Its a drenched day in the Commonwealth as we recover from the Derby and get ready for the week ahead. Three notes from the day:
— There is still no real news on Terrence Jones and it isnt clear when news will come. He was meeting with his parents and high school coach last night to try and make a final decision and that could have been made last night. But that doesnt mean that it will be leaked or even that the schools were told the information. My guess is still that we will find out this afternoon or evening about Jones’s final plans. But I have talked to a number of people this afternoon and as of NOW, no one has heard anything. UK folks are still confident he will end up in Blue, but they were confident of that before the press conference, so we shall see.
— A lot of people are upset over the Jerry Tipton column, but I am not. While I think Tipton often is way too negative for a local beat writer and seems to go out of his way to criticize UK, this is a totally fair story. The 2.07 GPA is way too low….lowest in the SEC, lowest versus our “rivals” like Louisville, Duke and Kansas by a great deal and the second lowest in the last 20 years at UK (only surpassed by Team Turmoil which had two players who I believe had a 0.0 GPA for the semester). Also while I love Calipari, when you go out and make a big deal about a player’s GPA being very good (in this case John Wall), then you cant be upset when people point out that the team’s GPA isnt good. That is part of the trade off.
Ultimately, UK basketball creates a culture around its program. It doesnt necessarily bother me that players who know they are headed for the NBA dont take class seriously. But this year that was Wall and Cousins in the Freshman class and at least one (Wall) led the team in GPA (and give him a lot of credit for that…he is a class act). But as Sandy Bell pointed out, the GPA issues went across the board, and include a lot of players who will not be going to the NBA. That is a more important issue. We need to be careful not to blow this out of proportion and it certainly isnt the end of the world. But a basketball program is about more than just winning games…at least it should be. It is about preparing players as people for the next phase of their lives. That might be with the NBA (as with Wall, Cousins, Patterson, etc), but it also may be something else for the others…and a focus on academics is part of that. If Kansas, Louisville and Duke can have GPAs around the school average, and some of the great teams in UK history (like the 96, 98 and 03 teams can), then this group can as well. When I go on radio shows across the country to defend UK, I always get asked about graduation rate and I say that only two things matter…one is graduation rate of Seniors (which UK’s is very strong) and the other is team GPA. The latter should be better. Jerry Tipton may be a nattering nabob of negativism, but on this issue, the story is not his fault.
— The Courier Journal did not issue a paper today, the DAY AFTER the KEntucky Derby, arguably its biggest day of the year. There was apparently an electrical problem with the printing press that kept the paper from being printed. I do feel sorry for those who wrote on the paper as their Derby section is one of the most worked on of the year and has been award-winning in the past. It is amazing however that a newspaper of that size and strength could have such an issue and no contingency plan to deal with it. Tough day to be in the newspaper business in Louisville.
— Question for UK fans….if UK were to play one of these four teams in Louisville over the next two years, which would you prefer:
Inquiring minds want to know. 😉