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October 27th, 2022

Should Derek Anderson Have Played in the ’97 Title Game? In Retrospect, a Former Teammate Says Yes

Posted by Tyler Bentley

 

A three-peat is one of the most prestigious honors for a sports team to accomplish, and only a select few have done it.  Michael Jordan did it twice with the Chicago Bulls, Kobe and Shaq did it with the Lakers, and I assume some teams in those other sports that nobody watches like baseball and hockey have also done it. But in the world of college basketball, one has to go back to John Wooden’s dynasty at UCLA to find a team that won three straight championships. From 1967 to 1973 the Bruins claimed back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back national titles. That was 50 years ago.  No team in college basketball has earned a three-peat since then. But our own University of Kentucky Wildcats were possibly one coaching decision away from earning that mark from 1996-1998. 

Rick Pitino’s decision to not play Derek Anderson in the 1997 championship game remains one of the most discussed “what if’s” in the history of UK basketball. Sandwiched between a 1996 championship banner, and a 1998 championship banner, the runner-up banner in Rupp Arena for the 1997 season serves as a constant reminder to the Big Blue Nation of what might have been (cue the Diamond Rio song). But should have Derek Anderson played against Arizona in ’97?  We recently talked to former Cat Cameron Mills, a teammate of Andersons, who brought some very interesting perspective to this long-standing debate.  

Let’s first go back to January 1997.  Kentucky was ranked #3 in the country, and were cruising through the season with the “Dynamic-Duo”, the “Thunder and Lightning” combination of Ron Mercer and Derek Anderson… 

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August 21st, 2022

Some Optimism And Some Hard Truth

Posted by Tyler Bentley

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s just about that time…FOOTBALL TIME IN THE BLUUUEEEEGRAAASSSS! And there is reason to be excited; I mean have you seen our roster?  As many long-suffering UK football fans can tell you, there were times where our starting lineup caused more anger than the lineup at Woodstock ’99. But now Mark Stoops has built a team that is deep at nearly every position, and has high-end SEC caliber talent at those positions.

Speaking of Mark Stoops, let us take a moment to reflect on what this year means for our coach. He is about to start his 10th season, which will make him the longest tenured coach we have ever had. In the 122-year history of Kentucky football, no coach has ever lasted more than 9 seasons. At some point within the first 3 games, Stoops will break Paul “Bear” Bryant’s record for most wins. It is also worth pointing out that Mark Stoops has been the head coach for 29% of all the bowl games the UK football program has ever played in.  But Stoops has only been the head coach for 7% of the history of the Kentucky football program. Let that sink in. What Mark Stoops has done here is miraculous and we need to start construction of his statue immediately.

It seems folks around the conference are finally starting to take notice as well, as the Cats finished second in the SEC Media Days predictions for the SEC East (behind only Georgia). UK also received 4 first place votes, which was four more than Florida and three more than Tennessee.

2022 SEC football preseason media poll order of finish

First place votes in parentheses

SEC East

  1. Georgia (172)
  2. Kentucky (4)
  3. Tennessee (1)
  4. Florida
  5. South Carolina (3)
  6. Missouri
  7. Vanderbilt (1)

SEC West

  1. Alabama (177)
  2. Texas A&M (3)
  3. Arkansas (1)
  4. Ole Miss
  5. LSU
  6. Mississippi State
  7. Auburn

With opening kickoff just a few days away, we decided to open up the old Lex Buds mailbag to see what you, the fans, want to know most about the upcoming season...

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August 7th, 2022

Something’s Got To Change Now

Posted by Tyler Bentley

In a candid interview with Lex, Buds, & Pick ‘n Roll, Kenny Walker discusses the need for John Calipari to make a Final Four this season, Shaedon Sharpe, and how he helped get Rick Pitino to UK.

Posted by:  Tyler Bentley

Kenny “Sky” Walker. The slam dunk champ. The number 2 all-time leading scorer in Kentucky history.  And personally, my favorite nickname ever associated with a UK player. We learned a lot from our recent interview with Kenny on Episode 91 of the Lex, Buds, & Pick ‘n Roll podcast, including: an incredible story involving Larry Bird, how he helped get Rick Pitino to Kentucky, the current state of the basketball program, and of course everyone’s favorite topic, Shaedon Sharpe.  Kenny was an open-book for the nearly two hours we spoke to him, and if you love UK basketball I would strongly encourage you to listen to the full interview wherever you get your podcasts (links at the end of the article).

But if you’re the type who always read the Cliff Notes before a test instead of actually reading the book, we’ve summed up all of the important stuff you’ll want to check out below. Warning, there are some hot takes!

