Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, and welcome to the Tuesday Morning Quickies. This morning sees the ejection of John Calipari from the game Saturday in Columbia SC continue to have a little bit of life, and questions (which will most likely remain forever unknown to the general public) continue to remain on two main points:
- Why the absurdly quick trigger by Doug Sirmons, and;
- Why the street-fight reaction by Coach Cal?
Jerry Tipton, that long time object of scorn for the vast majority of the Big Blue faithful, takes a look at the latter issue yesterday. Apparently, an elderly lady called in and questioned the propriety of Calipari’s reaction to the ejection that required three of his players and two assistant coaches to restrain him, and resulted in him leaving the floor looking decidedly un-Calipari-like with his arms repeatedly flung akimbo, his shirttail hanging out and his normal sartorial splendor decidedly un-splendiferous.
When contacted Monday morning, [Carolyn] Brown, 89, had not cooled off nor rationalized Calipari’s actions.
"To me, it’s humiliating to act like that," she said. Calipari’s behavior reflected poorly on UK and residents of Kentucky, she said.
I think it can be fairly said she has a point about the optics of the matter — in a technical sense, seeing a 57-year old man act like a 20-year old is generally risible and reflects poorly on him and his employer.
However for good or ill, it has long been part of the mystique and tradecraft of college coaching for such tirades to occasionally happen, and Ms. Brown, who is presumably a basketball fan, should know that as well as anyone. Upbraiding Calipari for his outburst is certainly fair from an objective standpoint, but as a person who is enamored of proper decorum, I find myself unimpressed by her outrage. These things happen, and it’s all part of the theater of the sport, and has been at least since Bobby Knight flung the chair across the floor, and probably long before then.
The question remains, "Why was Calipari so incensed?" He has been ejected before, and never have we seen such an intense and apparently genuine apoplexy. What was different this time?
We may never know. All anyone, including Tipton, gets from the league, the officials, UK and Coach Cal are platitudes and no comments. Of course, Jerry in his desire to be "fair and balanced" gets a bunch of people to criticize Calipari (and somewhat unsurprisingly, none to defend him), but I think you’re all used to that by now.
Tweet of the Morning
Cats seemed to "sharpen" the Jayhawks game when they played in Jan.KU looking very good ever since their near loss that day…— Mike Pratt (@MikePratt22) February 16, 2016
I think this is right, and I also think it sharpened the Wildcats. I see the Tennessee loss as a complete, out-of-the-blue anomaly mostly driven by a hot shooter, but other than that, the Wildcats have averaged an offensive efficiency of 128 points/100 possessions over the last three games. That’s strong, boys and girls.
- Updated information on UK’s targets of interest in 2017. I just want us to keep drawing the lion’s share of in-state talent like we did this season. That was very encouraging.
Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray both earn SEC "of the week" honors, Ulis for PoW and Murray FoW. This is the third such award for both players, and the way they are going, it won’t be the last.
Coaches love Tyler Ulis for SEC Player of the Year. I don’t think that’s a foregone conclusion the way Ben Simmons and Kevin Punter are playing, but he’s certainly right up there with them.
Related: Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News has always been on the Ulis bandwagon. DeCourcy has always been my favorite sports journalist. Even when we disagree, he always has a solid case to defend his argument, and that’s more rare than it should be.
Derek Willis is the most important player to UK’s NCAA hopes by one measure, according to Mark Story. Here it is:
It is a fact of history that UK has never won a men’s basketball NCAA championship without having a player from the state of Kentucky playing a major role.
From Ralph Beard (Louisville), Wah Wah Jones (Harlan) and Kenny Rollins (Wickliffe) on Adolph Rupp’s first title team (1947-48) through sixth man Darius Miller (Maysville) on UK’s 2011-12 champs, there has been at least one Kentuckian among the top six scorers on every one of the Wildcats’ eight NCAA championship squads.
Hey, that works for me, I guess. No doubt Willis has completely changed the complexion of this team, and has introduced a significant X-factor.
This is Kentucky Basketball, featuring Jamal Murray.
Kentucky is up to 14th in the latest AP poll. Ken Pomeroy has them moving from 22 to 9th in a week, a reflection of three straight blowouts where UK’s OE was off the charts.
I like the fact that Coach Cal talks up Tyler Ulis for National Player of the year. I think Buddy Hield is the prohibitive favorite, but I do think Ulis deserves to be on the short list.
Other Kentucky sports
Softball is off to a rousing start as UK tops #22 Arizona State and #20 Utah. This is going to be a WCWS year, I feel it…
- Ranking the best presidents who played college football. You may be surprised to see Ronald Regan on there, and his role as The Gipper isn’t the only reason.
Committee investigating allegations of impropriety at Louisville (you love my careful wording, and you know it) says that the ban on post-season play was enacted out of fear.
I hope you don’t expect me to disagree, because I’m sure he’s right. Fear of what, exactly, is subject to some speculation. Fear of Rick Pitino leaving if next year’s team is hamstrung? Fear of a multi-year ban (seems unlikely to me)? Or fear that they will be accused of slow-walking the inevitable? I have no idea, and these aren’t the only possible things, I’m sure.
Related: Pat Forde speculates on a coaching opening at Louisville, and as a believer in never letting an opportunity to do so pass, takes a shot at Calipari. Embrace da hate.
How’s this for a headline: The best team in men’s basketball is nobody.
Actually, I think this is mostly right. This is the most wide-open season in a while, and there are no dominant teams. But you have to love the way Kentucky’s back court is rounding into form.
Other sports news
NBA Commish Adam Silver wants to change the rule that allows teams to repeatedly foul bad free throw shooters. Patrick Patterson calls the big BS on him, and I think Pat’s absolutely right.
Silver is such a weenie, I have grown to absolutely loathe him in the strongest way. I’m really missing David Stern right now.
Good advice for people using Twitter. I love how he refers to tweets as "twits," it somehow makes it even better.
The chirp heard across the universe. This was the experiment to try to detect grav waves. David Webber, your office on line 1.
Taylor Swift is on a roll, and she is sparing no Kanye. Just be careful there, West. She’s already allegedly written one song about you, and the next one might take you to the rack — and I'll wager you won’t like it.