When you are one of the first players to join the Lakers via the Lottery as Julius Randle was, that means that Kobe Bryant is probably going to apply some pressure on you. He knows his time is running out and that he needs the help from the young guys if they are to prove the pundits wrong by making the playoffs.
On Sunday night, Randle put up eight points, five rebounds and two blocks in their 98-91 preseason victory over the Jazz.
Bryant was asked about Randle, and specifically the opportunity that Randle has to play with Kobe, Steve Nash, Carlos Boozer, and other veterans.
“It means he can’t f— up,” Kobe said. “Seriously, if you f— this up you’re a really big idiot, you know what I mean? ESPN are idiots, but you’re a really big idiot if you manage to f— this up.”
“It’s up for me to mess it up. Kobe said, ‘You can’t mess it up, unless you want to,’” Randle said. “I [would] intentionally have to mess things up, having a coach like Byron, learning from greats like Kobe, Boozer, Nash, all those guys. And, on top of that playing for the Lakers organization. I’m in the perfect situation, I can’t mess it up.”
When he mentioned ESPN, he did so because they listed him as the 40th best player in the league entering the year. If he’s healthy, he is nowhere near 40. If he’s not, he is nowhere near 40 either. So No. 40 is a terrible mark.
And Kobe is right about Randle, too. This is a great situation for him. And really this team has no pressure because most don’t expect them to make the playoffs. If Randle can help the veterans get there, it would be a tremendous rookie season for the former Wildcat.
The game ended late on Saturday night and then the Bengals got crushed yesterday, so I haven’t really been in the mood to write. Well, better than late than never, here are my takeaways from LSU’s crushing of the Wildcats.
Bad starts have got to stop – They were able to overcome rough starts in their last two games, but you can’t do that in Death Valley. You can’t do that against better opponents. The game started big return, personal foul, roughing the passer, 1-yard touchdown. Less than three minutes in and it’s 7-0.
Special Teams not so special – A big reason why they got off to such a bad start was the play of the special teams. A huge kick return. A punt return touchdown. An pseudo on-side, squib, floater kick recovered by LSU. Kentucky did not play well enough to win this game on any side of the ball. The special teams made it impossible.
No creativity on offense – The Wildcat isn’t going to work. Especially when it’s fourth and two and a young, but talented team like LSU knows you are going to run it. You can’t keep throwing it out sideways in the flats and expect it to work. I get that LSU’s defense is down, but they are still too fast for those plays to work. And I get that UK’s receivers weren’t creating separation. I get that it’s tough to move the ball against LSU. But, once plays didn’t work, I didn’t see any kind of effort to try something new. And stop it with the QB Read option. Stop it.
Everyone has to play better – It isn’t just Patrick Towles. It isn’t just Ryan Timmons. While those guys probably stand out the most after last Saturday. You got to stop the run. You have to run it. All three aspects have to play better.
We jumped the gun a bit – I thought UK would play LSU tough on the road. I thought LSU was down and that the Cats were on the rise. I thought UK had come a lot further than they probably have. I jumped the gun in thinking they could compete in Death Valley. A lot of people did. But, they got whacked. And maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe this helps them realize they still have a ways to go. Maybe now they can regroup and play Mississippi State tough.
And while this is a disappointing loss, it doesn’t negate all of the positives that have occurred so far. This program is still trending forward. They just need to play better next week.
Fans need to show next Saturday – I don’t want to hear the “Wait for basketball” talk from UK fans.
There is nothing more annoying than directing someone’s attention towards hoops when football is at the forefront of the conversation. They need to show up on Saturday. They have to fill the house. It’s a 3:30 game. It’s the No. 1 team in the land. Show up.
Last night, 24,000 fans once again showed up to Rupp Arena to watch what was basically glorified starting lineup introductions and some practice drills. As a kid I was enamored by this whole thing, but as I get older and older, it has lost it’s luster a little bit. Back when it was Midnight Madness, it was cool. I guess it is still kind of cool, but it’s not my cup of tea anymore. I’d much rather be at Rupp for the Blue/White game in a little over a week.
