Today is the birthday of your friend and mine, Billy Mitchell, considered to be the father of the modern American Air Force. Mitchell was born in 1879 and joined the Army prior to World War I, where he quickly rose through the ranks. As a member of the Army, he became highly interested in the new air technology and was an early advocate of its use in military operations. He commanded air units in World War I, but was a fierce critic of a military leadership that still considered the new technology to be secondary to true war planning. After World War I, he fought for and was appointed the initial leader, of the new Army Air Service division, which later became the basis for the modern Air Force. Throughout the next four years, he complained loudly about the need for more air artillery in the American military and foresaw that it would become crucial to future power. His complaints later were labeled insubordination and he was court martialed, an experience that was recounted in the 1950s classic movie, “The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell.” Even though the end to his military career was controversial, his legacy is long and he was later reinstituted as a General by FDR and in 2005, by George W. Bush. Because of Mitchell’s influence, you now know something else about the Air Force besides the fact that they run the option.
Because many of you likely spent the Christmas holidays with your family and doing unimportant things like being with others, you may have missed what ended up being a dramatic few days around here and the UK sports circuit. So tonight, we give you a quick recap of the last five days…..
(1) The long weekend began on Wednesday as we talked about Beas Hamga transfer and the possibility that Kentucky could be in the mix. That led to folks from another site trumpeting “HUGE NEWS” that would be secret and big over the next couple of days. We still haven’t seen that news yet, but what we did see was a Christmas day filled with nerd yuletide fighting, the likes of which you don’t see much. It was an exciting time for all and was beyond ridiculous.
(2) Friday brought us the Lexington Catholic Holiday Tournament and the chance to see some guys connected with UK do their thing. Jon Hood had a difficult game, but still showcased a wide range of skills in scoring 18 points the first night and 23 the next. Hood, as I have said many times will be a special player at UK. Vinny Zollo also took the court and had a rough outing, scoring 8 points as his team beat Adair County. We will talk more about Vinny this week, but after seeing him again over the last few days, he has a long way to go to be a high major player in my view. Others disagree, and that is of course fine, but at this time I would say he is only the third or fourth best player on his team. Finally, Vee Sanford of Lexington Catholic, who has been said to be considering UK, took the floor for two nights. Vee played well and I spoke with him after the second game, in which he told me that Nebraska (whose coach was there), Toledo and Bradley were his leaders. He said UK is interested in him prepping until 2010, something he is not really interested in doing. I dont really expect Kentucky to give Vee an offer at this point, barring some late change. Gillispie was there the second night to see Sanford, but maybe even more so, the freshman Beckham, who will be a star at Catholic in the future.
(3) The Cats took the floor and got an important win against a gritty Florida Atlantic team, 76-69. Much of the post-game discussion dealt with the great play of Landon Slone, who took 25 minutes of game action, 10 more than any of the other four more heralded newcomers for the Cats. Slone is a walk-on from Eastern Kentucky, a perfect combination for fan love. Coach Gillispie showed faith in him by going with a lineup of Landon, Porter, Meeks, Stevenson and Patterson for the last ten minutes of the ball game. If I had told you that the crunch time backcourt in a close game would be Porter and Slone, would you have believed it? Well believe it, because they did look solid.
(4) Also there was some message board buzz about Billy Gillispie’s decision to toss Kevin Galloway and Matt Pilgrim out of practice the day before the game. Most overreacted to the news, not knowing that this type of thing happens all the time, although it rarely gets out. Galloway especially led to massive overreaction as he saw playing time on Saturday. In Pilgrim’s case it was a bit more intriguing, as Matt didn’t join the team watching on the court for pre-game warm-ups as usual and wasn’t behind the bench in his usual spot. But Gillispie said in the post-game that Pilgrim is still with the team. Case closed.
(5) The football Cats got some good and bad news. Bad news is that Randall Cobb is out for the Liberty Bowl. Good news is that they got a signed commitment from a talented JUCO DT named Mark Caldwell. The Cats have arrived in Memphis and are ready to get their Liberty Bowl on. We will have news from Memphis all week on the site.
(6) And finally, the weekend ended with Jai Lucas choosing Texas as the locale of his transfer. Lucas says his final three were all Texas schools, with Rice and Baylor joining the Longhorns as his final choice. I spoke with him earlier this weekend and it was clear that the Cats were not the likely target, but he made his final call late on Sunday night. And to show the passion of UK fans, the site got brought down at the time of the announcement and our host provider told us that between 7,000 and 8,000 fans tried to access it in a five minute period….at 10 pm on a Sunday night. Gotta love the Cats…..
We will have more all day….thoughts from the Liberty Bowl, getting you ready for the Central Michigan basketball game and a “Where Are They Now” series on past recruits gets kicked off. Then we lead up to a live blog during the Central Michigan game, which will be our second one of the year. Stay tuned as we get rolling…..