October 17, 2013

Y’all. Lots has been happening. Not personally, that stuff’s going fine. Not business stuff, either; that’s going fine, too. No, I’m talking about soccer stuff and basketball stuff.

Soccer stuff first: three other guys and I started a supporters club for a professional soccer club, ANY CLUB, here in Louisville.  We’ve decided to call ourselves the Coopers, explanation being that bourbon barrels are an important part of how bourbon is made, even if it’s not the star of the show. It’s fun. You get it. Coopers!

Our next plan is to get a Facebook (I know, lame, but also useful), Twitter, and independent webpages up and running to grow the group. The bigger the group gets, the more potential interest in season tickets for this as-yet-non-existent soccer club to sell to its owners and the Metro Council. I’m also hoping to start a podcast that would run bi-weekly about local soccer. Seeing as most local soccer means college and high school, it probably wouldn’t be a very long pod, but I think podcasts are fun and want to do one.

This leads me to kind of a big question. I’ve been posting stuff on my blog, SBNation comments, and Twitter as Anything but Gatorade (duh) for like five years now. Since I want to use what little media power I have behind this brand (ha) to support the soccer effort, it’s probably best to finally use my real name, right? At least I think so. Tough call. Any input anyone wants to add would be appreciated.

Finally: college basketball. It’s coming. Big Blue Madness is TOMORROW NIGHT, y’all. I CAN’T WAIT. The stump speech from Coach Cal. The always over the top player introductions. I have no idea what the new guys look like, so those are helpful. The dunk contest masquerading as a scrimmage. The actual dunk contest. Matthew Mitchell dance party. I love it. What I don’t love, though, is how local TV, Dave Baker, and Rob Bromley take a slick, state of the art event and make it feel like something from the 80s. Get some new blood in there that makes the event exciting. Rob Bromley could make a rave boring.

The actual season isn’t far away. Kentucky’s gonna be really good. Let’s get after it. GO CATS.

December 28, 2012
I guess I have to talk about the Kentucky-Louisville game

I’m loath to spend much time discussing tomorrow’s titanic struggle because I’m so down on Kentucky’s chances to win the game. My impressions of Kentucky basketball this year are borne out of the realization that last year’s NCAA Tournament winning team may have been one of the best basketball teams OF ALL TIME, but, try as I might, I can’t help but compare this team to that one. A fairer comparison is the 2010-2011 Cats, but I struggle with it.

Expectations for Kentucky basketball are always high, and are even higher now that Calipari turns in a top 3 recruiting class every year and hasn’t done worse than an Elite 8 appearance since he got to Lexington. I, we, am/are spoiled by success. This year’s recruiting class is excellent. Let me say that again: excellent. They’re obscenely talented, tall, and long. But, unlike last year’s team, their mental faculties may not be quite as developed. It seems like they struggle to apply lessons taught in practice to games, though there’s been marked improvement in that department since the Morehead State game. They settle on offensive possessions when they can’t seem to figure out a defense. They don’t fight hard for every loose ball or rebound. They’re slow on defensive rotations in the post.

I said it earlier this year, though: come March, this team will be really, really tough. But they’re still not very good now. And on the other side of the floor on Saturday, they’re playing a pretty talented Louisville team that is long on a few things Kentucky lacks: depth, experience, and mental toughness. It pains me to say it, but Louisville, right now anyway, is better than Kentucky. They’re merciless on defense, and, frankly, a bit better than I expected on offense. Man to man, Peyton Siva is probably better than Ryan Harrow; Russ Smith isn’t as talented but is probably craftier than Archie Goodwin; Luke Hancock and Kyle Wiltjer kind of cancel each other out even if Kyle is probably more talented; Chane Behanan is meaner if smaller than Alex Poythress; and Georgui Dieng is probably equal to Nerlens Noel, and more effective on offense. Montrezl Harrell is a scary sub off the bench, and the only way Poythress handles either him or Behanan is if someone tells him both of those guys slept with his twin sister or something, i.e., he needs to play pissed off, with a chip on his shoulder.

Louisville is the better team on paper, and probably on tape, too. Kentucky is improving, but I’m pretty sure they lose this game DAMMIT. Go Cats.

December 10, 2012
Kentucky is doing the right things in football?

I’m Ron Burgundy?

Reports abound today confirming that Texas Tech offensive coordinator Neal Brown is coming to Kentucky to assume the same position for a bunch of money, bringing his wide receivers and running backs coaches with him. I’m excited to get all three, but more intrigued with the idea that Mark Stoops/Mitch Barnhart is actually putting together a staff to address, you know, football stuff on the football team, as opposed to some folks who were less than proven (Mike Archer excepted, sort of) to assume similar positions. These guys, along with new defensive coordinator DJ Eliot bring things to the table that Kentucky has not had on said table before: youth, significant responsibility and associations with winning programs on the BCS level, and recognized recruiting acumen. I’m, like, excited about the possibilities of having a football team that is good at football and stuff.

