Anthony Davis

Associated Press

VIDEO: UNC vs. Kentucky alumni game highlights

Leave a comment

After not holding an alumni game last year the Kentucky basketball program welcomed home some of its best players of the John Calipari era for a charity game against former North Carolina players. The event was a success on multiple levels, as $1.1 million was raised for multiple charities with the final count expected to approach $1.5 million.

And the day also served as another celebration of sorts for recent Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Calipari. Calipari, who was inducted Friday night in Springfield, Massachusetts, was presented with a picture of himself that was a mosiac of every player he’s coached. And the game was entertaining as well, with the former Wildcats beating the former North Carolina players by the final score of 122-115.

Among those who played in the game were former Wildcats DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe and Karl-Anthony Towns, with Harrison Barnes (also the team head coach) and Jerry Stackhouse suiting up for the UNC team. Anthony Davis served as head coach for the former Kentucky players. Above are highlights from the game, courtesy of KYWildcatsTV.

Among the charities that will benefit from this game are the Naismith Hall of Fame Legacy Fund (which will receive a $200,000 donation in the name of late UNC head coach Dean Smith), Samaritan’s Feet and the St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital.

Anthony Davis guarantees a Kentucky basketball national championship in 2015 (VIDEO)

1 Comment
source: Getty Images
(Getty Images)

Former Kentucky All-American and NCAA champion Anthony Davis is currently having a ridiculous season for the New Orleans Pelicans in his third NBA campaign, but the center is still keeping tabs on his former program.

The 2014-15 Kentucky Wildcats have been No. 1 for the whole season as they remain unbeaten. Many have even asked if John Calipari’s latest group is good enough to beat the lowly Philadelphia 76ers.

We can’t settle the college vs. pro debate on the floor, but Davis is still excited for this newest group of Wildcats. He guaranteed a 2015 national championship for Kentucky in a spot with Red Bull. In a video and interview with Richard S. Chang, Davis makes some bold proclamations about the Wildcats.

“The team that will win the NCAA Tournament in 2015, the one and only best team in the world: the University of Kentucky Wildcats,” Davis said in the video with the energy drink.

He then leaned into the camera, “That’s a guarantee.”

Kentucky hasn’t captured a national championship since Davis and his teammates won in 2012 and there’s a sense of urgency to win another with the hype surrounding this current team. But Davis warns that the current team can’t feel good until they prove themselves at the end of the season.

“2012 has a ring and there’s a banner up there to prove it. Until [the current Wildcats] get a ring, they can’t say anything. And that goes for the 2011 team, the 2013 team, any year’s team, it doesn’t matter,” Davis said.

“This team right here is a great team,” Davis continued on the current Kentucky team. “The 2015 team, they’re an unbelievable team — a great defense. It would be a tough matchup.”

(H/T: Richard S. Chang at Red Bull)

Difference between Kentucky, ’12 title team: role players?

5 Comments

source: Getty Images

I wrote a column last night on No. 11 Kentucky and their 82-77 loss to No. 18 North Carolina.

But I wasn’t in Chapel Hill.

Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com was.

He wrote a column too, and it included this passage, which I found particularly interesting:

It was interesting to watch in person because the TV cameras couldn’t have possibly captured the extent to which Calipari was bothered by his players breaking down individually and collectively against UNC. I watched guys check-in and out without touching hands, which isn’t a big deal except for that it rarely happens with close teams. I saw Julius Randle roll his eyes at his guards — specifically Andrew and Aaron Harrison — whenever they failed to even think about getting him the ball on the block. I witnessed Calipari reduced to yelling at players to huddle after a foul when most players these days simply huddle on their own.

The point has been made over and over again. If the last two seasons have proven anything to us, it’s that we certainly did not appreciate what we were watching as Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist rolled through everyone en route to the 2012 national title.

Those two were special.

That team was special.

But the reason why is more than the simple fact that Davis was the National Player of the Year and the No. 1 pick in the draft and Kidd-Gilchrist was an All-American and the No. 2 pick in the draft.

The truth is that Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist were role players on that team. Say what you will about points and rebounds and whatever, Davis was a guy that anchored a top ten defense and was a finisher around the rim. Kidd-Gilchrist was the epitome of a glue-guy. He defended. He rebounded. He set screens, he dove on the floor and, from people I’ve talked to, he was much more of a leader in that locker room than he got credit for.

They got their points because they were just that talented and that good in their roles, but they weren’t go-to guys on that team. They didn’t need the ball in their hands to have a huge impact on a game. They bought into what John Calipari was selling. They, quite literally, did whatever the team needed them to do to win.

And since Kentucky also just so happened to have four other NBA draft picks on that roster, they were dominant.

This year’s Kentucky team may have more talent from top-to-bottom, but they don’t have that superstar that’s willing to play a role. Willie Cauley-Stein plays a role, but that’s because he can’t do anything beyond block a shot, get a rebound and run the floor. He’s not a pick-and-pop big man and you’re not running plays to get him the ball with his back to the basket.

To be frank, in my opinion, the guy that’s going to have to make the sacrifice is Julius Randle simply because he’s the only other starter that can do more than score. Can you see either of the Harrisons putting their body on the line to get a loose ball? Can you see James Young setting a back-screen on Patric Young to get Cauley-Stein a lane to the rim?

Because I sure can’t.

And while there isn’t a quick fix to Kentucky’s problems this season, finding a guy to lead by example wouldn’t be a bad place to start turning things around.

I just don’t know if they have the pieces they need to do it.

Jeff Withey gets triple-double in Kansas victory

2 Comments

Holy Jeff Withey.

