By Gary Parrish
John Calipari has long preached that "nothing good happens after midnight."
Because some of the very best things that ever happened to me happened well after midnight, and I wouldn't trade those memories for all the Final Fours in the world. That said, I do recognize the point the Kentucky coach is always trying to make, and I'll bet you five bucks Calipari repeats that motto at least 47 times between now and when the Wildcats open the season tonight against Marist.
Yes, UK opens tonight.
And yet Terrence Jones -- the preseason SEC Player of the Year -- was out and about in Lexington at 2:30 this morning, which is around the time he was, along with teammate Stacey Poole, involved in a traffic accident that sent both to the hospital to be treated for minor injuries. To be clear, there's no indication Jones and Poole were at fault; they were apparently hit by an intoxicated driver operating on the wrong side of the road. Calipari posted on his website that no evidence of drugs or alcohol were found on Jones or Poole (or in their vehicle). So it appears this is simply a case of two people being at the wrong place at the wrong time -- although Jones needs to explain why he left the scene of the accident because the only public explanation given to date doesn't make much sense to the rational (and unbiased) mind.
Calipari said Jones left the scene out of "fear of an altercation with the driver of the oncoming vehicle," but who does that? Seriously, who has ever done that? Have you ever done that? I know I've never done that. I can't tell you I've never had friends or heard about people leaving the scene of an early morning accident, but they've always had a reason to do it, and their reasons are usually along the same lines. Never once heard about somebody leaving the scene -- and leaving a friend, much less a teammate -- out of fear of an altercation, especially when that somebody is 6-foot-9 and 250 pounds. But I guess there's a first time for everything. Perhaps this is that first time. Perhaps.
Either way, what was Terrence Jones thinking?
Not about leaving the scene.
About being out so late the night before the season-opener.
When literally the only thing anybody questions about you as a basketball player is your ability to be mature and lead, it seems like you'd want to start eliminating those questions heading into your sophomore season, and being out in the middle of the night less than 24 hours before the opener doesn't do that. It only validates the questions and makes things worse. Jones, simply put, has to be smarter.
I still think he's a terrific talent.
I still think he'll be an All-American.
But popping around town at 2:30 a.m. the night before a game with a guy who is reportedly close to leaving the program can't possibly be a good sign, and it's a helluva way to start what could be a helluva season. Nothing good happens after midnight? Again, I disagree. But if I were a basketball coach, I'd probably say that a bunch, too.
Posted on: October 26, 2011 10:11 pm
Edited on: October 26, 2011 10:14 pm
By Jeff Goodman
I've always maintained there's no better used car salesman than John Calipari.
He can sell ice to an eskimo, sell hair gel to Chris Mack and, well, you get the point.
But maybe the Kentucky coach was on point when he said that he couldn't imagine there's a better player in college basketball than Terrence Jones.
Sure, it was just an intrasquad scrimmage.
But Jones went for 52 points on Wednesday night.
Jones was an insane 24-of-31 from the field, 2-of-4 from beyond the arc and 2-of-5 from the line. Oh yeah, he also grabbed 16 boards and dished out six assists.
We need to put this in context.
Jones' team scored 126 points.
It was a glorified scrimmage.
But still. By all accounts, Jones looks like a different player - maybe even more dominant than the one that came out of the gates a year ago.
I say some of the credit needs to go to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Gilchrist doesn't get outworked by anyone in terms of effort. Jones' weakness has always been an inconsistent ticker.
However, maybe Gilchrist is exactly what was necessary for Jones to fulfill his potential, the one that could have him at or near the top of June's NBA Draft.
The reports were that the No. 1 freshman in the country, 6-foot-11 Anthony Davis, was the one given the task of trying to contain Jones.
Davis put up 27 points and 13 boards in the scrimmage, but it'll still take some time for him to acclimate himself to the college game.
Fellow frosh Kidd-Gilchrist finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds while Marquis Teague had 19 points and nine assists and Kyle Wiltjer went for 27 points and 11 boards.
Here's one reason not to put too much stock in an intrasquad scrimmage: Eloy Vargas had 16 rebounds.
Posted on: June 28, 2011 1:39 pm
Edited on: June 28, 2011 2:59 pm
By Gary Parrish
Jeff Goodman and I spent Monday doing a 2012 NBA mock draft.
We alternated picks.
I took Harrison Barnes first.
Goodman took Anthony Davis second and said he would've taken him first.
(Note: Looks like I'm the smart one. Again.)
Then we knocked out the next 28 picks and among the players never selected was Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor, which led to a few emails that asked the following questions: "Are you an idiot? Did you forget about Jordan Taylor?"
