BBN Tonight, LEX 18 Sports and our sports director Keith Farmer have the latest on the Kentucky basketball team's preseason trip to the Bahamas, where it's been a busy week!
LEX 18 is the only local station following the team in Nassau, so be sure to continue watching our exclusive coverage right here on your official station for Big Blue Nation. This article will also be updated throughout the week.
The fun started on Monday, when the team arrived at the Baha Mar Resort in Nassau. The Cats went right to the basketball court - or should we say, to the ballroom! Keith watched as members of the team, including Lance Ware, Jacob Toppin and CJ Fredrick, shook off the plane ride and got a few shots up inside their home for the week.
Following the shoot around, the team went to dinner, where they shared a meal with some of their biggest supporters and even a few Bahamian politicians. Once the meal was cleared, it was off to Coach John Calipari's room, where Keith was able to observe the first official team meeting of the trip. On the large pad of paper set up for the room to see, Calipari wrote in big, bold and blue writing:
"WHAT WE WANT TO SHOW:
1. PLAY FOR EACH [OTHER]
2. PLAY HARD
It was a busy day one for the @KentuckyMBB in the Bahamas at the @BahaMarResorts getting ready for @BahaMarHoops— Keith Farmer (@KeithFarmer18) August 9, 2022
Special thanks to Cal allowing us into the team meeting. Had to leave some game-planning out but here's a little of what he had to say to the team. #BBN pic.twitter.com/YmXBbOVitT
"You're playing for each other. You play for each other. You've been doing that," Calipari said during the meeting. "We're starting to empower you already. Normally it takes me until February and we're doing this stuff already."
This was the team's only real practice before the exhibition games got underway in the Bahamas, and we got to watch it.
Keith reported the two players who arrived the earliest for practice were graduate transfer guard Antonio Reeves and sophomore forward Daimion Collins.
POV: you're watching @KentuckyMBB practice in the Bahamas 👀— BBN Tonight (@BBNTonight) August 9, 2022
You'll see more film + hear @KeithFarmer18's big takeaways from the practice tonight at 7:30, ONLY on BBN Tonight 😼 pic.twitter.com/aKAtOQdfF4
Here are his main takeaways from open practice:
It wasn't all work for the Cats on Tuesday! The team also got to enjoy a day on the water, which means we got to enjoy... Watching them have a day on the water! Although we hate that Keith got left on the dock...
Here's the video Keith captured of the team boarding the boat and hitting the sea, including the moment Coach Calipari morphed into the team photographer:
According to Keith, UK associate coach Orlando Antigua was the one who tried to get Keith to join them on the water! Maybe if he would have been wearing this sailboat shirt, things would have gone differently...
Shoutout to @CoachOantigua for trying to get @KeithFarmer18 on the team's boat today 😂— BBN Tonight (@BBNTonight) August 10, 2022
Next time, Keith better wear that sailboat shirt ALL DAY!
Here's part of Keith's report, live from the Bahamas on tonight's show! Watch more on https://t.co/ennDLoTzHP now pic.twitter.com/TuaC1sgr0d
Regardless, Coach O was still kind enough to give us a scouting report on Kentucky's first opponent, the Dominican Republic National Select Team. That's a program close to Antigua's heart, as the Dominican Republic is his home country and he spent two seasons as the national team's head coach from 2013-15.
It's also the exhibition game he'll be serving as the team's "head coach," since Calipari prefers to watch these international, pre-season games from a different vantage point. Each assistant coach will have a turn in the head coach's chair this week.
Keith talked about all of that and more with Coach O, here:
Keith also talked with the founder and president of BD Global, Brooks Downing, who is one of the key organizers for the trip.
Here's their conversation:
It's finally game day for the Kentucky Wildcats!
Keith arrived early for the Cats' 7 p.m. tip off against the Dominican Republic. That's where he found CJ Fredrick, who was the first player warming up for the game.
That's no surprise, since Fredrick has been waiting for over a year and a half to return to the court following a series of injuries at both Iowa and Kentucky.
Of course, blue got in! Check out this video of the crowd heading into the ballroom before the start of the game:
Kentucky rolled to a dominate win against the Dominican Republic National Select Team, picking up a 108-56 victory in the first exhibition game of the trip. Oscar Tshiebwe led all scorers with 17 points, including 13 in the second half.
