Saturday, June 19, 2010
Mickey Factz - Access Granted
Cee-Lo - ChamPain
... and do the John Wall.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
While anyone who wasn’t oblivious to the lures of being a top-5 draft pick knew that Demarcus Cousins and John Wall were guaranteed to have single year tenures, less expected Daniel Orton and Eric Bledsoe to have such high stock and bolt. Orton was supposed to effortlessly assume Jarvis Varnado’s place as the most feared big in the country. With his impeccable size and extra year amongst the college ranks, Orton could have put up monster numbers while inheriting literally all of Pat and Boogie’s frontline minutes. He could have showed everyone that he could stay out of foul trouble as well as have his face-up game utilized to prove his versatility and cement his status as one of Billy G’s proudest leftovers. Him and Bledsoe were supposed to become the nation’s elite 1-2 punch, usurping that claim from their former teammates the previous year. Bledsoe was going to slide into the pure point role and pair with Brandon Knight to cement the strongest backcourt combo along with the stupid Dukies (Kyrie Irving and Andre Dawkins). With his full year of off-guard experience, Bledsoe could have curbed his turnovers and established his elite passing skills that would so strongly compliment his otherworldly athleticism. But neither scenario will come to fruition as the pair’s raw skills and limitless potential has allowed them to be a first round pick on everyone and their mom’s draft board. So instead of bringing in some strong complimentary pieces to cement a mostly established Elite 8 roster, Coach Cal had to improvise an entire new team and managed to pull five more highly touted freshmen and an untapped Gator transfer into the fold. So here’s UK’s prospective do-over line-up.
C: Enes Kanter/Josh Harrellson
PF: Terrence Jones/Eloy Vargas
SF: Darius Miller/Darnell Dodson/Stacey Poole
SG: Doron Lamb/DeAndre Liggins/Jon Hood
PG: Brandon Knight/Jarrod Polson
The biggest difference that you need to understand right off the bat is how many more 3-point shooting options we will have this year. Doron Lamb is the perfect spot-up guard that Eric pretended to be for about 4 games, while Brandon Knight is a consistent threat to create his own long-range opportunities whenever he wants. Terrence Jones is also a more than capable shooter who will pick his spots since he has the ultimate floor-game in the mold of a player like Lamar Odom. Enes Kanter will be a surprise threat as a fast break trailer. While Coach Cal may or may not utilize his shooting specifically or regularly in the offense, you just need to know without a doubt that Enes is dead-eye from anywhere on the floor. I promise. With those four freshmen mixed in with the hopefully improving 3-point confidence of Darius and DeAndre plus Darnell as the ultimate wildcard, we should never have a game next season similar to the West Virginia brickfest. On paper, it’s impossible with this roster.
The second point of note is our reconstructed front court. The Cousins/Patterson/Orton trio has been completely reconstructed into a Kanter/Jones/Vargas trio with Harrellson on deck if Vargas doesn't adjust to the level of competition right away. As weird as it is to say, Jones could possibly be more productive than Pat was for most of the year in his power forward slot. The Dribble Drive Motion Offense is made to especially highlight two very specific skill sets. The first is a penetrating point guard who can finish with power to guarantee that the defense is drawn to the rim on any given play. Examples 1A, 1B, 1C, and 2 are Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, John Wall, and Brandon Knight. The second skill set is a forward who's a shooting threat, but one who can put the ball on the floor with ease. Unfortunately, Coach Cal hasn't had a premier prospect in that mold since Shawne Williams, who was more famous for his marijuana and codeine issues than his basketball skill set. So T-Jones is in line to be that guy in the system next year. Just know that it's gonna be fun. Before Terrence committed, Coach Cal was faced with a roster where he may have had to go exclusively with line-ups composed of 4 guards and a forward. But now we have the legitimate size threat again with the frontline clocking in at 6'11"/6'9"/6'11" that may see a rotation similar to last season's.
One potential situation that won't really be an issue, but will inevitably be written about shamelessly, is the point guard position. Knight will be the only true point in the rotation as no one expects Jarrod Polson to ever hit the floor besides in Krebs-like mop-up duty. Therefore, either Brandon is going to have to catch on seamlessly and stay on the floor every single minute or we'll have to have to institute a back-up-by-committee approach. That committee could very well look Gillispie-like with Miller and Liggins attempting their hand at ball handling duties along with Lamb whenever needed. So while it may look like a possible derailing point at some instance in the season, there will never actually be a real drop off at the lead guard during regulation. Plus, with a guy as multi-faceted as Jones, there will always be a capable player to step up who can get advance the ball to where it needs to be if Knight happens to be taking a breather. So, barring an actual Knight injury, don't worry about it.