Kenny Walker on John Calipari continuing to tout the number of UK players who get drafted each year:

“We don’t care how many guys you send to the NBA.”

“People are not impressed anymore with guys just coming to Kentucky and going to the NBA…They don’t give out a trophy for how many guys that play in the NBA.”

“Calipari’s got to be more real with himself.”

Contrary to the belief of John Calipari, NBA Draft night is not the most important night of the year for Kentucky fans. When UK is going to Final Fours and cutting down nets, it can be the icing on the cake to a spectacular season. But when we don’t have success in March, still bragging about how many guys we send to the league just doesn’t quite sit as well. Kenny says that he tells this to Coach Cal all the time: “We don’t care how many guys you send to the NBA. The only thing we care about is winning a championship. If we win a championship if one guy goes or the whole team goes we don’t care.  But you’ve got to win the championship and it’s been a long time since…

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June 19th, 2022

The Top 100 Most Influential People in UK Sports History Nos: 25-1

Posted by Tyler Bentley

“This is the final article in a series of 4.  Each article will highlight 25 of the most influential people in the history of the University of Kentucky athletic program, counting down from 100 to 1.  What makes a person “influential”?  We used a variety of criteria, including:  individual accomplishments, team accomplishments, impact to their particular sport, impact to the overall athletics program, cultural importance, and fan popularity.  You may disagree with some of our selections, and that’s OK. Our goal is to not only provide recognition to some of the most important names of the past, but to also create discussion amongst the Big Blue Nation. The greatest fanbase in all of sports.

 

#25:  Craig Skinner (Volleyball)

Craig Skinner brought high expectations when he was hired from his Assistant Coach position at perennial volleyball power Nebraska to be the head man at Kentucky.  After 17 seasons, the bar for success has been raised so high that Shagari Alleyne couldn’t reach it on his tip-toes.  That’s because in April 2021, Skinner did something that very few thought possible, which was winning a national championship at Kentucky (and briefly turning us into a Volleyball School).  Schools like UK just don’t win big-time volleyball games.  In fact, until 2021, the only school east of the Mississippi to win a title was Penn State, and there had NEVER been an SEC school to win it all.  Add in the fact that before Skinner arrived, the Cats had not had a winning season in the previous five years, and had not even made an NCAA Tournament since 1993, and that makes what he has done here even more impressive. 

#24:  Jomo Thompson (Cheerleading)

While Kentucky cheerleading is not a varsity program under the NCAA, it is a competitive sport that is operated and supervised by the athletic director (Mitch Barnhart).  Up until 2 years ago, former coach Jomo Thompson would have likely made this list under much different circumstances. As much as Coach Cal wants to talk about being the gold standard, there is nobody who better meets that definition than the UK cheerleaders.  They have won TWENTY-FOUR national championships. Eighteen of those titles were won under the leadership of head coach Jomo Thompson.  However, in the spring of 2020, Thompson was fired after an internal investigation revealed members of the squad took part in hazing activities, alcohol use, and public nudity at an annual off-campus team retreat at Lake Cumberland.  The media frenzy then followed, and it was a massive black-eye for the program, the athletic department, and the entire university.  Thompson’s influence, both good and bad, will have implications for the program for many years to come.

#23:  The Unforgettables (Sean Woods, Richie Farmer, John Pelphrey, Deron Feldhaus)

The Unforgettables deserved better.  That was part of what made the Laettner shot so painful.  Because not only did it prevent Kentucky from going to the Final Four, but it ended the careers of the most beloved quartet Kentucky fans had ever watched play.  The Unforgettables deserved better because

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June 12th, 2022

The Top 100 Most Influential People in UK Sports History Nos: 50-26

Posted by Tyler Bentley

This is the third article in a weekly series of 4.  Each article will highlight 25 of the most influential people in the history of the University of Kentucky athletic program, counting down from 100 to 1.  What makes a person “influential”?  We used a variety of criteria, including:  individual accomplishments, team accomplishments, impact to their particular sport, impact to the overall athletics program, cultural importance, and fan popularity.  You may disagree with some of our selections, and that’s OK. Our goal is to not only provide recognition to some of the most important names of the past, but to also create discussion amongst the Big Blue Nation. The greatest fanbase in all of sports.

 

#50:  Chanda Bell (Softball)

It wasn’t always expected that the University of Kentucky women’s softball team would make the NCAA Tournament.  In fact, UK had NEVER made an NCAA Tournament in 2009.  Which happens to be the first year Chanda Bell set foot on campus.  Head softball coach Rachel Lawson said it best, “She (Bell) was the catalyst of all the success the program has enjoyed over the past decade.”  Bell led Kentucky to its first four NCAA Tournament appearances, and their first Super Regional.  She was the first UK pitcher to throw a no-hitter in 2009, and would have four more of them before she finished, including the school’s first perfect game in her Senior season. Chanda is now the Associate Coach of the softball team at her home-state Indiana University.

