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Media comments on the 2007 schedule

This morning, I took some time to peruse the media comments on Kentucky's 2007 basketball schedule.  From the Courier-Journal:

Billy Gillispie's first University of Kentucky basketball schedule, released yesterday, strikes a balance between a college hoops who's who and who's that?

Indeed.  If you look at the schedule, you will see some very weak non-conference opponents in numbers not seen in UK schedules for a while.  Clearly, the coach and the athletic department want to take as few chances on a successful season as possible, and since our traditional rivals IU and U of L are expected to be very strong, that toughens it up a bit.  Throw in North Carolina and a couple of likely top 25 teams in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, and it won't be the weakest NC schedule we have ever seen by a long shot.

Still, there is a bigger gap than usual between the red meat an the cupcakes.

Eight of UK's final 11 nonconference games will be in Rupp Arena. They include one against Texas Southern on Nov. 24 that replaced a scheduled Nov. 23 game against Massachusetts in Boston. UK bought its way out of the contest with the Minutemen, coached by former UK player Travis Ford.

Well, enough said about that.

The Courier-Journal also notes that Coach Gillispie did not make himself available for further comment on the schedule.  That, I don't like.  I think he knew there would be some tough questions forthcoming, and I hope he doesn't start ducking those.  He has done a great job with the media so far in comparison to the more reclusive Tubby Smith.  Here's hoping this was nothing more than a scheduling conflict.

The Herald-Leader is predictably a bit more friendly:

The University of Kentucky announced a 2007-08 schedule yesterday that will introduce new men's basketball coach Billy Gillispie to several Big Blue traditions: tough opponents, ample national TV exposure, and tradition-rich venues.

True, but this one is a lot weaker than some of our recent NC schedules that included early dates with lots of the top 20, plus some strong mid-majors.

Kentucky's 18-game home schedule includes visits from non-conference powerhouses North Carolina (Dec. 1) and Louisville (Jan. 5), plus SEC rivals Tennessee (Jan. 22) and Florida (Senior Day on March 9).

Not many really strong draws for the home crowd this year, but I doubt if we will need them.  The excitement created by the new coach plus a fine recruiting class will pack Rupp Arena, no doubt about it.  Oops, I almost forgot -- Senior day is March 9th, and the Gators will be in town.  If the Gators manage to continue their winning streak in Florida on Jan. 19th, that game could be second only to the U of L game in terms of drawing potential.  Even if we beat the Gators earlier in the year, this game will still get a lot of attention.

In other basketball news, Jody Demling has yet another article examining the buzz around UK that the new basketball coach has largely been responsible for reviving:

Two future University of Kentucky basketball players and a prime UK recruiting target are getting a feel for how rabid some Wildcats fans can be.


"It's crazy," said Clarke, a senior-to-be who has UK in his final 10 schools and will likely make a decision in the next month. "There were like 25 fans at the Peach Jam (in Augusta, S.C.) asking for autographs and pictures, and there were some (in Las Vegas)."

Where has this been for the last 5 years?

Via Aaron's UK basketball blog, we find this story at the Danville Advocate-Messenger by one of our favorite UK reporters, Larry Vaught.  Larry interviews UK's Assistant Director of Basketball Operations Jerrance Howard, and Jerrance talks about lots of UK players.  You have to like this about Patterson:

Question: How has freshman forward Patrick Patterson done this summer?

Howard: Pat (Patterson) is a special guy. You never have to wake him up. He never misses a class that is not excused. He's never late. Coach (Billy Gillispie) holds them all accountable whether they are a manager or returning player. But Pat is always where he is supposed to be. Pat is big-time. He is one of our leaders right now.

I knew he would be like this.  Patterson is very mature for his age, something that has been noticeably absent in our high-profile recruits of late.  We are going to love having him at UK.

Howard goes on to note that Legion is an amazing scorer, but he needs to work on the rest of his game -- particularly defensively.  He also talks about Derrick Jasper and Perry Stevenson.  Be sure and read it if you haven't already.

Jody Demling also has a blog post up, and I found this little nugget of bad news in there:

Word around the camp sounds good for UK landing Clarke, but it doesn't look so hot for Zeller. I was told by several folks that the Wildcats might not even make the final cut for the Indiana big man. Miller is a much, much, much tougher call. I heard from one person early in the week that he was "leaning" towards Florida, but until his final game didn't see the Gators staff at his games. He's a tough one to predict but as the week went on I heard folks mentioning Miller with U of L a lot. Then again, the kid didn't do any talking so who knows? [emphasis mine]

As he says, who really knows?  Obviously, I'd love to see both Zeller and Miller come as well as Clarke, but no matter how good Gillispie is, he is going to have some recruiting misses, and some of them will be very high-profile.  Fact of life.