Daimion Collins was the breakout star of the game, recording 15 points, five rebounds, five assists, two blocks and one steal. The cherry on top of his all-around game came in the form of not one, but two jaw-dropping dunks.
It's hard to point to any other specific players as the "player of the game," since Kentucky's box score was stuffed with impressive numbers from top to bottom. Six Wildcats scored in double figures, and the team shot 56 percent from the floor, 42 percent from deep, and 93 percent from the free throw line. Assistant Coach Chin Coleman was the acting head coach in this matchup.
Kentucky was playing with chemistry reminiscent of what you'd expect in a mid-season game; its veteran presence surely helped. Toppin was a vocal leader throughout the game and finished with eight points and a team-high three steals. As a group, the Cats dished out 28 assists, scored 23 points off of its opponent's turnovers and earned 30 fast break points, while committing just five turnovers in the process.
Adou Thiero was one of the major surprises of the night, with his seven points, three assists, three blocks, two steals and impressive defensive effort in 10 minutes of playing time. He used every second of that to his advantage, as he played in front of Big Blue Nation for the first time and worked through the freshman jitters.
"I was very nervous coming into the game. We were about to come down and get ready for the game, and my stomach is rumbling," Thiero told Keith Farmer after the game. "Once I got out there and saw all of the fans, I calmed down and just played my game."
His roommate, Oscar Tshiebwe, also helped him overcome his nerves.
"My teammates, they saw I was a little nervous. The older guys were telling me: 'Calm down - it's just another game," Thiero added. "'Go out there and play your game. All you have to do is play hard, and everything else will take care of itself.'"
Watch Keith's entire sit-down interview with Thiero here:
Adou Thiero was one of the big surprises for @KentuckyMBB in game one 🏀— LEX 18 News (@LEX18News) August 11, 2022
Our @KeithFarmer18 sat down with him last night in the Bahamas to hear more about his game, his ongoing growth spurt, and how he had to work through the freshman jitters in his debut game ⬇ pic.twitter.com/80PLyK0DRA
Keith also sat down with Chris Livingston, who was a standout in his own right in game one.
They talked about Livingston's take on the game, which teammate has become a mentor to him, and his own reaction to those insane Daimion Collins dunks:
After a 52-point win, you'd think the team would have Thursday morning free. Nope!
Coach Calipari had his team back inside his suite bright and early to go over game tape, point out their mistakes, and issue corrections on how they can improve in game two. Keith also got the invite.
Here's a look at how Coach Cal broke down the team's defense and how they need to adjust their game to break through screens:
The meeting must have done the trick, because the Cats went from a 52-point win over the Dominican Republic to a 62-point win over Monterrey Tec. Kentucky won 102-40.
Seven Wildcats scored in double figures and four had double-doubles: Livingston, Toppin and Tshiebwe had point/rebound double-doubles, while Wheeler's came in the form of points and assists. For the second-straight game, Kentucky connected on more than 50 percent of its field goal, making 53.3 percent Thursday night. UK also won big on the boards, 65-22, while forcing 16 Monterrey Tec turnovers thanks to eight blocked shots and ten steals. Lance Ware did not play for precautionary reasons (sore left shoulder).
During the broadcast, Tom Hart and Dane Bradshaw wore 606 shirts to honor the flood victims in eastern Kentucky:
Plus, Ware and Oscar Tshiebwe are wearing custom shoes this week, made by a local business here in Lexington, to continue to raise money for the victims, as well.
LEX 18's Sean Moody has the story:
No game for the Wildcats today, but that doesn't mean the team is relaxing by the pool all afternoon.
In fact, they started their morning volunteering with Samaritan's Feet.
It's an organization Calipari and the basketball program have grown close to in recent years. Samaritan's Feet is a humanitarian aid organization that serves and inspires hope by providing shoes to those in need around the world.
The team did a similar service activity several months ago in western Kentucky, following the devastating tornadoes in that part of the state.
We had good visit in Dawson spring— Big O (@Oscartshiebwe34) April 21, 2022
Here is bible verse of today
And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet.
John 18:14 God bless♥️🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/nK017cDI3D
This time, they joined forces in the Bahamas.
