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UK’s Calipari: We Played Better Without Teague

John Calipari knows a thing or two about point guards.  First, he knows how to sign the top ones.  Second, he knows how to get them ready for the NBA (though the first point could play more than a small role in the second one).

Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, John Wall, Brandon Knight.  All stars.  Now enter Marquis Teague.  He’s not among the SEC’s 30 best scorers.  And while he is third in the league in assists (4.5 pg), his assist-to-turnover ratio (1.4 to 1) ranks just 10th best in the conference.

When you’re playing at Kentucky and following in the footsteps of former Calipari greats like Rose, Evans, Wall and Knight, those numbers just aren’t good enough.  And the coach clearly wants more from his freshman.

After Kentucky came from behind to pass and eventually rout Arkansas State last night, the Cats’ coach made it clear that the team got better when Teague left the floor:

“Obviously, without him on the court we played a lot better, there is no argument there.  But he also has to play better for us to win, I know that.”

True, but an ouch just the same.

As Jerry Tipton of The Lexington Herald-Leader points out, Teague is just 3-for-16 shooting in the last two games and he’s just 5-for-27 from 3-point range in UK’s last 10 games.

With SEC play tipping off this weekend, it’s no secret that Kentucky will need Teague to be more careful with the basketball.

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SEC Headlines – 6/23/11 Part Four

1.  Ex-Kentucky hoops star Brandon Knight thinks he’s going to be part of a really good NBA draft class.

2.  Ex-Tennessee basketball player Scotty Hopson is trying to “focus on the process.”

3.  Vanderbilt had three players make Athlon’s All-SEC football squad.

4. has ranked the SEC’s best special teams units…

5.  And the league’s best punters and kickers.  Up next: The SEC’s best long-snappers.

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SEC Headlines – 6/22/11 Part Two

1.  Trey Thompkins’ NBA draft stock is dropping.

2.  Brandon Knight looks to be in good shape because teams are always chasing point guards…

3.  And John Calipari says he likes his ex-guard’s “swagger.”

4.  Terrence Jones got advice from his coach and his mom before returning to UK for his sophomore season.

5.  Here’s a list of the SEC’s top safeties.

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Liggins Stays In The Draft

The one Kentucky basketball player least likely to keep his name in the NBA draft has decided to do just that.  Junior DeAndre Liggins decided after a weekend combine in New Jersey that he will leave UK early for the cash of the pro game.

“Coach (John Calipari) encouraged me to come back for my senior season, but based on the feedback I got from NBA personnel, I felt it was in the best interests of me and my family to stay in the draft,” Liggins said.  “I learned a lot in my three years here at Kentucky, and I appreciate all the support I got from the people at UK as well as the Big Blue Nation.”

Calipari — though he believed Liggins should return — still has his player’s back publicly.  “I feel comfortable that DeAndre had all the info that he needed to make this decision.  I fully support what he’s doing, and I will do everything I can to help him reach his dreams.”

Liggins joins one-and-doner Brandon Knight on the exit platform.  However, reigning SEC Freshman of the Year Terrence Jones passed on the draft and decided to return to Lexington.  Knight’s decision was expected.  Those of Jones and Liggins are much more curious.

Here’s a look at all three players’ stats from this past season.

T. Jones
B. Knight
D. Liggins

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No Surprise: UK’s Knight Staying In Draft; Jones 50-50

Freshman Kentucky point guard Brandon Knight made himself an official one-and-doner today by announcing that he would keep his name in the NBA draft. 

“It was an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up,”
Knight said at a press conference in Lexington this morning.  He believes — from NBA feedback — that he can be a Top 10 pick in this summer’s draft.

Meanwhile, fellow freshman Terrence Jones posted on Twitter last night that’s he’s “50-50″ on staying/leaving.  Jones is expected to be a lottery pick.

DeAndre Liggins has not made a decision yet, but many expect him to return to UK for his senior season.

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SEC Headlines – 5/5/11 Part One

1.  With Janoris Jenkins dismissed from the team, it’s a good thing Florida’s secondary worked without him (due to an injury) this spring.

2.  Here’s a post-Spring look at Georgia’s secondary.

3.  Former Wildcat DeMarcus Cousins has talked to Kentucky’s NBA draft hopefuls, but he says he hasn’t given them “stay or go” advice.

