Sidelines with John Clay

The ratings game: Hamidou Diallo, Mark Stoops and more links

Hamidou Diallo talked with Wenyen Gabriel during warm-ups before Kentucky played host to Kansas at Rupp Arena on Saturday Jan. 28, 2017 in Lexington, Ky.
Hamidou Diallo talked with Wenyen Gabriel during warm-ups before Kentucky played host to Kansas at Rupp Arena on Saturday Jan. 28, 2017 in Lexington, Ky. Lexington Herald-Leader

Big Blue Links:

Hamidou Diallo still projected second round after Combine, reports Ben Roberts of Next Cats. “UK freshman Hamidou Diallo was on the receiving end of considerable buzz following his appearance at the NBA Combine in Chicago this week, but it apparently didn’t do much for his overall draft stock.”

Diallo leaves UK fans asking ‘What if?’, writes Tim Sullivan of the Courier-Journal. “Hamidou Diallo can jump. That much we know. In soaring 44 ½ inches off the floor Thursday in Chicago, the University of Kentucky’s intramural man of mystery made the second-highest vertical leap in the storied annals of the NBA combine. Doesn’t mean he can play. Doesn’t mean there’s more to his game than defiance of gravity.”

Diallo was the Combine mystery, writes Shannon Ryan of the Chicago Tribune. “Kentucky freshman Hamidou Diallo is attempting to take an unusual track into the NBA after not playing a single minute in college. His first impression at the NBA draft combine Thursday at Quest Multisport seemed to be a strong one. The 6-foot-5 guard leaped an astounding 44 1/2 inches during the vertical jump, the highest of the day by three inches.”

Mark Stoops ponders life after two-a-days and breaking into Michigan, reports Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader. “When the rule change became public recently that the Southeastern Conference was mandating the end of two-a-day practices and cutting down on live-contact practices, there were no doubt lots of old-school football types saying ‘back in my day …’ Maybe they will boast about two-a-days for 40 straight days and being tackled to the ground every day of an entire college football season.”

Either Will Muschamp or Mark Stoops will be SEC Coach of the Year, says Joe Cox of Saturday Down South. “Crazy isn’t it? The SEC East is eternally up for grabs. Florida lost a ton of talent and is relying on untested skill players. Georgia is talented, but Kirby Smart still coaches like Coach Red Beaulieu from The Waterboy stole his special playbook. Butch Jones is as likely to get fired as to improve. The opening is there. The guess is that one of these defensive-minded coaches, both of whom relied on young talent throughout 2016, will lead his program on a big step forward. Watch the match-up of the two teams for a clue as to which.”

Stoops is ranked sixth among SEC coaches, says Pat Dooley of the Gainesville Sun. “There’s one way to change it and that is to go out and win some of the big games early in this year’s college slate and then the rivalry games in November. Forget the bowl games. Anybody who judges coaching ability based on bowl games doesn’t understand the sport.”

Kentucky baseball takes second straight from Tennessee, reports H-L. “Riley Mahan continued his assault on Southeastern Conference pitching over the past two weeks, belting two home runs to lead No. 8 Kentucky to an 8-3 victory over Tennessee on Senior Day at Cliff Hagan Stadium in Lexington. The Wildcats will go for a series sweep on Sunday afternoon.”

Pure passion guide Nick Mingione, writes Derek Terry for D1 Baseball. “A song blares out from the walls of Nick Mingione’s office during a mid-morning in April. Mingione slumps in his chair and stares at his phone while ‘Fearless’ by Jasmine Murray rings throughout the room. The catchy Christian Pop song is possibly the most important one in his life right now.”

Five things the NBA playoffs say about the Draft, from Rick Bozich of WDRB. “You make the five-hour drive to Chicago for the NBA Draft Combine and you have time to ask and research questions. What are NBA coaches and scouts looking for in these workouts that they have not seen in games? (Are they just looking to get out of the house?) How does running around cones translate into winning basketball games? Sometimes you even ask this: How critical is the NBA Draft?”

The NBA playoffs have been an education for John Wall and Bradley Beal, writes Candace Buckner of the Washington Post. “The evolution of John Wall and Bradley Beal can be best viewed from an outsider’s perspective. In May 2014, Ian Mahinmi was a key reserve player for the top-seeded Indiana Pacers, who faced the Washington Wizards in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Back then, the Wizards were making their first postseason appearance in six seasons. Wall was in his fourth year of carrying the burden as franchise point guard. Beal wasn’t old enough to legally enjoy the goods from the cognac company that sponsored the Wizard Girls. Their youth and inexperience showed as the Pacers wrapped up the series in Game 6, on Washington’s home floor.”

Sindarius Thornwell believes he is a lottery player, reports Dwayne McLemore of The State. “Sindarius Thornwell wasn’t the fastest player at the NBA Draft Combine. His vertical jump was never his strong suit. There’s a lot to like about one of South Carolina’s greatest players of all time and what he can do on a basketball court, and that’s the central message Thornwell is sending teams ahead of the June 22 draft.”

Can Always Dreaming handle the quick turnaround to the Preakness? I ask in my Sunday column. “Always Dreaming strikes me as the type of colt that will be well-suited to the Preakness,” said J. Keeler Johnson, a race analyst for The Blood-Horse and America’s Best Racing. “More often than not, horses that win the Derby while racing on or near the lead are able to reproduce their Derby form in the Preakness, whereas horses that rally from far back in the Derby tend to struggle at Pimlico.”

Georgia coach Kirby Smart has a perception problem, says Guerry Clegg of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. “Possession is said to be nine-tenths of the law. In college football, perception is nine-tenths of reality. After all, we’re talking about a sport that for decades crowned its so-called champion – and many times multiple champions – based on nothing more than a collection of opinions. Reality is what we choose to believe.”

Tyler Swafford came to EKU to play quarterback and is leaving as a student of the world, writes Mark Story of the Herald-Leader. “When Tyler Swafford visited the Dachau concentration camp, he was jarred by the juxtaposition between the birds singing on a sunny day contrasted with the evil he could feel in a place where more than 40,000 people were murdered during the reign of Adolf Hitler over Germany.”

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