#49:  Gay Brewer (Golf)

Gay Brewer grew up in Lexington and played most of his golf on a course that is now named in his honor.  While at Lafayette High School, he played golf with former Governor, John Y. Brown. Brewer initially went to UK on a football scholarship, since golf was not an official sport at that time. Brewer is best known for earning a green jacket when he won the 1967 Masters. He also was a member of the 1967 and 1971 Ryder Cup teams.  At the time of his passing, John Y. called Brewer “The Tiger Woods of golf in Lexington in the ‘50s.”  

#48:  Marsha Bond (Volleyball)

Marsha Bond is the only two-time All-American in the history of UK’s volleyball program (earning those awards in 1982 and 1983).  In her Senior season, Marsha led the Cats to their first ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament.  Her career .380 attack percentage was…

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June 5th, 2022

The Top 100 Most Influential People in UK Sports History Nos: 75-51

Posted by Tyler Bentley

This is the second article in a weekly series of 4.  Each article will highlight 25 of the most influential people in the history of the University of Kentucky athletic program, counting down from 100 to 1.  What makes a person “influential”?  We used a variety of criteria, including:  individual accomplishments, team accomplishments, impact to their particular sport, impact to the overall athletics program, cultural importance, and fan popularity.  You may disagree with some of our selections, and that’s OK. Our goal is to not only provide recognition to some of the most important names of the past, but to also create discussion amongst the Big Blue Nation. The greatest fanbase in all of sports.

#75:  Jeff Sheppard (Men’s Basketball)

Wanna feel old?  There is a large chunk of Kentucky fans who look at this picture and say, “Hey, that’s Reed’s dad!”  Not even knowing that Jeff Sheppard played on two national championship teams and was named the Most Outstanding Player in the 1998 NCAA Tournament.  For us old fogeys who remember “Reeds’ Dad”, if I close my eyes I can still see those curls at the top of the key, and the high-flying athleticism that the kid from Peachtree City, GA brought to every game he played in.  Here’s to hoping that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

#74:  Jerry Tipton (Media)

Jerry Tipton began his job at the Lexington Herald-Leader in 1981, and began to exclusively cover the basketball program as the papers beat writer in 1987.  While many members of the UK media are beloved (see our earlier posts on Alan Cutler and Rob Bromley), Jerry Tipton has always been the UK media figure that many UK fans love to hate.  While being constantly criticized for his negativity, don’t expect anything to phase Tipton.  After all, he still had to cover the team after the Herald-Leader printed their infamous article in 1985 detailing all of the NCAA violations that had been committed by the Commonwealth’s beloved basketball team.  The most entertaining part of a John Calipari press conference can often be the playful ribbing and back and forth between the coach and Mr. Tipton.

#73:  Hal Mumme (Football)

There was a time where Hal Mumme was on the fast-track to become one of the best coaches in college football.  Nobody would have guessed it when he was hired by C.M. Newton from Division II Valdosta State without a drop of D1 experience.  But the connection between he and quarterback Tim Couch was magical.  The “Air Raid” offense produced some of the most exciting offenses to ever take the field.  Mumme’s problem however, was that he didn’t bring the same excitement to the other side of the ball.  Oh, and that whole thing where he sent

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May 29th, 2022

The Top 100 Most Influential People in UK Sports History Nos: 100-76

Posted by Tyler Bentley

This is the first article in a weekly series of 4.  Each article will highlight 25 of the most influential people in the history of the University of Kentucky athletic program, counting down from 100 to 1.  What makes a person “influential”?  We used a variety of criteria, including:  individual accomplishments, team accomplishments, impact to their particular sport, impact to the overall athletics program, cultural importance, and fan popularity.  You may disagree with some of our selections, and that’s OK. Our goal is to not only provide recognition to some of the most important names of the past, but to also create discussion amongst the Big Blue Nation. The greatest fanbase in all of sports.

 

#100:  Jesse Witten (Men’s Tennis)

The 2002 SEC Freshman of the Year and 2005 SEC Player of the Year was the model of consistency during his time hitting massive forehands in Lexington.  Witten made an immediate impact his freshman year by making it to the NCAA Championship final.  His pro career was highlighted in 2009 when he not only qualified for the US Open, but won his first two matches before losing to all-time great Novak Djokovic in the 3rd round (a match in which Witten actually won the first set).

