Its been a crazy day around KSR land, with fights with major newspapers, probably our best radio show, meetings with a tv coach (yes they have those) and general running around all over the place. It has calmed down tonight and we are ready to hit the ground running again tomorrow. One new thing that has developed is the growing FREE ENES! movement taking place around UK land. After Demarcus Cousins got the trend going on Twitter last night, the Free Enes! movement has taken hold in the Bluegrass, with the phrase being repeated all over the state. The above t-shirt puts the slogan out there and I believe you are going to be seeing it more and more around the city. We had a tremendous response to the t-shirt yesterday and my hope is that UK fans support Free Enes! at the UK football games over the next few weeks and that everyone (outside of BTI who would just hurt the cause) will get on board. If you are interested, order the shirt below and they begin shipping today. If you get a Free Enes! shirt, wear it to a big event, put it on a UK Fan of the Day girl or have someone famous (I am looking at you Boogie, P-Pat and Josh Hopkins) put it on and we will put the pictures on the site.
To the news:
— The big news today was the national media circus that was brought about by the Enes Kanter story. It is only UK basketball that can top PTI in September, but the Cats were the lead story as the duo discussed Kanter. Both agreed that UK had done nothing wrong but both also said he was a professional. That conclusion seems to be the common sportswriter thinking, not because it is based in fact, but because most have only read the Thamel story and not the Decourcy one that should accompany it. As far as college basketball writers, the opinions seem to be mixed, with some thinking he wont play and some thinking he will miss some games and have to pay some money back. Either way, UK was topic #1 again in sports today…and it seems to just continue to happen.
— My concern for Kanter’s eligibility is the effect the publicity could have on the situation. As Mike Decourcy said on the radio with me today, the actual facts in the Thamel story were not new to the NCAA or UK. But now the public knows those facts and the perception (aided by shows like PTI and Around the Horn taking superficial looks at the story) is that Kanter is a pro. Whether that makes the NCAA feel it has to justify the decision more is a question that I really wonder about now, even more so than the actual facts. Before the Thamel story, I was confident he would be deemed eligible at some point. Now the question is whether the NCAA will make the same decision with the public watching.
— An interesting perspective on the whole thing came from this article by a former pro player in Europe, the thesis of which is that having played in Europe, the author doesnt trust the Turkish team to tell anyone the truth. Because the team has an incentive to lie and the dealings in the Euro League are notoriously bad (with players often not being paid what they are owed, etc), there is a huge distrust factor from players about all actions of the teams. Thus trusting the Turkish team in this case would be misguided according to the author. A very good read.
— In our neck of the woods, the big story was the accusation of quote fixing by NY Times author Pete Thamel from the Assistant Coach he quoted in the piece. Rodney Crawford talked to me late last night and said that the quotes attributed to him were made about another player, not Kanter, and then used by Thamel to reflect on Kanter. The charge is a serious one and has gotten some national attention, with Gregg Doyel, the Yahoo College Basketball writer and others picking it up. It also had some traction on the college section of USA Today, which wrote about the controversy as well. As of now, Thamel and the Times havent answered the criticism. Our movement to try to make that happen heats up a bit tomorrow.
— Speaking of media, a local writer got himself into this fight in ways that he probably wished in hindsight had never happened. John Clay took a break from telling people to get off his lawn and turn down their music by going after KSR on two different occasions, in a Live Blog and on his Sidelines section of the Herald Leader website. He suggested that the potential Thamel issues with the quotes were no big deal and that the KSR stories werent important because we were a “cheerleader site” for UK. This of course led to a great deal of criticism and soon thereafter, Clay stopped talking and became silent on the subject. What is interesting is that today likely brought his blog the highest number of hits and comments on the site in its history, showcasing how the tables have turned. It used to be that we went after the HL and other entities to get attention and traffic and now he has to do it in order for people to read his site. Ultimately it is actually somewhat sad that Clay’s natural tendency to take up for his fellow writer would overshadow his journalistic integrity on the issue of using quotes correctly, but we shouldnt be surprised. If this blog has taught me one thing, it is that with a couple of exceptions (Doyel, Whitlock, etc), media doesnt go after other media. Anyone could have called as I did and checked up on the NY Times sources in their story. The HL didnt…instead it defended Thamel. What does that tell you about their priorities?
— In non-Kanter news, Lee Todd announced he will step down as President of the University of Kentucky. Todd is beloved by the students at UK and was popular amongst the alumni, but there had been a feeling that he didnt do what is necessary to make the “Top 20” goal for UK (which has always been farfetched) become a reality. Todd was a huge supporter of all things UK athletics and his departure is a blow to the Athletic Department that trusted him to such a large degree. It will be interesting to see who the new board picks and what direction is taken. Athletics and School Presidents at UK have generally gone hand in hand. We will see if that continues.
— Finally, in “they must never come to Rupp Arena” news, Tony Greene was named the Naismath Award Winner for Outstanding Official for 2010. I have sometimes said that Tony Greene is the most inconsistent official I have ever seen and his reputation for frustrating UK fans is so strong that it spawned the KSR screen name “Tonygreenedoesthestankylegg”, one of my favorite in site history. The victory just goes to show that when it comes to members of a profession judging each other, you cant explain what they do….other examples include Howard Stern is not in the Radio Hall of Fame….Jerry Tipton is in the college basketball journalists Hall of Fame. Go figure.
More all day as we get ready for football on Saturday and the Bledsoe report before Friday….