Just got back from Keeneland, so here’s sme random Friday morning notes:
▪ Next season’s Kentucky-Louisville basketball game could end up being played on a Tuesday or Wednesday at the Yum Center, reports the Courier-Journal’s Jeff Greer.
Christmas in the Commonwealth may not be so hostile this winter. The annual Kentucky-Louisville basketball game appears to be moving up a week on the schedule this coming season.
The 50th meeting between the archrivals is slated to be played before Christmas for the first time in 10 years, a copy of the series contract obtained by The Courier-Journal shows.
The rivalry game, which has been played on the Saturday following Christmas for the past five seasons, is scheduled for either Tuesday, Dec. 20, or Wednesday, Dec. 21, at the KFC Yum! Center, the contract says.
▪ It’s been a tough first season for former UK assistant Orlando Antigua at South Florida. The Bulls went 8-25 overall and 4-14 in the American Athletic Confernce in Antigua’s debut. Friday morning the school announced, Antigua booted his No. 2 scorer, Chris Perry, for a violation of tam rules. Perry averaged 10.1 points per game.
▪ National recruiting analyst Evan Daniels tells our Ben Roberts that he thinks the Marques Bolden is still too close to call.
“At this point, it’s hard to say,” he told the Herald-Leader. “Obviously, Duke got the last shot by going in and meeting with him on the in-home visit. But he could pick Duke, he could pick Kentucky and neither would necessarily surprise me.”
Obviously, John Calipari has a knockout 2016 recruiting class without Bolden, but adding the center would be the cherry on top.
▪ Kentucky Derby favorite Nyquist worked Friday morning at Keeneland. I was there along with Alicia Wincze Hughes, who reported the BC Juvenile and Florida Derby champ made an easy five-furlong move in 1:02.60.
▪ NFL released 2016 schedules on Thursday. Here is the Cincinnati Bengals’ lineup:
▪ Sept. 11 @NY Jets
▪ Sept. 18 @Pittsburgh
▪ Sept. 25 Denver
▪ Sept. 29 Miami
▪ Oct. 9 @Dallas
▪ Oct. 16 @New England
▪ Oct. 23 Cleveland
▪ Oct. 30 Washington
▪ Nov. 14 @NY Giants
▪ Nov. 20 Buffalo
▪ Nov. 27 @Baltimore
▪ Dec. 4 Philadelphia
▪ Dec. 11 @Cleveland
▪ Dec. 18 Pittsburgh
▪ Dec. 24 @Houston
▪ Jan. 1 Baltimore
▪ A famous former Kentucky coach was at Keeneland on Friday morning doing some work.
▪ Now that Tubby Smith has departed for Memphis, Texas Tech must find a new coach. The Red Raiders have reportedly met with Chris Beard, the former Arkansas-Little Rock coach who had just taken the UNLV job. Beard was an assistant at Texas Tech for 10 seasons under Bob and Pat Knight.
▪ Speaking of Tubby, here’s Memphis Commercial Appeal Geoff Caulkins’ 10 impressions from Smith’s opening press conference at Memphis:
7. Here’s Smith on recruiting, and whether he still has the necessary fire in the belly: “Recruiting has changed a lot over the years. It’s not like when you had to be on the road for 21 straight days. I know what you’re saying but that’s why you hire a good staff, ‘cause they identify who those players are. And kids are narrowing it down a lot quicker, so you’re not recruiting the numbers. We’ll get involved with some of the best players in the country and we’ll do a fantastic job. The fire in the belly is there. . . . I can fight and recruit with the best of them.”
▪ My H-L colleague Mark Story wonders if Smith can recruit in Memphis. That’s a concern, yes, but I think he’ll do fine. After all, if Smith can recruit players to Lubbock good enough to go 9-9 in the Big 12 and reach the NCAA Tournament, he should be able to recruit players in Memphis.
▪ Myron Medcalf of espn.com, who covered Smith at Minnesota, thinks Tubby is a good fit.
It’s possible because Smith in Memphis makes sense. More sense than Smith to Minnesota or Smith to Texas Tech did. Yet, he managed to lead both previously docile programs to the NCAA tournament.
It’s not difficult to identify the challenges Smith might encounter at Memphis. It’s a complicated recruiting terrain. Great talent around the corner but will those players stay in town? Not that Smith only needs Memphis kids to win. He’ll recruit everywhere.
▪ Jennifer Smith has a story on new UK wide receivers coach Lamar Thomas’ effort to instill confidence in his players.
“I want guys that want the ball, but I also want guys willing to work their tailbones off,” he said. “In order to be confident and cocky, you’ve got to put the work in. I tell them all the time, if that’s what you want to do, then let me see the work. I’ve got to see the work.”
▪ Also, Jen and I taped a podcast on Thursday to preview Saturday’s Spring Game.