#99:  Marlana VanHoose (Other)

Nobody can bring tears to the eyes of 20,000 people quite like Marlana VanHoose.  Doctors told her parents that Marlana might not make it past her first birthday after being born with Cytomegalovirus (CMV), a disease which left her blinded for life.  But God had other plans for this young lady.  She has sung the national anthem at NASCAR races, the NBA playoffs, and even performed at the 2016 Republican National Convention. But it was her performance at a UK women’s basketball game in 2012 that gave Marlana the spark she needed, as video of beautiful rendition quickly went viral and made her a star.  Big Blue Nation has since learned to always get to their seat early if Marlana is scheduled to sing.

#98:  James Johnson (Wrestling)

He is the only Kentucky wrestler to have his name listed in the University of Kentucky athletics Hall of Fame.  The man was sculpted like a Greek god, as evidenced by the fact that his closest friends referred to him as “Zeus.”  But when Johnson passed away in 2019, he was remembered more for his friendly smile than muscular physique.  After finishing his final season at UK with a second-place finish at the 1980 SEC Championships, Johnson went on to have…

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May 2nd, 2022

20 Things John Calipari Should Change This Off-season

Posted by Tyler Bentley

Saint. Peter’s. Peacocks.  The University of Kentucky men’s basketball team, the gold standard of college basketball, lost to the freaking Peacocks.  It sucked.  There’s no other way to put it.  Everyone wants an answer for how this happened, and many fans across Big Blue Nation are casting most of the blame for this failed NCAA Tournament on the head coach, John Calipari.  What started as low rumblings from a small portion of the fanbase a few years ago, has now grown exponentially into large numbers of fans shouting from the rooftops to voice their frustration with Coach Cal.

The fanbase is now all over the place; some want him fired, others think he can do no wrong; some think he needs to change his system, others think he has proven his system has worked over the last 30 years of his Hall of Fame career.  Count me somewhere in the middle.  I’m not in the fire Cal camp, but also think the fans have every right to be critical of the performance of Calipari’s teams the last several years.

With all that being said, here is my list of things I wish John Calipari would change going into the 2022-2023 season.  As you will see, some are serious and some are completely ridiculous, because that’s how we do things around here at Lex, Buds & Pick ‘n Roll.

#1:  Calling timeouts at the end of games

If unused timeouts could be rolled over like unused sick days each year, John Calipari could spend more of his life in timeout than a 3-year-old toddler.  This may have been the single most frustrating moment of the St. Peter’s game, when Kentucky had a chance to win in regulation, and the best shot we could get off was a rushed, off balanced 18-footer from TyTy Washington.  We have seen this result play out time and time again, for Cal to only lament in the post-game interview that he probably should have called a timeout at the end.  Cal defends his logic by saying that he doesn’t want to give the other team a chance to change defenses.  But is it too much to ask of our Hall of Fame coach that he draw up TWO plays in the timeout?  I guess it is.

Zack Morris had a supernatural ability to stop time to prevent bad things from happening.  John Calipari refuses to call timeout to prevent losses from happening.

#2:  Sign the dimpled basketballs

If you’ve ever stayed after a game at Rupp Arena for the post-game show, you know that Calipari graciously will sign autographs on basketballs during the show.  Yet he always asks fans to not give him a “dimpled” ball to sign because

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March 15th, 2022

How To Win Your Office NCAA Tournament Pool

Posted by Tyler Bentley

Follow the rules in this article and you will become legen…wait for it…dary in your workplace every March.

You know the type.  The person at your job who has little to no knowledge of college basketball other than occasionally keeping up with the Cats.  Let’s just call them Susie.  Then March rolls around, and you see Susie sign up for your office bracket pool, and you think to yourself, “why are they even bothering? They have no chance of winning!”  That’s because you know everything there is to know about college basketball.  You watch every game, scouting for strengths and weaknesses of Final Four contenders, yet year after year, Susie (or someone like her) kicks your tail in an NCAA Tournament pool, and you are just left to wonder how this happened. 

Whether you are like the college basketball know-it-all in this scenario, or maybe you find yourself to be more like Susie, we are here to provide you with some valuable insight that is guaranteed* to help you win your office NCAA Tournament Pool (*unless Susie is in your office too, then good luck).

There are certain mistakes that every contestant in a bracket pool makes. Casual players may make decisions based upon the school’s mascot, color uniform, or by name recognition.  “Experts” often make the mistake of…

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December 6th, 2021

Denied! Can Kentucky Make a Final Four Without Protecting the Rim?

