Archive for May, 2011

This article was written by Kelly Patrick, a contributor with KentuckySports.co.

$7,000 was raised yesterday evening for Cancer research in Pennington, New Jersey for the first ever “Mary Kline Classic”. The event was organized by Alex Kline who runs TheRecruitScoop.com and serves as a ZAGSBLOG contributor.  Alex’s mother passed away after a long fight with Cancer and he has since put together this “All-Star” game to honor his late mother. The money that was raised will be donated to the American Cancer Association and National Brain Tumor Society.

They even had many highly rated high school basketballers from across the country, including (among others): Jabril Trawick, a 6-5 Georgetown signee, Isaiah Williams a Marshall commit, Khem Birch and John Johnson are both Pittsburgh commits and Birch is a McDonalds All-American, Tyler Harris (brother of Tobias Harris) is an NC State commit, Devin Coleman a Clemson commit, along with future Cardinal Angel Nunez.

Nunez impressed on the court, finishing with 11 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists. He made it to the finals of the dunk contest with a between-the-legs dunk off the bounce from the opposite side of the rim, but he did end up losing to Jabril Trawick in the finals.

Nunez’s athleticism and length really have me feeling more optimistic about this future Cardinal and it is good to hear he held his own in a game with such talented players.

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Two years ago Jeremy Tyler become the first to leave high school after his junior year to go overseas and play professional basketball instead of playing in college. Tyler may have been first at doing that but to Louisville basketball fans he is just another “what if” scenario player.

Tyler gave Rick Pitino and Louisville a verbal commitment in October of 2008, picking the Cards over local schools UCLA and USC. Like many verbal junior commits lately though to Louisville, Tyler changed his mind. Just 5 months later Tyler would announce his decision to skip his senior year of high school and go to play professional basketball in Israel. Tyler signed with the Maccabi Haifa of the Israeli Super League. After just playing in 10 games, averaging 2.1 points per game in just 7.6 minutes per game, Tyler quit the team due to frustration.

Still not able to enter the NBA draft, Tyler signed with the Tokyo Apache of Japan’s professional basketball league in July of 2010. He would show improvement and maturity in what would have been his freshman year in Japan. Playing in 33 games, he averaged 9.9 points on 51.7% shooting and 6.4 rebounds in 15.4 minutes per game.

Even after an improvement in attitude and stats in Japan, Tyler was still thought by many as at best a late second round pick in this years draft. Wasn’t until the NBA combine this past week that Tyler really begun to turn some heads. Tyler showed off his great athletic ability for a 6’11 255 pound center as well as a nice 20 foot jump shot. He has been moving up the mock drafts faster than any prospect on the board.

In a draft that is looked at as possibly the weakest in recent memory. A draft that I have seen at least seven overseas’ players thought to go in the first round. Tyler is becoming the rising star up the board. Still no sign of Terrence Jennings name though and that is enough to make Cardinal fans think “what if”.

Jeremy Tyler interview at NBA Combine this week

This article was written by Matt McCarthy, a contributor with KentuckySports.co.

WOW!  It appears one of my favorite QB’s in UK history has hit up one of his favorite chinese buffets too many times!

I love Jared Lorenzen, and it’s great to see him make a comeback in his professional career.  Jared has always been know for being the BIG guy behind center.  His reign as quarterback in his college days made him a Kentucky legend.  Although, he has always taken the brunt of many many fat jokes.  One thing you can’t joke about however, is his ability to excel at football in every form and fashion of his career.  He even has a Superbowl ring!  How many fat QB’s can say that?

Lorenzen initially was hired to be the River Monsters’ GM but got tired of the 9 to 5 and decided to get back on the field again.  He leads the UIFL in passing yards at 256.6 yards per game, and has a crazy efficiency rating of 107.1 . REDICULOUS.  He ranks second in the league with 69 touchdown passes.

Get this, Jared is listed as 290 pounds on the River Monsters official roster.  Ha ha Ha ha.  Look at the picture above and tell me that is a 290 pound man. I’m guessing he is more along the 320 pound range and that’s giving my the man a LOT of credit.

If there are two things we know about Jared, they are this:

  1. He doesn’t shy away from the dinner table
  2. he goes down in history as the most athletic, fat, 320 pound QB in professional football history.

I wish Jared all the luck in the world.  If he gains any more weight, that may be what he needs.  However, who am I to talk?  I’m the nonathletic 200 pound guy behind a computer with no Superbowl ring to speak of.  He has me beat.

This article was written by Hank Garrett, a contributor with KentuckySports.co.

Bellarmine’s head man Scotty Davenport joined the Louisville Sports Buzz radio show this morning.  Davenport who is also a former and University of Louisville assistant, and State Championship winning high school coach here in Kentucky with Ballard high school.  He has coached the likes of NBA great Alan Houston, and UofL great DeJuan Wheat.  Bellarmine is the reigning NCAA DII National Champion, and will return three starters and their top reserve from this past season championship team, which will more than likely make them a contender once again for a DII championship.