But, still you can’t disregard that they fill the house for this thing. And it is the fans first chance to see these freshmen in action. Sort of.
Here are my three thoughts from last night.
Cal didn’t even give his yearly State of the Bluegrass address. After being introduced by Drake, Cal grabbed the mic. But, he hardly spoke. He hugged Drake. Said, “How about this guy?”. Talked about Drake some more. Thanked the fans. And then directed the fans to the videoboard. On the videoboard was his speech from 2009. Just a replay. He then dropped the mic and said, “Let’s play ball”.
Drake didn’t even sing, he just spoke. There was one more player to introduce even though the Wildcats were out of players. That player…Drake. He got the same type of graphics. The same type of intro, “From Toronto, Canada….Drake!” I get that Drake is a great ambassador to the UK program. He resonates with recruits and undoubtedly helps them get certain players. But, what is the point to bringing in Drake if he isn’t going to drop, “Last name ever, first name greatest”? Not even a little of “Started from the bottom, now we here”? Nothing. He just spoke for a little bit, introduced Cal, and then stood next to Cal as they ran 3 on 3 and 5 on 5.
One person that did sing was UK women’s coach Matthew Mitchell. And he wasn’t that bad. It just went on way too long.
I am going to love Tyler Ulis. I already knew this after watching the Cats play in Bahamas. Heck, I knew this as soon as he committed. I have always been enamored by undersized guards, for obvious reasons. Ulis will rank as one of the smallest players in UK history. When I think of small guards at UK, I think Travis Ford. You also had Leroy Byrd in the early 80s, but he didn’t play too much. Ulis is the real deal and I can’t wait to watch him play. Just watching him check Andrew Harrison is fun enough. But, he plays big. He plays hard. It’s going to be fun.
Oh, and a bonus thought. This team is going to be stupid good. I spent most of last night trying to figure out who would start for me. I came up with the Twins, Poythress, Towns, and WCS. But, you can go so many different directions. Jay Bilas made an interesting thought about this team. Remove their top five guys and the rest of the team is still at Top 10 team. It’s pretty amazing. And Derek Willis, a guy who will get limited run, didn’t miss a shot last night.
In spite of senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes' repulsive anti-amnesty ad airing last week, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC) decided to continue supporting her (through their New Power PAC), against incumbent Mitch McConnell, according to an email sent out to members this morning. KFTC sent a similar letter to their allies, which would include organizations focused on immigrant rights, explaining their decision.
But KFTC also sent a letter to Grimes, "expressing in the clearest terms our disappointment in her and her campaign. All this may also lead to more public expression of our disappointment." KFTC may be Kentucky's largest grassroots social justice group, and it isn't just an environmental group. Other issues KFTC organizes around include economic justice, new safe energy, an honest democracy. That includes working in solidarity with Kentucky's immigrant community in the fight for immigrant rights.
Disclosure: I'm a proud KFTC member, but even I wasn't, I believe the KFTC Executive Committee got this one right, and their comprehensive analysis is helpful to putting Grimes ad in perspective.
Here's their complete heart-wrestling email below:
We wanted you, as a KFTC member, to see this message from our Executive Committee as soon as possible due to the timeliness of this issue in the media. We're also mailing the letter to all our members so you'll be receiving a hard copy early next week. We wanted make our best effort to ensure that all KFTC members have a chance to read this important message.
October 17, 2014
Dear Fellow KFTC Members,
It is a privilege to work with and for you as your new KFTC officers. We are all Kentuckians, and we are reminded every day that – as our favorite KFTC hoodie states – “we are our best hope for change.” The undeniable truth of that message has never been more clear than it is this year.
We believe that we – all of us, together – have the opportunity to build New Power in our Commonwealth, with a just economy powered by clean and safe energy, creating more and better jobs, a safe environment, and a bright future for our communities and our children, all dependent on and made possible by a healthy democracy.
This year in particular, KFTC has been focused on building the healthy democracy we deserve and expect, where everyone has the opportunity and incentive to participate, where each voice is heard and respected, where public decisions are made to advance the interest of all of us, not the privilege of a few, where we act from our shared values to achieve our common purpose.
