With the majority of the team that reached the national title game returning to campus, not to mention the arrival of one of the nation’s best recruiting classes, Kentucky has been pegged by many as the early favorite to win the national title next season. John Calipari’s program will get a head start of sorts in preparing for the 2014-15 season, with the team taking a trip to the Bahamas in mid-August.
Friday morning the team’s plans for the trip, which will run from August 10-17, were revealed with the Wildcats playing six games during their stay in the Bahamas. Kentucky will play two games apiece against the Dominican Republic national team, Puerto Rico’s national team reserves and the French professional club Champagne Chalons-Reims Basket.
“We are excited to make the trip to the Bahamas for our foreign tour,” Calipari said in the release. “Working with Lea and Mason Miller [of Complete Sports Management] has been a pleasure. My goal is for our team to grow together, to learn about one another, to have fun and to compete against teams that will stretch us out.
“These teams should be a challenge that will let us really see where we are at this point. But again, learning and having fun will be the emphasis of the trip. It’s another opportunity for us to fail fast.”
Kentucky will have to account for the departures of Julius Randle and James Young, with both leaving Lexington after one season for the NBA Draft where both are expected to be first-round selections with Randle likely going in the lottery. But the Harrison twins are back on the perimeter, and front court contributors such as Willie Cauley-Stein (he’s unlikely to play after undergoing offseason surgery), Dakari Johnson and Alex Poythress return as well.
The practices and games in the Bahamas will help the Wildcats as they look to strengthen the chemistry between the newcomers and a freshman class that features guards Devon Booker and Tyler Ulis and big men Trey Lyles and Karl-Anthony Towns.
No. 15 Cincinnati pounced on Memphis from the start, taking a 51-32 lead into halftime.
Then, Gary Clark decided to add insult to injury to start the second half. Seriously, how did he catch that?
Mick Cronin’s team is much better offensively than in previous seasons. I’m sure fans in the Fifth Third Arena can get used to seeing more plays like this.
Michigan State freshman guard Cassius Winston had just one field goal in the first half. And it was a half-court buzzer-beater as the Spartans capped a sizable run to take a 49-31 lead over Nebraska going into the break.
The Spartans ended the half on a 21-5 run.
Winston provided a serious boost off the bench during that stanza. Moments earlier, he helped the Breslin Center erupt when he lobbed a pass off the backboard to teammate Miles Bridges.
Michigan State opened the day projected as one of the final at-large bids in the NCAA Tournament. The margin for error is thing and it appears the Spartans are playing with a sense of urgency.
Wednesday’s slate of games had several wild results.
Former Ohio State walk-on turned blogger turned author Mark Titus, who is currently writing for The Ringer, joined Rob Dauster on the latest episode of the CBT Podcast to go over last night’s games. The two also discussed who is the best team in the nation at the moment, as well Frank Mason III’s rap single from several years ago #BIFM
You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Audioboom
North Carolina’s Roy Williams called fellow Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino to apologize for a fan’s behavior during Wednesday night’s game in Chapel Hill.
While leaving the floor at halftime, Pitino had to be restrained by members of the Louisville coaching staff and he and a UNC fan exchanged words as he made his way to the locker rom. There’s video of Pitino pointing and shouting at a fan, who reportedly said, “Pitino, you suck!”
“I don’t like that,” Williams said, according to the Charlotte Observer. “I mean we’re in North Carolina. We don’t have to be like everybody else. We can raise Cain. You can boo, but you don’t have to say the stuff that we as coaches have to put up with.”
“I hope that never happens at North Carolina ever again.”
No. 8 North Carolina defeated No. 7 Louisville, 74-63.
STILL TO PLAY
Georgia at Alabama (RPI: 68, KenPom: 61, next four teams), 7:00 p.m.
Nebraska at Michigan State (RPI: 43, KenPom: 55, No. 10 seed), 7:00 p.m.
Towson at UNC Wilmington (RPI: 41, KenPom: 57, No. 12 seed), 7:00 p.m.