If you are a fan of wrestling, and you most certainly should be, there is a constant struggle you have in order to maintain any connection to the “sport.” While wrestling at its best can be highly entertaining, mostly for its absurdity, but also athleticism and storylines, there is no doubt that it takes a terrible toll on the lives of those involved within it. While a rare few escape the squared circle as big stars capable of a good post-wrestling life (Stone Cold Steve Austin, Jesse Ventura, The Rock), most end up in lives of various shades of pitifulness (Ric Flair, Jake the Snake, Scott Hall). The fact is that there is virtually no profession where individuals die younger and with more tragic causes, a fact highlighted again this weekend with the passing of Doink the Clown. The character “Doink” was used by a number of folks, but most famously by Matt Osborne, who was found dead at age 55 on Friday from an unknown cause. Initially the police thought the death accidental, but it is now being investigated for a possible homicide and the story is becoming more complex. When he was popular, Doink was the epitome of a generation of the WWF that many wrestling fans thought was its worse…stupid cartoonish characters and a set of storylines dominated by an “evil clown.” For me, that made it the best. When wrestling has silliness like a wrestler who is an evil Plumber, Dentist or IRS Agent (all three real WWF characters), I watch for the absurdity. But while I look fondly at that era of my life (high school/college) when wrestling was so entertaining to me, as the bodies keep dropping, it can’t help but be a little sad. From Chris Benoit to Eddie Guerrero to Lex Luger, if you mention a wrestling name from the 80s/90s, chances are 1 in 3 they are dead. Doink’s death is the latest but there will certainly be more to come. I have no idea what it is about wrestling that kills people so early, although any of steroids, substance abuse, heavy travel, concussions and body wear are surely part of it, but as I get older, it does make the whole spectacle more difficult to watch. I may still mark out when Sting comes on the radio show, but it sure would be nice if I could watch an old Royal Rumble (by the way, the best event wrestling has ever produced) without doing a running body count as each wrestler enters the ring.
And with those uplifting thoughts, a couple of notes:
— With the NBA Draft now done, focus has turned over to the 2013-2014 UK team and what the future may hold. The Harrison Twins arrived in Lexington Friday, meaning the whole team except James Young is in the building. The workouts have apparently been going great and a few players (Poythress/Lee primarily) have been exceeding everyone’s expectations. The question for the Cats is how they are going to play. I expect to see a team that is unlike any we have seen from Calipari in Lexington. It will have the awesome athleticism of the 2010 team, but the scoring will not be so focused on the post (as it was with Cousins and Patterson) and thus you will probably see more Dribble Drive than at any time in the Calipari era. With a lot of lineups that can feature four players that are ball handlers (especially when UK goes small and plays Randle/Poythress at the 4), there is going to be a ton of penetration and UK’s best offense will be pushing the pace. With the likely loss of Kyle Wiltjer (not assured, but expected to end up at Gonzaga), the one small worry could be outside shooting. The Cats will have a number of guys who can fill it up from outside (the Twins, Young. Poythress, etc), but not one guy that you would say is a Lamb/Knight/Wiltjer type knock-down shooter. That was a problem for the 2010 team and it will be the development of one guy to play that role that will be a priority for this year’s staff. Still, there is a lot of excitement right now around the Joe Craft Center as everyone associated around UK basketball comes to one generalized conclusion. This is about to be a very special year.
Shout out to everyone’s favorite Lexington television personality, Dave Baker, who turned 89 on Sunday. Dave is a good friend of KSR is always full of wonderful stories, solid advice and tidbit as to how to get in touch with dead Presidents. We hope he had a great Birthday!