As KFTC, we understand that creating the democracy we imagine relies on participating in the democracy we have, and our experience tells us that is no easy task. We are working hard to secure the right to vote for the formerly incarcerated; we help thousands register to vote so they can participate; we gather information about the positions of political candidates and share it with hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians. We shine a light on candidates who share our values and support the issues we care about, and sometimes on those who do not. And finally, we encourage everyone to make their own, best choice, get to the polls on election day, and exercise their right and their voice. Building the Commonwealth we deserve requires many things, including political leaders with vision, integrity, and a commitment to shared progress.
We entered 2014 knowing that it would be a big year, a decisive year. As you know, Kentucky is host to one of the most watched political contests in the country this year, the campaign between Senator Mitch McConnell and his challenger, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. The democracy we have has placed a big opportunity – and challenge – on our doorstep.
The KFTC Steering Committee has regularly discussed and debated this election ever since the 2012 elections, primarily because we believe that Kentucky desperately needs a new U.S. Senator. Senator McConnell has enjoyed a long and storied career in Washington DC, and there is no doubt that he is one of the most powerful politicians in the country. However, he has consistently used his power to block progress. He has promoted and protected the practice of mountaintop removal and other destructive mining while blocking efforts to promote mine safety; he has weakened our tax system, making it less fair and insufficient to meet our most basic needs; he has been the nation’s primary proponent of flooding our political system with corporate money; he has perfected the art of division and gridlock in order to protect the interests of his sponsors, to the detriment of the rest of us. He has not given us – in fact he has worked hard to prevent – the democracy we need or the representation that all Kentuckians deserve.
This past week, we are disappointed to say, we didn’t get the representation we deserve from his challenger either. Some of you may have seen what is fast becoming an infamous political ad about immigration run by the Grimes campaign in which she uses demeaning and de-humanizing language to describe undocumented immigrants and pledges to oppose efforts to ever include them in our democracy. For us, it was not just another political ad. It was a clear statement that exemplified the worst elements of our political culture: exploiting fear, inspiring prejudice, assigning blame to some of the most vulnerable among us instead of seeking solutions that reflect our values and our shared humanity. For many Kentuckians, and many KFTC members, it was a last straw, and forced some of us to consider stepping back from the table altogether.
Speaking for ourselves, we were outraged, we were disappointed, and we were saddened by this episode. The lack of integrity that contaminates our elections is poisonous to our democracy. We also recognize that an election is a choice. Voting one’s conscience by not voting is one legitimate and principled choice. We also understand that one of these two politicians will be the U.S. Senator from Kentucky. The consequences of this election are so great we believe it is important to encourage Kentuckians to participate.
We believe that if we want an increase in the minimum wage, Secretary Grimes is the choice that can help make that happen. If we want to see some relief for students and new graduates facing a mountain of student debt and a weak job market, Secretary Grimes is the candidate to support. If we want to see improved mine safety protection, pension protection for miners, and investment in new job creation in the coalfields, it’s the same choice. If we care about a healthier democracy, Secretary Grimes has been a champion of voting rights. On issue after issue that we care about, when it comes down to a choice, the difference between the two candidates is not only clear, it is stark.
Four years ago, KFTC formed the New Power PAC in order to publicize our issues and express our support for candidates who align with our values and views. At our September Steering Committee meeting, we debated the considerations and consequences in the Senate race, including discussion of Grimes’ lack of vision on coal issues. The Steering Committee voted to “spotlight” candidate Grimes, in essence endorsing her, based upon the many issues where her position aligns with ours. Her immigration ad rocked our resolve this week, but we believe there is so much at stake in this race that we are choosing to go forward with our support and our voter empowerment campaign.
Here’s what we are doing. We’re sending this letter to all KFTC members, encouraging us all to stay engaged. And we will be sending a similar letter to our allies in the state, reminding them of what is at stake and encouraging them not to step away. We are sending a letter directly to Alison Lundergan Grimes expressing in the clearest terms our disappointment in her and her campaign. All this may also lead to more public expression of our disappointment.