"Samaritan’s Feet believes that a new pair of shoes and the act of foot-washing can provide a tangible foundation of hope and the opportunity for a better life, prompt children to focus in school and families not to worry, and protect feet to decrease the possibility of getting a foot-borne disease," according to the organization's web page.
"Samaritan’s Feet serves and inspires hope in children by providing shoes as the foundation to a spiritual and healthy life resulting in the advancement of education and economic opportunities."
Later in the day, Keith also sat down with Oscar Tshiebwe.
Here's their conversation about Oscar's advice for his freshmen teammates, his own expectations for the new season, and more:
The weekend has arrived, but the Cats haven't changed a thing. For the third time on their Bahamian Tour, the UK basketball team surpassed the century mark, winning 118-56 over Carleton University.
Four Wildcats finished in double figures with Jacob Toppin leading the way. The senior forward could not miss, recording 27 points on 11 of 14 shooting, five of six from three-point territory. Senior transfer Antonio Reeves was right behind him, finishing with 23 points, making five of eight three-point attempts. Sahvir Wheeler and Cason Wallace added 17 and 15 points to lead UK's backcourt.
The Cats sunk 15 three pointers while shooting 58 percent from floor overall. UK also took care of the basketball, tallying 26 assists to just 11 turnovers. First year assistant coach K.T. Turner was the acting head coach of the day. To read our full game article, click here.
Although the actual game score doesn't show it, the day didn't come without a little drama. Following these comments by John Calipari, football coach Mark Stoops and Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart held a press conference Saturday afternoon.
"Anything I said or do is in defense of our players, our staff, and the fans," Stoops opened with on Saturday.
"Believe me. We want to continue to push, but don't demean or distract from the hard work, and the dedication, and the commitment that people have done, to get to this point," Stoops added.
You can watch the entire press conference here:
Coach Calipari talked exclusively with our Keith Farmer after UK's game Saturday evening, saying, in part:
"I said the wrong thing. Mark and I will be fine. We'll get back and talk about it."
They say there's no rest for the weary, and there's certainly been very little "rest" for the basketball team (or Keith!) in the Bahamas. After a night game on Saturday, the action started up again bright and early Sunday morning, with tip-off set for noon.
Keith started his day at the team's final warm-up/shoot around of the trip, where he reported CJ Fredrick would not suit up for Kentucky's final game:
We’ve seen all we’re going to see of CJ Fredrick on this trip.— Keith Farmer (@KeithFarmer18) August 14, 2022
UK’s medical staff is holding Him out of today’s contest for load management.
"I should add that CJ has missed NO time this week," Keith added. "He’s gone hard at every practice, he’s one of the first to come out and shoot and used his minutes wisely in the games. So this is totally precautionary to make sure he gets back to Lexington as he currently is, healthy."
Before the game started, Keith also witnessed this hilarious moment between Coach Cal and a few of the younger fans on the trip:
Before the game started @UKCoachCalipari took the mic and asked which two kids were missing school.— Keith Farmer (@KeithFarmer18) August 14, 2022
They came down to give him their names so he could write a “get out of jail” note for them. #BBN@LEX18News @BBNTonight @BahaMarHoops pic.twitter.com/YmwNAKbpZX
Kentucky's game against the Bahamas National Select Team was its closest of the trip. The Cats looked sluggish to start the contest, went 1-13 from three in the first half and, at one point, trailed by as many as eight points. A Sahvir Wheeler layup at the buzzer put the Cats up by one entering the break.
Led by Associate Head Coach Orlando Antigua, Kentucky responded after halftime. Antonio Reeves lit up the second half, hitting four, three-pointers after the break and totaling a team-high 22 points on the day. Wheeler finished with 21 points (7-11), and Jacob Toppin added 20 of his own, including a 3-pointer, and 5 rebounds. Oscar Tshiebwe ended the day with another double-double: 11 points and 12 boards for the reigning National Player of the Year.
It was Reeves who left with the trip's MVP trophy. He was UK’s leading scorer, averaging 17.0 points per game and making 51.9 percent of his shots from behind the arc this week:
LEX 18 is the only local station following the team in Nassau, and our coverage and behind-the-scenes access with the team will continue even after the team returns to Lexington.
Be sure to continue to watch our exclusive coverage right here on your official station for Big Blue Nation.