Posted by Tyler Bentley

Rejections.  Stuffs.  Facials.  Swats.  Denials.  Whatever you want to call them, there is no understating the impact a huge blocked shot can have on the momentum of a basketball game.  In a sport that features some of the best athletes in the world, a blocked shot can show that one player is just more physically dominant in the paint than their opponent.  There is also the intimidation factor that is caused by an elite shot blocker.  We all remember in 2012 when opponents would drive to the goal, only to see Anthony Davis there and decide “Uh, never mind. I’ll dribble this one back out.”  As Kentucky basketball fans, we have been blessed to see some of college basketball’s most elite shot blockers: Davis, Nerlens Noel, Willie Cauley-Stein, Sam Bowie, and a host of others. 

After seeing the 2021-2022 edition of the Wildcats for a couple of games, there is a possibility that blocking shots will not be one of the strengths of this team.  But how important is it really?  One could argue that if you play elite man-to-man defense and don’t let your guy beat you, then you don’t really need to block a lot of shots.  On the other hand, some of the best teams in history have had at least one of these players:

Anthony Davis shattered UK’s single season block record with 186 in leading the Cats to the 2012 title; The 2015 team who went 38-1 featured TWO of the best shot blockers in school history:  Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl-Anthony Towns; Jamaal Magloire and Nazr Mohammed finished with top 10 seasons for blocked shots in 1997 and 1998, respectively, in taking the Cats to a runner-up and national title finish…

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October 25th, 2021

The Definitive Lexington Donut Rankings

Posted by Tyler Bentley

With all due respect to Disney World, I think donut shops are the happiest place on earth. The lines are heck of a lot shorter, and it will only cost you a few dollars.  Not to mention, the aroma of a donut shop is what I imagine it will smell like in Heaven. Nothing gets me salivating quite like the smell of donuts frying, fresh icing, and a hint of some freshly brewed coffee in the air. You don’t even have to be in the donut shop to feel the excitement either.  Is there anything better than getting to work and finding that one of your amazing colleagues has left a couple boxes of donuts in the breakroom?  A box of donuts can instantly change your outlook for the day. It is one of the few foods that are loved universally, and if you don’t like donuts, I’m not sure we can be friends.

As a self-proclaimed donut connoisseur, I have been an active member of the Lexington donut scene for quite some time now.  It has become an almost every weekend tradition for our family to wake up on Saturday and head out for a box of deep-fried goodness. Sometimes before we even get out of our pajamas. As a frequent visitor to every Lexington location over the years, I decided to once and for all settle the argument of best donut in Lexington. 

Over the course of about 2 months, I visited a different Lexington donut shop every weekend (these are the sacrifices I am willing to make as a writer for Lex, Buds, & Pick ‘n Roll. Someone had to do it). At each stop I got an original glazed and some sort of specialty donut.  The glazed serves as a basis for comparison, as this is something every shop has. I then gave each donut a score on a scale of 1-10, and noted the pros and the cons of my experience there.  Finally, I created categories, as there may be different things that you are looking for out of your donut experience. For example, where should you go if you are in a hurry and need to be in and out, or if you’re heading to tailgate at Kroger Field…

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August 30th, 2021

Kentucky Football Season Preview and bold predictions

Posted by Tyler Bentley

Ladies and gentlemen, it is just about that time….FOOTBALL TIME IN THE BLUUUUUEEEEEEGRAASSSSSS!  There is quite a buzz in Lexington this year, and it’s not just coming from the fraternity and sorority houses on campus.  At SEC Media Days the Cats were predicted to finish 3rd in the SEC East Division (behind Georgia and Florida) and even received some first and second place votes.  After years of getting less respect than Rodney Dangerfield, it seems that at least folks in the SEC are finally beginning to take notice that there is some real football being played in Lexington.  

With opening kickoff just a few days away, we decided to open up the old Lex Buds mailbag to see what you, the fans, want to know most about the upcoming season.  I picked 4 questions, that will in turn, lead to 4 bold predictions for the upcoming season.

Question #1:  “How much of a difference do you think Liam Coen makes on offense and will Mark Stoops let him have control of the reigns?” – Edward, Pikeville

After 5 years of fan frustration at the conservative play-calling from Eddie Gran, preceded by fan frustration at the conservative play-calling from Shannon Dawson, preceded by fan frustration at the (shockingly) conservative play-calling from Neal Brown, a breath of fresh air at the offensive coordinator position was much needed.  

Liam Coen comes to Kentucky from the LA Rams, where he served as the Assistant Quarterbacks coach.  An optimist might see the NFL experience and the pro-style offense to be exactly what Kentucky needs.  A pessimist might see that Rams QB Jared Goff threw for the fewest number of yards, and fewest TD’s in 3 years with Coen as his position coach. Another refrain from the pessimists is that it doesn’t matter who Mark Stoops hires because he isn’t going to allow anyone to come in and take away his ground and pound philosophy…

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July 12th, 2021

What if past UK players could have signed endorsement deals?

