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Kentucky Wildcats Morning Quickies: Stirring the Duke/Kentucky Pot Edition

ESPN's Myron Medcalf stirs the Duke/Kentucky rivalry pot. Baseball trying to come back from slump. Women's basketball still bleeding players.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, to the Tuesday Morning Quickies. Today’s news starts with ESPN writer Myron Medcalf, who apparently thinks John Calipari is taking a shot at Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski’s recruiting pitch. Allegedly, Coach K is fond of making the point that if players come to Duke, they are "set for life." Calipari said this the other day on when he was trying to define his vision for the program:

I refuse to go in a home and paint a picture saying things like, "If you come with us you’ll be taken care of for the rest of your life by the program and by our alums" even though you may only be in school for a year or two. How preposterous does that sound? What if I say that same thing and the young man decides to transfer for one reason or another? Does that still hold true that we’re going to take care of them the rest of their lives? Our approach is to give them the fishing rod and the lures to help them catch fish, not to just give you the fish.

Of course, none of us knows whether or not Krzyzewski ever uses the "set for life" angle for those attending Duke. We only have the word of a recruit Hamidou Diallo, apparently, who seemed to be paraphrasing the concept. I can’t find any instance where Coach K actually said what Diallo suggested, although it’s easy to see why someone might capture that inference in his recruiting pitch.

Whether or not Calipari’s comments were aimed at Coach K, I think they make a great point — merely playing basketball at the University of Kentucky (or Duke University, for that matter) will not, by itself, put you in the money, and that seems to be the implication of Diallo’s description. Calipari’s comments seem to be aimed less at Duke and Krzyzewski than at the impression any school can provide a "set for life" promise for mere matriculation.

Naturally, the Duke Basketball Report can’t resist offering their own observations, but I only need to go to one quick paragraph to give you the sense of their "argument":

We’ll skip this year’s players and only look at the guys Calipari coached at Memphis, where he also got high-level talent, and at Kentucky up to last year’s draft. We should also note that we may have missed a player or two - we caught a couple but still may have missed some others.

So they want to ignore all the facts that are inconvenient to their position and highlight only the ones that support it. Well, I guess it never occurred to them to be fair, reasonable, or even accurate.

The real question is this: why have so many of his talented players - think Chris Douglas-Roberts, Marquis Teague, Doron Lamb or the Harrisons - why have so many underachieved professionally?

"So many?" For the same reasons a good number of Duke’s players have underachieved; human nature and frailty. And as an overall rate, I suspect Calipari’s is no worse than that of Krzyzewski, although the DBR piece doesn’t even attempt to raise that question, let alone answer it.

Duke fans in general have been outraged by Calipari’s comments, and I must say, I have enjoyed their fulminating overreaction very, very much. I almost hate to point out that Coach Cal never mentioned Duke by name and as far as I know, Coach K has never used "set for life" as his recruiting pitch. Even funnier, both coaches are essentially implying the same thing in their recruiting pitches — "come here and we’ll teach you how to be a success at basketball and life."

I don’t buy the implication that either school is suggesting that the alumni will throw money and/or employment opportunity at a player who comes but fails to make it in the NBA. That isn’t likely, and if it is, it would arguably be an NCAA violation to make such a promise. Calipari had it right when he called it "preposterous." It may help you get a job to be an ex-UK or ex-Duke player, but I don’t believe the suggestion of hand-outs.

In sum, both coaches have a great record of getting players both to the NBA, and ahead in life. That’s a good thing. As to who does it best, I suspect it is mostly, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder.

But having said that, there’s one thing Duke fans can’t deny — it is Krzyzewski who changed his pitch to recruits, not Calipari. Calipari has been preaching virtually the same sermon since the day he arrived at Kentucky. Krzyzewski has not, and changed his tune in direct response to Calipari. So now the old arguments of "academics are paramount at Duke" and "its all about graduating" are out the window, no matter how hard they try to cling to them.

Tweet of the Morning

And the beat goes on.

Your Quickies:

Kentucky football
Kentucky basketball
  • 2017 stud forward Jarred Vanderbilt is a "strong Kentucky lean" according to this article by Jon Rothstein.

  • Howard Garfinkel, founder of the Five-Star basketball camp along with partner Will Klein, passed away last week at 86. Garfinkel had a tremendous influence on basketball, including such worthies as Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Patrick Ewing, and many others.

    Mike DeCourcy has a great piece on him this week, including this nugget:

    In the weeks before Garfinkel died on Saturday at age 86, his room at Roosevelt Hospital in New York was visited by many of those influenced by the institution of Five-Star and by the man himself. Kentucky coach John Calipari was among them. He told me last summer he literally got his start as a coach at Five-Star, when the camp was moved from remote Honesdale, Pa., across the state to Robert Morris, so near to the Pittsburgh airport

  • Derek Anderson has no doubts about Tyler Ulis’ ability to succeed in the NBA.

Other Kentucky sports
College football
College basketball
Other sports news
Other news
  • Don’t do math on an airplane, or you might be subject to interrogation. Seriously, the woman who reported this should be charged with a misdemeanor. When I read the headline, I was expecting to be taken to The Onion. Sadly, no.

  • Are "dumb" phones making a comeback? I personally feel drawn back to the flip-phone lifestyle more and more. apparently, I’m not alone.