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COLUMBIA, South Carolina – February 13, 2016 – Brendon D. Miller, Midwest News and Sports
Who needs Cal when you have Tyler Ulis? Well of course the CATS do need Coach Calipari, but after his early ejection just 2 minutes 26 seconds into the game, the UK staff told Tyler it was “his show” and he did not disappoint. The show was 27 points, 12 assists, 2 steals and only 1, that is 1, turnover in 38 minutes of action. Cal had said recently that Tyler was basically coaching the team, and the show today was proof positive. Carolina coach Frank Martin could not stop singing Tyler’s praises in post- game saying that Tyler, was “why they did to us what they did today. He’s as good as I’ve had to prepare a team to play against.” Continue reading College Basketball – “EMPOWERED” CATS HUMBLE SOUTH CAROLINA 89 – 62
Brendon D. Miller – Midwest News and Sports – November 17, 2015 – Chicago, Illinois
One thing we learned from the CATS 74 – 63 defeat of the Blue Devils in the Windy City on Tuesday Night was that the Cal Machine has reload faster than Coach K. The rosters of the two schools that should have played in the National Championship game last April, were light years from the teams that participated in the Final Four. Continue reading College Basketball – CATS Thrash Defending National Champ Duke in Champions Classic
LEGENDS BEAT ROME BRAVES ON EXTRA INNING WALK OFF
LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY – June 19, 2015 – BRENDON D. MILLER, Midwest News and Sports
The Lexington Legends brought home an exciting 6-5, extra inning victory over the Rome Braves last Friday evening at Whitaker Bank Park on Michael Hill’s walk off homer in the bottom of the 10th inning. The game was delayed over 50 minutes from the scheduled 7:10 first pitch due to heavy rain during the afternoon. The delayed first pitch came at 8:05 pm and the delay seemed to affect Legends starting pitcher Scott Blewett, the Royals 2nd round pick (56th overall) in the 2014 amateur draft, as he struggled in the 1st inning.
Rome jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first as the first five Braves reached base. Ozzie Albies, Omar Obregon, and Erison Mendez each singled, to load the bases for Rome clean-up hitter Tanner Krietemeier. Krietemeier hit what was originally ruled a Grand Slam into the Pepsi Party Deck in right field, however, the umpires correctly ruled that a fan in the party deck had reached over the fence and caught the ball and the call was corrected to a ground rule double, scoring Albies and Obregon. Mendez scored on a passed ball and Kreitemeier scored on an infield grounder by beating the throw to home.
The Legends finally scratched the score column in the third inning on a triple by Samir Duenez and a fielder’s choice grounder by Logan Davis, and then tied the game in the bottom of the fifth. Duenez and Davis both reached on walks and Corey Toups was hit bay a Caleb Beech pitch, loading the bases. Legends catcher Chad Johnson singled scoring Duenez. Beech then continued his wildness by walking Eller Hernandez, forcing in Davis to make the score 4-3 Braves. Eventual Legends Hero, Michael Hill then struck out, but a wild pitch on the third strike allowed Hill to reach first and score Toups to knot the score at 4-4.
The score remained 4-4 until the top of the eighth inning when the Braves were able to take the lead following a lead off single by Braxton Davidson. Davidson was caught in a run down during an attempt to steal second, and was awarded third base from an errant throw that ended up in the Legends dugout. Wigberto Nevarez scored Davidson on a sacrifice fly putting the Braves ahead 5-4.
The Legends immediately responded in the bottom of the eighth with a single by Chase Vallott, who moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brandon Downes and then scored on a pinch-hit single by Humberto Arteaga, tying the score 5-5.
Hill ended the night with a lead off home run that just cleared the left field fence just inside the foul pole to set off a wild celebration at home plate by the Legends, and giving them the win the opener of the three game series.
Legends lefty Emilio Ogando, worked five and two-thirds inning of one-run baseball for the win, after starter Blewett dealt the first four and one-third. Braves pitcher Sean Furney took the loss after taking over for starter Beech in the fifth inning.
Official attendance was 4,168 with over 350 of those fans being players and their parents from the baseball/softball leagues of the Jackson Department of Parks and Recreation. The game was followed by the Ford Fireworks display, which culminated just as another rain storm moved over the ballpark. The evening was a great treat for the young men and ladies to see some professional baseball in a fun and entertaining atmosphere.