Answer to Question No. 1: Maybe
Answer to Question No. 2: No
As everybody should know by now, being a great college player doesn't necessarily make somebody a great NBA prospect, and Taylor might be an example of that. I'm not ready to give up on his NBA prospects just yet because he could reasonably go late in the first round of any draft and then develop into a quality NBA point guard. I don't know. But the fact that Taylor is a tremendous college guard means nothing ... except for that he'll be a First Team Preseason All-American.
Speaking of, I decided to take a look at how some preseason All-American teams might look.
If I'm doing two teams, here's what I've got:
G: Jordan Taylor (Wisconsin)
G: Austin Rivers (Duke)
F: Harrison Barnes (North Carolina)
F: Anthony Davis (Kentucky)
F: Jared Sullinger (Ohio State)
G: Tu Holloway (Xavier)
G: John Jenkins (Vanderbilt)
F: Jeremy Lamb (Connecticut)
F: Terrence Jones (Kentucky)
F: Perry Jones (Baylor)
Posted on: January 22, 2011 11:05 pm
Posted by Matt Norlander
Kentucky went into Columbia, S.C., tonight and avoided back-to-back road losses in the SEC, beating the Gamecocks, 67-58.
There was no clear evidence of John Calipari swearing at his players so openly, but plenty in the building took offense to this monster slam from freshman Terrence Jones, who coincidentally was the player on the receiving end of Calipari's acid tongue earlier this week.
Posted on: December 31, 2010 6:30 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2010 9:24 pm
Posted by Matt Jones
College basketball rivalry games are often defined by unlikely heroes who step up and deliver performances that immortalize them as legends of the program for years to come. And when it comes to unlikely heroes, very few have been more surprising than Josh Harrellson , who ensured he will never want for a free meal in Kentucky for the rest of his life after spurring UK to a 78-63 win over Louisville at the Yum! Center. The man that Kentuckians call "Jorts" (due to an infamous picture taken of him wearing jean shorts on his recruiting visit) scored 23 points and pulled down 14 rebounds in an effort that even he labeled after the game as "shocking." Shooting 10-for-12 from the field, Harrellson scored by doing what unlikely heroes do, being in the right place at the right time and taking advantage of opportunities -- in this case, openings caused by double-teams on star Terrence Jones. His career night included an unlikely three-point bomb that led Jorts to hold three fingers up in the air and John Calipari to shake his head in disbelief.
Had one been guessing two months ago, the thought of Harrellson no longer being on the team would have seemed more likely than him being the key factor in a victory over an arch-rival. After a solid performance in an exhibition game, Harrellson went on Twitter and complained that coach John Calipari did not give him credit for his game, instead focusing on Josh's mistakes in a post-game press conference. Calipari responded to the criticism by publicly scolding Harrellson on Twitter and also instituting a series of early-morning workouts as punishment. The coach required Harrellson to do six a.m. workouts every day and suggested that if Harrellson balked, his career with the Wildcats could be over.
What followed was a transformation of Harrellson's body and game so shocking that he hardly looks like the same person. Whereas he was once a player that was big and bulky, his dramatic weight loss and newly-found muscles could potentially lead to an exercise tape called "Body by Jorts." Whereas he was once a slow, lumbering big man best known for having a decent outside touch, now he is a figure that can be relied upon to control the glass and give UK a presence in the paint that seemed to be a lost cause going into the year. For his part, Harrellson calls the Twitter fiasco, the "best thing that ever happened to me", as it changed his view of his role on the team from jokester who felt fortunate to be on the team, to a true contributor who can help create a victory.
Harrellson's contribution was by no means the only reason for Kentucky's victory. In fact, the entire game showcased just how large a gap currently exists between the Cats and its arch rival . Louisville looked tentative, slower and most significantly, substantially less-talented than their Kentucky opponents and at no point seemed likely to win the game. Kentucky's Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones not only played better than Louisville, they looked to be on a different level than their Louisville counterparts. Kentucky stopped Louisville's transition game by controlling tempo from the outset, thereby negating the Cards' best chance to pull off an upset and ensuring that the team with the best talent would win. If Friday showed us anything, it is clear that team resides in Lexington.
All of which makes the performance by Harrellson that much more impressive. Over the last two seasons, he has played on a team with eight players that either were, or are likely to be, first round NBA Draft picks. He has consistently been overlooked on nearly every level, including being left off the team's pre-season poster given out to fans in order to make room for yet another highly touted Calipari draft class. He was the classic afterthought, only a factor in this season because UK could not get Enes Kanter eligible or find another big man with more talent. Yet that guy, the one that no one thought would ever make a difference, that guy had a career day against his team's biggest rival and made himself a name that will always be associated with a Card thrashing.
That is the stuff from which legends are made.