For the 2nd year in a row, the entire sports staff at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment is going to host a day long event on the day following Selection Sunday for the NCAA Tournament. This year, that falls on March 12th. The event will once again be hosted by the Oxmoor Center on Shelbyville Road, and will encompass a total of 6 hosts and 13 hours of sports programming. Plus, we will host a BRACKET CHALLENGE with a chance to win a super-nice Gorilla Basketball Goal, courtesy of Steepleton's. Below is the entire rundown of events, so feel free to head out to Oxmoor any time in the day and you will get your sports fix headed into tournament time:
7-10AM: The EarlyBirds w/ Drew Deener
10-12PM: KentuckySportsRadio w/Matt Jones
12-1PM: Lachlan Mclean on WKRD
1-2PM: Drew Deener on WKRD
2-3PM: Dave Jennings and Tony Vanetti
3-530PM: The Afternoon Underdogs w/Tony and Dave
530-6PM: Terry Meiners
7-9PM: Occupy Lachlan (the entire cast of hosts together on stage at the same time)
WHERE TO LISTEN ON THE AIR
Early Birds with Jody Demling
7-10AM (790AM WKRD)
The Tom Leach Show
9-10AM (1080AM WKJK)
KentuckySportsRadio with Matt Jones
10AM-12PM (1080AM WKJK)
Joe B. and Denny Show
10AM-12PM (790AM WKRD)
The Afternoon Underdogs with Dave Jennings and Tony Vanetti
3-530PM (790AM WKRD)
Sportstalk84 with Lachlan McLean
7-9PM (840AM WHAS)
-by Jason Chin
Key ingrediants for championship teams aren't just a collection of great talent and atheletisism. Chemistry, maturity, and mental toughness are vital for winning in any sport. When you have players with these qualities, your chances of hanging championship banners are greatly increased. When you don't, you get what Coach John Calipari had this season, disappointment, frustration, and a first round loss in the NIT to Robert Morris University.
After Wednesday's announcement by Julius Randle to join the Wildcats next season, Kentucky's chances of hanging another championship banner next season were greatly increased. Randle's commitment, the 6th by a 5-star prospect and 7th overall in a now historic class, was one that most recruiting experts said Calipari needed to help get the Cats back to the Final Four.
I watched the announcement on tv. After Randle made his choice public, he was asked about why he wanted to go to Kentucky. According to Randle, he "wants to practice and play with other great players, because it will make me a better player." I've heard this same sentiment before from a couple of guys named Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrance Jones, and Marquis Teague. Hard to argue with their results.
I think most would agree that this season's UK team didn't have enough high caliber players to push each other in practice. Only having 5-6 players competing for 5-6 spots is not enough when you need 8-9 to push each other. When Noel went down, it really shortened the roster. If you don't have other players pushing you, challenging you for your starting spot, you become relaxed and mentally soft. Those two things I just mentioned explains the poor performances at times on the road and at home.
If Kentucky is to return to the Final Four next season, they will need a couple of players to return from this year's team. Between the trio of Cauley-Stein, Poythress, and Goodwin, Coach Cal will need at least two of them. He will need them to come back hungry and with a chip on their shoulder, something a loss to RMU should provide. The practices should be pretty stout next season. The Harrison twins, James Young, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee, and now Julius Randle give Coach Cal what he needed for this past season; competition for playing time.
Chemistry can be developed early with this team. The Harrison twins have been playing together since birth. Julius Randle is also from Texas, like the twins, so they know each other. Did I mention that all the recruits with exception of Derek Willis are playing together in the McDonald's All-American game and the Jordan Brand Classic? That's a lot of time spent together before stepping on campus.
Mental toughness will be cultivated in practices. A kid like Randle can provide some since he had an injury that kept him from playing most of his senior year in high school. When he returned to the lineup, it was just in time for the state playoffs in which he led his team to a championship. That's maturity, toughness, competitiveness, patience, and skill all wrapped up into one guy.
James Young and Marcus Lee might be 2 of the more forgotten guys in this class. They are tremedously skilled atheletes, and will contribute immediatly along with 7-foot Dakari Johnson. And there is still the possibility, although slim, that yet another 5-star prospect joins this awesome collection of young talent.
The consensus number one player, Andrew Wiggins has yet to make his college choice. It is said that North Carolina and Florida State are Kentucky's competition for Mr. Wiggins services. Although I do not believe he will join this Sensational Six, if he did that would not only be 7 of the Top 20 players in the country on one team, but that would be Calipari showing off.
Get your kicks in now, because next season the Cats will be back with a vengence. And if they are able to avoid injuries, it could be another banner season.