Its an odd phenomenon to have NFL Games on Thursday Night that no one can see. It is without a doubt the case that the NFL is the biggest sport in America. However now every week, there is one game played that literally no one pays attention to. Who played last night? Unless you took the time to check, chances are you didnt know it was San Francisco and Seattle. Plus the games are announced by Bryant Gumbel……yes that Bryant Gumbel…..you know the one who used to be on The Today Show and is now best known for his show on HBO which has very interesting stories and then cuts to shots of Bryant sitting with the reporter while he quickly scribbles away on a sheet of paper for no apparent reason. Look, I like Bryant. Something about being intelligent, caustic and a bit of a rebel (on the Today Show he was controversial), makes him redeeming to me. But having him call NFL games is weird…..but hey, no one is watching, so who cares.
We are going into the biggest weekend of the early season for the Wildcats. Louisville looks awful, Kentucky would LOVE to have this big win and the stage is set for a game that can tilt either program in an overly negative direction. I will have my game preview tomorrow afternoon, but for now, let me just say this. Louisville is bad…..but they arent as bad as they have been early this year. I expect the Ville’s best performance of the year Saturday. UK can beat that performance…..but not if they play like they did against Indiana. They need a UCLA performance….it is in them, but it needs to happen to get a win.
Now onto the news…..
(1) Folks, I am now a believer. I held out for a long time, even naming his #1 rival as my early season top ranked prospect in the state. But it is time to acknowledge that Stephon Pettigrew is a real talent and is playing the best (as of today) of any player in the state. I was in attendance at the “King of the Bluegrass” tonight at Fairdale as Pettigrew threw up 43 points and 15 rebounds in an overtime loss to Louisville Central. Pettigrew can do it all, scoring inside and out. I would like to see better ball handling and outside shooting, but at this point he is putting up points in droves on a team that is not that strong without him. I have advocated for some time that UK hold off offering Pettigrew. But that was under the assumption that they stayed in contact with him. Pettigrew’s father told me tonight that UK HAS NOT CONTACTED HIM SINCE SEPTEMBER! He said, “they send a letter occasionally, but they dont act interested.” That is simply unacceptable. This is the best player (along with Brooks) in the state…..better than Josh Carrier, Brandon Stockton, Jared Carter, JP Blevins, etc at this time. Not even contacting him at this stage simply makes no sense. UK still has three more scholarships for this year. If we get Moses, Patterson and Lucas, I can accept no scholarship offer for Pettigrew. But IF WE LOSE ANY OF THOSE GUYS, and dont offer Pettigrew, then this is simply absurd. He is a solid player with a great body and work ethic. Some Division I program is going to get him (Western and Butler have offered)…..my guess is that the offers will increase. Whatever UK decides to do, not contacting him for months is just bizarre and in my opinion, a poor way to treat the likely Mr. Basketball.
(2) Also got to see Jeff Brooks in action tonight. Brooks is a long kid who has a good feel for the game. I am not a huge fan of the attitude that Brooks displays on the court, but he couldnt be a nicer kid off of it. Penn St got themselves a good catch with Brooks (who has more upside than anyone in the Senior class) and I look forward to watching him develop through the course of the year. Lots of talk in the gym amongst the folks I was around (incluidng a couple of former UL players) that UK and UL really missed out on not offering Brooks. Again, I think it depends how things play out for UK. If they get Patterson and/or Moses, missing Brooks is not a huge deal…..but if they get neither and a great player is in your back yard and you let him go……well thats poor. Still, UK has a Brooks-like player in Stewart, so I think letting him go makes sense. We shall see in April if the same is true about Pettigrew. But the race between these two for Mr. Basketballl will be something to watch….
(3) Rivals.com report came out today that Jai Lucas was considering a host of schools ranging from NC State to Illinois to Iowa, etc. These reports are going to surface all year. Jai told me he would go to no school that he didnt visit…..and he wasnt expecting to visit again. Before people panic about these reports, wake me when he takes a visit. Until then, the original four are still the four.
(4) Something to watch for the Ville game on Saturday. Derrick Caracter barely played in the second half against UMASS. In my view, Caracter is the key to the Ville game plan. When he plays at the four he can create matchup problems for us on Sheray and Stevenson. How he is used may determine how Saturday goes.
(5) The name of the 2008 recruit visiting on the 22nd is Phillip Jurick, a big man from Tennessee. He is the guy who Bruce Pearl was scouting the other night when he was asked to leave the gym for taunting the officials. He will be a tough kid to get out of Tennessee, but I like seeing the Cats get on him early and make a push. More on him later…..and he may be on the show Sunday.
Marshall Moses is coming to town…..I dont expect a commitment due to his promise to visit the Wolfpack…..but this visit is huge for a recruit that is also huge.
Look for a Ville report this afternoon and game coverage all weekend. I will be in Indianapolis for the Wooden Tradition (Butler-Purdue and Ohio St-Cincinnati) for another of my side gigs and will actually not be in Freedom Hall. Hopefully I will miss a great game and a Cats win……