President Obama Hosts The University Of Kentucky Men's Basketball Team

Calipari looking to fill one more 2012 scholly

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Same ol’, same ol’ on the recruiting trail for John Calipari, even with a national title in tow. You know the drill: land the player everyone in the game would give their left… eye for, then mess around and drop in a few other blue-chip dudes to carry his water. Ho-hum, yawn, back to bed.

Once Nerlens Noel gave his verbal notice of intent to join the Wildcats next season, much of the pressure was off for Coach Cal. He can probably find another 17-year-old hoop genius, give him a come-hither look, and finish off that No. 1 recruiting class ranking the easy way. Or, he could do something a little different, and add some age and experience through the transfer ranks. John Clay of the Lexington Herald Leader has a few thoughts on which players might be in the running for that final, coveted slot on the defending national championship squad:

Julius Mays: A 6-foot-2 guard from Marion, Ind., Mays is transferring after averaging 14 points last year at Wright State. He played two years previously at North Carolina State. He is graduating, so is eligible to play immediately.

Montrezl Harrell: The 6-foot-7 forward from Hargrave Military Academy was a top-100 recruit when he signed with Virginia Tech and Harrell has asked for his release.

Tony Trocha: The 6-10 forward from Colombia, who played at a Houston prep school, is reportedly attempting to reclassify and join the Class of 2012.

Torian Graham: The 6-4 guard from Raleigh, N.C., bounced around at four different high schools before landing at Christian Faith. He may attend prep school, pushing him back to a Class of 2013 recruit.

Amile Jefferson: For a while, there was a report each week the 6-foot-7 forward from Philadelphia was ready to announce his decision. It still hasn’t come.
You’ll notice that there’s little rhyme or reason to this list in terms of size, position, etc. With N.C. State transfer Ryan Harrow eligible to run the point this season, Cal has a talented and self-assured floor general ready to guide the team. Calipari can probably grab any one of these players he wishes and find a way to make him fit into the offense, with that one major piece in place.
Jefferson is the player keeping everyone in suspense, and Calipari can afford to wait until that domino falls before he has to do anything else. Jefferson has said that he will announce his decision on Tuesday.

VIDEO: Kris Dunn wills Providence to win over No. 11 Arizona

Kris Dunn, Elliott Pitts
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Kris Dunn spent the first 35 minutes of Friday night’s game against No. 11 Arizona in foul trouble, splitting his time between sitting on the bench and trying to avoid finding himself, again, on the wrong side the whistle.

With 11 minutes left in the game, and with Dunn yet to find a rhythm, the all-american point guard was whistled for his fourth foul as he battled for a rebound with Arizona’s Mark Tollefsen. Head coach Ed Cooley say his superstar beside his for six game minutes, time enough for Arizona to turn a 49-47 deficit into a 58-54 lead.

There were just over five minutes left when Dunn reentered the second semifinal of the Wooden Legacy, and he proceeded to show everyone in the country why he was named the Preseason Player of the Year. Providence had nine possessions after he reentered the game. Dunn scored 11 points and had a pair of assists on those eight possessions, and if Ben Bentil had stuck a wide-open three — that was setup by Dunn — the Friars would have scored on all nine.

In total, Dunn was responsible for all 15 Friar points in a game-changing, 15-7 run in the final 4:30. It was capped off by this Kobe-in-his-prime-esque game-winner:

The win for Providence is huge for a couple of reasons:

  • Dunn showed a killer instinct against a marquee opponent, something that we didn’t necessarily see out of him a season ago. He wasn’t going to let his team lose, and given that Providence doesn’t have anyone else that can consistently create good shots, they are going to need that from him a lot this year.
  • It makes a statement for the Friars. Arizona is overrated at No. 11 in the country, yes, but going out on national television against an elite program and getting this kind of performance from Dunn is a confidence-booster and a tone-setter. Providence hasn’t been accustomed to winning in recent years. This is a way to set a trend.
  • Ben Bentil continues to play like a star. Dunn had 19 points and eight assists on Friday, but Bentil followed up a 24-point performance in the win over Evansville with 21 critical points on Friday.

This win sets up a matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence on Sunday night, which means that Denzel Valentine and Kris Dunn — the two best players in the country, sorry Ben Simmons — will be going head-to-head.

Oh. Hell. Yes.

No. 14 Cal goes 0-2 in Las Vegas Invitational

Jaylen Brown
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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After midnight on the east coast on Thanksgiving, No. 14 Cal blew a 15 point second half lead against San Diego State, allowing the Aztecs to use a 30-6 run to put away the game and advance to the final of the Las Vegas Invitational. That’s the same San Diego State team had scored 43 points in a loss to Arkansas-Little Rock last week.

Not 24 hours later, the Golden Bears were shredded defensively by the Richmond Spiders, losing 94-90 in the consolation game of a four-team tournament they were considered to be the heavy favorite in.

It’s a disappointing two-game stretch for Cal, who entered the season as a Pac-12 favorite and had looked the part for the first four games of the season.

And the issue appears to be on the defensive end of the floor.

Richmond is a good Atlantic 10 team. Terry Allen and Marshall Wood are high-major big men, Shawn’Dre Jones is a jitterbug at the point and Chris Mooney runs a Princeton-esque system that is very difficult to prepare for without a day in-between games. So it’s not really surprising that the Spiders gave Cal a fight.

But 94 points?

On the heels of giving up 44 points in the second half against the offensively-challenged Aztecs?

That’s a problem, one that I’m sure that Cuonzo Martin is going to address this week in practice. Martin has managed to put together a roster that is build for small-ball, with four talented perimeter players surrounding a first round pick in the post. But that’s not the style that he’s known for. Martin played his college ball at Purdue in the Gene Keady days. He cut his teeth as a head coach at Missouri State in the Missouri Valley. His team’s at Tennessee were known for being tough and physical defensively.

That’s how Martin coaches, which is part of the reason Cal had such hype entering the year.

The talents of Tyrone Wallace, Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews on a team with a coach that gets teams to defend the way Martin does? It’s no surprise that pundits would be optimistic.

But as of now, they have some work to do defensively if they want to live up to that hype.