BRENDON D. MILLER – CAMEN MEDIA – MARCH 21, 2015 – LOUISVILLE
Perfection. Vince Lombardi once said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch
excellence.” Excellence is what the CATS exhibited today in the Derby City to end the University of Cincinnati’s season at 23 and 11, and advance to the Sweet Sixteen. The win moves the CATS to 36 and 0, the first time in the HISTORY of the NCAA that a team has reach such heights. Perfection for the CATS, this game was not. The CATS again, as has become the norm, started slowly, actually very slowly, hitting on only 3 of their first 15 shots, on the way to shooting only 34.5% (10 – 29) in the first half. The Bearcats came out with a great defensive effort, and the CATS matched the intensity with a great defensive stand to force a shot clock violation at 18:15 with Cincy not getting off a shot. Points were at a premium with the score being 4 to 4 at the 15:48 media timeout and 9 to 6 at the 12:34 media timeout, following a Jermaine Sanders three for Cincy. The CATS finally got off the three point “0fer” at 9:24 on a three from Aaron Harrison to tie the score at 13, which seemed to jump start the CATS on offense. The CATS led 17 to 16 at the 7:34 media timeout, but Cincy again pulled ahead 22 to 21 on a jumper by Farad Cobb to force Cal to call a timeout at 4:46. Cincy then took its last lead at 3:42 at 24 to 21 with a steal by Troy Caupin and dunk by Shaq Thomas. The CATS then turned it to finish the half on a 10 – 0 run, highlighted by, another monster slam by Willie Cauley-Stein, destined to be a SportsCenter top 10, that whipped the Big Blue Nation in the KFC Yum Center into a frenzy. Aaron Harrison capped the run with a three from the right wing at :42 to set the halftime score of 31 to 24. As the Bearcats walked off the floor you could see the disappointment in their body language, as they knew that they had played as well as they could play and executed their game plan perfectly, but were still down 7.
The CATS were led in scoring the first half by Karl-Anthony Towns with 8 points. Trey Lyles posted 6 points and 6 rebounds and Tyler Ulis had 4 points and 3 assists with no turnovers. Cincinnati was led by Coreontae DeBerry with 6 hard earned points in the paint. Cincy shot an excellent 42.3% (11- 26) in the half, but the difference was the free throw line where Kentucky shot 9 for 11, while the Bearcats did not reach the line, as the CATS only committed 4 fouls in the half. The score was tied 5 times with 7 lead changes.
The second half began with Cincinnati again bringing the intensity and cutting the CATS lead to 3 twice. The first was at 33-30 at the 16:54 mark on two Troy Caupain free throws following a questionable Technical Foul on Aaron Harrison for a confrontation with Octavious Ellis, and the second at 35-32 on a jumper by Ellis at 15:40. As has been the case all year, the CATS superior talent and numbers began to come for the fore during the last ten minutes which is winning time. Seth Davis tweeted, “Cats know their opponent will be dog tired the last 10 minutes, and especially the last 5. Fresh legs + long arms = winning time.” Not a Seth Davis fan, but true words, very true. The Line of Demarcation for the CATS to turn it on in games has been the 10:00 mark, and that is when Andrew Harrison, a non-factor in the first half, took over with a drive and layup at 9:32 to put the CATS up for the first time by double figures at 46-35, and another driving layup at 8:32 to put the CATS up 48-37 and conversion of the “and 1” made it 49-37, and the margin would not ever be below double figures again.
The lead climbed to 19 at the 1:43 mark, and the final margin was 13 at 64-51.
As the tournament plays out, it is clear that Tyler Ulis is the heartbeat of this team. I made the comment to those around me during the game that several other CATS may have better NBA prospects, but you see, now that we are in the tournament, who is playing the most minutes. Tyler played 15 minutes in the first half and 19 minutes in the second half for a total of 34 for the game, no other CAT played over 29 minutes. Tyler had 9 points, 5 assists and 3 steals, but most importantly 0 turnovers against Cincy’s steady pressure. Cal said in post game that Tyler and Andrew love playing together, and want to be in the game together, and this has made the lineup of having Tyler, Andrew, Aaron, Trey and either Karl-Anthony and/or Willie in the game together a winner. Aaron Harrison led the scoring with 13, and Trey Lyles, playing more in the power forward role, put up a double-double posting 11 and 11.