Speaking of back-ups, we'll have quite a serviceable bench mob next season. DeAndre seems the likely candidate to be the first guy pulling off his warm-up jersey every night as he could actually, if needed, fill in any position 1-4. With his will to be an energy player, general unselfishness, and vastly improved shooting confidence, I like him as one of the best 6th men in the NCAA. Vargas will most likely be the first big to substitute in at the first sight of foul trouble. While not half the athlete of Orton a year ago, Eloy is actually significantly taller and has a hint of SEC experience and a full year of JuCo dominance under his belt. Hopefully that will translate into significant production, both on the defensive end and creating his own scoring opportunities on the offensive glass. Assuming that Hood doesn't make summer strides to leapfrog him or that Poole isn't quite an immediate contributor, Darnell Dodson is probably slated as the resident 8th man. If he can improve his general decision making, Dodson's shooting will be as strong a weapon as any team has coming off their bench. That kind of surprise player every few games is what changes this squad from a very, very good team to a great team. The last bench factor would be if you have faith in Harrellson's summer progression. He could never manage to break into the rotation last year, stuck even behind Stevenson. But with his sizable frame and sweet shooting stroke, any quality floor time from him would make us as deep a team as there is out there. Our bench is full of potential X-factors everywhere on the floor. If two or so of these guys click each game while the starters are chilling, there will be very few teams that could give us a run for our money.
Some may think that any expectations of matching or surpassing last season's breakout are utterly ridiculous. I thoroughly disagree with that notion. Though none of our freshmen are as singularly talented or naturally dominant as John Wall turned out to be, this recruiting class is much more balanced and provides the pivotal shooting proficiency that we lacked for the majority of the season. No one will be asked to play out of position as Bledsoe was and no one will have to find how they can change their already established game to fit the offense as Patterson did. While we'll miss out on the locker room leadership and general experience of Pat, Perry, and Ramon, Coach Cal will find the right buttons to press with the right players to fill that void. My last surprise prediction for the upcoming season is about the potential production of our new foreign big man Enes Kanter. I think he'll garner attention for National Player of the Year. While a more appealing wing player like Harrison Barnes will probably wind up as the top pick in the 2011 Draft as teams hope he's the next Kobe/Durant-type franchise player, I have an inkling that Kanter will set himself up for that second slot. Just a hunch. I'll throw this link up again approximately a year from now and you can be sure to praise/clown me appropriately.
My 2010-2011 UK season prediction: a 4 loss regular season record, the third #1 seed, and a Final Four birth. Hold me to it.
... and do the John Wall.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
brandUn DeShay - Volume: Three! to Get Ready
1. Good Morning (Ceven AM)
2. Veterens Day (feat. Charles Hamilton)
3. Livin' Life (feat. Ev4n Holt)
4. Why You Gotta Zodiac Like That
5. Right Back (feat. Dom Kennedy)
6. Awe Stars (feat. Casey Veggies)
7. Hate to Say I Told You So (feat. Von Pea)
8. ODd Party (feat. Casey Veggies & Overdoz)
11. Wish Me Luck! (feat. Dom Kennedy)
13. They Know (feat. QuESt)
... and do the John Wall.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
I thoroughly enjoy Thank Me Later. I wrote a pretty harsh column on the notion of Drake ruining a good thing by becoming popular. And while many of those points still ring true in the contextual sense of commercial reception, I've had a personal 180 on my opinion of the dude. My roommate at school has met Drake four separate times and still holds that the kid is a genuinely nice person. What further standards can I act self-righteous enough to hold another artist to? Drake has his style and raps about what he wants to rap about. He doesn't try to hide that he intentionally makes certain kinds of records. He has the arrogant boi-1da street banger. He has the Kanye-helmed 808s-esque singing joint. He has the career(-so-far)-reflecting album closer. But he still goes out and makes music. And at this point, I'm just glad that the album doesn't feature Gudda Gudda or Lil' Twist. "Fancy" is the only cut that I'm inclined to say outright sucks, but that might be more so because of my utter distaste of all post-DMX Swizzy. So while Thank Me Later may not strike me as perfectly as Man on the Moon did a year ago, I've still spun this leak endlessly with genuine enjoyment and will be shelling out a purchase on opening week. After seeing him in concert and having a crazy good time, I have a legit investment in his career. So here's hoping that he throws a great pre-Draft party for my UK boys.
Speaking of the future greatest point guard ever ... I hope John Wall saves the Wizards. It's guaranteed that they will take him with the very first pick and though I'm inclined to believe that a Wall-Arenas backcourt wouldn't be optimal, John'll make it work. I just think Gil is kinda the one player in the entire league who wouldn't be content deferring at times to a player of Wall's magnitude for the good of the team. He's kind of annoying like that. All future Wizards decisions must be made knowing that the ball needs to be in J's hands as much as humanly possible, whenever he wants, so he can get NBA-adjusted in the first 15 or so games of the season. I don't know if they have enough talent to compete for the playoffs after their roster implosion last year, but I wouldn't be surprised if John found a way to sneak them in there. It is the East after all. And staying with the Cats ... whoever doesn't pick up Demarcus Cousins in the proceeding draft picks after J will innately regret it down the road. His body is the perfect NBA big man prototype that you can never find with an aggressive attitude mixed in. He will not only be an immediate contributer, but he'll be an all-star within three years with KG, Duncan, and the last remaining '90s bigs on their ways out. Neither Favors nor Monroe nor anyone else from this class who was not a Kentucky Wildcat will be able to compete with Cousins' career. If an NBA GM is dumb enough to skip over Boogie because of his perceived attitude problem, then they won't matter anyways because they'll be promptly fired once he hits his professional stride. That's a guarantee in my book. Quote me.