4.  John Calipari says Brandon Knight “got the confirmation that he wanted” from NBA execs this week.  Color him gone.

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UK’s Liggins, Jones & Knight To Test NBA Draft Waters

Kentucky got good news yesterday when Doron Lamb announced that he would be returning to Lexington for this sophomore season next year.  But there were no surprises this morning when UK released the news that junior DeAndre Liggins and freshmen Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight would put their names into the NBA’s draft bin.

None of the three players have signed with an agent or plan to… at least according to the press release.

“I support the decision these three have made to take advantage of the process of putting their names in the draft,” John Calipari said in the statement.  “They were a joy to coach this year and I would love the opportunity to continue to coach them again next season.  I will always support my players in weighing their options and doing what is personally best for them and their families.”

By taking such a pro-exploration stance, UK’s coach does two things.  First, he sends a strong signal to prospects and recruits that he is most concerned with their well-being and success.  Second, he eases potential backlash from fans who want their players to stick around for more than a year.  That, too, shows prospects and recruits that Calipari will have their back if they head to Lexington.

Smart business.

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Lamb To Return To UK

The University of Kentucky athletic department announced this afternoon that freshman basketball player Doron Lamb will return to the Wildcats next season, passing on an early entry into the NBA draft.

Lamb was a member of the SEC’s All-Freshman team this past season.  He averaged 12.3 points per game while leading the SEC as a 48.6% three-point gunner.

Meanwhile, Brandon Knight’s mother has told Jerry Tipton of The Lexington Herald-Leader that her son has made his NBA-or-UK decision, too.

“He know what he wants to do,” she said.  “… It’s not for me to announce.”

Until Knight decides to speak for himself, the Commonwealth waits.

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SEC Headlines – 4/19/11 Part Two

1.  This writer says Florida’s schedule in 2011 is tougher than “the gauntlet” the Gators faced in 2006.

2.  Here’s a breakdown of what was learned at Georgia this spring.

3.  This writer/blogger says there are still areas of lingering concern for the Dawgs.

4.  Injuries leave Kentucky with a thin roster for this weekend’s spring game.

5.  The Bluegrass State awaits word from Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones regarding their NBA plans.

6.  A good line: One UK faculty member got into the debate over a new arena and suggested a replacement for Rupp be built with “as many luxury boxes as can possibly be stuffed into the structure.”  He’d then like to see those luxury boxes used as state-of-the-art, high-tech classrooms.  “I see no other way for central campus to finally obtain a long overdue and much needed modern classroom building.” 

7.  This writer says some Tennessee fans are starting to buy into conspiracy theories involving the school’s president and chancellor… both of whom previously worked at Florida.  Gasp!

UPDATE — 8.  Cornerback Justin Coleman — an early enrollee — didn’t back down from star receiver Justin Hunter during the Vols’ spring game.

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Calipari Chats About His Team And The NBA

Yesterday we told you that Kentucky’s John Calipari laughed off rumors of an NBA departure… without actually closing the door on the possibility.  In fact, he didn’t bother to offer up even a non-denial denial. 

But when it came to his players and their NBA goals, the coach had quite a bit to say.  Some of the points — as reported by Jerry Tipton of The Lexington Herald-Leader – are as follows:

* It’s a no-brainer for Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight to test the draft waters, but the NBA’s current labor strife might make their final decisions tougher.

* DeAndre Liggins should go ahead and put his name in the draft as well.

* If Doron Lamb gets stronger and tougher he could be “a lottery pick a year from now.”

* And the coach isn’t worried about what his roster will look like next year.

But the most interesting comment might have come while the coach discussed the deadlines used by the NCAA and the NBA… and how they don’t match.

“The problem is, the NCAA didn’t work with the NBA to work on the drop-dead date,” Calipari said.  “The NBA date (to declare for the draft) is the 24th, and the list (of players who declared) doesn’t come out until the 28th or 29th so the NBA can’t work out those kids or talk to them until the list comes out.  The NCAA say you have until May 8th (to withdraw from the draft), but you can’t miss class.  We’re trying to do some stuff to get them more information.”

Ya think agent William Wesley might be providing some info to Cal and his Cats?

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