So I am not about 20 minutes removed from the end of the arguably one of the best dramas in history, The Sopranos. As I watched the last episode, it hit me about 20 minutes in that the “big event” that people were waiting for simply wasnt going to happen. Slowly but surely, all the major characters were being presented with the next steps in their lives. AJ was ready first for the Army, and then gets a movie career, Meadow gets hooked up with a law firm, Paulie gets a new gig with the crew, Janice gets her money for Bobby’s death, Junior is Junior. David Chase, the Sopranos creator, put forth a number of great scenes, the best of which was the killing of Phil Leotardo, complete with a classic Sopranos ending as the car hit a special bump in the road. And then, it culminated in the last scene, which is destined to be endlessly debated. Sitting in a diner, David Chase puts forth four minutes of some of the most edge-of-the seat compelling moments. The ubiquitous “Dont Stop Believing” plays in the background as the family sits in the diner and we see numerous potential menacing characters in the superbly shot scene. A classic potential bad guy gets up and goes into the restroom, reminding all mafia movie fans of “The Godfather.” As Meadow struggles to park, I literally was holding my breath as to what would happen. But then, just as it looked like a big moment was coming, Meadow opens the door to the diner…..and nothing. It was a classic Sopranos ending in that it didnt take the easy way out. Most fans wanted a blood bath or something that would wrap the series up tightly. But David Chase didnt do that. We are left with unanswered questions, and maybe more importantly, Tony Soprano left with the drudgery of day-to-day mob life. Upon quick reflection, I like the ending, mainly because of what it didnt do…..end the most superbly written show ever with a simplistic explosion. A great series ends controversially and brilliantly…..exactly as we would want it. Now lets just hope “John from Cincinnati” (which I am giving a shot tomorrow) is good……
(1) The big UK news this weekend was of course the UK Elite Camp which took place on campus and at Rupp Arena. The event was not open to the public so we have to rely on second-hand reports from others who were there for various reasons, ranging from working the event to helping with logistics. I received a number of such reports (thanks to all who wrote) and I followed up on some conversations. So after sorting through the info, here is a decent roundup of the events….but keep in mind that all info is secondhand….
The biggest question going into the event was just who would be attending. From most reports it looks like Bud Mackey, Jacob Jenkins, Verdell Jones, Demarcus Cousins, GJ Villarino, Courtney Fortson, Dakota Euton and Olek Czyz were all participants at the camp during the weekend. The camp was set up with various exercises and games, and then an “all-star” game at night where 15 players were picked (guess which ones) to play against the current UK squad (minus Jared Carter and Joe Crawford who did not play).
Everyone I spoke with said that the man of the camp was Courtney Fortson. Fortson is a dread-wearing short point guard who looks like he should play for UAB, but has quickness that is amazing off the dribble. I saw him at the TOC and was impressed by his play and surprised that I had not heard more made of him. According to on-lookers, Fortson was the star of the show this weekend. In the scrimmage against the UK players, he took everyone guarding him off the dribble and the matchup between him and Jodie Meeks was called by one emailer “as good as an NCAA Tournament game.” Fortson will likely be pursued by UK more, and we hope to have him on the show towards the end of the week.
Another good review was given of the Polish power forward Olek Czyz, who looked good all weekend. He showed a lot of ability to put the ball in the basket and was said to have surprising atheticism. The third “star” of the camp was UK commitment GJ Vilarino who put on a show, especially on Saturday. Vilarino is being compared to TJ Ford and was said to have acquitted himself well in matchups, including those against Fortson. The two major Kentucky kids at the camp, Dakotah Euton and Jacob Jenkins, were up and down, with Euton having one good game and then being off the next.
The other big story of the camp was the arrival of Demarcus Cousins, who is ranked by one service as the number 2 ranked recruit in the Class of 2009. Most reports sugges that Cousins’ play was a bit up and down but I am hearing that he was “blown away” by the experience at UK. The folks at UK did an amazing job on this camp considering they put it together in about 35 days. The kids got to use the great new practice facility and play Sunday morning games in Rupp Arena. Catering was provided by Malone’s and the players were able to practice against the UK guys. I expect to literally see commitments out of this camp and the staff should be praised for making it happen.
Finally, the UK players were able to perform, including the new guys. Legion and Patterson were, not surprisingly, the top performers and Legion’s ability to get into the lane was mentioned on more than one occasion. I spoke this weekend with a person who has played a bit against Legion and said he was “the most exciting UK recruit in a long time” in terms of his ability to score. Should be interesting to watch him develop.
All in all, a big weekend for UK and yet another example of this staff’s ability to set new standards at this University for recruiting.
(2) This weekend also saw the Woo graduation party on Friday, which was an unqualified success. We had an unbelieveable crowd of people who helped make the event special. The pictures are below (taken by David Kaelin on break from Afghanistan and in the picture with me), and you can see Woo soaking up the attention of the crowd. It was a neat event as many fans commented on how good it was to actually hang out with a UK player as Woo was kind enough to stay after the show and meet and greet. We hope to do this type of thing again soon, and likely next time in other areas of the state.
(3) The other story of the weekend is that the Kentucky-Louisville game has been moved to January 5th this season. This was done to accomodate the Louisville Cardinals’ decision to go ahead and schedule a game for the original date (December 15), although Louisville seems to suggest that this was the network’s desire from the beginning. In any event, the later date may give the game a little more national publicity (although not likely much more as it is during the football playoffs) and gives both teams time to hit their strides. For UK, who is breaking in a new coach and lots of new players, the later date may ultimately be to their benefit.
Lots more on Monday and this week. Andy Katz is coming Tuesday at 5 pm…..and you know we are ready. Lots of recruiting news from the followup to the camp, including the possibility of a new high-profile player that UK could get involved with. Look for more tomorrow…..