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October 13th, 2019

Notes from Sunday’s women’s basketball clinic

It was another wonderful day in the land of Kentucky basketball, as I had the opportunity to spend my Sunday afternoon with the Caliparis, the 2019-20 men’s team and, most importantly, the ladies of BBN. For the first time in a couple of years, the John Calipari (soon to be renamed the Ellen Calipari) women’s basketball clinic returned to Rupp Arena, and from what I saw, it was a big hit. Previous clinics have been held inside Memorial Coliseum, but this year’s venue allowed the women to get a real inside look into basketball’s most-famous building.

The day started with pictures and autographs, which means Ashton Hagans had to jump on Instagram Live at least a few times, of course. The ladies loved it.

Next, the players got to be re-introduced to the women, which was especially nice for those who weren’t able to attend Big Blue Madness. Don’t worry, Immanuel Quickley still stole the show:

Didn’t see enough dancing? Don’t worry, the women at the clinic didn’t either. One attendee requested a dance off, and what do you know, the Cats come through with a dance off.

Quickley is the easy pick for best moves, but I think EJ Montgomery and Keion Brooks are sleepers in this competition.

And yes, before you ask, Coach Calipari did call Nate Sestina “white Nick” when he asked if he can dance. I also really appreciated the amount of John Wall dances that were included. Who’s your pick for the team’s best dancer?

The dancing was fun, but my personal favorite part of the event each year comes during the assistant coaches’ question-and-answer session with the women. For nearly an hour, the ladies had the chance to put the assistants on the hot seat and, for the most part, the coaches were pretty transparent. Here are some of the best moments from the Q-and-A.

Joel Justus began by explaining the sport’s latest rule changes, including the deeper three-point line, the 20-second shot clock following an offensive rebound, the ability to review goal tending (with an LSU game joke, of course) and the way officials can call unsportsmanlike conduct fouls. That last one led to a conversation about flopping, which gave Coach Justus the perfect opportunity to get in a Louisville dig.

He discussed the team’s annual preparation before the rivalry game, saying they had to teach the freshmen each year how to react when opposing players would flop and try to draw a charge. He’s referencing this, right?

Either way, he says things should be different now: “There’s a new coach at Louisville though, so they’re not teaching that anymore.”

Coach Kenny Payne was asked about the most-improved returning player, and he gave the honor to Immanual Quickley.

“The way he’s mentally approaching it is very different. Last year, he was second-guessing everything he was doing,” Payne said. “The biggest growth is when you see guys not worried about what we’re thinking; it’s hard to please coaches.”

Coach Payne also weighed in on arguably his favorite player, his son. Zan Payne is still coming off an injury, and his dad said he’s not where he wants to be shooting-wise just yet, but that’s not all his father wants for him.

“Brad [Calipari] was an example to my son of how you earn respect from your teammates; it’s your work ethic and your discipline. If he can walk away from this and earn his own place, I’m proud.”

Speaking of Brad Calipari, Coach Payne says he still checks in with the youngest Cal. Apparently, the last text he received from Brad read: “I didn’t realize how much I would miss being at Kentucky.”

And speaking of family ties, Coach Justus also weighed in on the idea behind a basketball “family.” Despite the one-and-done era, Justus discussed Kentucky’s ability to hold people together in the long-term, not just while everyone is still wearing their UK uniform. It’s certainly not just for social media: “It’s a real family and not just a hashtag.”

Coach Payne took it a step further.

“We’ve had guys like Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight, then it went to Anthony [Davis] and Michael Kidd Gilchrist. You’re in their life and they still call you and tell you how they’re doing,” Payne said. “Sometimes, we as fans… say ‘this year’s team is going to be just as good.’ But it’s not just an input. Each person coming into this program has to earn that, and we take it for granted sometimes just how good the players were the year before. We’ve had a hell of a basketball [program] here.”

And finally, there was this quote on Nick Richards’ shooting, which was pretty impressive during Friday’s Big Blue Madness.

“If we have seven guys that are good three-point shooters, do we need eight? I would say I’m ok with him shooting threes once or twice, but this team is going to need post play very bad,” Payne said. “His behind better be giving us some post play, even though he can shoot.