And then we are getting back to work. We’ve mailed our voter guide to more than 52,000 Kentucky households and posted it online at www.kentuckyelection.org. We’ve hired and trained more than 40 voter empowerment organizers and deployed them in six regions of the state. Next week, we all kick into get-out-the-vote mode. We’ll be sending out more than 75,000 postcards encouraging voters to get to the polls and support candidates that support our issues including Elisabeth Jensen, John Yarmuth, Ron Leach – and Alison Lundergan Grimes. Our goal is to get 50,000 voters – including unlikely voters from the communities where we organize – to the polls on election day. We need your help going door-to-door, on the phones, and speaking with your friends and family to reach that goal. In an election this close, with this much at stake, those voters could be the difference makers.
Thank you for your commitment to KFTC, to a brighter future, and to a healthy democracy. We continue to believe we can have the democracy we imagine, but we are reminded daily that it will take a lot of work to get there. Your commitment to building KFTC translates into more power and growing influence over the political debate and the electoral outcome, every election cycle. We hope you’ll join us for the next two weeks in taking the next step.
Dana Beasley Brown Chairperson
Carl Shoupe Vice Chairperson
Elizabeth Sanders Secretary-Treasurer
Tanya Torp At-large Representative
Sue Tallichet Immediate Past Chair
Paid for by New Power PAC, www.newpowerky.org. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.
Update 6: 58 PM: KFTC has made the email/letter to members public via social media:
With a late win last week in Gainesville, LSU avoided their first 0-3 start in the SEC since 1999. This is a young team, but they are maturing quickly. They never quit on the road against the Gators and were able to sneak out a win late. This is a trend that you saw even in their loss to Mississippi State. After being down a lot early, they hung in there and nearly pulled off the comeback.
How young is this LSU team? Nearly 20 freshmen play significantly. They lost both of their starting tackles on defense as they left a year early for NFL Draft. But, now these freshmen are eight games into their season and no longer are they considered freshmen.
Year after year LSU is known for their blistering defense. Is their defense up to that level this year? No. They lack the talent and experience of year’s past, but they do have talent and they are getting better. A sign of that improvement could be the fact that they held Florida to 2-12 on third down and forced three turnovers against the Gators.
At quarterback, look for both Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris to take snaps against UK. Jennings took every snap last week and looked poised. He will get the start, but with this game being at home, I would not be surprised to see Harris at some point. Harris is a true freshman and is quicker and has a stronger arm than Jennings. But, he is also battling a high ankle sprain. Even without an ankle sprain, Jennings would likely see the majority of the snaps simply because of his experience. He has a better grasp of what it is like to play at this level. With Jennings in there, look for LSU to run a lot of read option and to get him to roll the pocket in order to create a run/pass option.
True freshman tailback Leonard fournette was the number one recruit in the nation a year ago. He is as talented of an athlete as there is. He’s a big guy with great speed and a tremendous ability to find holes. He is shifty, difficult to tackle, and when he gets in open space has breakaway speed. Last week in his first start, he racked up 140 yards and two touchdowns.
The Tigers have two fantastic receivers in Travin Dural and Malachi Dupree. Dural leads the country with 26.1 yards per catch and has caught 24 balls for 626 yards and six touchdowns. Dupree is a tall, lanky wide receiver that has 11 catches for 257 yards and four touchdowns.
On defense, look for Danielle Hunter and Jermauria Rasco on the defensive line and Kendell Beckwith, an All-SEC performer, and Kwon Alexander at linebacker. They also have a heck of a kicking game. Colby Delahoussaye kicked the game winner against Florida last week and is one of the best kickers in the country.
Kentucky has a chance in this one, but it’s going to be tough to pull off the upset in Death Valley. I think they play it close, but the young LSU defense will create a turnover late that UK is unable to overcome.
After last week’s win over South Carolina, Kentucky needed to roll past ULM to continue their momentum. After a slow start that is exactly what they did. Here are my six takeaways.