This could all blow up in our collective faces, of course. But I can’t remember a time in my memory where I was more jacked up about the football program’s coaching staff. I loved Papaw Brooks, make no mistake, but I think even he would be jealous of the potential this group has once they’ve had time to do their work, i.e. coach a few seasons and get the players they think they need to be successful.

This is pretty much unheard of in Lexington. Leadership appears to be putting the football team in the best place it can to succeed. What? That’s not a sentence I think I’ve ever written about Kentucky before. I sure hope it works. Go Cats.

November 29, 2012
Sporting goings on in the Commonwealth

This has probably been the biggest news week in Louisville and the rest of the counties for a long long time. Kentucky hires a new football coach, Mark Stoops. I’m pleasantly excited about what he may bring to the table for UK football. Louisville is the newest member of the ACC. That, in all honesty, is really great for UofL. Western Kentucky is now in the CUSA. Whatever, I guess that’s okay.

What does this all mean? It means Kentucky fans at least have a hope of seeing improvements in football; maybe even a commitment to the sport unseen since they actually started the program if we’re lucky. That’s big. Louisville is finally joining a real athletic conference, which you can’t help but be impressed with. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited at the prospect of Duke and North Carolina coming to town every year to play at the Chicken Palace. I’m hopeful that it might inspire Louisville to add men’s lacrosse, given the sport’s popularity here in Jefferson County and the history and tradition of the ACC’s programs (namely, UVA, Duke, and UNC, and soon to include Syracuse). I think that would be super cool and I’d actually go watch games.

Western improved its position, I guess, as all of the sudden the Sun Belt is imploding on itself, but I can’t imagine CUSA is really much of a step up. Hopefully they dominate, that would be fun.

It’s been a whirlwind week around here for sports, and I think that’s a good thing.

This was a poorly written post, sorry. I have a new infant and a two year old and I can barely complete a sentence. Whatever. Go Cats.

October 30, 2012
2012-13 College Basketball Season Preview

DISCLAIMER: I am in no way actually qualified to talk about most teams in college basketball because I have paid approximately zero attention to teams outside of the top 10 and/or the SEC. This makes me about as qualified as any idiot writing a column in your local newspaper.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the 12-13 season in general. The consensus is that, after last year’s NBA draft, a lot of the talent got sucked out of the top of college basketball. That’s obviously true at Kentucky and North Carolina, less so at UofL, IU, and sort of Duke. Most of the higher-ranked teams are in that position because they managed to keep most of their roster from last year. However, as we well know, experienced players don’t always mean good teams.

The B1G figures to be a strong league (Ohio State, Michigan State, Indiana, Michigan are ranked), as does the ACC (Duke, UNC, Florida State, NC State). The Pac-12 is an unknown commodity outside of UCLA. The SEC has two or three teams that expect to do well in Kentucky, Florida, and maybe Tennessee, while Vandy is in for an off year after losing their entire starting lineup to graduation and the draft. The Big East features UofL this year, but usually omnipresent UConn is a question mark, as is Syracuse with Brandon Triche manning the point this year after being beat out for the starting role last season.


1. Indiana

Adjusted O/D Numbers from last season: 119 pts per 100 poss (#1) on offense, allowed 91.6 (15th)

Who’s coming back: IU has 17 guys on its roster, which is a lot, but the notable returnees are Will Sheehey, Cody Zeller, Christian Watford, Jordan Hulls, Victor Oladipo, and Derek Elston.

Who’s new: Yogi Ferrell, Hanner Mosquera-Perea, Jeremy Hollowell, and Peter Jurkin, none of whom I have ever heard of before. Ferrell is a top 20 guy and a point guard, where the Hoosiers needed help because Hulls can’t guard man to man particularly well.

What does it all mean, Basil? IU is ranked Number One for a pretty good reason: they return most of their impact players from a team that got to the Elite Eight last year, and brought in a top 5 recruiting class. However, they didn’t play great in the B1G, which is loaded this season. I don’t think IU will be able to stay in the top 5 come conference time, but they are definitely going to have an impact.

2. Louisville

Adjusted O/D Numbers from last season: 109.9 pts per 100 poss (34th) on offense, allowed 88.4 (2nd)

Who’s coming back: All Big East PG Peyton Siva, Gorgui Dieng, Chane Behanan, Russ Smith, Wayne Blackshear, blunt/sharpshooter Mike Marra, Steven Van Trease

Who’s new: Logan Baumann, Montrezl Harrell, Luke Hancock (Jr. transfer), Mangok Mathiang. Harrell was a good get, but otherwise the freshman class did not crack the Rivals Top 30.

