Buenos dias, mi KSR amigos and amigas. We’re going to try to hit things a little quickly today because I’m already worn down like the old man I’m rapidly becoming and I have the massive image of a swimsuit-clad Rosie O’Donnell burned into my brain thanks to a tabloid next to the gas station register. I’m planning on nightmares tonight…which actually segues quite nicely into our birthday honoree, Craig Ehlo, who turns 48 today. Ehlo, as I’m sure you all remember, was the scrappy, hard-nosed, gritty, whatever other adjective for white basketball players there is who spent the majority of his career with the Cavs, knocking down threes and doing a little bit of everything else. He endeared himself with the fans in Cleveland as he worked his way up from a third round pick into an eventual starter on the best teams in franchise history. Then, of course, a guy named Jordan hit a big shot over him and he became a punch line and “that guy” on so many NBA highlight montages. So, let that be a lesson kids. No matter how hard you work or what you accomplish, one screw up can define your life. And in the game of life, there are no Gatorade alternate endings.
And, yes, Coach, you can use that for your Tweet next week. Now, onto some UK stuff….
(1) The story on the basketball front, as Coach Cal continues to enjoy the People’s Republic, is that lists are dwindling and UK found themselves on some the receiving end of some not-so-great recruiting news today. Despite not discriminating against any certain segment of a particular religion or country like his SEC East counterpart, Cal did get some similar-ish news while out of the country:
– The first, and likely the least surprising of the group, was 2011 big man Rakeem Christmas from Pennsylvania. Christmas, ranked #6 in his class, narrowed his list to eight teams and UK was not one.
– Also, Joe Jackson of Memphis, thought to be one of the top point guard targets for the staff, narrowed his list down to Kansas, Memphis and Tennessee. With the slew of point guards UK is currently targeting, you knew that someone would be dropping out of the race at some point. Also, the #5 point guard in the 2010 class did not comment on where his son Michael’s secret burial location is.
– A little internet buzz and speculation was stirred up a bit by Mike DeCourcey’s profile of Kyrie Irving, where DeCourcey stated that Indiana and Duke were the leaders for Irving’s services, sparking some fiestiness from UK fans. While both the Duke and Hoosier staffs have been extremely public with their courting of Irving, which he told Dustin in Orlando was very important to him, the UK staff has been as well and shouldn’t be counted out just yet. It’s not a false statement to say IU and Duke are the leaders. But it would be untrue to rule UK out as well.
(2) This is roughly the third or fourth time I’ve written about this and it’s likely not the last time either, but you simply cannot find enough words for the buzz surrounding John Wall’s dunk over Jerry Stackhouse. Sure, the dunk was phenomenal and, next to Vanessa Hudgens, the hottest search on the internet, but it goes so much beyond that. The Faux Hawk wrote a bit about it today and I think I’d be doing it a disservice by not mentioning it again. This was John Wall’s NCAA stepping out moment – and another buzzworthy clip for the media and another magical gadget in Calipari’s recruiting tool belt. The clip made its rounds from UK message boards to Yahoo, CBS Sportsline, ESPN, the freaking New York Times….it was literally everywhere. The prevailing theme since Calipari’s arrival (besides not sucking) has been a revival of the UK brand and building a buzz around the program. These types of moments do that. So, as huge as it is for Wall personally, let’s not forget what it will do when players are sitting in a hotel or dorm at a camp, watching UK’s point guard cross-over a UNC recruit, go past a highly regarded Duke freshman and then cram over a very recognizable NBA name. We’ll be watching this clip for years.
(3) This beautiful Tuesday morning also signals the start of full-contact practice with pads – or “real football” as Rich Brooks says – for the football team. Despite getting deeper and deeper each year, it seems as if UK has always had trouble keeping everyone healthy toward the start of fall practice. Alfonso Smith and DeQuin Evans are already banged up a bit, but neither have a serious injury. Derrick Locke returned following the death of his sister and gives them, for the most part, a healthy and full roster. Let’s hope they keep it that way.
(4) Speaking of Evans, it’s nice to see Rich Brooks holds him in such high regard. Brooks tweeted out tonight that UK needs him healthy because of his physicality and because “he can do some very good things”. Evans is often the overlooked member of the Harbor Community College duo, but there is no doubt that he is just as big of a need as Chris Matthews. With the loss of Jeremy Jarmon and general inexperience across the rest of the line, having Evans as an immediate contributor would be a huge boost to the UK defense. So, I’m with you, Coach. Let’s get him healthy.
(5) And, speaking of Twitter, I’ve sent out tons of messages (444 to be exact), but none have garnered anything resembling the powerful response my declaration of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy domination spurred tonight. Don’t be mistaken, though. Just because I didn’t respond, that doesn’t mean I’m scared. Bring it.
See how that works? I say we’re going to keep it brief and then I start rambling. Just be glad you don’t have to live with me. Stay tuned throughout the day as we make posts hourly regarding UK sports and do our best to make them entertaining or, at least, make them include some cleavage. See you in a few…