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The Roundabout: A few observations

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There are several interesting stories that came across my feed reader in the last day or so which I think deserve a bit more commentary and feedback from the Big Blue Nation.

The first is this nugget in today's Courier-Journal Basketball Notebook about Billy Gillispie's recruiting ethics.  Gillispie says that he doesn't recruit committed players who have not opened their recruitment back up:

"I don't recruit committed players," he said. "I haven't recruited committed players."

It's a significant point at UK. Rumors have swirled all season around Scotty Hopson, the University Heights star who's committed to Mississippi State but hasn't signed with the Bulldogs.

I think this is a remarkable, and laudable attitude, and it increases my respect for Coach Gillispie tremendously.  I have written at length about what I see as ethical shortcomings in recruiting, and it's nice to see the Kentucky coach drawing a bright line exactly where it belongs.  It's reasonably clear to me that Coach Gillilspie didn't try to bring DeAndre Jordan with him to UK, even though that would have no doubt helped Kentucky.  In fact, many online ethics heroes repeatedly bemoaned the fact that Gillispie didn't try to bring Jordan.  Sad, but true.

So what this means, dear reader, is that Gillispie considers Hopson off limits, and if he is to be taken at his word (and I do), he is not recruiting him, and unless he declares his recruitment reopened, he won't recruit him.  As far as I know, Hopson has made several very ambiguous statements about his recruitment, but has never officially reopened the recruiting process.

I wonder if they guy in the coke-stained white suit down here in my home town plays the recruiting game by the same rules?


While we are on the subject of the Kentucky basketball coach, I heard on his post-game comments that he blamed himself for the Cats' tentative play on offense yesterday.  Larry Vaught at the Danville Advocate-Messenger reports further:

"The worst thing that happened today was that I was too hard on our guys because I made them play a little bit tentative today because of the importance of the game," said Gillispie after the game. "I think they made some mistakes because of my attitude and I told them that.

"Hopefully, I won't make the same mistake, but I might. I think I got them to play too tentative because of the magnitude of the game, in my opinion."

That is simply fantastic.  It's so easy to blame the players, but Coach Gillispie has really impressed me with his willingness to place the responsibility for things where he thinks they belong.  Yes, when players do dumb things, they get a share, but whenever things go wrong, the UK coach places the responsibility in the proper place.  I find that a very endearing and laudable quality.


Matt Jones is reporting on an interaction between Ramel Bradley and Jerry Tiption yesterday.  Tipton asked Bradley why he no longer made the "Dynasty" triangle sign he was so famous for last year, and Bradley said it was because he essentially thought it was too self-focused and not team-focused.  I was never a big fan of that whole thing and was glad to see it stop, and just assumed it was Ramel deciding it was either no longer necessary or he had become bored with it.  His answer indicates he stopped making the "Dynasty" sign for selfless reasons -- yet another sign that Ramel Bradley has matured into a true leader.  Selfless acts, even insignificant-looking but highly personal ones like this are a hallmark of leadership, and Ramel is showing it in spades.  Good for him.


Finally, there is this article by John Clay in the Lexington Herald-Leader.  John is concerned about how physical basketball has become, particularly in the area of "hard" fouls, like the one given by Georgia's Dave Bliss last week that resulted in a concussion and cut chin for Ramel Bradley:

Dennis Felton saw nothing wrong with it. "A high-speed collision," said the Georgia coach this week.

Billy Gillispie saw nothing wrong with it. "I think it's part of basketball," said the Kentucky coach.

Gerald Boudreaux saw nothing wrong with it. "It was a tough play," the SEC's director of officials said this week. "Unfortunately in the game of basketball, there are a lot of tough plays."

Here's what's wrong with it: Somebody's going to get hurt.

I think Clay is exactly right.  If Ramel had been badly hurt in that fall, I suspect that fouls like this would be banned throughout NCAA basketball.  I saw a somewhat similar hard foul delivered by Florida's Dan Werner to JP Prince in the recent UT-Florida tussle.  I personally thought both Bliss' foul on Bradley and Werner's foul on Prince should have been called intentional fouls (Werner's was), at minimum.  Werner's was very nearly flagrant, not because Werner tried to hurt him, but the contact was unquestionably excessive and deliberate.

I hear players and coaches both rejecting this perception that the contact is too much, but quite frankly, I must respectfully disagree with them.  I know kids today play a very physical style of basketball, but we needn't outlaw all contact -- merely contact of the excessive nature that happens on breakaways and attempts to stop layups.  The NBA has done a better job at policing this type of contact than the NCAA has, and that is surprising and disappointing.

The SEC and NCAA need to stop this hard contact.  John Clay is right -- somebody is going to get badly hurt.  Why must we wait for that to happen before taking action?