Andrew Harrison, Tyler Ulis among players on Cousy Award list

Kentucky’s Andrew Harrison and Tyler Ulis are among 36 players named to the 2015 Bob Cousy Award watch list, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Tuesday.

The award recognizes the top point guard in men’s college basketball.

Harrison averaged 10.9 points and four assists per game as a freshman last season. Ulis, a 5-foot-9 freshman, made a big splash during UK’s six exhibition games in the Bahamas in August.

The watch list of candidates for the Cousy Award will be trimmed to 20 in early February, then a final five by early March. The winner will receive the award on the Monday of the Final Four in Indianapolis.

Other players on the watch list include Terry Rozier of Louisville, Cameron Payne of Murray State, and Southeastern Conference players Jarvis Summers of Mississippi, Kasey Hill of Florida and Alex Caruso of Texas A&M.

Other players on the list are Olivier Hanlan (Boston College). Quinn Cook (Duke), Tyus Jones (Duke), D’Vauntes Smith Rivera (Georgetown), Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga), Siyani Chambers (Harvard), Yogi Ferrell (Indiana), Monte Morris (Iowa State), Kenneth Smith (Louisiana Tech), Chasson Randle (Stanford), Will Cummings (Temple), T.J. McConnell (Arizona), Ryan Boatright (Connnecticut), Romelo Trimble (Maryland), Angel Rodriguez (Miami), Derrick Walton Jr. (Michigan), Marcus Paige (North Carolina), Pierria Henry (UNC-Charlotte), Jordan Woodward (Oklahoma), EC Matthews (Rhode Island), Isaiah Taylor (Texas), Julius Brown (Toledo), Delon Wright (Utah), London Perrantes (Virginia), Keifer Sykes (Wisconsin-Green Bay), Ryan Arcidiacono (Villanova), Briante Weber (VCU), Juwan Staten (West Virginia), and Fred VanVleet (Wichita State).

Kelly Wells: Over-confidence, lack of cohesion could hurt UK

Pikeville played fairly well and lost by 48 points to No. 1 Kentucky Sunday night in an exhibition game.
“Well, obviously, you found out who the most talented team in the country is,” Pikeville Coach Kelly Wells said. “It wasn’t us.”
Yet, Wells suggested Kentucky was not so all-powerful as to be immune to pitfalls this coming season.
“They didn’t have any weaknesses that we could expose,” he said. “I think there will be some times where they have to not get fat (and) happy. They have to be hungry all the time and all night. There will be nights throughout a college basketball season when you just don’t have it. Somebody gets hurt, injuries and rotations.”
Then Wells added facetiously, “I would like to have some of the problems that they’ve had.”
Willie Cauley-Stein, one of UK’s big men, scoffed at the notion of over-confidence killing the Cats. He suggested that playing for Kentucky means inspired opponents in every game.
“You have to know with us veteran guys back, it’s easier” to deal with over-confidence, he said. “. . . Every game is a war, and you have to approach it that way.”
Wells also suggested another potential problem, this one seemingly more sticky. With enough players to necessitate platoons, Kentucky cannot give any five-player unit the playing time that another team, less deep, can give its starters.
“I do think that will be some kind of concern for them,” Wells said. “I like to give a group a role and let them play all of the minutes. But that’s going to be a challenge for Cal (UK Coach John Calipari).”
Wells expressed confidence that Calipari will figure out the Catch 22 of wanting to use more players while also developing cohesion.
“I think that sometimes that will be an issue: How he can keep those guys happy,” Wells said. “I can’t keep five guys happy. But he’s the master at that. I think they’ll be fine. They seem like they love each other. There’s a lot of good continuity on the floor for them.”

