Posted on: November 29, 2008 10:51 am
Edited on: November 29, 2008 10:51 am

UK's Liggins thinks he's Stephon Marbury

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Jodie Meeks was again fabulous late Friday (37 points on 11-of-17 shooting), which was good and necessary for Kentucky because the Wildcats were down a guard in their 74-72 victory over Kansas State.

Was somebody injured, you ask?


The reality is that freshman DeAndre Liggins pulled a Stephon Marbury and refused to enter the game in the second half after playing just two minutes in the first half, according to Brett Dawson of the Louisville Courier-Journal and Jerry Tipton of the Lexington Herald-Leader. Not only did this put Billy Gillispie in a bind, but it forced starting point guard Michael Porter to play 36 minutes even though he'll have to be on the court again Saturday -- less than 24 hours after Friday's final horn -- when UK meets West Virginia in the finals of the Las Vegas Invitational.

"He played very gutsy, because he was totally physically drained and worn out," Gillispie said of Porter. "He needed to be rested. He needed to not play so many minutes. But he had to. He showed a lot of toughness and grittiness."

And Liggins?

"I was really surprised by (his refusal to enter the game), but it's a freshman that's really competitive that wants to play all the time, and when you don't get to play all the time, sometimes you make mistakes like that," Gillispie said. "Hopefully it won't be repeated."

On one hand, this is bad. But on another it might be exactly what Gillispie needs to rally his willing and able players into an us-against-the-world mindset, because if there's one thing players don't like it's feeling like they were abandoned by a teammate (see Quintin Richardson's recent comments about Marbury as proof). That's why it's reasonable to suggest the players will side with Gillispie on this one, which means Gillispie might finally have everybody on his side and by extension the motivating factor needed to get this season turned around.

As for Liggins, I'll say this: The guy has been given every opportunity to play as many minutes as he could ever want, if only because UK has no great options at point guard. But he's been a huge disappointment so far (17 assists and 17 turnovers through five games), nowhere near good enough to throw fits. So if he's smart he'll apologize to his teammates and coaches, get into the gym, get better and start trying to be the point guard Kentucky so desperately needs him to be instead of the distraction he was Friday night when Gillispie wisely decided to limit his minutes in the spirit of winning a key non-league match-up only to have Liggins limit them further, and in a shameful way.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: November 14, 2008 10:15 pm

UK would finish last in the Big South every year

My God, Kentucky has done it again.

It's unbelievable, really.

But I just watched the program with the greatest combination of money, tradition and delusional fans lose in early November to an out-classed opponent for the second consecutive season, and it's about the craziest thing I've ever seen. I mean, seriously, how does this happen? Kentucky losing at home to a Gardner-Webb or VMI should be a once-in-a-decade thing, at worst. But somehow the Wildcats have managed to turn it into an annual event, and we might have to start adding it to our calendars.


October 31: Halloween
November 11: Veterans Day
November 16: Kentucky Meltdown Day
November 26: Thanksgiving

(That seems about right, doesn't it?)

Last year Kentucky lost its second game to Gardner-Webb, a team that finished fifth in the Atlantic Sun.

This year the Wildcats lost their opener to VMI, a team picked seven in the Big South.

My first thought: UK was fortunate it didn't have to mess around with Radford (picked second in the Big South) or Liberty (picked fourth in the Big South). That could've gotten really ugly, and nobody needs to see that.

My second thought: That dead cat from yesterday should be fitted for a Patrick Patterson jersey because you can't be a serious All-American candidate and let your team lose its opener to VMI while taking just four shots and finishing with eight points in a game played in the hundreds. That's unacceptable.

But it happened.

So now UK is off to a rough start.


And top-ranked UNC is on deck.

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Kentucky, VMI
Posted on: November 13, 2008 2:41 pm

You got me a dead cat in a UK shirt? Thanks!

A reader passed this along, and I have to post it because it's too bizarre to ignore. Apparently, right now on the internet, you can buy a "University of Kentucky Slam Dunkin' Wildcat" for $1,000, and if you're wondering what that entails, well, keep reading.

From the ad (found at this link):

This taxidermy project measures approx. 54"tall,31"wide,& 12"deep. Legally taken and has VA state tag affixed to rear leg. This is a great gift for your favorite UK Basketball fan. Originally $1,500.00, and now offered at $1,000.00 plus shipping. Thank you for your time.

In other words, you can get a dead and preserved cat, in a Kentucky uniform, dunking a basketball.

For $1,000 (plus shipping and handling).

Holy crap.

What ever happened to bobbleheads?

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Kentucky
Posted on: November 5, 2008 10:06 am

Dear Gary (on Kentucky's preseason ranking)

Here's Wednesday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: Do you think the fact that Billy Gillispie is a guy who works so hard that he makes other coaches look bad hurts Kentucky in the Coaches poll. I totaled the votes and they basically have us 40th. I am biased so I won't say where I think we should be ranked. But let's just say it's a lot higher than 40th. Especially when Florida is 20th.

-- Dustin

Yes, Gillispie works hard, but I'm not sure he "makes other coaches look bad" to the point where it hurts Kentucky in any poll. Hell, most successful coaches work hard. But I will acknowledge that Gillispie has rubbed some guys the wrong way with the early Madness, recruiting of young kids, etc., though I've defended him on those issues because I don't see them as problems the NABC or NCAA should be concerning themselves with, not with the number of real problems that exist. I mean, who cares if Madness is a week early? And if you're not recruiting (or at least familiarizing) yourself with eighth-graders and freshmen in this culture you will find yourself way behind.

