There were a lot of birthdays to choose from today and many of them were timely. Rhianna and her bruised self turns 20, Ivana Trump and her ex-husband’s bankrupt business turns 57 and Brian Littrell and his Kentucky lameness turns 34. But considering what has happened in the last few weeks, you have to focus on the birthday and return to TNT of Charles Barkley, who turns 45 today. As I wrote earlier this week, Barkley is one of my Top 5 favorite athletes of all time and could very well hold the top spot. His play on the court showcased the ability of a guy who was willing to try to overcome the obstacles of size and strength that many thought would bring him down. But his true genius has occurred in his post-playing career, where his “take no prisoners” television persona allows him to speak truth unlike virtually any other celebrity. For a long time, due to his honesty, Charles was teflon. Nothing could stick to him and he could say anything. After his DUI six weeks ago, it remains to be seen whether that will still be the case. But I hope it is….sports television broadcasting is much better with Sir Charles around.
To the news….
(1): The most important tidbit on the news scene today is the status of the ankle of one Patrick Patterson. Today was not a hugely positive day for Patterson’s status on Saturday as the realization began to set in that it was possible he could miss the Tennessee game. Since the injury against Florida, most had pointed to the Tennessee game (and its “must win” status) as the likely return and that is still the hope of everyone involved. However his healing has been a little bit slower than expected and his action in practice has been a bit more limited than I think most of the folks around UK had hoped. There is likely to be no announcement about his status until game time and it may still be the case that the best bet is that he takes the court. But what seemed like almost a certainty just a few days ago is now back up in the air.
(2): You may have seen the video 2009 lead guard Darius Smith out of Chicago on the site earlier today. If you havent, scroll down and take a look. Smith is an explosive scorer with a shaky jumper, but is being recruited by a number of schools, including Indiana, Minnesota and Kentucky. Smith told TCP tonight that the Cats are still recruiting him hard but he isnt sure if they will get one of his three official visits still in his pocket. People’s view on UK’s chances with Smith varies widely, with some believing the Cats are in the top 2 and other saying they are with the middle of the pack runners. But what is clear is that UK is pursuing him hard….suggesting that the recruiting for next year is NOT done.
(3): The UK women’s team defeated the Lady Vols tonight in a game that has to be a huge shot in the arm for that program. It is only the second time in the last 30 years that the Cats have beaten the Lady Vols in Lexington and it was an unexpected win for a program that has seen some struggles this season. Coach Matthew Mitchell only had 8 players available and dressed tonight for the game, but the Cats were able to win and even pull away, 66-56. There has been some rumbling about Mitchell and his job performance up to this point, but this is a big win for him and hopefully something positive for the program to build on for the future.
(4): Longtime readers of the site know the greatness that is Gregg Doyel. From this site’s inception, no one on the national level has been nicer….always available for an interview either on the site or on the radio and by far the funniest sportswriter I know. On a personal level, Gregg is also a good friend and so I like seeing him accepted by the Kentucky fans, as seen by his appearance tonight on Dick Gabriel’s radio show. While I dont listen to Dick’s show unless forced at gunpoint, I heard Gregg would be on and tuned in for a minute for the Doyelinator. Gregg said his usual stuff about the Cats (Gillispie is great, UK has great and crazy fans, etc) and he also repeated a line he has said on live blogs about DeAndre Liggins. He essentially said that those that blame Gillispie for not playing Liggins enough dont know what happens behind the scenes and that coaching scuttlebutt is that Liggins is a problem for Gillispie and his staff. When all is said and done, lots can (and maybe will) be written about DeAndre Liggins and his time at Kentucky…..just the stuff I know (and I am sure it is not all of it) suggests that there has probably been no relationship between a coach and player at UK in recent years that can top it for just utter absurdity. I have always liked Gregg because of how honest he is, and tonight he showcased again that trait, saying out loud what many whisper….that the Liggins story is MUCH greater than the public knows.
Today is a big day…..Seth Davis comes at noon for a live blog chat….we will start chatting at 11 am, so please join us and get ready for the Dookie. It should be something else……