This week the Cats play Appalachian State in Louisville. I will be there pulling for the Cats and watching us give the Boone, NC natives the once over. But there is another game that is on my radar, all the way in Scottsdale, Arizona. There, two former UK coaches collide as Traitor Rick takes on the Tub in a battle in the desert. Leaving aside the UK connection, the game is an interesting one. Pitino has legitimate national championship dreams, but his team has been plagued by its regular early season struggles, with a loss to Western Kentucky and an overall lack of dominant play. Minnesota has started strong, going undefeated, but really has only played one decent team. However Tubby has had Rick’s number in the past and the Tub plays a style that the last few Louisville teams have struggled against….patient, defensive pressure and forcing the Cards to hit the three ball. Thus the game should tell us a lot about both squads.
But lets not kid ourselves. We dont care about the game. I care about watching Tubby take on Rick. It is no secret to anyone that has been on this blog for a long time that I am a Tubby Smith fan. He was the first coach when we started this gig and was very good to us at a time that the future of this entity was less than certain. Having said that, in hindsight, it was probably the right time for him to leave when he did. He would have had a third straight struggling season last year and I am not sure he could have survived the understandable fan outcry were that to have happened. His leaving let everyone part company with a relatively good taste in their mouths and allowed UK to get a coach as obsessed with basketball and success as its fan base. Kentucky and Tubby are likely both happier than they were two years ago and thus the parting was timed well.
But that doesnt mean I dont wanna see the Tub make Rick’s hair plugs fall out this weekend. Rick made the cardinal (literally) sin by going and coaching UK’s arch rival, whereas Tubby went to a state that it is easy to forget exists. Rick likes to make little taunts from time to time about his former home, whereas Tubby does nothing but praise the school where he spent ten years. Tubby is always a gentleman, Rick is Rick. Thus I hope Tubby beats the hell out of Rick on Saturday. I know it isnt likely….Louisville has the better talent at this point and Rick will have his team focused for a game that will get national attention. But I would love to see the Tubby stare focused directly on the Cardinals once again, with Rick with the perplexed/exasperated face, showcasing a “how did I recruit a team like this yet again” look that we saw during the Western game. I want to see Masiello with the clipboard in hand shaking his head and Waltah “to the Altah” singing “Old Man River” on the sideline. And when the final horn goes off I want to see Rick walking off the court, head down, shaking back and forth, perplexed yet again.
This Saturday in Scottsdale, Give ‘Em Hell Tubby!