Real Life interrupted my normal processes yesterday, forcing me to miss my Big Blue Daily Mail post. Consequently, today's BBDM is jammed with all kinds of good stuff. That's what happens -- when there should be little news to talk about, there is a ton, and it is virtually all about basketball.
Now, I know UK is a basketball school -- who better than I? I spend an inordinate amount of my time writing commentary and compiling links on UK sports, and there is no doubt that basketball utterly dominates the conversation. But the reality is, basketball is a long way away from really mattering. Even John Calipari is pretty much ready to shut it down for the summer, but not UK fans. We hang on every tweet out of Coach Cal's brain, speculate on everything from where he is going to where he has been, and seemingly try to manufacture news about the basketball team. I have been around UK basketball for a long time, and I have never, ever seen a coach suck all the oxygen out of every other thing like this.
So as a public service to everyone out there, I want to remind you all that UK does have other student athletes who play sports, not the least of which is a pretty significant sport called, "football." Now, I know many UK fans are not too sure about a game played with an oblate spheroid covered with animal hide, but believe it or not, this "football" game is a pretty big deal in the rest of the Southeastern Conference. In fact, at virtually every other school in the league not named Vanderbilt, this "football" game is considered the most important game that they play here in the South by a very wide margin. Even though I have met a number of Kentucky fans who give me a rather quizzical look when I mention this "football" game, there are a surprising number of UK fans who actually like it, and a small but not insignificant minority who consider it as important, or more important than basketball.
So despite any rumors you may have heard to the contrary, we will be talking football here at A Sea of Blue, just like we have every year. This Calipari thing is one of those rare events that changes the normal dynamic of sports news, and despite the continued glut of basketball-related stuff we have to talk about,it will all begin to wind down -- I think. Frankly, I expected it to wind down before now, but ... there you go.
Speaking of football, this year's team is definitely a team in transition. Last year, UK had virtually no offense to speak of, particularly against conference foes. And despite predictions of and occasional evidence of a strong defense, the actual numbers suggest that UK's defense was anything but strong -- 8th in scoring defense, 9th in rushing defense, 9th in passing defense, 11th in total defense. In other words, for a team that was supposed to count defense among its strengths, UK's could at best be described as decisively mediocre. The untimely loss of Jeremy Jarmon adds and unexpected hole in our pass rushing, but the somewhat unexpected return of Trevard Lindley and the strong performance of our other defensive backs later in the year gives us some hope that even if we aren't among the leaders in the the league in sacks like we were last year, we have some hope of stopping the pass at the other end of the process.
Offensively, UK looks much like last year -- far more questions than answers. About the only truly positive thing we can say is that everyone is a year older, and that is always good. I know there is a lot of excitement about the two highly touted freshman quarterbacks coming in this year, but let me temper that a bit -- freshmen in the SEC, particularly freshmen who are not at or near the very top of all of college football, rarely make much of an impact their first year. Both Mossakowski and Newton were ranked in the four-star range, and four-star quarterbacks are very unlikely to lead teams to victory as freshmen. On the upside, Randall Cobb will certainly be a factor, and if the other receivers can become enough of a threat to force single coverage on Cobb, he could have an outstanding year at wideout.
More football coverage will be coming soon. But for now, it's time for the news -- be prepared to read a long, long time.
UK Basketball News
- John Clay's Big Blue Links.
NBA Draft Prospect: SG Jodie Meeks, UK
A pretty good write-up by CBS Sports on Jodie Meeks.
Andy Katz reports on day one of the Team USA trials.
Darius Miler and Kentucky figure prominently.
- Who will shoot threes at Kentucky? Everybody, says Eric Crawford.
This Playmaker's Post Draft Deadline/Recruiting Top 10...
Interesting comments about next season's contenders.
An early look at UK’s 2010 targets: Part II - wing players
Some recruiting analysis from Straitpinkie.
"Seedy K" says Meeks and Lexington were in conflict.
"I’m advised that there was some sort of irreconcileable disconnect between Meeks on one hand and UK and the Lexington community on the other. My sources aren’t exactly sure what it is, but they believe that there was more to Meeks’ estrangement from the Big Blue Nation than his very testy and increasingly hostile relationship with Billy Clyde.[sic]"
Take it for what it's worth. The writer should consider changing his moniker -- it's prejudicial to his credibility in the extreme.
Calipari misses out on most important recruit - Meeks
"So, reading between the lines Calipari thought Jodie should return for his senior season. So, again, I have to ask...how did Coach Cal let this happen? Couldn't he pull off one last "sales job" to secure Meeks for the coming season? Yeah, he could have...he has enough NBA contacts to convince the kid he shouldn't come out. He could have stayed in Jodie's ear until the kid gave in. So why didn't he? Because he wanted Jodie Meeks to go after his dream, he wanted him to follow his heart."
Hmm. Not if you believe "Seedy K."
Meeks CAN return to UK
Heh. Dare to dream.
It's more important to scold than get the facts right.