Finally, the women got the chance to interact with the team’s strength and conditioning staff, who challenged them to a plank-off. Ellen Calipari and LEX18’s Jennifer Palumbo went head-to-head, and both put up strong performances.

Put that on Instagram!

All in all, it was a fun day with the team and the women of the BBN. The annual event is just another great reminder of how special this program is, and how lucky we all are to be part of the BBN. For those in attendance, feel free to comment about your experience or tweet me, @MaggieDavisKSR. And for those of you who weren’t in attendance, we’ll see you next year!

KSR’s day at the Kentucky Castle Spa


After a busy couple of weeks covering the Cats, the ladies of KSR had the opportunity to unwind and try out one of Kentucky’s newest luxuries: the spa at the Kentucky Castle, which just opened over the summer. Our fabulous Editor-in-Chief Tyler Thompson, our incredible business manager Maria Taustine and myself were treated like royalty by the staff, and we’ll definitely be making a return trip soon. Here’s a quick recap of our relaxing day, and some information about how you can experience it all for yourself.

When I say it was one of the coolest days of my life, I’m speaking literally. In other words, I decided to subject myself to -220 degree temperatures (in the name of self care and journalism, of course).

Behold, the magic of cryotherapy. 

Before my three-minute session, I had no idea what cryotherapy is or what the benefits could possibly be to merit freezing yourself. But the staff at the spa were wonderful and explained everything: after you get out from the cold, your body sends oxygenated blood throughout your body, which leads to quicker healing. This science is similar to athletes using ice baths for recovery. A lot of athletes have taken to cryotherapy for post-workout or injury recovery, but it’s also beneficial for us non-athletes, as it can also help with insomnia, arthritis, general soreness and weak immune systems.

They also assured me it would be a different kind of cold – it’s not the same kind of cold you experience at a late November football game or on your walk from the parking lot into Rupp Arena in February. The tank uses nitrogen to cool your body, so it’s more of a “dry” cold. I’m a baby when it comes to the cool temperatures, so if I can do it, anyone can.

Plus, you get to wear these fun socks and slippers (no Antonio Brown feet here!)

We were also each treated to massages by Rachel, and we all agree it was the best massage any of us have ever had. Not to be dramatic, but Rachel may have changed my life; she found and fixed knots in my back I didn’t even know existed. We all spend a lot of time hunched over our computers for our jobs, and Rachel’s magic hands and lavender oils were the perfect remedy.

Next up on our itineraries were customized facials by the fabulous Twana. As a rookie spa visitor, I had no idea what I was in for, but my expectations were definitely exceeded. Twana used a combination of steam and serums and creams and warm towels and more, all of which left my skin feeling great. Mrs. Tyler even decided to buy a few of the skincare products to take home with her. Meanwhile, I also tried a fancy light that zapped the bacteria found under my skin.

If you’re going to let someone pick at your face, you better trust them as much as you trust Tyler Herro at the free throw line. Trust me when I say Twana went 3-for-3 from the charity stripe.

You can learn more about the amazing spa by checking out their website HERE. When you book your appointment online, use promo code KSRSPA for 20 percent off your services and products. If you book over the phone, just mention KSR or the “podcast deal” to get your discount.

Remember the Kentucky Castle also has a delicious restaurant with seasonal, local offerings, as well as plenty of fun, community events. You can also contact me on Twitter @MaggieDavisKSR with any questions. Happy spa-ing!

WANTED: Blue Coat men and – for the first time – WOMEN

I’m spending my Sunday afternoon with the ladies of the BBN at John Calipari’s annual women’s clinic (more to come on that later!), and I already received some exciting scoop. The notorious Blue Coats are seeking new membership. For the first time in their long and storied history, the exclusive club is no longer just a “brotherhood.” They’re also accepting women.

I spoke with the president of the blue coats, Charlie Higginbotham, who gave me some insight into the legendary group of volunteers. Higginbotham also discussed the importance of accepting women in the prestigious group, saying the group is finally “joining the 20th century.” He says there are approximately 12 women already working as blue coats, but he’s hoping to add more before the start of basketball season.