As the Knights prepare for another championship run they have decided they best way to prepare for that run is to play best, and I am not talking DII contenders.  Although nothing has been finalized Davenport announced his tentative exhibition schedule, and it is a murderer’s row. The Knights will go to Louisville, Duke, and Xavier in the pre-season.  Talk about not resting on your laurels,  all three of teams made the tournament this past march, and in numerous 2011-2012 pre-season ranking UofL and Duke have been ranked in the top ten.

Bellarmine has shown they can win these types of games; as they will look to run their winning streak to two against Xavier, beating them 63-61 last season in Cincinnati.  I look for Bellarmine to be very competitive against UofL as the success of Bellarmine and the expectations of UofL next season should make for an extremely exciting game.  Should make for a can’t miss ticket here in the Ville as some March type intensity will be in play in November.  The most intriguing game of the three is the trip to Cameron Indoor to play Duke.  This is a place that teams don’t come in and win especially teams out of the ACC.  Duke has won NCAA best 85 consecutive non-conference home games, with the last loss coming February 26th 2000 against St. John’s.  And pre-season game or no pre-season game Cameron Indoor will be rockin with Cameron Crazies as Bellarmine will face the toughest home court advantage in college basketball.

This article was written by Kelly Patrick, a contributor with KentuckySports.co.

D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, a 6-3 210 lb , top 25 prospect in the class of 2012 prospect according to both rivals.com and scout.com will be moving from Indiana to Mouth of Wilson, VA to attend prep school Oak Hill Academy for his senior season.  He has been receiving attention from multiple top programs nationally including Louisville, UCLA, Florida, Georgetown, Ohio State, Wake Forest and Texas.  This weekend Smith-Rivera visited Louisville, who have become a major player in his recruitment since Richard Pitino Jr. came back from Florida (where he was heavily recruiting Smith-Rivera) to join his father’s staff at the University of Louisville.

“I came down on Friday afternoon (To Louisville).  My parents came down with me as well as my little brother.  Coach (Rick) Pitino wanted me to come down this weekend for the visit and it was good.” Said Smith-Rivera.  “It was nice and everything was just as expected.  I am really good friends with Rodney Purvis and he talked about how beautiful the campus was and how all the gymnasiums and other (facilities) were really nice.  So it was a pretty good visit.”

Regarding his discussions with Pitino during his weekend visit “He told me he wanted me to play eighty percent at the point and twenty percent off the ball” Smith-Rivera said “What he said to me made a lot of sense and it was a great visit.  I have a lot of interest in Louisville right now.  They have (made me a priority) right now with (Richard )Pitino Jr. coming over from Florida where he was recruiting me.  And now that he has come to Louisville it was like putting two and two together so I am a pretty high priority I think.”

Smith-Rivera also said regarding the level of interest Louisville is showing him vs. other schools, UCLA in particular, “Louisville is recruiting me really hard right now and this will be my first time out to UCLA and there are a lot of things expected, maybe some things that could put them over the top.  It is all about a gut feeling for me right now.”

Aside from UCLA and Louisville, Texas and head coach Rick Barnes are said to be really putting a lot of energy into Smith-Rivera.  Smith-Rivera’s Spiece Indy Heat AAU coach Jared Quarles said regarding his visit to Texas: “He really liked it.  It made him want to be in Texas.  He toured the campus and saw the facilities.  Coach Barnes walked him around for a couple of hours.  I don’t know if he expected to be with coach (Barnes) that long.  Texas assistant coach (Chris) Ogden basically set everything up.  I know they really enjoyed it.  He really liked Coach Barnes’ attitude.  [It was] straight forward, letting him know where he stood, where he fit in the program.  Barnes told him he could get better in his program, which is something D’Vauntes can benefit from, especially with the guards they’ve (Longhorns) had.”

Apparently aside from many top schools in the country thinking Smith-Rivera’s stock is on the rise, he also seems pretty confident “I have really noticed a pickup in my game lately.  I think it is all the hard work I have been putting in and I think people are starting to realize I am the number one point guard in the class.  I just think with the work I am putting in and I go out there every day and bring it every game.  It is really paying off”, said Smith-Rivera.

In 2004 Louisville assistant coach Mick Cronin left Pitino’s staff to take the head coaching job at Murray State. After just three seasons as the Racers head man Cronin moved on to be the head coach at Cincinnati. His replacement Billy Kennedy this weekend left town to become the head coach at Texas A&M after a succesful five-year stint in Murray, Kentucky.

Could the local position opening be a good opportunity for  Kentucky assistant coach Orlando Antigua or Kenny Payne now?

With Rick Pitino watching assistant coach Steve Masiello move on to Manhattan College and the process of bringing in three new faces, well two new and one repeat, the odds of someone leaving his staff to take over somewhere are very unlikely. Kentucky on the other hand has a pair of assistant coaches in Antigua and Payne that are primed to take that next  step.

First there is Kenny Payne. He just finished his first year under Calipari at Kentucky and may not be ready for a head coaching job. Known more for his recruiting ties then his ability to perform X and O’s though, Payne did spend six seasons as an assistant at Oregon before joining Kentucky’s staff. In Payne’s tenure at Oregon, the Ducks won a Pac-10 title and made the Elite Eight in 2007. Losing to eventual champion Florida.