What does it all mean, Basil? UofL returns most of its roster from its Final Four team last year, sans senior Chris Smith and leading points scorer Kyle Kuric. Points, however, were at a premium for the Cards, as they seemingly would go hours without a basket in 2011-12. Luke Hancock figures to help fill that void, along with a healthy Wayne Blackshear. This is going to be a really good team, make no mistake, but the Cards need to learn to create their own shots and otherwise score more efficiently come tournament time.

3. Kentucky

Adjusted O/D Numbers from last season: 117.4 pts per 100 poss (#2) on offense, allowed 89.3 (5th)

Who’s coming back: Jarrod Polson, Jon Hood, Brian Long, Sam Malone, Twany Beckham, Ryan Harrow (Jr. transfer). There’s a reason you’ve probably never heard of any of these kids.

Who’s new: EVERYBODY: Nerlens Noel, Archie Goodwin, Willie Cauley-Stein, Julis Mays (Sr. transfer), Alex Poythress; good for the #1 recruiting class in the country minus Mays.

What does it all mean, Basil? I have no idea. This team will probably look terrible in November and most of December, and it will probably lose its first two games - against Maryland and Duke, mind you, but still. However, I’ve never seen anyone get a bunch of young kids to play like a team like Calipari has, thus the high expectations for this team. They’ll probably take their lumps, but the ceiling is really high for these kids in March.

4. Ohio State

Adjusted O/D Numbers from last season: 114.6 pts per 100 poss (#6) on offense, allowed 87.9 (1st)

Who’s coming back: Aaron Craft (again), Deshaun Thomas, Evan Ravenel, Lenzell Smith, Jr.

Who’s new: Amadeo Della Valle. Yep. That’s it.

What does it all mean, Basil? I’m biased against B1G basketball because, like B1G football, it’s slow paced, beat the crap out of the other team under the basket, limit possessions, no fun to watch basketball. That said, Ohio State was very good last year and I was surprised they didn’t make it past Kansas, frankly. I think they’ll have similar success this year, even with the loss of Jared Sullinger to the draft, because, outside of Cody Zeller, there really aren’t that many uber talented big men in the league. They bring back a lot of experience, that much is sure, and are going to be in the conversation for a one seed.

5. Michigan

Adjusted O/D Numbers from last season: 114.5 pts per 100 poss (#7) on offense, allowed 93.1 (25th)

Who’s coming back: Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway, Jr., Jordan Morgan, Stu Douglass, Zack Novak, Evan Smotrcyz or something

Who’s new: Michigan brought in a reallllly good freshman class, 7th in the country, including Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III (look out Bristol Palin), Nick Stauskas, and awesomely named Spike Albrecht.

What does it all mean, Basil? Michigan was maddeningly inconsistent last year. Fun to watch, which is odd for B1G basketball, but they couldn’t defend anybody. That’s about all I know about them: they were pretty good, and, unlike most of the other top teams, added a really good class to get them into the top 5. Not confident they’ll be sticking around, but I think they will make some noise in the league for sure.

Other teams of note that I won’t do the whole diagnosis on because man it’s exhausting:

Duke returns a bunch of smart and talented white guys, but losing slasher/scorer Austin Rivers will make their top 5 offense from a year ago a little less efficient. Coach K didn’t assemble a top 30 recruiting class, but did pick up Amile Jefferson and Rasheed Sulaimon, top 5 recruits for their respective positions. This is Duke, they’ll be annoyingly good.

NC State signed a very good recruiting class, something Mark Gottfried was good at at Alabama, too. Problem was, he was a terrible coach. That said, they made some noise in the ACC last year, and with this talented recruiting class, the Wolfpack should be able to stay in the conversation around the top 10 all year.

Florida lost Bradley Beal, but they still have some great pieces in Kenny Boynton, Dan Murphy, and Patric Young. This was a strange team last year, losing some league games it shouldn’t have, but playing very well in the NCAA.

Kansas loses most of its scoring with Thomas Robinson and Tyshaun Taylor, but Jeff Withey surprised a lot of people with his skills around the basket last year, and Travis Releford and Elijah Johnson are solid, solid players. The Jayhawks also finally get to play a bunch of guys who were suspended for a variety of reasons last season, along with the addition of a strong recruiting class. They’re likely to win the Big TwelveTen conference for the 9th straight time.

Syracuse: I don’t really care.


September 10, 2012
My inner dialogue about whether to write a UK Football post
Me: Should I write about UK Football?
Also me: Well, you didn't really write anything about it in the preseason.
Me: I was busy.
Also me: Yeah, busy posting stuff about lacrosse and other BS that wasn't UK Football.
Me: You shut up.
Also me: No, you shut up.
Me: Well, they won last weekend. I should write about that, right?
Also me: No.
Me: Why not?
Also me: You'll sound like a fairweather fan, only writing about the Cats when they don't suck.
Me: Fair point.
Also me: You didn't even go to or watch the game.
Me: I have a two year old, a pregnant wife, and it wasn't on TV.
Also me: Never would have stopped you before.
Me: I have never been in this situation before, asshole.
Also me: Whatever. I'm standing by it.
Me: So after two weeks, the offense is pretty decent and the defense is still pretty bad.
Also me: That about sums it up.
July 23, 2012
Come on, Kentucky. Come on.