Posted by Tyler Bentley

June 24, 2021 may go down as one of the most pivotal days in the storied history of the University of Kentucky basketball program.  There were no games won, or banners raised, but rather it was an executive order issued by Governor Andy Beshear that will go down as a watershed moment in UK Athletics.  Thanks to Beshear, college athletes in the state will be able to make money from their name, image, and likeness.

For many who support NIL, this has been a long time coming.  While it is great news for today’s student-athletes, it is unfortunate for all of the past Kentucky players who never had the opportunity to benefit from endorsement deals during their time in Lexington.  Which got us here at Lex, Buds, & Pick ‘n Roll thinking, what if NIL had always been in existence?  What would have been some of the ideal business partnerships between companies and players?  After careful consideration, here are the top advertisements and slogans we would have liked to have seen for past UK basketball players:

Player:  Jamaal Magloire

Spokesperson for:  Central Kentucky Chiropractic

Slogan:  “Ask for the Wojo!”

Is your back giving you pain?  Do you have a constant crick in your neck?  Are you an annoying 5’11’’ point guard from Duke who was criminally given the 1998 Defensive Player of the Year award?  If so, visit Dr. Billy Packer and ask for “the Wojo”.  Dr. Packer’s office will bend over backwards to help meet your needs.  And if anyone knows about manipulating someone’s spine to get it in the right position, it’s Jamaal Magloire...

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May 3rd, 2021

THE TOURNAMENT: A BRACKET OF UK PLAYERS UNDER JOHN CALIPARI

Posted by Tyler Bentley

Now that the NCAA Tournament is over, I am having bracket withdrawal.  Even without Kentucky in the 2021 field, I still got an emotional high from filling out a bracket, following the rankings in my office pool, and betting on individual games (of course I send all my money to foreign countries since Kentucky’s legislature is still acting like we live in the 1800s).  So let’s keep the bracket hype going!  With the season now officially over, I’ve seeded the top 68 players of the John Calipari era from 2010-2021, and put them into a bracket.  

Download Or Print Full Bracket Template Here (PDF)

Before you completely rip apart my rankings, I would like to say this was a very difficult process.  How do you compare steady 4-year players like Darius Miller and Alex Poythress to good but not great one-and-done’s like Archie Goodwin and Tyler Herro?  Do you give a player more credit for being a role player on great team like Devon Booker, or being the best player on a bad team like Davion Mintz?  I will grant you, this is completely subjective to the things I valued more.  

I present to you the 68 players and their respective seed for The Tournament. The seeds are in no particular order, meaning I did not rank all the players 1-68.  In my mind the 4 best players of the Calipari era were John Wall, Demarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, and Tyler Ulis.  So they were all given 1 seeds, but were placed in random order…

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April 18th, 2021

HOW DO KENTUCKY’S INCOMING FRESHMEN COMPARE TO PLAYERS WITH THE SAME RANKING IN PREVIOUS YEARS?

Posted by Tyler Bentley

John Calipari’s 2021 recruiting class may end up being the worst ranked class of his tenure at Kentucky.  From 2009-2020, Kentucky had the honor of having the #1 or #2 ranked class every single year.  However, as it currently stands, the Cats would finish with the FIFTH best class for the upcoming season; finding themselves behind Michigan, Florida State, Duke, and Villanova.  While there is still time for this to change, it is unlikely that even another signing from this class would move them up more than a spot or two. 

The current class includes 3 signees (247Sports composite ranking):  Damion Collins (#11), Bryce Hopkins (#27), and Nolan Hickman (#31).  We decided to take a look at every recruiting class for the past 12 years, to see how other players turned out that were ranked in the same position as these 3.  In other words, how did the players ranked #11, #27, and #31 each year do at their respective colleges.  What we found was pretty interesting, and also provides some serious optimism about how good these guys could be. 

Below we break down the good, the mediocre, and the ugly, for a best-case/worst-case scenario of how each of this year’s recruits could be looked upon after their time at Kentucky is done.  Please note, each comparison is only based upon what a player did in college and with their originally committed school.  If a player transferred for example, I viewed that as a negative, because well, we hope all of these guys have success while they are here at Kentucky and not at say, UCLA, where they set all-time scoring records in the NCAA Tournament and lead their team… 

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March 10th, 2021

The 10 Best SEC Tourament games under John Calipari

Posted by Tyler Bentley

Never before has there been so much at stake in the SEC Tournament as there will be for this year’s Kentucky Wildcats.  What started as a team with a pre-season top 10 ranking and potential Final Four upside, has now finished as a team of desperation.  The team and all of Big Blue Nation are clinging to one final chance at making the NCAA Tournament, hoping that this team can do what it has failed to do during the entire regular season:  win 4 consecutive games.