— KSR reported on Friday that UK is working on putting together a 2010 team vs 2012 team matchup for the UK basketball Alumni Game. The game would likely take place on September 9th, around the Calipari Fantasy Camp and could feature one of the best games we have seen in a long time of this type. The 2010 team will likely have Wall, Cousins, Patterson, Bledsoe, Harrellson, Orton Liggins, Stevenson and Harris, while the 2012 team will consist of Davis, MKG, Teague, Jones, Lamb, Vargas and Miller (probably given to this team to balance it up, even though he played for both). Brandon Knight and Enes Kanter are both invited, even though they didn’t play for either team, and I would expect Knight to probably end up with the 2012 group (Kanter is injured). Other former Cats (like Krebs and Beckham) can’t play because the NBA contracts require those involved in such games to be “pros”, although I would expect both will be involved in the event. While not every player has committed, I am told that many have, and it is setting up to be a special game that puts the “what if” question on the court. For me, I have to go with the 2010 group…the talent is there, as is the experience. But either way, it should be fun to watch.
I admit I didn’t watch a lot of the Nascar Race from Kentucky Speedway, but it did seem to me that (a) the Turtleman was everywhere, (b) the attendance was very light…at least on Sunday during the make-up race and (c) we have entirely too much Papa John at every event involving this state. Oh and the UL Championship car finished prematurely, hit the wall and came in 31st (hides giggles).
— There hasn’t been a ton of news coming out of the UK football side. Fans (and recruiting folks) have taken to Twitter to argue with UL fans (and recruiting folks) over whether a particular player has an offer from UK or UL when they commit…usual fan rivalry stuff. But we have also seen an increase in the attacks from outsiders on UK football recruiting success. Last week of course, Mark Dantonio, the coach at Michigan State, made a comment in which he suggested that kids committing to UK didn’t make sense and that he was going to emphasize the “continuity” of their program versus that of Kentucky. Why does he want to make such an emphasis? Well mainly because Kentucky has beating the Spartans for players these last few weeks. More importantly though, Vince Marrow came with an answer:
Our foundation has been established. Continuity WILL speak for itself moving forward. #WeAreUK
— CoachMarrowUK (@vincemarrow) June 27, 2013
While I don’t think that “continuity”, or the lack thereof, from the last few years of UK football really matters to players, the UK staff’s new attitude surely does. The comment above showcases what we have seen repeatedly from these guys. They don’t back down from anyone, any time. Marrow sees another coaching staff taking a shot, and he shoots back. They take the Barney Fife approach of how do you fight fire (not as Gomer says, with a hose), with more fire. That confidence is permeating the entire program and it is why I am totally in line. Vegas says the over/under for wins this year is 3.5. This group has me ready to make up for the mistake of last year, and put the G on the over…stop me now if it’s a bad decision.
The young lady above is Jenna Day, the new Miss Kentucky from Berea. Jenna is a UK student and will be representing the state in the Miss American pageant (that is the one that is not the Trump one, meaning they have to showcase talent (from my experience, usually lots of singing or clogging) and don’t have quite the amount of awesomeness/stupidity showcased in the Q and A session. Jenna is a big UK fan, as seen here by her picture celebrating with the po’ po’ the nite of the national title. Congrats to Jenna and another win for the BBN
— Finally, a big shout out to the great performance of UK QB commit/KSR blogger extraordinaire Drew Barker at the Elite 11 Camp. Barker spent the last three days working with a number of elite QB coaches (and Trent Dilfer) and will spend the next three days working with those same coaches and the nation’s top Wide Receivers (including Thaddeus Snodgrass, a UK commit, and UK recruit Braxton Berrios). Barker received praise from many there and was considered one of the top early performers, with special kudos for his decisionmaking skills, which some say are the best in the camp. We congratulate Drew and look forward to his recap in his next KSR Diary after his return.
The KSR Tour hits the road again in the morning, live from the Columbia Burger King (incidentally, the nicest Burger King in the world). In order to have it your way, you have to tune in and try to win UK basketball tickets from GuyontheCornerTickets.com Hope to see those of you around Adiar County tomorrow, Jamestown on Tuesday or Somerset on Wednesday. For the rest of you, tune into the show and check the site tomorrow. See you there…