Thursday Night Notes from Open Practice Day at the NCAA Tournament

Good evening my friends. After a long morning of driving through the mountains and a long afternoon of catching up with the Cats, I am now relaxing in my very nice room at the all-too-nice media hotel here in Greensboro. Greensboro is the only town in NC I haven’t spent much time in, so I came with low expectations, but so far the O.Henry Hotel alone has exceeded them. Live jazz, afternoon tea, upscale restaurant/bar and rubber ducky in the tub? We are far from the Holiday Inn in Memphis where Jerry Tipton refused to stay.

I feel like if Kentucky wins and we get a chance to explore on Saturday, the rest of the city will surprise us too. Until then, let’s run through some quick notes.

Sahvir Wheeler said he was ready to play

The biggest story of the day came from the open locker room session, where Sahvir Wheeler told reporters he would be available to play tomorrow night if needed. Wheeler has been out since the game against Florida on Feb. 4 with an ankle injury and an unrelated tailbone procedure. This week he was fully involved in practice and told reporters he was ready to ride when his number was called.

“I’m just…I’m at a loss for words. I’m so happy to be able to play again, you know what I mean? This group of guys, what we’ve been through individually and as a team, the ups and downs, I’m just super happy to be here.

…But John Calipari made it clear that it was not a given

While Wheeler was talking to the media, John Calipari was also in another room. Calipari shot a slightly different thread, telling reporters that even though Sahvir is near full strength, he needs to be sure the guard can give it his all before throwing him into an NCAA tournament game, especially against guards like Providence.

“Well, he’s doing his best, and he’s doing great things, but, you know, I really have to feel like he might not be 100 per cent, but he can’t be 80. Not in a game like that. Providence is well trained. They have great players. Obviously I know Bryce well, I respect him and I love him to death. He’s a great player, but their guards are good. downhill runners.

“And so we will see. It will go through filming. We will train a bit after that and then the doctors and coaches will tell me what they think.

Later, while describing what this group went through, Calipari cast doubt on everyone being available on Friday.

“Everyone counted us. They still count us. I told the guys, I like it. It’s kind of like my days at UMass and Memphis: Ah, they weren’t playing… they weren’t… they weren’t… they weren’t… Okay. We’ll see where we are. We will see.

“But that – I like the group. I would like us to be perfectly healthy, but we will have to see what happens on Friday, who can play.

We will find out soon enough.

Bryce Hopkins was a popular topic

You can read more about it here. This quote from his teammate Ed Croswell stands.

“Bryce explained to us, like, you know, he wished he had a fair chance in Kentucky, but he passed it, and he’s now in his happy home, and Providence has taken him in. He passed it, and now he’s playing some of the best basketball of his career.

Big night tomorrow for both sides.

Calipari still enjoys coaching in Kentucky

Another big story this week was the mounting pressure on John Calipari in Season 14 at Kentucky. When asked how he handles it, Calipari said every coaching job is stressful and he understands the expectations that come with his.

“But these jobs, they are tough. Yeah, I have a tough job. I like this job. I love being in Kentucky. I love walking in all the arenas, and it’s full. Every arena we go to, every home game, we’ve led the nation in attendance. Who wouldn’t want to train there? Yeah, there’s the other side. There is a big expectation, but it never scared me. It doesn’t scare me anymore.

Calipari and players preview Providence

We’re still working on a flood of content and we’ll have some leftovers for you in the morning. You can get a head start with the videos below.

Walker Horn is coming for our work, by the way:

Open Practice Highlights

As usual, Kentucky’s open practice at the NCAA Tournament wasn’t a real practice, more like a glorified walkthrough, but you can see the players get a feel for Greensboro Coliseum below. We missed Chin Coleman’s half-court shot, but I can guarantee you it was electric.

Subscribe to KSR’s YouTube channel for press conferences, interviews, original shows, fan features and exclusive content.

Looks like the radio crew had a blast at Mayberry – uh, I mean Mount Airy

While Jack, Steven, and I were busy at the arena, the radio crew headed to Greensboro with a pit stop at Mount Airy, Mayberry’s inspiration for “The Andy Griffith Show.” I’m sure we’ll hear about it tomorrow, but here’s a sneak peek from Drew:

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