As we all spend the next few days analyzing the SEC Tournament bracket and talking ourselves into how we can see this team winning the whole thing, let’s take a stroll down memory lane at the 10 best SEC Tournament games of the John Calipari era.  We all need a little dose of optimism and to remember the glorious times of tournaments past.  

 #10:  March 15, 2015:  34-0

Kentucky finished off its perfect regular season with a dominating performance in the 2015 SEC championship game.  Cruising to a 78-63 victory over Arkansas.  It was their 34th straight victory, and after the game the players decided to send the student managers out to cut down the nets because they were waiting to cut down the ones at the Final Four (*insert crying emoji*).  Check out the highlights and tell me how in the world this team ever lost a game…

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January 28th, 2021

THE ROUND-ROBIN OF SHAME: BILLY CLYDE’S 2009 NIT TEAM VS. JOHN CALIPARI’S 2013 AND (SOON TO BE) 2021 NIT TEAMS

Posted by Tyler Bentley

You don’t have to be a Basketball Benny to know bad basketball when you see it.  It has become abundantly clear to anyone who was watched this year’s Kentucky basketball team, that they just aren’t very good.  They can’t shoot.  They make too many turnovers.  They take terrible shots.  They have a low basketball IQ.  And they can’t score, which is usually imperative to winning a basketball game.  But other than that, they have looked great!

As lifelong members of the BBN, we have all seen some great teams over the course of our lifetimes.  What we haven’t seen much of are teams like this 2021 squad, that just flat-out stink.  With the possibility of a 3rd trip to the NIT barreling towards us like a freight train, I decided to host a make-believe round-robin to determine if this is in fact the worst time of the last 30 years.

The competition?  The other 2 NIT teams of 2009 and 2013.  If you are like me and tried to block the memories of those teams from your brain or if you were ever flashy-thinged by Tommy Lee Jones, here is a rundown of the staring 5, bench players, and KenPom rankings for each team…

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December 20th, 2020

IGNORING KENTUCKY: HOW JOHN CALIPARI’S REFUSAL TO USE IN-STATE TALENT IS HURTING THE PROGRAM AND Alienating THE FANBASE

Posted by Tyler Bentley

 “Hey, Coach, is Richie gonna play tonight?”  For years this was the number one question on every single Kentucky basketball call-in show in the late 80s.  For those of you too young to remember, “Richie” is former Kentucky Wildcat basketball player Richie Farmer, and he may be the most beloved player to ever wear the Blue and White to only average 7.6 points per game. 

Why the popularity for a kid with such a meager scoring average?  Well, a lot of it had to do with the fact that Richie grew up in Manchester, Kentucky, deep in the heart of the mountains of eastern Kentucky, where he led tiny Clay County High School to the 1987 Kentucky State Basketball Championship.  A game in which they defeated Louisville Ballard who happened to have a future NBA superstar named Allan Houston. 

By the time Richie finished his senior season in another clash with Ballard in the state finals (this time Clay Co. lost but Farmer set a title game record with 51 points), tens of thousands of Kentuckians had seen him play, and fallen in love with his game.  They couldn’t wait to see him suit up for their beloved Wildcats in Lexington and show the world how a Kentucky boy can ball.

Flash forward to 2020, where before the season started the average Kentucky fan had never seen a single minute of John Calipari’s incoming freshman class play basketball, or even know what they look like.  I’m not sure if before the season started I could tell Terrence Clarke from Sir Basil Clarke (for you history nerds he was an English war correspondent during WWI)…

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December 6th, 2020

MIXED EMOTIONS: HOW DO WE EVALUATE THE 2020 KENTUCKY FOOTBALL SEASON?

Posted by Tyler Bentley

Just like all of 2020, this Kentucky football season has been a rollercoaster of emotions.  We’ve experienced the good (hammering archrival Tennessee), the bad (an overtime loss to Ole Miss), the ugly (blowout losses to Alabama and Florida), and the devastating (the passing of John Schlarman and illness of Chris Oats).  

Depending on the week, I have finished watching a Kentucky football game feeling depressed, angry, optimistic, flabbergasted, overjoyed, confused, and disheartened.  For every 1 step forward, it seemed there were always 2 steps back.  So, with all of these mixed emotions we have experienced as a fanbase this season, the question remains:  How do we remember this season overall? 