A sad story from yet another holier-than-thou person who declines to get the facts correct, or even acknowledge any exculpatory evidence for the NCAA problems that have followed John Calipari. Facts are stubborn things, especially when you only consider one half of them.
- Matt Jones talks some more about the Harrison Barnes inteverview.
Tom Leach talks to Mike Pratt.
Via Kentucky Sports Radio. Definitely worth a listen.
Freshman All-American Camp coming to UK
Just so you know.
Rock Chalk Talk doesn't think Kentucky's all that pretty.
He places UK in the "bottom half of the teens" as far as next year is concerned. Almost nobody else would rank UK that low, but he gives a fair defense of that statement. All I can say is this -- it sure is nice to be discussed by teams who have ignored us for the last four years.
John Wall's teammate C.J. Leslie de-commits from N.C. State, likes UK.
Money quote: "HSH: Do you have any schools on your list that will definitely make the cut when you narrow it down? CL: I can tell you Kentucky’s gonna be up there. I’m pretty sure that Carolina will be up there. The Gators will probably be up there too. That’s it for right now. I would say those three will definitely be on the list."
Is Darius Miller the heir apparent to Jodie Meeks?
Where to play Miller? I think he could play the off guard, actually, although we'll have to see how he can handle defending smaller players. But Miller needs to work on his shot. It got better as the season progressed, but he has got to overcome the tendency to shoot on the way down.
Patterson and Orton to go through rigorous training
Interesting post at True Blue Kentucky about a training program both Daniel Orton and Patrick Patterson will be going through this summer to try to get better.
UK's Miller, Butler's Mack revive friendly rivalry at USA tryouts
Mike Fields writes about the friendly rivalry between Shelvin Mack and Darius Miller as they try to make the Team USA Under-19 team.
Danny Jett remembers our last trip to Indianapolis
"With that said, let us hope that if we return to Indianapolis next year, it won't have the same outcome as our last trip there for a Final Four. If you don't remember, that happened in 1997 when we lost to Arizona 84-79 in overtime. That game saw Miles Simon drop 30 points on us, 14 of those coming from the free throw line. The good thing is that the building that occured in......no longer exists.[sic]" Heh.
Wildcats Thunder Blog: Interview with Bill Keightley, (Week 8)
More interviews with Mr. Wildcat brought to you by Wildcats Thunder.
Jody Demling talks 2012 recruiting.
Jody dishes a ton of stuff on 2012 recruits, which are undoubtedly firmly on Coach Calipari's radar. Interesting note: Michael Avery currently ranked 313 by Hoop Scoop
UK Football News
Kentucky's Cobb needed most at receiver
Chris Low does his usual terrific job. A must-read.
One Game At A Time
True Blue Kentucky begins a four-part series on how UK football changed over the last three years.
2010 football prospect Lucas Witt
Will it be baseball or football?
More expected of Little this year
John Clay quotes the David Climer article I linked a couple of days ago about Rafael Little. I hope he does well with the Titans. Plus, tons of other astute observations from the Herald-Leader's best sports columnist.
Other UK Sports News
- None today.
NCAA Sports News
- Stability makes Vanderbilt an SEC contender
- Lance Stephenson: A player without a destination?
Alabama football in trouble again.
Free textbooks for other students and the NCAA wants to vacate wins? This confuses me a little, and seems a bit of a stretch.
Other News of Interest
BULLS: Sam Smith: Olympics could be in Derrick Rose’s future
"I do agree with Stan Van Gundy about the NCAA that it is "the worst organization going." It's what Van Gundy offered when talking about the 19-year-old rule. I also believe the NCAA policies are about to further lower Division I talent level to little better than what you may see at a high level community center game. One reason is in cases like with Derrick Rose the NCAA may be starting to chase the best players out of the game with its record of hypocrisy. Isn't it interesting that players from Memphis like Rose were cleared to play and then after they played and helped make the NCAA a fortune they are harassed and pursued? It's opening eyes of representatives of players and I've heard more agents saying they expect to attract more high school players to go to Europe."
Interesting comment, that one.
- Dozier trying to show in workouts he belongs in NBA
Adam Zagoria discovers Twitter
Okay, well, he was a late adopter anyway. So was I, but better late than never. Jeff Capel is using Twitter like a text message. Can an NBA ban be far away? Zagoria says no, and reasons that the NCAA considers tweets like emails. I, on the other hand, never underestimate the imperious nature of the NCAA.
The Daily Schadenfreude
Circle of Infamy: First Inductee -- Christian Laettner.
Oh, what a read. After thrusting that dagger through Kentucky's heart in 1992, Christian Laettner was paid back by the gods of basketball with one of the lousiest NBA careers ever for a guy so highly regarded. Sweet schadenfreude. This quote will be memorialized forever in my mind: "I think he’ll eventually have the credentials to back up everything he thinks of himself." — Jack McCloskey
Conference USA Happy to See Calipari Leave?
Offered without comment.