Kenny Payne: UK coaches, players will make platoon system work

Two days before the first pre-season exhibition game, assistant coach Kenny Payne voiced confidence that a platoon system will work for Kentucky. With 12 players capable of contributing, it has to.
“We don’t have a choice,” Payne told reporters in an update Friday. “We’ve got 12 really good players. We’ve got to find time for all of them. And they all deserve to play.”
Kentucky plays Pikeville Sunday in an exhibition opener.
Payne noted that UK’s trip to the Bahamas in August served as a test run on the much-discussed idea of playing five-man units, one rotating with the other over a 40-minute game.
“The Bahamas trip gave us a blueprint of how we’ve got to do this,” Payne said. “And it starts with sharing the ball offensively.
“But defensively dictating the pace of the game, (imposing) our will on that team. If we do that, it can work. It will work.”
Payne did not disclose which five players will start for Kentucky against Pikeville.
“I have no idea,” he said with a smile. “That’s why you have Coach Cal (John Calipari).”
After the Blue-White Game on Monday, Calipari said he did not want to play the four freshmen on the same unit. Payne explained.
“It’s important that the freshmen have a veteran out there with them to help them through tough times,” he said. “That’s really, really important.”
Even nine McDonald’s All-Americans, plus all-league defensive player Willie Cauley-Stein, are not immunity against adversity.
“It’s going to be a process, now,” Payne said with caution in his voice. “It’s not going to be just come out there and steam-roll people. I know the fans don’t want to hear that. They want to think that we’ve got a bunch of talent. (But) people are going to come after us. We’re going to have to learn through adversity, and play hard.”

Seth Davis interviews Calipari, Pitino

While in Kentucky this week, Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated and CBS interviewed Kentucky Coach John Calipari and Louisville Coach Rick Pitino.

Davis noted how the interviews touched on headline-grabbing moments in each coach’s career.

“They went great . . . ,” Davis said of the interviews. “I talked to Cal about the vacated Final Fours, and I talked to Pitino about his extortion trial. Riveting stuff.”

The interviews will air next Thursday on and Davis’ twitter feed.

UK women’s soccer team bids farewell to seniors Thursday

Kentucky’s women’s soccer team celebrates Senior Night Thursday in a home finale against Alabama.
“It’s definitely emotional,” said Arin Gilliland, one of the team’s four seniors and, arguably, the best player in the history of the program.
The other seniors playing their final home game are Maddie Lockridge, Emma Brown and Stuart Pope.
Gilliland, who will graduate in December, is projected as a top five pick in January’s National Women’s Soccer League draft. Her 268 shots on goal is a school career record.

Kentucky has won five straight matches, all by shutouts. That season-best winning streak includes victories over three ranked teams: No. 24 South Carolina, No. 5/4 Florida and No. 22 Georgia.

UK will be either a No. 2 or 3 seed in the upcoming Southeastern Conference Tournament.

Alabama goes into Thursday’s game at No. 4 in the SEC standings.

Cal: Redshirting is a player’s decision

Kentucky Coach John Calipari did not rule out the possibility of a player sitting out this season as a redshirt. But he didn’t embrace the idea, either.
“That’s a player’s decision,” he said. “. . . They’d have to explain why, if that were what they wanted to do.”
Calipari seemed to suggest a redshirt made sense at Kentucky, where players can quickly make themselves viable as NBA draft picks.
“You know what’s great about playing here?” he said. “You only have to have one good year. . . . You don’t have to have five good years. No one playing under me has four good years.”
At other schools, players must wait for the chance to play significant minutes, Calipari said. At Kentucky, most players play right away.
Without benefit of a follow-up question in the post-game news conference, Calipari cited Derek Willis and Dominique Hawkins in the context of redshirting.
“At the end of the day, if something happens, there’s an injury, somebody has to step back, I have all the confidence putting them in,” the UK coach said.

Cal: Dakari Johnson had been shooting well in practice

Apparently, Dakari Johnson’s one-for-seven free-throw shooting in the Blue-White Game Monday night surprised Kentucky Coach John Calipari.
“He’s been shooting in practice great,” Calipari said. “He’s been shooting free throws. He’s been shooting 15-footers.
“But now he went in front of all these people, the popcorn is cracking, it’s on TV and the dregs of last year came back a little bit.”
Johnson made only 44.7 percent of his free throws last season (38 of 85).
Johnson vowed to do better in the future. “I don’t know what was going on tonight. . . . ,” he said. “It’ll be better next time.”