Should we be angry and say that a 4-6 record is unacceptable, or accept it because this was the most difficult schedule we’ve ever faced?  Should we be disappointed that the team seemed to absolutely quit during blowout losses, or accept it because these are kids trying to play through a pandemic and the loss of one of their coaches?  Should we be extremely critical of the coaching staff and demand that changes be made, or accept that they have never been through anything like this either?  I honestly don’t know, and have a feeling that many in the BBN don’t know either. So let’s have a little therapy session together.  Pull up a seat, grab a glass of bourbon, and let’s talk these issues out. 

Should we be angry and say that a 4-6 record is unacceptable?  If there is one emotion I think we can all agree upon about this season, it’s disappointment.  When the schedule was released, there was legitimate optimism for an 8-2 season, but most predictions were somewhere around 7-3 or 6-4, and a sense that anything under 5 wins would be disappointing.  Personally, I thought 5 wins was a worst-case scenario for this team.  You have to go all the way back to 2015 (which seems like an eternity ago right now), to find the last time Kentucky didn’t have a winning record (Stoops finished 5-7 that year).  After seeing the last 4 seasons end with 7, 7, 10, and 8 wins respectively, I felt as a program that we were beyond sub .500 seasons and certainly feel it is unacceptable for a team with as much talent as this one to not have a winning record…

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August 8th, 2020

Top 5 Differences Between A Teaching Job & Office Job

Posted by Tyler Bentley

Did you ever think about becoming a teacher?  Were you inspired by Michelle Pfeifer in Dangerous Minds or Hilary Swank in Freedom Writers and thought you too could make a difference in the lives of kids who others had given up on?  Or maybe you thought it looked like fun to be like Jack Black in School of Rock and be the funny, crazy, teacher who does all kinds of hands on projects with students. Or perhaps it just sounds awesome to have a couple months off in the summer.  Well friends, I lived the life of a teacher for 8 years, and 5 years ago I made the decision to quit teaching and enter the business world. During this time, I’ve observed a lot of differences between teaching in a classroom vs. working in an office.  With all of the recent discussion of how schools should proceed with educating our children during a pandemic, I thought that for my latest article on Lex, Buds, & Pick ‘n Roll, that I would share these differences with you.

Difference #1:  Going to the Bathroom

After years of “holding it” for hours at a time until my planning period, I’m pretty sure I developed the bladder of a camel.  And for those instances when you just had to go, good luck finding someone who can come watch your kids for 30 seconds while you sprint down the hallway.  On the first day in my office job, I found it strange that people would just get up from their desk whenever they wanted.  “You mean people can just go to the bathroom, WHENEVER THEY WANT!  I don’t have to try to call a co-worker to come watch my desk while I’m gone?” It literally took me months to get used to the strangeness of coming and going from my desk anytime I needed to…

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July 9th, 2020

Lexbuds Classic Podcast Clip – Tyler Rants About UK Fans Telling Him To “Sit Down” At Games

June 24, 2020

Lexbuds Pick Their UK Basketball Presidential Cabinet

 

Anthony Davis – Secretary of Defense?

On Episode 11 of The Lex, Buds, & Pick ‘n Roll podcast, co-hosts Brandon and Tyler each take their shot at building the perfect Presidential Cabinet, comprised entirely of UK basketball players from the past 30 years

Listen to episode 11 now on  AnchorApple SpotifyGoogle or visit our podcast page.

Lexbuds UK Basketball Presidential Cabinet Picks

President of the United States:  Before we can build a cabinet, you must first have a President. Which former UK player has the leadership, charisma, and intelligence to be the leader of the free world?

Brandon’s PickAnthony Epps.  The starting point guard on 2 of the greatest Kentucky teams in 96 and 97, Anthony Epps is often forgotten. However, there is no doubting his leadership skills and toughness to make the correct decision.  All of which are important traits for a president.

Tyler’s PickKarl-Anthony Towns.  If you want someone who cares about people, and will kill his political opponents with kindness, look no further than KAT.  Anyone who has ever met Karl, will tell you that he is one of the nicest people you will ever find.  President Towns would make every decision with empathy to those that would be affected.

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Lexbuds Exclusive! An in-depth podcast interview with coach Billy Gillispie

Don’t miss our exclusive 30 minute podcast interview with former UK Men’s Basketball Coach and current Tarleton State Mens Basketball Coach, Billy Gillispie.  Would Coach Gillispie return to Rupp Arena for a game? What was it like to witness Jodie Meeks’ school-record 54 point game?  Who is the one player that Coach Gillispie could not defend? What were his feelings on being the coach at UK?  You’ll want to stay until the very end for this candid and revealing interview with Coach Gillispie.

Click here to listen now on Anchor.fm or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or find us on your favorite podcast provider.

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