Wow. What a day it was on Thursday. And Thursday was supposed to be a day of nothing. I’m not sure if it was the DeMarcus Cousins nickname poll, the return of Fake Gimel, Drew’s Alabama post, the good recruiting news or the cool Madness line pictures, but Thursday just felt right. Good posts, funny comments and just a general feeling of fun around here. I might be overstating this and I might be the only one feeling this pumped up, but I had a whole lot of fun Thursday.
Now, I don’t want to get all mushy, but I’ll say this. I’ve always considered being able to write on this site and dump mindless rants and jokes on the masses to be a tremendous blessing, but, with what seems like a million other things going on in my life, it sometimes drives me nuts and stresses me out to the point of wanting to quit. However, days like Thursday make you remember why it’s worth it and can get you all fired up all over again. All the guys who write on this site are phenomenal at what they do (even BTI) and the people that read this site make up one of the strongest communities on the planet. We had great pictures and videos submitted from our readers and friends and we even got some cool emails and some kind words from people who like what we do. Plus, it turns out the guys we obsess over and write about are pretty good guys, as well. When things click like I felt they did on Thursday, you can’t help but smile. So, thank you for that.
Onto some UK news…
(1) The most widely reported story locally is the continued madness surrounding the Madness tickets. According to UK, there were over 300 tents as of late Thursday afternoon and they didn’t expect the big pop to come until Friday. But, while the large crowd is certainly newsworthy, the continued growth in the fan-player relationship is what is really capturing the attention of UK fans. DeMarcus Cousins has become the star of the show through his football and bean bag tossing and his 5-on-5 basketball games with kids, but the efforts of the whole team to be engaged with the fans is definitely noteworthy. From delivering breakfast in the morning and hot chocolate in the evening, to just hanging out and enjoying the moment, the atmosphere couldn’t be any more different than it was under the Billy Gillispie Experiment. And, it’s nice to see the supposed “one-and-done” kids that “won’t care about the name on the front of the jersey” being so willing to be a part of the fan experience.
But, of course, there is still the element of the absolute madness occuring outside as people continue to flock to Memorial Coliseum. I’d expect the major news networks to start picking up on this Friday (and especially in time for SEC football Saturday), and once again the sanity – or lack thereof – of UK fans will be on the agenda. But, hey, we’re crazy about this team and we have good reason to be. Other peope just don’t get it. I spend probably 30-40 hours a week reading and writing about UK and countless more time talking about it. I had my cable package changed to watch games and have dozens of UK shirts. But, yet, my fiancee didn’t really understand how deep the UK insanity went until she saw the pictures of the Madness line. “This is for a practice? I never knew Kentucky basketball was this crazy”. Well, now you know. Learn to love it and I can continue loving you. (side note: that would be a great power ballad chorus)
(2) Obviously, for all of the basketball junkies (and for all of the people in Camp Memorial), the big news was that the Cats picked up a pair of big-time Big Blue Madness visitors in the form of Michael Gilchrist and CJ Leslie. Gilchrist, of course, is a 2011 guard and is believed by many to not only be the best high school player in the country, but also a Kentucky lock. Leslie, meanwhile, is John Wall’s former high school teammate and is also believed to be heavily favoring the Cats. The athletic forward, however, did cancel his visit for this weekend.
(3) Speaking of Madness visitors, one of the most notable names made some noise Thursday as Kyrie Irving said he was “leaning toward Duke” in the most irritating interview of all time with High School Hoop. Now, I’m not saying that he’s not leaning toward Duke. I’m not saying he won’t commit there. But, I only think it’s fair to note that after beating Irving over the head with about 500 Duke questions, hoping that he’d make good on the writer’s guarantee from a week ago that he’d commit, this was the exchange that got the “I’m leaning toward Duke” response:
HSH: So let’s switch roles – you’re the reporter and I’m the baller – with the same situations. Would you think I was going to Duke?
KI: I see what you’re saying. I guess you could say that I’m leaning toward Duke. I’m just not ready to commit. It was my first visit and of course I’m really high on them and like I said I have that feeling, but I think it’s only smart to compare it to something.
So, needless to say, I will wait for a more definitive indicator that UK should be worried instead of this “ok, fine, I’ll kinda say what you want so you’ll just stop talking to me” response from Irving. See you at Big Blue Madness, Kyrie.
(4) All of the news wasn’t great news, though, as Rich Brooks said that Chris Matthews has been demoted to the third wide receiver spot for Saturday’s game against Alabama. When Matthews committed to UK and as we all heard so many great things about him in the off-season, we all really felt that he wouldn’t fall victim to that Junior College jinx, making it hard for him to adjust in his first D-1 season. After a strong showing against Miami of Ohio – despite his TD coming on a broken route – and grabbing six catches against Louisville, everyone thought Matthews was in the clear. But, after looking lost against Florida, it appears that the staff thinks he might need some time to adjust. Let’s just hope that he had a bad game against the Gators (as many Cats did) and this demotion will fire him up for a great rest of the season. Mike Hartline and Co. definitely need him.
(5) Let me just say this also: I absolutely love Kentucky football and I do feel a little guilty about not dumping a lot of coverage on it this week. But, what is happening at Memorial is uniquely special, so I don’t feel too bad. However, the great Tom Leach more than makes up for it on his blog. In preparation for Bama, Tom doubles up on his interviews, adding controversial sportwriter and radio host Paul Finebaum to his already published Eli Gold interview. Finebaum has some very nice things to say.
Also, Tom got some info from Coach Brooks:
That’s it for now. Stay tuned throughout the day. Drew drops by with his “They Are Who We Thought They Were” piece on the Tide and we continue to to get prepped for the Tide. For now, I’m going to head to bed and hope that staying up late while I’m sick and doing this post has earned me an Egg McMuffin from Mark Krebs in the morning. See you in a few…