Currently, there are around 200 blue coats, and they’re looking for approximately 25-30 new members. It’s an impressive but busy life for those in the club. For every home football game, Higginbotham says they need approximately 200 volunteers; for basketball games, the number is closer to 130. You can find them at various UK Athletics events, and they help with the boys’ and girls’ high school Sweet 16 inside Rupp Arena. You can also find them at “specialty” events related to the university, such as Sunday’s women’s clinic.

The Blue Coats pay $90 in annual dues, which includes the name tag and tie (you’ll have to get the actual blue coat separately!).

How excited is Higginbotham to grow the group? He said I could put his personal email address on this post for those interested in joining the legendary group.  Send an email to [email protected] for more information and an application to wear the most famous blazer in the Bluegrass.

SEC Football Takeaways of Week 6

Photo: USA Today

Another week has come and gone in the college football season. The SEC consistently gives the sport amazing games, moments, and players. Here are my five biggest takeaways in the conference from week six.

1. The First Big Upset

Just when we all thought this college football season was becoming too boring and too predictable, South Carolina made us remember why this sport is so special.

Their double-overtime victory over No. 3 Georgia sent shockwaves throughout the entirety FBS football. Make no mistake here: this was a monumental loss for the Bulldogs. Remember Ohio State’s only loss last season to a not-so-great Purdue team which kept them out of the playoff? Well, that should be the exact same situation here.

Yes, its great for the Gamecocks that they won, but they still aren’t a good team. In fact, they may be worse than Purdue was last season. What I am saying here is that unless a decent amount of chaos happens in front of them, this loss will keep the Bulldogs out of the playoffs.

All signs point to LSU and Alabama being the two teams from the conference who will get in, and there is no earthly way the committee lets three SEC teams in. I honestly think Georgia is already missing the playoffs. It will take a massive upset from the Tigers or the Crimson Tide to get Georgia back into the picture.

Meanwhile, this does throw the SEC East into a bit of an interesting situation now. Florida and Missouri have a legitimate chance to win the division if they just beat Georgia head-to-head. Time will tell how it all plays out, but I will hammer home my Missouri opinion: they will sneak up on people. This loss now leaves the door wide open for them.

2. LSU Proves Its Worth Again

Another almost-perfect performance from Joe Burrow gives the Tigers another victory over a top-10 team. This time, it came over a Florida squad that actually played one of its best games of the season. Losing by just two touchdowns in Death Valley isn’t all that bad.

But the real story here is the Tigers. They have the best two victories out of anyone in college football (Texas, Florida) and they should absolutely be the No. 1 ranked team in the country right now.

Of course, the good ole’ Alabama love affair that so many still have with Crimson Tide is strong as they are still ranked No. 1 this week. Don’t get me wrong, they are of course really good. But their wins don’t even begin to compare with LSU’s.

Anyways, LSU will be truly put to the test over the next three weeks as they play Auburn and Alabama back-to-back. I believe in Burrow and company this year, but that stretch will define how far the Tigers will go this season.

3. Bowden Saves Kentucky

All of Big Blue Nation owes a sincere “thank you” to Lynn Bowden.

He came in and played quarterback for the majority of the last night’s game with Arkansas, and basically won the contest for the Wildcats.

If Kentucky had lost the game, there would’ve been a very good chance that the Wildcats were not going to make a bowl game. However, you can put those worries away for the moment.

Standing at 3-3 overall and 1-3 in SEC play, Kentucky has to get three wins out of Georgia/Missouri/Tennessee/Vanderbilt/UT-Martin/Louisville. UT-Martin and Vanderbilt should give UK five wins while Georgia and Missouri will probably put them at five losses.

How far the Wildcats go this season will depend on their performances against Tennessee and Louisville. Considering that both of those teams got big wins on Saturday, Kentucky still needs to further improve to get that sixth win.

4. Alabama Rolls On

The Crimson Tide won in typical fashion on Saturday over Texas A&M — Tua Tagovailoa threw four touchdowns in what was a great day for his offense.

However, I’m still concerned about Alabama’s defense. They look considerably worse than last year, and they had another questionable day against the Aggies.

