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Calipari: “If You Kill One Of Mine, I Burn Your Village,” Ex-Cat Not Impressed

gfx - they said itIt’s the kind of quote that mesmerizes a coach’s fanbase.  It’s the kind of quote designed to show just how much a coach cares about his players.

It’s also the kind of quote you don’t read every day.

An excerpt from John Calipari’s new book, “Players First: Success From The Inside Out” has been released online and several passages are interesting.  None more so than this particular snippet:


“I coach for the names on the back of the jersey — not the front.  My players.  They’re sent to me by their fathers, their mothers, their grandmothers, their aunts — whoever in this world raised them and loves them.  Others look a their NBA bodies and consider them lucky.  Future millionaires, just stopping through before they cash in.  That’s not what I see.  They’re kids, some of them as young as seventeen.  They all need me in a different way.  Some want my affection, others my approval.  It’s a burden to be responsible for other people’s children, sometimes a heavy burden.

I go to Mass every morning.  It’s how I start my day and it’s my moment of peace, almost meditation.  If I’m struggling with a player, it’s where I ask myself: How would I want my own son treated?

But I’m also a sinner, as we all are.  If you come after one of my players, I come after you twice as hard.  If you kill one of mine, I burn your village.  It’s the Italian in me.  I’m not proud of that, but it’s who I am.”


It’s also — like every book ever written by an employed college coach — a sales pitch to future recruits and their parents.

No doubt fans of other SEC programs are retching after reading the above selection, but a  Calipari book isn’t for them.  Kentucky fans, on the other hand, will likely accept Calipari’s publication as the 67th book of the Bible.

Regardless of your feelings about UK’s coach or his book, here’s guessing you’ve never seen another coach write the words: “If you kill one of mine, I burn your village.”  That’s a new one.

Former Wildcat Jeff Sheppard, however, does not appear to be frightened by Calipari’s words.  He jokingly referred to UK’s coach as “the enemy” at an event in Ohio — because Sheppard’s Cats played against Calipari’s UMass team in the 1996 Final Four — and he made some serious complaints about his old school’s decision to bring in so many one-and-done players.

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UGA’s Caldwell-Pope Heading To The NBA

mrsec-breaking-newsOne day, two great players leaving.  Kentucky hoopster Nerlens Noel isn’t the SEC’s only high-profile prospect announcing his intention today to jump to the NBA.  Georgia guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope — the SEC’s Player of the Year this past season — has also said he’s exiting school early:


“I want to thank the University of Georgia for all it has done for me.  I want to thank my coaches, teammates and fans for the love and support.”


Caldwell-Pope scored in double-figures in each of Georgia’s 32 games this season.  The sophomore averaged 18.5 points per game for the Bulldogs this season, also pulling down an average of seven rebounds per game.

The NBA website lists Caldwell-Pope as a borderline first-round pick.  That site projected him to a be a lottery-level pick in 2014, if he returned to school (and stayed healthy, and produced, etc).  His stock has been rising on most other draft boards, however, and it’s likely that he’s gotten some pretty positive feedback from NBA sources, likely with the aid of UGA coach Mark Fox.

Caldwell-Pope certainly has the build and the touch to become a successeful shooting guard at the next level.

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Poythress Announces He’ll Return To Kentucky

mrsec-breaking-newsKentucky forward Alex Poythress announced Tuesday he will return for his sophomore season.

Poythress was Kentucky’s second-leading scorer (11.4 points per game) and rebounder (6.2 per game) during his first year in Lexington.

“This year didn’t end like we wanted it to,” Poythress said in a released statement. “I want to come back and do what we said we wanted to do and that’s win a national title. I want to develop more as a player and the competition coming in next year should help me do that.”

That competition will include six McDonald’s All-Americans as part of Kentucky’s 2013 class, which ranks No. 1 in the nation.

Poythress joins center Willie Cauley-Stein and forward Kyle Wiltjer in the decision to return to Lexington next season.

Freshman guard Archie Goodwin has already declared for the NBA draft while freshman forward Nerlens Noel has yet to announce his future plans. But Noel, who’s ranked the No. 1 overall draft prospect by’s Chad Ford, is expected to turn pro.

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UM’s Holloway The SEC Most Productive Player In 2012-13

gfx - by the numbersThe measurables.  At we base our awards and honors on numbers and statistics rather than on eye tests or polled opinions.  We’re not saying one method is better than the other, just that we like to zig when others zag.  And there are plenty of people who zag.

