BBL: Walker’s comeback; Polson, Lacey, Dawson

Antonie Walker (AP photo)

Antonie Walker (AP photo)

Big Blue Links for Thursday:

Ken Berger of CBS Sports: “To the business types and families crammed in this vessel with a former NBA All-Star, the only priorities were a palatable meal and a clean connection. The tall, athletic-looking man in his mid-30s could have passed for a neighbor or a youth basketball coach or just another traveler coping with the misery of the road. The only giveaway — the lone symbol of Antoine Walker’s long and accomplished NBA career — was worn on his head.” (Hat tip All Ky Hoops)

Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader: “Of course, freshman Jarrod Polson was nervous when Kentucky Coach John Calipari ordered him into the game at South Carolina last weekend. It was the first significant minutes for a player perceived to be a human victory cigar. Nothing more. ‘Yeah, a little bit,’ he said Wednesday. ‘I’m not going to lie. I was a little bit nervous. But at the same time, I tried to keep my composure.’”

Larry Vaught of the Danville Advocate-Messenger: “Forget about the winning lottery numbers or even when it might quit snowing. Those answers don’t matter. What matters is this – where is Boyle County linebacker Lamar Dawson going to play his college football? Dawson has less than a week now before his 9 a.m. press conference on Feb. 2 – the first day of the national signing period – when he’ll pick either Kentucky, Tennessee, Oregon, Southern California or Central Florida.”

Matt Dover of Roll Bama Roll: “The second uncommitted player Bama is targeting is Trevor Lacey, a 6’3″ guard from Butler High School in Huntsville who is ranked as a top-40 national player. He has offers from Alabama and Auburn in addition to Kentucky and UConn. As a top-40 national player, it’s clear he’s pretty highly regarded by the recruiting gurus, but beyond that, long-time Alabama high school basketball observers insist that Lacey is the best scoring guard to come through the state in recent memory, and that he will provide instant offense for someone as a freshman in college.” (Hat tip Aaron’s UK Basketball Blog.)

Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader: “No coach wants to lose three straight games. But Coach Matthew Mitchell said last week that those three losses to start January probably “couldn’t have come at a better time” for the No. 17 Kentucky women’s basketball team. They came in time to – he hopes – kick-start the rest of the Cats’ season.”

John Calipari on Twitter: “I’m very excited to have Coach Larry Brown visiting for a few days. He was at practice & got a good look at our team & can help us improve.”

Terrence Moore of AOL FanHouse: “The timing was $%#@&^ awful. If you’re a coach with a potty mouth, you don’t want your tongue flapping during a game when large portions of the universe are watching courtesy of an ESPN camera in your face. Oh, and the Bible doesn’t exactly condone the use of words not found between Genesis and Revelation. Other than that, I hadn’t a problem with University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari yelling what he did at highly gifted but occasionally undisciplined freshman Terrence Jones.”

Eric Lindsey of Cat Scratches: “In desperate search of answers, Mitchell made two significant moves that led to the current turnaround. The first was to solve the issue at point guard. Instead of relying on two inexperienced freshmen to run the offense, Mitchell went with his backup plan, A’dia Mathies. Last year’s Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year slid from small forward to the point, and just like that, the offense started to run more smoothly in the half court. The second thing Mitchell did was examine what he was doing wrong.”

T.J. Walker of the Kentucky Kernel: “If it’s always darkest before dawn, the sun is rising on the UK women’s basketball season. After losing three straight games to start the new year, No.17 UK (15-4, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) has won four straight games and is looking to make it five Thursday at Mississippi (9-9, 2-4 SEC). ‘We have a very important game against Ole Miss,’ UK head coach Matthew Mitchell said. ‘They are a very, very active and athletic team, They play a real extended zone defense that can cause us definite problems, because we don’t handle that very well.’”

Richard Skinner of the Cincinnati Enquirer: “With the Kentucky basketball idle between last Saturday’s win at South Carolina and this Saturday’s game against Georgia, coach John Calipari had a chance to teach in practice rather than prepare for an opponent. Among the things Calipari said he planned to work on were the press and game situations. ‘(The press) looks like it’s going to be something that’s good for us,’ Calipari said.”

Thomas Beisner of KSR: “Cal spoke earlier in the week about the things they would be working on (execution, situations and the press), but a look at the two stats that have dictated their success to this point is intriguing to say the least. The Cats, for the most part, have shot the ball well and rebounded in every win this season. In their first matchup against the Dawgs, Kentucky made 30% of their threes and were out-rebounded by three before bouncing back and shooting a combined 43% from downtown and averaging +7 rebounds in the following two games. But, in the last two, the Cats have again struggled in both areas and shot 29% from deep and got beat on the boards in both.”

Ryan Clark of the Kentucky Enquirer: “With UK off this week I thought it may be a good time to get some non-UK thoughts out of the way, the first one being something that many UK fans may not like: I don’t hate Duke. Not one bit. I was thrilled to see them beat undefeated UNLV back in the early 90s, and I was happy for them when they won the title the following season. Granted, I did not like the way Christian Laettner carried himself, or that he got away with the stomp on Aminu Timberlake, but I didn’t hate the whole program for that.”

T. Kyle King of DawgSports: “I’m not going to lie to you: I don’t think there’s a snowball’s chance in Hell of the Fox Hounds winning this game. Kentucky is ranked 14th in the nation, tied for the top spot in the SEC Hoops Power Poll, and projected as a four seed in the tournament. Georgia is coming off of a physically and emotionally draining double-overtime loss on Tuesday night in which all five starters played at least 32 minutes each and two played 47 minutes apiece, whereas the Wildcats are well-rested after having a week to prepare for the Red and Black.”

Bill King of the AJC: “Lots of debate among UGA fans after Tuesday night’s game over whether the Dogs should have fouled Florida’s Erving Walker at the end of the first overtime rather than letting him make an admittedly surprising 30-foot 3-point shot. Georgia was leading 85-82 with 6.7 seconds left and the conventional thinking in such situations is that you foul, give up a couple of free throws and get the ball and the game. But Georgia didn’t foul Walker and didn’t even cover him that closely, apparently relying on distance and the long odds against him making the shot.”

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