While a team like Clemson can completely shutdown Kellen Mond, he can still get over 350 yards of offense and three total touchdowns on the Crimson Tide.

Look, Tua will keep Alabama in any game it will play. But if they go up against the likes of Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Joe Burrow, and yes, Jalen Hurts, I don’t see it going well for the Crimson Tide.

Time will tell how much the defense improves, but I still think they have a long way to go.

5. Tennessee Finally Finds Some Success

For this week’s most underrated takeaway, I’m going with Tennessee’s big win over Mississippi State. The Volunteers have finally learned how to win a football game, and yes, it is surprising.

All jokes aside, they controlled their game with the Bulldogs which is not great news for Kentucky. Tennessee still has talent on their team. I had them pegged for seven wins this season which admittedly doesn’t look like a great prediction now.

However, I still think they can absolutely make a bowl game. Still left on their schedule is South Carolina, UAB, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt. Quite frankly, those are all winnable games for the Volunteers.

If Jarrett Guarantano can play like he did yesterday against Mississippi State (6/7, 106 yards), then I think those four wins could very likely happen for Tennessee. Despite how they started out, the length of the college football season may prove to be the Volunteers’ saving grace.

Mark Stoops moves up on UK coaching win-record list

Kentucky’s victory over Arkansas was vital for the Wildcats’ bowl dreams, the team’s morale and the fanbase’s commitment to the remainder of the season. That’s what really mattered Saturday night. However, Kentucky’s win also gave Coach Mark Stoops some extra “cred.” Saturday’s victory was Stoops’ 39th ‘W’ as UK’s head coach.

With the win, Stoops ties Coach Rich Brooks for the No. 5 spot on Kentucky’s all-time winningest coaches list. Bear Bryant leads the list with 60 wins, followed by Blanton Collier and Jerry Claiborne, who are tied with 41 wins each. The victory also gave Stoops his 29th home win with the Wildcats, tying him with Coach Collier and Fran Curci for third place in school history.

Stoops’ win-loss record at Kentucky is now hovering near 50 percent – he’s currently sitting at 39-42 (48.1 percent). Could we see Mark Stoops also become only the third coach in UK football history to surpass a .500 win coaching record? Bear Bryant did it (60-23 for 72 percent), as did Blanton Collier (41-36 for 53 percent). Coach Curci was close (47-51), but he didn’t quite get there before the end of his tenure; Mark Stoops could.

With just six games left on the schedule, Stoops would have to win five of those outings to claim the accomplishment this season. That’d be tough, but it makes it clear just how close Coach Stoops is to actually breaking the .500 line. If the Cats can grab another handful of wins this season, Stoops will be set up to break 50 percent next year.

His 39 wins already puts Coach Stoops ahead of Coach Charlie Bradshaw (1962-68), John Ray (1969-72), Bill Curry (1990-96), Hal Mumme (1997-2000), Guy Morriss (2001-02), and Joker Phillips (2010-12).

Social Media Game Reactions from win over Arkansas

Lynn Bowden ran wild and the Cats picked up an exciting victory over Arkansas last night at Kroger Field. With Arkansas scoring on the second play of the game and the offense starting slow, social media began to buzz about this being another “letdown.”

A win over a 2-3 Arkansas is not necessarily “sexy,” but considering the circumstances, this is was a win that was completely needed.

Here is what people were saying on social media after the win:

On Lynn Bowden


Week 8 Coaches Poll Released

(John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)

After two Top 10 teams suffered their first loss of the season there was a little extra shake up in this week’s Coaches Poll.  However, the top remained unchanged with Alabama and Clemson holding down the #1 and #2 spots respectively.  LSU made the jump to #3 after their very impressive 42-28 victory over Florida.  The loss dropped the Gators down only two spots to #9 while Georgia dropped 7 positions to #10 after being upset by South Carolina.

Wake Forest, Virginia, Memphis, and Texas A&M dropped out of the Top 25 this week while Cincinnati (#21), Washington (#23), Appalachian State (#24), and Temple (#25) made new appearances.  The Southeastern Conference features 5 teams in the top 11 of this week’s Coaches Poll.  To see the full Top 25 you can click HERE.