The problem with using statistics for this kind of thing is that not all actions on a basketball court are recorded in box scores.  Heck, some important actions — properly setting a screen, defending a passing lane — can’t really be accurately recorded at all.

So any formulaic system for determining a best or most productive player is going to have flaws.  We know that.  We’ve admitted that.  But we still find it interesting to compare the stats of the SEC’s best players.

Last Friday we revealed our selections for the SEC’s Offensive Player of the Year (Arkansas’ BJ Young) and the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year (Missouri’s Alex Oriakhi).  In both cases we added up the number of positive plays made by each of the league’s 51 players who logged 800 or more minutes and compared those plays to each player’s floor time.

On offense we looked at field goal attempts made (with a bonus given for three-pointers made), offensive rebounds, and assists.  On defense we included defensive rebounds, blocked shots, and steals.

For our overall award, we combined each player’s positive offensive plays with his positive defensive plays.  Then we looked to see who made the most positive plays on both ends of the court, compared to their total number of minutes played.

This year’s winner will hopefully keep Marshall Henderson from ripping us on Twitter.’s “Most Productive Player” honor goes to Ole Miss’ big man Murphy Holloway.  He recorded 366.3 positive offensive plays and 287 positive defensive plays (653.3 total) in 1,057 minutes of action.  By our measure, Holloway accounted for a positive play once every 1.61 minutes he was on the floor.

However, if not for our 800-minute cutoff point, Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel would have nabbed the honor easily.

In 765 minutes of action, the Wildcat’s injured star accounted for 201.0 positive offensive plays and 318 positive defensive plays (519.0 total).  That’s one positive play for every 1.47 minutes played.  We thought that kind of production needed to be recognized whether Noel met our minutes-played requirement or not.

Below you’ll see the numbers for all 51 players who tallied at least 800 minutes.  You’ll also notice that our “All-Numbers Team” consists of the 10 players in the league:


  Player   Off. Pos. Plays   Def. Pos. Plays   Total Pos. Plays   Min. Played   Min./Pos.Play   Honor
1. Holloway (UM) 366.3 287 653.3 1057 1.61 MrSEC Most Productive
2. Stokes (UT) 309.0 239 548.0 923 1.68 All-Numbers
3. Oriakhi (MU) 249.0 250 499.0 845 1.69 All-Numbers
4. O’Bryant (LSU) 292.0 199 491.0 845 1.72 All-Numbers
5. Powell (ARK) 288.0 188 476.0 819 1.72 All-Numbers
6. Buckner (UM) 249.0 277 526.0 967 1.83 All-Numbers
7. Caldwell-Pope (UGA) 309.0 271 580.0 1086 1.87 All-Numbers
8. Young (FLA) 253.0 203 456.0 874 1.91 All-Numbers
9. Carmouche (LSU) 256.3 150 406.3 800 1.96 All-Numbers
10. Murphy (FLA) 264.6 169 433.6 854 1.96 All-Numbers
11. Young (ARK) 325.3 107 432.3 866 2.00
12. Pressey (MU) 408.3 145 553.3 1113 2.01
13. Chubb (AUB) 215.0 187 402.0 816 2.02
14. Roberson (A&M) 205.0 185 390.0 815 2.08
15. Coleman (LSU) 229.3 175 404.3 870 2.15
16. Hickey (LSU) 272.0 172 444.0 957 2.15
17. Ross (MU) 225.0 161 386.0 832 2.15
18. Poythress (UK) 221.6 160 381.6 852 2.23
19. Caruso (A&M) 203.3 158 361.3 815 2.25
20. Ware (MSU) 188.0 176 364.0 824 2.26
21. Jackson (USC) 241.6 160 401.6 918 2.28
22. Goodwin (UK) 298.6 154 452.6 1048 2.31
23. Johnson (VU) 297.3 153 450.3 1047 2.32
24. Henderson (UM) 312.6 137 449.6 1064 2.36
25. Lacey (AL) 258.0 188 446.0 1054 2.36
26. Sullivan (AUB) 271.6 151 422.6 998 2.36
27. Sword (MSU) 223.3 137 360.3 854 2.37
28. Wilbekin (UF) 290.0 123 413.0 995 2.40
29. McRae (UT) 278.6 154 432.6 1075 2.48
30. Thomas (MSU) 168.6 186 354.6 917 2.58
31. Releford (AL) 269.3 122 391.3 1027 2.62
32. Turner (A&M) 311.6 120 431.6 1139 2.63
33. Payne (AUB) 181.3 146 327.3 865 2.64
34. Cooper (AL) 230.3 112 342.3 912 2.66
35. Rosario (UF) 268.0 88 356.0 951 2.67
36. Summers (UM) 228.3 84 312.3 855 2.73
37. Boynton (UF) 270.3 116 386.3 1060 2.74
38. Golden (UT) 251.3 78 329.3 905 2.74
39. Bright (VU) 167.0 180 347.0 966 2.78
40. Richardson (UT) 189.0 155 344.0 981 2.85
41. Odom (VU) 212.3 134 346.3 999 2.88
42. Randolph (AL) 204.0 124 328.0 987 3.00
43. Williams (UM) 169.0 94 263.0 818 3.11
44. Harris (A&M) 222.6 82 304.6 965 3.16
45. Fuller (VU) 175.3 94 269.3 866 3.21
46. Wallace (AUB) 141.0 102 243.0 810 3.33
47. Stringer (LSU) 205.3 77 282.3 950 3.36
48. Mays (UK) 225.6 95 320.6 1090 3.39
49. Bloodman (MSU) 163.0 109 272.0 931 3.42
50. Reese (A&M) 157.6 86 243.6 865 3.55
51. Smith (USC) 177.0 67 244.0 885 3.62