Now to the ranking (or lack thereof).

I honestly don't understand how a roster that lost Ramel Bradley, Joe Crawford and Derrick Jasper could be projected as a preseason Top 25 team considering the recruiting class Kentucky enrolled isn't spectacular or highlighted by an obvious huge-impact star. If you agree with that -- and you should -- then we're really only arguing about whether Kentucky should be 29th, 41st, 32nd, 38th or whatever. To that, I'll just tell you that there's never much difference between the 30th-best and 40th-best teams in any given college basketball season, so if somebody has them 40th that's OK with me.

If you're curious, I had Kentucky 31st when I ranked the teams through the top 50.

Again, anywhere from 30 to 40 is reasonable.

As for Florida, think of it this way: There wasn't much that separated Florida and Kentucky last season. Yes, UK was better. But it wasn't by a large margin, and either way you have to agree that ...

A) Florida didn't lose as much.

B) Florida returned more.

C) Florida added more.

Nobody could argue those points.

Which is why the Gators are picked ahead of UK in the SEC.

That said, I still believe in Kentucky because I believe in Gillispie as a coach. My guess is he'll take this roster and do more with it because the players won't spend November and December trying to call a bluff that isn't a bluff. In other words, they'll be on board from the outset this time, which should help avoid any embarrassing early losses that might make the road to the NCAA tournament difficult. But I'm still picking the Wildcats third in the SEC and starting them outside the Top 25 (and one) because, well, that's where they ought to be.

Posted on: October 27, 2008 11:11 am

Dear Gary (on what makes a "top 10" program)

Here's Monday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: I see you called Arizona one of the "top 10 programs in America" last week. I'm fairly sure you also stated as much about Indiana when that job was open. So what are the top 10 programs?

-- Brian

What I mean when I describe something as a "top 10 program" is that it should be one of the top 10 programs in America when everything is going the right way. Obviously, that's not the case at Arizona right now. But assuming Jim Livengood makes a great hire I believe Arizona will again establish itself as one of the top 10 programs in America.

Does that make sense?

If not, try to think of it like this: Pretend you are the nation's hottest coaching candidate and attached to no particular school or region. Now pretend every school wants to hire you and then try to determine which 10 jobs would give you the best chance to succeed based upon factors like the level of national prestige, the recruiting advantages (geographic or otherwise), the passion of the fanbase and the commitment from the administration.

That's how you determine a great program.

In that case, my list would probably look like this:

1. North Carolina
3. Duke
4. Kansas
5. Ohio State
6. Texas
7. Kentucky
8. Arizona
9. Indiana
10. Connecticut

Posted on: October 12, 2008 8:19 pm

Orton commits to Kentucky

Kentucky managed to keep instate rival Louisville from stealing all the headlines this weekend when it gained a commitment from Class of 2009 star Daniel Orton. The 6-foot-10 center announced his intention to play for the Wildcats at a Sunday press conference, giving Billy Gillispie an obvious insurance policy in case Patrick Patterson enters the NBA Draft after his sophomore season.

Orton is rated as the 12th-best senior in the nation by Scout.com.

He had additional offers from Oklahoma State, Ohio State and a host of other schools.

With Orton off the board, that means13 of the top 20 prospects in Scout.com's Class of 2009 rankings have committed to sign with a particular school next month. Here's an up-to-date rundown of the list:

1. Derrick Favors (uncommitted)

2. John Wall (uncommitted)

3. John Henson (committed to North Carolina)

4. Xavier Henry (uncommitted)

5. Renardo Sidney (uncommitted)

6. DeMarcus Cousins (committed to UAB)

7. Lance Stephenson (uncommitted)

8. Kenny Boynton (uncommitted)

9. Abdul Gaddy (committed to Arizona)

10. Avery Bradley (committed to Texas)

11. Ryan Kelly (committed to Duke)

12. Daniel Orton (committed to Kentucky)

13. Jordan Hamilton (committed to Texas)

14. Alex Oriakhi (committed to Connecticut)

15. Dominic Cheek (uncommitted)

16. Wally Judge (committed to Kansas State)

17. Dante Taylor (committed to Pittsburgh)

18. Dexter Strickland (committed to North Carolina)

19. Mason Plumlee (committed to Duke)

20. Thomas Robinson (committed to Kansas)

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: October 11, 2008 12:40 am

Patrick Patterson has an afro and new uniform

Kentucky unveiled its new basketball uniforms at a press conference Friday.

They are, um, snazzy.

Here's a link to some photos.

Check them out.

(I like the national championship years on the waistband the best.)

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Kentucky
Posted on: September 26, 2008 1:04 am
Edited on: September 26, 2008 1:05 am

So who is the best coach in the SEC?

There's a poll on the college basketball page right now asking for the best coach in the SEC.

As I type, Billy Gillispie (37 percent) is leading (hello, Kentucky fans!), followed by Billy Donovan (33 percent) and Bruce Pearl (18 percent). And when I looked at the poll I was reminded of a comment Pearl made last weekend when I told him Tennessee fans were taunting Florida fans at the hotel bar (the night before the UT-Florida football game) by screaming how Pearl was 5-1 all-time against Donovan, which is amazing considering Donovan has won national titles in two of the three seasons Pearl has been in the SEC.

Anyway, Pearl downplayed that statistic.

He claimed it was kind of fluky and misleading.

And then he revealed whom he believes to be the SEC's best.

"Billy Donovan is the best," Pearl said. "He just is."

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com