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Kentucky Basketball: Doug Gottlieb, Thayer Evans, and Media Days for Basketball

We have a little fun with Doug Gottlieb, examine John Calipari's comments today, and investigate the curious matter of the Derek Willis layup dunk.

Andy Lyons

So we have a new poll out by the CBS Sports basketball guys, which is normally nothing to really even take notice of — after all, pre-season polls really don't mean too much as long as you're in there somewhere in the general vicinity of where you should be. They (or, in particular, the AP pre-season poll) does tend to give us a pretty good view of college basketball, and normally, the CBS pre-season poll is pretty close to what the AP poll will look like when it does come out.

The poll was almost unanimous in picking who the #1 team will be this season, and it is this "almost" that is, well, interesting — at least to me. And I do use the term "interesting" advisedly. What I find interesting is that one guy decided that Kentucky was not the #1 team in the nation — Michigan St. was.

Now, I think Michigan St. is a very worthy #1 pick. They have a strong, mature, well-coached team. So there's no way I can fault the guy who selected MSU #1 over Kentucky, except ... He placed Kentucky not at #2, nor 3, nor anywhere in the top five at all. Kentucky, according to Doug Gottlieb, ranks no better than 7th in the land. That would be behind Michigan St., Louisville, Duke, Arizona, North Carolina, and Oklahoma St.

Look; I get that all those teams are worthy of top ten rankings, but the idea that Kentucky, in any mind not riven with partisanship, personal dislike of the program or it's coach, or simple insanity should be ranked that low simply beggars belief. It is so preposterous, frankly, that one must suspect the reasoning behind it has little to do with where Kentucky actually belongs.

In my mind, there are three explanations which stand out for this ... what to call it ... insult? Slight? Malapropism? Whatever. Here we go:

  • Gottlieb has some kind of animus against the program or Calipari;
  • Gottlieb wants Calipari to prove himself all over again after last year's failures;
  • Gottlieb wants to generate attention for his show, and himself, and what better way to do that than to do something likely to rile Kentucky fans, who have a massive Internet presence.

Hanlon's razor does suggest a fourth explanation, which is simple incompetence. Honestly, given some of Gottlieb's previous "expert" commentary, I'm inclined to give this one the high probability, but that's just me. I've never been impressed with his analysis, and he's been wrong rather more often than right. Dare I compare him with a similarly delusional sportswriter, a certain Thayer Evans, who predicted in 2011-12 that the Wildcats would fall short because, essentially, Calipari didn't know how to coach them properly? Oops. How'd that one work out for ya, Thayer? Probably about as well as this one will work out for Gottlieb.

Matt Jones had a question for Gottlieb:

Mrs. J was a touch less diplomatic:

Anyway, have some fun with it. Who knows, maybe he's on to something none of the rest of us can perceive. Perhaps the Force is with him, and not with us.

Naaah, he's nutso. Whacked out. Off the sanity reservation. Gone 'round the proverbial bend. Ready for the men in white suits. Because Gottlieb.

But there is one really good thing about all this, and that is, basketball is almost here. Today was Media Days, and unfortunately, I'm just getting around to covering it.

You've probably all heard Calipari's remarks, and if not you can find them here, along with most of the other player interviews of interest. I haven't had time to listen to all of them, but I did like this one; the subject of it is whether or not Derek Willis dunked on Julius Randle and Dakari Johnson:

That's pretty hilarious stuff. Who do you believe? Coach Cal said Willis dunked on them, for the record.

Here's my observations from Calipari's comments:

  • NBA scouts in there every day, talking about James Young. He's really fast and not settling for jump shots, and is like MKG on the break. He should be a good defender.
  • Have not installed the defense, or pick and roll.
  • Have an out-of-bounds play, and aren't playing any zone.
  • Said "Before I retire, I would love to coach a team that goes 40-0." He said by taking the view that every game matters, you don't wind up getting beaten by teams that should not beat you. And he reminded everyone that he had 3 teams that almost did it. (I personally think it should be only 2, since Camby et. al. lost in the semis.).
  • Wonders if UK will be a great defensive and rebounding team, and will they share the ball.
  • Wouldn't answer the question about whether or not this was the most talented team ever, independent of experience.
  • Cal was asked to compare how he felt about 2013 versus 2011-12. Repeated the old, "I like my team" mantra.
  • If he correctly explained the new rules, Louisville will not make it through a game without fouling out at least three players. And it looks to me like that was the message he was trying to send.
  • Expects to face a lot of zone and sagging defenses because of the Dribble Drive UK is going to run, and the new rules.
  • Thinks this team's weakness is when they get down, they are going to take their foot off the gas.
  • Said Jarrod Polson is "...way better." He's just not as big as Andrew and Aaron Harrison.
  • James Young doesn't have the leadership thing down yet, but the Harrisons, Randle, Polson and Jon Hood all do.
  • Compared Marcus Lee to a young Dennis Rodman. That kid is a real character.
  • Calipari is deadly serious about the Dribble Drive Motion this season. Deadly. Serious.
  • Dominique Hawkins and Julius Randle are always 1 and 2 with the "Wildcat Code."
  • The personalities of the Harrison twins is very different. Said they are very critical of themselves, and each other.

There was a bunch of other stuff, but a lot of it was just the same stuff you've heard out of Calipari, in some variation or other, for the last four.

On yet another basketball matter, I did a radio show last night with The Double Bonus talking Wildcat basketball. My appearance was around 7:45. It is fairly short, so you won't have to listen to me drone on for a half-hour. I did forget Daniel Orton's name, though.