WATCH: Kash Daniel’s air guitar during coin flip

Kash Daniel served as one of Kentucky’s captains during the Cats’ matchup against Arkansas, and he certainly brought the energy before the game had even officially started.

In this video, captured and tweeted by Lacy Robinson, you can see Daniel clearly playing the air guitar before the coin flip. It’s hard to tell what music was playing, but Daniel was definitely feeling it.

On the night, Daniel totaled five tackles – four by himself and two that were tackles for loss.

OFFICIAL: Kentucky vs. Georgia kickoff set for 6 p.m. on ESPN

(Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)

It’s official: the Kentucky Wildcats will face-off against the Georgia Bulldogs at 6:00 p.m. in Athens next Saturday. The game will be broadcast on ESPN. The selected time slot was one of two options for the Wildcats’ fight against Georgia; the other option was a 3:30 kickoff on CBS.

The SEC also announced the kickoff times for two other conference match-ups next week:

In case you missed it, No. 3 Georgia fell to South Carolina 20-17 at home last night in an absolute stunner of a game that went to double overtime. Georgia kicker Rodrigo Blankenship ended the game with a miss on a 42-yard attempt.

One thing is certain: the Bulldogs will be angry come next Saturday at 6 p.m.

2020 five-star forward Scottie Barnes set to visit Kentucky next weekend

Photo: Jon Lopez/Nike

Kentucky basketball will host one of the nation’s top forwards next weekend.

According to Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader, 2020 five-star forward Scottie Barnes will take an official visit to Kentucky for the school’s annual Blue-White Scrimmage.

In an interview with Roberts at the Team USA Minicamp this weekend in Colorado Springs, CO, Barnes said that Kentucky is a legitimate option for him as his recruitment comes to a close in the coming months.

“The goals I really want, Kentucky really brings to that table,” Barnes told the Herald-Leader. “I want to be a one-and-done, get to the league. And not just be in the league for a few years — they proved that they really get people to the league and they stay 10, 15 years. I want to be like that in the future.”

As we have heard John Calipari preach over the last several weeks, Kentucky’s massive financial success in terms of its NBA talent is resonating with elite high school talent like Barnes.

“He really talked to me about what he can do for me as a player,” Barnes said. “He talks to me about my goals and dreams, and how he can really make those come true.”

Barnes, who cut his official list down to eight back in February, recently said he would focus on four schools moving forward: Oregon, Florida State, Kentucky, and Miami (FL).

This weekend, however, Adam Zagoria reported that the top-ten prospect has cancelled his upcoming visit to Miami and will no longer consider the Hurricanes.

Jerry Meyer of 247Sports compares Barnes to former Kentucky forward Jared Vanderbilt, highlighting the 6-foot-9, 215-pound prospect’s elite motor and rebounding skill.

“(Barnes is a) top-level athlete with tremendous length for a combo forward,” Meyer said of the five-star forward on his official player scouting report. “Elite-level motor and competes at a top-of-the-charts level. Can defend any position on the court. Rebounds outside of his area. High-level passing ability. Extremely dangerous starting the break after a defensive rebound. Also, a lethal finisher. Scores very well off the dribble inside 15 feet. Has a lot of room to improve as a shooter. Projects as a one-and-done and possible top-five pick.”

Check out some of his most recent highlights below:

Watch this one closely, BBN…


FINAL DAY: Sweatshirt Madness at the KSR Shop!

The KSR Shop and Kentucky Branded are having their own madness: Sweatshirt Madness! Take advantage of Buy One, Get One FREE sweatshirts!

Head to ShopKSR.com to check out the new designs and stock up to help you cheer on the ‘Cats in the cooler fall temperatures. Sale ends at midnight.

[KSR Shop]

WATCH: Stoops crowdsurfs after win over Arkansas

How big was Kentucky’s 24-20 win over Arkansas? Big enough for Mark Stoops to go crowdsurfing in the locker room afterwards. End your night by watching the team celebrate a much-needed W:

Thankfully, he didn’t break any ceiling tiles like he did at Missouri.