The Racers other Kentucky assistant option could be Orlando Antigua. Antigua has a better resume then his colleague Kenny Payne and may be better prepared to take over his first head coaching position.  He has worked under Calipari for the last three years (two at UK and one at Memphis) and has been a huge component in bringing in three straight recruiting classes to Calipari of historic proportions. Prior to his brief stay in Memphis, Antigua worked at his alma mater, Pittsburgh. Antigua spent five seasons at Pittsburgh were the Panthers won 20+ games each year as well as one Big East  regular season title and one Big East tournament title.

Would either of Calipari’s assistants want to leave a Kentucky bench and roster that is favored along with North Carolina as a favorite to win the national title this season?

Would Murray State be a big enough name to get a coach like an Antigua away from Calipari?

The answer to both those questions can only be told in time but it is certain they both might be ready to move on. My own opinion says that this would be a good move for Antigua. Payne may not be ready just yet to be a head man but Antigua, who has been Calipari’s right hand man the last three seasons should be ready. Why not make Murray State his first head job?

The Racers are coming off a OVC regular season title and were in the second round of the NCAA tournament the year before. Knocking off SEC Vanderbilt before falling to national runner-up Butler 54-52. Murray will bring back their top scorer in sophomore guard Isaiah Canaan and their top rebounder in junior forward Ivan Aska next season.

This article was written by Hank Garrett, a contributor with KentuckySports.co.

This past week, former Wake Forrest player/ former Louisville Cardinal commit Tony Woods made a visit to Lexington and met with the UK coaching staff but also met with athletic director Mitch Barnhart and President Lee Todd.  Now I am not sure what was discussed in that meeting, but I would say that Wood’s character and past transgressions were brought up; stemming from Wood’s arrest for assault of his girlfriend on Labor Day weekend in 2010.  Although I think there is absolutely nothing out of the ordinary with the A.D. and the President wanting to get a feel for a young man with a somewhat checkered past, it does show that the Kentucky program is going to maneuver this situation very carefully, if in fact that they do want Woods.  With caution is how they should proceed with Woods because of the potential backlash from the community.  Not to mention it may heighten the NCAA allegation lighting rod that is John Calipari.  But in the end if Cal does see something in Tony Woods that can help the program, and Barnhart and Todd don’t see it as a PR nightmare, I trust John Calipari one hundred percent.

When it comes to Public Relations John Calipari does not have an impeccable record.  The Derrick Rose SAT fiasco,  Tyreke Evans being present during a murder committed by his cousin, and the 2007 Memphis Men’s basketball bar fight that lead to the arrests of then players Shawn Taggart, and Jeffery Robinson.  But we all know by now that Calipari isn’t in this business to win a popularity contest, he is in it to win basketball games.  He doesn’t care what people say or write about him to almost a fault, and he won’t care about the criticism he will get if he takes Tony Woods.

One area where it is hard to find critisim about Cal is the product that he puts out on the floor year in and year out.  Not just the fact that his teams at both Memphis and Kentucky have won and won a lot. His teams seem to demonstrate certain chemistry and have not had the locker room problems that plague so many major college teams.   Which shows that in the locker room, in practice, and out on the floor, Cal is in Control.  In a sport where teenage premadonna egos run rampant control is sometimes a very difficult and fragile thing to have and John Calipari knows this.  So why would Cal risk the control that he has for a player like Tony Woods, when he seems to have the team that can give him his first national title?  The answer is he wouldn’t.  If Cal believes in any way that Tony Woods will be a problem on the court or disrupt the chemistry of this team they will not take him.  Cal knows how to manage egos and big personalities, look at the success he had with DeMarcus Cousins.   The questions about his character were almost as prominent as his talent.  Yet Cal was able to work his magic and prevented any major issues with Cousins, while Cousins was just a beast on the court, and helped lead Kentucky to 35-3 record and elite eight birth.  While Woods is in no way the talent Cousins is, but if Cal could keep Cousins in check I don’t see Tony Woods as problem under Cal and the fans and naysayers should see this too.

Big blue nation should have that faith because in Cal’s two seasons at the helm he has done nothing to show that he doesn’t know exactly what he is doing when it comes to winning basketball games.  If Kentucky were to take Tony Woods it would be for that reason, because Cal and the staff think he can help them win games.  Now there have been rumblings that taking woods would seem desperate, this thinking is just absolutely ridiculous.  Although all coaches may not admit on the record, but I would say most of them if the decision was left entirely up to them would take Tony Woods past and all.  That is because the coaches know that 6’11’ 250 pound players with a skill set that Wood’s has don’t just fall out of the sky, and they usually help you win games.   With all the talent that Kentucky will have next year if there is one hole it will be a in the middle, where they lack a true center.  Tony Woods can possibly fill that void plain and simple, and could possibly the difference maker in a tournament game when Kentucky needs a big rebound or to make a big stop.  If that were take place and Tony Woods character stayed at a high level, all the rumblings about Tony Woods would cease.  If Kentucky needs to take that gamble it is John Calipari’s decision, and no matter what it is I have complete faith that it will be the right one.