Well Day 1 is over and we are back at the Temporary Kentucky Sports Radio Compound here in Midtown Atlanta. It was a great day once again in Atlanta, ending with the best game of the day as Georgia defeated Ole Miss in overtime in a game that could not have gone more perfect for Kentucky. First, the Bulldogs won….a positive result as the Cats match up much better with the guys from Athens than from Oxford. Then, the game was hard fought, up and down the court AND ended up in overtime. There is nothing better from the perspective of a later round opponent than seeing the team you are about to play have a long game that takes the wind out of your opponent’s sails. Plus, Georgia still only has nine players (one of whom is the famous Chris Barnes, who never gets off the bench), and stamina is always an issue. Finally, the day was also a positive as two of the SEC bubble teams, Florida and Ole Miss, also went down….making it all but assured the Cats are going dancing. Bottom line….tonight turned out perfectly for the Cats.
In case you missed a day’s worth of activity, a few highlights:
— Lots of talk on press row about UK recruiting. Spoke with a few people about who UK was looking at and the name that continued to pop up was big man Josh Harrellson. A couple of individuals who didnt even know who the kid was or where he played, still knew the name, saying that he is option #1 right now. This is consistent with all we have heard recently and suggests that getting the big man with a deft shooting touch out of his LOI with Western Illinois could be priority #1 of the offseason.
— South Carolina pulled the mild upset early in the day, basically ending the LSU career of Butch Pierre. Everyone I spoke with said watch for the Tigers to make a big run at Anthony Grant…..who may also receive a push from South Carolina….either way, he could easily be SEC bound very soon.
— Larry Vaught had an interesting conversation with Jai Lucas who all but said what we have said for some time….that he would have been at Kentucky if Tubby Smith stayed here. Ultimately I think the way it played out was best for all parties, UK, Lucas and Tubby….but still always interesting to wonder what might have been.
— Billy Gillispie was all over the night session at the Georgia Dome, watching both games intently. He was surrounded by his assistants and their eyes never left the court all night. Very intense and focused. Having said that however, when the game wasnt going on, he was all smiles. He even was talking a bit, saying hello to me when I walked by and asking me a question. Billy isnt much of a talker generally, but he seems in very good spirits going into this tournament.
— Spoke a bit today with John Pelphrey as I recounted earlier. Tomorrow is a huge day for the UK alumnus who needs to beat Vandy to go dancing. He also mentioned that he heard his Paintsville Tigers were headed to the Sweet 16 and he bragged a bit as we did a little 13th vs 15th Region trash talking.
— In every game, the team with the hotter cheerleaders lost….after hanging close to the Georgia group, that worries me for the Cats tomorrow.
— Dave Bliss…..I alternate loathing and loving him…..a perfect college player to entertain you.
— Billy Donovan to the NIT…..who would have thought it? Absolutely toasted his players in the post-game saying he wasnt sure if he was excited about coaching these Freshmen in their Sophomore years. Crazy stuff to hear.
— Good conversation with Mike Pratt who said the most pleasant surprise for him on the team has been Ramon Harris, who he believes has been a key to the recent great play. We will have more with Pratt tomorrow.
Another big day tomorrow, including all the news on the Cats throughout the day and after the game. Its Catlanta time folks!!!!