*  Our Defensive Player of the Year (Missouri’s Oriakhi) ranked eight slots higher than our Offensive Player of the Year (Arkansas’ Young) on our overall Most Productive list.  Oriakhi was the more complete player — statistically speaking — accounting for 249 positive plays on offense and 250 positive players on defense.

*  Ole Miss’ Henderson got most of the spotlight this season, but the statistics suggest once more that the Rebels were truly driven by their inside tandem.  Holloway (1st) and Reginald Buckner (6th) gave Mississippi the highest-ranked pair of players in on our list.  Henderson ranked 24th on our list of overall most productive players.

*  LSU’s Johnny O’Bryant (4th) and Charles Carmouche (9th) and Florida’s Patric Young (8th) and Erik Murphy (10th) were also top 10 duos.


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Injured Noel Raps – Yes, Raps – That He Might Return To UK Next Season

nerlens-noel-mugFreshman Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel might not be making headlines on the court these days, but he’s still getting plenty of pub off it.  After suffering a torn ACL last month in a game at Florida, Noel’s ability to zip straight to the NBA became a hot topic.  That discussion lasted for all of about eight hours.  Once a gaggle of NBA scouts let it be known that the Wildcats’ center would still be top 5 pick even with the injury, the topic cooled.

Could it now be heating back up?

Noel briefly shares rapping duties in “Number 9,” a song posted to yesterday and referred to as a “New UK Basketball Anthem by Wes Grams.”  It’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a college/sports rap about a hoops team aiming for its ninth all-time national title: “Feelin’ straight ’cause we got number eight, now it’s time that we grab number nine.”

Uh, OK.

But at about the 1:50 mark of the song Noel takes the mic and shares the following:


“They talk about the draft, be me in?  Don’t sweat it.  I might come back, but I don’t know yet.”


Now, I have no problem admitting that I might have missed that “be me in” line.  My rap tastes run toward Public Enemy and not the modern stuff, so maybe there’s a new phrase or two that I’m just not hip to.  Hard to believe, I know.

But it’s the last line that’ll pique Kentucky fans’ interest.  Might Noel really pass on millions of guaranteed NBA dollars in order to spend another year risking yet another injury in the college game?

If you believe so, then you’ve probably already set “Number 9″ as your ringtone.


NUMBER 9 – Wes Grams ft Nerlens Noel


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Patches O’Calipari Uses Dodgeball To Prep His UK Team For VU

patches-ocalipariIn its pre-Vanderbilt walkthrough on Tuesday, John Calipari surprised his team with a new activity — dodgeball.  Following the loss of Nerlens Noel, two beatdowns at the hands of Florida and Tennessee, and plenty of media attention brought on by their coach briefly suggesting some of his players were “uncoachable,” Kentucky’s team certainly needed some stress relief.  An outside-the-box thinker, Calipari opted for a game in which his players and coaches could throw objects at one another.

Thankfully, he didn’t begin by throwing wrenches.

Before putting on a UK football helmet to protect his head and hair, the Wildcats’ coach told his team: “Look, I ain’t dumb.  I know some of you want to throw at me.  Don’t believe I don’t want to throw at some of you dudes, too.”

The game worked, sort of, as Kentucky held off struggling Vanderbilt 74-70 in Lexington last night.  You can watch highlights of last night’s game right here.  You can see highlights from the Cats’ dodgeball game here, complete with Calipari’s take on why the game was necessary:


“People watching my team are saying they look like their tentative.  Well, you feel the weight of the world.  I keep saying, ‘Don’t feel that way.  This isn’t life or death or we’d have died twice already.”