Kansas senior big man went insane for the No. 10-ranked Jayhawks tonight, recording the second triple-double in school history with 16 points, 12 rebounds and a school-record 12 blocks in a 70-57 victory over San Jose State.

What has to stand out is the 12 blocks, which is the elusive “big man triple double”.

A lot is expected of Withey this season, a fifth-year senior who was probably the best shot blocker in the nation not named Anthony Davis last season. This definitely the way to start the season for the potential National Defensive Player of the Year. Just as impressive may have been that with the ball in his hands so much, Withey only committed two turnovers and one foul.

He was 7-for-11 from the field and, in what could be seen as his only real negative, was only 2-for-6 from the free throw line. Not that it really mattered. Also, 10 of Withey’s boards were on the defensive end.

On the other side, Jame Kinney dropped in a game-high 30 points for the Spartans on 11-of-26 shooting.

But the big story, obviously, is Withey’s assault on the stat sheet for Kansas. It was the only game featuring a Top 10 team on the night, and that definitely was ok.

David Harten is the editor of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

Naismith Award watch list stretches from A(nderson) to Z(eller)

Leave a comment

The Naismith Men’s Player of the Year Award early season watch list has been published, and it’s loaded with the usual suspects.

The state of Kentucky fared well, with Louisville and Kentucky landing three players apiece on the list. Chane Behanan, Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng were the Cardinals honored. The Wildcats, unsurprisingly, were represented by an all-freshman troika of Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress and Nerlens Noel.

In fact, there were plenty of first-year players on the list, with UCLA’s Kyle Anderson coming first alphabetically, joined by the Kentucky recruits, Ben McLemore (Kansas), Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State) and his own currently ineligible teammate Shabazz Muhammad.

Non-BCS programs were well represented, as they have been in All-America lists across the land. South Dakota State’s Nate Wolters is on the list, as are Isaiah Canaan (Murray State), Rotnei Clarke (Butler), CJ McCollum (Lehigh), DJ Cooper (Ohio), Doug McDermott (Creighton) and several players from the WCC and Mountain West conferences.

The power shift in the ACC was plainly evident, as well. Duke is represented by lone ranger Mason Plumlee, while traditional rival UNC had just James Michael McAdoo to carry the standard. Florida State has Michael Snaer. Resurgent NC State, on the other hand, will be repped by two players: Lorenzo Brown and CJ Leslie.

The Atlanta Tipoff club has sponsored the Naismith Award since 1969, when UCLA’s Lew Alcindor claimed the first trophy. Other winners have included Bill Walton, Michael Jordan, Kevin Durant and, most recently, Kentucky’s Anthony Davis.

The NCAA whiffed when suspending Peter Jurkin and Hanner Perea

9 Comments

In case you haven’t heard about it yet — I mean, you should have, because there wasn’t anything else important going on in the news last night, was there? — Indiana has had two of their incoming freshmen suspended by the NCAA for the first nine games of the season.

Peter Jurkin and Hanner Mosquera-Perea won’t be allowed to suit up for the Hoosiers until a Dec. 15th game against Butler, and Jurkin must repay $250 and Perea $1,588.69 to a charity of their choosing. It’s a pretty stiff punishment, and it all stems from $185 that was spent more than two decades ago.

Mark Adams was the AAU coach for both players and, at one point, had attempted to become Perea’s legal guardian. The nature of their relationship would have allowed Adams to legally, in the eyes of the NCAA, spend the almost-$15,000 on things like lap tops, cell phones, meals and housing that make up the illegal benefits the NCAA has busted Jurkin and Perea with. But between 1986 and 1992, Adams’ ex-wife donated $185 — never more than $30 at once — in order to get an alumni sticker to put on her car. He’s permanently and forever considered a ‘booster’ for the school.

Seriously.

I’m not kidding.

The ex-wife of an AAU coach cost two players nine games and almost $2,000 in charity payments all for $185 that was spent on stickers before they were even born.

And you wonder why no one in their right mind trusts a decision that the NCAA makes.

The common theory being tossed around is that this is the NCAA reaching out and smacking IU for their association with Adams. You see, Adams runs a foundation called A-HOPE — African Hoop Opportunities Providing an Education — that brings players from abroad to the United States to help them get an education and find a place to play college basketball. But, as was exposed in this ESPN investigation last April, there is plenty of smoke and all kinds of rumors floating around basketball circles about Adams’ relationship with IU and whether or not it is too close.

But that theory doesn’t exactly hold water.

If message board fodder is all that it took to get a player suspended, Shabazz Muhammad would never play college basketball. Kyle Anderson wouldn’t, either. Anthony Davis probably would have been one of a handful of Kentucky recruits that went the way of Enes Kanter. Baylor would never get an elite prospect eligible and the Canada-Findlay Prep-Texas pipeline would have been shut down a long time ago.

Could it simply be that the NCAA was actually able to find some kind of wrongdoing, even if that wrongdoing is one of the most ridiculous, letter-of-the-law interpretations that the NCAA has ever come up with?

“There’s no question they’re contributors in this program right away, but the bigger concern right now is for both Hanner and Peter individually,” Indiana coach Tom Crean told SiriusXM’s Jeff Goodman on Tuesday night. “They don’t really know why this is happening and it’s really hard for us to explain it to them because I don’t really know why this is happening.”

Well, it’s simple, Tom. The NCAA doesn’t like your affiliation with Adams or A-HOPE, and they wanted to send a message about it. Since they couldn’t find anything illegal about the recruitment of the players, they are dropping the hammer on a technicality. They are trying to make a statement.

And they did. The irony, however, is that the ‘statement’ the NCAA made has more to do with the inept, archaic rules we’ve all come to know and abhor than with the two Hoosier freshmen.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.