Slow starts have got to stop – Kentucky cannot continue to start like this and continue to win. This is now two weeks in a row where the Cats have done absolutely nothing in the first quarter. On offense they looked stagnant. On defense they made ULM look like Oregon. And this is a ULM team that gave up nearly 600 yards and managed just two scores against Arkansas State last week. A hangover after the South Carolina win was not expected, but you can certainly understand it. Still, if you want to win any of your final six games, it’s going to be tough sailing with a slow start like today and last week.
After the game, Stoops agreed, “I thought we started a little flat and a little lethargic. We need to have a better week of preparation, I thought we were a little flat all week.”
Big Plays – One thing that UK teams absolutely could not do in year’s past is make big plays on either side of the ball. Today, it was the big play that helped them dig themselves out of a 14-3 hole and eventually role to an easy victory. It was Javess Blue’s 83-yard touchdown pass from Towles that made the score 14-10 and got them going when they really needed it. Then Josh Forrest picked off a Pete Thomas pass just over a minute later and ran it back 29 yards for a score and a 17-14 lead. They never looked back. At that point in the game, it didn’t look like they had what it took to sustain long drives and get points. That made these big plays even more important.
Speaking of Blue. How about that one-handed catch? We’ve seen guys pull it in with one hand before. What really impressed me was his ability to hold it up against his body why he was doing a somersault. Pretty sick catch. Big plays.
Would love to see more conventional runs – Line it up and run it right at teams like ULM. You are better than them. Your o-line needs to impose it will against lesser teams. So run it at them. None of this Wildcat stuff. None of this Patty Towles read option stuff. Oh, and don’t throw it with JoJo Kemp. Line up, hand it off, allow D.J. Warren to block, and allow JoJo Kemp, Braylon Heard, Boom Williams, or Mikel Horton. That is exactly what happened on Williams’ 58-yard run at the end of the third quarter. But, why do we have to wait so long to see this? I get last week. You would have to be the worst coach in history to not continue to run the Wildcat. I mean you were getting 12 yards a pop. But, this is ULM. Be conventional. Impose you will. And run it.
Third downs of old – One of the strengths of this team compared to teams of old is their ability to get stops on third down and pick up thirds on offense. Today it was pretty ugly on both sides. ULM picked up just 4 of 16 third downs in their loss to Arkansas State. Today they started off 4 for 6. They were just 3 for 13 the rest of the way, but still. And on O’s, UK managed to pick up just 1 of 11 third downs. Far too many times they found themselves in third and long and right now they just aren’t showing the ability to hit passes down field consistently.
Dancin’ Patty Ice – How many times did Andre Ware mention Patrick Towles’ dancing feet during today’s broadcast? Too many to count. But, he’s right. Towles just does not look that comfortable in the pocket right now and he is missing some throws that he has to hit if they are going to pull off some upsets the rest of the way. His numbers are fine as he finished 16-28 for 216 yards, three touchdowns and no picks. But, I don’t see marked improvement from the beginning of the year, something I was hoping to see at this point. I won’t say that I’ve seen regression, but he isn’t getting better. For this team to take that next step, I believe that Towles has to take some positive steps.
Boom goes the dynamite has got to stop. Not the player, the stupid announcers thinking they are creative.
Not the player. Kentucky needs Boom to go, but the announcers have got to stop saying, “Boom goes the dynamite”. It was awful when Ball State student Brian Collins said it on a student broadcast and it is still awful. Be more creative.
He passes it to the man and boom goes the dynamite! Everyone pays attention to that part of this video so much, but the best part may be the rest of it. Just watch the whole damn thing. His pronunciations of Hakim Warrick and Wayne Simien are money. Then the other student anchors reactions at the end. It’s so awesome.
There is no denying Boom Williams’ importance on this team, though. He definitely gives Kentucky a spark, which was evident of his kickoff return to start the game.
Stoops on Williams after the game, “He was anxious to get out here and he started it with a big kickoff return and then had the big run so it was good to get him out here.”
I grew up in West Louisville. I dreamed of raising my family in the beautiful homes surrounding Chickasaw Park and Shawnee Park. I admired the African-American doctors, lawyers, and teachers who were the anchors of our community. I played with the children of my father’s friends, who, like my father, worked in Louisville’s numerous factories. […]