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Late-night notes and links

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Apologies for the lack of content today. We had a staff retreat today to get ready for the 2010-11 athletics season, so my attention has been pulled elsewhere. I'll be away from the blog again Tuesday for a special football-related assignment, which I hope to be able to add to the blog sometime this week. If all goes according to plan and we're able to post it on here, I guarantee it will be worth the wait.

Anyways, in an effort to make up for the lack of posts for Monday, here are a couple of late-night nuggets:

- Head coach John Calipari recorded a message for fans on Lexy.com on Monday following the second day of practice for the Canada trip.

Calipari said they added defense in the practice on Monday, the third in two days so far, working primarily on individual defense so the freshmen can "survive on the court." In particular, Calipari said they worked on how to stay in front of a guy, how to close out and protect yourself, and how to be able to take fakes by the offensive player.

Offensively, Calipari said they worked on beating their defender in the dribble-drive. Specifically, Calipari said they worked on reading the defense because it's especially tough to do that when you're moving your feet and playing.

The returning veterans continue to look good, Calipari said, but on Monday he praised some of the newcomers. The second-year head coach said he was surprised by the skill levels of Stacey Poole and Enes Kanter, surprised by Brandon Knight's athleticism, and surprised by how fast Doron Lamb is. As for Terrence Jones, the rumors that he is injured are true. Calipari said the forward from Portland, Ore., is at about 75 percent with an ankle injury and has not been able to practice live so far.

"This, for the second practice, I'm pleased," Calipari said on Lexy.com. "The great thing, no pressure, we don't have a game in a month - none of that's happening. What we're trying to do is get our team individually better, try to figure out our weaknesses and strengths, and go to Canada with one thought: bring us together."

- New York Jets' head coach Rex Ryan had pretty strong praise Monday at his news conference for former UK fullback John Conner, who was selected by the Jets in the 2010 NFL Draft with the 139th overall pick in the fifth round. Of course, if you followed UK this past year and heard some of the comments from former UK head coach Rich Brooks throughout the year, none of this should come as a surprise.

Here is what Ryan had to say:

"I will say this, our young fullback (John Conner) we drafted from Kentucky, I think we all see why he has a short neck. I mean, he was pounding people. He took the breath out of three guys today - three linebackers - so that was good to see. I'm always happy when we're right on a draft pick and you can see it this early. This kid is the thumper we think he is. Beware if you're out there playing linebacker, here comes the isolation. He really was impressive."

- And finally, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Tony Barnhart, better known by some as Mr. College Football, ranked the Southeastern Conference quarterbacks in the East Division on Monday. Barnhart tabbed Kentucky's trio of quarterbacks No. 4 in the East out of six teams.

Barnhart tends to think sophomore Morgan Newton is the best choice:

"New head coach Joker Phillips is going to have to get this race down to two guys pretty soon," Barnhart writes. "Hartline has the edge because, despite a knee injury in 2009, he has played in 21 games and started 14. I think Newton, the former Indiana High School Player of the Year, is the most talented of the three (by far) and has the most upside.  He impressed me with his poise on the road when Kentucky beat Auburn and Georgia. He can make plays with his arm and his legs. Mossakowski has a good arm but was limited as a true freshman last season because of shoulder surgery. My guess is that he'll be the odd man out. Hartline will be the starter because he makes the fewest mistakes. But Newton will be a big factor because with him in the lineup, the Kentucky offense will three big playmakers in Newton, wide receiver Randall Cobb, and running back Derrick Locke."

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