With Halloween pictures flooding the internet (my favorite KSR-related idea for a costume is from the guy who took a picture of himself with his arm around a rather hefty girl and said he went to Halloween as the “Turkey Hunter”), it is only fitting that we give props to this Celtics’ team photo, which includes Rajon Rondo dressed as Tiger Woods. Rondo pulled off the costume well, including the red shirt, hat and broken arm, although he did leave out the huge alimony check that is being signed over in the very near future. The picture above shows a fun-loving team and I must say that it reminded me of what I have thought a bit about this weekend. For my money, this may bet he most exciting NBA season in recent memory. With the Heat potentially a super team, the Celtics, Magic, Lakers and Thunder all very good, a number of exciting rookies (most from UK) and the most energetic form of basketball in the last 15 years in the league, the NBA is at a high point. Many in Kentucky poo-poo the NBA and say its not “real basketball”, blah blah blah. While there was a time that the league got difficult to watch (late 90s/early 2000s), for my money, the games now are very exciting. I dare you to turn on an Oklahoma City Thunder game and not be entertained…and our boys are making an impact…so dont hate on the NBA…its better than you remember.
Notes from a weekend of frustration for many:
— The post-Mississippi State game chatter, on both the post-game radio show and this site, has been all about the question of what should the expectations be for this program. While I think we all can agree that UK has let at least two games slip away this year that should have been won, the broader question of what people should expect from Kentucky football continues to get very divergent opinions. There is a section of the fanbase who is already questioning whether Joker should be Coach (ridiculous) and suggesting that we need to bring someone into Kentucky who can “take it to the next level.” Of course what that level is, continues to be the sticky point. As I said on the radio and I continue to believe, the level of expectations for Kentucky football should be to win at least 6 games every year, 7-8 most years and every 5 or 6 years, have a great season and potentially win 9-10. That is the standard for me. While I think UK should have reached 8 more than it has in the past (this and 2007 were the years to do it), in general, that is where the program is right now. There hasnt been that “dream season” that we had hoped for, but at least in 2007, the talent was there to make it happen. Any expectations beyond that does not recognize the reality of Kentucky football that:
1. We play in the toughest conference in college sports
2. We have no tradition to speak of
3. (and most importantly), Kentucky DOES NOT HAVE A RECRUITING BASE TO BE A TOP 15 PROGRAM
The state of Kentucky simply does not produce enough talent to be able to compete for SEC titles year in and year out. The state produces between 5-10 SEC caliber players a year…and UK has to split some of those with Louisville. To recruit, Kentucky must go out of state on a year in and year out basis and get the players that the instate schools didnt recruit. While that can lead to some great finds (guys like Cobb, Trevathan, Lindley, etc), it is a much riskier proposition than just taking the 20 best kids from your own state. If you rank the 15 top programs on a yearly basis, ALL of them are from states that produce loads of Division I talent. The best schools not in such states are probably Nebraska (which as a program has taken a huge step back in the last decade), Oregon (which benefits from Nike money and plays in the Pac 10) and Boise State (which plays one tough game a season). Kentucky can do better than it has done, but all things considered, from my view the program is on a good run. Be upset about the fact that UK has lost games this year it could have won…but to hold UK up to a standard of the top tier in the SEC…well I think any coach will end up disappointing if that is your hope.
— The other football story tonight involved the comments by the mother of Donald Russell on her son’s situation with the football team and the coaches. Some of the comments can be understood as a mother defending her child and voicing frustration at his lack of playing time. IF you have ever spent much time around the parents’ sections of any sport, you know that Russell’s mother’s comments are not unique. Had you been around the UK basketball teams’ parents last year, you would have heard much worse at times. However, what the statements do suggest is that there is some disconnect between Joker and at least one of his most talented player, a kid who the team would seem to certainly need in the future. For Russell to go from a key part of the Auburn/South Carolina games, to being passed by Coshick Williams…well hopefully someone will ask Joker today how that could happen…and if nothing else, Russell’s mother has made sure that will be asked.
— Tonight is the first exhibition game of the basketball season as the Fighting Landon Slones come into Rupp Arena for the UK-Pikeville battle. Pikeville seems to have 30 players on their roster (I am not kidding) and Coach Kelly Wales has the Billy Gillispie “have a roster so big it could go into battle” viewpoint for his NAIA program. These games are always good chances for Kentucky to see what they have and in this year’s game, one of the things to test is how the lack of depth will effect the team in a 40 minute game. As for Slone, he was one of Billy Clyde’s favorite players and actually got quite a bit of playing time from the old man during his time in Lexington. He also infamously had a great conversation with Drew Franklin on Twitter (ask him about that sometime) and expressed some displeasure as he left the program. Still he is a good Eastern Kentucky kid, with UK as part of his background and it will be great to see him get one last chance to light it up in Rupp. I expect him to play well. We will be covering the game with a LIVE BLOG beginning at 6:30 pm, so stop on by.
Finally, it was a good day for the former UK Cats in NFL once again. Stevie “Got Loose” once again, as Johnson caught the game tying score for the Buffalo Bills in regulation, before they were defeated in Overtime. It is Johnson’s 5th consecutive game with a TD catch, tying the all-time franchise record. Stevie has found a great home in Buffalo and even though the team isnt very good, he is having success, which is great to see. And of course there was Myron Pryor, breaking Brett Favre’s jaw and basically making him look like a really old man for a few minutes. Apparently Favre will be able to return, so Myron wont be able to say that he was the Legend Killer, but like Taylor Wyndham, he will have a notch in his belt for quite some time.
More all day as we get ready for the battle of the Cats vs Pikeville National Bank. Stay tuned for all the news and notes and remember to LIVE BLOG the game at 6:30 with us. Then we will have our first BASKETBALL POST-GAME SHOW on WHAS 840 AM one hour after the basketball game. Make sure and tune in. See ya later…