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The Big Blue Daily Mail -- News for Kentucky Wildcat fans, May 14th 2009

The big news of this morning is a carry over from yesterday, and that is John Calipari's news conference.  There was quite a lot of ground covered in that time, and I want to comment on some of it.

First of all, I am struck once again by the contrast between Coach Calipari and former Coach Gillispie.  It is hard to imagine a man that is more comfortable in front of the media and the bright lights of public scrutiny than John Calipari, at least on the surface.  On the other hand, it is hard to imagine a coach that was less at ease in front of the media than Coach Gillispie.  The dichotomy between the two coaches is simply unbelievable.

John Clay had a few observations this morning about Calipari's press conference yesterday, the most remarkable of which is his suggestion that the UK job may not be big enough for Coach Cal, and he seems in the process of actually expanding it, whereas Gillispie, it seems to Clay, tried to shrink it to a manageable size for him.  That, I think, is a very interesting and astute observation, and a microcosm of the vast difference in the suitability of these two men for this job.  Kentucky is unshrinkable, really, but it is not un-expandable.  Calipari gets that.  Gillispie didn't, or couldn't live with that reality.

Jerry Tipton's article today focused on Calipari's Chinese connections, and one thing I do know is that China is absolutely wild about basketball at all levels.  Yao Ming is such an incredible superstar there that it is beyond comprehension, and if Kentucky can somehow work its way into the consciousness of the Chinese, it would be great for a number of reasons.  One thing is for sure, the language barrier would be much smaller than people think -- both the Chinese and UK fans speak one language that both can understand -- basketball.

I think it is interesting that Coach Cal has no interest in having a large number of walk-ons.  He wants to have a couple who might have a shot at earning a scholarship, but that's about all.  That is something that UK is more used to, and rather more conventional than what we saw under Coach Gillispie.

Another thing Calipari said that impressed me was that he didn't think we should have summer recruiting, and gave a long and detailed answer as to why.  I think that is a good idea for two reasons -- it would lessen the influence of some of the more dubious AAU coaches, and free up the kids to concentrate on basketball rather than on impressing coaches that may or may not even be there, as Calipari related in his anecdote.

Big Blue Madness in Commonwealth Stadium?  I don't see it.  Yeah, it would pack the place, but I think that some things are better off the way they are.  Many have wanted to see BBM in the hallowed, tradition-filled halls of Memorial Coliseum, but that place is simply too small to accommodate the crowd that shows up for that event, and would generate too much disappointment.  Ultimately, I think Big Blue Madness needs to happen in Rupp Arena, unless we want to move it to the Carrier Dome or something just to show Syracuse what a real college basketball team looks like when they kick off the season (just kidding, Syracuse fans.  We know you guys are great).

I am in love with Coach Cal's ideas about toughening up the schedule and splitting the gate on neutral site games with big-name opponents.  That's the kind of ambassadorship the flagship sports program at UK needs to engage in, and I think Nashville, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Indianapolis or even New Orleans would all be great places to hold killer games with some of the best teams in the nation, and the national attention would be staggering.  I really hope Calipari can make that happen.

Now, for the rest of the news.

UK Basketball News

  • Matt Jones recaps John Calipari's press availability.  More from Bluegrass State Basketball.  A full transcript of Coach Cal's media availability can be found here.  Cat Scratches has a summary here.
  • HighSchoolHoop talks with Jon Hood about Coach Cal, and next year at the next level.  Jon is excited about the talent coming to UK and believes he will do well there.  I agree.
  • Calipari's ambitious agenda is underway.  Big Blue Madness in Commonwealth Stadium?  Duke in Atlanta?  This isn't ambitious, it's a sea change.
  • Arkansas' Michael Washington pulls out of the NBA draft.  John Pelphrey dances a jig in celebration.
  • Did the way Patrick Patterson took his name out of the NBA draft help him with NBA personnel?  Larry Vaught thinks so, as does Coach Calipari, and so do some NBA scouts.
  • Time for Patterson to lead.  Indeed.  Plus, more praise for Patrick Patterson's maturity and the way he handled his NBA flirtation.
  • Forbes looks at the highest-paid coaches.  Apparently, Calipari and Pitino moving into the NBA from college were responsible for the start of the current trend.  Phil Jackson of the Lakers currently leads the pack with $10.3 million a year.  Highly-paid NFL coaches pull down about half of that.
  • Calipari looking to bring Kentucky back to the glory days.
  • Embrace the hate.

UK Football News

  • OverThePylon reports that Tim Masthay has earned the VanMeter award for his remarkable commitment to community service.  Congratulations, Tim.  Well done.  The UK Athletics press release is here.
  • The National Football Post takes a look at some future NFL prospects.  #83 is Micah Johnson and #87 is Jeremy Jarmon.  In this earlier post, he looked at #41, Trevard Lindley.

Other UK Sports News

NCAA Sports News

Other News of Interest

  • The filly Rachel Alexandra is the favorite for the Preakness Stakes.  I would not bet against her.