Big Blue Links for Thursday:
Louisville is not in the SEC, but the Cardinals prompted plenty of discussion at SEC Basketball Media Day in Charlotte, reports Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader. In the debate over Rick Pitino and what was known and not known, the subject of just how accountable a coach is for what goes on in his program was a hot topic.
“We can’t know what’s going on,” Texas A&M Coach Billy Kennedy said. “The programs have gotten so big and staffs have gotten so big, to say I know everything in my program would be a lie.”
It was this time last year when the winning stopped for Kentucky football. A 5-1 start turned into a 5-7 ending. Will this year be different? That’s my column for Thursday. Starting Saturday at Mississippi State, we’ll see how much progress UK football has made under Mark Stoops. Can the Cats finish?
UK receiver Garrett Johnson showed flashes of brilliance last season as a true freshmen. This year, the Florida native has been much more consistent. Johnson put in a ton of work over the off-season, reports Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader. That work is paying off this year.
Kentucky fans will get a look at new commit Wenyen Gabriel in an event at Paul Dunbar High School, reports Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader. Gabriel went from unranked prospect to Top 10 to a future Wildcat.
Ben Simmons isn’t all that impressed with Ben Simmons, reports Tipton from Charlotte. The LSU freshman was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the nation last season, but says he hasn’t paid much attention to all that. He just wants to play basketball.
Ben Simmons was voted by the media as the pre-season Player of the Year. Here are the pre-season All-SEC selections:
Player of the Year: Ben Simmons, LSU
First Team All-SEC
- Danuel House – Texas A&M, G, 6-7, 212, Sr., Fresno, Texas
- Damian Jones – Vanderbilt, C, 7-0, 245, Jr., Baton Rouge, La.
- Skal Labissiere – Kentucky, F, 6-11, 225, Fr., Port-au-Prince, Haiti
- Stefan Moody – Ole Miss, G, 5-10, 179, Sr., Kissimmee, Fla.
- Ben Simmons – LSU, F, 6-10, 225, Fr., Melbourne, Australia
- Tyler Ulis – Kentucky, G, 5-9, 160, So., Lima, Ohio
Second Team All-SEC
- Dorian Finney-Smith – Florida, F, 6-8, 220, Sr., Portsmouth, Va.
- Malik Newman – Mississippi State, G, 6-3, 178, Fr., Jackson, Miss.
- Charles Mann – Georgia, G, 6-5, 215, Sr., Alpharetta, Ga.
- Alex Poythress – Kentucky, F, 6-8, 230, Sr., Clarksville, Tenn.
- Tim Quarterman – LSU, G, 6-6, 190, Jr., Savannah, Ga.
- Alex Caruso – Texas A&M, G, 6-5, 186, Sr., College Station, Texas
Another heralded SEC rookie is Mississippi State’s Malik Newman, who talked to the media in Charlotte.
According to the SEC Media, Vanderbilt will finish second behind Kentucky in the SEC standings. The predicted order of finish:
- 1. Kentucky 406
- 2. Vanderbilt 357
- 3. Texas A&M 344
- 4. LSU 333
- 5. Georgia 266
- 6. Florida 258
- 7. South Carolina 204
- 8. Mississippi State 203
- 9. Ole Miss 184
- 10. Auburn 168
- 11. Arkansas 118
- 12. Tennessee 86
- 13. Alabama 85
- 14. Missouri 33
Here’s Calipari kidding Vandy coach Kevin Stallings:
And here’s Marcus Lee and Tyler Ulis talking to the media in Charlotte on Wednesday:
The next step in Dak Prescott’s maturation process is a run/pass balance. The MSU quarterback is not running as much as in past years, but his passing game has improved. Prescott has thrown 11 touchdown passes this season. He has yet to be intercepted.
Saturday’s Tennessee-Alabama matchup in Tuscaloosa features the return of UT running back Alvin Kamara to Bama. Kamara started out with the Crimson Tide, but ended up at a junior college before landing in Knoxville.
Auburn’s Will Muschamp is not a fan of stats. That’s nothing new, says Michael Niziolek of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. Then again, Auburn’s stats on defense are nothing to look at, which probably doesn’t please the Tigers’ defensive coordinator.
Photo of John Calipari at SEC Basketball Media Day by AP