Calipari comfortable about his team

Vicky Graff Photo

Vicky Graff Photo

NASHVILLE — Kentucky coach John Calipari said “nothing keeps me up at night” when it comes to his team going into postseason play that starts tonight against Alabama in the SEC Tournament.

“I’m feeling comfortable about my team. I like that they’re being empowered. My message will be real simple for them and that’s one, be the best version of you. Just know what that looks like. We know it. We’ve defined it. You have too,” Calipari said.

Alabama can’t afford for Ulis to have double-double

Tyler Ulis will be a focal point of Alabama's defense tonight. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Tyler Ulis will be a focal point of Alabama’s defense tonight. (Vicky Graff Photo)

NASHVILLE — Alabama coach Avery Johnson was proud of the way his team played in an 81-73 win over Mississippi Thursday night in the SEC Tournament that sets up a game tonight with Kentucky that the Tide needs to win to have any chance to make the NCAA Tournament.

Here’s what Johnson had to say after the game.

Alabama players ready to give Kentucky best shot

Isaiah Briscoe will try to get inside to score against Alabama again tonight. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Isaiah Briscoe will try to get inside to score against Alabama again tonight. (Vicky Graff Photo)

NASHVILLE — Alabama ousted Mississippi 81-73 Thursday night in the SEC Tournament to earn a third chance to play Kentucky tonight in the SEC quarterfinals.

Kentucky has already beat Alabama twice this year. So what makes Alabama players think this time can be different?

“We’re a better team, and we’ve also matured. With that comes just having the experience playing in this league. So Kentucky’s a good team, and they do what they do, but at the same time, I got complete faith in our coaching staff and teammates that we have more than enough to go out there and give them our best shot,” Alabama guard Retin Obasohan, who had 17 points Thursday night.

Alabama’s size, length helps oust Mississippi

NASHVILLE — Here is part of what Mississippi coach Andy Kennedy had to say Thursday night after his team lost 81-73 to Alabama, which will play Kentucky Friday night, despite 39 points from Ole Miss guard Stefan Moody.

Q. Coach Kennedy, Alabama finished with 12 blocks as a team. Donta Hall with 5. They seemed to really affect your team’s game inside. Just talk about that in the second half.
COACH KENNEDY: I thought it was huge. Donta Hall did that to us in Game 1. He’s got a great presence at the basket with his ability to block shots. They really started pressing up on Moody as he was making plays. So driving lanes were available. We drove, and he did a good job of limiting any points in the paint for us.

Ryan Lemond has “meant the world” to godson Zach Hodskins

Zach Hodskins and Ryan Lemond. (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

Zach Hodskins and Ryan Lemond. (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

NASHVILLE — Zach Hodskins says there is only one Ryan Lemond.

“He’s always the goofy Ryan Lemond,” said Hodskins. “That’s the only guy I have ever known, but I love him.”

Hodskins is a junior walk-on guard on the Florida basketball team that beat Arkansas 68-61 here Thursday in the Southeastern Conference Tournament. But he’s not just any walk-on player.

He was born without the lower half of his left arm but caught the eye of then Florida assistant coach John Pelphrey while playing high school basketball in Georgia and got an invitation from then Florida coach Billy Donovan to walk on the team.

SEC Tournament always a fun week for me

Today I got to see long-time friend Rick Stansbury, the assistant coach at Texas A&M. He's a Meade County, Ky., native. (Ryan Lemond/Verizon Photo)

Today I got to see long-time friend Rick Stansbury, the assistant coach at Texas A&M. He’s a Meade County, Ky., native. (Ryan Lemond/Verizon Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

NASHVILLE — There’s just nothing better than being at the Southeastern Conference Tournament when it is in Nashville.

Kentucky fans have already taken over Nashville and the Cats don’t play until Friday night. Look anywhere around Bridgestone Arena, and blue is the dominant color. Look anywhere in the downtown area, and blue is the dominant color.

It has made for a fun week for me already.

Grind Session national championship has 24 of nation’s top 100 players

Josh Jackson (Caleb Lowndes/CJ Correspondent)

Josh Jackson (Caleb Lowndes/CJ Correspondent)

“The Grind Session” is excited to announce the field for their national championship in Lawrence, Kansas at Free State High School.  The field includes the top teams and players in the US and Canada. First, the teams are broken down and that is followed by highlighting the top players participating in the event.  We feel that with 24 of the top 100 players in the nation participating that the event will be a must-see for fans across the nation and Canada.  The brackets for the event will be following soon.  Stay tuned and please check out thegrindsession.com and tanagersports.com

Tyler Ulis on Labissiere: “He just started fighting”

Skal Labissiere screamed after a dunk. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Skal Labissiere screamed after a dunk. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

No one believed more in Skal Labissiere than Kentucky point guard Tyler Ulis. He helped convince coach John Calipari to put him into the starting lineup two games ago and he could determine just how far UK goes in the postseason.

Ulis shared a few thoughts on Labissiere earlier this week.

Mark Stoops: “We are moving into year four and we should be better.”

Stoops 2By LARRY VAUGHT

With so many new coaches on staff and the  need to solidify who will be the starting quarterback, this becomes an important spring practice for Kentucky coach Mark Stoops.

However, even if the staff was intact and a starting quarterback coming back, it would still be an important spring.

“We’re moving into year four and we should be better,” Stoops said. “I like where we’re at. I like the staff that we have in place. I like the players’ attitude.

Kentucky native Camron Justice knows BBN will fill Nashville

NASHVILLE — Camron Justice has not had the freshman season he hoped for at Vanderbilt but has no complaints about how things have gone going into his team’s game in the Southeastern Conference Tournament Thursday.

“It has been up and down. I have been injured and trying to get in rotation and provide a spark for the team,” said Justice, who led Knott County Central to four straight 14th Region championships during his Kentucky prep career.

He scored 3,588 points — third most in state history — was named Mr. Basketball and Gatorade Player of the Year in Kentucky after averaging 28.5 points, 6.2 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game. He was also named a McDonald’s and Parade All-American.