Come on, Kentucky. Come on.

(Source: ancestor, via askinnyblackskeleton)

9:15am  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZgqfcwPwwsVR
Filed under: kentucky 
June 29, 2012
"‎My father hailed from old Kentucky and as is proverbial with all that race, was a great admirer of handsome women, high stepping horses, fast hounds and good liquor. And I would not be my father’s son did I not inherit some, if not all, of these traits."

Isaac Newton “Ike” Gray*, Texas Stockman Journal, c.1904-14

*my great-great grandfather

(via thebirthofart)

Not much has changed, y’all.

9:30am  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZgqfcwOM2jOy
Filed under: Kentucky 
June 29, 2012
Congrats on the NBA Draft

Last night in somewhere, New Jersey, the NBA held the 2012 amateur draft. Well, not really amateur, because there are always some weird euro pros in there, but mostly amateur. Kentucky had six guys drafted, four in the first round. Anthony Davis went first to New Orleans, as expected, and he’ll be awesome even if Chris Paul isn’t there anymore. A decent PG would be nice, though. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist went second, to his apparent surprise, to the Charlotte Bobcats. The Bobcats are terrible, so that sucks for MKG. Terrence Jones went in the top 20 at 18 (lower than expected, obvs) to Houston, who apparently plans to field an entire roster of forwards in 2012-13. Marquis Teague went at 29 to the Bulls where he can hopefully prove to be an adequate replacement for Derrick Rose when he’s injured, which is fairly often, unfortch.

Doron Lamb went to the woeful Milwaukee Bucks in the 2nd round, which is surprising because he’s such a good shooter. I have a feeling he’ll be a long term player in the league because of that single commodity, and he can play point fairly well, also. Darius Miller gets to join Davis in New Orleans, which is pretty cool. My buddy Pat texted me last night to say he thinks of all the Cats drafted this year, Miller will have the longest career. He may be right. Darius is awesome, and woefully underrated by draft position.

Vanderbilt also had a banner night in New Jersey with two picks in the first round. John Jenkins went to Atlanta at 23 - not bad, the Hawks are pretty good - and Festus Ezeli went to Golden State in the last pick of the first round. Not real sure about what Festus will do for GSW, but he’s a good defender and a large body in the paint, and he cleans up the rim pretty well. Jeff Taylor went to Charlotte, presumably to back up MKG as the first pick of the 2nd round.

I know shit about the NBA so I won’t try to comment on what I think our boys’ roles will be in the League. MKG and Davis are stars if you ask me, even if MKG’s offensive game in the halfcourt is kind of spotty. I think Lamb, Taylor, and Miller were all 1st round talent, to be honest, and I hope they play their way into two-year deals. Love all these guys, they all deserve the best based on how they played for the Cats and Dores these past few years, and good luck to all of them.

June 21, 2012
We’re talkin’ about Playoffs.

Not for very long, mind you. Reports are ubiquitous today that the BCS is dead and college football’s champion will be determined via a four team playoff. Let’s not pretend this isn’t still bullshit, because it is. Boise State is still never going to see that four team playoff, even if they beat the entire army of the People’s Republic of China, and people will still be plenty pissed about the fifth team that gets left out, instead of the old eleventh team left out of the BCS or whatever. It’s still bullshit, and we’ll still watch it.

As a Kentucky fan, I hold no illusion that this holds any significance to me whatsoever. As long as the Music City Bowl still exists, I know where Kentucky will be playing in the event they manage to win six or seven games, their theoretical success-ceiling. The same token more-or-less applies to Vanderbilt; though the Commodoresareflying up recruiting rankings lately, they’re not gonna sniff the Top 10 at the end of the season barring a sudden plague destroying the native populations of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana. So this is all fun to pay attention to in theory, but in reality, college football is a myth, and we’re sheep who devour it before becoming some rich white guy’s mutton sandwich in mid-January. That doesn’t mean it’s not fun, though.

Another funny thing? I guarantee you all they talked about on Finebaum today was playoffs and how unintentionally hilarious Harvey Updike is. I listened to Kentucky Sports Radio this morning, however, and you know what? The word “football” was not even mentioned. I guess that’s because Calipari, Derek Anderson, and Wayne Turner were on and we just won the NCAA tournament, but still, this is big news. Huge news, really, for most college sports fans. It didn’t get one second of airtime on the most popular sports show in the state. No one said the ridicule Kentucky football fans get from the rest of the SEC wasn’t deserved.

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