I cannot believe we got Terrence Jones. When dude came for a visit forever back for the Blue-White game, I sat at a table with him and John Wall (who was destroying way too many crab legs from Hooters) while we watched the Bulls and Spurs play on TV. That's the first time I understood why J came to Kentucky hands down (he sweats Derrick Rose like none other) and the time that I gave up on TJ committing to UK. The kid was as nice as possible and became a personal favorite of mine after admitting he was a Laker fan even though he lives in Portland, but I could just tell how insanely homesick he was just from spending a single weekend that far away from his home. He was talking about all of his other scheduled visits and he wasn't even looking at another school that wasn't plastered right on the Pacific coastline. So I had him pegged for Washington and told everyone confidently so for that day forth. Little did I know the commotion that would come due to that decision so many months later. From now on I'll just firmly entrust all my recruiting worries in Coach Cal's hands. He's infallibly great at selling his offensive system, the tradition of the school, and his professional track record. No one thought this 2010-2011 roster could possibly look so great after our mass early departures, but Coach Cal had his plan all along. Since every single potential LeBron destination is filling out its coaching position without a genuine Calipari scoping (no matter what Adrian Wojnarowski keeps making up), it's safe to say that our all-time 2011 recruiting class will remain intact as well and we will see an unprecedented level of talent funnel through my great University. It's a good time to be a Wildcat fan. There will be no violations on our books. There will only be similarly immaculate 3(or less)-loss seasons.
I have said it before and will hold to the fact that I think Kobe Bryant is the greatest basketball player of all time. The NBA Finals is currently tied 2-2, but I fully expect the Lake Show to pull it out. Kobe's skill set is so vastly superior to any player ever, plus he adds to it unrelentingly on a yearly basis. His long range prowess is what notches him above MJ in my book. Here's exhibit A. He still can be a slasher whenever it's in the game plan, but his midrange game and the billion ways he can get a quality look off is where his natural dominance has lied in the last seven or so years. But I don't need to regurgitate everything you already know about Mr. Bryant. I just wanted to remind you that he is now one of the ultimate and prolific winners in NBA history. Besides his late game heroics (having that reputation cemented with seven game winners this year) in general, he's now made his way to the Finals for the seventh time representing the Western Conference. And in case you haven't watched any professional basketball since Michael Jordan retired, the West has been the far stronger conference in each of those instances. In hopefully capturing his fifth title within the next week, how can anyone deny Kobe's resume? Do you actually remember that there was a discussion as to whether Kobe or T-Mac was the premier wing in the league only five years ago? It was a misguided argument back then that has turned into a psychotic one now. Kobe's run of playoff vengeance this year has been nothing short of brilliant and awe-inspiring. I'll be watching the next two or three games praying that he finishes off his first hand in rings finally.
Lastly, I just wanted to say that the Kanye West comeback will be epic. There's no way around it. This guy is most prolific commercially viable rap artist ever. With his new single "Power", he's continued his constantly evolving sound that never ceases to impress and push boundaries. He's completely unpredictable and no one but the G.O.O.D. Music family and certain guys like Premo know what to expect from his full-length return to rapping, A Good Ass Job. I just know it will be great. His catalogue ensures so. He literally cares what no one thinks about the next direction he takes because he knows the masses will eat it up. It's encoded in his DNA. The man is a legend. Now and for as long as he graces us with his creative genius.
... and do the John Wall.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
It took me half the commercial during Game 1 of the NBA Finals to decidedly realize the possibility that this was Andre 3000 singing to the world. I was not prepared for my favorite artist of any and all time to be singing a Beatles song with absolutely no warning during the intermission of my beloved Lakers' thrashing of the Boston Beanstalks. The Dungeon Family pervades your life in ways that you know not of. OutKast for life. And since there's no mp3 I can post for this, I'll tack on Sir Luscious Left Foot's latest epic sampling.
Big Boi - General Patton (feat. Big Rube)
... and do the John Wall.
Cee-Lo Green has returned sans Danger Mouse to release a solo mixtape. Free Cee-Lo literally out of nowhere? Plus it features a brand new full Goodie Mob cut that rides smoother than anything this side of Stankonia? DOWNLOAD THIS YESTERDAY! And while there's no rapping on this project from Lo, the strength of his vocals is undeniable and you need this kind of soul in your life.
Cee-Lo - Stray Bullets
2. You Don’t Shock Me Anymore
3. Cho Cha the Cat (feat. The B-52’s)
4. Talking to Strangers
5. Little Black Book
6. I Like It
8. Night Train (by Goodie Mob)
9. The Secret
10. Sophisticated Bitch
11. I’ll Kill Her
12. Is It
13. Super Woman Theme Song
14. Night Cap Outro
... and do the John Wall.