It has been a crazy busy, but exciting week here in Louisville as we opened up our law firm (Jones & Bruce, 502-456-0400, for all your legal needs) and attempted to get acclimated to the new environment. I always know when it has been a busy week for me when (a) I dont know what happened on American Idol and (b) I watch no college basketball game not involving Kentucky. Both of these would have happened tonight if not for my catching the end of IU/Illinois. However as I was just flipping through the channels, I found a Biography of today’s birthday honoree, former wrestling star “Classy Freddie Blassie.” If you are, or have ever been, a wrestling fan, then you likely know the name….if for no other reason than the fact that it rhymes. But folks who dont follow our fair sport may not realize how big a star Blassie once was. In a day before Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan and The Rock, Blassie was one of the biggest names around and gained crossover appeal into mainstream society when wrestlers never even thought of such success. He was a regular guest on late night television and had a recurring role on the Regis Philbin show, a spot that Regis later said helped make his name in the tv world. Blassie’s success also inspired Andy Kaufman, who often said that it was Blassie that made him want to enter the wrestling world and bring his brilliant comedy to that arena. Blassie was famous for calling his fans “pencil-neck geeks” and stayed a peripheral part of wrestling until just the last couple of years. Blassie was a star even though he had a body like Ric Flair does today, and he helped wrestling get to the success level it has today. So the next time you go to the theater to see The Rock in some awful family movie, remember….if not for Blassie, you might never have seen “The Nanny” or “Suburban Commando.”
To the news…..
(1) ITS TIDE TIME: Saturday brings the worst game coach in the SEC in Mark Gottfried to Rupp Arena as the underachieving Tide head into Lexington. Alabama is a difficult team to figure out and even though they have had their share of adversity this year, they should be better than they are. They are athletic at a number of positions, but Kentucky matches up fairly well with them and should have an advantage….assuming all players are able to go. Ramel Bradley is likely as he is supposed to practice today and get back to full strength. Joe Crawford is a go, but it is unlikely that Jodie Meeks will be in the lineup for at least another week….unless of course that changes, which seems to happen with all of these guys.
(2) MAURICE SUTTON: Still possibly the most under-talked about person left on the recruiting landscape is DC Big man Maurice Sutton. Sutton is being recruited by a number of Big East schools and Kentucky and recently told a reporter that UK is in his top three. He has visited campus and sports an offer from the Cats at this point. I talked to an individual a month or so ago who told me that of all the big guys left to get this year, they think Sutton has the most upside and the most potential to be great. They are worried as to how much he can contribute next year, but they hope to be able to develop him into a scoring threat if he should attend here. Sutton is having a very good Senior season and may still have a couple of visits to come….possibly heading back to Lexington. Keep an eye on Maurice as he still isnt getting the press that UK’s attention on him deserves.
(3) SHELVIN MACK: Any thought left in people’s minds that Kentucky could still get in with Bryan Station’s Shelvin Mack may have just ended. Mack said this week that he was sticking with Butler because Kentucky had done nothing in recruiting him for years. “Where were they for four years,” said Mack. While it is understandable, and even admirable, that Mack will stick with his initial commitment, his anger with UK is missplaced. First, while Shelvin is a very good player and will contribute in college, the notion that he was a sure-fire college talent has really only shown itself this year. Before his development this year, he was considered a reach even for Butler. But maybe more importantly, for the three earlier years in Mack’s career, Gillispie wasnt even the coach. How can he be blamed for recruiting decisions by the previous staff? Mack should just say that he prefers to stay with Butler and go on….but the “disrespect” card is a little much for this situation.
(4) MARK COURY: It was announced today that everyone’s favorite two-minute starter Mark Coury has been named Academic All District for the Southern region in NCAA baskteball. While many have wondered how Coury gets to start and only play a couple of minutes each game, his effort cannot be questioned and his desire has been cited by teammates on multiple occasions as an example of what they strive to achieve. Mark is also a star in the classroom, as this award showcases and has been one of the truly good guys on the team. We all love to poke fun at his Napoleon Dynamite ways, but for a walk-on, Coury could not have done much more. Big thumbs up to the kid….now just bring back the goggles.
Tomorrow we will preview in depth the Alabama game and get you ready for the weekend ahead. If you love big time college basketball, I hope you saw Indiana-Illinois. The Eric Gordon game featured some great play by Freshmen, some overreactions by mean-spirited fans and some poor officiating….a perfect mirror for today’s college basketball. Throw in Pat Forde on camera and everyone wins!!! A good game for an off night for me.