The CATS blocked 9 shots and ruled the foul line by going 20 for 28 while the Bearcats shot 9 for 14, an advantage of 11 points. Perfection that game was not, however, the record is, and it is simply awesome to see the Excellence the CATS are catching in the Pursuit of that Perfection.
36 and 0, now on to Cleveland we go!!!
BRENDON D. MILLER – CAMEN MEDIA – MARCH 19, 2015 – LOUISVILLE
The CATS turned it on after a slow start in a game that was never going to be a game, to
advance to Saturday’s NCAA Third Round game with Cincinnati. A Sea of Blue filled the KFC Yum Center
to watch their CATS continue the Pursuit of Perfection, and were not disappointed as the CATS easily
disposed of the Pirates. Slow starts have plagued the CATS throughout the season and this game was no
exception as the Pirates brought the intensity in the early going. The CATS only led 7 – 6 at the 15:29
media timeout, and 18 – 11 at the 11:05 mark. The CATS superior talent and physicality then took over
from that point forward and the CATS began to consistently feed Karl-Anthony Towns in the post. Towns
dominated the first half posting 12 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks. The highlight play of the first half
was a Towns jumper on the break on a wonderful assist by Tyler Ulis at the 5:36. Towns went on to
convert the “and 1” to put the CATS up 26 to 14. From that point forward, the CATS went on to
outscore Hampton 15 to 8 to set the halftime margin of 41 to 22. The CATS shot 43.8% (14 for 32) and
held Hampton to 27.6% (8 for 29).
Hampton Head Coach, Edward Joyner, Jr., said post game that the CATS are “as good as
advertised,” and the CATS showed their might by extending their lead to 35 on three occasions, each on
dunks by Marcus Lee at 12:43 (63 to 28); Trey Lyles at 11:29 (65 to 30); and Towns at 10:25 (67 to 32).
As can be expected, the CATS put it on cruise from that point forward and the intensity loss allowed the
Pirates to outscore them 24 to 12 the rest of the game to set the final score.
This past week, Towns was named a Freshman All-American and he lived up to said billing by
posting a season-high 21 points and adding 11 rebounds. Three other CATS reached double figures with
Andrew Harrison posting 14, Ulis with 11, and Lyles with 10. Willie Cauley-Stein had a sub-par scoring
game only posting 7 points on 1 for 5 shooting and going 5 for 8 from the line, but still contributed 11
rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 assists. The CATS out rebounded the Pirates 51 to 31 and also continued to
share the ball by dishing 15 assists on 28 baskets. The CATS ended up shooting 45.9% (28 for 61) while
holding Hampton to 28.8% (17 for 59).
The CATS both started and ended slowly, and Cal stated that while he wasn’t happy with the
performance, same was understandable given the late start time and delay from the overtime of the
Cincinnati – Purdue game. Despite this not being the CATS best performance, in the NCAA tournament,
the objective is to survive and advance. Perfection is intact. 35 and 0, and on to the Bearcats on
Saturday we go!!
As performances go, Kentucky today was really something special. Calipari attributed the Cats performance to the fact that his team was so excited to go home for Christmas that it showed on the court. Wow, if that is what the Christmas season brings, Cal may either want to move the players families into Wildcat Coal Lodge the rest of the season, or simply stop the clock and leave the tree and decorations up for the next four months. That excitement produced an 83-44 clinic that was an annihilation of one of college basketball’s other blue bloods, storied UCLA. For Brantley Gilbert fans, the CATS today didn’t lay down a Small Town Throwdown on the Bruins, but a Big Town Beatdown in the Windy City.
The Cats really seem to show up in big time, big promotion games, and take it to another level when the lights are the brightest. Today was just an example of what this team can be when they put it all together. Defensively, this team is simply, phenomenal. Just like the whip job they put on Kansas a few weeks ago in the Champions Classic in Indianapolis, the defensive numbers today were again historic. 24-0 to begin the game, 41-7 at the half, and a field goal percentage of 8.1 % in the first half against an admittedly not great UCLA team, but a good team that was capable of putting some points on the board. As what has now become the norm, it was difficult for UCLA to get a good shot, and when they did, it was contested, or ended up being one of 13 blocks. The Cats defense is going be a constant from game to game, as UCLA Coach Steve Alford put it, ““I think this is a team (Kentucky) that if they were to shoot only 20% and only score 50 points, they will still hold you to 35 points and beat you. They are just that good.”
