John Clay

John Clay’s notes: Future Kentucky football foe takes the bad timing award

Southern Mississippi coach Todd Monken and his team arrive on the field for the Heart of Dallas Bowl NCAA college football game against Washington, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015, in Dallas. Washington won 44-31.
Southern Mississippi coach Todd Monken and his team arrive on the field for the Heart of Dallas Bowl NCAA college football game against Washington, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015, in Dallas. Washington won 44-31. AP

Random notes:

▪ How would you like it if your head football coach suddenly quit 10 days before national signing day? That’s what happened to UK’s first 2016 opponent. Southern Miss Coach Todd Monken announced Sunday he had accepted the offensive coordinator position with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Bucs, leaving the Golden Eagles in a bind.

Formerly the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State, Monken led USM to a 9-5 record and a bowl berth this season. He was also about to sign a class considered to possibly be the best in Conference USA. The Golden Eagles come to Lexington on Sept. 3, by the way.

▪ Kentucky’s November win over Duke doesn’t hold as much cachet now as it did back then. Duke has dropped four of its last five, including an 80-69 loss at Miami on Monday night.

▪ Expect Kansas to be fired up Saturday when the Cats arrive at Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks lost 85-72 at Iowa State on Monday night. Up 43-36 at the half, Bill Self’s team was outscored 49-29 in the second half. The coach could not be pleased.

▪ It was the fourth time in the last five games that Iowa State has beaten Kansas. In fact, some fans inside Hilton Coliseum wore T-shirts that said “Beat Kansas. Again.”

▪ Let’s say this before Missouri plays at Kentucky on Wednesday night. Given the mess Kim Anderson inherited in Columbia, let’s hope the school has the patience to give Anderson a chance to turn the Tigers around.

▪ Those who worried the move to a 30-second shot clock would bring more bad shots, take heart. According to NCAA stats through Sunday’s games, field goal percentage was 44.1 percent, up 0.62 percent from last year. (Hat tip to Yahoo Sports’ Pat Forde.)

▪ Iowa is the roundball definition of a meteoric rise. Unranked until just four weeks ago, the Hawkeyes have climbed from 19th to 16th to ninth to now third in the AP college basketball poll.

Take out the South Florida game when Ulis played just 14 minutes before hyperextending his elbow and the point guard has been on the floor 93.8 percent of the time.

▪ In the season’s first 15 games, Derek Willis grabbed 32 rebounds. In the last three games, Willis has grabbed 28 rebounds.

▪ Alabama Coach Nick Saban is dancing the “Wobble” with recruits. Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh is sleeping over at recruits’ houses. Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney went sledding with recruits. I can’t imagine Bear Bryant doing any of those things.

▪ If you are a Kentucky fan, you should root very hard for new Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue to direct the Cavs to a title. If not, you know what the rumor mill will do.

▪ You had to feel for Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer last Sunday. Biggest game of this life, the NFC title game, and Palmer throws four interceptions and loses two fumbles.

▪ You had to be happy for Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. A year ago, Phillips was out of a job. Sunday, he devised a defense that was in Tom Brady’s face nearly all of the AFC title game. According to Pro Football Focus, Brady was pressured on 35.1 percent of his dropbacks during the season. Sunday, Brady was pressured on 45.9 percent of his dropbacks.

▪ And, if you missed it, the Patriots fired their offensive line coach Monday.

▪ In the games he’s played this year, Tyler Ulis has been on the floor 91 percent of the time. Take out the South Florida game when Ulis played just 14 minutes before hyperextending his elbow and the point guard has been on the floor 93.8 percent of the time.

▪ In the past 30 years, only four NBA players have scored at least 45 points and grabbed at least 10 rebounds in successive games: Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Antawn Jamison and DeMarcus Cousins.

▪ Former Knott County Central star Camron Justice had averaged 22 points in Rupp Arena during his four straight trips to the Boys’ State High School Basketball Tournament. As a freshman for the Vanderbilt Commodores, Justice came to Rupp for the fifth straight season last Saturday. Alas, Justice missed all three of his shots, including one three-pointer, in Vandy’s 76-57 loss.

▪ Quote of the week from the great Gregg Popovich after his Spurs lost to the Golden State Warriors 120-90 on Monday night: “We almost got ’em.”

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