Cal: PG, mix of vets and frosh key to platoon system

After the Blue-White Game Monday, Kentucky Coach John Calipari talked about how he’ll try to put together platoons of players this season.
“I’ll probably try some different combos,” he said. “I kind of like two freshmen on a team (and) three vets on a team. It gives it some balance.”
Calipari also spoke of what components he’d like to have in each platoon.
“You want to have a point guard on each group,” he said. “You want to have some size on each group. And how do they fit together? What I don’t want to have is four freshmen on one team.”

AJ Reed reflects on being honored at UK football Saturday Saturday

The No. 1 football team and the No. 1 baseball player will be at Commonwealth Stadium Saturday.

During the game against No. 1 Mississippi State, Kentucky will honor one of its former baseball players, AJ Reed.

Last season Reed became the third unanimous national player of the year in Southeastern Conference history. He led college baseball in homers (23), slugging (.735) and OPS (1.211) in 2014. He also led the SEC with a 12-2 record and a 2.09 ERA, becoming the first player in conference history to pace the league in wins and homers.

Reed practically swept the national player of the year awards. He won such awards given  by USA Baseball with the Golden Spikes Award, the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association with the Dick Howser Trophy, the American Baseball Coaches Association’s National Player of the Year, the Baseball America College Player of the Year, the Collegiate Baseball/Louisville Slugger National Player of the Year and the Perfect Game USA National Player of the Year awards.

In an interview Friday, Reed sounded like a UK football fan. “I’ve watched pretty much most of the games,” he said. “They look a lot better this year, and it’s exciting to have a football team that’s winning this year.”

Reed was the first round draft choice of the Houston Astros. He hit 12 homers in 68 games over the rookie-level New York-Penn League and the low class A Midwest League, hitting .289/.375/.522 with 54 RBI and 20 doubles.

When asked if he planned to run around Commonwealth Stadium like Cal Ripken’s celebration of breaking major league baseball record for consecutive games played, Reed laughed. Of the activities honoring him, Reed said, “At the tailgate, they’ll have be say something. And then at the football game, I guess during one of the timeouts, I’ll just go out and they’ll announce me and I’ll give a nice wave. And that will be about it.”Then we’ll enjoy the football game, and hopefully get a win.”


UK women want to be ‘most disruptive team in America’

With mentions of sharks, blood in the water, attacks and wrath, Kentucky’s women’s team set an aggressive tone at the Southeastern Conference Media Days Tuesday.

Coach Matthew Mitchell made it plain what style he wanted in the 2014-15 season.

“He simply said he wants us to be the fastest, most disruptive team in America,” guard Bria Goss said.

Teammate Jennifer O’Neill emphasized the need to stay in attack mode.

“When we’re on defense, we’re going to be on offense, as well,” she said.

Mitchell and his players in the Charlotte cited Virginia Commonwealth’s men’s team as an example the UK women hope to emulate.

“Real aggressive, pressing and causing havoc,” O’Neill said.

Kentucky played that way two years ago. The Wildcats routinely frazzled opponents with pressure defense and fast-break offense.

Somehow, the team got away from the attacking style last season.

“I didn’t do a very good job as a coach giving our team enough reps in the press,” Mitchell said. “I had a veteran team and I just felt it’d sort of come together. So I learned a lesson. If you’re really going to be disruptive in a full-court press, you have to give your team a lot of reps. You have to practice that way.”

Recalling two seasons ago, O’Neill gave a vivid description of what it feels like to discombobulate an opponent.

“It’s like blood in the water,” she said, “and we’re a shark.”

Clearly, the Wildcats hope to make SEC waters unsafe for other teams this coming season.