When the Cats are clicking offensively, this is the result. Shooting 50% from the field and 46.2% from 3Land means any opponent is in trouble. UCLA tried to pack in a zone to start the game, but after Aaron Harrison hit a three just 15 seconds into the game and a second three minutes later it was 16-0 at the first timeout. Devin Booker then went on an 8-0 run by himself with two threes and a dunk in less than a minute, nearly half of his team high 19, and the score was 24-0, at the 12:40 mark. The result was decided. Alford summed it up, “In my 24 years of coaching, this is the best team I’ve coached against. This is a really, really, really good team. If they continue to play at that level defensively, they have a chance to run this thing out.”
The challenge will be how Cal is able to keep this team “excited” for the balance of the season after next week’s showdown with Louisville. The average margin of victory is now 29.1 points a game. Devin Booker was asked the teams mentality when it dominates a team and get a lead on them like today, to which he stated the “We have to keep playing against ourselves. Coach always stresses to us we’re not playing against the other team; we’re playing against ourselves.” If Cal can continue to keep this group “excited” by “playing against themselves”, Cats fans will be the ones excited in April.
INDIANAPOLIS – The Wildcats lit up the Champions Classic and a bitterly cold 15 degree night on the plains of Indiana by sending the fifth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks to a 72 to 40, 32 point demolition, the fourth-worst loss in the program’s storied history. For clarity, this is University of Kansas, the second most winningest program in college basketball history, not Fort Valley State. This was John Calipari’s milestone 600th win, and it will be remembered by the Big Blue Nation as an epic performance and bell weather that this edition of the Cats can be truly and historically special. Calipari entered the post-game press conference and spontaneously began, “No, we’re not that good”, before taking his seat. Thing is, this performance may have been the best defensive display seen by the BBN, in many a moon, if not ever.
No one in Banker’s Life Field House was left questioning the feasibility of Cal’s platoon system on this night as the continuous rotation of long, tall and talented Wildcats constantly turned up the defensive pressure on the Jayhawks. “We kind of bum-rushed them a little bit”, Calipari said. “And every time they looked, there were more tanks coming over the hill.” Tanks? More like bulldozers.
The defensive numbers tell the dominant story. 11 blocks and numerous other altered shots around the rim led by Karl-Anthony Towns and Marcus Lee with four each. This is tempered by at least four more blocks that were taken away by questionable foul calls. When the Jayhawks did get a shot up at the rim, very few were converted. Kansas shot 8 for 33 (24.2%) in the first and 3 for 23 (13.0%) in the second half for a total of 11 for 56 (19.6%) for the game. That is THREE field goals in the second half. THREE! Inclusive of going 0 for 7 from three point land. As great as those numbers are, the most telling stat of the night was Kansas going 3 for 21 (14.2%) from inside three feet. That is 14.2% on layups and shots at the rim, by major college, 5 star talents. No shot went uncontested by the Cats. Kansas had to earn 15 of its 40 points (37.5%) from the foul line due on those contested shots. The pressure was withering, and it was evident in the Kansas players. Those of us in the arena could see and feel the intimidation. Interestingly enough, Cal noted that he did intend to play some zone in the game, but “when I saw the way we defended, I said Nope, not playing any zone today.” No need.
The result could have been so much more lop sided if the Cats would have played better offensively. A major detractor of the platoon system is that it does not allow the players to get in an offensive flow during the game and affects consistent shooting. Kentucky, by no means, played their best offensive game, shooting 25 for 58 (43.1%) and only 6 for 18 (33.3%) from three point land, with most of those 12 missed threes in the first half being open looks. A few of those go down and the game was done by the 4:00 time out of the first half. Despite the shooting numbers, the offensive effort was impressive in the balance of the contribution of each of the players. All 10 of the platooners played between 17 and 21 minutes, each scored in both the first and second half, each scored between 11 and four points, led by Dakari Johnson’s 11, and each had at least 1 rebound, let by Willie Cauley-Stein’s 10. That is Balance.
Are Cal’s Cats as good as they looked on Tuesday Night? The hype this is now going to escalate to astronomic levels. The talk of an undefeated season will only mushroom and there is now evidence that it is entirely possible. The Cats will likely lose a game, or maybe two, somewhere during the grueling and pressure packed season to come. However, if they put on such a dominant defensive display and balanced offensive performance as they did here Tuesday night, they will not lose their last game of the season on April 6th, just down the street at Lucas Oil Stadium, back here in the plains of Indiana.