One can only hope that Calipari properly prepared his team for their dodgeball match with this officially-sanctioned how-to video from the American Dodgeball Association of America:


The 5 D's of Dodgeball


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UK Release: Torn ACL For Noel


According to a University of Kentucky press release, freshman center Nerlens Noel has been diagnosed with a torn ACL after an ugly knee twist suffered during the Wildcats’ loss at Florida last night.  Rehab will likely be in the six- to eight-month range.  What this injury means for Noel’s NBA draft prospects is anyone’s guess.

Like South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore this past football season, we hate to see any great player — or any player, really — go down to injury.  Best wishes to Noel on his recovery.

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SEC Hoop Streaks Snapped: Kentucky Loses Game And Possibly Noel, Georgia Falls To Alabama

basketballsFlorida 69 – Kentucky 52. Video Highlights

1. Gators junior and senior dominate young Kentucky team. Five different Florida players score in double-figures.

2. Kentucky’s five-game winning streak snapped. Nerlens Noel left the O’Connell Center in a wheelchair, underwent tests at Gainesville hospital. Hit his left knee on the padding behind the goal. Sixteen NBA scouts were in attendance Tuesday night.

3. Florida center Patric Young: “His leg was wobbly. (It) looked like his knee was dislocated. It was gruesome. I don’t even want to think about it.”


Alabama 52 – Georgia 45. Video Highlights

4. Back-to-back late three-point baskets by Alabama help the Crimson Tide snap the Bulldogs five-game winning streak.  Rodney Cooper led Alabama with 14 points.

5. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led Georgia with 22 points, almost half of the team’s total. “We were rushing everything, taking dumb shots, turning the ball over instead of taking care of the ball, and having bad shot selection.”

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SEC Hoops: Ole Miss OT Win At Vandy Puts Rebels At 3-0 In Conference, Vols Drop To 0-3 After Loss To Kentucky

basketballsOle Miss 89 – Vanderbilt 79 (OT) – Video Highlights

Marshall Henderson hit a three-pointer at the buzzer for the Rebels to send the game into overtime.  ”I just kind of floated in there, but I’ll take it.”

Henderson’s shot to tie the game was preceded just a few seconds before by a three-pointer from Vanderbilt’s Kevin Bright giving the Commodores a 78-75 lead with 3.2 seconds to go.

Check out the back-to-back three pointers below.

Ole Miss outscored Vanderbilt 11-1 in the overtime period.  Henderson led the Rebels with a game-high 26 points. The Commodores had a 67-54 lead with 8:39 to go in regulation. The loss drops Vanderbilt to 6-9 overall and 0-3 in conference play. With the win, Ole Miss goes to 14-2 overall and 3-0 in the SEC. It’s the first time Ole Miss has started 3-0 in the conference since the 2005-2006 season.

Kentucky 75 – Tennessee 65.  Video Highlights

Kentucky took the lead for good with 6:16 to go in the game. Nerlens Noel finished with 12 points, nine rebounds, two assists, six blocks and four steals.  The sequence below of a putback at one end and a blocked shot at the other shows how dominating he can be.

Kyle Wiltjer’s 17 points led four double-digit scorers for Kentucky which now stands at 11-5 and 2-1 in conference play.  Jordan McRae was Tennessee’s lone double-digit scorer with 23 points. The Vols fall to 8-7 overall and 0-3 in the SEC.  Tennessee is 4-34 all-time in Rupp Arena.

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WOW Headlines – 10/18/12

South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore missed practice yesterday and may not start or even play versus Florida on Saturday
Big XII commissioner Bob Bowlsby says either Arlington, Texas or New Orleans will host the new Big XII/SEC “Champions” Bowl
The NCAA has cleared Kentucky basketball freshman Nerlens Noel to practice and play
Steve Spurrier says he will discipline DT Kelcy Quarles for punching LSU OL P.J. Lonergan during last weekend’s game
Tennessee AD Dave Hart says “There are more challenges than met the eye” when he took over the Vol program last year
LSU OL Alex Hurst has left the program and may not be back because of “a family thing”
Auburn has not decided on a starting QB for Saturday’s game at Vanderbilt
Former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer on coaching again: “I don’t think you can ever say never.”
Kentucky, Florida and Missouri are all ranked in the first basketball coaches poll of the season
Get all your SEC news from… seven days a week, 365 days a year

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