Good morning, my beautiful KSR family, and welcome to yet another highly anticipated edition of the News and Views. Wednesday brought a bit of a slow day as the both the Kentucky basketball and football teams get set for a big Saturday afternoon. Coach Cal’s squad will kick off conference play against the sly Mark Fox and Joker Phillips will look to end his first season on a high note with a win in the Compass Bowl. But, before we get going with all the Big Blue goodness, let’s take time to pay tribute to former Reds shortstop Barry Larkin. Larkin fell just short of collecting enough votes for the Hall of Fame Wednesday, but since I can’t choose between celebrating my dad’s 50th or my son’s first birthday on Thursday and because my one-year contract as KSR Czar doesn’t guarantee I’ll be around to celebrate his induction next year, we’ll honor him just the same this morning. If there was a face of the Cincinnati Reds in the late 1980s and 1990s, it was Larkin, whose nifty glovework and above average bat made him a regular fixture at the All-Star game and earned him the franchise’s first MVP in nearly 20 years in 1995. He might not be remembered with all of the fanfare of a guy like Derek Jeter, but his numbers compare pretty favorably. Barry Larkin, may the sun shine on you next year. And may your son have a change of heart before torturing himself for four years.
Now onto a few UK notes…
– As has seemed to be the case for the past few days, a lot of the talk Thursday centered around recruiting, which has become quite the comfortable luxury around these parts lately. ESPN’s Dave Telep reported that DeAndre Daniels will be making his call on Thursday and it will most likley be Kansas. However, there still seems to be a small minority that believes things could go either way still between the Jayhawks and the Cats. Meanwhile, fresh off a trip to Wichita to see Perry Ellis, Coach Cal headed to the northeast to check out a pair of five-star teammates, Alex Murphy and Kaleb Tarczewski. It’s tough to say how much either of those guys have in the Cats at this point as they haven’t been really mentioned much as a major player, but you know better than to count him out. And for those of you saying Murphy looked like a Dukie, he’ll visit Cameron on Sunday.
– Just prior to Christmas break, Coach Cal said that it looked like the Cats would be coming in with grades above the 2.8 benchmark. On Thursday, Cal’s suspicions were confirmed with a report that UK’s basketball team earned a 2.82 GPA for the fall semester, which was the highest so far since he’s been coach. I’m among those that finds this fairly irrelevant for the most part, but congratulations to the team for beating my first semester GPA. Based on the jaw-dropping post-college success I’ve found, I’m sure you guys all have a bright future too.
– Before he took off for his trip to Rhode Island, Coach Cal briefly discussed his desire to expand UK’s rotation during SEC play by finding another one or two guys who can contribute. The issue of depth has been an interesting one to this point as Kentucky has survived what many expected to be such a noticeable weakness, but the concern hasn’t necessarily subsided without anyone from the Hood-Poole-Vargas stepping up as the Cats get ready for conference play. Someone has to turn the corner from that group. Cal will keep playing six if they don’t and, at some point, that will catch up with them. The new season starts Saturday. Let’s hope one of those guys can take advantage of the opportunity.
– If you haven’t been keeping track, Pitt is favored by 3.5 points for the Compass Bowl. Yes, the team that has lost two head coaches, a defensive coordinator and one of the best defensive players in the nation since the end of the season is still favored over the Cats. I want to say easy money, but…
– In more important news, Aaron Boyd Tweeted out that the Cats defeated Pitt in a “Dougie” contest. More importantly, no state troopers had to break it up. See, Charlie Strong, it can be done.
– For a change, it wasn’t a bad night for the SEC. In his final game before disappearing into an suspension (except for the UConn game), Bruce Pearl captained Tennessee to a beatdown of hated Memphis. After the game, his wife updated her Facebook to compare her husband to Joshua. Then, Mike Slive banished him from Thompson-Boling like it was the Garden of Eden.
– Before he put his great leadership on display, Pearl conducted a strange, but tear-free interview with Jimmy Dykes in which he declined to say why he should remain as Tennessee’s head coach (he’s saving it for the infractions committee) and said, “My faith in God has never been stronger and my faith in man has never been weaker.” He forgot to add “and my team’s non-conference performance has never been more pathetic.
– In case you haven’t heard, Rajon Rondo is good. 12 points, 10 rebounds and 22 assists good.
– On a non-sports note, if you’re a fan of hip-hop check out Bomani’s take on the current state of affairs over at his blog. It’s as well-written as anything you will read. Ever. On the whole internet.
– Finally, a shout-out to our buddy Evan Daniels for a stellar television appearance on Courtside with Seth Davis. The guy is so smooth and so good, it almost makes you forget he had BTI holding him back all those years at Western. And, on a related note, the Seth Davis show is one of the best unknown shows on the air. You should check it out. If only for the Jerry Tipton segment each week.
That’s it for now. Stay tuned throughout the day as we get you all set for the BBVA Compass Bowl and finally (we hope) hear a DeAndre Daniels decision. As usual, the fun gets going with Kentucky Sports Radio at 10am on Talk Radio 1080. Make sure you stick around. See you in a few…